From June 16 to October 15 due to ‘operational reasons’; ‘no drop in load factor’

Low cost carrier Air Asia will temporarily suspend four flights a week on the Kuala Lumpur-Tiruchi-Kuala Lumpur sector from June 16 to October 15 due to “operational reasons.”

One of the major operators from the city, the airline currently has 21 flights a week, with three flights a day, on the sector. The airline will now withdraw its afternoon flights on four days a week. However, it will continue to operate three flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, airport sources told The Hindu. Confirming the move, airline sources here termed it as a temporary suspension owing to operational reasons including maintenance of aircrafts. “The flights will resume from October 16,” they affirmed and maintained that there was no drop in the passenger load factor. All flights of the airline, which operates 180-seater Airbus A320 aircraft on the sector, have been operating to 90 to 95 per cent load factor, the sources said. Travel agents too say that there is no drop in passenger traffic to Kuala Lumpur and temporary suspension of flights for operational reasons is normal among airlines. They also point out that Tiger Airways recently suspended its second frequency to Singapore from Tiruchi on Mondays as a temporary measure till June 30.

“There is good passenger traffic on the sector. Many Indian families regularly visit places of worship in and around Tiruchi. There is also a steady rise in tourists travelling to Malaysia from here,” says M.S.Paramasivam, chairman, Travel Agents Association of India, South Tamil Nadu Chapter.

With the Tiruchi International Airport recording a 15.9 per cent increase in international passenger traffic movement during 2013-14 over the previous year, many international airlines, especially low cost carriers, have been eyeing the market over the past few years. Air Asia, which entered the Tiruchi market in December 2008 with one flight a day, gradually increased its frequency on the sector. The third daily frequency was being operated since August 2013.

Given the good traffic on the sector, Malaysia-based Malindo Air too launched a daily service to Kuala Lumpur from here in January this year and added a second frequency on two days a week in April.