Air India To Start Mumbai-Pune Flight Situated Only 120 Km Apart, Here's Why?
Pune, an IT, Industrial and Education hub is among the busiest airports in Maharashtra, but doesn't have a direct flight to Mumbai Airport, a hub for international flights.
Air India, the Tata Group owned former national airline will be starting Mumbai-Pune flight from March 26, 2023. Situated some 120 km apart via air route and 150 km apart via road network, Mumbai and Pune, two of the busiest airports in Maharashtra, don't have a direct connectivity when it comes to the air travel. Now, Air India will become the first airline in a long while to start a direct flight service between the two cities, using a narrow body airplane. Air India will deploy its smallest plane, the Airbus A319, making a round tip between the two cities everyday, except Saturday.
Challenges at Pune Airport
The Pune Airport, situated in Lohegaon is co-operated by AAI with the Indian Air Force and houses two Sukhoi Su-30 MKI Squadrons. The airport is one of the busiest domestic airports in the country, as Pune is an IT, Industrial and Education hub. However, due to a shorter runway, it's not possible to deploy wide-body planes at the airport, which are necessary for international operations. Also, being a defence facility, it's not easy to take an approval from the authorities.
On the other hand, Mumbai Airport serves as a hub for international flights, situated only 120 km apart. It's easier for airlines to operate flights from Mumbai, instead Pune. On the top of that, the distance is so short between the two cities, airlines don't find it profitable. Currently, travellers who need to catch the international flights travel by road or train to Mumbai from Pune.
Mumbai-Pune direct flight ops
As per Simple Flying, while Air India will become the first airline in a long time to offer direct flight services between Mumbai and Pune, there used to be direct flight service operated by Jet Airways. However, with Jet Airways going defunct, the direct flight ops ceased to exist between the two cities.
Benefit for flyers
With Air India starting a direct flight service, travellers who flying international from Mumbai Airport can catch a flight from Pune to Mumbai and then transfer to international flight. Also, Air India is offering a return airfare of Rs 5,000 for the Mumbai-Pune route, if booked in advance. For a traveller to catch a cab or drive by themselves to Mumbai, this amount will prove to be a hassle free investment.