Saturday, September 26, 2015

CM wants Andal airport at par with Jammu

Kolkata: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has demanded that Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport at Andal near Durgapur be clubbed with airports in the North-East, Andaman & Nicobar, Jammu & Kashmir and Lakshdweep where it is mandatory for Indian carriers to operate flights. The civil aviation minister has promised to evaluate the proposal favourably.

At the meeting between Mamata and civil aviation minister Pusapati Ashok Gajapati Raju on Thursday, the CM pressed for Category II status for the airport as per the route dispersal guidelines issued by the civil aviation ministry in 1994. The norm requires scheduled operators like IndiGo, Jet Airways, Air India, Spice Jet and Go Air to mandatorily assign 10% of capacity on trunk routes to these airports in 'backward' regions. That means, if an airline operates 10 flights between metro cities, it has to fly one aircraft to a Category II airport.

According to government sources, Mamata had first lobbied for this during a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi earlier this year. Thursday's meeting with the civil aviation minister was the perfect opportunity to reiterate the demand and she went the whole hog, pointing out that the backward districts of Bengal like Bankura, Purulia and Birbhum were in the airport's catchment area. It is also a gateway to Jangalmahal, a region that was troubled by Maoists and requires development booster shots.
26/09/15 Subhro Niyogi/Times of India
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