Deccan Charters to stop flight services within Gujarat from May 1

The Deccan Charters Limited has decided to call off its flight services in the state from May 1. The move comes nine months after it launched the services by offering daily charter flights between major cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Kandla.

The company owned by captain G R Gopinath, who founded low cost Air Deccan and sold it later to Vijay Mallya, had launched the service under the brand name "Deccan Shuttles" on August 20, 2012, targeting corporate houses and cash rich domestic and international Gujarati passengers.

Though the company was the first to begin the intra-state flights in Gujarat, the company found it difficult to break even, sources said.

Due to high air fare, that ranges between Rs 4,000 and Rs 6,000, as well as lesser demand from passengers, the company has decided to stop its services. The company has already discontinued its Surat-Bhavnagar flight last month.

According to sources, the company was to suspend all the operations in March itself, but following guidelines from directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA), New Delhi, the company has to continue operating till April 30. They said even the employees in Gujarat don't know the fate of the operation.

"On March 30 we were verbally informed by Deccan Charters officials that it is shutting down operations in Gujarat. We do not have a say in this decision as matter is handled by the DGCA, New Delhi, which issues such licenses," an official working at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad, said requesting anonymity.

He said DGCA which issues licenses for non-schedule operations instructed the company to carry out the operation for one more month since there must be passengers who have booked tickets a month in advance.

The two Cessna Grand Caravan 208 B, turboprop aircraft (nine seater) of Deccan Charters have not taken off from city airport since the middle of March. Both the aircraft continue to remain grounded at the airport. Based on DGCA's guidelines the operation will officially be suspended from May 1, sources added.

The company owner and senior officials of Deccan Charters couldn't be contacted despite repeated attempts. However, sources in the company said though it had decided to stall its operations in Gujarat, efforts were still being made to find a solution.

"I heard that they are shutting down operations. Since it's a private entity, I don't have any idea," said Vipul Mitra, principal secretary, tourism and civil aviation. In order to achieve last mile connectivity, Gujarat Tourism has forged an alliance with Deccon Charters for intra-state connectivity.

During Vibrant Gujarat 2011, the company had also inked an MoU with Gujarat government worth Rs 550 crore for generating employment for 500 people.

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