The first ever direct flight from Ranchi to Ahmedabad took off from the Birsa Munda Airport in the state capital at 8.20pm on Tuesday, adding up to the fleet of new flights that are connecting Ranchi to important cities across India, airport authorities said.
Airport director, Vinod Sharma said that Indigo Airlines will run the flights to the Gujarat capital thrice every week – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The flights will ferry passengers from Ahmedabad to Ranchi on the aforementioned days, and land here at 7.20 pm, Sharma added.
“There was demand for starting flights to Chennai and Ahmedabad. We have already started direct flights to Chennai, and the first flight to Ahmedabad took off today (Tuesday),” Sharma said on Tuesday afternoon.
Daily direct flight service to Chennai from Ranchi started on November 18, and the response, airport authorities said, was positive. “Indigo Airlines offered to start services from Ranchi to Ahmedabad as well as to Chennai, and we gave our nod to them. We are in talks with the state government to start more flights from Ranchi as the demand for flights to various destinations is increasing here,” Sharma said.
Sources said that Ranchi may soon get direct flights to Pune and Chandigarh as well and some private airline companies have shown their interest in the same. Several students and working professionals from Ranchi stay in Pune, and a direct flight would make travelling easier for them. Besides, flights to Darbhanga may also start in the days to come, sources from the Ranchi airport said.
“The proposal to start direct flights to Chennai and Ahmedabad came to us before the lockdown was enforced. The process of starting the flights got delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are proposals to start flights to Chandigarh and Pune as well, but no official decision has been made yet,” said an official at the Ranchi airport, requesting anonymity.
The passenger footfall at the Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi has tripled since June, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) stated in December. However, the passenger footfall here was still less than half of what it used to be in pre-Covid times, local airport officials said.
The AAI stated that the passenger traffic at the Ranchi airport had dropped down to 57,749 in the month of June, when travel restrictions were relaxed after strict lockdown since March. The passenger traffic shot up to 1,41,268 in November this year when more flights were allowed to ply, the AAI stated, lauding the airport staff here for their dedication.
The Birsa Munda Airport, which bagged the top position in Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) last year, at present has a 75 meter basic strip, which is the minimum length required for any airport. The length of the basic strip, the airport director said, will be increased to 140 meters once the expansion plan is approved.