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Air India plans for more flights from east

Mamata Banerjee had on several occasions requested Air India to start a direct flight between Calcutta and Europe
Pradeep Singh Kharola at IIM Calcutta on Wednesday.

Our Special Correspondent   |   Calcutta   |   Published 15.11.18, 08:22 AM

Air India is planning to introduce more flights from eastern India next year and is considering whether to start a direct flight from Calcutta to Europe, Pradeep Singh Kharola, chairman and managing director of the government-owned airline, said on Wednesday.

“We have nationwide and global plans and in the scheme of things, it all depends upon the augmentation of the fleet. Some aircraft will be introduced, for which orders were placed a couple of years back. We have five to join us by March,” Kharola said on the sidelines of a programme at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.

Kharola delivered the foundation day lecture at the B-school, which also hosted its distinguished alumnus award ceremony during the day.

The debt-ridden airline has taken the new planes — all Airbus A-320 Neo — on lease.

Is there any plan to start a direct flight from Calcutta to Europe? The Air India boss said the matter was under consideration.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had on several occasions requested Air India and private airlines to start a direct flight between Calcutta and Europe.

Asked why the divestment bid for the cash-strapped airline was stalled, Kharola said there were no buyers.

“Fuel price is going up and the aviation industry is not doing very well. So, now the appetite for purchase of Air India is slightly doubtful. So, temporarily for the near future, disinvestment has been kept on hold. As the scenario improves the process will restart,” he said.

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