Sahara keen on starting Dubai flights

DUBAI - Recognised as India's first private airline to start international operations, Air Sahara is a show-stopper as a new entrant at this year's Arabian Travel Market (ATM).

By Ramona Ruiz

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Published: Fri 7 May 2004, 10:23 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:24 PM

Nikhil Dhodapkar, General Manager, Marketing, Air Sahara, told Khaleej Times in an interview: "We look at the Middle East as a big market, and my partners and I decided to participate this year at the ATM. We've been pleasantly surprised at the huge turnout of exhibitors and trade visitors to this show."

India, he noted, has a large presence in the Middle East's premier travel and tourism, and this demonstrates the country's commitment towards promoting its tourism destinations.

"We will agressively be promoting our airline, along with our general sales agent (GSA) in the UAE, Al Rais Travels. We expect to talk to people about our airline's services and flight network," Mr Dhodaplar said. Air Sahara, he stated, launched two flights to Colombo from Chennai and Bangalore early this year. It currently flies to 23 cities in India and Colombo, and will be launching new services to Nepal (Delhi to Kathmandu) and Bangladesh (Kolkata to Dhaka) within the next few weeks. Air Sahara operates 120 flights a day and has 300 convenient flight connections daily for corporate and leisure travellers.

"The Indian government had recently allowed domestic private sector airlines to operate to the Saarc (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) region, and we were the first private airline to fly international," Mr Dhodapkar stressed.

Indian private airlines have been given the nod to fly from India to Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan and Bhutan.

"We are keen on operating flights to Dubai and the Middle East region. India is gradually opening its skies in different phases, and we certainly hope to add new services not only within the Saarc region but elsewhere in the United States, the Middle East and Asean countries," he said.

Air Sahara, which has established itself as the most innovative airline, has been witnessing a strong demand in the market.

"Our average passenger load factor (PLF) is over 70 per cent for the last seven months, and we have a 100 per cent PLF on some of our flights," Mr Mr Dhodapkar said.

In addition to e-ticketing, among the airline's prominent innovations include Bid n' Win, Sixer in the Air and Super Sixer, Square Drive and Super Four, Steal a Seat and Fly Now, Pay Latero.

The Sixer in the Air & Super Sixer is a unique six-coupon ticket, useable anywhere across the Air Sahara network. Sixer Freedom is also available for overseas fliers.

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