February 23, 2015 7:44:15 pm
ENDING years of wait, the city finally got direct air connectivity with Delhi as an Air India flight landed on Rajkot airport early on Monday morning. The maiden direct flight of Air India from Delhi landed in the city at 8:15 am.
Union Minister of State for Agriculture Mohan Kundariya cut the ceremonial ribbon to mark the beginning of the service. He was flanked by Naran Kacchadia, BJP MP from Amreli and a number of businessmen from the city.
The Minister and the MP were among 25 passenger from Rajkot who travelled to the Delhi through the inaugural return flight. Among the 35 passengers who took the first flight from Delhi to Rajkot was Gunwant Delawala, president of Sargam Club, a city-based NGO.
“The flight will take off from Delhi at 5:50 am and will land in Rajkot at 8:15 am. The return flight will take off from Rajkot at 8:45 am and land in Delhi at 11:15 am. We shall operate the flight six-days-a-week. There will be no flight on Wednesday,” station manager of Air India in Rajkot, Ramakant Khavalia told The Indian Express.
The national carrier will operate a 70-seater turbo aircraft for the flight, AI officers said. They added that a person can return from Delhi the same day through connecting flights via Mumbai.
Industry bodies welcomed the development and said the direct connectivity will benefit the medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) in Rajkot and entire Saurashtra region.
“Rajkot businessman have operations in north Indian states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Rajkot is also a major hub of gold and silver jewelry and businessmen have to travel to Delhi for liaising with the Central government frequently. This flight will make this all easy now,” said Dhansukh Vora, president of Greater Rajkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“The connecting flights used to take much longer time. There is much traffic for this sector as Rajkot is hub of small and medium size enterprises which manufacture automobile parts, engineering goods and oil engines. Besides, Rajkot is also centre of agricultural commodities exports. A majority of exports go to China. Getting a flight to China from Delhi is easier. Furthermore, this flight will also help promote tourism as people from north India will be able to land near places like Sasan Gir (for lion safaris) Dwarka, Sonmnath,” RCCI president Samir Shah said.
This will be sixth flight for the city overall. So far, Rajkot was connected to Mumbai through five flights operated by two private airlines and one by the AI.
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