In a landmark move, the Indian Air Force has decided to started flying civilian passengers in the Andaman and Nicobar islands twice a week. Generally, the Air Force transports civilians only in an emergency, but it has recently made this exception.
Currently, air transport in the form of Pawan Hans helicopters is scarcely available to residents of the archipelago. Also, an extended Air India flight to Car Nicobar was withdrawn recently, as the aircraft’s lease had expired.
The local administration therefore approached the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, asking for provision of better services for inter-island connectivity.
“The Defence Ministry has now given us the aircraft for civilian use. We are collecting the airfare from passengers and paying the Air Force some charges based on the number of flying hours. Our tickets are subsidised for islanders,” Lt. General AK Singh, the Governor, told PTI.
Photo Source: Wikimedia. Indian Navy [CC BY 2.5 in (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/in/deed.en) or CC BY 2.5 in (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/in/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
Residents can now enjoy a fully spruced up Dornier 228 aircraft. The aircraft, flown by Air Force crew, links Port Blair (the capital) with Car Nicobar and Campbell Bay.
Moreover, the ten-passenger aircraft has a top speed of around 370 km/hr, and also comes with modern aircraft equipment.
As of now, the Union Territory’s local administration handles all the bookings for the flight service.
This generous move by the IAF is sure to garner a lot of praise from the residents!