Surat – the ninth largest city by population in India is all set to get international connectivity. The first flight will begin in wee hours of Tuesday with Air India Express connecting the diamond and textile town to Sharjah. The services begin on 16th February 2019.
Air India Express flight IX-171 on Surat-Sharjah sector will depart Surat at 12:30 AM and will reach Sharjah at 02:15 AM on Tuesdays and Sundays. On the return direction, flight IX-172 will depart Sharjah at 07:35 PM and arrive in Surat at 11:45 PM on Mondays and Saturdays. Surat will be the twentieth Indian destination in the Air India Express network. The Airline operates to 13 international destinations in the Middle East and Singapore. Popularly known as the diamond city of the world, Surat is a hub for diamond cutting and polishing. It is referred to as the diamond city because 90 percent of the world’s diamonds are polished in this city. It is also famous for its silk fabric and cotton mills.
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The international connectivity comes amidst challenges related to terminal infrastructure which had held back such a proposal. The airport has seen rapid expansion of services by both Spicejet and IndiGo, while AirAsia India withdrew its sole service from Surat.
Air India Express will see an increase in frequency in April and there could be other airlines joining in to start international services. In January, foundation stone was laid for the expansion of the terminal building which will help increase the capacity of the airport manifold.