FOUR airlines have sought permission from India's Ministry of Civil Aviation to fly to Kolkata, ahead of the completion of the new integrated terminal in the upgraded Kolkata airport, which is to be fully functional by 1Q2013.
Malaysia Airlines (Kolkata-Kuala Lumpur), Xiamen Airlines (Kolkata-Beijing), Turkish Airlines (Kolkata-Istanbul) and FlyDubai (Kolkata-Dubai) are looking to begin new flights early next year.
The new Kolkata airport has been upgraded to handle 20 million passengers, up from the current capacity of 10 million that is being fully utilised.
Bilateral flying rights are highly under-utilised on certain routes like China and Malaysia, so India’s authorities are expected to grant permission promptly.
K N Shrivastava, secretary of India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation, said the rights issue would not come in the way of increasing overseas flights out of Kolkata. He said: "Airlines that wish to fly to Kolkata will not face a problem. We are keen on having better connections out of Kolkata. Air India will also enhance operations."
Anil Punjabi, chairman-east, Travel Agents Federation of India, believes that facilities at the new airport will attract more airlines to fly to Kolkata. He said: “There is no proposal yet to increase landing charges or other fees. Some European carriers have also expressed interest in flying to Kolkata.”
Rajendra Churiwala, director eastern region, IATA Agents Association of India, said: “An increase in international flights is anticipated as Kolkata is the only gateway to all of eastern India, and the destinations in this part of the country are growing at a phenomenal pace with the rise in inbound from ASEAN and the far east. Moreover, new Buddhist pilgrimage routes are being designed with added places of worship.”