SpiceJet, the only airliner flying out of Puducherry, to terminate operations

Puducherry may lose all commercial air connectivity from February, with the only airline operating from the Union Territory set to terminate operations from the town this month-end.

Private airliner SpiceJet is the only commercial airliner flying out of Puducherry. The airline operates flights between Puducherry and Bangalore, six days a week. But, the airline would not operate flights out of Puducherry after January 31, The Hindu has learnt from reliable sources. The SpiceJet website does not allow booking for any flight from Puducherry from February 1. While not commenting on termination of services, the corporate office confirmed that flights will not be operated in February.

The move comes at a time when Chief Minister N. Rangasamy had announced on Saturday that a new airport would be developed at Sederapet. The airport would come up at a site acquired for establishing Special Economic Zone.

The government has been trying to woo more airlines to operate out of Puducherry in a bid to increase tourism. If the private carrier pulls out of Puducherry, the airport here would be used only by charter flights. If the airline terminates services, tourist inflow to Puduchery would be affected as the Puducherry-Bangalore flight also offers passengers connections to Mumbai and Delhi, officials in the Tourism Ministry said.

SpiceJet currently plies a 78- seater Bombardier Q 400 aircraft on the Puducherry-Bangalore route. Earlier, the flight was carrying lower capacity owing to runway limitations. After recent infrastructure development, it is poised to carry full occupancy, sources from the Airport Authority of India (AAI) said.

Heavy expenditure

Infrastructure development on the new terminal would turn out a waste if the Puducherry airport did not entertain commercial airlines, said AAI sources. There has been speculation that other domestic airlines would operate from Puducherry. However, nothing has materialised so far.

Airport authority officials will meet Mr. Rangasamy on Monday to request for intervention in continuing operations. The termination of services from Puducherry is said to be part of decision to reduce number of flights by the carrier from three destinations which include Tiruchi and Allahabad. According to sources, the airline has sustained losses in the Puducherry–Bangalore sector.

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