Shillong, Sep 13 (PTI): The Civil Aviation Ministry has selected Shillong Airport as the hub of the Regional Connectivity scheme in the North East region, a top official of the North Eastern Council (NEC) said today.
The decision to select Shillong Airport as the hub of Regional Connectivity scheme in the North East region connecting – Aizawl, Silchar, Dimapur and Imphal was taken at a high level meeting of the Ministry of Civil Aviation in which representatives from all NE states were present, NEC secretary Ram Muivah.
“What I have come to know in the meeting is that Shillong will be the Hub for Regional Connectivity Scheme and they had already selected airlines to operate from Shillong to Aizawl, Shillong to Silchar, Shillong to Imphal, Shillong to Dimapur,” Muivah told PTI in an interview.
He said it was also decided in the meeting that Alliance Air, which was flying on viability gap funding provided by the NEC, will continue to fly till March 2019.
“Alliance Air requested extension of lease for a little longer period as they do not get aircraft for 3-4 months… So now we have decided that they can lease one more and the period will be up to March 2019,” Muivah said.
He said once they get another aircraft, the Alliance Air will also will fly to Dibrugarh and Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh and in the second phase, they have agreed to fly to Silchar, Imphal Guwahati and Dimapur.
Alliance Air, a regional arm of Air India, connects Shillong, Lilabari and Tezpur in Assam to Kolkata.
As of now, the NEC secretary said, the passengers flying Alliance Air has increased substantially and the viability gap funds has reduced from the previous Rs 47 crore to just about Rs 32 crore.
Muivah also informed that the successful bidder to expand air connectivity in the region was AAA Aviation Private Limited which is likely to operate its aircraft in a few selected airports in the region for which the NEC will provide the viability gap funds.
“AAA Aviation was selected but they took a long time to get the necessary permit from the Civil Aviation Ministry and now that permit, they have to purchase the aircraft,” he said.
Representatives from the company and the Ministry have jointly inspected the aircraft in Brazil and I am told that Aircraft is arriving on October 10, he said.
While the RSC was supposed to kick start from September 1 this year, delay was on the part of that private company and Civil Aviation Ministry, Muivah said.
“That is what they wrote to me officially and requested me to extend the tender period and we have forwarded accordingly to the ministry for approval and they have already paid Rs 22 crore in advance to that company in Brazil for that aircraft,” he said.
“The company have already started recruiting pilots and staffs I have seen their advertisement in the newspapers,” Muivah added.
The NEC will incur an expenditure of around Rs 12 crore annually for AAA Airlines.