Flights to Doha longer as Indian carriers skip UAE; take Pak, Iran routes

Flights from Mumbai and Kerala will also have to transit through these routes due torestrictions

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Current Affairs : Fliers from India will now spend an additional half hour on their flights to Doha, with the worsening crisis in the Persian Gulf prompting carriers to skip airspace over the UAE.

Air India Express, IndiGo and Jet Airways operate flights between Indian cities and Doha. Flights out of Delhi fly over Pakistan and Iran to reach the Qatari capital. Those from Mumbai and Kerala used to fly over Oman and the UAE. These will now also fly over Pakistan and Iran.

On Monday, Saudi Qatar Rift , the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. They also suspended air, sea and land transport.

The UAE also asked all foreign airlines to obtain prior clearance to use its airspace for Doha flights. The situation worsened on Tuesday, with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia revoking the licence of Qatar Airways to operate in their territory.

With tension high, India airlines are preparing to deal with the crisis.

“All scheduled flights to and from Doha will operate on the alternative northern routes via Iran, avoiding the UAE airspace,” said a Jet Airways spokesperson. “As a result, flights will be 10 to 40 minutes longer.”

He added the airline was planning to augment its crew to deal with the additional flying time.

Jet is also trying to get clearance from the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the UAE to fly over the country. “Our schedules have been provided to the GCAA. Once approved, we will be able to resume operating on the normal routes,” the airline said.

Last year, around 1.6 million passengers travelled between India and Doha, making it the fifth-busiest destination in the Gulf for travellers from here, after Dubai, Muscat, Kuwait and Jeddah. This figure does not include onward traffic.

Qatar Airways flies to 14 cities in India; 70-80 per cent of its passengers travel onward.

Aviation sources said Qatar Airways might drop fares to sustain its bookings. “Qatar relies on traffic from its neighbouring countries. Now, the airline will depend more on India and other such nations to fill up its flights to Europe and the US.”

Air traffic to the Gulf is thin during Ramzan, but domestic airways have experienced an increase in booking. This is because those who had booked one-stop flights, through Dubai or Sharjah, are now buying tickets on other flights, a sector executive said. Read More

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India triumphs in Kabaddi World Cup 2016, maintains dominance

India wins 2016 Kabaddi World Cup beats Iran 38-29

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India fought off a tough challenge from Iran to win their third successive Kabaddi World Cup 2016 here on Saturday.

In perhaps the most exciting match of this World Cup, the Indians overturned a first-half deficit with a superb second-half performance to win 38-29.

India have thus won all the three Kabaddi World Cups held so far. They have beaten Iran in the finals of all the three editions.

The experienced Ajay Thakur played a crucial role in India’s win with his raiding prowess.

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Iran enjoyed a stronger start and dominated the first half. But the Indians showed superb fighting spirit and aggression to pull off the win.

Thakur had started the revival early in the second session by claiming four consecutive raid points. His team-mates also showed excellent raiding and defending technique to edge out their opponents.

“This is the best moment of my life,” Thakur said after the win. Read More