Jet to withdraw flights from 4 NE airports by mid-Feb

Move a big blow for region’s growth, say residents

GUWAHATI: The decision by Jet Airways to withdraw its flights from four airports in the Northeast by mid-February next year as part of a “route rationalisation” exercise comes as a “big blow” for not just air links but for development of the smaller cities and towns of the region.

An official spokesperson told The Shillong Times on Thursday that Jet, once the only private airline flying to the region, will stop flights from Kolkata to Silchar, Jorhat, Imphal and Aizawl by February, 2019.

“Given the challenging aviation industry conditions against the backdrop of a sharp rise in the Brent fuel price, a depreciating Rupee and a difficult pricing environment, Jet Airways has undertaken a series of initiatives to enhance economic performance, efficiency and productivity to ensure the long-term health of its business,” the spokesperson said.

“As a part of these initiatives, the airline has undertaken a comprehensive review of its network, whereby it will move capacity from uneconomical routes to more profitable ones, to more closely align the capacity offered with the demand characteristics of specific markets,” the spokesperson addedThe move has however drawn sharp reactions from a cross-section of people in the region.

“Needless to say that disruption of any kind of communication to a region affects development. It will be a big blow for Barak Valley along with rest of the towns in the Northeast. There will be a serious connectivity problem to interior areas which were connected to airports like Imphal and Aizawl as Jet Airways comparatively have more flights on these routes,” M. Chakraborty, a resident of Silchar, said.

Trade and tourism also will take a hit.

Bhattacharya, a resident of Jorhat, who flies to Kolkata from Jorhat quite regularly, rued that the move does not augur well for Upper Assam, which is a tea hub, housing many tea estates and heritage structures, besides having significant public sector undertakings (in the oil and natural gas sectors) and educational institutions. “It will affect tourism as well as Indian Airlines too had shut operations,” she said.

The airline however acknowledged the interim inconvenience the changes may cause to the travel itineraries of its guests.

“We would like to reassure them that we will take all measures, including proactive communication and re-accommodations, to minimise such inconvenience. We are still growing and these aircraft will be redeployed on other routes. Besides, the airline continues to and will adhere to the route dispersal guidelines mandated by the government of India,” the spokesperson said.



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