At least 20 Air India Express flights from the UAE to India are now either facing cancellation or rescheduling.
"From 48 flights, weekly flight schedules are down to 28," said Abhay Pathak, Air India's Regional Manager of Gulf, Middle East and Africa.
This latest news comes in the wake of the airline trying to work-out a new schedule for bookings made between August 16 and 22, the scheduled Eid holiday break.
After initially informing customers of cancellations, yesterday the airline announced plans to reschedule.
Today Air India says it has not refused refunds to customers affected by cancelled or rescheduled Air India Express flights from the UAE to India.
The clarification came amidst concerns from passengers that full repayments will be refused by the airline given that flights may be rescheduled an not cancelled.
The Air India statement to this website stated that those who had booked tickets online will experience some minor delays in getting refunds.
“Firstly, we are giving full refunds to all passengers who have been affected. However, we are also trying our best accommodate passengers on other Air India flights,” said Pathak.
Emirates 24|7 had reported that passengers who had booked their tickets to fly on Air India Express between August 16 to 22 are being informed that their flights have been cancelled and they need to make alternate arrangements.
According to him the problem is a spillover from the 58-day pilots strike that seriously affected flight schedules and travel plans of thousands of passengers.
“What we are witnessing is a spillover effect. Many of the pilots who went on strike will need a medical examination before they can start flying again. Usually a medical examination is required for all pilots who remain absent from work for 15 days in a row,” he added.
Air India issued a statement yesterday morning saying it has not cancelled flights during the Eid holidays, but is only rescheduling them.
“Passengers are being informed through SMS and email. We will get a clear picture about the reschedule within the next two days,” said Abhay Pathak, Air India's Regional Manager of Gulf, Middle East and Africa.
However, when asked if passengers will all be accommodated on the dates they have booked on following the reschedule, Pathak failed to give a clear answer.
“We are still waiting for the slots. In two days we will get to know the exact schedule,” he added.
Emirates 24|7 had reported that passengers who had booked their tickets to fly on Air India Express between August 16 to 22 were being informed that their flights have been cancelled and they need to make alternate arrangements.
“They are asking us to either book alternate flights or are willing to postpone the dates.
"Otherwise they are even offering full refund. But it's too late for us to find alternate bookings,” said one of the passengers.
Many travel agents too have said they are clueless about the situation.
Some passengers who had booked their tickets to fly between August 16 to 22 did recieve an email informing that their flights have been cancelled and they need to make alternate arrangements.
The airline did not give any reason for why it is cancelling the flights except that passengers are being informed well in advance and that they should look for alternate flights.
Following the cancellations, affected passengers will now have to pay more than 150 per cent to book flights on private airlines for the same dates. Most flights are fully booked for Eid holidays.
Jayanthan one of the passengers says he had planned his holidays well in advance and the announcement is nothing but a shocker. “Tickets are at its peak. A one way ticket to Calicut is now costing me Dh2,000 plus. I had initially booked the Air India Express ticket for Dh1000,” he said.
Meanwhile according to reports, Air India Express has announced new schedule of flight operating from the Middle East to Mangalore and Mumbai, effective July 23.
The Mangalore-Kuwait-Mangalore flight will operate on three days - Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and will depart at 5.45 pm from Mangalore.
The Mangalore Bahrain flight will now operate on Saturdays and will depart Mangalore at 10 am.
The Mumbai flight will operate on Mondays and will depart at 10.30 am.