The state government has agreed to share 20 per cent of the “viability gapping fund” with the Centre for operation of flights on the state’s "unserved" and "underserved" routes on a condition that the ratio is not revised in the next 10 years.
Viability gapping fund is the amount of loss that an airline company incurs to operate its one-hour flights on such routes. The state has decided to share 20 per cent of the viability gapping fund while the Centre has agreed to give the rest 80 per cent under Centre Regional Transport Connectivity Scheme.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Aviation Mukul Roy, Civil Aviation Secretary RN Chowbey and Chairman of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) Guruprasad Mohapatra held a meeting in this regard in Nabanna on Monday afternoon.
Alapan Bandyopadhyay, principal secretary of the state transport department, said that the state has agreed to share 20 per cent of the “viability gapping fund” only on the condition that the ratio would not change in the next 10 years.
The move would help improve air connectivity between Durgapur, Malda, Cooch Behar and Balurghat. The state government would, however, discontinue with the agreement in case the ratio is revised before the next 10 years.
In Monday’s meeting, the Chief Minister appealed the AAI chairman to take initiative to revive the flying training institute at Behala. She told him that even private airlines could ask the institute for training of their pilots as and when required. She urged the Centre to think about the proposal to revive the institute.
Another important decision of setting up of a three-member committee to monitor and oversee the functioning of Bagdogra Airport, which houses an airbase of the Indian Air Force, has been taken in Monday’s meeting.
Mohapatra is the chairman of the committee while a representative of the Ministry of Defence and the principal secretary of the state transport department are the two members of the committee. This comes at the time when the airport has started getting a good business with a drop in the price of air turbine fuel.
The Chief Minister also urged the Civil Aviation Secretary to take initiative to start direct flights between Kolkata and European countries. She had placed the same proposal before Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Raju earlier.
She once again appealed the civil aviation secretary to look into the matter. In a bid to initiate the flight operation, the state government has assured to provide all necessary support.