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Affordable steel city-Calcutta flight from this month

Air Deccan promises service from January 23 at Rs 1670 for one-way trip

AIMING FOR THE SKY: Sonari Airport in Jamshedpur on Thursday. Picture by Bhola Prasad

Jamshedpur: Private operator Air Deccan plans to start its Calcutta-Jamshedpur flight on January 23, three weeks before the civil aviation ministry's deadline of February 15. What's more, the one-way fare should be around Rs 1,670, well within reach of many.

Air Deccan authorities have already written to Airports Authority of India (AAI) in Calcutta, mentioning their desire to start the service from January 23 and their flight timings, CEO Air Deccan G.K. Anantharaman told this reporter from Bangalore on Thursday.

"We sent the letter to AAI authorities in Calcutta earlier this month expressing our intent to start Calcutta-flight services from January 23, 2018. It will be a to and fro morning flight between Calcutta and Jamshedpur with one-way fare of around Rs 1670. The exact schedule will be announced on our website www.airdeccan.co.in," Anantharaman, who worked in Tata Steel in Jamshedpur in the 1990s, said.

Union civil aviation minister of state and Hazaribagh MP Jayant Sinha during his Jamshedpur on Tuesday had promised that if Air Deccan, which won the bid on this route under the Centre's Udan scheme, did not start by February 15, the permission to fly would go to the next bidder.

"We got late importing a plane on lease (18-passenger Beechcraft 1900D) and getting DGCA certification of planes and pilots and airport clearances. But now we are all geared up," Anantharaman said.

Tentatively, the flight will leave Calcutta (Dum Dum Airport) at 8.30am and reach Jamshedpur (Sonari Airport) at 9.10am, leave Jamshedpur at 9.30am and reach Calcutta at 10.10am.

Jamshedpureans, including executives, industrialists, traders and patients, heartily welcomed the move, pointing out that the new fare was affordable.

Earlier, Jamshedpur-Calcutta flight fares would be "obnoxiously high", around Rs 5,000 or more, said a businessman unwilling to be named. "So, hardly anyone flew. This fare is comparable to first class fares of Steel Express and Duronto (trains to Howrah) of Rs 1,300 and Rs 2,000, respectively," he said.

Former Tata Steel deputy MD and well-known metallurgist Tridibesh Mukherjee said this was long due. "It will be a lifesaver for those with medical emergencies who need to go to a metro. Also, it was difficult for elderly people to reach Calcutta by sitting on a train for four hours at a stretch," said Mukherjee.

Jamshedpur debuted on the country's air map in 2007 with Air Deccan linking the city to Calcutta, but was grounded soon as DGCA imposed load restrictions due to the short runway at Sonari Airport. Air Deccan used an ATR-32 flight then. MDLR Kingfisher resumed connectivity in 2009 for a few months.

Between August 2010 and February 2011, Deccan Charters flew a turboprop 19-seater aircraft, and DTDS Travels started a service in January 2012 but was forced to ground it in a few months, as high fares held back fliers.

Are you excited about the proposed fare of Rs 1,670? Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com

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