Flight operations can now be conducted at the Naini Saini airport in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand.
The strategically important airport is situated at an aerial distance of 100 km from the China border.
The Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority, which currently manages the airport, has been granted an aerodrome licence by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
With this development, the airport will now connect hilly, remote areas of Uttarakhand to the country.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami expressed his excitement over the news and stated that it would significantly benefit air connectivity in the state, particularly in the Kumaon region.
"It is a major boost for air connectivity in Uttarakhand, especially in the Kumaon region. We want to thank PM Narendra Modi and the civil aviation ministry," CM Dhami was quoted as saying by Times of India.
Earlier, the Uttarakhand cabinet had approved handing over the strategically-located Naini Saini airport to the Indian Air Force while continuing to allow commercial flights to operate there.
The state civil aviation department operates the airport, which was built in 1991 for administrative use.
The state-owned Pawan Hans heli services currently utilises the 1,508-meter-long airstrip for mostly landing and take-off of choppers. These flights are not on a regular schedule.
In January 2019, a nine-seater commercial airline service was launched from the airport. However, the service was halted in March 2020 due to technical glitches.
Uttarakhand is home to two major airports.
Garhwal division's Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun has flight services to multiple cities.
Further, there is a relatively less busy airport in Udham Singh Nagar called Pantnagar airport.
This airport primarily serves the Kumaon region. There are daily flights from this airport to Delhi and Jaipur via Ahmedabad.
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