Dubai : India’s two key cities of New Delhi and Mumbai will be the main beneficiaries as the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Emirates airline embarks on a major expansion spree in the subcontinent this winter.
The Dubai-based carrier will add 31 weekly flights to India in a phased manner, taking its total number of weekly flights to 10 destinations in India to 163 and further enhancing its reputation as the largest foreign carrier to serve India, the airline said in a statement.
“Owing to the liberalisation of the Indian skies and growing demand for air travel, Emirates is extending its presence in India,” said Salem Obaidalla, Emirates’ senior vice-president for commercial operations in West Asia, Indian Ocean and Africa.
“Our winter expansion – the single largest growth in our operations – closely follows the extension of services in the summer of this year, and represents our commitment to the market and our confidence in its potential,” he added.
The expansion will be implemented in a phased manner and the key cities of Mumbai and New Delhi will be the main beneficiaries.
Other important commercial hubs, including Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi, will also be served with additional flights.
“The additional frequencies have been timed to offer passengers more consistent schedules and seamless connections to onward points in Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East,” Obaidalla said.
The UAE is home to around 1.5 million expatriate Indians.
Releasing details of its expansion plan, the airline said it would increase its operations to New Delhi with the launch of seven additional frequencies with immediate effect, taking the number of weekly flights to the Indian capital from 18 to 25.
“Cargo movement will also gain momentum as the increased capacity will support the export of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, garments, chemicals, meat, fruits and vegetables to the Middle East, Africa, Europe and America. The additional flights will boost weekly cargo capacity to 389 tonnes,” the airline stated.
The UAE carrier will also start a fifth daily flight to Mumbai from Feb 1 next year.
“The enhanced capacity – 35 flights per week (to Mumbai) – will provide corporate travellers smooth connections to global business hubs via Dubai. Cargo capacity on the route will increase to 641 tonnes per week,” it said.
Between now and February 2009, the Emirates will start five new services to Bangalore, taking the number of its weekly flights to the Karnataka capital to 20.
The airline will also introduce four additional flights per week to Chennai with immediate effect and in the next phase of expansion in February 2009 one more flight will be added, taking the total weekly count to the Tamil Nadu capital up to 19 flights.
In addition to its 10 weekly flights to Kochi in Kerala, Emirates will introduce a double-daily operation by launching two additional flights per week with immediate effect, and adding two more flights in February next year.
Hyderabad will get three additional flights – two with immediate effect and one more in December.
“Post-expansion, Emirates will serve the city with a triple-daily operation,” the airline statement said.