Saturday, March 19, 2016

Cricket biz & buzz at airport

The emotion-charged business of an India-Pakistan match at the Eden Gardens has done what Mamata Banerjee's Global Business Summit couldn't: turn sleepy Calcutta airport into a super busy terminal.

An Emirates flight from Dubai landed on Friday morning with all 12 first-class and 42 business-class seats occupied. Not a single one of the 220 economy class seats was vacant either.

"Rarely, if ever before, has this happened," said an airport official.

The last-minute Mumbai to Calcutta fare on a flight arriving late on Friday was Rs 48,000.

"Unheard of, except perhaps during Puja," a senior airline executive said of the surge.

Eight private aircraft carrying VIPs are scheduled to touch down on Saturday.

In many ways, the India-Pakistan World T20 tie that Dharamsala lost to Calcutta has shown industry-starved Bengal what it takes to be a happening place. And unlike Mamata, chief organiser Sourav Ganguly has the happy responsibility of hosting more VIPs than he would have bargained for.

Industrialists, Bollywood stars, former cricketers and fans flying down from across the world have raised the demand for air tickets to a peak that even the festive season would find hard to match, airline officials and tour operators said.

Mukesh Ambani, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Imran Khan and Steve Waugh are on the high-profile guest list for whom airport officials are making special arrangements. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shahryar Khan arrived on Friday.

A fleet of luxury cars - from Mercs to Jaguars - was parked at the airport throughout Friday as a procession of visitors arrived for a preliminary World T20 match that has assumed the billing of an epic final.
19/03/16 Sanjay Mandal/Telegraph
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