More than a decade after direct flights between Kolkata and London were decommissioned, a plane carrying 14 passengers from London under the Vande Bharat Mission touched down at the NSCBI airport in Kolkata early on Thursday.
The return flight, which was supposed to depart around 6:20 am was more than three hours late and took off around 10 am with 65 passengers, a senior airport official said.
“These Kolkata-London flights are part of the Vande Bharat Mission and would continue till October 24,” an airport official said. Air India had started a direct flight between Kolkata and London in 2005. The services were, however, discontinued in September 2008 because of poor load factor. British airways, too, moved out of the sector in March 2009.
The first Vande Bharat flight between London and Kolkata took off from Heathrow airport on September 16 afternoon and landed at the NSCBI airport in Kolkata in the early hours of Thursday.
“The flight was scheduled to land around 2:20 am. But it landed almost an hour early around 1:20 am. It was a nice experience. It would be great if direct flights resume between Kolkata and London. It would help a lot of businessmen, students and even tourists,” said Vedanta Gupta, a passenger who arrived in Kolkata.
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The return flight, via Delhi, scheduled to leave NSCBI airport around 6:20 am, departed around 10 am with 64 passengers.
“We had come to the airport much before 6 am for the security check and Covid-19 protocols. Now, that the flight is late we have to wait longer. We had booked earlier flights to London but they were cancelled at least five times,” said Amit Singha Roy, one of the passengers.
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Authorities said the Vande Bharat flights would leave London for Kolkata every Wednesday and Saturday and the return flights would leave Kolkata for Heathrow every Thursday and Sunday till October 24.