Patna, Aug. 6: Budget carrier IndiGo, which connects the city to four metros, has stopped bookings for flights to and from Patna from August 16, when the Airports Authority of India (AAI) notification shortening the runway length of the city's airport takes effect.
"The seats on all our flights on and after August 16 have been blocked from our headquarters from today. However, we are yet to receive communication about any decision regarding flight operations," said an IndiGo source.
Jet Airways sources said the airline was mulling a similar step though the management was yet to notify a formal stop of seat sale.
"We have got the receipt of notice to airmen (called Notam in aviation parlance) related to re-notification of runway length. We are comsidering stopping bookings. Even bookings for smaller aircraft would have to be re-considered because operating these planes would be possible only after clearance from our safety engineers. According to guidelines of the directorate-general of civil aviation (DGCA), we would have to refund the ticket fares for bookings made before the issuance of Notam," said a Jet Airways source.
Jet Airways tickets on flights to and from Patna could be booked online till late on Monday night.
Air India has temporarily suspended operations of one of its three Delhi-bound Airbus aircraft but that, according to airline sources, is because of poor passenger footfall. "Delhi-Patna-Delhi flight AI 415/416 has been suspended from August 8 to 31, except for August 16. The flight has been suspended purely because of business reasons. There is very low passenger footfall on the sector and running three flights was not proving profitable," said an AI source.
GoAir though hasn't taken decision on its flights to and from Patna and bookings are continuing as usual.
Travel agents said bookings had dropped following news of the runway notification. "We have booked only three passengers today. Normally, we get at least 15 to 20 bookings per day," said Raman Jha, manager of Super Travels agency.
Residents who are on the go are a worried lot. "Now that Jet and IndiGo have stopped taking bookings, I'm left with no option for air travel to Bangalore and Lucknow. Getting train tickets has become a Herculean task. Also, fliers form a major share of the people coming to hotels and this would affect people like us who are in the hospitality industry," said Narendra Kumar, director of Hotel Windsor.
Aviation experts say the AAI rule would not only hit the airlines but also the Patna Airport Authority.
"Every airport has an economy comprising direct and indirect revenues and various kinds of expenditure, including payment to Central Industrial Security Forces staff, for Air Traffic Communication and salaries of employees. The direct revenues include ground service and parking fees, whereas indirect revenues are from selling of advertisement space. On an average, a standard airport in the country generates Rs 3 crore to Rs 4 crore a month. Patna airport operates some 480 flights in a month. The revenue generated from operations of 480 aircraft would be quite substantial and the airport authority would have to face a substantial loss if the airlines stop operations," said Mirza Faizan, aviation scientist and chief executive officer of Avembsys Technologies, Bangalore.