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[File picture] Employees gather around a newly acquired Air India B-787 Dreamliner in 2012. The decision to allow FDI into the flag carrier was taken by the Union cabinet at a meeting. Image Credit: PTI

Dubai: Keralites in Dubai are protesting against Air India halting its Dreamliner service to Kochi, alleging the move caused shortage of seats during peak travel time, thereby aiding hike in airfare.

Representing various community organisations, three social workers from the south Indian state on Thursday met Mohit Sain, Air India regional manager for Gulf Middle East and Africa.

P.K. Anwar Naha and advocates Hashik T.K and Sajid Aboobacker, who met the official in Dubai, said in a media statement that the decision of India’s national career to halt the B787 Dreamliner service to the profitable Kochi route and provide additional service to Mumbai and Delhi where one Dreamliner service is already operational was unfair.

They pointed out that the move, which was implemented on March 4, has led to the reduction of thousands of seats to Kochi in a month and added to the shortage of seats caused by the grounding of Jet Airways flights.

Naha said there is a large number of Indian families visiting Dubai due to school vacation in Kerala and also several Indians are flying back home for Eid holidays.

“Naturally, the demand is going high and the prices are going higher. This is something that Air India and Civil Aviation Ministry could have prevented,” he told Gulf News.

The social workers said they were assured that the matter would be taken up with the Air India Headquarters in New Delhi.

When contacted, an Air India spokesperson in New Delhi told Gulf News over phone that the airline had stopped the Dreamliner service to Kochi temporarily.

He said four Dreamliner aircraft were grounded for technical repairs and the Kochi service will be resumed once these aircraft are operational. “We expect to resume the Dreamliner service in the Kochi-Dubai route by mid-June, or latest by end of June,” he added.