Passengers travelling to and from India and Doha would now not only take an hour longer to fly but would also need to carry around 10 kg less luggage with them. As a result of the prevailing tension between Qatar and other Gulf states, airlines from India are taking a longer route over Iran and Pakistan and to cope with this the airlines have reduced the maximum weight baggage that a passenger can carry from 30 kg to 20 kg. Air India Express – the low cost subsidiary of Air India which operates on the gulf routes from the southern states – has already brought about this restriction.
According to an official of the airline, the decision was taken since the weight of the aircraft needs to be reduced to fly an extra hour. Air India Express operates flights between four south Indian cities – Mangalore, Kozhikode, Trivandrum and Kochi – and Doha the capital of Qatar. The most number flights to Doha are operated from Kozhikode.
Apart from the baggage the airline will also look to operate six new Boeing 737 – 800 aircraft, that it received recently on lease, on the new route to Doha since these aircraft have a new seat configuration which is less than the existing one. As a result these new aircraft can fly more than five hours.
“We will have to review our network plans because of the new route that we will operate over Pakistan and Iran. Only our new 737 aircraft can fly for more than 5 hours so probably we will use only these new planes only which will have an impact on the operations,” added the official mentioned above.
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Jet Airways on the other hand is trying to obtain clearance from the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA, UAE) to overfly the UAE airspace.
The full service airline will operate on the alternative northern routes via Iran, avoiding the UAE airspace and will therefore incur an additional flying time of approximately ten to fifty minutes. “Our schedules have been provided to the GCAA. Once approved, our flights will be able to resume operating on the normal routes. We are in touch with the authorities. The airline plans to augment its crew numbers to accommodate for the additional flying time,” said the airline in response to a query.
Currently, Jet Airways operates five daily flights and one flight from Delhi (three times a week) between India and Doha.
India’s largest low cost carrier Indigo also operates on the Delhi to Doha route and the airline presumably will take similar efforts to continue its operations to Qatar.
“With the ongoing news on Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain breaking diplomatic ties with Qatar over terrorism, the airlines have suspended all flights to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kingdom of Bahrain and Egypt until further notice. All customers booked on affected flights will be provided with alternative options,” said a spokesperson of Qatar airlines in a statement.