Kochi-London flight suspension a setback for CIAL

Services were stopped following detection of new COVID-19 variant in UK

The suspension of the Kochi-London direct flight, introduced in August, has turned out to be a setback for Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), which is receiving a lot of enquiries about the resumption of the service.

The service was popular, and the Kochi-London flights were almost filled to capacity, airport sources said. The direct London services were introduced from Kochi along with other cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, and Delhi, and the service from Kochi was in huge demand, they added. Of the 250 seats, bookings were in the range of 220 seats.

However, the services were suspended following the detection of the new COVID-19 variant in the United Kingdom. Though the Civil Aviation Ministry has permitted relaunch of the services from three cities by January 8, Kochi was not included in the list, the sources said.

The popularity of the Kochi-London service had resulted in Air India increasing the number of flights from twice weekly to thrice in October.

Meanwhile, CIAL expects to have normal domestic traffic by the end of January. The pre-COVID days had seen domestic passenger movement to the tune of 15,000 per day. Around 60% of the level has been achieved now, and by the end of the month, passenger traffic is likely move up further. The passenger level is around 8,000 to 8,500 per day now.

The number of flight operations used to be 100 to 110 per day, and the level has now reached around 70 operations, almost equally divided between arrivals and departures.

The airport had handled 1,426 arrival relief flights during the six phases of the Vande Bharat Mission evacuating 1,97,997 passengers till the end of October.

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