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Few frills, few fliers

Hyderabad, Sept. 30: The state’s first commercial passenger of the country’s first no-frills airline had the whole plane to himself — there were no other passengers.

The 48-seater Air Deccan craft was a little heavier on its return journey yesterday with nine more fare-paying riders.

For the airline, business seems to have been affected after the inaugural flight on September 24 when the left propeller of the VIP-loaded aircraft caught fire minutes before take-off, forcing its high-profile occupants to tumble out through the emergency exit.

BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu and civil aviation minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy were among the political bigwigs on that flight.

This afternoon, the ATR-42 aircraft left Hyderabad for Vijayawada with five passengers and returned with six others.

Talking about last week’s incident, the managing director of the airlines, Capt. G.R. Gopinath said “such incidents were not uncommon in aviation history”.

The aircraft was ready for its journey the next day itself, Gopinath added.

Gopinath said all flights in the other sectors were doing well. “We plan to change the schedule of the Vijayawada flight to evening.

“As the runway at the Hyderabad airport is under renovation, we will make it an evening flight to Vijayawada and return to Hyderabad by night,” he added.

Soon flights to Rajahmundry, Tirupati and Chennai from Hyderabad will be launched commercially, said the managing director.

But public confidence is still low. Bookings at both Hyderabad and Vijayawada and also at Bangalore have not crossed the 25 per cent mark.

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