Kingfisher decision sudden, says Tata

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By ANTARA BOSE in Jamshedpur
  • Published 13.11.09

Jamshedpur, Nov. 12: Kingfisher Airlines’ decision to suspend services from Jamshedpur from November 15 has been met with dismay by frequent fliers of the steel city.

“It should never be stopped. Jamshedpur needs air connectivity. Kingfisher was the only way to stay connected to Calcutta,” said Manitosh Ray, former general manager (medical services) of Tata Motors Hospital.

The private airlines yesterday announced it would withdraw services following a notification from Tata Steel that said the airport was being converted from category 3C to 2C. This would mean decreasing the length of the runway and restrictions on number of passengers per flight, making the route unviable for Kingfisher.

This would mean from November 15, there would be no air services to and from Jamshedpur. MDLR Airlines, which started operations in April, is not plying at present as its aircraft is under maintenance. Tata Steel is hopeful of getting its services back.

Tata Steel authorities today said the Kingfisher decision was sudden and uncalled for. It said the notification regarding the technical changes at the airport had been issued in March 2009 and the airline had been told about it then.

“We carried out a survey as directed by the directorate of civil aviation (DGCA) requirements which found many encroachments in the airport area. This and the fact that the airport cannot be expanded led the DGCA to change the category of Jamshedpur Airport from 3C to 2C,” said Sanjay Choudhry, chief of corporate affairs and communications, Tata Steel.

Tata Steel sources said based on the DGCA order, Kingfisher Airlines concluded that it would be able to carry 48 passengers from Kolkata and 45 from Jamshedpur; thereby continuing operations unhindered. A mail was also sent by the private airline to Tata Steel, stating that the re-categorization would not affect operations.

Kingfisher Airlines started services in 2007 with a daily evening flight. Later one more flight was added.

“We have already invested about Rs 2 crore to upgrade the airport. Why would we want to discontinue their services?” said Choudhry. Kingfisher has said it did not want to get into a “war of words” with Tata.