PUDUCHERRY: English actor and children’s writer David Williams once said the airport is a place where we can find all human life. And he was, surely, not talking about the Puducherry airport where one can find beautifully maintained lawns and utmost calmness, sans any “human life”.
Constructed in 1989, the Puducherry airport has been underutilised for most part of its existence as several attempts to operate flights and choppers by different airlines from the former French colony failed. The latest attempt was made in 2014 when Alliance Air launched flights to Bengaluru but stopped services within six months. The earlier attempt was made in 2013 by SpiceJet, which launched flights to Bengaluru but stopped the services within a year citing they were financially unviable.
Having been underutilised for decades, the Puducherry airport is slowly coming to life with the Congress government in Puducherry now burning the midnight oil to give life to this “ghost airport” and resume operations by the end of November.
The Government now thinks the New Aviation Policy would help the airlines launch operations and sustain services.
The UT’s tourism ministry is also planning to give financial support in the initial stage to make the flight tickets cheaper. Though the Union Civil Aviation Ministry had given its green signal for resumption of flight services from the airport located in Lawspet in the heart of the former French colony by October, government functionaries say it would be delayed by a month.
As he prepares to meet Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Wednesday, Puducherry Tourism minister Malladi Krishna Rao told Deccan Chronicle that people of the Union Territory can hop on to a flight in the next couple of months to cities like Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Kochi, Hyderabad and Tirupati.
“In the last meeting with the minister he ensured that the flight operations from Puducherry could be resumed by October. We are not sure whether we can do it by October. So I will pressurise the minister to to resume flight services by November,” Mr Rao said, adding that the ministry has give approval for operation of 3 flights a day to begin with.
Though regional airline service ‘Vayudoot’ operated scheduled flight services on a 14-seater aircraft to Chennai, Neyveli and Bengaluru, it was not successful and the services were stopped after 2 years. For two decades, the airport remained defunct.
Both Lt Governor Kiran Bedi and Chief Minister V Narayanasamy hope that the new aviation policy of the Union government would boost air travel in regional airports. The policy caps the price of `2,500 for one-hour flight service and for a half an hour journey the ticket price now cannot exceed Rs 1,200.
Admitting that the new aviation policy will certainly be beneficial for Puducherry, Mr Rao said the Puducherry tourism ministry is planning to give subsidies on air tickets to attract more people.