Air charter services commence for India's northeastern region

31 Oct 2008


Agartala: Kolkata-based private airline Northeast Shuttles Ltd (NSL) has announced the launch of a air charter service in the northeast region of the country. It said the service would be operated through nine-seater Cessna Caravan 208B aircraft.

''The civil aviation ministry has given approval to operate this non-scheduled and charter passenger service, a first-of-its-kind in the north-east,'' NSL managing director Ms Sheba K Mani said. ''Our motto is to boost tourism and also to promote regional development in the northeast and to provide access to the small cities, towns, and remote areas of the region,'' she added.

According to Mani, the nine-seater Caravan 208B can land at any airfield with an airstrip at least 1,700 feet long. It can operate even on unprepared runways and unmanned airfields.

NSL would maintain its operational hub at Kolkata's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport.

The operator will receive subsidies from the North Eastern Council (NEC), a regional planning body for the eight northeastern states.

The launch of the shuttle service comes on the back of a determined effort by the government to boost infrastructure development activities in the region.

Earlier, the ministry for development of the northeastern region had said that a dedicated regional airline would commence operations by the end of the year.

According to the NEC, it had twice floated tenders to select an airline that would offer such a service for the region, but none of the private or state-run airlines which submitted bids, could fulfill the criteria. The NEC has canceled the previous bids and is readying to float a fresh tender offering relaxed standards.

Last year, the civil aviation ministry had offered a number of subsidies for carriers wishing to commence operations in the region under a separate regional permit.

Under existing plans at least 12 new airports are expected to be operational in the region by year-end, with another 25 scheduled to come up by 2012.

State capital of Assam, Guwahati, will act as the hub for the new regional airline, which will have 11 operational airports in the region to operate from. These airports would include Tezpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Dimapur, Silchar, Agartala, Aizawl and Imphal. It could also include Bagdogra, located in the northern tip of the state of West Bengal.

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