Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Air India, on Monday launched its flight services under the Centre's UDAN scheme in Bilaspur town of Chhattisgarh, connecting it with Delhi via Jabalpur and Prayagraj.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel virtually launched the inaugural flight which was given a water cannon salute at Bilasa Devi Kevat Airport, Bilaspur, located around 125 km away from capital Raipur.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, who virtually presided over the function, said so far 54 airports have been upgraded and air-service has commenced in 311 routes under UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) scheme while the target is to upgrade 100 airports and award air-service on 1,000 routes under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS).
The minister said that air services in Bilaspur will boost tourism and trade in the region and people will have access to medical facilities of metro cities with air connectivity.
Besides, it will also benefit employees of companies located at Korba, Raigarh, Surguja, Korea, Surajpur and Balrampur districts (of north Chhattisgarh), the union minister said.
In the last six years, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has spent Rs 130 crore for the development of Swami Vivekanand Airport Raipur and the construction of a new terminal building there is under consideration, he said.
After the construction of the new terminal building the capacity of Raipur airport will increase to 7 million per annum from the existing 2.7 million, he said.
Under the RCS, so far we have invested Rs 125 crore for upgradation of Jagdalpur, Ambikapur and Bilaspur airports in Chhattisgarh.
At present, nine routes are operational in the state and now two more routes have been started, he added.
Under the UDAN scheme, 54 airports have been upgraded and around 768 routes have been awarded, of which air-service has commenced in 311 routes since it was launched in 2017, Mr Puri said.
The target is to upgrade 100 airports and award air-service on at least 1,000 routes under the scheme, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel urged the union minister to start an international flight from Raipur airport citing a rise in the number of people travelling abroad from the state.
He also said the Raipur airport has been upgraded to accommodate international flight services.
He also requested to set up a cargo hub at Raipur airport.
Mr Baghel also expressed that his government is ready to exempt VAT levied on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) if flight operators park flights overnight and operate early morning flights from here.
At present, the state imposes 4 per cent VAT on ATF, he said.
Two 72-seaters aircraft of Alliance Air, a regional subsidiary of Air India, will be operated four days a week on the Bilaspur route, officials said.
The first flight on Monday reached Bilaspur at around 3:20 pm from Delhi via Jabalpur and returned to the national capital at around 3:45 pm via Prayagraj, they said.
Similarly, another flight arrived at Bilaspur at 4 pm from Delhi via Prayagraj and returned to Delhi via Jabalpur, leaving Bilaspur at 4:30 pm, they added.
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