After a gap of three years, flight services to Puducherry resumed today with low-cost carrier SpiceJet launching a service from Hyderabad under the Centre's regional air connectivity scheme.
Chief Minister V Narayanasamy accorded a warm reception to the 78 passengers and handed over boarding passes to each of them for the newly introduced service to Hyderabad from Puducherry airport in neighbouring Lawspet.
He had earlier inaugurated the daily flight service by lighting the traditional lamp.
The airline is operating a 78-seater Bombardier Q400 on this route. Fifty per cent of the seats under the government scheme are offered at discounted rates.
The subsidised fare for Hyderabad to Puducherry flight is at Rs 3,040 and for the return leg of the journey, it is at Rs 2,800.
"We have brought into effect flight services overcoming several hurdles," Narayanasamy said without elaborating.
Expansion of the runway would be taken up as soon as land sought from neighboring Tamil Nadu was available, he added.
Further, the chief minister said that flight services from Puducherry to Bengaluru, Kochi, Tirupati and Coimbatore would be started soon.
"We also have a proposal to link Puducherry with New Delhi," he added.
The Centre's regional connectivity scheme (RCS) also known as UDAN or Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik aims to connect tier-2 and tier-3 cities and make flying affordable for the masses with fares capped at Rs 2,500 per hour of flight.
Under the first round of bidding for RCS earlier this year, 128 routes were awarded to five operators. Puducherry is one of the six proposals granted to SpiceJet.
An airline receives government subsidy for keeping fares low on 50 per cent of its seats.
The purpose for the resumption of air service is to promote tourism and to attract businessmen and investors to Puducherry, the chief minister said.
The previous AINRC regime had not initiated full-fledged steps to utilise the airport here, he alleged.
"With this new flight, Puducherry will be connected with Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Tirupati, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Vijayawada and Varanasi with convenient onward connections on the SpiceJet network," SpiceJet said in a statement.
"Similarly, the government's initiative to develop Puducherry port as a satellite port of Chennai Port Trust is also a centrally-sponsored project. Dredging of the estuary for navigation of vessels has been completed," Narayanasamy said.
He said the port's development was intended to promote employment opportunities and for cargo transactions to enhance the state government's revenues.
Narayanasamy was accompanied by his cabinet colleagues, Chief Secretary Manoj Parida, Deputy Speaker V P Sivakolundhu and legislators belonging to the ruling Congress and DMK and AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP N Gokulakrishnan.