Jet Airways withdraws Chennai-Tiruchi-Chennai flight

The Jet Airways is set to withdraw one of its three services a day on the Chennai-Tiruchi-Chennai sector from April, marking a setback for the travel industry lobbying for strengthening domestic air connectivity from the city.

The airline, which currently operates three flights a day on the sector, has decided to withdraw its morning service under its summer schedule. Only recently, Jet Airways had withdrawn a service to Kochi from here. It had been providing a connecting service to Bangalore. In the past, SpiceJet had withdrawn its Chennai-Tiruchi-Chennai service.

The developments have come as a shock to the travel trade and the industry, who had been pitching for increasing domestic services from the city. The Tiruchi Airport currently handles 104 flights a week, of which just 28 are domestic services, and the rest international. Although the Air India Express operates a daily service to Chennai, it is essentially an extension of an international flight. The schedule of the flight, operated in the afternoons, is not considered ideal.

While there has been an increase in the number of flights operated to foreign destinations from the city, new domestic flights are hard to come by. At present, the airport has flights to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and Colombo and more international airlines are eyeing the city for starting operations. On the other hand, there is very little interest shown by the airlines to operate flights to domestic destinations from Tiruchi.

Connectivity

The excellent rail and road connectivity enjoyed by the city is cited as one of the factors for the hesitation of air operators to come up with domestic flights.

But travel industry representatives feel that it is time the city got connections to major domestic destinations. They pointed out that a weekly flight to Mumbai operated by Air India Express some time ago had attracted consistent load factor, despite the absence of a convenient return flight. Over the past few years, flights introduced by Simplyfly Deccan and Kingfisher Airlines to Bangalore have been withdrawn.

Even now, the Jet Airways decision to withdraw the morning service was more due to operational reasons rather than considerations of load factor, they said.

“There is definitely demand for services to Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi. Though the out bound traffic on the domestic sector is good, airlines say there is not much in-bound traffic. We have been lobbying with the airlines to introduce more domestic services,” said M.S. Paramasivam, Chairman, TAAI, South Tamil Nadu Chapter.

Domestic cargo

Industry operators want airlines to operate flights on convenient timings for passengers rather than introducing services to the city to utilise their turn around time. If more domestic connectivity were to be strengthened, domestic cargo movement would increase substantially, they said.