Authorities from the Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi have requested the State Government to provide at least five more flights citing an increase in the passenger density owing to relaxations in the lockdown curbs.
The airport was operating at a flight frequency of less than half of the usual frequency since resumption of flight services in May end.
“We have requested the government to provide us more flights as the count of passengers is increasing. They are considering our request,” said airport director Vinod Sharma. “We would require at least five more flights to meet the demand of passengers,” he added. Jharkhand’s largest and busiest airport in the state capital had at least 30 flights connecting the state to almost all major cities across India before a nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 24.
However, once flight services resumed on May 25, the Ranchi airport was permitted to operate only seven flights, airport officials said. While the count of flights gradually increased to 10 by August end, the number was still less than half of the number of flights that took off from Ranchi before lockdown.
“Many migrants who had returned during the lockdown are returning to work. Some frequent flyers have also started travelling again for work. It will be helpful if we get at least half of our flights,” said Sharma. Ranchi MP Sanjay Seth, a member of the Airport Advisory Committee (AAC), admitted that the passenger density has increased and Ranchi was in need of more flights to meet the demands. He said that the AAC will hold a meeting this week and take a call on the requirement of flights in Ranchi. “I will personally speak to the Civil Aviation Minister, and ask him to increase flights from Ranchi,” said Seth, who was in New Delhi on Tuesday to attend a meeting. A majority of passengers travelling from Ranchi by air were migrants, who had returned home during lockdown, said Seth, adding that most of the migrants were flying to New Delhi from Ranchi. “We still have a rule of quarantining visitors for 14 days in Jharkhand, which is why the density of businessmen travelling from other cities has reduced. The passenger density will further increase when the 14-day-quarantine norm is done away with,” the local MP said.
Currently, Ranchi is only connected to New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai by air. Prior to the lockdown, Ranchi had flights to Kolkata and Patna as well. Some private players, airport sources said, have shown interest in starting flights from Ranchi to Chennai in near future. The airport also has an international bay, but is yet to get any international flights.