On Monday, shortly before taking a flight from Guwahati to Pasighat with 25 other passengers, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu tweeted: “Inaugurated the first commercial fixed wing flight service to Arunachal at Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport this morning by lighting of lamp. Also gave away the boarding passes of Alliance Air to passengers of maiden flight.”
While the flight to Pasighat, as part of the Centre’s flagship Regional Connectivity Scheme, was the first one in decades flying to Arunachal, it was not the first commercial flight in history. In the 1980s and 1990s, Vayudoot — a joint-venture between Air India and Indian Airlines set up specifically to extend air connectivity to the Northeast — flew to several destinations in Arunachal Pradesh, including Pasighat. Vayudoot, which ceased operations in 1997, served almost 30 destinations in the Northeast including in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam.