INDEPENDENT INDIAN operator Jet Airways is planning to establish Calcutta as its third hub as part of a continuing expansion programme.

Chief executive Nikos Kardassis says that a clear upward trend in business travel between Bangalore and Calcutta, encouraged by West Bengal Government initiatives which have attracted large-scale investment, is providing the right environment for the move.

The airline is basing its eighth Boeing 737-400 at Calcutta. It was acquired this month on lease from General Electric Capital and Aviation Services (GECAS), and will be starting a daily service from the city to Guwahati, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

The Calcutta, Hyderabad, Bangalore route connects three of India's major business centres, while the Guwahati service is a further step in opening up the underdeveloped Northeastern region.

Jet Airways is conducting a feasibility study into developing Calcutta to serve as a central hub to link flights to other parts of India.

Ambitious Madras-based NEPC Airlines is planning to take over two other private airlines, UP Air and Gujarat Airways. The former, in which the Uttar Pradesh State government has a major shareholding, operates two Fokker F27s on intra-state routes, while Gujarat offers a similar service with two Beech 1900Ds.

Source: Flight International