Deccan to go International on birthday

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Kolkata, Dec 2 (UNI) Deccan Airlines (DA) is likely to begin international operations from August 23, on its birthday, DA Chief Operating Officer (COO) Captain Preethan Phillip said here today.

''We expect to go abroad and are hoping clearance from the Centre in March,'' Mr Phillip told newspersons from Bangalore after visiting the airlines' headquarters recently.

''The flights, with four Airbus A-320s, will be ex-Bangalore and we are exploring competitive routes in the West Asia, south China, South East Asia, China as well as Nepal.'' With a view to make the flights cost-effective, the airlines will use secondary airports in places like Sharjah, instead of Dubai in the West Asia.

''The emphasis is on the secondary airports because of the low costs, including landing charges,'' the COO stated.

However, the DA will continue to consolidate its operations in the domestic sector, he said, adding that the airlines had carried 14 million passengers since its inception in 2003.

Deccan was also focusing on increasing connectivity to the Northeastern states by developing Kolkata as one of its hubs.

''Deccan will receive the first of the four new aircrafts from Airbus by January and is planning to base it in Kolkata. This is in addition to purchasing the smaller ATR aircrafts. Kolkata will become a hub with aircrafts being based here,'' DA National Sales Manager Vivek Agnihotri stated.

The flights from Kolkata will take off early for Guwahati which will be the day base. Flights from Guwahati will later be operated to smaller cities, including Lilabari, Jorhat, Silchar, Imphal, Dimapur and Aizwal with ATR aircrafts, he added.

Deccan was also considering introducing flights to Jaipur and Ahmedabad from Kolkata by January.

''One of the new Airbuses, A-320, will be based in Kolkata but it is yet to be decided in which sector it will be operated. Jaipur and Ahmedabad are among the sectors under discussion,'' Mr Agnihotri said.

The airlines had recently undergone an ''image makeover''.

''The emphasis is now on redeeming the image of a low-cost airlines. Deccan is now in the process of rebranding itself for better acceptance among the people,'' DA Marketing Head Nalin Gagrani said.

''The new market strategy will be to offer better products at affordable and competitive prices. Despite being one of the most punctual airlines, a perception prevails that Deccan is most inconsistent and unpunctual. And we are trying to change this wrong perception,'' he claimed.

UNI

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