Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Plea to lift Delhi-Bagdogra flight curbs



Kolkata: Bagdogra airport authorities, travel agents and hoteliers from Darjeeling and the Dooars have urged the state government to withdraw the restriction on flights from Delhi to Bagdogra. When the ban on flights from six cities, including Delhi, was imposed in July and then partially withdrawn in September, it was applicable to all airports in Bengal, including Bagdogra and Andal. But the communication sent out by the state government on Monday only mentioned resumption of daily direct flights between Delhi and Kolkata.

The civil aviation ministry and the Airports Authority of India that operates Bagdogra airport are also set to write to the state government, urging it to extend the concession to Bagdogra.

“Everyone is surprised that the ban on daily flights from Delhi has been lifted only for Kolkata and not Bagdogra. Since the CM and her team is in north Bengal now, we are trying to reach out to senior bureaucrats, and through them to the CM, seeking the lifting of curbs on flights from Delhi to Bagdogra at present,” an airport official told TOI.

At present, nine direct flights operate between Delhi and Bagdogra on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when the ban is eased. Similarly, the airport gets three flights from Mumbai, two from Chennai and one from Ahmedabad on these days. On the remaining days of the week, the flight count slumps from 30 flights to 12-14.

Hoteliers and travel agents in north Bengal are particularly perturbed about the decision to persist with the ban on Bagdogra. “We have been urging the government to lift the ban on flights as tourism is beginning to look up after many months. A big chunk of the high-spend tourists fly in from Delhi. Now that the ban on flights from Delhi has been revoked for Kolkata, it should be done for Bagdogra as well,” said Samrat Sanyal, a leading tour operator based in Siliguri.

16/12/20 Subhro Niyogi & Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India

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