Global airlines prep for business as usual: Ramp up old, fresh routes

As the March 27 resumption of international scheduled flights from India inches closer, foreign carriers have started announcing new flights and increased frequencies to airports in the country.

Finnair, which already operates the Delhi-Helsinki route, will add three weekly flights between Mumbai and Helsinki. German carrier Lufthansa announced that it is resuming direct flights between Chennai and Frankfurt thrice every week effective April 29.

Dutch airline KLM will respond to the resumption of scheduled international flights from India by increasing its frequencies to Delhi and Mumbai. The carrier flies to India from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Poland’s LOT Polish Airlines will commence passenger flights from Warsaw to Mumbai from May 31, and resume flights on Delhi-Warsaw sector effective March 29.

Malaysia’s flag carrier Malaysia Airlines will resume 25 weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur to several Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad March 27 onwards.

After a two-year suspension imposed because of Covid-19, the government announced resumption of international scheduled flights from March 27 — a move that was expected to lead to an increased number of flights, thereby providing a relief to high fares on international sectors. In absence of scheduled flights, airlines have been operating international flights under air bubble agreements with 37 countries.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Civil Aviation relaxed Covid19-related regulations, stating that cabin crew members need not wear PPE kits, airlines need not keep three seats vacant on international flights for medical emergencies, and security personnel at airports may resume pat-down search of passengers.

“We are delighted that after a pandemic-related break, our flagship aircraft can again land at Delhi’s IGI Airport. Ensuring a direct connection is an essential element in strengthening Polish-Indian cooperation,” said Rafal Milczarski, president of the Management Board, LOT Polish Airlines.

Speaking on resumption of Malaysia Airlines’ services to five Indian cities, the airline’s country manager—South Asia, Amit Mehta, said, “We will steadily increase capacities to these cities based on demand”.

Separately, jurisdictions of Hong Kong and Singapore have also eased travel rules that will help airlines mount flights to India from these destinations. Earlier this month, Hong Kong announced scrapping of its travel ban on nine countries, including India, that it deemed high-risk from a Covid-19 perspective.

Following Singapore administration’s easing of rules, Singapore Airlines and its low-cost arm Scoot will open up its entire network to fully-vaccinated travellers without the need for quarantine or testing. So far, Singapore had implemented the vaccinated travel lane system, in which travellers could fly in to Singapore only from specific destinations to get exemption from quarantine and testing.

If a passenger was flying to Singapore from a destination other than those specified under the system, they would be subjected to quarantine and testing requirements. From April 1, fully-vaccinated travellers from India will be able to fly from Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Tiruchirapalli, Thiruvananthapuram and Vishakhapatnam without additional restrictions.

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