Andal Back on Aviation Map

Kolkata: Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport at Andal which was dropped off the aviation map when Zoom Air stopped flights in July 2017 is set to make a comeback with Air Deccan and Air India evaluating flights to the greenfield airport near Durgapur.

A transport department source said Captain GR Gopinath, who had revived several smaller airports with low-cost airline Air Deccan in 2003 before its merger with illfated Kingfisher Airlines in 2007, is again set to steer the revival of airports in the region, including Andal, Cooch Behar, Jamshedpur and Rourkela.

The relaunched airline is expected to operate a 21-seater Beechcraft 1900 D aircraft on Kolkata-Durgapur-Kolkata sector and then on Kolkata-Durgapur-Bagdogra-Durgapur-Kolkata sector later. A flight is also likely between Kolkata and Jamshedpur with connections to Cooch Behar and Rourkela also among the possibilities. Cooch Behar has not had regular flights in 23 years.

Air India which had withdrawn its Airbus A319 operation on the Kolkata-Andal-Delhi sector in June 2016 is exploring a comeback with a direct flight between Kolkata and Delhi. During the earlier stint, the Kolkata-Durgapur sector recorded very poor loads while the Durgapur to Delhi sector clocked over 80% load.

Transport secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay refused to make any commitment on the flights as nothing had been firmed up yet. He, though, hoped connectivity under the UDAN regional connectivity scheme would reinstate smaller airports in the state on the aviation map.