| Jorhat airport |
Jorhat, Aug. 29: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has proposed massive expansion of facilities at the Jorhat airport.
The apron, which can accommodate only one aircraft, will be expanded to accommodate five now.
A proposal has been sent to the Centre for construction of a new 5,000 square metre terminus building and to upgrade other facilities.
Jorhat-based AAI director Sunil Patkar said feelers had been sent to Spicejet and Indigo to operate flights from here.
He said with only one airline, JetKonnect, operating here, there was a heavy rush for tickets. “Passengers often complain that they do not get tickets. They also complain that if tickets are booked a day or two ahead, they have to shell out a huge amount. If other airlines start operation, it will ease the situation to some extent,” he added.
Patkar said both the airlines had evinced interest at the verbal proposal and that they would conduct a feasibility study of their own.
O.P. Gattani, president of the Upper Assam Chamber of Commerce here, said Jorhat was the second most important place next to Guwahati in Assam and it was deplorable that only one service provider operated from here. “Jorhat is the educational, research and economic hub in Upper Assam with two engineering colleges, a medical college, two vocational training institutes and Assam Agricultural University. The Assam Arakan Basin of ONGC has its headquarters here. Oil India Limited also has a division here, not to mention the innumerable tea estates in the district. It also has air force and army bases here,” he said.
Jayanta Saikia, a resident, said travelling by train had become a painful experience with frequent cancellations and blockades because of strikes in the Kokrajhar belt.
“It has become imperative to revamp the airport and bring in more flights. The withdrawal of service of Air India from January this year came as a big blow,” he said.
Patkar said the existing apron of 91 metres by 61 metres had been extended to 238 by 61 metres and would be operational by September-end. This would allow it to accommodate three Airbus 321 and two ATR aircraft. Two additional taxi links are also under construction.
The proposed new terminal building will have AC facilities, ATM, snack bars, shops, book stalls and restaurants.
The CISF and AAI staff quarters near the existing 1,400 square metre-terminus will be shifted to a new colony to be constructed on a plot of land at Borbhetta.
Patkar, a civil engineer, said the existing terminal was congested, had no aesthetics and was more than 30 years old. Prior to taking over charge as director here, he had constructed the state-of-art Rs 150 crore-terminal at Raipur.