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Holy town sorties from September

(From left) Captain Dipak Kumar Singh, Skyfisher Airways Limited managing director Rishikesh and executive director Atul Singh on Friday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh

Come September, Varanasi, Gaya and Bhagalpur would get closer to Patna.

The travel time to the three cities would reduce drastically with Delhi-based Skyfisher Airways Limited signing an agreement with the state civil aviation department on Friday to operate non-scheduled flights to the three destinations from mid-September. Two 12-seater aircraft — Cessna Grand Caravan 208B— would connect the four cities, including Patna, daily.

A flier would need just about 65 minutes to reach Varanasi from the city. The fare would be Rs 3,500.

The distance between Patna and Varanasi is around 250km and the travel time by road is around four-and-a-half hours. Trains usually cover the distance in five hours.

The travel time to Gaya and Bhagalpur from the city by road is around three and five hours, respectively. By air, the travel time to Gaya would be 25 minutes. Fliers would need merely 40 minutes to reach Bhagalpur.

People would have to pay around Rs 2,500 per seat for the 25-minute flight from Patna to Gaya. An equal amount would be charged for flying to Varanasi from Gaya in 40 minutes.

Atul Singh, executive director, Skyfisher Airways Limited, told the reporters at the state hangar in Patna on Friday: “We have procured two Cessna Grand Caravan 208B single-engine turboprop aircraft from Cessna Aircraft Corporation, Wichita, Kansas. The planes are likely to be delivered at Delhi airport by July 30. Another 20 days would be required for completing the necessary aviation procedures. Thus, we are intending to start the operation of our flights from mid-September.”

Captain Dipak Kumar Singh, director (operation)– cum–chief pilot, directorate of civil aviation, said the agreement with Skyfisher has been initially signed for 11 months.

“Airports Authority of India (AAI) has agreed in principle to allocate Skyfishers a booking counter in the main concourse area at the terminal building of Patna airport. It would be having its maintenance and operation base at Patna. All services provided by it would be in conformity to the prescribed standards of AAI,” said Singh.

The non-scheduled flights of Skyfisher Airways Limited can also be booked for medical evacuation and corporate and personal purposes.

“There is a high demand for air evacuation operations in Patna. According to estimates, there were 247 medical air evacuations last year from Patna airport. Aircraft from Delhi were used for the purpose. Our aircraft would be available at Patna airport. Thus, a lot of crucial time and money can be saved,” said Rishikesh, managing director, Skyfisher Airways Limited.

Atul said Skyfisher would have a 24x7 helpline number for medical evacuation services.

The airline would be operating the non-scheduled flights with a team of six pilots at present.