New regional air-service in the Northeast

“North East with its enchanting destinations can become the Switzerland of India with improved air connectivity within the region,” said the Union Minister for Civil Aviation Shahzawaz Hussain at the inauguration of first 50-seater ATR-42 aircraft launched by the Alliance Air at LGBI Airport here this morning.

Addressing the function held on the occasion, the Civil Aviation Minister informed that the Alliance Air with fund from the North Eastern Council (NEC) would soon introduce four 50-seater aircraft exclusively for the NE region to improve air connectivity within region and with Kolkata.

First of the four 50-seater ATR-42 aircraft to be procured by the airline, was flagged off here by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in the Kolkata-Guwahati-Dimapur-Agartala-Kolkata route with the Union Civil Aviation Minister, and Union Minister for Department of Development of NE Region (DONER) Arun Shourie on board, alongwith top Alliance Air officials. The Alliance Air will procure another aircraft within the current financial year while the rest two 50-seater aircraft will be pressed into operation by the end of next year with the fund provided by North Eastern Council.

The services of the 50-seater aircraft will be gradually extended to link Agartala, Aizawl, Dimapur, Imphal, Lilabari, Shillong and Silchar with Kolkata and Guwahati on daily basis in order to improve connectivity. The Civil Aviation Minister informed that with the four 50-seater aircraft becoming fully operational, the seating capacity in the region will be enhanced to 4177 from the current level of 2125. All these ATR-42 aircraft will be based at Kolkata while Guwahati will be a sub-base to provide technical support.

The Civil Aviation Minister today made an appeal to the NE State governments to reduce the tax on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) from the present 22 per cent in the line of Andhra Pradesh government which has reduced it to 4 per cent, to lure aircraft to land in the region for the purpose of refilling. Earlier, addressing the function, the State Chief Minister hoped that with the improvement of air connectivity the regional disparity in the region would be removed to a greater extent. The State committee of the BJP hailed the introduction of the ATR-42 aircraft. In a press release, the BJP unit said the aircraft would meet a long-felt need in the region.

(The Assam Tribune, 25/12/2002)