Puducherry will soon be back on aviation map

Updated - November 01, 2016 10:16 pm IST

Published - October 01, 2016 12:00 am IST - PUDUCHERRY:

Union Territory signs MoU with Centre and Airports Authority of India; flight services likely to start from January 2017

A view of the Puducherry airport.PHOTOs: S.S. KUMAR

A view of the Puducherry airport.PHOTOs: S.S. KUMAR

The flight operations at the airport here are set to resume from January 2017 with the Government of Puducherry signing a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under Regional Connectivity Scheme with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Airports Authority of India.

The MoU was signed by the Chief Secretary to Government Manoj Parida on behalf of Government of Puducherry and Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary on behalf of Ministry of Civil Aviation, in the presence of Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy and Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism Malladi Krishna Rao.

R.N. Choubey , Secretary (Civil Aviation), and A.K. Dutta, Member from Airports Authority of India), were present.

The Centre’s Regional Connectivity Scheme was conceived to provide air services between un-served and under-served cities.

The Government said the signing of this MoU marks a historic phase of development in the aviation sector for Puducherry as this will pave the way for making flying affordable for people.

“Puducherry already has a modern full-fledged airport, which is underutilised. By agreeing to give certain concessions, as required under the MoU, Government of Puducherry has ensured that regular flights will not only operate from Puducherry to other destinations, but also that flights will be affordable to common people,” a press note said.

With the Government proposing to have air connectivity to and from nearby cities, mostly lying within 500-km radius, airfare has been pegged at an affordable Rs. 2,500.

Mr. Parida told The Hindu that an expense-sharing agreement on a 80:20 ratio between the Centre and the Union Territory had been finalised under the Centre’s regional connectivity .

The return of the Union Territory to the aviation map — it was the only administrative headquarters in the country without regular flight connectivity — is expected to give a big boost to not only the tourist inflow, but also to industrial investments.

The process to operationalise the flights is likely to be completed and operations may be started by January, 2017, the Government said.

The Union Territory’s aviation history had a chequered record since services were launched with much fanfare in 2013 with SpiceJet operating a 48-seat ATR to and from Bengaluru.

The company pulled the plug on services after just over a year in January 2014.

After the airport lay dormant for a year or so, Alliance Air, the budget operator of Air India took up the viability gap funding subsidy offer of the Government in April 2015. The company launched services using a 48-seater ATR 42-320 in the same Puducherry-Bengaluru sector on all days of the week except Wednesdays.

However, Alliance Air too stopped its services in October last year following a dispute over subsidy claim and since then the Government had been negotiating with a handful of airline and helicopter operators to resume air connectivity.

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