37 years on, defunct World War II airport in Assam becomes operational


Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The World War II Rupsi airport in Assam, which lay defunct since 1984, became operational on Saturday with the landing of a commercial flight of the Flybig airline.

Upon arrival from Guwahati, the aircraft was accorded a water cannon salute by the airport officials. Twenty-four passengers had deboarded. The airline will operate flights on the Guwahati-Rupsi-Kolkata route four days a week — Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

On May 5, the airline had conducted a successful trial of its flight at the airport.

The regular flight services were launched under the RCS-UDAN programme of the Government of India. The airport officials described the day as “historic’.

Local MLA, Nizanur Rahman said he was happy to have become a part of history.

“It is a historic moment for all of us living in Western Assam. I hope the service is sustained for the benefit of people,” he said.

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The airstrip was redeveloped by the Airport Authority of India at a cost of Rs 70 crore for the operation of ATR-72 type of aircraft. The work also involved building the 3500-square metre terminal.

In 2019, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had laid the foundation stone for the project’s re-development. The airport straddles across 337 acres and the runway measures 1.8 km.

Located near Gauripur, about 15 km from district headquarters Dhubri, the airport will benefit the travellers of Western Assam districts, particularly Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Chirang and Bongaigaon.

The airport was constructed by the British during World War II to supply arms, manpower and ammunition to the Allied forces. The US Air Force had used it in the China-Burma-India theater.

Regional airline Vayudoot operated in the 1980s but withdrew the services in 1984. Later, the state government had made some unsuccessful attempts to revive it with the joint initiative of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the North Eastern Council.

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