Patna: A few weeks after raising the issue before Union minister of civil aviation (MoCA) Jyotiradiya Scindia, Bihar’s information and public relations department (IPRD) minister Sanjay Kumar Jha shared the screen shots airfares of airfares of Darbhanga-Delhi and Delhi-Dubai to highlight the price difference.
In the tweet on Saturday, Jha said the cost of travel from Darbhanga to Delhi on October 22 has risen to ₹21,420, even as the ticket for air travel from Delhi to Dubai is available at ₹11,690. “It is ironical that the people have to pay double to cost of travelling to Dubai than to flying to Delhi from Darbhanga, which has got an airport operational for making the air travel accessible for the common people,” said the minister, who also happens to represent the area in the State legisltive council.
The Bihar government had provided land to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to build and operationalise airport at Darbhanga under Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme to enhance regional connectivity through air. Many local residents were hoping that UDAN scheme would allow them to try air travel to go out. “But, it (Darbhanga airport) is serving no purpose. Tickets to Delhi or Bangalore are quite cheaper from Patna than to Darbhanga,” said Mukesh Kumar, a travel agent in Darbhanga.
Last month, Jha had met Scindia and highlighted the need to increase the frequency of flights on the Darbhanga-Delhi route keeping in mind the heavy rush expected during Diwali-Chhath festivities. He had reminded Scindia’s statement in which he had said Darbhanga airport was among the successes airports set up under UDAN mission.
“I had urged the Union minister to facilitate operation of other airlines so as to allow competitive rates for air travel from Darbhaga. Cost of tickets from Darbhanga is skyrocketing for the past few months. This has been because SpiceJet, which has a monopoly on the route, cannot meet the demands. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has grounded 50% of its fleet,” the minister said.
Jha had said that he had pleaded before the civil aviation minister, Scindia, assure operation of other flights so that the people boarding or alighting at Darbhanga shall not suffer owing to heavy festive rush. “Either SpiceJet should fly more planes or other carriers be permitted on the route”, he added.
Private airlines have begun rasing the fares in view of increasing cost of the aviation turbine fuel (ATF) after the central government lifted the curb airfares, which was applied since the Covid pandemic.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of parliament from Darbhanga, Gopal ji Thakur, however, cornered the state government for the delay in handing over 78 acre land for expansion of Darbhanga airport. “Cost of air travel has gone up because of the state government’s issues,” claimed Thakur.
“By when will the Bihar government hand over the proposed 78 acres of land for Darbhanga airport to the airport authority so that the Government of India under the leadership of PM Modi can develop the Darbhanga airport as the grandest airport and give the divine gift to resident of Mithila,” he said.