Monday, December 14, 2020

Cooch Behar airport wings clipped for now

 The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has decided not to renew the licence for the Cooch Behar airport from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), leading to a fresh controversy in the district with Trinamul and BJP trading charges.

According to sources in the AAI, the licence to run the Cooch Behar airport that is issued by the DGCA is valid till January 27 next year. However, as there is no flight service at the airport, the AAI has decided not to renew the licence right now.

“It is a decision made at a higher level. We have nothing to comment on it,” said Moloy Kanti Dey, the airport director of Cooch Behar.

Sources said that though there are no flight operations, the AAI had to bear expenses for the airport’s upkeep, a major reason for not renewing the licence.

“That is why it has been decided not to renew the license. In due course, if there are proposals from airline companies to fly from here, the airport can be reopened again. Similar decisions have been made for some other smaller airports elsewhere as well,” said a source.

In Cooch Behar, the airport had been developed by the royals. Flight services had come to a halt 25 years ago, in 1995.

Since then, efforts had been made a number of times to resume flight services, but eventually those didn’t work out.

In July last year, Nisith Pramanik, the BJP MP of Cooch Behar, had landed at the airport on a nine-seater flight and had assured that flight services would resume soon. This led to an impasse between the state and the Centre, with flight services not taking off.

14/12/20 Telegraph

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