Economic slowdown notwithstanding, the number of air passengers flying out of and into Bihar has been increasing constantly with Patna's
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Jayaprakash Narain International Airport receiving and seeing off as many as 56,049 air travellers in October this year as against 27,711 air travellers during the same month last year.
That's a growth of well above 100%! And this is not a one-off growth. Even in the preceding five months from May to September of the current year, the flow of passengers to and from Patna has been up.
There are some who attribute it to the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government's "sushasan" or good governance. "I think improved law and order and overall positive environment for development have attracted many people who earlier hesitated visiting the state," Airports Authority of India (AAI)'s Patna director Arvind Dubey told TOI on Saturday.
Dubey, however, added the number of flights connecting the state capital to other parts of the country has also gone up, of late. In the past five months, the number of flights to and from Patna has gone up from eight to 12. "With many of these flights being low-cost carriers, more and more people are opting for air travel," Dubey said.
Low-cost carriers like Kingfisher Red, JetLite, Jet Konnect and IndiGo fly to and from Patna. Aviation industry sources say more such flights are in the pipeline. That would, needless to say, give a fresh fillip to air travel to and from the city.
The increased flow of passengers is music to the ears of AAI authorities as the Patna airport has been a loss-making unit. "We have certainly been able to reduce the deficit and hope to do better by optimising the use of existing facilities at the airport," Dubey said, refusing, however, to divulge the deficit details.
The AAI director's hopes are not unfounded. The airport watch hours currently starts at 8 am and ends at 9.30 pm. "If we have sufficient number of flights, we can work round-the-clock