Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia on Tuesday (26 October) virtually flagged off the first direct flight on the Shillong-Dibrugarh route under the Centre's Regional Connectivity Scheme – Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik (RCS-UDAN).
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conard Sangma, Shillong MP Vincent H Pala, were among those present during the launch event of the Shillong-Dibrugarh flight.
On the occasion, Scindia said, “Shillong is one of the highest and wettest places in the world. The place is important not only for the country but for the entire world. Shillong has always been known as Scotland of East due to the presence of rolling hills, caves, tallest waterfalls, beautiful landscapes and its rich heritage and culture. There’s nothing that Meghalaya does not have to offer. The place attracts tourists from all over the world.”
The minister further emphasised that “In 2014, only 6 airports were operational in North East which has now risen to 15 airports in 2021. Within a short span of 7 years, we have achieved this ambitious target. I assure you that this is just the beginning, we are further committed to enhancing the interstate and intrastate connectivity of North-East", the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a statement.
"Apart from promoting flight connectivity, our focus is on developing the infrastructure capabilities along with helicopter services for the last mile delivery. To ensure that we recently launched the Helicopter policy to further promote Heli Services in North-East. We want the bring the travellers from all over the country to North-East," he said.
Famous for the presence of many well-reputed educational institutions, Shillong is the hub of education for entire North-East India, the ministry said.
Apart from being the beauty and education centre, Shillong also acts as the gateway to Meghalaya, the state famous for heavy rainfall, caves, tallest waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, and its rich heritage and culture.
Shillong is also famous for Elephant falls, Shillong Peak, Umiam lake, Sohpetbneng Peak, Don Bosco Museum, Laitlum Canyons. Moreover, Shillong is the only capital city in Northeast India to produce two football clubs that participate in the I-League, namely, Royal Wahingdoh FC and ShillongLajong FC. In addition to these, Shillong Golf Course is one of the oldest golf courses in the country.
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, the ministry said.
The airline Indigo was awarded the Shillong-Dibrugarh route during the UDAN 4 bidding process. The airlines are being provided Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under the UDAN scheme to keep the fares affordable and accessible for the common people. The airline will deploy its 78-seater ATR 72 aircraft.
Till date, 389 routes and 62 airports (including 5 heliports and 2 water aerodromes) have been operationalised 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.
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