Chennai-Jaffna flights 3-days a week | Daily News


Chennai-Jaffna flights 3-days a week

Commercial operations of Chennai–Jaffna flights by Alliance Air, a subsidiary of National carrier Air India, will begin on November 11 with three services a week.

Alliance Air operated a special flight from Chennai to Jaffna on October 17 which landed as the first international aircraft at the airport which was inaugurated on that day. The commercial operations will begin from November 11, the airline announced on Monday.

With this, the old air link between the two cities that are geographically, culturally and historically close to each other will be restored. Planned to run three days a week initially – Monday, Wednesday and Saturday – the Chennai-Jaffna flight would be converted into a daily service very soon, Alliance Air officials told the Deccan Herald.

While the flight will take off from Chennai at 10.35 am and land in Jaffna at 12.00 pm, it will take off for the return journey at 12.45 pm and land at 2.10 pm, Alliance Air said.

The resumption of an air link between Chennai and Jaffna is a major leap in the efforts by India and Sri Lanka to boost people-to-people contact between the close neighbours. The flight is expected to enhance trade and business in the Jaffna peninsula, which is slowly getting back to its feet after a civil war that lasted three decades.

A direct flight would help Sri Lankan diaspora in India avoid Colombo to reach the North as it consumes more time. Currently, they have to fly to Colombo to reach the North and take another flight or travel by road or rail to reach the far-away Northern Province. Air Ceylon, the erstwhile National carrier of Sri Lanka, had operated flights from Jaffna to Chennai and Tiruchirappalli till the 1970s. In fact, Air Ceylon’s first international flight was from Colombo to Chennai with a stopover in Jaffna.

Once the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) turned into a full-fledged war in the late 1970s, the Jaffna Airport, which was constructed during World War II, was converted into a strategic airbase that helped the Sri Lankan Army mount offensive against the now-defunct LTTE and airdrop supplies to its forces. The airbase was also used extensively by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) for transportation of its men to and from Jaffna. An airbase till the end of the war, domestic flights from Jaffna to Colombo began in 2012 and efforts to convert the domestic airport into international were realized only now. The airport runway has now been extended from 950 metres to 1,400 metres and would be extended up to 2,300 metres.

(Source: Deccan Herald) 

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