Air India will increase flight frequency to the United States from next month, a move that will be welcomed by students heading to North America for higher studies.
The national carrier issued the assurance after being forced to reschedule/cancel several flights due to US restrictions on account of COVID-19. Following the cancellations, social media was flooded by students complaining that their flights had been rescheduled without prior notice.
Air India operated around 40 flights per week to the US pre-pandemic. Last month the figure was down to 11. The frequency is being increased to 22 from August 7, the airline said, without specifying when it will be able to resume full service.
“With the recent surge in COVID cases and the US Presidential Proclamation restricting flights from India, some of our flights to the USA, including those between Mumbai and Newark, had to be cancelled,” Air India told NDTV. “These were effected well in advance and passengers were kept aware of these cancellations, which were for reasons beyond our control.”
“Vis-a-vis the approximate 40 flights we used to operate to the USA before the Presidential Proclamation, we could operate 11 flights per week to USA in July 2021. The frequency is being increased to 22 from 7th August, 2021. With the frequency being enhanced on the US sector, all-out efforts are being made to accommodate as many passengers as possible in our US-bound flights from August,” the airline said.
NDTV spoke to students who were to leave for the US in August but were recently told that their Air India flights had been rescheduled.
Vishwas Bhargav said his flight was rescheduled to after 25 days. “My call never went through to the ticketing team; I must have called them at least 15 times, and each call was a wait of 40 to 50 minutes,” he said.
Another student, Anusha, received an email from Air India stating that her flight had been “impacted with no further details”.
“I was told to call up the airline for any further details, but my call was on hold for almost an hour. I found out that my flight has been cancelled due to operational reasons and my flight was rescheduled to September 22, more than a month from when my course begins,” she said.
Meanwhile, Air India has also tweeted that it will operate additional flights between New Delhi and Newark on August 6, 13, 20 and 27. “These are in addition to the existing flights operating on this sector,” it said.