Kolkata, June 10 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): Regional carrier SilkAir will connect Kolkata to Singapore four times a week from Aug 1 this year, which will mark the beginning of daily flights between the two cities from the Singapore Airlines group.
From Aug 1, Singapore Airlines will drop one of its four daily flights to operate on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday while SilkAir will fly on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and use the same time slots as now of landing in Kolkata at 10:35 pm and departing at 11:50 pm.
With the inclusion of Kolkata, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, that flies smaller Airbus aircraft, will extend its portfolio to 34 short haul “secondary” destinations, within a five hour radius of Singapore.
“Kolkata will be the seventh Indian destination for SilkAir which already operates from cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi and Trivandrum,” said SilkAir chief executive Marvin Tan.
“Even though Kolkata is the fifth largest source destination for Singapore, but there is still a lot of potential to expand services here. East India is going to be a powerhouse for the aviation sector,” Tan added.
Singapore Airlines India General Manager G M Toh, echoed Tan and said that he expected West Bengal to “grow much faster now”. “We are very bullish on the prospects of Kolkata and will develop custom products and packages for the city,” Toh said.
To mark the launch, SilkAir will be offering an introductory fare of Rs 29,998 for two single trips (Rs 14,999 per person). However, once the service begins, the carrier will charge fares on par with its parent airline which hovers around Rs 21,000 for a single return trip.
When asked why SilkAir chose Kolkata over cities like Delhi and Mumbai, Tan said that it was the only major city from where the group did not have daily flights even though they had “been trying to do so for very long”.
Also, with the passenger volume between Singapore and Kolkata not matching those from other metro cities, the group decided to push ahead with SilkAir, thus increasing capacity by only 26 percent despite the addition of three new flying days.
“Connectivity is more important to us than capacity,” said SilkAir Chief Executive Tan, adding that Kolkata posed an unique challenge of being a market for daily flights but not big enough to accommodate larger Singapore Airlines flights.
The top execs from SilkAir also met West Bengal’s newly elected Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday where they discussed the details of the foray. Banerjee promised she would be personally present there on the first day to mark the launch.