Monsoon clouds weekend trips to Shimla as Air India cancels 3 RCS flights from Delhi
Alliance Air operates flight to Shimla under Regional Connectivity Scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April this year. The flight has been in huge demand ever since its launch.delhi Updated: Aug 09, 2017 11:00 IST
Monsoon rains have spoilt the travel plans of many tourists to Shimla as Air India has been cancelling flights due to bad weather.
The airline has cancelled three flights in four days to the Shimla from Delhi keeping in mind the safety of passengers at the hill city’s table-top runway with surrounding gorges. Sources said more cancellations are anticipated in the coming days due to the weather.
Air India’s subsidiary Alliance Air operates the flight under Regional Connectivity Scheme and flight to Shimla was the first flight under the scheme that was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April this year. Air India does not offer alternative arrangements, but allows full refund to passengers in case they don’t want to be accommodated in the next flight.
“It is risky to operate in Shimla in this weather and we have to be very careful. Even in cases when the runway is wet, we opt not to fly. We take weather details before flying and decide accordingly,” said Alliance Air CEO CS Subbiah.
An Air India official said that due to the topography of Himachal Pradesh and height at which the runway is located, weight is a major issue and the aircraft has to carry less than full capacity for safe travel.
“In cases where the aircraft takes off and we get to know about bad weather later, we divert the flight to Chandigarh and take passengers by road. But that is costly and we try to get accurate information about weather before we take off from Delhi,” an airline official said.
The airline operates ATR-42, a 48-seater aircraft which takes only 35 passengers from Delhi and only 15 passengers on way back. The fare of 50 per cent seats is capped by government and rest the airline can sell on its own.
Most passengers choose to take refund as they are tourists and want to reach Shimla same day.
“Even if we offer seat in the next flight, we cannot accommodate everyone as we operate one flight per day. The backlog is increasing and it is better for us to refund the money. No one wants to wait for three-four days to go to Shimla,” the official added.
Ever since its launch in April, the flight is in huge demand and has been running almost full every day.