Airline officials in UAE optimistic of India operations

Dubai: Airline officials in the UAE on Tuesday said they would continue to operate flights to India despite a major strike by airport employees. “Emirates flights to India will continue to operate as per schedule,” the Emirates spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement “We have been informed that airport authorities and private ground handling agencies will deploy additional staff, if necessary, to compensate for those going on strike,” the statement said. Emirates operates 99 flights weekly to nine Indian gateways including 28 to Mumbai, 14 to Chennai, 11 to Hyderabad, 10 to Kochi, eight to Bangalore, eight to Thiruvananthapuram, seven to New Delhi, seven to Kolkata, and six to Ahmedabad with a healthy load factor of over 80 per cent. Although the strike involves 127 airports, services at major gateway hubs including Mumbai and Delhi might not be affected badly as they are run by private sector operators. Jayshree Ramchandran, the marketing manager of Air India, sounded optimistic and said that the airline will land and take off from India. Assurance “We have checked with all Indian airports’ authorities and they have given us the assurance that there will be only minimum disruption. For us this is shoulder season [not peak, not lean season]. We have 70 per cent out passengers,” she said. Air India operates 7 flights to Mumbai, 7 to Delhi and 5 to Kerala weekly. “We operate 58 Air India express flights from Dubai and 18 flights from Sharjah,” she said. “I understand that there is some crisis management plan that the Airport Authority has planned,” said Ramachandran. Anand Pandey, the country manager of Indian Airlines, echoed his counterpart in Air India. Downplayed “The strike is called by the non-executive members of the Airports Authority. It will not affect Air Traffic Control,” he said. Indian Airlines operates 104 flights out of UAE to 16 Indian destinations. “We fly about 1,400 passengers per day. Some minor disruptions that can occur will be in the area of positioning of gate bridges and aero bridges or the terminal could be dirty,” Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the UAE, has downplayed the issue. “Etihad Airways is aware of the proposed industrial action due to take place at airports across India from midnight this evening,” a spokesperson said. Etihad currently flies to four destinations in India: Delhi, Mumbai, and Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, both in Kerala. Cathay Pacific, which carries passengers from the UAE to Mumbai, might not be affected as well. Henry Chan, Cathay Pacific Airways Country Manager for UAE and Oman, said, “Cathay Pacific Airways has not experienced any service disruption with its daily flights to India and confirmed that all our flights as of now are as per the schedule. “We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that our customers are provided with the most up-to-date flight information. Customers can visit our website at www.cathaypacific.com to know latest on arrival and departures of our flights.” Source: Gulf News Report

Par La Rando MIDDLE EAST