Guwahati/Itanagar, Aug 19 (IANS) With private airline Flybig launching its operations on the new route connecting Assam's Guwahati with Arunachal Pradeshs Tezu on Thursday, air connectivity powered by the Regional Connectivity Scheme -- UDAN -- expanded further in the hilly northeastern region, officials said.
According to Airport Authority of India (AAI) officials, Flybig on Thursday started direct flight services from Guwahati's Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport to Tezu in eastern Arunachal Pradesh's Lohit district.
A water cannon salute was accorded to the first flight at the newly developed Tezu airport, where a new terminal building spread across an area measuring 4,200 sq mt, a runway, and a new Air Traffic Control tower is being developed at a cost of Rs 140 crore.
India's scheduled commuter airline Flybig operates flights to Indore, Bhopal, Raipur, Kolkata, and five airports in northeast India -- Guwahati, Rupsi, Dibrugrah, Pasighat and Agartala -- along with the newly-added Tezu. It also offers charter services from Delhi to Shillong.
Thursday's flagging off function was attended by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, the state's Aviation and Tourism Minister Nakap Nalo, and AAI's Regional Executive Director Ravi Kant, among others.
Ravi Kant said that the AAI has always been pivotal in connecting the remote and small places through air transportation, and the expansion of air connectivity in the northeastern states would boost tourism and trade in the region.
The ATR-72 type aircraft of the FlyBig would operate on the Guwahati-Tezu-Guwahati route every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
A FlyBig statement said that commemorating India's 75th Independence Day, the airline is offering a special fare of Rs 75 for Army officers, their immediate family members and senior citizens, honouring their exemplary service to the nation.
"In order to reinforce its network, the airline is adding two new aircraft to its fleet in September and another two in October. The new planes would be stationed at Guwahati and Indore hub," the statement said.
An AAI official said that the RCS-UDAN scheme would offer flight fares lower than the normal rates.
The scheme was launched by the Union Civil Aviation Ministry in October 2016 to stimulate regional air connectivity and make air travel affordable to the common people.
Currently, there are 15 airports in the northeast region -- Guwahati, Silchar, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Tezpur, Lilalabari and Rupsi (Assam), Tezu and Pasighat (Arunachal Pradesh), Agartala (Tripura), Imphal (Manipur), Shillong (Meghalaya), Dimapur (Nagaland), Lengpui (Mizoram) and Pakyong (Sikkim).
The AAI at a cost of Rs 650 crore is also developing the Hollongi airport near Arunachal capital Itanagar, to boost air connectivity in the mountainous areas.