With night landing facilities already in place at the Veer Savarkar Airport in Port Blair, travel agents in the city are ready to promote Andaman, a popular long-vacation destination, as a weekend getaway.
“With night landing facilities in operation, Kolkata-Port Blair flights would increase bringing down the airfare. Tourists can easily take an evening flight on Friday and, after enjoying the weekend, can come back to Kolkata on Sunday evening,” said Kingshuk Ghosh, owner of a popular travel agency in the city that specializes in North East and Andaman.
Port Blair is barely two hours away from Kolkata by flight. It is famous for its pristine beaches, sea food and historical monuments like Cellular Jail and Ross Island.
There are several water sports facilities in Port Blair and tourists can also visit the serene islands of Havlock and Neel. It takes around two hours by ship to reach these two islands.
“With its cheap flights and hotels and a short flying time from Kolkata, Thailand is very popular among tourists from Kolkata as a weekend retreat. We are sure that once fares go down, Andaman would definitely turn out to be a popular weekend destination from Kolkata,” said Asit Biswas owner of a travel agency that works with sustainable tourism.
Spice Jet, Go Air and national carrier Air India have already started trial runs on the Kolkata-Port Blair sector in the evenings. If the flight reports turn out to be positive it would actually pave way for international flights to operate. To get an international tag, an airport has to operate 24 hours.
In February, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Eastern India (HRAEI) expressed concern over the high airfare of Kolkata-Port Blair sector.
A one-way ticket during peak season in this sector always hovers around Rs 20,000. HRAEI president Sudesh Poddar wrote to P Ashok Gajapathi Raju, minister for civil aviation, urging him to streamline fares in the sector.
“We hope that the night landing facilities would increase the number of flights in this sector and decrease the airfare. Meanwhile, we would urge our member hotels in the islands to change their check-in and check-out policies accordingly,” said Poddar.