West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's appeal to the Narendra Modi government to resume the Kolkata-London direct flight hit a road block as Air India rejection the request. The airline has also rejected the demand of resumption of air service between newly built airport Andal in Burdwan and Delhi.
Mamata had last month written to Modi that Air India should resume the direct flight between Kolkata and London, which was earlier a regular. At present, a flight goes to London but via Delhi every morning. The British Airways had also had a direct flight between Kolkata and London which was done away with a decade back.
But Pankaj Srivastava, a member of the Air India, while visiting Kolkata said: “Sorry, but the commercial viability is utmost important for us. Neither could we resume Kolkata-London direct flight, nor could we resume flight between Andal and Delhi.”
Andal airport, which was built with the help of Changi group of Singapore by the Left front government, started its operation in 2015. While Air India started a flight from Andal to Delhi via Kolkata, SpiceJet and Indigo also thought of initiating air service. But, no private airline has started their service between Andal and Delhi even via Kolkata even after a year. Air India, which had a service between Andal and Delhi, also suspended the operation.
An IAS officer said, “Private airlines would always check for viability. But Air India, being subsidised by government, does not always look for commercial viability. So chief minister took up the matter with the center.”
Although, Modi government could not accept Mamata's demand on air service, center has accepted another long-term demand. Central government has said that Aadhar card would not be any hurdle before getting any benefit for people. Almost 40 per cent people of West Bengal are without Aadhar Card as the state government was unable to finish the work due to fund crunch. Mamata had for long been demanding central government’s decision to have Aadhar card mandatory for getting all financial benefits.