Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi
Here's some spirit-soaring news for frequent fliers.
Two pocket-friendly flights from Ranchi - both in the evening to fill up a current gap in air travel - will take off for Delhi and Calcutta from April 15, courtesy Air Asia, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Air Asia Berhad. With the new additions, Ranchi will boast nine flights to Delhi and two to Calcutta.
AirAsia officials at Birsa Munda Airport said ticket bookings were originally scheduled to begin from Monday, but owing to certain technical difficulties, the process had been briefly postponed.
"Engineers from our company headquarters are currently in Ranchi attending to a software glitch and we are now hoping to launch ticket sales by tonight (Monday night) or latest by tomorrow (Tuesday)," said an official of the airline's operations department.
AirAsia is planning to roll out the Airbus 320, which has a capacity of 180 passengers, for the flights.
On ticket prices, the operations official said they were yet to receive a formal rate chart from their Calcutta office, but hinted that the promotional fare was likely to be Rs 999 for one way, both for Calcutta and Delhi.
The daily flight to Delhi is expected to depart from the state capital at 5.20pm while the one to Calcutta will take off at 9.50pm every day. "We are eyeing these time slots to plug the current void. There are currently no flights to Delhi and Calcutta early in the evening although two flights leave for Delhi after 8pm," an official said.
Birsa airport director Anil Vikram said as of now, there were 12 flights to different destinations from Ranchi (see box). IndiGo, Air India and GoAir offer services to Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore and Patna.
"Inclusion of two new flights will offer people extra options. Earlier, the services were scheduled to started from this month-end. But now, we are looking forward to an April 15 take-off," Vikram said.
Frequent fliers are happy.
"For someone like me who mostly travels to Delhi and Calcutta on business, the new flights are a big boon. However, I think, it is high time we have air connectivity to southern cities like Hyderabad and Chennai as well. These are big academic and medical destinations. Taking flights via Calcutta or Delhi is expensive while travelling directly by train is tiring for many," said Srikant Mishra who runs an advertising consultancy in Ranchi.
Ganesh Reddy, who runs a voluntary outfit, couldn't agree more.
"Ranchi is fast turning into a big business hub. Flights to and from all state capitals and big cities such as Pune and Indore will help boost revenue," he said.
Do you want more flights to the west and the south?