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Fly to New York from Chandigarh
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
Can you fly from Chandigarh to New York ? Yes, say Air India officials.

Anyone interested in flying on a non-stop Mumbai-New York flight in a new generation Boeing 777 aircraft can do so by taking a Chandigarh-Mumbai flight of Indian without paying anything extra. The booking of baggage to the final destination and boarding passes for the Mumbai-New York flight will be issued in Chandigarh.

Transfer from the domestic terminal to the international terminal will be “seamless and hassle-free”, promise Air India officials. The fare charged will be the same as that charged from a passenger travelling from Mumbai to New York.

It is a buoyant Punjab market and the competition offered by a private airline, Jet Airways, on long-haul flights has made Air India consolidate its Punjab and Chandigarh operations besides concentrating on new hubs, including Srinagar, for expanding its base in north India.

It will be introducing from September 11 a direct flight from Amritsar to New York via London besides seven days a week a flight from Delhi to London and New York, becoming the first international carrier to directly air-link Punjab with the United States. Jet Airways has already introduced the Delhi-Brussels-New York flight and will start the Toronto-Brussels-Delhi flight early next month.

To offset stiff competition offered by Jet Airways on both the European and North American sectors, Air India has decided to extend the “same fare and seamless transfer” facilities to passengers travelling from stations served earlier by national domestic carrier Indian. This facility is being introduced from select centres to start with, assert senior officials of Air India.

“We have fixed a target of generating an additional Rs 100 crore from the Punjab market this year,” says Rohita Jaidka, general manager, northern India, while announcing the launch of a new Amritsar-Delhi-London-New York flight from September 11 besides increasing the frequency of the Amritsar-Dubai flight from five to six days a week. After the merger of Indian, Air India has become the largest airline in Asia, she adds.

“The Punjab market has tremendous scope. We are starting our new flights as we are now getting a brand new fleet of aircraft, including new generation Boeing 777 aircraft. The civil aviation sector has been recording unprecedented growth which is safely above 35 per cent per annum,” reveals Anil Sabharwal, passenger sales manager of the airline.

“We are expanding our operations in the north irrespective of new international flights started by Jet Airways. Since the growth is phenomenal, there is enough for every carrier,” adds Sabharwal.

Air India becomes the second Indian carrier after Jet Airways to start a direct flight from Amritsar to London and the first to link the holy city with New York.

The top brass of Air India will now be camping in the region for the next few days before the launch of the new flights from Amritsar.

“We have on our plans a flight from Srinagar to Dubai besides connecting Amritsar to both San Francisco and Vancouver by the end of this year or early next year. The frequency of the Amritsar-Birmingham-Toronto flight will also be increased from five to seven times a week. Other North American destinations in the future plans include Houston, Washington and Dallas,” reveals Sabharwal.

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