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Kingfisher joins Bagdogra flight flurry

Siliguri, Nov. 14: After touching down at several important Indian cities, liquor baron Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines is all set to put Bagdogra on its national aviation map.

From tomorrow the wholly-owned subsidiary of United Breweries (Holdings) Limited is starting daily connecting flights between Bagdogra and Bangalore, touching upon Guwahati, Calcutta and Hyderabad en route. The Bangalore-Hyderabad-Calcutta-Guwahati flight had already been introduced last week.

For people of this region, the good news is that they will now be able to travel to Bangalore and Hyderabad in the same plane without having to go through the hassles of a break journey.

'The launch of these new routes is part of our ambitious plan to expand the network of destinations,' said Vijay Mallya, chairman and managing director, Kingfisher Airlines, in a release from Bangalore. 'With our unique in-flight and on-ground experience, we will revolutionise business and leisure travel on these routes.'

The new services will be operated by Kingfisher Airlines's seventh brand new Airbus A320, the aircraft that joined the fleet recently, the release added.

One can board the flight from Bagdogra at 3.15 pm and reach Hyderabad at 8.40 pm and Bangalore at 10.20 pm (see chart). Those wanting to travel to Calcutta on the Kingfisher, however, will have to go via Guwahati, which is not the case with other airline companies that operate from Bagdogra. However, Guwahati passengers will now have another direct flight to Calcutta.

The fare for the Guwahati-Bagdogra sector will be spread across two levels, the lowest being Rs 2,999 (plus taxes) and the highest Rs 3,299 (plus taxes) depending on the availability of seats.

Kingfisher is also contemplating introducing flights on the Bagdogra-Mumbai route. The carrier is the fourth to operate from Bagdogra. Air Deccan, touted India's first low-cost carrier, started its operations from Bagdogra in July this year and operates flights between Bagdogra and Calcutta and Delhi.

Jet Airways and the government-owned Indian Airlines are the two major long-time players who operate flights between Bagdogra, Calcutta, Delhi and Guwahati.

Promising star facilities, be it in-flight entertainment options or special gourmet meals, Kingfisher hopes to cash in on its 'competitive pricing' to woo passengers.

For Siliguri, in particular, and north Bengal in general, which is lately witnessing several government initiatives to woo investment, the news definitely comes as a good one. 'Improved flight connectivity would go a long way in bringing investment,' said Biswajit Das, secretary of Focin.

The tourism industry has also greeted the news with delight. 'The new routes will help get more tourists from south India,' Deepak Gupta, the coordinator of Eastern Himalayan Travel and Tour Operators' Association said.

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