Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Tuesday inaugurated the first direct flight on Shillong and Dibrugarh sector under the Regional Connectivity Scheme – Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik (RCS-UDAN) of the Government of India. Conrad Sangma, Chief Minister, Meghalaya, Prestone Tynsong, Deputy Chief Minister, Meghalaya, Vincent H Pala, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, Shillong, Meghalaya, Dr Wanweiroy Kharlukhi, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Shillong, Meghalaya, Dasakhiatbha Lamare, Minister, Transport Department, Public Works Department (Buildings), Meghalaya, Sanbor Shullai, MLA were present at the launch event of the flight.
Speaking at the event Scindia said, “Shillong is a place of great culture, tradition, beauty, tradition and tranquillity. It is not only important for North-East India but India as a whole. Shillong has always been known as Scotland of East and attracts tourists from around the world. The government is committed to enhancing inter-state and intra-state connectivity in the North East. We want to bring tourists from all over India to the North-East.”
Highlighting the progress in providing air travel facilities to the region, he added, “In 2014, only 6 airports were operational in North East which has now risen to 15 airports in 2021. In July this year, there were only 1,341 passengers at the Shillong Airport, which increased to over 5,000 in September. I assure everyone that it is only the beginning. The government is committed to providing flight infrastructure, airport infrastructure and even helicopter services in the North-East.”
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Indigo airlines were awarded the Shillong – Dibrugarh route during the UDAN-4 bidding process. The airline will deploy its 78-seater ATR 72 aircraft. The airlines are being provided Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under the UDAN scheme to keep the fares affordable and accessible for the common people. Due to the non-availability of any direct mode of transportation, people were compelled to cover a long 12-hour journey by road and train to travel between Shillong and Dibrugarh.
Now, natives can easily fly between the two cities by opting for a flight of just 75 minutes. To date, 389 routes and 62 airports (including 5 heliports and 2 water aerodromes) have been operationalized under the UDAN scheme. The scheme is envisaged to establish strong aerial connectivity in all States and UTs of the country which hitherto were not connected, laying the foundation of a new regional segment in India`s aviation market.