A grounded city taxies for twin take-offs

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  • Published 4.02.14

Jamshedpur’s soaring spirit can kiss the sky once again.

In a double delight in terms of air connectivity later this month, the industrial hub of Jharkhand will not just rediscover its flight link with Calcutta, but also boast its first international take-off to Bangladesh.

While Bangalore-based DTDS Travel and Tour Planner Limited and Spirit Air Private Limited will resume Jamshedpur-Calcutta services from February 16, city-based non-scheduled airline Sky Air plans to launch flights in Jamshedpur-Calcutta-Dhaka sector around the same time.

The DTDS had earlier used its twin eight-seater Cessna Grand Caravans for two flights to Calcutta six days a week. However, on December 28 last year, it had to cancel services from Sonari airport owing to poor visibility in the morning and inability to operate in the afternoon because of ground staff crunch.

A survey on Saturday has, however, prompted the agency to re-launch with a revised schedule of once-a-day flights instead of the earlier twice.

Confirming the development, DTDS sales manager (Calcutta) Shyamal Chakraborty said the flight service might be offered twice a day if the response was good.

“We have rescheduled the itinerary based on feedback from our authorised agents on customer preferences. From February 16, the flight will depart from Calcutta at 9am and again take off from Jamshedpur at 3.30pm. The flying duration will be an hour, while the one-way fare will remain the same (Rs 6,000) as earlier,” Chakraborty said.

He maintained that a Cessna Grand Caravan had been groomed and kept ready for single flights on February 16, 17 and 18. “We are open to two flights a day if a corporate group or individual agrees to book all eight seats for a round trip. We will charge only Rs 96,000 for both ways. This will be in addition to the normal flight of the day so that other passengers are not inconvenienced,” the official added.

In the second significant development, Sky Air will fly in the Jamshedpur-Calcutta-Dhaka (Bangladesh) sector from mid-February. It will also offer services in the Jamshedpur-Ranchi-Deogarh-Patna and Jamshedpur-Bangalore-Jamshedpur sectors.

“We will use a Cessna Caravan for Jamshedpur-Ranchi-Deogarh-Patna and Jamshedpur-Bangalore-Jamshedpur flights, while a Dornier 228 (18-seater) will take off for Dhaka via Calcutta. We will finalise schedules and fares by the end of this week,” said Sky Air general manager (sales and marketing) Sachin Prasad.

The newbie airline’s managing director Shahid Khan said passengers would get tickets for Dhaka from Jamshedpur. “We will ease ticketing hassles for the international destination and also arrange for connecting flights from Dhaka to other parts of the globe. This has been made possible after a tie-up with Biman Bangladesh,” Khan added.

Sky Air officials maintained that they had already obtained the mandatory DGCA nod for the services.

Jamshedpur had debuted on the country’s air map in 2007 with Air Deccan linking the city to Calcutta, but the service came to an end soon. Then, MDLR Kingfisher resumed connectivity in 2009, albeit for a few months. On August 17, 2010, Deccan Charters hired a turboprop 19-seater aircraft with a fare of Rs 5,000, but services ended in February 2011.

So far, Jamshedpur’s air connectivity has been confined to Calcutta. There have been occasional services to Ranchi, but the same has had to be suspended owing to passenger disinterest.