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5 Jul 2017

Bagdogra traffic declines - Drop in passenger number attributed to hill agitation

TT, Siliguri, July 4: The ongoing strike in the hills has taken its toll on the Bagdogra airport, where the movement of passengers dropped in June compared to the preceding month.
The decline has made SpiceJet withdraw its two Bangalore flights. Another airline, Jet Airways, will withdraw its Mumbai service in the coming week, sources at the airport said.
Officials of the Airports Authority of India had earlier said over two lakh passengers had moved through Bagdogra in May this year, the highest in the history.
"However, in June, the number of passengers came down and one of the principal reasons was the agitation in the hills. We are yet to collate the passengers' data but the information we have gathered so far indicates that there might be a dip of over 30 per cent to 35 per cent in the number of passengers in June vis-à-vis the figure of May," a source said.
According to him, the number of passengers slightly comes down during the monsoon, that is from June, and it again increases in the middle of September.
"On an average, that change is around 10 to 15 per cent every year. In 2017, the decrease in the number of passengers is quite high," he said.
The Bagdogra airport had witnessed a spurt in the passenger traffic in the past few years, prompting airline companies to launch new services. From March, the number of flights started increasing and the number of daily flights was 20 in May.
In January, there were just 13 daily flights.
"The number was supposed to reach 29 by August if we go by the earlier announcements," an official said.
However, the sudden resumption of the statehood movement in the hills, along with violent incidents, has brought down the number of travellers and made some of the airline companies rethink of their decisions. "Two SpiceJet flights connecting Bangalore and Bagdogra have been withdrawn since June 30. Another flight to Mumbai will be withdrawn from July 15. It is unfortunate that the airport's unprecedented growth has been suddenly affected, even if partially, due to the agitation," an official said.

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