Kozhikodans in Saudi Arabia, Rejoice!

Mr. Mayinkutty, the first passenger to board our maiden flight to Riyadh from Kozhikode, being greeted by AIE CEO Shyam Sundar at the aerobridge.
Mr. Mayinkutty, the first passenger to board our maiden flight to Riyadh from Kozhikode, being greeted by AIE CEO K Shyam Sundar at the aerobridge.

About 30 years ago, Mayinkutty left his hometown of Pappinesry, Kannur with the dream of giving his family a better life. His first trip to what was then referred to as Persia was far from the ones that we take today, as was harder due to the fact that he was leaving his family and loved ones behind. Today he works at a juice shop in Riyadh and has made dozens of trips back and forth over the years.

Mayinkutty, in many ways represents the sentiments of the average expatriate communities working hard in Gulf Countries to meet the requirements back home. This juice shop man has been traveling through the airports for last thirty years, without much pomp and gaiety. So when it came time for Mayinkutty to board his umpteenth flight and leave his family behind yet again on December 2nd it was perhaps the thrill of a first day, first flight, but Mayinkutty traveled all the way from Kannur to Karippur to reach the airport bright and early at 5.30am. As he entered the Airport that cold slightly drizzling early morning, he saw the beautifully decorated Air India Express Counter, and casually walked in towards the check-in counter with a heavy heart and some light baggage. A queue was slowly forming behind him. What Mayinkutty didn’t know was that this wasn’t going to be just another trip and that the day would be made a bit more special for him and for Air India Express too. There he saw a team of young officials all at his service and he was amazed when a senior official came out of the boarding counter and presented him his boarding pass with a warm shake hand and chocolates. He heard the sound of clapping and flash of cameras all around him.

Mayinkutty checking in for the first AIE Kozhikode-Riyadh flight.
Mayinkutty checking in for the first AIE Kozhikode-Riyadh flight.

During his three decades of ‘Paravasihood’ Mayinkutty might have experienced many sweet moments of see-off by his kith and kin but this time the surprises were far from over. As he casually arrived at the boarding gate expecting no more surprises he was greeted at the aerobridge by Mr. K. Shyam Sundar, CEO of Air India Express with a bouquet of flowers.

Northern Keralites working in Saudi had reason to rejoice on a Friday morning as we commenced our first direct flights to and from Riyadh and Kozhikode. Air India Express launched its first flight to Riyadh from Karipur International Airport on Friday, December 2, 2016. IX 321 on the Kozhikode-Riyadh sector departed Kozhikode, 10 mins prior to its scheduled departure time of 9.15 am. At present AIE is the only carrier that now offers direct flights to Riyadh from Kozhikode and Mayinkutty was one among the 180 passengers booked to fly on the maiden flight.

The crew onboard the inaugural flight included Capt. Sarang V Alone, First Officer  C Salve, along with cabin crew,  C M Remyamol, Archa M S, Nimisha Prasad and A K Mohammed Zaquir.

CEO K Shyam Sundar with the crew of the flight.
CEO K Shyam Sundar with the crew of the flight.

The flight arrived in Riyadh at 11.45 am (local time). In the return direction, flight IX 322 departed Riyadh at 01.15 pm (local time) and arrived in Kozhikode at 8.45 pm. This service will be available four times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and is the longest flight in the airline’s network.

With the commencement of operations between Kozhikode and Riyadh the Air India Express’ network will cover 15 Indian cities and 15 international destinations. Air India Express now operates 134 services per week between Kozhikode and the Middle East, making Kozhikode the single largest on-line destination for the Airline.

Team Air India Express was humbled by the huge show of loyalty by its passengers. Thank you to all the people of Malabar for your blessings!

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