Come 2013, Jamshedpur will win its first pair of wings to Delhi and Bangalore.
Buoyed by the soaring response to its non-scheduled services to Calcutta from the city, Bangalore-headquartered DTDS Travel and Tour Planner Private Limited has decided to float air links to the national capital and India’s Silicon Valley, and is expected to prepare schedules and finalise other things by month-end.
According to DTDS manager (sales) Shyamal Chakraborty, the nine-seater Cessna Caravan, taken on hire from Spirit Air for the Jamshedpur-Calcutta service, will be used for the chartered, non-scheduled flight services, which will be operational twice a week — Mondays and Fridays.
“We are hoping to launch the first service to either Delhi or Bangalore on January 15. The exact schedule will be finalised soon. Services to both destinations will commence from mid-January,” Chakraborty said, adding that the ambitious decision was taken because the Jamshedpur-Calcutta flights received full house on most days.
Chakraborty maintained that the flight duration between Jamshedpur and Delhi would be four hours, including a 30-minute stopover at Varanasi for refuelling. The one-way fare will be Rs 10,500 per person.
Similarly, the duration between Jamshedpur and Bangalore’s HAL Airport will be six hours, including a 30-minute fuel stopover at Visakhapatnam. The one-way fare on this route will be Rs 12,500 per head.
“In case of small aircraft, we cannot cover long distances without refuelling. But, we will make it up to passengers. At both Varanasi and Visakhapatnam, they will be taken to the respective terminal buildings in luxury cars for free refreshments,” the senior DTDS official said.
While this will be the first link from the city to Bangalore and Delhi, the Jamshedpur-Calcutta sector has seen many an airline come and go.
Before DTDS, MDLR and Deccan Charters had started scheduled flights to Calcutta in 2007. They ceased operations within a year because of “internal issues”. Thereafter, in 2009 and 2010, Air Deccan and Kingfisher, respectively, launched their scheduled services, but had to discontinue after “load restrictions” were imposed by DGCA because the runway length at Sonari Airport is short and both airlines used ATR aircraft.
In January this year, DTDS restored flight connectivity between the two cities. The service is twice a day on Mondays and Fridays and once a day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The one-way fare per person is Rs 5,229.
“On Mondays, both flights on the sector are houseful. On Fridays, the flight between Jamshedpur and Calcutta is full, while that from the Bengal capital to the city on the same day sees 5-6 passengers. Again, 6-7 persons, on an average, board the flight from Jamshedpur to Calcutta on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays,” Chakraborty said, explaining in details why they were venturing into two new sectors.
Steel city residents too are eagerly looking forward to the new DTDS services to Delhi and Bangalore.
“It is certainly a welcome move by the private operator and will help premier institutions like ours. Flight connectivity will let IT majors (from Bangalore) and headhunters from Delhi come to our campus in larger numbers. Students can also anticipate quick vacations and short internships in these places,” said Sunil Verghese, the chief of brand and sustainability services at XLRI.
Anand Rao, a senior executive at Telcon, said the twin services would help the corporate sector immensely. “Our MD visits Bangalore at least thrice every month. Earlier, he had to go to Calcutta by train and then take a flight. An entire day was lost in the process. We will save a lot on time and business, thanks to the new flights on cards,” he said.