Kochi: The low cost Indigo airlines is opening a new chapter in Kerala’s aviation space by launching the first direct flight from Kochi to Kolkata, the only metro in the north-east, from May 10, as per Cochin international airport’s summer schedule.
It is learnt that those deployed in the armed forces in the north-eastern states would be the major clientele for the service. Aviation circles feel that there is enough business and tourist travellers to Kolkata airport to sustain the service that can save time as well.
Currently Indigo operates a flight via Bangalore to Kolkata with a stopover of half an hour at Bangalore and the total flying time is nearly four hours. Those who do not get tickets in this, take a flight from Kochi to Chennai or Bangalore and then take another flight to Kolkata and have to wait up to four hours for the flight, and therefore the new direct connectivity will be a boon for them.
However, an aviation official said that not even one percent of the migrant labour population in Kerala will depend on the service. “They predominantly depend on train services due to the very low fare. Saving on time due to direct flying may not attract them due to the high cost, even though they can productively use the saved time to spend back home or report for work earlier and earn,” said the official.
The official said that those who travel from Kolkata to other north-eastern destinations will hugely benefit as they can catch trains and buses on time by travelling by flight up to Kolkata. “Flights to destinations like Imphal, Guwahati, Patna, Itanagar, Agartala can also be caught on time,” he said adding currently that they struggled to catch such connecting flights, trains and buses.
It is proposed to start the Indigo direct service from Kochi at 1.05 pm while the return flight will reach Kochi at 9.45 pm. A lot of Keralites settled in Kolkata and other north-eastern parts would rejoice over the development. The expected fare range of the new service is not yet known.