To cater to the tourist rush, private low-cost airline SpiceJet started additional flights between Delhi and Dharamsala on Friday. With the introduction of the new flights, which will be operated by SpiceJet's Bombardier Q400 aircraft, the frequency of service on the Dharamsala-Delhi sector will increase from seven to 13 flights a week.
Adressing reporters, Hamirpur MP and BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, who flagged off the new flight from Gaggal airport, 15 km from the town, said: "The growth of aviation in Himachal Pradesh will usher 'acche din' (good days) for tourism in the state. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi we all are committed to development and modernization of airports and to attract more carriers to operate in the state," said Thakur.
Speaking on the occasion, Capt Sandeep Varma, SpiceJet's senior vice president & head of flight operations, said the additional flights would help the carrier to meet the increased demand on the Dharamsala-Delhi route. "This particular sector remains one of the most popular in north India, especially during the peak season," he said, adding SpiceJet was committed to connect non-metro destinations through regular flights. "We're uniquely positioned among low-cost airlines to attain this objective due to the flexibility provided by the Bombardier Q400 aircraft in our fleet", he remarked.
Gaggal airport, the largest and busiest in Himachal Pradesh, is the only to receive regular flights. Apart from SpiceJet, Air India, the country's state-owned "flag carrier:, operates one regular flight in this sector. With the start of additional flights the number has gone up to three. The new flights will continue till June 30, which marks the end of the tourist season.
Ministers skip event
Two state ministers - urban development minister Sudhir Sharma and transport minister GS Bali - who were invited to the flagging off ceremony as "guests of honour", did not attend the event. Sources said since Anurag Thakur, who is a MP from the BJP, the principal opposition party in the state, the two ministers avoided the function.
While Bali had reportedly gone to Delhi, Sharma was busy meeting a team of the Airport Authority of India that was in town here to explore the possibility of expansion of the Gaggal airport.