Calcutta flight from Feb. 28

Jamshedpur: Flight services between Jamshedpur and Calcutta will commence from February 28 with operator Air Deccan promising an introductory fare of Rs 999 including all taxes.

"We are eager to provide services under Udan (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme to the people of Jamshedpur," said Air Deccan CEO G.K. Anantharaman, citing procedural issues for the delay in launching the service that it was meant to start in September 2017 but was postponed at least three times.

"We will also have flights from Calcutta to Agartala and Shillong commencing from the same date," said the former Tata Steel employee - he was a deputy manager - who used to live in Kadma in the late 1990s.

The introductory fare the airline was offering was less than the AC first class fares of Howrah-Tatanagar Steel Express (Rs 1,260) and Howrah-Mumbai Duronto Express (Rs 2,000). Air Deccan will be using an 18-seater Beechcraft1900 D airplane.

Tickets can be booked online at www.airdeccan.co.in. The flight will leave Calcutta at 12.45pm and reach Jamshedpur's Sonari Airport at 1.45 pm. It will leave Jamshedpur at 2.10 pm and reach Calcutta at 3.10pm, operating six days a week, barring Sundays.

Union minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha, during a visit to the steel city on January 9, admitted that the launch of the Jamshedpur-Calcutta flight service had been delayed by Air Deccan that won the bid for the route under the UDAN scheme. But, the minister clarified that Air Deccan would lose its right on the route if it did not start services by February 15.

"They (Air Deccan) sought a few days time after February 15, citing procedural delays but promised to launch the service by the last week of February. We have accommodated their request since awarding the route to the next bidder would delay the launch again," said G.K. Chaukiyal, member operations of Airport Authority of India (AAI).

Flight services between Jamshedpur and Calcutta started in 2007 with Air Deccan. But the services had to be stopped after Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) imposed load restrictions on flights due to the short runaway at the Sonari aerodrome. At the time, Air Deccan was using ATR-32 planes.

Subsequent efforts in 2009 and 2010 were also shortlived.

Industrialist Inder Agarwal, who used to avail of the Calcutta flight services, welcomed the start of the new Air Deccan flight.

"We hope the government incentive to private airlines, and the low fares, will nake the operation viable," said the president of Adityapur Small Scale Industries Association.


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