State-run Air India’s subsidiary Air India Express today commenced its first flight from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi to Sharjah in the Gulf, bringing the temple city on the international air map.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma inaugurated the Varanasi-Sharjah flight (IX 183) from the city’s Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, which took off with 170 passengers onboard, Air India said in a release.
Air India Express (AIE) is the international budget arm of Air India and operates across the Middle-east and South-east Asia, besides some domestic destinations.
On this occasion, Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rohit Nandan, senior Civil Aviation Ministry and Air India officials were present.
The passengers onboard the Boeing 737-800 plane were accorded a warm welcome with rose buds, the release said.
“It is a momentous occasion for Varanasi, areas nearby and the expatriate Indian community in the UAE which will now have safe, convenient and affordable, direct air travel options,” Sharma said.
The airline has offered an introductory one-way discounted fare of Rs 8,600 (all inclusive) for a limited period for the new sector.
Air India has also introduced a hub and spoke service from Varanasi, which will offer convenient links to many international destinations, by connecting the passengers to/from Air India flights in Delhi, the release said.
“Also, the hub and spoke facility will be instrumental in enhancing tourism as it will offer convenient connections to various countries internationally. I congratulate Air India for this pioneering initiative,” he said.
The non-stop flight will operate thrice-a-week on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, fulfilling a long-awaiting need of passengers of the areas, in and around Varanasi, Air India said.
With the newly-introduced hub and spoke service, Air India will offer convenient links to many international destinations such as Jeddah, Moscow, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong by connecting the passengers to/from Air India flights.
“It has always been our endeavour to keep in mind the needs of our travellers and upgrade our services. We have spread our wings and introduced a direct flight from Varanasi to Sharjah,” Nandan said.
Varanasi today became the 12th domestic station of Air India Express, Nandan added.