AS Shirdi airport completes a year since its inauguration on October 1 last year, SpiceJet is planning flights using the Boeing 737 from Shirdi to New Delhi. This will be a step ahead for a non-metropolitan airport, which would see a widebody operate from it. Airlines have only flown 72-seater ATR aircraft from Shirdi so far.
The airport was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind last year. Alliance Air, subsidiary of Air India, operates Hyderabad-Shirdi-Mumbai flights daily. According to Maharashtra Aviation Development Corporation (MADC) officials, occupancy on flights to and from Shirdi were above 80 per cent.
“We have seen good booking and passenger occupancy on Shirdi flights. On weekdays, the occupancy is above 60 per cent and, on weekends, above 80 per cent. Being a popular temple town, more and more people are taking flights to Shirdi,” a senior MADC official said.
The airport plans to celebrate completion of one year by operating its first widebodied aircraft. C S Gupta, executive director (technical), MADC, said SpiceJet plans to use Boeing 737-700s and 800s for the Shirdi-Delhi flights. “The Boeing 737-700 can accommodate 144 passengers while the 800 variant can accommodate 189 passengers. With the Shirdi-Delhi flight, daily flights from Shirdi will increase to eight from four.”
In the winter schedule starting October-end, many airlines plan to scale up flight operations out of the airport. SpiceJet plans to operate flights to Bengaluru and Mumbai from Shirdi from October 28. Also, six more flights, connecting Shirdi airport to Tier-I cities, are planned by the year-end, senior officials said. Even TruJet plans flights from Hyderabad to Shirdi. Jet Airways is also expected to start flights from Shirdi. “We have flown about 70,000 passengers and operated 1,500 flights this one year from Shirdi airport,” Gupta said.