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Air India to link Andal with Hyderabad

KOLKATA: The Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport at Andal near Durgapur is set to get its second service. Air India,which currently operates three flights a week to Delhi, has decided to start another thrice-a-week operation beginning February 16-17, connecting Hyderabad to the industrial belt in Burdwan.

Unlike the Delhi flight, the one to Hyderabad will be a red-eye one, arriving past midnight and taking off in the early hours of the day. The flight, to be operated with an Airbus A319 aircraft with 144 seats, will leave Hyderabad at 11.05pm and touch down at Andal at 1.15am. The return flight will take off at 2.10am and reach Hyderabad at 4.30am.

While the hours are odd, airline sources said the pricing would be extremely attractive to woo passengers. The flight from Andal will be on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Sources said that with the flight to Delhi clocking over 90% load, officials of Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd (BAPL), the greenfield airport promoters, had urged the carrier to introduce flights to south India, with Chennai being the first choice, followed by Bengaluru and Hyderabad. It was the last one that worked out first.

BAPL was actually negotiating with SpiceJet for flights to Bengaluru and Hyderabad before the Air India proposal fructified. Sources said talks with SpiceJet suffered a setback with the state rejecting its proposal that in case of revenue shortfall from flights to Andal, the state allow it to offset through lower excise duty of fuel uploaded by the airline from Kolkata airport.

AI had resumed operations on the Durgapur-Delhi-Durgapur sector last April. Unlike the earlier stint, when AI operated flights with viability gap funding (the state or airport operator’s commitment to fund a certain number of seats if these were not sold), it returned with a commercial flight that had no such constraint.

Andal airport gets ILS facility

Kolkata: The instrument landing system (ILS) at Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport that was installed nearly two years ago but could not be made operational due to lack of regulatory clearance was finally commissioned on Thursday following a nod from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

On Thursday morning, Air India flight AI 755 became the first aircraft to touch down at the airport at Andal near Durgapur at 7.40am using the ILS approach. The visibility at the time was 2,200 metre.

The Category-I ILS enables flights to land in low visibility of at least 800 metre. Without the aid, pilots required a visibility of nearly 3,000 metre. Kolkata airport has a more advanced CAT-IIIB ILS that allows pilots to touch down even when visibility is down to 50 metre.

Interference in signals due to the presence of a Coal India dumpsite in the vicinity had first delayed the commissioning of the ILS. Though the antenna was relocated and fresh trials were conducted prior to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit this May, the ILS system comprising Localiser, Glide Scope and a distance measuring equipment worked perfectly. But the pilot of the trial flight reported a problem with the Precision Approach Path Indicator, a visual aid that provides guidance information to help a pilot acquire and maintain the correct approach path.

Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport is the third facility in the state after Kolkata and Bagdogra to be equipped with ILS.

AI resumes Andal flights, links Durgapur to Delhi

Durgapur: Air India resumed operations on the Durgapur-Delhi-Durgapur sector on Sunday by landing 10 minutes before time at the Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport in Andal.

The national carrier’s flight AI755 departed Delhi at 5.50am and reached Andal near Durgapur at 7.40am with 116 passengers. Return flight AI756 on a 122-seater Airbus A319 left at 8.25am and reached Delhi at 10.35am with 115 passengers.

“Developed by Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd (BAPL), the Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport in Durgapur is India’s first operational private greenfield airport. Air India’s direct connection between Delhi and Durgapur will go a long way in accelerating growth in this key industrial city,” said civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu.

The non-stop service will save flyers from Durgapur the time-consuming road journey to Kolkata and provide them direct air connectivity to Delhi and, from there, to innumerable domestic and international destinations. It will, in fact, bring the entire country within six hours’ reach of this steel township.

The service will fulfil a long-standing need of residents of the Asansol-Durgapur belt that is home to major industries such as mining, iron and steel, metalwork, engineering, petrochemicals and telecommunication.

The service will fulfil a long-standing need of residents of the Asansol-Durgapur belt that is home to major industries such as mining, iron and steel, metalwork, engineering, petrochemicals and telecommunication.

Air India was, in fact, the first airline to start commercial operations from the Andal Airport in May,2015

Union minister Babul Supriyo, who landed by the resumed flight in Andal, tweeted: “Delighted to be on the Delhi-Durgapur Air India flight,the route that resumed it’s (sic) active status today. Had 2 cancel the flag-off ceremonies at Delhi & Durgapur due 2 prevailing Model Code of Conduct to ensure that the flight take off (sic) on the auspicious occasion of #PoilaBaisakh.” He added that the number of passengers was “quite encouraging” .

Sachin Ballodia, organizing secretary, Neamatpur Merchants Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “It’s a welcome move by the government. Businessmen of our area were eagerly waiting for the flight to restart as their business will benefit. It will also help development.”

Unlike the earlier stint, when AI operated flights with viability gap funding (the state or airport operator’s commitment to fund a certain number of seats if these were not sold), this time a commercial flight has been introduced with no such constraint.


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