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.
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’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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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.
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.
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.
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!