India-made Dornier aircraft to give a big boost to air connectivity in North East

Union minister of civil aviation Jyotiraditya M Scindia and the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu today flagged off the first flight of `Made in India’ HAL Dornier Do-228 in a bid to connect airports and Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) of Northeast India. 

The flight will be operational from Dibrugarh in Assam to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh and finally to Lilabari in Assam.
The event was graced by union minister of law and justice, Kiran Rijiju and senior officials of the central and state governments besides representatives of the ministry of civil aviation, Alliance Air CMD, Vikram Dev Dutt, and representatives of Alliance Air, HAL, Indian Airforce and Airport Authority of India.
Alliance Air, a public sector airline company, had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a central public sector unit under the ministry of defence to operate the India made Dornier aircraft, which is called Hindustan aircraft. 
This initiative is in line with the “AtmaNirbhar Bharat” vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With this, Alliance Air becomes the first commercial airline to fly Indian made aircraft for civil operations.
The deployment of Indian made Do-228 will be done in a phased manner. In the first phase, two Dornier aircrafts would be stationed at Dibrugarh, to connect Tezu, Pasighat and Ziro. In the second phase of the programme, connectivity to Mechuka, Tuting and Vijoy Nagar has been planned. In the coming 15 days, the airline will connect Tezu and after that, within 30 days, air connectivity to Ziro would commence.
“In the last 70 years, 74 airports were developed but in last seven years under the visionary leadership of our Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, we have created 66 new airports, taking the total to 140 airports operational in the country. In the Northeast, nine airports were operationalised but today 15 airports have been established in the last 7 years,” Scindia pointed out.
Talking about the civil aviation development plans for Northeast, the minister elaborated “In Arunachal Pradesh, within 6 months, a new greenfield airport in Hollongi will be inaugurated with a budgetary allocation of Rs645.63 crore. At Tezu, 67 crores has been allotted for the upgradation of airport and work is in progress. A dedicated budgetary support of Rs500 crore has been approved by the ministry for enhancing air connectivity and aviation infrastructure in NER till March 2024. Out of these Rs500 crore, about Rs227 crore is earmarked for development of ALGs and air connectivity in Arunachal Pradesh, making it 50 per cent of the total budget. At Imphal, the airport would be getting a major up-gradation with a budgetary allocation of Rs499 crore where a new integrated terminal building and other associated work would be taken up. A new integrated terminal building at Agartala airport with a budgetary support of Rs438.28 crore has just been completed. Another Rs120 crore would be spent on development of runway, taxiway and apron at Agartala airport. At Dibrugarh, in Assam, re-carpeting of airport runway has started with Rs55.54 crore allotted. 
With the development of airport infrastructure, air connectivity in NER is going to get a fillip. In addition to this, about 18 airstrips, heliports/ helipads, water aerodromes are also awarded under UDAN scheme and are being developed in NER with the budgetary allocation of about Rs. 182 Crore. In total, more than Rs 2,000 crore will be invested in North East to upgrade and create civil aviation infrastructure by Government of India.”
Talking about UDAN scheme, the minister said “415 routes have been operationalised under the UDAN scheme and over 9.1 million people have benefitted from it. Over 1.75 lakh flights are flown under this scheme.”
On reduction of VAT on aviation turbine fuel ATF), the minister said the “State government of Arunachal Pradesh has also reduced VAT on ATF from 20 per cent to 1 per cent after a virtual meeting with chief minister Pema Khandu.”
Development of North Eastern Region (NER) is not only of strategic importance, but, also is a part of India’s growth story. Connectivity in NER is very essential and in many places air transport is the lifeline for movement of people and the cargo. Under “UdeDeshKaAam Nagrik (UDAN)”, the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) has identified NER as a priority area. This has helped in enhancing inter and intra connectivity for the NER. In this regard, new airports are getting developed and old airports are getting upgraded. Considering the hilly terrain, helicopter operations under UDAN scheme have been given focus for connectivity. These massive aviation infrastructure development undertaken by the ministry of civil aviation will boost the immense potential of NER in terms of tourism, adventure sports and economical activities.