Airfare from Dharamshala to Delhi dips
By Lalit Mohan
DHARAMSHALA, India, 29 April 2017
The airfare from Delhi to Dharamshala has moderated much to the relief of tourism industry in the region. The airfare that touched Rs 19,000 for one-way trip from Delhi to Dharamshala in the recent past has moderated to Rs 4,000 per trip this month.
According to Pradeep Tiwari, Director, Gaggal airport in Kangra district, the airfares to the region have moderated as now four flights are operating daily from Delhi to Dharamshala and vice versa. Earlier only two flights were operating daily on the route. Two flights of SpiceJet and two of Air India are now plying daily. This has increased the availability of seats for air tickets and moderated the prices, he said.
When asked, Pradeep Tiwari said the Gaggal airport had not come under the Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme of the Government of India as was the case with the Shimla airport. The UDAN scheme under which the Government of India has subsidised the airfare to Rs 2,500 per hour is applicable to only those airports that had little or no air traffic. Since Gaggal airport in Kangra was already having two flights daily it has not come under the UDAN scheme.
Sanjeev Gandhi, general secretary of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Upper Dharamshala, said the number of flights to Gaggal airport had increased to four only for peak tourist months of May and June. After that again the numbers of flights were likely to be reduced to two and airfares would go up. Since Gaggal airport was the only airport of Himachal that regularly receives flights the government should bring it under the UDAN Scheme. This would help provide boost to the tourism industry of Dharamshala region, he said.
Anurag Thakur the BJP MP from Hamirpur said the Gaggal airport in Kangra district was the only airport that can be expanded. The union government had asked the state government to acquire land for the expansion of Gaggal airport. However, the state government had expressed its inability to acquire the land due to which the expansion of airport could not be carried out, he said.
The airfares for Dharamshala remained high as bigger planes cannot land here. Besides the Gaggal airport in Kangra, there are two more domestic airports in Himachal at Shimla and Kullu. Sources here said that Airports Authority of India had demanded about 500-acre land in Shimla for expansion of the airstrip. However, such a huge chunk of land was not available. The present strip of Shimla airport can handle only 42-seater planes. Presently, besides Air India no other company was maintaining 42-seater planes. Companies do not maintain 42-seater plains as they were economically unviable.
As the Kullu airport was located between two hills it was very difficult to expand it. The plane has to take a drop before landing at Kullu airport. Hence, landing for bigger planes was not possible, the sources here said.
The Himachal Government had written to the Government of India that flights to Himachal should be subsidised as was being done in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeastern states. However, till date the demand has not been accepted.
Four flights daily
The airfare that had touched Rs 19,000 for one-way trip from Delhi to Dharamshala in the recent past has moderated to Rs 4,000 per trip this month.
- Four flights are operating on the route daily.
- After the peak tourist months of May and June the number of flights are likely to be reduced.
- Under UDAN scheme, the Government of India has subsidised the airfare to Rs 2,500 per hour.
- The subsidy is applicable to only those airports where air traffic is less.