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Industry bodies woo airlines to Kandla airport

August 04, 2004 10:33 IST

With smaller airlines beginning services from Gujarat, various industry associations of Kutch along with the Kandla Special Economic Zone have renewed efforts to get airlines to operate flights from the Kandla airport.

The Kandla airport has not had any flights for the last five years.

Vayudoot was the first airline to start operations from the Kandla airport. After the airline shut shop, the now defunct Gujarat Airways carried out services between Mumbai and Kandla, which also discontinued flights later.

The Kandla airport, which was constructed over 20 years back, at present has a 5,000-feet runway, which will allow only ATR aircraft traffic. It, however, requires to add at least 1,000 feet more to the runway to accommodate larger planes such as Boeings and Airbuses.

"We are holding talks with officials of Deccan Air to begin services from Kandla. The airline has already announced plans to start the Bhavnagar-Mumbai flight and we have already approached the company stating that we will guarantee 30 seats and cargo on a daily basis for at least three months," said Yogendra Garg, development commissioner, KASEZ.

He said with the Mundra special economic zone having been notified, the case for air services from Kandla becomes even stronger.

"The present runway is capable of handling aircraft with weight of up to 20,000 kg, and all ATR planes fit into this bracket," said Garg.

"We have assured airlines that if they run smaller ATR planes, we will guarantee them 30 seats and two metric tonne of cargo on a daily basis. That is about 75 per cent of the entire space in an ATR aircraft," said Ashok Sharma, president of the Gandhidham Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He said GCCI and KSEZ have jointly approached airline companies, stating that if a flight to Mumbai is in the morning, then an undertaking will be given 30 seats and two MT of cargo on a daily basis for at least three months.

Sharma added that with rapid development in Kutch, there is almost no availability of seats in the air-conditioned compartments of the two Mumbai-bound trains - Sayajinagri Express and Kutch Express.

"The airport is already there and it just needs to be made functional. It is more of a necessity now and the movement of high-value goods too will receive a boost," the GCCI president said.

He added that GCCI has had at least three rounds of discussions with officials of Deccan Air to start operations from Kandla.

"Initially we will seek a Kandla-Mumbai flight, and at a later stage Kandla ought to be connected by air to Ahmedabad and other places as well," said Sharma.

Talks of KASEZ and GCCI with Jet Airways to run flights to Kandla fell apart as the airline did not have ATRs to spare in the Kandla region.

Talks had also been initiated with Air Sahara, but KASEZ officials said Sahara will be able to run ATR craft only after it acquires such planes.
Meghdoot Sharon in Ahmedabad