Tuesday, March 19, 2019

15 small towns get linked to Mumbai by air under central govt’s scheme

In a move to strengthen air connectivity within Maharashtra and further connect cities in the state by air nationally, the Centre has approved six routes from Mumbai to cities in the state and nine routes from the financial capital to regional pockets across the country.
 Also, 15 routes involving other cities in Maharashtra, including Pune, Nagpur and Nashik, have been cleared. Among airlines, the major gainers are SpiceJet, Alliance Air, IndiGo, TruJet and Star Air (run by the Ghodawat family), to whom the routes have been awarded under the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik) scheme.
However, they will get non-prime or non-day time slots, because of congestion at Mumbai’s airport. Star Air, launched by Kolhapur-based educationist Sanjay Ghodawat, will connect Mumbai and Nagpur with Belgaum, besides connecting Mumbai with Kolhapur, and Hubli with Pune. The airline owns and operates two 50-seater aircraft (Embraer 145) on the Bangalore-Hubli and BangaloreBelgaum routes.
 “Within a few months our passenger load factor has touched 60% and we expect to reach 90% once we sign an agreement with aggregators such as MakeMyTrip and Cleartrip,” said Ghodawat (64), an engineer who operates educational institutes with nearly 15,000 students in Kolhapur and Sangli. the country’s top politicians during poll campaigns.
 In the last Union cabinet meeting before the general election’s announcement, 30 routes for various airlines were approved. Mumbai got the most, 15, followed by Nashik, Pune and Sholapur. According to sources, the routes will soon be “formalized”. Additional infrastructure at some of the regional airports is almost ready, they said.
19/03/19 Chittaranjan Tembhekar/Times of India
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