Mumbai, April 19: Air-India today decided to suspend from Monday the flights to Singapore from Hyderabad and Delhi under pressure from a pilots’ association over the dreaded Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
The airline, however, said its executive pilots would continue to operate 10 flights from Mumbai and Chennai of the original 14 headed to the island nation. These pilots apparently are not affiliated to the Indian Pilots’ Guild.
Air-India spokesman Jitendra Bhargava attributed the decision to low passenger demand for flights between India and Singapore and a guild directive to its members to boycott flights to SARS-affected regions.
In a statement, the airline dubbed the curtailment of flights “changes in its flight schedules to Singapore”.
The suspension would affect travellers to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, the two destinations in South-East Asia to which some of the Singapore flights are extended. Air-India said its flights to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur will also be temporarily discontinued.
The availability of executive pilots to fly to Singapore has compelled the changes in flight schedules, Bhargava said.
These pilots are also being deployed by the airline to operate two flights to Hong Kong and six to Kuwait. The guild had earlier this month asked its members not to operate flights to SARS-hit Hong Kong and also to Kuwait because of the Iraq war.