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Runway work, KF woes may send airfares up

The impact of cancellation of Kingfisher flights from the city and the impending MAFI (Modernisation of Airfield Infrastructure) project at Pune airport, will affect airfares of flights from the city, fear travel agents and travellers.

Already due to several reasons airfares have seen a hike of approximately 30 per cent in comparison to last year. Now, with the cancellation of Kingfisher flights and the runway upgradation project, during which the runway will remain closed from midnight to 8 am, slated to commence in two months, increase in airfares is likely to burn a hole in the pockets of flyers.

Kingfisher Airlines, which used to operate five flights from Pune (3 flights to Delhi, 1 to Bangalore and 1 to Goa) has cancelled flights from the city. So the demand for other airlines has increased, but the number of flights has remained constant. “The frequency of flights is less than the demand. Hence, other airlines are taking undue advantage by hiking fares,” said Nilesh Bhansali, Director, Travel Agent Association of Pune (PAAT).

He said that already the service tax has been hiked by 12.5 per cent and also rise in other charges like fuel surcharge and airport tax has added to the burden of passengers. Moreover, during the implementation of MAFI, most flights will have to be cancelled or rescheduled, which can create chaos.

“Last year, in the month of September, I paid Rs 3,000 for a Pune-Delhi Indigo flight. The same flight costs more than 5,000 now,” said Vinod Mehata, who frequently travels to Delhi. “Generally delegates arrive in the morning and fly back taking the evening flight. If all flights at night will be cancelled, they have to stay and take the morning flight. Airport authority should make some arrangements for that.”

PSRK Sudhakar, Pune Airport Director, said, “We have not received any official notice regarding MAFI. The Ministry of Civil Aviation will send a notice two months prior the implementation. We have informed all airlines about this project and they are preparing a proper schedule. No flight will be cancelled. In the long term, MAFI is very beneficial for the airport.” 

MAFI project for upgrade of IAF bases
The MAFI project involves upgrade of IAF bases in the country. Of which Pune is one, since it is a defence airport. Important instruments that will be implemented at the airport as part of the project include Instrument Landing System (ILS), CAT2 (new airfield lighting), RVR, New DVR, ATMS, AMSS, ATIS, VCCS, and integration of MAFI with existing lights and radar. The runway central line will have to be dug up for fixing the lights and the runway will be cut for cabling and other necessary works. 

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