PUDUCHERRY: Since sustainability of flights operated from Puducherry has resulted in the suspension of flight operations twice, the Puducherry government is taking all possible steps to ensure the viability of flight operations.
Chief Minister N Rangasamy is holding talks with Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Air India, to operate flights in the morning, said Tourism Minister P Rajavelu, after inspection of the airport for commencement of flights from April 14. At present, Alliance Air has scheduled to operate flights between Puducherry and Bengaluru in the evening.
Most of the passengers in the earlier flight operated by SpiceJet from Bengaluru had been foreigners and businessmen. There was a lack of response from the industry and government officials due to the timings of the flights (in the afternoon). It has not been very convenient for the industry, while government officials flying SpiceJet from Puducherry could not take the connecting flight to New Delhi from Bengaluru as it was a long wait. Even while returning from New Delhi to Puducherry the situation was similar.
Hence, morning flights would be attractive for people, particularly the good number of officials who travel to New Delhi from Puducherry. Government officials would certainly fly to New Delhi by the Puducherry- Bengaluru Alliance Air Flight to Bengaluru and then catch the connecting flight to New Delhi, said Rajavelu. Not only industry and government officials, even passengers on overseas flights like Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa which reach Bengaluru early morning could take the morning flight to reach Puducherry.
The government would provide the necessary security and transport connectivity by Pondicherry Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) to the airport and the town, said Rajavelu.
At present the airport is ready for flight operation with all necessary infrastructure in place, he said.
The government is also pursuing the establishment of an Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) station on the airport premises or at least make available a fuel bowser.
In the absence of ATF in Puducherry, extra fuel has to be loaded in Bengaluru for the to and fro flight. This is disadvantageous as not only is there is an extra weight on the carrier, but it also burns out more fuel, adding to operation cost.
ATF facility in Puducherry will ensure availability of the fuel at lower cost, since the government has given full VAT exemption on ATF.
A full platoon of Indian Reserve Battalion (IRBn) comprising 25 to 30 persons would be deputed in the airport for security duty, said V Chandran, Senior Superintendent of Police (law and Order) who also accompanied the minister. The battalion had been trained earlier when SpiceJet commenced operation. However, now they would be given the latest training, he said.
The visibility factor could be an issue if the flight coming from Bengaluru reaching Puducherry at 4.45 pm gets delayed. Establishment of automated night landing facilities are also under process and may culminate if flight operations become steady.