Guwahati: After 75 years of India's independence, Assam-Meghalaya is connected through air service for the first time. What the government is saying is a gift of "Azadi Ki Amrit Mahotsav", the Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, on Tuesday virtually flagged off the first direct flight on the Shillong – Dibrugarh route under the Regional Connectivity Scheme – UdeDeshKaAamNaagrik (RCS-UDAN), a Press Communique from the Civil Aviation Ministry stated.
Conard Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Prestone Tynsong, Deputy Chief Minister of Meghalaya, also graced the e-launch event of the Shillong-Dibrugarh flight.
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M. 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 the 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 emphasized that “In 2014, only 6 airports were operational in the 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 inter-state and intrastate connectivity of North-East.
“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 the North-East. We want to bring travellers from all over the country to the North-East.”
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 mins.
Indigo airlines was awarded the Shillong – Dibrugarh route during the UDAN 4 bidding process. The airlines are 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 on the route. Initially there will be three flights weekly from both ends. Depending on the number of passengers and demand, the service will be increased, said an official of Indigo airlines. Central government recently introduced flights between Guwahati and Tezu and Pasighat of Arunachal Pradesh under the UDAN scheme.