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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb. 2

EMIRATES, the Dubai-based airline, will promote Kerala as a tourist destination through its subsidiary, Emirates Holidays.

The Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline group, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al- Maktoum, said here on Thursday that apart from the leisure and medical tourism sectors, the airline would contribute to the development of the State's information technology and other key industries.

Emirates launched its direct, non-stop service between Dubai and Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday, making the latter as the airline's second destination in Kerala after Kochi and sixth in India.

The Chairman said the airline would operate eight flights to Thiruvananthapuram per week using Airbus A330-200 in a three-class configuration offering 237 seats and 17 tonnes of cargo carrying capacity. The new service will connect the State to 13 destinations in the West Asia region via 140 flights per week from the airline's hub in Dubai. He said Emirates SkyCargo, another subsidiary of the airline, would facilitate the import of electronics and household goods and also assist local exporters to export foodstuff, textiles, coir products and handicrafts to various West Asian markets.

Emirates SkyCargo will now offer the cargo community around 135 tonnes of belly-hold capacity every week to Thiruvananthapuram and Chennai each and 120 tonnes to Kochi.

The Chairman said Emirates was strengthening its presence in South India with significant increase in the number of flights. It has already enhanced its services to Kochi from five to seven flights a week and added four more flights to Chennai to serve the city eight times a week.

He said Emirates was interested in operating to more destinations in the country in future. As of now, it is operating to 78 destinations in 55 countries with a fleet of 88 aircraft. The number of aircraft would go up to 132 in the course of the next six years, he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 3, 2006)
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