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Guwahati to be regional aviation hub: Ravi

By The Assam Tribune

SHILLONG, June 25 � India�s civil aviation market was the 9th largest in the world and the efforts of the civil aviation ministry to develop the sector in the country would not be complete if the Northeast is not �satisfied�, Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi today said

Guwahati would be made the region hub of aviation for which initiatives have already begun, Ravi, who was inaugurating the new passenger terminal building at Shillong Airport, about 30 km from here.

Airports Authority of India is building two hangers at Guwahati, he said adding 12 airports would be developed in the region as infrastructure development was a key priority.

�Airports are an integral part of this as they are windows of any country or State when anyone arrives for the first time.

�Airports are also the catalyst of economic growth, being the very gateway to the nation. The ministry, through AAI, has embarked upon developing 60 airports, covering most of the States,� he said.

In 2010-11, the civil aviation sector in India had the capacity to handle 235 million passengers. The operational airports have increased in the last four years from 50 to 89, he said.

AAI has constructed the new modular terminal building at Shillong airport for 200 passengers at a cost of Rs 30 crore. It is equipped with the latest type six check-in counters, conveyor belts, public address system, car hailer system, advanced fire alarm and fire fighting systems, air conditioning in the security lounge, two VIP lounges, two security check X-ray machines, two explosive trace detectors and has an area of 5900 sq metres, official sources said.

While only six ATR flights operate to Kolkata from the airport every week, Ravi assured that he would take initiative to increase the frequency of flights and extend the service to other cities.

AAI Chairman VP Agarwal said the runway at the airport was being extended from 6000 ft to 7500 ft and will be made suitable for Airbus 321 operations.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said the government was contemplating giving subsidy to private operators interested in operating flights from the two airports in the State.

�Land is being acquisitioned for expanding the Baljek airport in Garo hills. It will be handed over to AAI soon for upgradation,� he said.

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