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Airlines scrap bandh flights, trains empty

Calcutta, Dec. 12: Amid heavy cancellations by passengers, two airlines today said they would not operate their flights from Calcutta on Thursday, while the others preferred to wait and watch.

Jet Airways and Air-India have announced cancellation of their flights. Air Sahara has cancelled most.

“More than 75 per cent of the passengers have cancelled their tickets for that day. Others, not from Calcutta and returning from the city, have either brought forward or deferred their journeys,” said Anil Punjabi, the eastern region chairman of the Travel Agents Federation of India.

“We have cancelled all our flights from Calcutta on strike day keeping in mind the inconvenience of passengers,” a Jet official said today.

“There are plans to operate additional flights on some routes to carry these passengers. The details are being worked out,” he added.

The airline operates 20 flights from Calcutta everyday.

Air Sahara flies 11 planes from the city. Its Calcutta-Guwahati-Calcutta and Calcutta-Patna-Calcutta services have been cancelled.

The two morning flights to Delhi have been clubbed while the evening flights on the route have been cancelled.

“Passengers holding tickets for the cancelled flights can get them revalidated for the next day only without any penalty or charges,” an Air Sahara official said.

Air-India has cancelled its Calcutta-London flight.

The other public sector carrier, Indian, is yet to take a decision. “There’ve been many cancellations, especially on flights after noon,” a spokesperson for Indian said. “A decision on flight operations on Thursday will be taken tomorrow,” he added.

Aviation industry sources said apart from passengers’ inconvenience, logistics problems were also a major concern for the airlines. “Getting the crew and other staff members to the airport would be a problem,” said an airline official.

“We usually seek police escort on our way to the airport. But if the situation is bad, it would be unsafe,” a pilot said.

The state unit of the Airport Authorities of India Employees’ Union would resort to non-cooperation with the management on bandh day. “None of our colleagues will work but someone willing to join duty would not be stopped,” said secretary Dipankar Ghosh.

On some of the most popular trains from Howrah and Sealdah, about half the passengers have already cancelled reservations.

Trains would run on strike day, an Eastern Railway spok-esperson said. “We will try to keep trains running but services may be affected,” he added.

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