First Route under UDAN Scheme Suspended After 3 Months’ Operation from LGBI Airport
Of the flights that took off from Guwahati in 2019 on two international routes under the highly ambitious UDAN scheme of the central government, one was suspended after just three months of operation.
The Assam Government was the first state to offer funds towards extending the international version of the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal proposed to provide Rs 100 crores as viability gap funding to this end.
The Centre finalized the bid for the two international routes, Guwahati-Dhaka and Guwahati-Bangkok and the first historic flight between Guwahati and Dhaka was flagged-off by the CM himself on 1 July. The Guwahati-Bangkok flight was flagged off on 22nd September.
However, the much-hyped Guwahati-Dhaka connectivity, carried by the low-cost carrier Spicejet, got suspended just three months after its initial flag-off. Although the airlines reported the flight was suspended due to lack of commercial viability for an indefinite period, sources said that there was slim possibility of the flight service being resumed in the near future, which has been the case up to now.
“After it had launched the service, SpiceJet had first reduced the frequency of the flight service from daily to twice a week. Finally, in the wake of lukewarm response, it decided to suspend its operation on the route,” sources said.
This was not the first time that something of this kind had taken place. The ambitious Guwahati-Dhaka bus service, which was flagged off in 2014, was never operational due to faulty policy or lack of farsightedness, as claimed by sources.
The Assam government had earlier proposed subsidized international connectivity under UDAN scheme from Guwahati to six destinations - Singapore, Dhaka in Bangladesh, Yangon in Myanmar, Kathmandu in Nepal, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Bangkok in Thailand, expecting to boost the connectivity to ASEAN regions, given its near proximity than the other major metropolises of the country.
Committing to connect Guwahati to the major world destinations, the central government has already started work on a new international standard integrated terminal building for the Guwahati airport at a cost of Rs 1,232 crores that is to be completed by 2021.
The new terminal building spreads over 90,000 square meters, will be equipped with world-class passenger facilities, and will have the capacity to handle 3,100 passengers during peak hours. It will have 64 check-in counters, 20 self-check-in kiosks, 8 Immigration counters, eight customs counters, 6 arrival carousels, 10 escalators, 25 elevators, 16 self-baggage drop counters, and 20 aircraft parking bays among others. The new building will also conform to 4-star rating of GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment).