Sunday, October 11, 2020

Flights to small towns picking up

Chennai: Airlines have resumed flights to small towns following government approval for more domestic flights from October 1.

Initially the focus was on connecting traditionally high-patronage routes, but this has begun to change in the last two weeks.

In addition to the daily flights to airports in the state, including ones at Salem and Tuticorin, there are now daily flights to around 10 small towns including Mysuru, Varanasi, Patna, Chandigarh, Kannur, Kozhikode and Andal (West Bengal).

“This shows that demand is picking up for flights to small towns and there is scope for further promotion of regional connectivity in spite of the slowdown,” said an airport official.

Flights to cities in the north like Varanasi, Patna, Ahmedabad and Jaipur are popular because trains are not available.

“People are willing to travel for emergencies. It is this crowd that is now travelling by flights to these towns. Many guest workers too are returning as they are being brought back by their employers,” said an airline official.

This traffic is reflecting on the passenger arrival numbers which are marginally higher than departures. Flights to Ahmedabad, Varanasi sector ferry close to 100 passengers most days.

Airlines say there is demand for travel and more flights will be added based on the availability of planes and crew at each airport. The state government too has allowed 100 arrivals a day.

Chennai airport now handles close to 130 flights daily.

“The numbers are expected to increase after October 15. Airlines are working out schedules. The civil aviation ministry also wants airlines to connect small towns as they resume services,” the official added.

An airline is to add around 20 flights after October 15.

11/10/20 Times of India

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