Charter flight service takes off in northeast India

October 30th, 2008 - 7:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Agartala, Oct 30 (IANS) The Kolkata-based private airline Northeast Shuttles Ltd (NSL) Thursday announced that it has launched a chartered flight service in the northeast region. “The civil aviation ministry has given approval to operate this non-scheduled and charter passenger service, first-of-its-kind in the northeast,” NSL managing director Sheba K. Mani said.

“Our motto is to boost tourism and also to promote regional development in the northeast and to provide access to the small cities, towns, and remote areas of the region,” she added.

According to Mani, NSL’s nine-seater aircraft (Cessna Caravan 208B) can land at any airfield with an airstrip at least 1,700 feet long, and even on unprepared runways and unmanned airfields.

The company’s base station would be Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata.

Earlier, the ministry for development for northeastern region had announced that a dedicated regional airline would operate in northeast India.

The regional airline is expected to start operations by the end of this year.

The operator will be offered subsidies from the North Eastern Council (NEC), a regional planning body for the eight northeastern states.

“The NEC had floated tenders twice to select the airline, but the two private airlines and the state-run Alliance Air, which have submitted bids, could not fulfil the criteria of the NEC and the ministry,” an official said.

He said the NEC later cancelled the second bid and would soon float fresh tenders, relaxing the criteria.

In August last year, the civil aviation ministry had announced a number of subsidies for carriers interested in operating in the region under a separate regional permit.

With Guwahati as the hub for the new regional airline, there are 11 operational airports in the northeast, including Tezpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Dimapur, Silchar, Agartala, Aizawl and Imphal - apart from Bagdogra in the Himalayan foothills in West Bengal.

At least 12 new airports are expected to be operational in the region by the year-end, and 25 more would come up by 2012.

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