The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blow to Bagdogra

Siliguri, Sept. 13: The Union civil aviation ministry has ruled out upgrading the Bagdogra airport to an international terminal, urban development and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya said today on his return from parleys in Delhi.

“I have been told that upgrading Bagdogra airport to an international airport will not be commercially viable for the government. Indian Airlines is today a loss-making body and it is not in a position to start international flights to and from Bagdogra,” Bhattacharya said.

But he held out a glimmer of hope. “However, if any private airline is interested or if airline companies of neighbouring Saarc countries want to start services to and from Bagdogra and use the port, they are welcome and will be given permission,” he said.

Bhattacharya said Delhi realises the “importance of Siliguri as the gateway to the Northeast”.

Expectations had soared among the business community and in the tourism sector in north Bengal and Sikkim after previous civil aviation minister Shahnawaz Hussain declared at Bagdogra last year that international flights would be operated from the airport.

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