Govt To Hold Talks With Turkey On Direct Flights

New Delhi, January 21: | Updated: Jan 22 2003, 05:30am hrs
Travellers between Turkey and India may finally find the two lands closer. The civil aviation ministry, along with Air India (A-I), is expected to hold talks with Turkish aviation authorities over the next few days to work out direct air connections between the two countries.

Also, Italy and Delhi may soon have direct flights servicing the two destinations. At present, there are no direct flights between these two countries while Italys carrier Alitalia operates flights only to Mumbai.

The bilateral talks (between Turkey and India) will pave way for the carriers to work out operations between the two countries, a senior government official said.

Sources said Italy had recently sought an increase in destinations in India, with Delhi as a point of call.

Last year, Union minister of civil aviation Shahnawaz Hussain had held talks with Turkish authorities on a host of issues, including air connections. The government is keen to provide direct air links with as many countries as possible, the minister had said earlier.

But flag carrier A-I is not able to service many of the air service agreements because of its small fleet size. It had recently introduced flights between Frankfurt and Paris-Newark sectors and some on the Gulf and South-East Asian destinations.

Besides, the flag carrier is trying to meet the market requirements and has introduced four direct flights per week between Mumbai-Dubai-Mumbai.

Our load factors have been rising as the airline has added capacity by taking five Airbus A310 aircraft on lease in 2001, and four A310s are coming this fiscal. We are also taking one Boeing 747-400 aircraft. We have re-deployed capacity and done route rationalisation, an A-I official said.

The load factors for the first and business class on the flag carrier have also seen a jump due to various promotional schemes such as companion free and senior citizen schemes launched recently.

The load factors on the 1st and business classes have gone up by a huge 70 per cent last year from 20 to 25 per cent in the previous year, but the actual increase in revenues in this category is 40 to 45 per cent only as some people would travel on a companion ticket.