92 new flight routes to be opened in Northeast: Sinha

Guwahati, November 21: To enhance air connectivity in the Northeast, 92 new routes will be opened in the region in the second round of the government’s ‘Udaan’ scheme. Udaan is a regional connectivity scheme under which the government plans to provide connectivity to remote areas and enhance access in under-served regions.

Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha today also announced a direct bi-weekly Air India flight from Delhi to Imphal from January next year, which would be made a daily service when the demand picks up.

No-frills private airlines Indigo will soon start services from Guwahati to Silchar and Aizwal.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the ‘North East Development Summit’, Sinha also announced that SpiceJet is buying a large number of seaplanes to connect smaller airstrips in Northeast. These planes will accommodate about 9-10 people.

Sinha also informed that the second round of bidding for Udaan scheme which commenced in August this year is in its final stages and with this bidding round, Northeast will have 92 new routes.

Construction of the first airport of Sikkim at Pakyong at cost of Rs 553.53 crore was complete and it will make reaching the northern part of the state, especially tourist attractions such as Nathu La Pass, easier. The airport which was initially planned to be completed by 2012 is ready for inaguration.

Sinha said that there are 19 “new airports or underserved airports” and 7 heliports that are going to be added to the aviation network of country including nine in Arunachal Pradesh which borders China, five each in Assam and Manipur and one each in Meghalaya, Tripura and Sikkim. The window for air operators to bid for routes under the second phase of RCS started on August 24, four days before Indian and Chinese troops disengaged at Doklam to end a border standoff that lasted more than two months.

The Tezu airport in Arunachal Pradesh has also been upgraded by the AAI with a renovated terminal building at a cost of Rs 96.50 crore. A new terminal building at Tezu is expected to come up by December 2018. Similarly, the runway at Dibrugarh in Assam is being extended to accommodate operations of wide-bodied aircraft, while the one at Dimapur is being re-carpeted. The airports and helipads in Arunachal Pradesh fall under the category of ‘unserved’ airports, meaning they have no civilian flights landing there.