GMG air-links Kolkata with Chittagong |
M Abdur Rahim, back from Kolkata
Kolkata yesterday welcomed the first international flight of Bangladesh's private carrier GMG Airlines that connected the Indian city with Chittagong.
After an hour-long air-dash from Chittagong Shah Amanat International Airport, GMG's 37-seater Dash 8-100 aircraft touched Kolkata Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport at 1:00pm (BST) to receive a warm reception by officials of Airport Authority of India, Bangladesh High Commission and a host of Bangladeshis.
Subhash Chakrabarty, minister of transport and youth affairs of West Bengal, had come to receive the inaugural flight, but as the flight delayed an hour, he could not attend the inaugural function at MDB Airport Hotel in Dum Dum.
Beginning with three weekly flights on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, GMG Airlines has a plan to start daily flights between Chittagong and Kolkata. The fare is fixed at $89 (one way). Passengers buying two tickets will get one free for the next three flights after inauguration.
Addressing the function on behalf of the minister, Amal Mukherjee, councillor of Dum Dum Municipality, said: "We welcome the GMG airlines to India and hope it will expand to other Indian cities. We also hope it will contribute to boosting trade and tourism between the two neighbouring countries."
GMG flight may prompt early foray to Bangladesh by Indian private carriers -- Jet Airways and Sahara Airlines. "We hope Bangladesh will also welcome two of our private carriers now on hand to explore Bangladesh market," the councillor said.
Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Hemayetuddin told the function that the GMG operation in India can play an important role in boosting trade and tourism between the countries.
"If communications develop, the trade will improve. Bangladesh and India should be connected with all modes of transport to invigorate trade relations."
Adapting the famous line of first moon conqueror Niel Armstrong, Managing Director of GMG Airlines Shahab Sattar said, "May be this is a small journey but it will surely be a giant leap for the private sector civil aviation in Bangladesh."
"We hope to fly to Delhi, Chennai, Kathmandu, Chiang Mai, Colombo and Male soon after air service agreement with those countries are revised to pave way for GMG's entry."
Earlier at the first inauguration function at Chittagong airport, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Mir Mohammad Nasiruddin said the government may allow more private airlines to fly overseas and also foreign airlines to gain access to Bangladesh market.
"In the era of globalisation, the government believes in open sky policy. We hope the passengers will benefit from competition arising out of private airline's international operations," he said.
RR Das, minister (economy and commerce) of Indian High Commission in Dhaka, said the GMG's international operation is a milestone in India-Bangladesh relations. "We must facilitate the private sector to make good our economy," he added.
After the inauguration function in Chittagong, GMG flight No. Z5 061 took off from Chittagong airport carrying high officials of the airlines and a group of newspersons. Rokia A Rahman, president of Women Entrepreneurs Association, Bangladesh also got on the flight.