Govt takes step to expand air conectivity

SHILLONG: In an era when everyone wants to travel quickly through flights, Shillong is only one of the few capital cities in the country which does not have air connectivity to anywhere except Kolkata.
But there is hope yet. The state government has now decided to float an expression of interest (EOI) for airlines who desire to connect Shillong with New Delhi and Kolkata.
Informing this here on Friday, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said the state government strongly believes that there is a need to connect Shillong with direct flights from Delhi and Kolkata.
Currently, Shillong is connected with Kolkata with one single ATR aircraft operating from the airport at Umroi.
Sangma said that the issue of Viability Gap Funding would be discussed with the interested partners which would give Meghalaya the best offer.
With this move, the government is expecting to start the services from the next financial year.
It may be mentioned that flights under UDAN were expected to take off from Shillong to connect different North Eastern states but the project is yet to take wings.
Reacting to a query, the chief minister said that the government could not connect Shillong with New Delhi since the scheme is limited to certain square kilometers.
He also said that the UDAN scheme is taking time to take off and it requires more effort and the state government would also have to play its role to make the scheme fully functional in the state.
Last year, an Air Deccan aircraft landed at the airport here on a trial run from Agartala under the Centre’s UDAN scheme, but since then the scheme is not functional anymore in the state.
Under the ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik’ (UDAN) scheme, the Shillong airport is supposed to be connected with Agartala, Aizawl, Dimapur, Imphal and Silchar.
The Union government has given its approval for runway expansion of Shillong airport and it will spend Rs 180 crore.

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