After two years, India’s regional carrier Alliance Air has restarted its much-awaited flight service between Delhi and Shimla. On September 26, the airline performed its inaugural flight connecting the capital of India to the Himachal Pradesh capital. The service was previously slated to kickstart on September 6 but was halted due to inclement weather conditions. With the resumption of the Delhi-Shimla flight, travelers from Delhi will now have a smoother way to visit the idyllic North Indian hilly destination and experience all the region has to offer.
Restarting the highly -anticipated Delhi-Shimla service
On September 26, 2022, the Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation VK Singh and Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Jairam Thakur flagged off the maiden flight of Alliance Air on the Delhi-Shimla route. Alliance Air will operate direct flights from New Delhi to Shimla under UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme.
The regional airline Alliance Air will offer Delhi-Shimla-Delhi service on a daily basis by deploying new ATR42-600 aircraft. The flight between two capital cities will take nearly an hour in contrast to a road trip which usually takes an average of eight hours. With this recommencement, the carrier will enhance air connectivity in north India while significantly cutting the traveling time between Delhi and Shimla.
The daily flight is scheduled as:
9I 821: Depart Delhi at 07:10 am and arrive at Jubbarhatti Airport, Shimla, at 08:20 am
9I 822: Depart Jubbarhatti Airport, Shimla at 08:50 am and touch down in Delhi at 10:00 am
Using ATR 42-600 aircraft
Alliance Air’s ATR 42-600 will perform the domestic flight throughout the week, carrying a restricted number of passengers, i.e., 48 passengers from Delhi to Shimla and 24 passengers from Shimla to Delhi. The load penalty has to do with the high altitude of Shimla and the tabletop runway of the airport, which measures only 1189 meters long. ATR 42-600 is a turboprop regional airliner with excellent performance, smaller capacity, and low trip costs and is ideally suited to opening and sustaining Alliance’s operations. Alliance Air’s ATR 42-600 features a wide cabin with an only window or aisle seats, a comfortable leg space, a 30-inch seat pitch, and spacious overhead bins.
The introductory, all-inclusive fare of flight tickets is Rs. 2,141, and later on, these flights will have a subsidized fare of Rs 2,480 on 50% seats under the Regional Connectivity Scheme. The rest 50% of seats on the flights will have the fare determined by the company itself.
Boosting trade and tourism
Shimla, the capital and the largest city of Himachal Pradesh, is one of the most sought-after hill stations with majestic snow-clad mountains, stunningly green scenery, and celestial lakes. It has been nirvana for naturalists and history buffs and has enticed them for years. The direct air connectivity from the nation’s capital to Shimla will serve as an adrenaline shot for the hilly state and boost trade and tourism in the region. The daily flights will jumpstart the regional aviation market and contribute to Himachal’s economic development.
Previously, Alliance Air operated its maiden RCS Delhi-Shimla route under the initiation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 27, 2017. The flight service was discontinued in 2020 following the expiry of the carrier’s lease for smaller ATR42 aircraft and the renovation of Shimla Airport. Since then, Shimla Airport only handles non-scheduled heli-taxi services provided by government-owned Pawan Hans Limited.
Under the UDAN scheme, the Ministry of Civil Aviation is working to further bolster ATR connectivity from Shimla to key tourist destinations of Kully and Dharamshala. Alliance Air is planning to operate its fixed-wing aircraft ATR42-600 to Kullu and Dharamshala four times and three times a week, respectively. Shimla Airport is a tabletop airport, so flights will have to take off with a limited capacity amid air turbulence.
Alliance Air is a government-owned regional airline that mainly operates domestic routes as part of India’s Regional Connectivity Scheme to over 40 destinations. Founded in April 1996 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Indian Airlines, it operated as a low-cost feeder airline connecting smaller cities to large hubs across the country.
The merger of Indian Airlines with Air India made the national airline parent company of Alliance Air in 2011. When the government transferred the ownership of Air India to Tata Sons in 2021, Alliance Air became a division of Air India Asset Holdings Limited (AIAHL). Since the Indian state authorities have initiated the process of selling ex-Air India subsidiaries, they also intend to sell Alliance Air to pay down AIAHL’s debt in the coming months.