Kolkata: The air service with Cooch Behar
district in West Bengal which had resumed recently after a
gap of 16 years has come to a halt.
Formal services on the route had began on September 5,
but private carrier North-East Shuttle ran it irregularly for
just eight days citing various reasons, Transport Secretary BP Gopalika told PTI here.
The last flight took off on October 3, and the operator
assured that it would resume operations from the middle of
November, but did not do so, Gopalika said.
The West Bengal government has issued notice to the
private operator last week for its failure to provide regular
services on the air route.
"The airlink between Kolkata and Cooch Behar failed due
to total breach of trust by the North-East Shuttle," he
Gopalika said irregular service by the operator was a
gross violation of the agreement and it could no longer claim
"We have given a notice to the operator asking why the
agreement signed by the state government should not be
terminated because of breach of trust," he said.
"If the operator fails to comply, the agreement with it
will be scrapped and we will find a new one on a long term
basis," he said.
The air connectivity with the north Bengal town was
announced with much fanfare by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
on July 19 at a function in Siliguri and the state government
projected the area as prosperous industrial growth centre and
a tourist destination.
The crumbling infrastructure at the Cooch Behar airport,
which was lying idle after the lone Vayudoot flight was
withdrawn in 1995, was refurbished at a cost of Rs 40 crore by
the Airports Authority of India.
Banerjee had also announced that operations would be
subsidised by reserving eight seats per trip taking into
consideration the initial loss in operations.
Earlier, the launch of an air service between Cooch Behar
and Kolkata on July 15, 2010 by private operator Deccan
Charters was deferred to August 16 that year.
It was further postponed because of non-availability of
clearance by the Airports Authority of India and Bureau of
Civil Aviation Security, a wing of the DGCA.
Deccan Charters then promised to start daily air service
by end of July, 2010, but it was also put off.