Aviation

Airlines look for Kolkata connection

KOCHI: The migrant workforce, particularly from East and North East parts of India, exploring the surging Kerala job market has opened up a possible business avenue for the airline companies.

They are looking at starting direct flight from Kochi to Kolkata. Kochi houses the largest concentration of migrant employees in the state, reports The New Indian Express.

Indigo Airlines has already conducted a feasibility study on the Kochi-Kolkata route. Other budget airlines are also exploring ways to tap the potential of Kerala’s growing expatriate market.

“We are the lone player in the sector which takes passengers to Kolkata from Kochi without changing the aircraft although there is a brief halt in Bengaluru. At present there is no direct non-stop flight to Kolkata. All the major players flying to Kolkata have a stopover at either Chennai, Bengaluru or Hyderabad. The passengers will have to board a connection flight at these airports,” a senior official with Indigo told Express.

“Though we have conducted a feasibility study on the route and the passengers, we need to wait further to start direct flight services to Kolkata from Kochi. It is a long route. The time consumed to cover the stretch and the high fuel cost is the main stumbling blocks that prevent the airlines from launching direct flight services to Kolkata from here,” he said.

Binoy Peter, director of Centre for Migration and Exclusive Studies, said many migrants can afford taking the flight.

“Many are eager to fly to Kolkata. But the labyrinthine procedures at airports to catch the one-stop flight are forcing them to take the nearly four-day long train journey to north eastern states,” said Peter.

Rajya Sabha member Ritabrata Banerjee has taken up the non-operation of Air India in the Kolkata-Thiruvananthapuram sector with the Civil Aviation Ministry.  Minister of State (Civil Aviation) Jayant Sinha said the current average traffic between Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram was not large enough to justify viable commercial operations with the type of aircraft with Air India.

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