KOLKATA: A nearly four-fold increase in Emirates Airlines flight count from next month and applications from AirAsia Thailand and Malaysia AirAsia to resume flights to Kolkata — international carriers are bracing up to touch down at Kolkata airport following India’s decision to open its skies to scheduled international flights from March 27.
Several other airlines, including IndiGo and Qatar, are planning to increase the flight frequency while still others are waiting in the wings to check out flyers’ response before they too fly into Kolkata.
Emirates, which carried bulk of the Europe and US-bound traffic via Dubai till the pandemic disrupted global travel in March 2020, is set to return with 11 flights a week, up from three it currently operates. These include a daily morning flight and evening flight on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Sources in the industry said AirAsia Thailand has applied for flights to Kolkata from Bangkok beginning April 2 while Malaysia AirAsia has applied for operations from April 15.
IndiGo Airlines, SpiceJet and Go First have decided to defer the plans to start flights between Kolkata and Thailand from this week to March 27 so that they can operate scheduled flights instead of those under the bubble agreement.
Thai Smile, which had announced plans to start three times-a-week operations from March 19, may stick to the timeline but enhance the frequency after March 27..
Sources said Emirates was also eyeing daily operations between Kolkata and Dubai instead of three times-a-week at present. IndiGo, which has two flights-a-week operations to Dubai, may increase it to a daily service. SpiceJet, which used to operate daily flights prior to the pandemic, is yet to make an announcement.
Etihad is silent on resuming operations. But Qatar that is operating two flights-a-week between Doha and Kolkata can increase the frequency to five-seven flights-a-week.
Fly Dubai that is operating daily flights between Dubai and Kolkata may reduce flights once Emirates increases its frequency,.
Back to Southeast Asia, IndiGo may look at resuming daily flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kolkata.Singapore Airlines meanwhile, is bracing up for increased traffic following the decision to convert the flight from Kolkata into a vaccination travel lane in which inoculated passengers will not require to be quarantined on arrival in Singapore.
In south Asia, frequency of flights between Dhaka and Kolkata could increase while the airlink between Kolkata and Bhutan as well as Nepal could get re-established. But there are no immediate plans yet to reconnect Sri Lanka and Myanmar. “Unless a tourist visa is issued, travel between Bangladesh and India will remain a challenge,” said a travel industry official.