After a gap of five years, Air India resumed the operation of its jumbo flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from the Calicut international airport from Monday.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V. Muraleedharan, who inaugurated the service of the wide-bodied aircraft, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri for their efforts to increase the air connectivity to Kerala destinations.
The Air India flight Boeing 747-400 was accorded a ceremonial water salute on the occasion.
Twice a week
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) recently gave approval to the national flag carrier to operate direct flight initially twice a week, Monday and Saturday.
The flight will land at Calicut at 7.05 a.m. and depart for Jeddah at 5.30 p.m. The flight, carrying 420 passengers, will reach Jeddah at 9.15 p.m. From Jeddah, the flight will depart from Fridays and Sundays at 11.15 p.m. Regarding configuration, the jet will have 12 seats for first class, 26 for business and 385 for economy.
The operation of wide-bodied aircraft of Air India began in 2002, but it was banned at the Calicut airport from May 2015 in the wake of a court of inquiry report on the Air India accident at Mangaluru.
However, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) approved the proposal of Air India to recommence operations of aircraft under Code E. This was after it conducted a safety assessment and submitted a report in August last. But it had to rectify some anomalies pertaining to a compatibility study.
Even after that the resumption of service got delayed as Air India officials had proposed that its direct flight be allowed to arrive in the morning and depart only in the evening.
So far Air India has not been given permission to operate Haj flights from Calicut. Only Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines), which had already secured a No Objection Certificate in December 2018, now operates Haj flights with its wide-bodied aircraft.
Dubai-based Emirates, which has also got approval to operate wide-bodied aircraft, is yet to begin services.
P.K. Kunhalikutty, chairman, advisory committee of the Calicut International Airport, M.K. Raghavan, Kozhikode MP, P.V. Abdul Wahab, Rajya Sabha MP, and Calicut Airport Director K. Srinivasa Rao were present.
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