Frontier state Arunachal Pradesh will see its first commercial airlines service in November 2017, with the induction of a flight between Pasighat and Guwahati.
The state was recently included in the Centre’s regional connectivity scheme (RCS), Udaan. A memorandum of understanding (mou) was signed between the state government, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the ministry of civil aviation.
“We will start with a flight from Pasighat advance landing ground (ALG) to Guwahati. Flights in other five ALGs will be started in phases. We are working on the number of flights to operate initially. Talks are on to finalise the airlines which will operate,” secretary of civil aviation in Arunachal Pradesh Vinod P. Kavle said.
The air force operates transport aircraft in six ALGs that were recently upgraded to advance defence infrastructure in the areas that border China, and offer air connectivity for both commercial as well as tourism purposes.
The ALGs at Tuting, Pasighat, Wallong, Mechuka, Ziro and Aalo have so far been opened. These are unused since the 1965 war with China. The air force has also landed fighter aircraft such as Sukhoi and C-17 Globemaster since reviving of these airstrips. The Centre, in 2009, had decided to face-lift the ALGs to improve defence infrastructure on the border.
There has been a very strong demand by several organisations that the ALGs should be allowed to run commercial flights for civilians as well. Sources said all the ALGs would have terminals for the use of commercial flights.
VIPs and passengers at present use the helicopters that run amid Naharlagun near Itanagar and Guwahati.
Secretary of Union civil aviation ministry Rajiv Nayan Choubey held a meeting with chief secretary Shakuntala Gamlin and Kavle yesterday wherein Choubey assured that air services from Pasighat would commence in November.
“This will not only pave the way for providing affordable air connectivity from the ALGs and airports within Arunachal Pradesh to the rest India, but also boost tourism and import and export of goods and agriculture/horticulture produce of the state,” an official statement said.
Under the RCS, the Centre will bear 80% of the viability gap funding cost for such airports in the rest of the country. It will be 90% for the Northeast and the Union Territories.
The ministry said incentives/concessions under the scheme were essential as the Centre had put a cap of Rs 2,500 for one hour of air travel (500km aerial distance). The ministry will spend Rs 4,000 crore to upgrade and recover 50 unused airstrips in the country.
Arunachal in April last year was added to the railway map of the country with inauguration of a train with Naharlagun.