• States want AI to fly new routes between cities

    Several State governments have asked Air India to look at launching virgin routes connecting different cities. These governments have also asked the airline to consider connecting their States with others, and begin routes from their cities to new global destinations.

    “Nagpur-Nashik, Raipur-Kolkata, Kolkata-Indore-Jabalpur, Kolkata-Raipur-Indore-Ahmedabad, Chandigarh-Dubai, Kolkata-Ahmedabad and connecting Andaman to Singapore and Bangkok are virgin routes, and were requested for in the meeting that we had with representatives of 16 States,” said Ashwani Lohani, Chairman and Managing Director, Air India.

    The meeting was held here on Wednesday at the initiative of Air India as it looks to lease more small aircraft as part of plans to enhance its fleet to 100 aircraft in the next four years.

    The airline plans to lease the smaller propeller-driven ATR aircraft to enhance regional air connectivity that some States have requested.

    At the meeting, Karnataka requested the airline to look at connecting Mysore to Bengaluru, Puducherry and Goa, apart from connecting Chennai and Hubballi. State government officials pointed to the huge tourist interest in these cities to push their case.

    Lohani said the States were willing to provide Viability Gap Funding (VGF) or their own funds so that the State-owned carrier does not operate these flights at a loss.

    “We will not require VGF for all the flights as potential does exist for many of the routes suggested. But where VGF is required, the States are willing to provide us funding,” he said.

    Andaman also requested that an ATR aircraft be stationed there so that it could be used to operate flights between the various islands which make up the Union Territory. Terron Armstead Womens Jersey

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