One day it is there and the other day it is gone. Again it comes after a hue and cry and it vanishes without a trace. Air service from and to Mysuru has become the proverbial Hamlet’s Ghost, much to the chagrin of Mysureans, especially those who depend on tourism for their bread and butter. Without getting into the past details that is dotted with on-service and off-service details, we recall here that in 2017, air service began on September 20 under the Union Government’s Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagarik or the UDAN scheme. Incidentally, in Hindi, Udan also means flying and the people who have coined the word need some praises for it was an apt title. So, just two months after the flight operations began, one is left to wonder, has the jinx hit our Mysuru Airport in Mandakalli once again. The initial enthusiasm with which the flight operations began seems to be losing steam and even the city’s denizens seem to have adjusted to the fact that flights may come or flights may go, life goes on. Now the only people who are talking about flights are the fliers, airport personnel, tourism industry and, of course, the media.
Uncertainty hit this year’s operations when flight operations were silently suspended on November 16, leaving many regular fliers stranded and their plans gone with the wind. Though operations resumed on November 21, the future is uncertain. If you consider the occupancy rate on the Mysuru-Chennai-Hyderabad route, it is pretty encouraging — an average of fifty fliers on both sides. Even airport authorities claimed that the numbers are very good by aviation standards. Then the big question is, WHY?
While there could be many reasons for airline operator to dither from operating, what needs to be done is to bring the operator to negotiation table and understand his concerns. Among the cities chosen for UDAN scheme, Mysuru’s case could be unique and efforts must be made to address those concerns. Straight-jacketed and one-solution-fits-all approach will not work here. Elected representatives from the State and the Centre must set aside their political differences and brainstorm with officials to find a solution in the interests of Mysuru that is competing with Bengaluru when it comes to infrastructure and connectivity. For a scheme like UDAN to be successful, there must be a coordinated pyramid-like approach from top to bottom and vice-versa. Otherwise, UDAN will just be a fancy name.