Thursday, Dec 18, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
Passengers bound for destinations in Europe and the U.S. will be flown to Mumbai the previous evening by a special flight and put up in hotels for the night before they take their scheduled flights in the morning.
Of the 23 flights operated by Air India from India to Europe/U.S., the change will affect only eight flights. While passengers of all five flights operated on the Delhi-London-New York route will be flown to Mumbai the previous evening, the departure timings of the three Frankfurt terminator flights from Delhi have been delayed by almost six hours to avoid being caught in fog.
According to Air India spokesman, the other 15 flights seven to Newark, six to Chicago and two to New York which are operated to Europe and the U.S. directly from Mumbai will depart as per normal schedule.
After assessing the flight disruptions caused over the past five years due to fog during winter months, it was found that prolonged delays not only caused great inconvenience to passengers but also resulted in consequential delays as aircraft availability got affected and passengers also missed their onward flight connections.
While the new schedule would force a passenger departing from Delhi to leave for Mumbai 12 hours prior to his scheduled departure, it would help avoid uncertainty, disruption and endless wait at the airport. The spokesman said that all flights from New York and London would also be terminated at Mumbai and Delhi-bound passengers would be flown from Mumbai at 11 a.m. to reach Delhi at 1 p.m. Hotel accommodation would be arranged for Delhi-bound passengers in Mumbai.
He said Air India had been spending nearly Rs. 10 crores every year for the past five years on disruptions due to fog, paying for additional fuel and various charges to the Airport Authority of India (AAI).
Over the past year, AI has nearly doubled the number of flights to Europe and the U.S. and is now operating 23 flights and clocking a passenger load factor of 85-90 per cent, offering nearly 4,300 seats to the U.S. every week.
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