To give tourism a boost in the sky, the West Bengal government on Monday inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) here with Pawan Hans Ltd (PHL), a Government of India Enterprise.
Aimed at improving the pace of in-state air connectivity and to ensure a faster freight disposal at industrial destinations of the state, the MoU was signed between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and PHL Chairman-cum-Managing Director Anil Srivastav.
Besides the PHL officials, cabinet members Partho Chatterjee, Amit Mitra and Madan Mitra, Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra and Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee were also present on the occasion.
There will be three types of air services - fixed wing, chartard helicopter and sea-plane, available after completion. The choppers would also be used in case of disaster management.
The fixed wing plane is going to be introduced on the Kolkata-cooch Bihar route. The aircraft is supposed to draw a subsidy from the state government.
The framework for routes of sea-planes is being surveyed at places like, Haldia, Sundarbans, Digha, Tajpur, Farakka, Asansol and Durgapur. However the routes will be finalised after acquiring permissions from aviation regulator Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
PHL is going to introduce 8 types of aircrafts, the maximum space of which will be 28-seater.
The government is planning to give subsidy on fares of 8-seaters to draw tourists; although no fare tally has been proposed by the authorities yet.
The government is intending to begin flights on routes like Kolkata-Bagdogra, Kolkata-Malda-Balurghat, Kolkata-Durgapur and Kolkata-Purulia.
Mamata Banerjee said, "The helicopters were needed to improve the pace of in-state tourism through air connectivity. Besides they will be more than handy for the disaster management team to speed up operations in times of crisis."
Anil Srivastav said, "The state has ample opportunities. We are looking forward to begin flights from there, so that they can be fully utilized to meet the investment potential of Bengal."
(Reporting by Gourab Gupta)