Tiruchirapalli

Domestic traffic flying high

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Clamour for direct flight service to nation’s commercial capital

Amid a spurt in domestic passenger traffic at Tiruchi international airport, local tourism circles have made a strong pitch for resuming direct flight services to the country’s financial capital, Mumbai, from here.

2018 saw a fast-growing Tiruchi airport getting connected to three key cities of Bengaluru, Kochi and Mumbai, thanks to new services launched by private airliners. In addition, there was direct connectivity to Chennai and more overseas flights.

Introduction of the new services had a positive impact with domestic passenger movement witnessing a two-fold increase from the begining of the current fiscal up to November.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) statistics show that domestic passenger movement exceeded 2.23 lakh from April to November in the current fiscal at Tiruchi airport as compared to the corresponding period of the previous year (April - November 2017) when the figure stood at 83,282.

The daily direct flight service from Tiruchi to Mumbai and from thereon to New Delhi and back operated by Jet Airways from March-end followed by launch of daily services to Bengaluru and Kochi by IndiGo, which also introduced four flights to Chennai from June, helped in boosting domestic traffic.

The Tiruchi-Mumbai-Delhi flight service was operated using Boeing 737-800 series aircraft with more seating capacity unlike ATR flights with limited seats to Chennai, Bengaluru and Kochi.

However, the sudden withdrawal of service in the New Delhi-Mumbai-Tiruchi-Mumbai- New Delhi sector in October-end, seven months after its introduction, came as a huge disappointment to frequent flyers from the delta region consistently seeking connectivity to more domestic destinations from here.

The airline stopped the daily service citing operational reasons notwithstanding the good patronage with the passenger load factor exceeding 80%.

Amid this scenario, Trichy Tourism Federation has now made a strong pitch for introduction of flight services in Mumbai-Tiruchi-Mumbai sector. The federation, in a representation to Air India authorities, requested the airline to operate service in the Mumbai-Tiruchi-Mumbai sector to benefit the business community and tourism.

In the representation, federation president V. Vasudevan said Air India was the first to introduce flight service in the Tiruchi-Mumbai sector twice a week a few years ago, which proved successful. However, the operations were stopped.

The daily service introduced by Jet Airways in the New Delhi-Mumbai-Tiruchi-Mumbai-New Delhi sector from March registered an average 85% cabin factor in both directions. The representation further said that Tiruchi had a large business and ethnic community and a mixed traffic segment that would benefit trade community and tourism if the services were to be launched.

“Tiruchi is a rapidly growing city today attracting devotees to various shrines situated in this part of the region, besides housing prestigious educational institutions such as National Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Management and Tamil Nadu National Law School and a slew of industries. Hence, there is a definite need to have direct connectivity with Mumbai at a time when Tiruchi airport is on an expansion mode,” says M.A. Aleem, member, Airports Advisory Committee, Tiruchi International Airport.

The Tiruchi-Mumbai service operated until a few months ago proved a real hit, and keeping this factor in mind the airlines should come forward to launch the service in the sector again, said Dr. Aleem.

Airliners would definitely not lose revenue by starting the service given the good load factor recorded earlier, added Dr. Aleem, a city-based neurologist.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 9:44:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/domestic-traffic-flying-high/article25847857.ece

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