Meghalaya waives aviation fuel tax to encourage flights

February 13th, 2012 - 6:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, Feb 13 (IANS) Meghalaya has waived off tax on aviation fuel to encourage airlines to operate from Shillong airport, increasing connectivity and getting more tourists to the northeastern state, Transport Minister Abu Taher Mondal said Monday.

Formerly known as Umroi airport, the airport, 35 km north of Shillong, has been upgraded with six check-in counters, a complete security hold area, and separate blocks for arrivals and departures.

“Though, the airport is yet to have a re-fueling facility, we have granted full exemption of aviation fuel tax to attract airlines in the near future to land at Shillong airport,” Mondal told IANS.

The exemption was also aimed to attract domestic and international tourists to visit Meghalaya. “Once we have good air connectivity, then there will be also flow of tourists visiting our state,” Mondal added.

To facilitate landing of bigger aircraft, Mondal said 224.16 acres of land have been acquired for the airport’s expansion.

“We have handed over 192 acres of land to the Airport Authority of India to develop the airport and the Meghalaya government has sought Rs.26 crore from the development of northeastern region ministry for the airport’s expansion,” he said.

The new runway will be lengthened to 7,500 feet from the present 6,000 feet and will be realigned with the existing runway which will be equipped with Instrument Landing System to assist an aircraft landing in low visibility or bad weather,” the minister said.

The new runway will have a strength of PCN 54 (Pavement Classification Number), which means that it can withstand the load and speed of bigger aircraft such as an Airbus 300, the minister said.

The land-locked Meghalaya is connected to the country mostly by road at present.

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

The Umroi airport became operational in the mid-1970s.

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