New Delhi: Starting from February 16, Air India Express is launching a flight service that will connect Surat to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) directly. The international budget arm of Air India has plans to deploy Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft on the route. The flight will leave from Sharjah at 7.35 pm and arrive in Surat at 11.45 pm on Mondays and Saturdays, a statement released by the airline said.
From Surat, the flight will depart at 12:30 am and arrive in Sharjah at 02:15 am on Tuesdays and Sundays. The state-owned carrier is planning to upgrade the frequency of the service to four flights a week in the summer schedule.
With the introduction of this new service, the Surat-Sharjah route will be the 47th non-stop direct flight operated by Air India Express between destinations in India and the Gulf region.
According to the official statement, Air India is set to further expand its operations in its summer schedule this year, which will begin from March 31. Armed with a fleet of 25 Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft, Air India has planned 653 weekly departures in the new schedule, as opposed to 621 departures per week currently.
The airline said that the increase in operations will be achieved by boosting capacity addition and maximising aircraft utilisation, which will go up to 13.4 hours per day per aircraft in the summer schedule as compared to the current 13.3 hours.
The statement released by Air India said, "Summer 2019 will witness additional capacity being deployed to strengthen the network between Gulf and Kerala. There will be two more flights on Mondays and Fridays, bringing the total flights on Kannur — Abu Dhabi sector to five flights per week launch of thrice weekly flights from Kannur to Muscat." It added that five flights will operate on the Kozhikode-Riyadh route in the Summer Schedule for 2019, instead of the four flights that ply every week.
The airline has also sought necessary slot approvals for all the above mentioned new operations and enhancements planned from Kannur.