SHILLONG, Jul 20: The first Indigo flight from Kolkata to Shillong touched down at the Umroi Airport on Saturday.
The Indigo flight which will operate from Kolkata to Shillong on a daily basis will function under the Ude Desh Ke Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme.
Apart from regular passengers, on board the flight included VIP passengers like the Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, state Transport Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar other cabinet colleagues and MLAs.
Speaking to reporters, the Chief Minister expressed optimism that the air service from the Umroi airport will pave the way for the growth of tourism and other economic activities.
Conrad said that the next target is to ensure that other metros are connected to Shillong by air service.
“We hope in the future not only Shillong but other parts of Meghalaya will be connected through air service which I hope will boost economic activities and tourism,” he added.
The Chief Minister, however said that developing the airport which will entail an expenditure of Rs 8000 crores, will be quite difficult at this point in time.
Recently, it may be mentioned that the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had submitted before the Meghalaya High Court that cutting of cluster-I at Umroi airport was required before permission could be granted for landing of regular turbojet (Boeing aircraft) at the airport.
According to the DGCA this would entail an expenditure of Rs 8000 crores.
“But that does not mean that we leave the asset which has been created just like this,” Conrad said.
The Chief Minister pointed out that this is the reason the government is looking at all options of starting whatever airlines.
“We are looking at operating smaller ATR crafts or through jets planes which are smaller in size which are equally safe and fast like any other Boeing airlines or bigger planes,” he said.
The Chief Minister stated that while looking at all the options in the meantime the state government is discussing with the centre to see if there is a possibility to have a plan “B”.
“But that is at a very nascent stage at the moment. But definitely that option is not closed. We will look into it but that I cannot commit as of now but in the long run we would want bigger aircrafts to land,” Conrad said.