AirAsia Delhi-Guwahati flight takes off

Hopes soar for tourism and economy boost as two airlines launch services in a span of two months

By Saurav Bora
  • Published 22.05.15
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An AirAsia plane

Guwahati, May 21: It's a slice of "air" fortune the northeastern skies have not had in its aviation history - the launch of two major flights in a space of less than two months.

AirAsia India, the domestic arm of Malaysian no-frills airline, today launched its operations in the Northeast with its first flight from New Delhi landing on the tarmac of the LGBI Airport here this afternoon.

The budget carrier is the second airline to make a debut in the Northeast since TATA SIA Airlines Limited, known as Vistara, launched daily flights on the Delhi-Guwahati-Bagdogra-Delhi route on April 2.

AirAsia, which had commenced operations in the country in June last year, also launched flights from New Delhi to Bangalore and Goa today.

The service certainly has brought cheer to a zone, strategically placed for its proximity to international countries, where airlines have in the past taken off with a bang, only to fizzle out later and never return.

The Air India Guwahati-Bangkok flight was introduced in 2002 but had to be stopped in 2008 because of mounting losses.

"The new service is certainly good news for Guwahati and the Northeast," LGBI Airport director Ashok Kumar Verma said. As it is, over 90 flights (belonging to seven airline companies) land and take off from the airport daily catering to over 7,500 passengers.

The country's fourth low-cost carrier, AirAsia also flies to Chennai, Kochi, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Pune from its Bangalore base.

"The Delhi-Guwahati-Delhi route will have daily flights. Till June 15, the flight arrives in Guwahati at 2.50pm and departs at 6.10pm. From June 16, the arrival time has been revised to 10.20am and the departure at 1.25pm. From August onwards, there will be revisions again," a source said.

The airline is offering an all-inclusive promotional fare of Rs 1,500 from New Delhi to Guwahati and vice-versa. However, the airline is yet to disclose till when it will keep the "attractive fares" going.

"We hope to enable more people to experience air travel in India," AirAsia India chief executive officer Mittu Chandilya said.

AirAsia India, which owns a fleet of Airbus A320 planes, is a three-way joint venture with AirAsia holding 49 per cent stake while Tata Sons and Telestra Trade Place holds 30 and 21 per cent stakes respectively.

"The flights will not only facilitate tourist inflow to the Northeast but also have a catalytic effect on business and economic development in the region," an official associated with the Northeast industry, said.

Between 2003 and 2013, aircraft movement in the Northeast has increased by about 68 per cent whereas the overall passenger load increased by over 270 per cent during the same period.