AYODHYA- On Thursday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced that Ayodhya Airport (AYJ) will witness the arrival of 100 private charter planes on January 22, coinciding with the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prominent industry leaders, film stars, and various other celebrities will also attend the event, reported ET.
Private Charter Demand Surge for Ayodhya
This occasion is anticipated to witness a significant surge in flight movements, marking a sixfold increase due to an unprecedented number of chartered flights transporting India’s affluent devotees and other attendees to the temple town.
According to travel portals, there has been a 60% increase in railway ticket bookings, and intercity cab operators are expecting a 50% spike in bookings in preparation for the event.
Vinod Kumar, the director of Ayodhya Airport, reported receiving a total of 42 inquiries from charter operators. Considering the anticipated high volume of traffic, there is a concern that the newly constructed airport may not have sufficient parking space for all the planes.
In response, Kumar has advised charter operators only to drop off and pick up passengers on January 22.
To address the potential parking shortage, Kumar mentioned that aircraft will be directed to park at neighboring airports such as Lucknow, Varanasi, Kushinagar, Patna, and even Delhi.
Rajan Mehra, the CEO of Club One Air, an air charter firm, commented, “This year will set a new record for charters.”
Besides the Ayodhya event, private charter operators have already observed an increase in bookings to Ahmedabad for the Vibrant Gujarat investor summit. Additionally, the upcoming general elections’ campaigning is expected to lead to another surge in demand for flights.
New Commercial Flight Announcements
In preparation for the ceremony at the Ram temple, SpiceJet has organized a special Delhi-Ayodhya-Delhi flight.
Club One Air has secured bookings for three Falcon 2000 12-seater business jets for the temple inauguration event.
Kanika Tekriwal, the founder and CEO of JetSetGo, a charter marketplace, reported a notable surge in interest, receiving approximately 25 inquiries for charter flights to Ayodhya in anticipation of the upcoming inauguration. She mentioned, “This reflects a significant increase in demand compared to our usual volume for the region,” noting that requests have come from various cities, including Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Nagpur.
Ayodhya Airport anticipates a rise in scheduled flights soon, with the current four flight movements per day expected to increase to 20-24, according to an airport executive.
Vineet Sehgal, CEO of Million-Air, a prominent aircraft charter operator, is currently operating three private jets and needs to accommodate seven more charters.
10-20 Lakh for Private Jets
According to Tekriwal from JetSetGo, the average fare for the mentioned routes varies between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh, depending on the aircraft size.
Flying to Ayodhya airport may pose challenges due to fog and low visibility, as mentioned by Mandar Bharde, the managing director of charter and air ambulance operator MAB Aviation.
Bharde stated that they are awaiting clarity on permissions, considering the limited capacity of Ayodhya Airport to accommodate numerous charters. Preparations are being made to arrive a day prior to the event.
Although Ayodhya Airport is designed to handle 1 million passengers annually, it currently operates only six hours a day. However, during the temple inauguration, it will be extended to 12 hours and potentially 24 hours if needed, according to airport director Kumar.
The airport, managed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), currently has a staff count of slightly over 50, and an additional 10-15 temporary staff will be brought in from neighboring airports to manage the increased flight operations.
Increase in Search Results
In anticipation of the January 22 event, there is expected to be a surge in rail and road travel. Ixigo has reported over a 100% increase in domestic flight searches week on week for Ayodhya since the launch of the new airport, along with a more than 60% week-on-week increase in train travel searches.
The highest demand for travel to Ayodhya is observed from Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Delhi.
The BJP-led Chhattisgarh government announced an annual free train travel scheme to Ayodhya on Wednesday.
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