Union minister Anurag Thakur on Sunday made a strong pitch for the expansion of Himachal Pradesh's Dharamshala airport to provide direct and seamless connectivity to the region.
He made the demand as he and Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and Minister of State for Civil Aviation V K Singh flagged off the first Delhi-Dharamshala IndiGo flight.
Making a case for a larger airport, Thakur said that currently passengers travelling to Himachal have to go via Delhi and then board connecting flights as smaller airports in the state are unable to handle larger aircraft.
Scindia said the Civil Aviation Ministry was already working on a two-phase expansion plan to increase the runway length from 1,376 metres to 1,900 metres to enable turboprop aircraft carry out operations without load penalties.
Currently, the turboprop aircraft operating from Dharamshala airport are not allowed to take off with full capacity which leads to under utlisation and higher airfares.
Scindia said the second phase of the expansion plan would involve further lengthening of the runway to 3,110 metres to realise the vision of landing Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 at the airport.
Thakur said that Dharamshala airport connected five districts in the state and directly benefited half of the population of the state.
Indigo airline will operate daily flights to Dharamshala from Delhi, taking the airlines' number of daily flights to 1795 making it the seventh largest airline in the world in terms of departures.
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