Air India Plots Flights From Goa To Moscow

Air India is planning to add a new Goa to Moscow service in addition to its connection from Delhi. The flights to Goa will begin operating from April 14th and continue until October 28th, under India’s travel bubble agreements. Let’s find out more.

Air India 777-300ER
Air India is planning a new route to Russia to capture international leisure traffic once again. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

New service

According to The Times of India, Air India plans to begin operating its new service from Goa to Moscow from April 14th. This comes just three weeks after the airline resumed its Delhi-Moscow route and Russia reopened flights and visas for travelers from India.

While some may be wondering why Air India chose Goa-Moscow as one of its new international routes, there is a good reason. Russia is a huge tourism market for Goa, with Russians making up the vast majority of the 900,000 international tourists every year.

Air India A320neo
Air India resumed its Delhi to Moscow service on February 28th after restrictions were slightly eased. Photo: Airbus

However, notably, India is yet to allow travelers to visit the country under tourist visas. While passengers can come for any other purpose (business, study, work, etc.), leisure travel remains banned by the government. Considering most traffic on the Goa-Moscow route will likely be leisure, could the government be considering lifting the tourist visa ban?

Air India will operate the Goa-Moscow Sheremetyevo service once a week using its Boeing 787-8s. Flights will depart Goa on Wednesdays at 06:00 AM and arrive at 11:05 AM local time. The return leg from Moscow will operate on Thursdays, leaving at 10:20 AM and reaching Goa at 19:55 local time. Flight time is seven hours in either direction.

Interestingly, Air India uses the A320/A321 for its flight from Delhi to Moscow, which offers a much lower capacity. However, the longer distance from Goa is near the A321’s range, possibly forcing the carrier to use the larger jet. Only time will tell if the carrier has enough traffic to fill the plane.

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Winter holiday

Russia is well known for its frigid temperatures through the winter, pushing many to take a holiday to beat the cold. Goa has emerged as a popular destination for travelers, with several charter airlines operating services to the coastal state. Charter season in Goa usually lasts from November to mid-May.

However, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has truck a less optimistic note about the season in a statement to The Times of India. TTAG has previously asked the government to issue tourist visas quickly and to allow international flights since the season is close to ending. However, all these moves will likely bear fruit from November onwards. But that is also when the flights end under travel bubble rules.

Air India A320neo
Air India’s timing comes at an odd time since the tourist season will end just a month after flights start. Photo: Airbus

The coming months will offer more clarity over why Air India has opted to start the new flights at such an odd time for tourism traffic. However, business traffic could boost revenues in the short term and rebounding traffic over the summer thanks to vaccination could make for a resurgent tourism industry.

What do you think about Air India’s new flight? Let us know in the comments!