West Bengal to develop two small airports near Kolkata

Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, has announced the setting up of two new small airports near Kolkota. The airports at Kanchrapara and Barrackpore will be leased out for civilian use by the Indian Air Force, which owns the airports. The chief minister was speaking at the 120th annual general meeting of the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BNCCI) in the city.

According to the chief minister, private players will develop the proposed sites for both airports. Bhattacharjee said, "There is an urgent need to build more airports in the state to facilitate increased movement in view of expanding business interests."

Bhattacharjee also added that the proposed small airport at Andal, between Asansol and Durgapur, had received clearance form the Union civil aviation ministry as well as the Planning Commission. The Andal airport, he said, would also be developed by the private sector with work likely to begin soon.

In the context of new airports, the chief minister also said that the new airport at Cooch Behar would become operational by November. Modernisation of the Dum Dum airport, by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), is slated to begin from January 2008.

He also mentioned that several international airlines were now taking the initiative to increase flight connectivity to and from Kolkota. In this regard he revealed that Lufthansa, which currently operates three flights a week from Kolkata to Frankfurt, had sought permission for daily flights. He also mentioned that Air France, which had earlier pulled out of Kolkata, was once again keen on resuming operations between the city and Paris.