AI to run only three, not four, Mum-Nairobi flights a week

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Published on Dec 29, 2019 12:26 AM IST
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ByNeha LM Tripathi

Debt-ridden Air India (AI), which commenced its first non-stop flight operations from Mumbai to Nairobi from November 27, has decided to curtail the frequency of the service to thrice a week from four, allegedly owing to poor demand.

Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar refused to comment on the decision.

Mumbai airport officials, who are privy to the development, said the airline’s new Nairobi schedule will be implemented from January 15 to March 29, 2020 . Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials said that the airline might continue with the revised schedule even in summer — April to mid-October.

The flight was launched with an aim to promote tourism and trade between the two countries, aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri had tweeted. The national carrier also took into consideration the large Indian-origin population in Kenya.

A senior AI official said, “The airline commenced flights on the route with an aim to expand its operations to other airports of the country, but it has been witnessing poor load factor [fewer passengers than expected]. On the first flight, the airline had only 100 passengers.” Airline sources said that the load factor has not increased beyond 150 passengers ever since the launch of the service.

The service started with a 256-seater Boeing B787-800 in two class configurations — business and economy — flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Flight AI 961 to Nairobi departs from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) at 6.25am, while the returning flight, AI 962, departs from Nairobi at 11.30am (local time) and arrives in Mumbai at 8.10pm.

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