Air India has decided to withdraw its flight on Kolkata-Durgapur-Delhi sector from June 17, six months after its inauguration, due to ‘operational reasons’. “Air India is set to withdraw its flight on Kolkata- Durgapur-Delhi sector, after a little over six months of its inauguration, from June 17 due to operational reasons,” an AI spokesman said on Tuesday.
Air India is operating thrice-a-week service with a 122-seater Airbus 319 aircraft. The airline was operating on this new sector on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from December 21. Even as the airline officially did not elaborate the reasons behind discontinuing the service, insiders said economic non-viability was forcing AI to withdraw the flight. “Despite assurance to provide viability gap funding (VGF) to the airline, Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited (BAPL) failed to maintain its promise,” they said pleading anonymity.
BAPL Managing Director Partha Ghosh, however, said, the decision of the AI is temporary. “The airline will resume its operation on the sector within a week or so.” Denying the allegation on VGF, he said “We are aware of Air India’s decision. We discussed the issue in our meeting today. I am sure the operation will be resumed within a week or so.” The airline sources said alternate arrangements have been made for passengers by way of refunds and routing them to and from Delhi.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had inaugurated the long-awaited Kolkata-Durgapur-New Delhi flight on December 7 last year, connecting the industrial city of Durgapur, which had the country’s first private greenfield airport, directly with the national capital.
Banerjee herself boarded the flight after inaugurating it here on her way to Delhi and had expressed hope that the service would help in growth of industry, commerce and tourism in the region.
Before the launch of this flight, Air India used to operate a small aircraft between Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) Airport in Kolkata and Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport (KNIA) at Andal in Durgapur.