Assam’s Bordoloi airport to become regional hub: Vayalar Ravi

June 25th, 2011 - 11:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, June 25 (IANS) Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi Saturday said Assam’s Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport will be made a regional hub to increase air connectivity to the northeastern states.

“The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is building two hangars at Guwahati (Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi airport) for this purpose,” Ravi announced at the inauguration of the new terminal building of Shillong airport in Meghalaya.

The regional hub is expected to become operational early next year, while the central government has proposed to built 12 new airports, in addition to the existing 11 airports to improve air connectivity.

A regional hub for civil aviation at Guwahati has been a three-decade-old demand of the people of the region.

The civil aviation minister said that he would try his best to improve air connectivity in the region. “In the last four years, operational airports have increased from the 50 to 89 around the country but this will not be complete if air connectivity is still meagre,” Ravi asserted.

Pointing out that infrastructure development is a key priority, he said: “An airport is the window of any country and state when anyone arrives for the first time and they (airports) are also catalyst of economic growth, being the very gateway of the nation or the state.”

The Shillong airport, formerly known as Umroi airport, is about 35 km north of Shillong city.

The new terminal, built at a cost of Rs.30 crore, is fitted with latest equipment like explosive trace detectors, baggage x-ray machines, and closed-circuit cameras.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who was also present at the inaugural function of the new terminal, said the state government is exploring the possibilities for operation of private airlines from Shillong airport.

“We have decided to subsidise the rates for operations of such airlines (private) and we would like the civil aviation ministry to support the state government’s initiative in its effort to provide air connectivity,” Sangma said.

Land-locked Meghalaya is connected to the rest of the country mostly by road at present.

At present, the Shillong airport can accommodate only 50-seater ATR aircraft, serviced every day except Friday, from Kolkata.

The Umroi airport was constructed in the mid-1960s and became operational in the mid-1970s.

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