The long-cherished dream of having air-connectivity of the proper order of the people of Arunachal Pradesh was fulfilled with flagging off of the first fixed-wing commercial aircraft from Pasighat to Guwahati by Chief Minister Pema Khandu here today.
“Today is a historic day and I congratulate the people of Arunachal in general and people of Pasighat in particular for this new milestone that would remain engraved in history as a huge step in the development of our state,” said Khandu at the civilian terminal of the Pasighat airport.
On persuasion of the state government after Khandu came to hold the mantle, the Air India Ltd agreed to start ATR-42 services of Alliance Air to Pasighat from GopinathBordoloi airport at Guwahati, connecting the state with rest of the country.
Eight locations in Arunachal Pradesh have been selected by bidders, out of which Pasighat&Tezu have been selected for fixed wing while Ziro, Daporijo, Itanagar, Tuting, Wallong and Yingkiong have been selected for helicopter services. Air-connectivity by fixed wing and rotary wing under RCS at the aforesaid locations will start after necessary formalities and fulfilment of some statutory requirements.
Khandu expressed hope that in the near future cargo services will also be introduced that will immensely help the farmers of the foothills in marketing their produces. While hailing the residents of Pasighat for donating land free of cost for the airport, he appealed them to dream big and show the same zest in making land available for a Boeing aircraft to land in Pasighat.
The 42-seater Alliance Air ATR will fly between Guwahati and Pasighat thrice a week for the start. Besides Alliance Air, which is a subsidiary of Air India, Zoom Air and Turbo Jet are set to commence their services in the state soon as formalities are being chalked up at the moment.
The State Government is also in the process of hiring a small 8-10 seater fixed wing aircraft under Chief Minister’s Air Connectivity Scheme to connect some other locations including Mechuka.
Arunachal Pradesh, in fact, had air-transport facility right from the pre-Independence period and many helipads and Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs)/airstrips were built for defence as well as civil purposes.There are about 120 helipads and 10 ALGs (Ziro, Pasighat, Aalo,Tuting, Mechuka, Vijaynagar, Walong, Tezu, Daporijo andAlinye) in the state. Earlier in the eighties, small fixed wing aircrafts called Vayudoot also operated in some of such airstrips like Ziro, Aalo, Pasighat, Tezu etc. for civil passenger services.