Kolkata, June 16:
For travellers, flying to destinations in North Bengal may soon become easier. State-run helicopter operator Pawan Hans Ltd expects to introduce fixed-wing aircraft “shortly” to places such as Cooch Behar, Bagdogra, Malda and Siliguri.
Pawan Hans on Sunday launched the helicopter service as part of an agreement (MoU) signed with the West Bengal Government on March 18.
“We have already conducted the survey for operating fixed-wing aircraft. Now, we require clearances from the Director-General of Civil Aviation. We will be able to begin operations shortly,” Sanjay Kumar, General Manager, Marketing, Pawan Hans, told Business Line on the sidelines of the event.
According to him, there is a need for infrastructure development before the operations take off.
Vikram Sen, Principal Secretary, West Bengal Tourism Department, said: “We have suggested Pawan Hans three to four places in North Bengal including Malda. There are old airstrips in these places and some of them need to be refurbished. Pawan Hans will go and examine the airstrips.”
That apart, Pawan Hans will also operate sea-planes to connect with seaside destinations in the State. Kumar pointed out that survey for sea-plane operations has also been done and a few floating jetties need to be installed. Eighteen to 24-seater aircraft will be used for these services.
To be operated in a twin-engine Dauphin helicopter, Pawan Hans would offer services such as joyrides, chartered trips, and disaster management and emergency evacuation of patients.
A ten minute’s joyride to catch a bird’s eye view of Kolkata will cost Rs 1,700 per person. Bookings will be done through the West Bengal Tourism Department.
According to Kumar, one helicopter will operate for the time being and more will be added later depending on demand.
Plans are also afoot to launch services to industrial towns such as Durgapur and Haldia.