In an attempt to boost connectivity of Northeast India, UDAN 4.0 scheme, operated under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, has invited bids for six underserved and 24 unserved airports and airstrips of the northeastern states.
These include Tripura’s Kailashahar, Kamalpur and Khowai Airports, which are lying defunct for decades, and used to be satellite airports of Agartala Airport.
“With focus on connectivity of North eastern region, UDAN 4.0 scheme under the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has invited bids for 6 underserved and 24 unserved airports/airstrips in the North-East states of India. The ministry has also recognized 1 water aerodrome location that is up for bidding in the region,” a statement from the ministry read.
“The move will not only boost tourism but will also transform economic situation of the region. Under the UDAN 4.0 scheme, MoCA is also providing additional Viability Gap Funding (VGF) of around 25% to the airlines,” it added.
Among unserved airports and airstrips in the region, Arunachal Pradesh has got nine potential spots — Alinya, Along, Daparizo, Mechuka, Tuting, Vijaynagar, Walong, Yinghiong and Ziro, Assam has nine available unserved air transport sites — Chabua, Darrang, Dinjan, Ledo, Misa Mari, Nazira, Sadiya, Sorbhog, Sukerating (Dum Duma), Meghalaya has three sites — Dwara, Shella and Tura, and Tripura has three defunct airports.
Apart from these, there are few underserved airports which are up for bidding. These include Passighat and Tezu airports of Arunachal Pradesh, Jorhat, Rupsi and Tezpur of Assam, and Shillong airport or Umroi in Meghalaya.
The government has laid out several incentives to attract private players in the sector including VGF support, two per cent excise duty on Aviation Turbine Fuel for 3 years, reduction of VAT to 1 percent or even less on ATF at RCS concession airports located in the state for 10 years, provision of minimum land free of cost, free security and fire services, zero landing and parking charges in these airports, water aerodromes or helipads, no Terminal Navigation Landing Charges for RCS flights among others.
Among Tripura’s unserved airports, Kailashahar Airport in Unakoti district is currently non-operational. It was shut down in mid-1990 due to lack of space. However, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) renovated parts of the airport some time back. The Khowai Airport is located in Khowai district and is around 50 km away from Agartala, while Kamalpur Airport is in North Tripura district.