Varanasi. Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Minister of State for Civil Aviation Dr Mahesh Sharma on August 17 jointly inaugurated direct flight of Air India’s budget arm Air India Express between Varanasi and Sharjah. The Varanasi-Sharjah flight, IX 183, took off from Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Varanasi with 170 passengers.
Air India Express has deployed a 186-seater Boeing 737-800 aircraft which will depart from Varanasi thrice a week at 1700 hours and arrive Sharjah at 1930 hours. On the return leg, flight IX 184 will depart from Sharjah at 1050 hours and will arrive in Varanasi at 1600 hours. The non-stop flight will operate on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, fulfilling a long-standing need of passengers of the areas, in and around Varanasi.
Air India also introduced a hub and spoke service from Varanasi, which will offer convenient links to many international destinations, by connecting the passengers to/from Air India flights in Delhi. With the newly introduced hub and spoke service, Air India will offer convenient links to many international destinations in the Gulf countries, Jeddah, Moscow, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong by connecting the passengers to/from Air India flights. The new hub and spoke flight, AI 039, will leave Delhi at 1035 hours and reach Varanasi at 1145 hours. The corresponding incoming flight AI 049 from Varanasi will reach Delhi at 1720 hours after taking off at 1550 hours from Varanasi.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Raju said that the new flight will improve the air connectivity. He also said that if Uttar Pradesh becomes more civil aviation friendly, connectivity will go up easily. He also emphasised upon the need of establishing training centers to improve the skills for aviation sector.
The MoS said that Varanasi is an important destination for tourism particularly religious tourism. This flight will help in boosting the tourism in Varanasi.
Notably, Varanasi happens to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency and the new flight service comes at a time when he is on a two-day (August 16-17) visit to UAE.
© India Strategic