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Man flies solo on Mumbai-Dubai flight for Rs 18k

This might sound slightly difficult to believe but it’s true. A man paid Rs 18,000 for a flight ticket and travelled as the only passenger on board an Emirates flight from Mumbai to Dubai on May 19. Bhavesh Javeri, 40, thus enjoyed an exclusive flight on a 360-seater Boeing 777 aircraft.

“I stepped into the aircraft and the airhostesses all clapped to welcome me aboard,” Bhavesh Javeri told The Times of India from his Dubai office.

Bhavesh Javeri, who has boarded over 240 flights between Mumbai and Dubai so far, added, “I have flown so much, but this is the best flight ever.”

On the flight, meanwhile, Bhavesh Javeri had a great time conversing with the crew as well as the commander, who also offered to give him a tour of the entire plane. Since 18 is his lucky number, Bhavesh Javeri got the specific seat that he had asked for, much to his delight.

“The novelty kept on coming through the flight in the form of the familiar inflight public address, delivered with a personal touch. ‘Mr Javeri, please fasten your seat belt. Mr Javeri, we are preparing to land.’ After we landed, I walked out leisurely and picked up my bag, the only one lying next to a conveyor belt,” Bhavesh Javeri, who has been a resident of Dubai for the past 20 years, told TOI.

As per the travel restrictions imposed by the United Arab Emirates in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, only UAE nationals, holders of UAE Golden visa and members of diplomatic missions can fly from India to UAE.

An operator from the Indian aircraft charter industry was quoted as saying by TOI that, “It would cost about Rs 70 lakh to charter a Boeing 777 from an airline to do the Mumbai-Dubai route. But the cost of charter would double if the aircraft was from a company that had to fly it back by ferry, without passengers, to its base.”

Bhavesh Javeri has a Golden visa and had purchased the Rs 18,000 economy class ticket after making a call to the airline one week prior to the scheduled date of his departure. “I normally book a business class ticket, but I thought, why not book an economy seat, the flight would have only a few passengers.”

After he reached the airport, Bhavesh Javeri was denied entry into the terminal building by the CISF personnel as his ticket didn’t have a date. Immediately, Bhavesh dialed Emirates and was told that the staff was waiting for him as he was the only passenger on board flight EK501.

“I was elated. I had flown a charter flight from Dubai to Mumbai last June with nine passengers on a 14-seater aircraft. But it was nowhere close to this money-can’t-buy experience,” he said.

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International

Emirates lays off thousands of pilots and cabin crew: Report

Dubai: Emirates, one of the world’s biggest long-haul airlines, laid off hundreds of pilots and thousands of cabin crew on Tuesday (Jun 9) as it manages a cash crunch caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.

More redundancies were expected at Emirates this week including both Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 pilots, the sources said on the condition of anonymity.

The workforce of 4,300 pilots and nearly 22,000 cabin crew could shrink by almost a third from its pre-coronavirus levels, sources said.

Without giving further details, an airline spokeswoman told Reuters some employees had been laid off.

“Given the significant impact that the pandemic has had on our business, we simply cannot sustain excess resources and have to right size our workforce in line with our reduced operations,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

A promise by the Dubai government to provide Emirates with new equity would allow it to “preserve its skilled workforce,” the state airline said on May 10.

Outgoing President Tim Clark has said it could take four years for the airline to resume flying to all of the 157 international destinations it served before the pandemic. It has a fleet of 270 A380 and 777 jets.

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