Lack of air connectivity hits tourism, Virbhadra writes to PM

With all aircraft companies having suspended operations to Himachal for four months, state Congress president Virbhadra Singh on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to step in and direct Air India to restart flights on the Delhi-Shimla, Delhi-Kullu and Dharamshala-Kullu routes before the onset of the winter tourist season.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Virbhadra has pointed out that with Kingfisher and Air India having suspending operations, the lack of air connectivity had hit the tourism industry, which forms the backbone of the state's economy. "The prolonged suspension of the flights to Himachal Pradesh has not only affected the hotel industry but has resulted in huge losses to the local business community that is solely dependent on tourists for a livelihood. It has also caused inconvenience to the general public particularly in case of medical emergencies," Virbhadra's letter reads.

The former Union minister has also noted that it is strange that Shimal, a state ccapital, has no air connectivity. This has adversely affected the general public, corporate and government officers travelling on official and private business, he added.

The state Congress chief has stated that the Manali Hoteliers Association, who had been expecting huge crowds during Christmas and New Year, are facing cancellations mainly due to the absence of flights. "It is an issue requiring your (Prime Minister) intervention to ask Air India which use to provide services between Delhi and Kullu, to restart flights to all the three destinations," Virbhadra said.

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