The first commercial flight landed on the easternmost tip of the Indian landmass, Tezu in the Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh, on Thursday, scripting history in the country’s aviation sector. Tezu’s inclusion on the country’s aviation map is projected to enhance tourism in the frontier state bordering China.
On Thursday morning, Flybig Airlines took off from Guwahati, which landed in Tezu after a one-hour journey. Pema Khandu, the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, virtually flagged off the inaugural flight from Tezu, along with Captain Sanjay Mandavia, the President of Flybig.
May this footage of 1st commercial flight service by @flybigairlines from Tezu to Guwahati be preserved for posterity. About 30 passenger boarded the plane yesterday. Three more airfields at Dirang, Anini & Daporijo received go-ahead.
— Pema Khandu པདྨ་མཁའ་འགྲོ་། (@PemaKhanduBJP) August 20, 2021
CM Pema Khandu said that Tezu is the seventh domestic destination in the North East under UDAN, giving a boost to regional connectivity as envisioned by PM Narendra Modi.
The inaugural ceremony at Tezu was attended by Nakap Nalo, minister of state civil aviation, and Tapir Gao, MP, Arunachal East. Flybig will operate on this route with a frequency of four flights each week. With Guwahati – Tezu route, flybig has provided air connectivity in 10 out of 16 routes in the region under the UDAN-RCS scheme.
Later in the day, Ravi Kant, regional executive director of Airports Authority of India, addressed the flagging off ceremony from Tezu, expressing his heartfelt gratitude to the Arunachal Pradesh government for its unwavering support, even at odd hours, and to the airline for launching flight services with seats available at affordable rates for shorter distances.
Connectivity to boost tourism
Ravi Kant further stated that the AAI has always played a key role in connecting remote and small places through air transportation in the country. The connectivity to Tezu will boost tourism and trade, especially in the northeast region. This is India’s one of the most beautiful places and with regular flights connecting Guwahati and Kolkata, will attract tourists and visitors from all across the country.
“Historical and religious places are the centre of interest for many people which will definitely appeal to travelers to come to Tezu,” he added.
According to a statement released by AAI, the opening of the Guwahati-Tezu route is a success story for RCS–UDAN route in the northeast after the airlines won bids to operate flights on numerous routes in the region, including Shillong, Imphal, Silchar, Dibrugarh, Agartala, Rupsi, and Guwahati.
Tezu airport being redeveloped
Airports Authority of India (AAI) is redeveloping Tezu Airport, which involves the construction of the terminal building and related activities. The terminal building would cover 4,200 square metres, and the apron and runway expansion is also planned, along with a new Air Traffic Control Tower, all at a cost of Rs 140 crore. During peak hours, the new facility can handle around 200 passengers.
The proposal also includes parking for ATR-72 class aircraft. “Extension work at Tezu Airport is now underway and is expected to be completed by next year,” according to the statement.
About UDAN scheme
The Ministry of Civil Aviation is committed to connecting underserved and unserved airports with aviation services. In October 2016, the Ministry launched the ‘Ude Deshka Aam Naagrik’ (UDAN) Regional Connectivity Scheme to make air travel more accessible to residents in regional cities. This is a first-of-its-kind programme in the world to use a market-based mechanism to promote regional connectivity.