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Air Deccan suspends Surat operations

Our Regional Bureau  |  Surat 

Air Deccan, the only airline company providing air services in Surat, has decided to suspend its Surat-Mumbai-Surat flight from July 21, due to poor infrastructure at the Surat airport. An announcement to this effect was made by the company on Saturday.
"There were many infrastructure-related problems at the Surat airport even when we launched the flights in November. The officials had assured us that all the problems would be sorted out at the earliest, but this has not happened," John Kuruvilla, chief revenue officer, Air Deccan, told Business Standard.
"On account of operational constraints such as water logging on the runway and poor visibility, we had to cancel and reschedule flights to and from Surat over the past few weeks. The work of runway expansion is incomplete, which is also leading to operational problems," he said.
"The last flight on the Surat-Mumbai-Surat route would be on July 20, after which the service would be suspended. The services would be resumed only when AAI comes up with proper infrastructure at Surat airport," Kuruvilla added.
The decision to suspend the air services has evoked strong reactions from the trade and industry sectors of Surat.
The Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry president Dilip Chasmawala, said, "The decision of Air Deccan to withdraw the flights means that Surat's dream of having air connectivity remains unfulfilled, which is extremely unfortunate."
"The flights between Surat and Mumbai do not make much sense, but at least, these show that Surat has an airport, and the city exists on the airmap. The city would no more be on the airmap until Air Deccan or any other airline decides to start flights from Surat. AAI should take steps for setting up proper infrastructure at the Surat airport so that air services can be resumed," Chasmawala added.
A leading diamond exporter said, "It is really unfortunate that Air Deccan has decided to suspend its flights from Surat due to infrastructure problems. Air services were provided to Surat a few months back, several years after the issue was first raised by the city dwellers. This is a cruel joke with Surat, especially after a month of the civil aviation minister's announcement that the government is committed to providing a quality airport to Surat."
It is worth mentioning here that Air Deccan was providing daily flights between Surat and Mumbai since November last year with 48-seater ATR planes. The service evoked good response, and there was good traffic in the initial months.
The poor infrastructure at Surat airport was, however, always a matter of concern, and there were fears that the services would not last for too long. The decision to suspend the flights has only confirmed the fears.

First Published: Mon, July 18 2005. 00:00 IST
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