New Delhi, Aug 18: Air India Express, a subsidiary of the national carrier, on Monday commenced tri-weekly direct flight service between the temple city of Varanasi and Sharjah.
"It is a momentous occasion for Varanasi, areas nearby and the expatriate Indian community in the UAE which will now have safe, convenient and affordable direct air travel option," said Mahesh Sharma, minister of state (MoS), civil aviation, culture and tourism.
Sharma was speaking at the inauguration of the flight service from Varanasi's Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport.
The international low cost subsidiary of Air India is offering both a direct flight and a hub-and-spook service via New Delhi on the Varanasi-Sharjah route.
"The hub-and-spoke facility will be instrumental in enhancing tourism as it will offer convenient connections to various countries internationally," Sharma added.
The tri-weekly direct service will be operated on a 186-seater Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
On the other hand, the hub-and-spook service will further offer options to other destinations like Jeddah, Moscow, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong via Air India's connecting flights from New Delhi.
"It has always been our endeavor to keep in mind the needs of our travelers and upgrade our services," said Rohit Nandan, chairman and managing direct, Air India.
To promote the new service, the airline is allowing passengers booked on the Dubai-Lucknow sector to a chance to rebook on the Varanasi-Sharjah flight at no extra cost.
To further sweeten the deal, the airline is offering the service at an introductory discounted fare of Rs.8,600 one way inclusive of all taxes.
Currently, the low cost international subsidiary of Air India operates 175 weekly flights, connecting 11 domestic and 12 international destinations.