Guwahati: In an effort to establish Northeast India as an integral part of the ‘Act East Policy’, a maiden flight service to Dhaka under the International Air Connectivity Scheme of the Central government was commenced from Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, Assam on Monday.
Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal, along with other senior ministers of the state including commerce and industry minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, education minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya and irrigation minister Bhabesh Kalita, flagged off the maiden Guwahati-Dhaka flight at 11.55 am on Monday.
Interestingly, state health minister Pijush Hazarika along with MLAs Kishore Nath, Prashanta Phukan, Ashok Sarma, Bhabendra Nath Bharali and several top officials of the state government were some of the passengers travelling on the maiden flight to Dhaka.
As per reports, the daily flight service that is to be operated by the private budget airline, the Bombardier Q400 aircraft will depart from Guwahati at 11.55 am, while it will leave Dhaka at 2.10 pm every day. The flight from Guwahati to the Bangladesh capital would be the first to fly under the UDAN international scheme, which seeks to enhance air connectivity between Indian states and selected international destinations with the help of government subsidies.
CM Sonowal, while addressing at the launch ceremony of the maiden flight service, hailed the new mode of connectivity as a landmark to development in the state. He further informed that the Air Connectivity Scheme is the result of his request to the Centre in considering connectivity of Guwahati to the capitals of ASEAN and BBN countries through a scheme similar to the UDAN with viability gap funding (VGF) whenever needed.
“We have also requested the civil aviation ministry to look into all the aspects and do the needful,” he added.
Hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central government for boosting connectivity of the Northeast region, Sonowal asserted that direct air connectivity of Assam with all the capitals of Southeast Asian countries is the goal of the state government.
Referring to PM Modi’s motto of “transformation through transportation”, Sonowal further highlighted upon initiatives taken up by the state government in effort to boost connectivity of the region through waterways, roadways and airways underlining its potential to become connectivity hub of the entire SE Asian region.
SpiceJet chief marketing officer Debojo Maharishi informed that the daily flight service launched under the International Air Connectivity Scheme will make international air travel more affordable and convenient for Indian passengers.
“We believe the success of regional connectivity scheme can be replicated in the International Air Connectivity as well,” he expressed.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh assistant high commissioner in India Shah Mohammad Tanvir Monsur was also present at the launch ceremony. He expressed that launching of airlines service between the two regions will be a turning point in the history of connectivity between the two regions. He further said that patients from Bangladesh will now travel to Guwahati for treatment instead of other big cities of India.
“Tourists from Bangladesh would also visit Assam and the Northeast for experiencing the natural beauty in the region,” he added.
With the launch of this Guwahati-Dhaka air route, the number of international destinations to be directly connected to Guwahati by air has gone up to four. Earlier, the Royal Bhutan Airlines, Druk Air, launched international flights to Paro, Bangkok and Singapore from Guwahati.
Assam government initially had proposed to connect Guwahati with six overseas destinations, namely Dhaka, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Yangon, and Kathmandu, but it received valid bids for only two of the international air routes. The state government has committed Rs 100 crore per year for three years under VGF. Another flight connecting Guwahati-Bangkok is also likely to be started in the next few months along with flights to Kathmandu, Yangon, Hanoi and Kuala Lumpur.
Significantly, the connectivity thrust of both the governments has helped farmers of state to export their products in markets of Singapore, Abu Dhabi, etc, by cargo flights.