For Surat, Bank Guarantees Pave the Way for Air Connectivity
The city's tryst with facilitating flight operations through bank guarantees began in 2015 when a collaborative effort between Navsari BJP MP CR Paatil—Paatil is now Gujarat BJP President--and Surat's industrious elite culminated in a substantial Rs 3 crore bank guarantee to Air India. This unique move birthed the Delhi-Surat Airbus service in 2016, marking the genesis of Surat's unique approach to aviation development.
Surat : In a distinctive move unprecedented globally, Surat, the thriving city in Gujarat, has charted an unparalleled path to secure enhanced air connectivity. Standing alone as the only city in the world to provide bank guarantees to airline companies, Surat’s endeavor to initiate flight services reflects its unwavering commitment to overcoming aviation challenges.
The city’s tryst with facilitating flight operations through bank guarantees began in 2015 when a collaborative effort between Navsari BJP MP CR Paatil—Paatil is now Gujarat BJP President–and Surat’s industrious elite culminated in a substantial Rs 3 crore bank guarantee to Air India. This unique move birthed the Delhi-Surat Airbus service in 2016, marking the genesis of Surat’s unique approach to aviation development.
Today, Surat stands at the brink once more, poised to extend bank guarantees to usher in flights between Surat and Mumbai, spearheaded by the Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB). The SDB, a global marvel and a bastion of the diamond trade, has taken the mantle in offering seat undertakings and deposits to entice airlines—a strategy unrivaled and unparalleled worldwide.
This singular approach underscores Surat’s unwavering determination to bridge the gap in air connectivity, especially crucial between Surat, the world’s diamond capital, and Mumbai, India’s financial epicenter. The absence of direct flights has hindered the SDB’s potential, impeding vital international trade interactions for diamantaires.
Amidst the inaugural events at the SDB, the absence of direct air connectivity saw international buyers escorted from Mumbai by road—a testament to the challenges posed by the lack of efficient flight services. The considerable 7-hour road journey highlights the imperative need for direct flights, with safety concerns deterring international visitors from traversing this route.
Dinesh Navadia, the media convener of the SDB, stresses the pivotal role of direct flight services, emphasizing their indispensable nature for the SDB’s success. Negotiations with airlines, hinging on guarantees to cover ticket costs underpinning bookings, underscore Surat’s unique commitment to fostering air connectivity.
Aviation experts highlight the proximity between Surat and Mumbai as a significant deterrent for airlines considering direct flights. While past Surat-Mumbai flights yielded an annual passenger traffic of around 84,000, airlines remain wary due to current passenger loads falling below 50%, impeding the viability of direct flights.
Despite concerted efforts by groups like ‘We Work For a Working Airport At Surat (WWWAS),’ with an extensive online community, endeavors to enhance both domestic and international air links have met continuous roadblocks. The necessity for undertakings or bank guarantees from industrialists has become a prerequisite for airlines to initiate services, signaling a systemic challenge in Surat’s aviation expansion.
“Surat’s distinction as the sole city extending bank guarantees to airlines for initiating flight services sets a precedent in the global aviation landscape. However, it also reflects the city’s innovative spirit and determination to surmount barriers hindering its growth and economic potential” said Sharad Kapadia, president of Surat Citizen Council Trust (SCCT).