Even as Congress MP Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter on Thursday criticising Air India for cancelling its scheduled flight from Thiruvananthapuram to Bengaluru from August 23 to 27, which is during the Onam festival week, thus inconveniencing passengers who had booked months in advance, the national carrier said that the cancellation has been done to utilise the aircraft for Haj pilgrims. Tharoor is a member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram.
“Stunned to learn that @airindiain has cancelled its scheduled flights from Trivandrum to Bangalore during Onam week Aug 23-27. Many had booked months in advance since Onam is the busiest travel period in Kerala. Only an airline ndifferent2customers could have done such a thing!” Tharoor tweeted during the day.
An Air India official said that flights have been pulled out of the sector to serve Haj pilgrims. “The Airbus A319 aircraft flying on the Bengaluru-Thiruvananthapuram route will be operating for Haj pilgrimage. Aircraft have been pulled out of other routes as well. These are all operational decisions that the airline takes,” the official said.
Last month, Air India had withdrawn its daily flight between Mumbai-Chennai-Madurai for serving Haj pilgrims. It also suspended flight operations between Bhubaneswar and Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar and Bangkok due to the same reasons. Minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha refused to comment on Air India’s decision.