India’s national flag carrier Air India, which relaunched Delhi-Doha direct service after a decade with weekly four flights, is aiming to make it seven trips a week, considering the increasing business potential between the two countries.
Although the move to extend the service to seven days a week will depend on yields and the number of passengers, the full service carrier, which is now under disinvestment or privatisation process, is hopeful of garnering sizeable share in the ‘under-tapped’ market, said Veena Negi, Air India’s country manager (Qatar) in the presence of commercial director Meenakshi Mallik and regional manager (Gulf, Middle East and Africa) Mohit Sain.
Air India, which was one of the first airlines to start operations to Qatar in 1976 and continued flying until 2009, now uses A320 Neo which comes in twin configuration of 12 business class seats and 150 economy seats.
On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, AI971 will depart Delhi at 7.50pm and arrive in Doha at 9.35pm. On Friday, it will leave Delhi at 8.50pm and reach Doha at 10.35pm, the website shows.
Then, AI972 will depart Doha at 10.35pm on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and arrive in Delhi at 5am (next day). On Friday, it will leave Doha at 11.35pm and reach Delhi at 5.50am (next day).
Malik said Qatar is a very big market to be tapped by Air India because of the increasing trade and business relations between Qatar and India.
India is among the top five countries with which Qatar has growing merchandise trade ties and as per the latest statistics, Doha’s imports from India amounted to QR0.44bn and exports to India were valued at QR2.61bn in September this year, according to the Planning and Statistics Authority data.
The re-entry of Air India in the sector will give more options for customers as at present, Qatar Airways and Indigo offer direct flights between the two capitals.
The move from the national carrier also comes in the backdrop of now defunct Jet Airways, which had the flying rights between Doha and Delhi.
Negi said the timings, especially the return, would be convenient for those travellers who transit to other destinations within India and Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) countries such as Nepal.
Air India allows 30kg baggage allowance for economy class travellers and excess baggage would be charged at QR55 per kg.
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The Arab states of the Persian Gulf are the seven Arab states which border the Persian Gulf, namely Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).This excludes the non-Arab state of Iran. All of these nations except Iraq are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).