Frequent cancellation and unavailability of flights to Kullu-Manali airport not only have disappointed the high-end tourists, but also affected the tourism. Currently, only one airline is operating three sorties in a week between Delhi and Kullu.
With Pathankot-Manali-Leh rail line witnessing political ups and downs, road transport is the only reliable way to reach Manali, which takes at least 14 hours of travelling time. Tourism experts say most of the tourists cancel their Manali tour only due to hectic and fatiguing travelling. Kullu-Delhi flight, which takes around 1 hour 25 minutes of flying time, has tickets available for around Rs 14,000, which is quite high and customers are not able to get flight for the desired schedule. Kingfisher was the only airline that was operating regular flights to Kullu. A source working with Kingfisher airline said all flights have been cancelled due to necessary maintenance work.
Travel agents say the irregular flights have blown the Manali tourism badly and it has disappointed many tourists who cannot afford 2 extra days only for travelling between by roads. “We have a huge demand of flight service to Kullu-Manali and government should attempt to ensure participation of other airlines on this route which is profitable for both tourists and airlines,” owner of Matkon travels, Anil Sharma, said. He added that connecting Kullu with regular and multi airlines would add to the economy and more tourists’ arrival.
Cancellation of many holiday tours to Manali was reported after Kingfisher cancelled its flights. Owner of Snow Peak Travels, Pritam Chand, said a group of tourists had booked his tickets in Kingfisher airline for March 18, but now they have cancelled their programme due to cancellation of flight. “Many hotels and travel agents are reporting cancellation of tourist arrivals. Providing subsidy in airfare to Kullu, which at present is very high, is the farthest thing, but due to the disinterest by government, airlines are not interested in operating their flights on this route,” he said.
Summer season of the Manali is going to start shortly and hoteliers are upset as quality tourism in the area is on the back foot. “Not only transportation mediums but also we don’t have enough resources to host the quality tourists,” owner of Himachal Vacation Travels, Suresh Sharma, said adding that earlier the inclement weather caused cancellation of flights and now lack of support from government is disillusioning airlines.