President Kovind said the new airport would help pilgrims and visitors, besides triggering economic activities and creating jobs in the region.
Alliance Air, the regional arm of state-run carrier Air India, will fly to Shirdi from Mumbai and Hyderabad. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis launched the flight by giving boarding passes to passengers, along with Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal and senior Air India officials, the carrier said in a statement.
Shirdi airport gets its second flight - Hyderabad-Shirdi on the first day of its inauguration. Alliance Air's tribute to the temple town. pic.twitter.com/sLM7FvNzdA- Ashok Gajapathi Raju (@Ashok_Gajapathi) October 1, 2017
"The flight AI 9654, a 72-seater ATR 72-600, took off from Shirdi airport at 10:30 am and landed at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 11:15 am," Maharashtra Airport Development Company Vice Chairman and Managing Director Suresh Kakani said.
Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao and opposition leader in the state legislative assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil were among the other leaders present.
The airport got a licence from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA for commercial operations last month.
Located 238 kilometres from Mumbai, Shirdi has a shrine of Sai Baba and is a major pilgrimage location. Some 60,000 pilgrims visit Shirdi everyday, sources said, of which the airport authorities plan to tap at least 10-12 per cent.
The aerodrome is owned and developed by Maharashtra Airport Development Company, a special purpose vehicle to develop airports in the state. Flight trials at the airport were done recently.
Built with an investment of Rs. 350 crore, including Rs. 50 crore from Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, the airport has a 2,500-metre-long runway and is capable of handling single narrow-body aircraft such as Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.
The 2,750-square-metre terminal building has been designed to handle a total of 300 passengers, including arriving ones. Once airport operations start, travel time to Shirdi from Mumbai is expected to be cut to 40 minutes as against five hours by road.
"The flight AI 9653 will depart Mumbai at 8.30 am to reach Shirdi at 9.15 am. The return flight will depart Shirdi at 9.45 am and arrive in Mumbai at 11.05 am on Wednesday, Friday and Sundays," Air India said in the statement.
On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday it will leave Mumbai at 3:29 pm to arrive in Shirdi at 4:50 pm and, leave Shirdi at 4:30 pm to arrive in Mumbai at 5:15 pm.
Air India said the Hyderabad-Shirdi route will also be serviced by a 72-seater plane on all days except Thursday.