Malaysian premium airline Malindo Air will commence flights to Kolkata this festive season, making it the first full-service carrier from a region other than the Gulf to touch down in the city in over a decade.
We are waiting for a regulatory clearance that is due shortly. We should tentatively start flights in the third week of October. This will be the ninth city in India after Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Amritsar, Kochi, Trivandrum and Trichi,” an airline official said.
The airline is likely to operate four-five flights in a week with either the Boeing 737-800 that has 12 business-class and 150 economy seats. It also operates the Boeing 737-900ER aircraft with a configuration of 12 business and 168 economy-class seats.
Kolkata airport director Atul Dikshit, who has been hardselling the airport to international airlines, said flights were likely to start from October 20. “Malindo Air will start flights to Kuala Lumpur next month. We hope it will be followed by several other airlines,” he said.
At present, low-cost carrier AirAsia has a flight between Kolkata and Kuala Lumpur. More than a decade ago, Malaysian flag carrier Malaysia Airline had started a flight to Kolkata but it was withdrawn in a year.
Malindo Air will give fliers in Kolkata connectivity to Australia and New Zealand in addition to various cities in Malaysia, Indonesia and flights to Hong Kong and Singapore.
Several airlines including Thai Airways, Air Asia, Indi-Go Airlines, SpiceJet and Druk Air has flights connecting Bangkok and Kolkata. Sources said officials from Thai Airlines subsidiary Thai Smile had visited the city, checked out the airport and held discussions with travel agents on the traffic potential to Bangkok. Another low-cost carrier Air Arabia, which is based in Sharjah, has also done a feasibility study of operations to Kolkata. Currently, three legacy carriers connect the city to the Gulf: Emirates to Dubai, Etihad to Abu Dhabi and Qatar Airways to Doha.
Other than the Gulf carriers, Kolkata has been attracting only low-cost airlines in recent years. “Lack of business traffic due to low corporate presence in Kolkata has meant that legacy carriers that depend on businessclass passengers to sustain operations have steered clear of the market. It is only lowcost carriers that are doing the rounds. What this means is that flights will be confined to either South-East Asia or the Gulf. No European carrier has shown any interest in the market yet,” a travel agent said.
Several European carriers, including KLM, SAS, British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa and Aeroflot operated to Kolkata till the 70s and 80s.
Source: Times of India