Hornbill not ready to fly

Fly Hornbill, a small aircraft that is supposed to replace Air India's subsidiary Alliance Air in the Northeast in the new year, is not ready to fly yet.

By Rining Lyngdoh in Shilong
  • Published 29.12.16
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Fly Hornbill’s Embraer 145. Telegraph picture

Shillong, Dec. 28: Fly Hornbill, a small aircraft that is supposed to replace Air India's subsidiary Alliance Air in the Northeast in the new year, is not ready to fly yet.

AAA Aviation Private Limited, which will operate the new aircraft, has sought time from the North Eastern Council (NEC) as its service will be delayed by three months.

"The authorities of AAA Aviation Private Limited have informed us that they require some more time to make all the necessary arrangements for Fly Hornbill to operate in airports across the Northeast," NEC secretary Ram Muivah told The Telegraph today.

AAA has indicated that Fly Hornbill would be ready to fly from April, 2017, Muivah said.

"Since Fly Hornbill is not ready yet, the NEC will request Alliance Air to continue its operation till March 31, 2017," he added.

AAA was selected for being the lowest bidder among competitors, which included Jet Airways, in response to an expression of interest (EOI) invited by the NEC in June this year.

The EOI required airlines to provide connectivity to airports at Umroi (Ri Bhoi district, Meghalaya), Lilabari (Lakhimpur district, Assam), Tezpur (Sonitpur district, Assam), Imphal (Manipur) and Silchar (Cachar district, Assam) from and to Guwahati/Calcutta by using a minimum 35-seater, fixed wing aircraft for a minimum period of one year.

The aim was to improve intra-region connectivity.

AAA Aviation Private Limited signed an agreement with the NEC in September this year to start air services in the region in place of Alliance Air.

According to the agreement, Fly Hornbill was supposed to start operating its fleet of Embraer 145, an all-weather 50-seater twin-jet aircraft, with its operational base in Guwahati.

The NEC will pay a viability gap funding (VGF) of Rs 14.5 crore annually to the private airline for its services. VGF is a grant provided to support infrastructure projects that are economically justified but fall short of financial viability.

All these years, NEC has been paying a viability gap funding of Rs 47.07 crore annually to Alliance Air.

With the operation of the new airline, the NEC will be able to save at least Rs 30 crore a year.

At present, Alliance Air flies from Calcutta to Umroi, Lilabari, Silchar and Tezpur airports and back, with ATR 42 type aircraft.