Commercial flight services started today from the recently inaugurated Donyi Polo Airport in Arunachal Pradesh, officials said.
An IndiGo flight from Kolkata to Donyi Polo Airport was virtually inaugurated by Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, while the return flight to Mumbai with a stopover at the eastern metropolis was flagged off by Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein.
The first flight took off from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport at Kolkata at 10.20 am and landed at Donyi Polo Airport at 12.35 pm. The return flight took off at 1.05 pm with 99 passengers on board, the officials at the state civil aviation department said.
The airport is located at Hollongi, around 15 km from Itanagar and it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 19.
Terming the occasion 'historic', Mein said, "It is the beginning of a new chapter in the civil aviation history of the state as from today onwards, we are going to have direct air connectivity from Itanagar to Kolkata, Mumbai and other big cities across the country." Mein said the flight services will pave the way for faster communication, greatly enhance the tourism sector and open up new opportunities for investment.
The deputy chief minister said that Alliance Air will start its fixed wing flight services along the Dibrugarh-Hollongi-Ziro-Lilabari route with Dornier DO-228 aircraft from November 29 and along the Dibrugarh-Hollongi-Pasighat route from November 30.
"We will also have air connectivity with remote border areas such as Tuting, Mechukha and Vijaynagar with fixed wing aircraft in the future," he said.
Mein requested the Airports Authority of India to facilitate Instrument Landing System (ILS) and navigational aids for all-weather operation at Tezu Airport, which would provide year-round air connectivity to eastern parts of the state and help in the region's socio-economic development.
The deputy chief minister thanked IndiGo for chosing to operate from Donyi Polo Airport, making Itanagar the company's 75th domestic destination. He hoped other commercial flight operators would also follow suit.
Flights connecting Hollongi with Mumbai and Kolkata will operate daily barring Wednesday. A weekly flight service connecting Hollongi with Kolkata on Wednesdays will begin on December 3.
Mein said the state earlier had nine air strips which were non-operational but after Modi came to power in 2014, three advance landing grounds were made operational at Pasighat, Tezu and Ziro and the first greenfield airport was constructed in the state.
He said seven new airports were constructed in the Northeast from 2014-22, while only nine were built between 1947 and 2014. Union Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Civil Aviation V K Singh and Lok Sabha MP Tapir Gao were present on the occasion.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)