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Friday, October 30, 2020

Do not stop Kolkata-London direct flights: CM to Centre

Banerjee said there was a huge demand for flights to European countries. She said her administration was ready to provide more facilities so that flights from Kolkata’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport to Heathrow Airport in London could be made a permanent fixture.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | October 14, 2020 6:00:08 am
coronavirus visas suspended, foreign visas, india suspends foreign visas, covid 19 visas suspended, india lockdown, flight operations, coronavirus news, latest newsThe first direct flight from London landed in Kolkata on September 17 after almost 11 years. (Express photo)

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday requested the Ministry of Civil Aviation not to withdraw the Kolkata-London direct flight services that resumed last month under the “Vande Bharat” mission. The first direct flight from London landed in Kolkata on September 17 after almost 11 years. At present, they are operating twice every week, and are scheduled to continue till October 24.

Banerjee said there was a huge demand for flights to European countries. She said her administration was ready to provide more facilities so that flights from Kolkata’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport to Heathrow Airport in London could be made a permanent fixture.

The Chief Minister made the remarks after unveiling two double-decker tourist buses in the city.

“The flight services from Kolkata to London flight were resumed after a long time. I think they are operating twice a week and sometimes move via Delhi or Mumbai. Since Kolkata is the gateway to the north-eastern region or eight sister states, as well as the gateway to Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar, there is a huge demand from people who want to go to Europe. That is the reason we want these flight services to continue here and be made permanent. I will request the civil aviation ministry to keep it here permanently,” Banerjee said.
The Chief Minister said former Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha had written to the Centre on the matter, and added that she had already asked the current top bureaucrat, Alapan Bandyopadhyay, to write again to the ministry.

Referring to incidents of passengers not being able to board the flights in London — despite the flights not being filled to capacity — as conducting Covid-19 tests was taking a lot of time, Banerjee said the state would make arrangements for rapid tests once passengers arrive in the city.

“Passengers [from London] can board flights to the city after following proper sanitisation rules as per the protocol. After they reach here, we will conduct rapid tests and those who will test negative we will let them enter the city and those found positive will be sent to safe houses or hospitals as per the protocol. If we can offer this then, I think more and more people will be able to come to this part of the country. Those who will be coming should also not forget about the physical distancing and health protocols,” Banerjee added.

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