IndiGo Resumes Operations From Shillong Airport

Following a long suspension, IndiGo has officially returned to Shillong Airport. The airport suspended flights from April 23rd due to the second wave of COVID-19, greatly reducing connectivity to the city. However, on July 1st, the carrier returned to Shillong and resumed its three routes.

IndiGo ATR 72-600
IndiGo flies to Shillong Airport using one of its ATR 72-600s. Photo: Dylan Agbagni via Wikimedia Commons

Back in action

After over two months, IndiGo has resumed operations from Shillong Airport (SHL) in the northeastern state of Meghalaya. On July 1st, the carrier resumed its six-times weekly flights between Kolkata and Shillong and thrice-weekly onward services to Agartala and Silchar.

All three routes are operated by one of IndiGo’s ATR 72-600s, which seat 78 passengers in an all-economy, 2-2 layout. According to The Shillong Times, airport officials have said that passenger traffic is lower than before the suspension, but the routes provide important connectivity to the underserved airport.

IndiGo routes
The northeast is one of IndiGo’s strongholds, and it serves eight cities from the region. Photo: Getty Images

IndiGo’s service from Kolkata departs at 08:55 AM and arrives at 10:00 AM, operating all days of the week except Sunday. Meanwhile, the Shillong-Silchar route operates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, departing at 10:20 AM and arriving at 11:00 AM. Lastly, the Shillong-Agartala route operates on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, leaving at 10:20 AM and reaching at 11:20 AM.

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Hard-hit

For Shillong Airport, the pandemic has been difficult. IndiGo first suspended its Kolkata-Shillong-Agartala routes in late March of 2020 due to the pandemic. Flights only resumed 11 months later on February 1st of this year, leaving a major connectivity gap for the airport. However, less than three months later, flights were once again suspended on April 23rd due to the second wave of COVID-19.

For the brief period where flights did resume, IndiGo has seen strong demand from the airport. On March 29th, the carrier added a new connecting route from Shillong to Silchar Airport in Assam.

IndiGo Airbus A320-200
IndiGo’s hub in Kolkata has allowed it to continue expanding services throughout the northeast, taking advantage of government schemes to boost connectivity. Photo: Getty Images

Usually, two more airlines operate flights to Shillong, Alliance Air and flybig. However, both carriers have suspended flights since last year due to low demand or financial issues. This means IndiGo is the sole operator from the airport currently.

Load factor

While passenger load factors (PLFs) have fallen after the second wave, traffic remained high at the start of the year. From February to March, flights to and from Kolkata saw PLFs of anywhere between 50 to 80%, showing strong demand on the regional route. While numbers did fluctuate, it was clear that the airport was being underserved for years.

IndiGo ATR 72 Turboprop
IndiGo has been growing its presence in the northeast in the last few years and has not stopped during the pandemic. Photo: Aerofossile2012 via Flickr

Given the severity of the second wave of COVID-19, it might take a few months before traffic at Shillong Airport reaches its early 2021 levels. However, the resuming services will be a huge boost to travelers in the region who are looking for connectivity to major hubs for onward flights.

What do you think about IndiGo’s decision to resume flights to Shillong? Let us know in the comments!

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