The highly anticipated and much-delayed direct flight between India’s capital New Delhi and popular North Indian hilly destination, Shimla, has resumed. Regional carrier Alliance Air flew between the two cities a few days back, deploying its brand-new ATR 42 aircraft. The service was supposed to have started weeks ago, but poor weather affected the starting schedule.
Delhi-Shimla direct service is back
On September 26th, Alliance Air’s ATR aircraft finally left Delhi’s IGI Airport (DEL) bound for Shimla (SLV) in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The nearly 1-hour flight significantly cuts the traveling time between the two cities, which usually takes an average of 8 hours by road.
The civil aviation ministry recommended the resumption of this service, and the first flight was flagged off by Minister of State for Civil Aviation Dr. VK Singh and Himachal Pradesh CM Jairam Thakur.
According to Alliance Air’s website, flight 9I 821 will depart Delhi at 07:35 and arrive in Shimla at 08:20. The flight from Shimla (9I 824) will depart at 10:15 and arrive in Delhi at 11:25. The introductory all-inclusive fares for Delhi-Shimla and Shimla-Delhi is ₹ 2,141 ($26).
India’s Ministry of Civil aviation had been planning to launch several regional routes in the country, and the Delhi-Shimla direct service was on the list. Part of the Himalayan Range, Shimla is a popular tourist destination and sees plenty of travelers from Delhi and the larger North Indian region.
Alliance Air’s Delhi-Shimla flight was started in 2017 but had to be stopped in 2020, as the airline’s lease for the smaller ATR 42 aircraft expired. Since then, the airport only sees non-scheduled heli-taxi services.
Alliance Air acquired the smaller ATR 42 planes for tricky airports. Photo: ATR Aircraft
The airline recently received a pair of brand-new ATR 42-600s. The planes have been inducted into the carrier’s fleet specifically to operate in challenging airfields in mountainous regions of North India.
The flight was scheduled to resume on September 6th, but tricky weather delayed the plans further. Before resuming scheduled services, Alliance Air wanted to do a trial run at Shimla airport using its new plane. However, bad weather and turbulence have proven difficult for the aircraft to take off at full capacity from the table-top airport.
Shimla Airport is located at more than 2,000 meters above sea level. Photo: Getty Images
Amit Kashyap, the managing director of Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, earlier commented that carrying out a trial landing was not possible due to adverse weather conditions, and without it, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) does not give permission to fly.
Only state-run airline in India
Alliance Air is currently the only state-run airline in India, focusing primarily on regional routes. Per ch-aviation, it has a fleet of 18 active aircraft, including ATR 72, 42, and Dornier 228.
It was part of former national airline Air India, and in April, almost three months after Air India’s privatization, Alliance Air announced that it had completed the process of becoming a standalone airline, which meant that it no longer relied on AI’s network of bookings, customer service, or anything else.
The Government of India, however, is keen on selling Alliance Air as well and is currently working on a plan for its privatization.
Are you planning to take a flight between Delhi and Shimla anytime soon? Please let us know in the comment section below.