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First commercial flight begins in Arunachal

Our correspondent
Itanagar, May 21: Arunachal Pradesh on Monday joined the aviation map of the country with the landing of the first commercial flight at Pasighat Advance Landing Ground (ALG) in East Siang district, with 25 passengers on board including Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, ministers, parliamentary secretaries, MLAs, civil aviation officials from the Centre and State government officials. The 42-seater ATR aircraft of the Alliance Airlines landed at Pasighat around 2.14pm after one and half hour fly from the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport in Guwahati.
“I feel proud to be a part of this historic moment. I’m extremely thankful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ministry of Civil Aviation for connecting Arunachal with commercial fixed-wing air services,” Khandu said after landing at Pasighat.

Addressing the gathering, the Chief Minister said, “It’s a history in making. With the operation of commercial flight, the vistas of economic development have been opened. Besides, ample opportunities for the tourism industry will also be opened in the eastern part of the State.” He said the communication bottleneck has been one of the main reasons for the poor developmental activities in various sectors despite the State having enormous potential.

“There is ample scope of boosting up the economic development in all sectors by providing a good communication system by way of air-transport facility to harness the natural resources of this beautiful State,” Khandu added. He said that the agricultural and horticultural products of the eastern part of the State could be exported to the other parts of the country with the introduction of cargo aircrafts in the near future.

“One more airlines—Zoom Airlines— will be introduced in the State soon,” the Chief Minister said, adding “Soon the airport at Tezu in Lohit district will be made operational.”

Alliance Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of Air India, will operate the flights to and fro thrice a week on the Kolkata-Guwahati-Pasighat route on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Arunachal Pradesh has air-transport facility right from the pre independence period and many helipads and Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs)/airstrips were built for defence as well as civil purposes.

There are about 120 helipads and 10 ALGs including Ziro, Pasighat, Aalo, Tuting, Mechuka, Vijaynagar, Walong, Tezu, Daporijo and Anini in the State. Earlier in eighties, small fixed wing aircrafts Vayudoot also operated in some of such airstrips like Ziro, Along, Pasighat and Tezu for civil passenger services.

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Ankur Kalita