Soon, fly to six SE Asian countries from Guwahati

Soon, fly to six SE Asian countries from Guwahati

The Lokapriya Gopinath International Airport at Borjhar, Guwahati. (Photo by Manash Das)

In a push to the Centre’s Act East policy, the Civil Aviation Ministry has approved the Assam government’s proposal to start direct flights between Guwahati and six South East Asian nations under the Udaan scheme.

A senior Assam government official said that the flights are likely to be introduced in the next three to four months from Guwahati to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Singapore, Bangkok (Thailand), Yangoon (Myanmar), Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Kathmandu (Nepal).

The ministry has now invited tenders from airline operators for the introduction of flights.  

“Since flights from Guwahati to the international destinations are not financially viable as of today, we requested the ministry to support the airline operators with financial support as viability gap funding which is being offered under the Udaan scheme for domestic flights connecting less travelled destinations, including some in the Northeast and Jammu & Kashmir. The ministry approved our proposal on Wednesday and issued tenders seeking proposals from airlines operators," said Ravi Capoor, additional chief secretary, Assam industry and commerce department.

"This is going to open a huge potential to increase trade and commerce between the Northeast and the South East Asian capitals which are closer to us than cities like Chennai or Mumbai,” said Capoor.

Under the Udaan (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagarik) scheme, the airline operators are provided viability gap funding from a corpus fund created with contribution from the government.

The Centre will bear 80% of the viability gap funding for underserved airports in the rest of the country while it is 90% for the Northeast and Union Territories.

A flyer from Guwahati will get a subsidy of Rs 7,880 for a ticket to Singapore, Rs 7,350 to Kuala Lumpur, Rs 4,770 to Yangoon, Rs 4,400 to Bangkok, Rs 2,370 to Dhaka and Rs 2,710 to Kathmandu.

“The viability gap funding will be offered initially for three years and then the government will take a call based on the success of the initiative,” Capoor said.

The Assam government and the Centre have already invited industry captains to set up manufacturing plants in Assam and rest of the Northeast and sell their products in the neighbouring markets in South East Asian nations.

The Northeastern states share 4,800 km of borders with Bangladesh, China, Myanmar and Bhutan, while it is connected to the rest of the country by only a 22-km corridor.

The Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International airport at Borjhar, at present, has only one international flight—twice a week Bhutan’s Druk Air flight from Paro (Bhutan) to Singapore via Guwahati. Bangladesh and Bhutan have recently opened their consulates here and at least eight other countries are likely to do so in the next one year, officials said.