Under new winter schedule effective October 28 despite commanding load factor of about 80%; travel industry disappointed

Air India Express, a major air operator from the city, has decided to withdraw its twice-a-week service on the Chennai-Tiruchi-Abu Dhabi/Abu Dhabi-Tiruchi-Chennai sector under its winter schedule, effective October 28, much to the discontent of the travel industry here.

The move, coming after repeated curtailment of various services in December last year and in February this year, has come as a shock to the travel industry here. According to sources, the service to Abu Dhabi currently operated on Thursdays and Saturdays would stand withdrawn under the winter schedule that would be in effect till March end next year. However, the thrice-a-week Tiruchi-Dubai-Tiruchi service would be made a daily service under the winter schedule.

The withdrawal of the Abu Dhabi service would also entail cancellation of a couple of flights a week on Chennai-Tiruchi/Tiruchi-Chennai sector too.

Travel industry representatives are flabbergasted by the continuing action of Air India Express to withdraw services on profitable routes from Tiruchi such as the Abu Dhabi service.

The service was one of the earliest services being operated by the national carrier from Tiruchi and had been commanding a good load factor of about 80 per cent.

Migrant workers

A large number of migrant workers from the Central and Southern districts have been patronising the service and the withdrawal of the service would cause much inconvenience to them, they said.

Notwithstanding the strong opposition from the travel trade here, Air India Express has been continuously withdrawing flights ex-Tiruchi over the past 10 months.

In December last year, it withdrew 10 flights a week from Tiruchi citing crew constraints.

The Abu Dhabi service was curtailed to twice a week instead of three services and daily direct Tiruchi-Kuala Lumpur service was reduced to three days a week. Subsequently, the Kuala Lumpur service was fully withdrawn in February and instead a connection was offered from Chennai four days a week, evoking strong protests from the travel industry here.

“We are pained by Air India’s decisions to withdraw services from Tiruchi. The Abu Dhabi service was very popular among semi-skilled migrant workers from the southern districts, especially those working in oil companies in Abu Dhabi. The withdrawal of the service would force them to depend on services from Chennai,” said M.S. Paramasivam, chairman, Travel Agents Association of India, South Tamil Nadu Chapter.

The travel industry representatives have had already registered their strong opposition to the frequent cancellation of flights over the past several months. It is regrettable that more and more flights are cancelled from Tiruchi.

Despite being a highly profitable station for the airline, Tiruchi was being accorded a step-motherly treatment, they said and added that decisions would only help the private carriers. Representations to the Civil Aviation Minister have not received a favourable response so far, they regretted.