Guwahati: Connecting distance, UDAN scheme has given wings by playing a significant role in fanning India’s double digit traffic growth. And now it is ready to help the “Aam Nagrik” dream about international flights, too. The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has cleared an international air connectivity scheme that will connect Guwahati airport with seven neighbouring countries.
As a first step, direct international flights will operate between Guwahati and Singapore, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Malaysia and Vietnam, giving a major boost to connectivity in the region. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had proposed to provide Rs 100 crore as viability gap funding to this end at a meeting with captains of aviation industry in Delhi last December.
This latest development comes within nine months of the foundation stone being laid down for Guwahati’s new integrated international terminal. Expected to be completed by 2021, the new terminal building will be spread across 90,000 sq mts and will boast world-class features, including 20 aircraft parking bays, 64 check-in counters, eight immigration counters, eight customs counters, six arrival carousels. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) will reportedly invest Rs 1,232 crore in this project.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also had said that it would lead to the emergence of Guwahati as the gateway to South East Asia. In its bid to make flying more affordable for masses and boost regional connectivity, the Modi government had announced the Udan scheme in October 2016 with airfares capped at Rs 2,500 for a one-hour journey through subsidised ticket rates.
In the subsequent developments, five airlines were mandated to fly on 128 regional routes in the first phase of the bidding in March 2017, and 15 airlines on 325 regional routes including those having chopper operations in the second phase launched in January.