Air India’s wholly-owned subsidiary Alliance Air’s flight service between Chennai and Jaffna will begin operations from November 11. The direct flights will be operated thrice a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The flight from Chennai 9I 101 will depart at 10.35 a.m. and arrive in Jaffna at 12 p.m. The flight from Jaffna 9I 102 will then depart at 12.45 p.m and reach Chennai at 2.10 p.m on the scheduled days, Alliance Air said in a press release on Monday.
The direct flight service which was inaugurated with a maiden flight on October 17 was initially scheduled to begin on November 1. Air India officials told The Hindu that there was a delay as some formalities had to be completed between the two countries. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe had launched the Jaffna international airport for civilian operations in the presence of President Maithripala Sirisena on the same day just before the inaugural flight touched down.
This will be Alliance Air’s first connection to an international destination. Alliance Air currently connects 53 destinations within India with 113 departures every day.
“It brings us immense delight that after spearheading efforts connecting unique regional routes within India under UDAN, we now fly international, adding the beautiful island nation Sri Lanka in the aviation ambit of Alliance Air. This will be the first non-stop service between Chennai Jaffna,” C.S. Subbiah, CEO, Alliance Air, said.
The opening up of Jaffna airport for international civilian flights is expected to reduce passenger traffic at Colombo international airport, as the mostly Tamil population in Jaffna will now be able to travel abroad without having to undertake a nearly eight hour journey to the Sri Lankan capital city.
Air India Chairman and Managing Director, Ashwani Lohani said on the day of the inaugural flight that the route was chosen due to high demand. “If it does well, we can increase its frequency. Initially, we will be operating three flights a week and this will increase to one flight a day,” he said.
The cost of a ticket from Chennai- Jaffna will be ₹3,990 plus applicable taxes and levies, while the Jaffna-Chennai ticket will cost $45 plus taxes and levies, an Alliance Air spokesperson said.