New Vancouver-India flight will cut 10 hours off travel time


(TVLW) – Travellers to India will soon be able to choose a non-stop flight from Vancouver to New Delhi that will cut their travel time by as much as 10 hours.

The new service, to be operated by India’s fledgling Kingfisher Airlines, will be Vancouver’s first non-stop flight to Delhi.

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“We’re very excited — it’s something we’ve been working on for a couple of years,” said John Korenic, director of aviation marketing for Vancouver International Airport.

The announcement was made yesterday by Premier Gordon Campbell, following a meeting in Delhi with Kingfisher Airlines chairman and CEO, Vijay Mallya. Campbell is in India as part of a trade mission to Asia.

“Building better transportation links between B.C. and India will build on the already close social, cultural and business relationships that exist between our two jurisdictions,” Campbell said in a press release. “The convenience of direct, non-stop flights between Vancouver and Delhi will create a major benefit for our whole community.”

About 130,000 passengers a year travel between India and Vancouver, and at the moment, they all have to make at least one stopover on their 25-hour journey, Korenic said.

The new, non-stop flights will cut travel time to about 15 hours.

“We are really looking forward to this,” he said. “This is the largest market out of Vancouver that isn’t serviced directly.”

He said YVR has been in discussions with Kingfisher for a year to convince the airline to set up the non-stop service to Delhi, the most common destination for travellers to India from Vancouver.

“There are thousands of people travelling between British Columbia and India every month who will benefit from the direct, high-calibre service that Kingfisher Airlines will offer,” Mallya said. “I look forward to the boost this new service will give to tourism and business in both B.C. and in India.”

The airline has been in operation since May 2005 and currently offers more than 200 domestic flights a day in India. It may be new to the airline industry, but Kingfisher is part of Mallya’s UB Group. The conglomerate is the world’s third-largest marketer of spirits, owner of a chemical and fertilizer company and an exporter of beer, spirits, leather footwear, processed foods and pharmaceuticals.

Korenic said Kingfisher recently announced it will take delivery of five long-range Airbus A340-500 aircraft between March and August of 2008, which will give the company the equipment to offer long-distance flights. It will take several months to get the new aircraft into operation as well as to market the new service to local travel agents and their customers, he said.