Tamil Nadu

With last flight, Puducherry airport runs out of steam

Passengers entering the SpiceJet flight at Puducherry Airport on Friday. Photo: S.S. Kumar

Passengers entering the SpiceJet flight at Puducherry Airport on Friday. Photo: S.S. Kumar  

Just over a year after the SpiceJet introduced its flight service on Puducherry-Bangalore sector, the Puducherry airport, owned by Airports Authority of India, has once again become a non-functional airport, causing concern among tourists and residents.

Citing “unviable passenger” traffic, the SpiceJet, which started its service on January 17, 2013, between Bangalore and Puducherry, ceased its operation with its last flight taking off from Puducherry to Bangalore that carried 44 passengers on Friday. The incoming load was 36 passengers, who travelled from Bangalore to Puducherry on a Q 400 Bombardier aircraft.

It means that the airport, which has a 1500 meters long and 30 meters wide asphalt runway, will become non-functional from Saturday. The new terminal building, which can handle about 300 passengers, will be without passengers except for the charted flights and training purposes.

“It is a hard decision. But the continuous loss on this sector has forced the management to take it,” S. Mahesh, Station-In-Charge, SpiceJet told The Hindu on Friday.

It is learnt that though the occupancy rate had gone up steadily, the airline was yet to make break even as far as Puducherry-Bangalore sector was concerned, forcing the SpiceJet management to close the route. However, it was said that the airline was willing to negotiate with the Puducherry government to explore the possibility of resuming the flight service. A senior official of Tourism Department said that the airline had sought 30 per cent seat assurance from the territorial administration, which was stated to be on a higher side.

Meanwhile, the Government has planned to hold a formal discussion with the SpiceJet management on February 3 here. Chief Minister N. Rangasamy is expected to chair the meeting. Besides Tourism Minister P. Rajavelu, Chief Secretary Chetan B. Sanghi and Tourism Secretary, W.V.R. Murthy will take part in it. The SpiceJet is to be represented by its Managing Director.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2020 5:46:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/with-last-flight-puducherry-airport-runs-out-of-steam/article5640023.ece

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