CATHAY Pacific is seeking a fresh take-off to Kolkata, in a development that industry representatives are saying is the biggest move for civil aviation in east India since the low of March 2009, when British Airways made an exit from the city.
Tom Wright, Cathay Pacific’s general manager for India, Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, is believed to have written to the chief minister of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, seeking “a meeting to explore the possibilities of Cathay Pacific or Hong Kong Dragon Airlines (its sister airline) starting scheduled passenger services from Hong Kong to Kolkata”, according to sources.
Cathay Pacific, which operated flights to Calcutta between 1953 and 1970, presently runs services from Hong Kong to Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai.
Sources said the airline decided to explore the Kolkata market, based on market research and positive feedback about its business prospects in the region.
In another development, Nayef H. Al-Fayez, managing director of Jordan Tourism Board said: “We will request Royal Jordanian Airlines to look at Kolkata. There is a lot of MICE tourism from east India, but the biggest impediment is the lack of a direct flight to Amman.”
Royal Jordanian operated flights to Kolkata for 18 years till 2006.
Kolkata’s international presence has grown since Hainan Airlines, SilkAir and Qatar Airways launched services from the city last month (TTG Asia e-Daily, June 22).
Emirates, Thai Airways International, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Air Asia, Air India, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, and some other low-cost carriers already have a strong presence there.
By Sirima Eamtako