DIBRUGARH, Sept 19 – All decks have been cleared and the groundwork completed for night landing and take-off as also for introduction of bigger aircraft at the Mohanbari Airport here. Kishore Sharma, Mohanbari Airport Director, said all facilities for starting night landing had been installed and any airline could now operate flights to and from Dibrugarh during the night time. It may be mentioned here that earlier flights could operate only before the sunset hours at the Dibrugarh airport, that is 5.30 pm during summer and 3.45 pm during winter. Sharma said that planes, if delayed for some reasons, can now take off even at 9 pm.
The Mohanbari Airport had already received the approval of the Director General of Civil Aviation for operating flights during the night, but it took time to prepare the ground with an extended tarmac, approach lights, added aprons and other allied amenities. The airport was upgraded with a new terminal building and extended landing strip to make provisions for more and bigger aircraft. The upgrade project also included two aero-bridge facilities which, however, have remained unutilised due to the lack of interest by the operating airlines – Air India, Indigo and Jetlite.
Passengers travelling to Guwahati and elsewhere or coming from Guwahati via night buses or trains are hopeful that the night landing facilities would be of immense service to them. “Now the ever-increasing number of air passengers from the Dibrugarh airport will no longer have to change over to trains once more flights are introduced from the easternmost civilian airport of the country for which the lack of the night landing facility was acting as a major deterrent,” said advocate Satyabrata Sharma, general secretary of the Bar Association, Dibrugarh, expressing satisfaction over the development.
He, however, expressed serious concern over the violation of the rights of the passengers at the Dibrugarh airport by Air India and Jet Airways by making them walk in the heat and also in the rain to board aircraft by not availing of the aero-bridge services even after their successful trial more than a month back.
Ranjit Saikia, principal of Silapathar Science College, said that the people of the north bank of the Brahmaputra, including the commercial hub of Silapathar town and the entire eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh, can expect increased avenues for tourism, trade and commerce as and when night landing at the Dibrugarh airport becomes a reality.
“Introducing more flights from the Dibrugarh airport, which is surrounded by booming oil, natural gas, tea and tourism industries will be wise on the part of the airlines to tap the huge demand from air passengers, who often have to wait or journey by trains,” social activist Nabajyoti Borkakoty said. He called for a direct non-stop flight to the national capital, Delhi, and also one to Chennai or Bengaluru.