The national carrier Air India has announced a plan to launch a direct flight between Lucknow and Jeddah beginning from the winter schedule, commencing in October 2019. The airline intends to link the two cities via New Delhi. The service will reduce the journey time by three hours.
Air India to Deploy Airbus A320
Air India will deploy an Airbus 320 aircraft on the first leg of the journey between Lucknow and Delhi. Subsequently, it will use its wide-bodied aircraft Boeing 787 Dreamliner to Jeddah from New Delhi. The 256-seater Dreamliner will have 18 business class seats and the remaining 238 seats under economy class.
According to the Times of India, Lucknow-Jeddah flight will leave around 2-2.30 am and will reach the destination under six hours. The report cited an Air India spokesperson for the approximate timing estimate. Air India already operates a daily flight to Jeddah from Uttar Pradesh via New Delhi.
The service will benefit thousands of expats, mainly comprising of unskilled and semiskilled workers employed in construction and related fields from Uttar Pradesh and nearby state of Bihar, who work in Jeddah and other nearby areas of Arabia. Besides, Jeddah is also the closest gateway to the Islamic religious cities of Makkah and Madinah.
Disinvestment of Air India
Meanwhile, Air India is undergoing a disinvestment process in this fiscal. The government has so far garnered Rs 12,357.49 crore from disinvestment, according to some official data. As a part of the process, Air India has stopped giving promotions for its employees as well as ceased all kinds of recruitments. The accounts are closed until July 15, 2019, for the purpose. The government is looking to sell its 76% stake in Air India in the next four to five months. The airline has around 10,000 permanent employees. No clarity is provided regarding the employee relocations. Air India currently has only a 13.9% market share in the country.