Monday, January 17, 2022

UDAN from Imphal to Shillong: Strengthening Aerial Connectivity with North East India

A new milestone has been achieved in strengthening aerial connectivity with North East India as the first direct flight operations between Imphal (Manipur) & Shillong (Meghalaya) was flagged off on 3 August 2021. 

This direct flight operation, constituted under the RCS-UDAN (Regional Connectivity Scheme — Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik), fulfils the objective of establishing strong aerial connectivity in priority areas of NorthEast India.

Shillong – the Hotspot of NorthEast India

“The aerial connectivity between the capital cities of Manipur & Meghalaya has been a long-awaited demand of the people of the region,” says the Ministry of Civil Aviation. 

Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya is a hotspot, famous, not only for majestic rolling hills around the town but also for the presence of many well-reputed educational institutions.

Shillong is the hub of education for entire North-East India and apart from being the beauty & education centre, it also acts as the gateway to Meghalaya which is famous for heavy rainfall, caves, tallest waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, and its rich heritage & culture. 

Moreover, Shillong is known to be the only capital city in NorthEast India that has produced two football clubs that participate in the I-League, namely, Royal Wahingdoh FC and Shillong Lajong FC. In addition to these, Shillong Golf Course is one of the oldest golf courses in the country.

Addressing Connectivity Woes of North-Eastern states

The government has operationalized 361 routes and 59 airports (including 5 heliports and 2 water aerodromes) under the UDAN scheme. 

The NorthEast has been restricted with a lack of proper connectivity routes for a long while.

In the face of the non-availability of any direct mode of transportation, people had to cover a long 12-hour journey by road to reach Shillong from Imphal or were compelled to take a flight to LokpriyaGopinathBordoloi International Airport, Guwahati, followed by a bus service to reach Shillong. 

This entire journey took more than a day to reach Shillong from Imphal or vice-versa. Now, with the operation of this direct flight route, natives will be able to easily fly between the two cities by opting for a flight of just 60 mins from Imphal to Shillong and 75 mins from Shillong to Imphal.

Currently, Shillong is the second city to be connected with Imphal under the UDAN scheme. 

UDAN from Imphal to Shillong

“The airline M/s Indigo was awarded the Imphal-Shillong route during the UDAN 4 bidding process,” informs the Ministry of Civil Aviation stating that the airlines are being provided Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under the UDAN scheme to keep the fares affordable & accessible for the common people. 

The new flight route between Imphal and Shillong will be operated with four flights in a week wherein the airline will deploy its 78-seater ATR 72 aircraft. 

Currently, 66 UDAN routes are operational by M/S Indigo airlines. 

The UDAN scheme is government’s big initiative that envisions establishing strong aerial connectivity in all States and UTs of the country which hitherto were not connected.

With this, the government is laying the foundation for a new regional segment in India’s aviation market.

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