The North Assam Chamber of Commerce & Industry (NACCI) emphasised on full operation of Shalonibari Airport at Tezpur in Assam, which is underserved. Currently, a very few weekly flights are being operated between this highly potential and strategic destination (Tezpur) and Kolkata for years. According to Mr Sushill Golchaa, President, NACCI, thanks to the benefits offered under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) or UDAN Scheme, which was recently announced by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, the airlines can provide regular services to Tezpur Airport from adjoining states. Speaking at a conference on “Regional Connectivity in North Eastern Region” held recently in New Delhi Mr Golchaa also maintained that there is tremendous potential of regular air services between Delhi and Tezpur because of enormous attractions pertaining to trade & commerce/industry and tourism in this region.
The conference was organised by Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) and also addressed by Mr RN Choubey, Secy. Civil Aviation, Govt of India; Mr Krishan Varma, former Spl Secretary, Govt of India; Mr Amber Dubey, Partner, Aerospace and Defense, KPMG; Mr D Sudhakara Reddy, Founder and National President, APAI; Prof. KV Thomas, former Union Minister & former Chairman, Public Accounts Committee; Mr. Naveen Verma, Secretary, DONER, Govt of India; Mr. S Machiendranathan, Chairman, Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA); Mr Subhash Goyal, past President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) and other representatives from aviation, travel & tourism industry.
Expansion of RCS to be considered
As a likely significant move as far as the interest of some underserved airports like Tezpur is concerned, while speaking at this conference the secretary civil aviation shared that in the second round of bidding for Regional Connectivity Scheme, which will take place sometime towards the end August 2017, there will be two major changes applicable in the case of North Eastern region and island states, relating to waiver of 150 kms distance condition between two airports for availing RCS concessions and seating regulations for the aircraft landing at Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG). As a result, there is a ray of hope that some under served airports will be able to establish connectivity with some long-distance airports.
“In the second round of bidding, there will be only 20 airports on offer, whereas in the first round there were 33 airports in the bid offer. “Taking both rounds together, the present government has put into public use 53 airports in the course of last three years, whereas our achievement so far has been 76 airports in 70 years. By any standards, this is a marvelous achievement,” Mr Choubey said.
Commending the announcements made in the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) unveiled in 2016 Mr Dubey stressed that at least 1 per cent airlines slot from metro airports to airports in North East India should be offered under Regional Connectivity Scheme. Highlighting alluring and virgin tourism products available in this region, he suggested for adopting ‘Kerala model’ to script the success story in this regard. He also underlined the region’s importance for cargo (especially agro produces) movement to across the country.
“We are confident, airlines would see commercial viability if they wish to start regular services to Tezpur Airport. We have done a study in association with Tezpur University about the importance of Tezpur from trade, commerce and industry’s point of view. The study emphasized on adequate and regular air connectivity to Tezpur Airport from different airports in the country,” Mr Golchha said. He also informed that NACCA is interacting with airlines officials to discuss about the potential, business viability for them and all possible support from the Chamber.