Sunday, December 29, 2019

After initial surge, Chennai-Salem Udan route sees 9% drop in passenger traffic

Chennai: Regional connectivity scheme Udan may have improved connectivity from Chennai to small towns, but the number of passengers seems to have fallen on the Chennai-Salem route.
The Salem-Chennai route, the only one under Udan to have taken off in the state, came into operation only after the state government exerted immense pressure on the ministry of civil aviation. TruJet launched services in March 2018 and the route saw good passenger patronage in the initial months. But, passenger traffic appears to have tapered off.

Statistics show a 9.4% decline in passenger traffic at Salem airport till November when compared to the corresponding period last year. “There was some initial enthusiasm, but that seems to have fizzled out. The airline needs to add flights to make it viable. Airlines like IndiGo or Spice-Jet should start services to ensure that the route becomes popular,” said an Airports Authority of India (AAI) official. There would be greater potential for passenger traffic if airlines take interest and connect Salem to Bengaluru or Hyderabad, he added.

Vellore and Neyveli are among other Udan routes that are yet to take off because of lack of interest among airlines.

Sources said the flight schedule for the Chennai-Salem route was not designed to suit the needs of traders.

“There should be a sameday return flight at a convenient time so it would interest traders. Otherwise, train travel is more appealing as the journey is only five hours,” said an official.

Air fare is also high on the only daily flight from the city. A one-way ticket costs ₹6,000 for 24-hour advance booking and ₹3,000 for a week’s advance booking. The potential for cargo also needs to be developed. This will help airlines sustain flights, said an official, adding that though the ministry was pushing for regional connectivity flights, the destinations had to be sold better.
28/12/19 Times of India
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