Gurgaon-based MDLR Airlines is planning to make Kolkata the hub for its North East operations, as it plans to fly to eight new destinations within this year.
MDLR is a regional airline that now flies between metros and tier-II and tier-III cities in the country and covers 12 destinations including Delhi, Chandigarh, Goa, Ranchi, Lucknow among others.
"We plan to fly to 20 destinations by the end of 2009 and this will cover cities in central and eastern India", informed K M Dhar, chief operating officer and executive director of MDLR. He added that if the airline was allowed to make Kolkata the hub, then it would fly to five destinations from here. Meanwhile, the carrier plans to start flights on the Delhi-Bagdogra-Shillong route from August this year.
"We have four jet engine aircrafts that have vertical/short take-off and landing(VTOL) capabilities. These will help us to connect to the hill towns in the North East that usually have shorter runways and are affected by rains", Dhar said adding that its Delhi-Kulu mountain route was doing very well with a 97 per cent load factor.
The airline had already started flights between Jamshedpur and Kolkata in last month, but could operate for ten days before it was served a notice by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) barring it to operate on the route as per the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR).
The airline was planning to introduce two more flights on the Delhi-Patna-Ranchi and Delhi-Kolkata-Ranchi routes. "We have written to the DGCA on the issue and expect a reply within the next two weeks", Dhar said.
He explained that as a regional airline MDLR was not allowed to operate between two metros according to the CAR. While Jamshepur was not a metro, Kolkata was not a hub for MDLR. The Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industries has also written to the DGCA requesting it to resume the low cost air link with Kolkata.
MDLR has already applied for a national licence for operation and is planning to add two more aircrafts to its already existing fleet of three. These will be 70-seater Avro RJ 70 aircrafts like the ones the airlines already owns and the company would have to shell out $1 million a year as lease fees, Dhar informed.
Of the eight new destinations planned, it will start a Shimla flight in the next fifteen days, besides connecting Delhi with Srinagar, Leh,Jaipur and Ajmer apart from Agra-Khajuraho and Delhi-Vizag-Port Blair flights.