Chartered air service between Patna and Purnia commenced on Tuesday with four passengers from the state capital taking the nine-seater Spirit Air aircraft to Purnia. This is after more than three decades that commercial air link with Purnia has been revived - it was discontinued in 1978. With this, Purnia also becomes the third commercial air destination after Patna and Gaya in the state.
Among the four booked on the inaugural flight to Purnia were the chief general manager of the State Bank of India, Bihar circle, Jeevandas Narayan and his private secretary-cumassistant general manager Sanjay Prakash.
The single engine Cessna (C208B) aircraft is slotted to operate bi-weekly on Tuesday and Saturday.
However, being a non-scheduled flight, the airline can pull out its flight even at the eleventh hour if it finds the sortie economically unviable.
Seeking to dispel fears of erratic operations, Shyamal Chakraborty, manager (sales) of DTDS Travel & Tour Planner, which handles its marketing, told newspersons: "For the next six months, we will operate with promotional fares on Tuesday and Saturday even if there is a single passenger."
On Tuesday, the flight will leave from Purnia at 12.50pm and reach here at 1.40pm. On its return, it will leave the state capital at 2.20pm and reach there at 3.10pm. From Purnia, the aircraft will fly to Kolkata -its origin destination - at 3.30pm and reach the City of Joy at 5pm.
On Saturday, the aircraft will leave Purnia at 9.50am and reach here at 10.30am. It will then return from here at 11.10am and reach there at 12 noon. From Purnia, it will leave at 12.20pm and reach Kolkata at 1.50pm.
The 50-minute flight from Patna to Purnia will save at least 6-7 hours of driving time between the two destinations at a little more than double the fuel cost.
This is the second time Spirit Air will try its luck from the state capital. Early this year, the air-taxi service between Patna and Jamshedpur was abruptly terminated after four months of operation in April.
Incidentally, air service used to be there between Purnia and Kolkata in 1956, which was later discontinued. In 1976, it was resumed only to be discontinued again after two years. On Tuesday, the inaugural flight touched down at the Chunapur air force station in Purnia. The station, spread over 700 acres, had been established in 1963 just after the India-China war.
Notably, the runway length (11000 x 150 feet) of this air station is the same as in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mangalore.