India’s no-frills carrier SpiceJet has started the new year by resuming some more international routes. Since January 7th and 8th, the airline has begun connecting Sharjah with three Indian cities. While some airlines are scaling back domestic operations in India amid COVID surge, SpiceJet is reportedly witnessing good demands for these latest flights to the Middle East.
10+ weekly flights to Sharjah
Since last week, SpiceJet has started flying to Sharjah from Pune, Mangaluru, and Madurai. The carrier began its Pune-Sharjah operations on January 7th and will fly on this sector thrice weekly, according to the airline’s website. Flight SG 788 will operate on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, departing Pune at 9:50 pm and arriving in Sharjah at 11:55 pm.
Flights from Mangaluru and Madurai will operate to the following schedule:
Mangaluru to Sharjah (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)
Flight no: SG 786
Departure: 10:30 pm
Arrival: 12:55 am next day
Madurai to Sharjah (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)
Flight No: SG 784
Departure: 12:30 pm
Arrival: 3:30 pm
These latest flights from SpiceJet come at a time when domestic operations in India have been impacted by another COVID wave fueled by the new Omicron variant. However, passenger demand between India and the Middle East remains perennially high, and SpiceJet will hope to benefit from that.
Pune Airport’s first international departure in 21 months
SpiceJet’s Pune to Sharjah flight on Friday marked the city’s first international departure after a gap of 21 months. The Boeing 737 arrived from New Delhi and departed for Sharjah at 11:53 pm after a delay. The service to Sharjah is Pune’s first international flight after COVID-19 restrictions and will operate under an Air Bubble arrangement.
While the number of passengers on the flight was not known, Hindustan Times quotes a SpiceJet official as saying,
“The response of Pune- Sharjah is good, we are getting good loads on the flight.”
A Pune airport official, too, maintained that the flight was almost full.
More flights could follow soon
SpiceJet’s Sharjah flight could be the first of more international flights out of Pune in the coming months. The airport administration has been trying to get approval for more flights since December 2020. Before the COVID lockdown, Pune had two international flights to Dubai by SpiceJet and Air India Express.
As reported by HT, a Pune airport official was hopeful of more international departures soon, saying,
“More flights for other international centres will also start soon. Passengers must follow all the Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.”
Of course, all COVID protocols remain in place for international passengers, including submitting a negative RT-PCR test report and a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal.
Pune Airport has been prepping itself for more flights post-COVID. In October last year, it was closed for two weeks to complete resurfacing work. While the closure caused inconvenience to both airlines and passengers, the runway was finally made ready for a new stint.
Hopefully, SpiceJet’s Sharjah flight is the first of many more to come from Pune.