Mangaluru: A long-cherished dream of thousands of expatriates from coastal Karnataka living in Saudi Arabia is coming true, finally! India’s second biggest international airline is now all set to connect Mangaluru with four prominent destinations of the oil rich kingdom.
Jet Airways has decided to connect Mangaluru with Riyadh, Dammam, Jeddah and Madinah with the help of a code-sharing agreement with Etihad Airways.
In a fruitful meeting held in Bengaluru on Monday, U Harish Shenoy, General Manager (Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh), Jet Airways, told U T Khader, the minister for health and family welfare, Karnataka, and Mohammed Asif, the CEO of Amaco Group of Companies and founder of Coastaldigest.com, that the operation of new flights would start in its new summer schedule effective from March 29, 2015.
The development comes three days after Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati asked the duo in New Delhi to directly convey their demand to Jet Airways promising the ministry’s nod for the launch of new flights.
Positively responding to the demand Harish Shenoy said that his airline would make use of code-sharing agreement with Etihad Airways to facilitate an easy journey for Mangaluru expatriates in Saudi Arabia.
From March 29, Jet Airways will operate daily flights from Mangaluru to Abu Dhabi and then on to four Saudi Arabian cities-Riyadh, the capital of the kingdom, Madinah, one of the two most holiest cities for Muslims, Jeddah, the largest city in Makkah Province, and Dammam, the capital of Eastern Province, through its counterpart, Etihad Airways.
Jet Airways and Etihad Airways recently expanded their code-sharing agreement, and Mangaluru, is one of a few Indian cities to get connected under this.
One of the benefits of this code-sharing flights is that passengers would always clear immigration at the first point of entry no matter where their final destination. A Saudi-bound passenger from Mangaluru is not supposed to pass through immigration during his layover in Abu Dhabi. Moreover, passengers who travel between Mangaluru and Saudi Arabia through code-sharing flights are expected to pass through customs check and collect their luggage only at their final destinations.
Jet Airways has decided to hold a formal launching ceremony of its new Gulf flights at Mangaluru International Airport on March 29. Siddaramaiah, the chief minister of Karnataka, U T Khader and Asif Amaco are expected to be the guests among others. U T Khader is expected to fly into Riyadh on board the inaugural flight. He is expected to take part in an interaction with Mangaluru expatriates in Saudi Arabia to be hosted by Coastaldigest.com.
Direct flights to Saudi
During Monday’s meeting in Bengaluru, U T Khader and Asif Amaco urged the Jet Airways to consider launching direct flights from Mangaluru to Riyadh, Dammam and other Saudi Arabian cities apart from code-sharing flights that would compel passengers to spend a couple of hours at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The duo also handed over the feasibility report on connecting Mangaluru directly with Saudi Arabian destinations to Mr Harish Shenoy. The report is based on a three-year-old survey conducted by Coastaldigest.com among expatriates from coastal Karnataka in Saudi Arabia. Mr Harish Shenoy said that Jet Airways would take a decision in this regard within a couple of months. Presently, only Air India Express is operating direct flights from Mangaluru to Dammam via Kozhikode.