UMROI (MEGHALAYA), April 12 - Regional air connectivity in the mountainous North East is set to get a boost with Umroi Airport near Shillong undergoing a massive infrastructure upgrade under Centre’s UDAN Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS).
Once completed, the facilities will enable operation of narrow-body jet aircraft like Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 to and from the airport, putting Meghalaya firmly in the country’s air connectivity map.
Under RCS, Air Deccan will be operating several flights in North East, connecting Umroi Airport to Agartala (Tripura), Aizawl (Mizoram), Dimapur (Nagaland), Imphal (Manipur) and Silchar (Assam).
Currently, Alliance Air operates just one ATR-42 aircraft on Kolkata-Umroi-Kolkata route. The UDAN project was launched by Centre in 2016 to improve connectivity to under-served/un-served airports and airstrips in the country.
“Some facilities like refueling have already been completed and we are working on extension of the runway. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study has been entrusted to a private firm. On the offing is the installation of advanced facilities, i.e., Instrument Landing System (ILS),” Airport Director Manoj Kumar Nayak told The Assam Tribune.
Nayak said that more than installation, making the ILS operational posed a challenge in view of a number of physical obstacles, including hilltops, tall trees, power poles, buildings, etc., in the airport’s vicinity.
“We have been regularly holding meetings with various State Government authorities and making presentations. We hope the issues will be taken care of, as those are critical to revamping the airport,” he added. On the EIA, he said that the private firm had already conducted a survey of the airport.
At present the airport has a 6,000 feet runway and it’s being extended by another 1,500 feet as part of the infrastructure upgrade work. The total area of the airport is around 224 acres.
The ILS provides an aircraft pilot with instrument indications which, when utilised in conjunction with the normal flight instruments, enables the aircraft to be manoeuvred along a precise, predetermined, final approach path.
Refuelling facilities were started about a month back in the airport by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and Indian Oil Corporation Limited. “This will ensure that more chartered flights land and refuel here rather than flying to LGBI Airport in Guwahati. We now have a substantially enhanced load capacity here,” Nayak said.
Located on a picturesque spot, the Umroi Airport was constructed in the mid-1960s and became operational in the mid-1970s. Land measuring 224.16 acres, acquired for its expansion, was handed over to Airports Authority of India in 2009.
High Court of Meghalaya had in November last year pulled up Airports Authority of India for the delay in expansion of the airport.