Costly tickets, lack of facilities hit footfall at Darbhanga airport

Passengers need to cough up at least ₹19,500 to take a flight from Darbhanga to Delhi on Tuesday. The tickets from Patna (PAT) to Delhi are available at barely ₹7,196 and from Ranchi (IXR) to Delhi at ₹5,640 for the same day for the direct flights

IndiGo flight emergency landing Patna

Patna: Wish to go to Delhi from Darbhanga by air in the next couple of days? Better plan to take a flight from Patna or Ranchi. It would cost around one third of the airfare from Darbhanga airport to Delhi.

A glance over airline tickets from Darbhanga (DBR) to Delhi (DEL) revealed that one needs to cough up at least ₹19,500 for a passenger to go to the national capital on Tuesday. The tickets from Patna (PAT) to Delhi are available at barely ₹7,196 and from Ranchi (IXR) to Delhi at ₹5,640 for the same day for the direct flights.

This is despite the fact that the Darbhanga airport was opened under UDAN scheme, which is supposed to encourage the common people to take air route to go out. “Fare started going up suddenly in the last one week. The airfare to Bangalore from Darbhanga is costly vis-à-vis that of a flight from Patna to Bangalore,” asserted Mohit Narayan, a private bank officer said.

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No one would doubt Mohit’s assertion after browsing through the fares of any airline. A ticket to Darbhnaga to Bangalore (BLR) for August 16 is available at ₹11,746, as compared to Patna-Bangalore fare of ₹9,507 and ₹10,493 from Ranchi to Bangalore the same day. “Since the fare is dynamic, it may shot up the moment you try to book,” said Nasim Akhtar, an assistant professor of Delhi University.

Officials of the Airport Authority of India (AAI), Darbhanga, said that the airfare to different destinations got in the higher range once the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) announce to lift the cap in fare, which was in force for almost two years.

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“The footfall of passengers at Darbhanga is coming down over the past two weeks, except for a few days of exceptions. On Sunday, as many as 1420 passengers travelled arrived and went out from Darbhanga airport through ten flight operations, as compared to 1634 on August 7 through the same number of flights,” said the AAI officer, pleading not to be quoted.

Darbhanga airport has been the most successful of the airports started across the country under the UDAN scheme. Apart from Mithila, people of Nepal and Bengal are also being benefited from the operation of only airport of Mithila. “But, since the last few days, there is a huge drop in the number of passengers here. The inconvenience caused to the passengers for want of facilities at the airport is another major factor for the dip in travellers.

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“There is no safety for the passengers during the rainy season. Cloths of the passengers become wet during to rains, as they have to walk in open to reach the terminal in rains. Cabs and cars are not allowed to enter the terminal building. Still, there are a lot of problems at the airport, due to which traveling from here is quite painful,” said Yogesh Datt, another traveller.

A major reason for the decline in the number of passengers is also said to be the easy access from Patna to Darbhanga, Madhubani and various parts of Mithila by road. Earlier it was very difficult to go from Patna to Mithila by road. People had to grapple with the jam on Gandhi Setu. But, now as the Gandhi Setu is operational on both sides and JP Setu also working, people prefer to travel from Patna airport as the airfare is cheap from there.

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