Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Udan spreads wings, Delhi-Shimla and Kolkata-Deoghar among new routes

 Mumbai: In April 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off Alliance Air’s Delhi-Shimla flight heralding a new era in regional air connectivity. The flight, however, was suspended in March 2020 and Shimla virtually fell off the aviation map.

But there is good news for travellers. The Delhi-Shimla route is among nine that airlines plan to launch in the next 50 days under the civil aviation ministry’s Udan scheme. On Tuesday, IndiGo launched its service between Kolkata and Deoghar in Jharkhand after the PM inaugurated its new airport, built at a cost of Rs 401 crore.

“We will receive our first new ATR 42-600 aircraft by July-end and another in September. We hope to start service between Delhi and Shimla, and Delhi and Kota from August 15 with the new aircraft. However, that depends upon the readiness of the airports,” said Alliance Air’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Vineet Sood.

Shimla has a tabletop airport and a new runway end safety area is being built as an additional safety measure. According to an Airport Authority of India official, the work is expected to be completed by July 15 and would need approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Additionally, Alliance Air plans to deploy the new aircraft on existing routes between Delhi-Kullu and Delhi-Dharamshala. These routes are currently served with ATR 72 aircraft, which seats 70 passengers.

“The ATR 42-600 route is more suitable than the ATR 72 for operations at airports with short runways or with high elevation. Its operating costs are lower. Also, at such airports, there are restrictions on maximum takeoff weight. So it is more profitable to deploy ATR 42 aircraft,” Sood said.

“Currently, we serve 52 destinations. Overall, our performance has been good and we will be adding new flights in northeastern states under the scheme. After the delivery of our second ATR 42 aircraft we will have more than 20 aircraft in the fleet and we will gradually commence operations to neighbouring countries,” he said.

12/07/22 Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

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