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DGCA asks airlines to operate more flights to Kerala, cap fares as state reels under floods

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which held talks with the carriers, said it is constantly monitoring airfares on 32 direct routes operating to/from Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Coimbatore and Mangalore.

kerala Updated: Aug 17, 2018 23:41 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Mumbai/New Delhi
kerala rains,keral floods,heavy rains in kerala
The worst floods and landslides in a century in Kerala have taken the lives of over 300 people so far, with 2.11 lakh people in 14 districts badly hit.(AP)

Aviation regulator DGCA on Friday asked domestic airlines to operate additional flights to Kerala and cap fares as the state reels under a deluge that has forced its busiest airport in Kochi to shut operations till August 26.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which held talks with the carriers, said it is constantly monitoring airfares on 32 direct routes operating to/from Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Coimbatore and Mangalore.

“Spike in airfare on a few routes have been observed. Airlines concerned have been advised to cap the airfare on these flights,” it added.

The Cochin international airport, the seventh busiest in the country, has been shut from August 14 following the heavy downpour. The airport is just under-three km from the Periyar river, which is in spate, and has over half a dozen dams including the state’s largest Idukki dam. Of the 44 dams in the state 39 are overflowing.

The worst floods and landslides in a century in the state have taken the lives of over 300 people so far, with 2.11 lakh people in 14 districts badly hit.

Of the 71 arrivals and 74 departures of scheduled domestic airlines to and from the Cochin airport, 23 arrivals and 24 departures have been rescheduled and an additional 19 arrivals and departures have been diverted to and from Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode and Coimbatore airports, the DGCA said in a statement on Friday evening.

Nine foreign carriers operating to Cochin have also rescheduled flights to and from Thiruvananthapuram, it said.

“Domestic airlines have also been advised to ensure that airfares to/from Thiruvananthapuram/Kozhikode airports in Kerala and nearby airports in Mangalore and Coimbatore are kept at optimal level proportionate to sector distance so that travelling public is not inconvenienced,” DGCA said.

Accordingly, airlines have been requested to cap the maximum fare at Rs 10,000 on longer routes and around Rs 8,000 on shorter routes to/from Kerala and nearby airports.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) also said it is constantly monitoring airfares on 32 direct routes operating to/from Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Coimbatore and Mangalore. “Spike in airfare on a few routes have been observed. Airlines concerned have been advised to cap the airfare on these flights,” it added.

The regulator has also set up a control room, which is working round the clock, to help passengers on refund, flight rescheduling, alternate options available among others. Responding to the regulatory directives, carriers like Air India, Air India Express, Jet Airways and Spicejet today announced new schedules for Kerala.

Air India and AI Express have earlier in the day said they will operate the Kochi flights from Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode till further notice.

While the national carrier Air India said the new schedule from Thiruvananthapuram is for the August 18-20 period, its low-cost arm, AI Express, said the new schedule will be effective till August 26, and the flights will depart from Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

The rescheduled flights for Air India are AI 933 to Dubai, AI 047 to New Delhi, AI 682 to Mumbai, AI 511 to New Delhi and AI 510 to Chennai, a release said.

Kochi-based Air India Express operates seven daily flights to the Middle East from the now-flooded airport. Of these, five services connecting Muscat, Salalah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha will be operated from Thiruvananthapuram, while those to Sharjah and Bahrain will be from Kozhikode airport in the north.

AI Express also announced waiver of all penalties for modifications/cancellations/no-show/sector change, along with full refund for cancellations. This facility will be applicable to all flights to and from all the Kerala airports till August 26. The airline deploys 60 per cent of its total capacity from the state.

Private airline Jet Airways said, “Following suspension of operations at the Cochin airport until August 26, we will be operating additional flights to Thiruvananthapuram from Mumbai and Bangalore from Sunday.”

The airline said it will operate additional three flights to the state capital from Mumbai beginning Sunday, and two from Bengaluru. It used to operate a dozen flights daily from the now-inundated airport, which is the first PPP greenfield airport built in the country way back in May 1999.

The airline also said it has waived all penalties for date/flight change or cancellation for the next 10 calendar days from the original travel date or choosing alternate destination which is close to the Cochin airport. It has also waived no-show penalties and fare difference if any.

Similarly, Spicejet said it will operate 76 additional flights to help passengers stranded due to Kerala floods and announced new schedule till August 27. Like others, it will offer full refund on cancellations and waiver of change fees and fare difference for passengers booked on flights to and from Kochi.

Vistara, which doesn’t fly to Thiruvananthapuram, today said it will operate special flights and divert its Kochi flights to the state capital till August 26.

Railways sends drinking water wagons to flood-hit Kerala

With Kerala reeling under one of the worst floods, Indian Railways on Friday sent over 2.8 lakh litres of drinking water to the state through wagons and also bottled water.

“The Southern Railway has dispatched one water special consisting of seven wagons with water tank from the Erode Junction station at 4 p.m. today with 2.8 lakh litres of drinking water,” Rajesh Dutt Bajpai, director-media, railway ministry, said.

He said the special train to Trivandrum will run via Dindigul, Madurai and Tirunelveli. He also said that the seven wagons with water have moved from Chengalpattu in Tamil Nadu. The official said the railways is supplying bottled water to the flood-affected in Kerala.

“Today 2,740 cartons were despatched from Parassala Rail Neer plant. Another 10,000 cartons of water bottles (1,00,000 bottles) from IRCTC’s Parassala plant in Kerala is under progress,” he said, adding that about 15,000 cartons with water bottles are being despatched from IRCTC’s Palur Plant in Tamil Nadu.

First Published: Aug 17, 2018 22:55 IST