After connecting Mumbai to smaller cities in the region, Captain Gopinath’s Air Deccan is now set to launch operations from Ahmedabad and Kolkata this month, under the government’s regional connectivity scheme, UDAN (UdeDeshKaAamNagrik). “We are launching daily flights connecting Ahmedabad to Tier-II cities in Gujarat and also to cities from Kolkata and North-East. Ahmedabad operations will be launched from February 17 and Kolkata and N-E from February 23,” Gopinath told FE.
Air Deccan won 84 routes in the first round of bidding for regional connectivity under which it will link 62 airports —metro and non-metro. While the operations from Ahmedabad will be launched with its partner airline, Air Orissa, offering connects to Mundra, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Diu. It will also link Surat to Bhavnagar and will add Gir Forest region later, when that airport comes up.
“Ahmedabad is not linked to other smaller cities in Gujarat and state governments want connectivity to smaller towns because there are industries there,” Gopinath said. He added that seats on many of its existing routes are already pre-booked by corporates, with Kandla flights 50% booked by Welspun Industries, and three seats per flight on the Mumbai-Jalgaon route having been booked by Jain Irrigation.
Kolkata flights will connect industrial cities like Jamshedpur, Rourkela, Durgapur, Bagdogra, Burnpur and Cooch Behar with Kolkata, and also Kolkata to Shillong. From Shillong it will connect further to Aizwal, Agartala, Dimapur, Silchar and Imphal. The airline presently flies to regional centres from Mumbai. The carries’s plans to launch operations from Delhi have got pushed back, but Gopinath indicated it will commence in March.
This region will see deployment of three aircraft. “The airports at Burnpur and Rourkela are not ready yet and it will take the airport authority a couple of months to hand them over, after which we will launch flights there,” Gopinath said.
Air Deccan flies 19-seater Beechcraft 1900D Planes and will have four of such aircraft operating this month. It has plans to take its fleet to a size of 15 aircraft over the next few months. Commenting on the funds needed to expand operations and purchase aircraft,Gopinath said that once we stabilise operations, we will look at raising the next round of capital.
By Manisha Singhal