The direct connectivity between Kochi and Europe, a long-cherished demand of the NRIs and business community in Kochi is fructified today as Air India commenced direct services in London-Kochi sector. CIAL welcomed the AI 1186 aircraft with a water salute as a mark of gratitude. As part of promoting direct connectivity to Europe, CIAL has decided to waive off entire landing fee for airlines operating direct European services to Kochi. The decision will give instant advantage for the national carrier as it schedules direct London-Kochi flight till 27th September.
The Air India flight from London-Heathrow Airport (LHR) landed at Kochi at 0328 on Friday with 130 passengers on board. A ‘ follow me ‘ vehicle service was facilitated by CIAL and as the aircraft entered taxiway link, the fire tenders of CIAL Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting team rendered water salute. Water salute is a welcoming ritual offered by an airport operator to receive a new service/a new model aircraft or to mark the aviation fraternity’s respect to a pilot who is commanding his last flight, just before his/her retirement. The Air India flight departed to London at 0630 with 229 passengers. As part of Vande Bharath mission, Air India schedules LHR-COK-LHR direct flight services till 27th September. There will be two services weekly. The Friday flight is scheduled to land at COK at 0400 and will depart to LHR at 0600 whereas the second service will come at 0015 on Sundays and depart at 1220 on the same day. This is the first time that the national carrier operates a direct London service from Kochi and back. It also operates stopover flights from LHR, Australia and from US cities to COK regularly.
CIAL had taken the decision to waive off landing fee for airlines operating direct flights from Europe years back and has been in discussion with many of them. The decision, an economy booster, will finally reflect in the ticket price as the airlines can pass on the discount eventually to the passenger. The airport operator also hopes that, the iconic decision, that too in time of a pandemic will attract more airlines to operate services to Europe.
As the Ministry of Civil aviation permits ‘ travel bubble ‘ operations owing to the bilateral agreements between India and other countries in sharing air space, more airlines have announced the commencement of services, apart from the existing schedules catering to Middle East, Africa, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. Indigo has informed that it will operate new services to DOH, DXB, and KWI in September. Air India will continue with the Vande Bharath Mission schedules which will operate stopover flights from US, Australia and Europe.