NORTH LAKHIMPUR, June 19 - The UDAN scheme launched by the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation to connect small towns of the country proved to be a total farce for people living in the northeastern part of Assam and the neighbouring areas of Arunachal Pradesh as private airliner SpiceJet is suspending its services to Lilabari airport here from June 30, almost four and half months after its operation.
The airline is suspending its operation to Lilabari at a time when there is a momentum of easy and fast connectivity in the region. The Lilabari airport too has been upgraded with more facilities and activities following the introduction of the services by the SpiceJet along with the already existing operations by state carrier Air India.
The SpiceJet started a daily direct flight on the Kolkata- Lilabari route on January 15 this year, under the regional connectivity scheme ‘Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik’ (UDAN). Lilabari was SpiceJet’s first destination in Assam under the UDAN scheme and the airline was “extremely delighted to launch services on the Kolkata-Lilabari route,” as its chief marketing officer Debojo Maharshi was quoted as saying in a press release at the launch of service.
But on May 20, the airline informed the Airport Director, Lilabari that it would suspend its flight to the airport from June 1 till further notice. However, SpiceJet extended the suspension in this route to a fortnight and then to another one. Now the SpiceJet flights SG 3345 and SG 3346 will be suspended from July 1 onwards.
The sudden suspension of commercial services by SpiceJet to Lilabari from Kolkata and Guwahati is going to upset the budding tourism and connectivity sectors in the northeastern part of Assam, covering four districts of Biswanath, Lakhimpur, Majuli and Dhemaji, besides a considerable area from neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, including its capital Itanagar.