AGARTALA, Sept 27 - Airport Authority of India (AAI) has approved Rs 438 crore to develop Agartala Airport, second largest airport in the Northeastern region in term of passenger traffic.
A total of 8.16 lakh passengers have used Agartala airport during 2013 while it rose to 9.05 lakh in 2014, according to a report compiled by AAI local authority.
In terms of passenger traffic, Agartala Airport is the second busiest airport in the entire Northeastern region after Guwahati�s Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport.
Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey said AAI Board has recently approved Rs 438 crore for modernisation and upgradation of Agartala airport. a new terminal building, expansion of existing runway and setting up a hangar are included in the facelift plan.
Actual works to facelift Agartala airport will begin by February next year. AAI has already sought clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to push the mega project.
Confirming the development, Dey said Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Ganapati Raju told him AAI plans to start facelift work of Agartala airport by February next year after getting MoEF clearance.
Dey also spoke with the Union Minister over international tag for Agartala airport. He informed Raju that Bangladesh is keen to introduce flights to Agartala but it is not possible unless it is declared as an international airport.
On the issue, the Union Minister said that a policy paper to declare international airports is pending with Union Cabinet. �Once the Cabinet approves the proposal, the Ministry will act on it�, Raju told the Transport Minister.
The fate of Kailashahar airport also came up for discussion in the meeting. Dey said the State Government is not against acquiring land for expansion of existing airport but first the Union Ministry will have to give commitment that it would operate small aircrafts to Kailashahar airport.
In reply, the Union Minister said the country has only 15 small sized aircrafts, of which five remains grounded due to technical reasons. Besides, there is no plan to buy small aircraft by the Ministry. Under the circumstances, a commitment on introducing small aircrafts to Kailashahar is not feasible.
Dey also took up the issue of high air fare in Agartala-Kolkata and Agartala-Guwahati routes. He pointed out, �High airfare is virtually tormenting the people living in the landlocked State. People are availing air journey by compulsion�, he told the Union Minister while urging him to increase number of flights in Agartala-Kolkata route to bring down the high airfare. However, the Union Minister did not give any commitment in the matter.