Thursday, November 23, 2017

From April-October, Bagdogra airport recorded 60 per cent increase in footfall

Kolkata: Bagdogra Airport in Darjeeling district has seen a 60 per cent jump in passenger footfall from April to October 2017, despite the violent Gorkhaland agitations. Airport director Rakesh Sahay said that this is the biggest jump in passenger traffic so far. Bagdogra connects not only Darjeeling but Terai, Dooars, Sikkim and Bhutan to the rest of the country. Sahay said that from April to October 2016, the airport recorded 7.83 lakh passengers. During the corresponding period between April and October 2017, the airport recorded 12.48 lakh passengers.
“Surprisingly the Gorkhaland agitation and Darjeeling shutdown did not affect the passenger traffic at all. There wasn’t even a slowdown of passengers. This is because most of the passengers who come to this region don’t usually come as individual tourists. The most popular thing is to take tour packages with travel agencies. What the agencies did was reconstitute the packages shifting the tourists from Darjeeling to Dooars,” said Sahay.
The airport director said there were several reasons behind the steady increase in footfall at Bagdogra. “One of the reasons is that if you were to book your tickets even 15 days in advance, the flight prices are just slightly higher than train tickets. Merely Rs 200-300 more. We have noticed that there has been a shift and people who had earlier been travelling by train are now opting to travel by air,’’ he said.
Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) is also the cheapest in the country at Bagdogra airport. The state government had removed the tax on aviation fuel at the airport to boost tourism in the region. “Zero VAT on fuel makes Bagdogra an extremely attractive destination for airlines and so more and more airlines are coming here. Three years ago we used to run 12-13 flights a day. The number has now gone up to 21-22 flights a day. Even Kolkata airport continues to have a 20 per cent VAT on ATF as do all the other neighbouring airports like Guwahati and Patna. Uttar Pradesh has last week reduced the tax on ATF, but even so , t is not zero like it is here,” Sahay pointed out.
23/11/17 Indian Express