Alliance Air announced the resumption of flights on the Delhi-Shimla route

The government-owned regional airline, Alliance Air, announced the resumption of flights on the Delhi-Shimla route from September 26. With this recommencement, the airline will expand its network in Himachal Pradesh so that commuters can fly to Delhi-Shimla-Delhi daily.

The airline will restart daily flights on its brand new 48-seater ATR 42-600. The resumption was earlier planned for September 6, but was postponed due to “bad weather conditions”.

Before resuming scheduled services, Alliance Air wanted to do a trial run at Shimla airport using its new ATR 42 plane. However, bad weather and turbulence have proven difficult for the aircraft to take off at full capacity from the table-top airport.

Alliance Air is expanding air connectivity in North India by recommencing Delhi-Shimla-Delhi with a daily flight.

The flight will operate with a load penalty (restricted number of passengers) as the Jubbarhatti airport in Shimla has a table-top runway, which is also short (1189 metres). The huge cost involving land acquisition and diversion of rivers to pave way for the expansion of the airports are the major reasons for the runway extension plans not materializing for the last 15 years.

“The last flight on the route was on March 21, 2020, but was discontinued due to COVID-19 and the expiry of lease for the ATR 42 aircraft. Now we have acquired a brand new ATR 42-600 plane.”

Airline official said.

The Delhi-Shimla flight will accommodate 35 passengers, and the Shimla-Delhi service will see a maximum of 25 passengers. In the past, the airline had also written to the Himachal Pradesh government for additional financial support to be able to mitigate losses on the route due to the penalty.

This will offer better connectivity between Tier-II and Tier-III towns.

Five years ago, on April 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the regional connectivity scheme (RCS), also known as UDAN, by flagging off the first flight from Shimla to Delhi. Until July 2022, a total of 425 routes have been opened by the government, but not all are operational at present.

Under the RCS or UDAN scheme, an airline is required to sell 50% of its seats at a subsidised rate of ₹ 2,500 per hour of flight in lieu of which it gets financial support from the government.

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