SpiceJet suspends direct Ayodhya-Hyderabad flight months after launch

As of now, a SpiceJet flight from Hyderabad to Ayodhya includes a layover in Delhi, with a total flight time of seven hours 25 minutes

IndiGo crew in Ramayana themed costumes (file photo)
IndiGo crew in Ramayana themed costumes (file photo)

NH Digital

Within a mere two months of launching a direct flight from Hyderabad to Ayodhya, Indian airline SpiceJet has discontinued the route, effective from 1 June, according to a report in The Hindu. The airline was operating an Airbus A320 aircraft on this route.

As per the report, the inaugural flight on the route took off on 2 April from Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) at 10.45 am and landed at Ayodhya’s Maharishi Valmiki International Airport at 12.45 pm. The return flight left Ayodhya at 1.25 pm and landed in Hyderabad at 3.25 pm. The schedule of three direct flights in a week persisted until 30 May, the day of the last direct flight, the report says, citing flight tracking websites.

As of now, a SpiceJet flight from Hyderabad to Ayodhya includes a layover at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, with a total flight time of seven hours 25 minutes. “Usually, when an airline discontinues a route, it indicates poor ticket sales. Initially, there was significant enthusiasm for visiting Ayodhya, but it gradually declined,” the Hindu report quotes an airline representative as saying.

The whole idea of a direct flight to Ayodhya was ostensibly prompted by a 31 March post on X by Telangana BJP chief G. Kishan Reddy, then Union culture and tourism minister, who wrote to the civil aviation minister.

In his letter, he stated, “The immense religious significance for countless devotees has led to the demand for efficient and direct transportation to Ram Janmabhoomi. Currently, the lack of direct flight service between Hyderabad and Ayodhya poses a significant challenge for devotees who wish to travel conveniently.”

This was in February, when the airline was connecting a total of eight Indian cities to Ayodhya, but has since terminated direct flights from six of them — Chennai, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Patna, Darbhanga, and Hyderabad, says the Hindu report. The two cities still offering direct flights are Ahmedabad and Delhi.

The inauguration or pran pratishtha ceremony of the Ayodhya Ram Mandir in January generated similar enthusiasm among other national air carriers such as IndiGo, which announced direct flights from Ahmedabad and Mumbai, with cabin crew on the inaugural flight from Ahmedabad dressed as Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman. The current status of those flights is unclear.

In a related development, the inauguration in January was followed by a gradual tapering off of visitors to the holy city, prompting widely reported initiatives by local BJP leaderships across India to promote 'package tours' to Ayodhya for supporters of the party to boost footfall.

Significantly, too, the constituency of Faizabad, within which Ayodhya is located, slipped out of the BJP's grasp in the recent Lok Sabha elections, a development that has caused much amusement among its detractors.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines