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PTI Mumbai
Updated: 08-12-2018 21:34 IST

Loss-making national carrier Air

India is looking to start a flight service to Iraqi city of

Najaf from Lucknow in UP via New Delhi, starting early next


Najaf is considered sacred by Shia Muslims. Notably,

Lucknow has a sizable Shia population.

The airline is discussing modalities of the proposed

flight and a final decision is expected to be taken on Monday,

an airline source said.

"Air India plans to start services to Najaf from

Lucknow, connecting New Delhi. But there are are several

issues which need to be sorted out before announcing the new

flight. A meeting has been called on Monday to discuss all the

issues around the flight. A final decision about the launch

will be taken at this meeting," the source said.

When contacted, an Air India spokesperson also said

that "it (launch of Najaf flight) is a work in progress".

According to the source, the stay arrangements for the

flight crew is one of the key issues as it can't stay in Najaf

due to certain reasons.

"Therefore, one proposal is to connect the flight to

Medina from Najaf so that the crew can stay in Medina in Saudi

Arabia. Also, since the new route is likely to be operated by

an Airbus A320 neo, which currently does not have extended

diversion time operations (EDTO), which will have to be

granted by the aviation regulator DGCA," the source said.

EDTO allows a multi-engine aircraft to divert to a

nearby airport in case of an emergency situation.

"It (Lucknow-Najaf flight) is a work in progress and

no final decision has been taken. We have applied to the DGCA

for granting us permission to operate on the proposed route,

which we are expecting next week," the spokesperson said.

The proposed air services to Najaf will be operated by

an Airbus A320 neo plane, he said, adding the frequency and

date for commencement of operations will be finalised once the

plan is firmed up.

Air India group, which comprises Air India, Air India

Express and Alliance Air, currently operates over 40 flights

per day to more than 80 domestic and 44 international

destinations with a combined fleet of 161 aircraft.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)