After witnessing an exodus of international fliers over the last decade, Kolkata airport has finally got something to cheer about ahead of the launch of the new terminal at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (NSCBI) at Dum Dum here.
According to Kolkata airport officials, three international airlines from Japan, Turkey and Dubai have expressed there willingness to operate to and from the city. “Japan Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Fly Dubai have evinced interest in starting operations from Kolkata,” chairman of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), VP Agarwal said.
Japan Airlines and Turkish Airlines, in fact, have already sought detailed report about Kolkata airport. “There should not be any problem with the flying rights in case of thses two airlines. However, things need to be worked out for Fly Dubai, since they’ve exhausted all their flying rights to India,” Agarwal said.
Over the last few years, the Kolkata airport has witnessed many foreign airlines withdrawing their services from Kolkata over the years, which many say, was in tandem with the the anti-industry image the state developed over the years and poor airport infrastructure. The long list of foreign operators that deserted West Bengal in the last decade include Gulfair, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Royal Brunei, KLM, Malaysian Airlines, Jetstar Asia.
Athough, the state has hardly seen any significant industrial activity, AAI believes the new terminal and a steady growth of international traffic will change the scenario. “With the world class new terminal we hope many more fliers will show interest in operating out of Kolkata airport.” Agarwal said.
The new terminal at Kolkata airport, built at a cost of Rs 2,500 crore, is expected to be innaugurated on Jauary 23. The 195,000 square metre new six level integrated passenger terminal building will be able to handle 25 million passengers annually as against present annual capacity of 5 million.
According to Anil Punjabi, eastern region chairman of the Travel Agents Federation of India, the state needs indutrial activity for sustainibility of foreign operators. “The new terminal is certainly a positive. There has been some growth in international traffic as well. But in the long term it needs business activity in the state. I hope the state government is working towards that,” he said.
Kolkata airport currently handles about 4.5 million annual passengers, about 30 per cent being international passengers. The growth in traffic in the last two years in the Kolkata airport for international passengers was about 12 per cent against 20 per cent growth in the case of domestic passengers. Between April 2006 and March 2011,the Kolkata airport was the 5th busiest airport in India in terms of overall passenger traffic and 9th busiest in terms of international passenger traffic.