Abu Dhabi: Indian carrier Jet Airways launched direct daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Kochi in the south Indian State of Kerala on Thursday.
The new Jet Airways flight 9W 576 departs Abu Dhabi at 2:40 am local time and arrives Kochi at 8:10 am local time every day, senior executives of the airline announced at a press conference in the capital just before an official launching ceremony.
On return it departs Kochi at 5:55pm local time and arrives at Abu Dhabi at 8:30pm local time. The same flight will depart for Kuwait at 10:05pm local time and arrive there at 11:05pm local time.
A new flight between the UAE and India, especially to Kerala, is a welcome step because Keralites in the UAE have been demanding more flights, M.K Lokesh, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said at the ceremony.
He said there are 700 flights between Indian and the UAE in a week; still there is more demand. “I was told that Jet Airways would be launching new flight from 26 small cities in India to several international destinations. It will help the development of all those small cities,” the envoy said.
The airline has deployed a state-of-the-art Boeing 737-800 Next Generation (NG) aircraft on the new route, offering business and economy classes.
Following a recent deal between Jet and Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi is expected to become the former’s hub of international operations. Etihad Airways will acquire 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways for $379 million (Dh1.39 billion). The strategic investment with a $600 million commitment from Etihad Airways will help further strengthen Jet Airways’ financial position. It will also translate to passenger benefits with expanded codesharing, creating a combined network of 140 destinations.
But the new flight to Kochi is nothing to do with the deal with Etihad, according to the Jet Airways executives. “It is our own flight. We just have added one more route to our existing services,” Bram Steller, Executive Vice President, International Sales and Services of Jet Airways, said.
About the expansion plan with the Etihad Airways, Steller said, the two airlines still await the approval for their deal from regulators of both countries. “It will be illegal to tell anything before regulators’ approval,” he said.
Jet fights charge slightly more than budget airline fares but give premium service, Shakir Kantawala, General Manager, Middle East and North Africa (Mena), said.
With a premium of around Dh200 [compared to budgets airline fares], customers can get more baggage allowance and better services such as food and in-flight entertainment, he said.
An inaugural fare offer starts from Dh670 for one-way and Dh1280 for return tickets, [which will be changed in due course], said Jaleel Khalid, General Manager, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Kuwait.
He said generally Jet offers a standard baggage allowance of 40kg per passenger [30kg checked-in and 10kg hand baggage]. But during the peak period, this is reduced to 30kg [23kg checked in and 7kg hand baggage].
Jet currently operates to 72 destinations in India and abroad with 115 aircraft, including over 50 flights between India and the Gulf. It operates to Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Doha, Kuwait, Muscat and Sharjah, as well as Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam, from several cities in India.
It also has double daily flights between Mumbai and Kuwait.