There is a flutter of new foreign wings on Kolkata’s horizons. Even though the inauguration of the new terminal of Kolkata airport is several weeks away, three international carriers from Japan, Turkey and Dubai have expressed interest in starting flights to and from the city.
According to the chairman of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), VP Agarwal, Japan Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Fly Dubai have evinced interest in starting operations from Kolkata.
Agarwal, however, did not mention anything about British Airways or Lufthansa coming back to Kolkata once again.
“These three airlines have shown interest in coming and starting flight operations from Kolkata. Japan Airlines has already sought detailed data related to Kolkata airport,” Agarwal said on Sunday during a trip to the city.
Kolkata has long been plagued by an old airport, even as Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad have upgraded their facilities.
But foreign airlines have started showing interest after the AAI decided to modernise Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) airport in Kolkata.
Over the past few months, several foreign airlines, such as Silk Air (sister concern of Singapore Airlines) and Dragonair (sister concern of Cathay Pacific) have started operations from Kolkata.
According to the AAI chairman, the bilateral agreements on flying rights need to be worked out to find out how many flights these airlines would be able to operate from Kolkata.
“I don’t see any problem with the flying rights as far as Japan Airlines and Turkish Airlines are concerned,” Agarwal said. “Things need to be worked out for Fly Dubai, since they’ve exhausted all their flying rights to India,” he added.
The AAI chairman expressed happiness that Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo would start international flight operations from Kolkata on December 21 this year.
Initially, they will fly to Bangkok. “They also have plans to connect other international destinations, such as Kathmandu, Dubai and Singapore to Kolkata,” the chairman said.
Notably, if Japan Airlines starts flights from Kolkata, it will be a comeback for the airline.
Japan Airlines withdrew its flights from Kolkata in the early-’70s, when the Naxalite movement was at its height.
Many airlines have withdrawn from Kolkata over the years, namely Panam, Japan Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Aeroflot, Gulf Air, Lufthansa, British Airways, Hainan Airways, Malaysian Airlines, Jet Star Asia, GMG Airlines and even national carrier Air India and its sister concern, Air India Express.