Indian low cost airline IndiGo plans to start direct flight services to three destinations in Saudi Arabia from Calicut International Airport in northern Kerala, in a bid to further expand its operations in the Middle East sector.
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“IndiGo has plans to commence direct services to Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam from Calicut,” a senior official of Calicut International Airport told Arabian Business.
Though the airport authorities at Calicut did not specify the timeline for start of IndiGo flights to the three destinations in Saudi Arabia, industry sources said IndiGo’s Dammam flights are slated to commence from March 10, while flights to Riyadh and Jeddah are slated to start from March 20 and 29 respectively.
The proposed flights to Saudi will make IndiGo the only Indian airline to offer direct services to all the three destinations in the kingdom from Calicut.
Currently, Air India Express operates direct flights to Dammam and Riyadh, while Air India and SpiceJet operate direct flights to Jeddah from Calicut airport.
As IndiGo is prepares to launch its new services to Saudi Arabia from the north Kerala airport, the Calicut International Airport authorities are yet to hear from Emirates about its proposed direct flight services to the airport from Dubai.
“We have so far not received any information [from Emirates] on this,” the Calicut airport official said.
Emirates was given approval to operate direct services to Calicut International Airport using wide-bodied aircraft – also known as jumbo jets or Code E type aircraft – by India’s civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in July last year.
The UAE carrier, however, is understood to have put its Calicut plans on the backburner.
The DGCA NoC (no objection certificate) to Emirates to operate Boeing 777-300 ER and Boeing 777-200 LR came with the rider that restricted services of wide-bodied aircraft to day time for the initial 6 months.
Industry sources said this could have been the reason for Emirates to hold back its proposed services to Calicut.
Emirates currently has code-sharing arrangement with Flydubai on the Dubai-Calicut sector.
Air India, which also go approval from DGCA to operate wide-bodied aircraft to and from Calicut airport last July along with Emirates, however, commenced jumbo jet services to the north Kerala airport from the thrd week of last month. It is currently using jumbo jets twice a week for its Jeddah-Calicut services.
Both Emirates and Air India had to discontinue operations of jumbo jets to Calicut in May 2015 following the ban imposed by DGCA over runway safety issues at the airport.
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