Air India To Reinstate Several North-Eastern Routes

With recent news about Alliance Air, subsidiary of Air India, withdrawing its flights from seven Northeast airports, including those in Tezpur, Lilabari and Shillong, following non-payment of funds by the North Eastern Council (NEC) from January 1, plans are now to redeploy the 60-seater ATR turboprops on profitable routes according to news report.
The NEC finances Alliance Air’s operations each year through viability gap funding (VGF) of Rs 50 crore to 60 crore, in line with a memorandum of understanding between the two .

The report, confirming the development, the civil aviation minister, Ajit Singh, said, “As the NEC has refused to fund this amount in the future, Air India has decided to withdraw its flights from the Northeast.” While Alliance Air filed its VGF estimates in September last year for the grant of Rs 52 crore and Rs 55 crore for 2012 and 2013, respectively, the amount has not been paid to it, sources said.

The airline had been operating on the assumption the funds would soon be made available

According to the route dispersal guidelines of the ministry of civil aviation, an airline is required to ply 10 per cent of its total capacity to the Northeast, J&K and Lakshadweep.

However, Air India is the only domestic carrier deploying 20-22 per cent of its capacity to the region. Even after the withdrawal of flights, Air India would still be plying 17-18 per cent of its capacity on these non-viable routes, much above the limit of the policy requirement, according to an official.

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