PUNE: While international flights from Pune to Dubai and Singapore were started on December 12 and December 13, 2005, respectively, following which, international flights to Oman and Bangkok, too, were started, Pune airport has been operating only one international flight since January 2022. As such, there has been growing demand to start flights to more overseas destinations.
On Friday, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of parliament (MP) from Pune, Girish Bapat, in his letter to Jyotiraditya Scindia, civil aviation minister, said, “There is only one international flight operated from Pune. Before Covid-19, there were more than four international flights operated from Pune. Being an MP from Pune, people have approached me to take up the matter with the civil aviation authority to start international flights from Pune to Singapore, Bangkok, East Asia, Europe and America.”
“I shall be thankful to you if you will kindly instruct the civil aviation authority to start more international flights from Pune,” Bapat said in his letter. Bapat is also the chairman of the Pune airport advisory committee.
Aviation expert Dhairyashil Vandekar, said, “There are two reasons – one is the constraints at the airport namely runway and terminal facility and a few more things, and second is regarding bilateral agreements and for that, one needs assistance from the civil ministry.”
“Pune has a lot of demand for international flights; even if we start 10 flights, there will be good response but we need to create that type of ecosystem, which will have sustained operation of international flights,” Vandekar said.
Meanwhile, flyers from the city continue to bat for an international airport.
Prashant Jare said, “How about Pune to Europe like the earlier Pune to Frankfurt. It is a pain to drive to Mumbai keeping adequate margins of five to six hours at least for eight to nine hours’ flights. That too late night travel which is risky.”
Umesh Gundecha said, “Pune to Singapore connectivity is much needed.”
Various flyers have also requested a late evening flight from Pune to Mumbai and Delhi to facilitate international air connectivity from these airports.
An airport authority official from Pune airport on condition of anonymity said, “We have kept slots open for an international flight from Pune airport. However, we are yet to be approached by airlines. Many a time, slots are not available in countries where the airline wants to connect.”
MCCIA writes to civil aviation ministry
The Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) has also written a letter to Jyotiraditya Scindia in which they have demanded that the slots for direct air connectivity namely Pune-Singapore-Pune, Pune-Bangkok-Pune and Pune-Dubai-Pune be reassigned
The MCCIA has also requested to consider including Pune airport while formulating revisions of bilateral service agreements, namely India-UAE and India-Thailand as well as other countries. This will enable Indian carriers to choose Pune airport for direct air connectivity.