SURAT: There could not have been a better Diwali gift to the diamantaires in the world's biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat.
Come December, the diamond city is all set to get wings with SpiceJet planning to start intra-state flights connecting Ahmedabad and Surat with Saurashtra and Kutch.
For most of the diamantaires travelling to Antwerp thrice a month, the air connectivity between Surat and Ahmedabad planned by SpiceJet would give them direct access to international fights from Ahmedabad international airport. Instead of taking four to five hours long route from Surat to reach the Chattrapati Shivaji international terminus at Mumbai, the diamantaires can take a direct flight to Ahmedabad from Surat.
"Over 600 small and medium diamantaires from the city go to Antwerp for purchasing rough diamonds by boarding international flights from Mumbai airport. Now, the same traffic would be diverted to Ahmedabad with the start of inter-state flight services by SpiceJet," said Dinesh Navadia, president of Surat Diamond Association (SDA).
"For me and other diamantaires shuttling between Mumbai and Antwerp, this is a very important development. Catching an international flight to Antwerp from Ahmedabad will not only save time and money but more importantly it will ensure safety for the diamantiares as well," said a leading DTC sightholder.
With the diamond hub of Varachha and Katargam having a population of more than 10 lakh people, mostly diamond traders, workers and manufacturers, hailing from Saurashtra region, tens of thousands of people travel by train and road towards their hometown throughout the year.
In a survey conducted by a private airline company few months ago, there are 600 private luxury buses in the city that ferry more than 10,000 to 15,000 passengers towards different destinations in Saurashtra on a daily basis. The number of travellers from Surat increases manifold during the marriage and vacation seasons.
About 60 per cent of the passengers travelling by luxury coaches, mostly diamond manufacturers, can afford flying to their home towns spending anything between Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per head.
A senior officer with Airport Authority of India (AAI) said, "It seems SpiceJet authorities have completed all the formalities to start the inter-state air services in Gujarat. Surat and other small centres in Gujarat will be largely benefitted."
Chandrakant Sanghavi, regional chairman of Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), told TOI, "I am going to participate in the Ranotsav programme with my family and friends and we would be able to fly to Kutch."
Source: Times of India