National carrier Air India will start a four times a week flight between New Delhi (DEL) to Pantnagar (PGH) in Uttarakhand from October 14, 2014. The flights will be operated by Air India Regional using an ATR-42 aircraft.
On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays,
9I-815 departs New Delhi at 14:30 arrives Pantnagar at 15:30 hrs
9I-816 departs Pantnagar at 15:50 hrs arrives New Delhi at 16:50.
The airport serves the town of Pantnagar and the emerging industrial area of Rudrapur. The airport is close to hill stations in the Kumaon like Nainital, located 65 kilometres away, Bheemtal about 50km, Ranikhet, Almora and the famous tiger reserve Jim Corbett National Park each about 120 km away. Nainital also houses the High Court of the state.
Air India Regional has a fleet of 8 ATR-42 and CRJ aircraft covering 28 destinations in India. it has recently launched flight to six regional stations. Between Mumbai and Bhuj, and between Kolkata and Lilabari, Tezpur, Silchar, Guwahati and Shillong. Air India Regional also operates charter flights between Port Blair and Car Nicobar under an agreement with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration.
Pantnagar airport has a runway of only 4,500 feet which excludes jet aircraft. This limits operations to turbo-props of Air India Regional, Jet Airways and SpiceJet. The airport has been without air service ever since Kingfisher closed down. This necessitates some thought as to why none of the other airlines operated to the airport till now. Is Air India adding another ‘white elephant’ route just to keep its political bosses happy?
Also, we do not intend this in a negative manner, but the press release highlights who the airline is targeting as its customers. “The flight will provide quick and convenient connection to government officials, business travellers, students and tourists, among others.” Isn’t it high time the Air India management changes its thinking?
Only 4 ATRs remain in the fleet. Only 3 are airworthy.