New Delhi, The first direct flight operations between Imphal (Manipur) & Shillong (Meghalaya) was flagged off yesterday under the RCS-UDAN (Regional Connectivity Scheme — Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) of the Government of India. The operationalization of this route fulfills the objectives of the Government of India to establish strong aerial connectivity in priority areas of North East India. The officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Airport Authority of India (AAI) were present during the launch of the flight operations.
The aerial connectivity between the capital cities of Manipur & Meghalaya has been a long-awaited demand of the people of the region. The beautiful city of Shillong is surrounded by hills from all sides. Famous for the presence of many well-reputed educational institutions, Shillong is the hub of education for the entire North-East India. Apart from being the beauty & education centre, Shillong also acts as the gateway to Meghalaya, the state famous for heavy rainfall, caves, tallest waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, and its rich heritage & culture.
Shillong is famous for Elephant falls, Shillong Peak, Umiam lake, Sohpetbneng Peak, Don Bosco Museum, Laitlum Canyons. Moreover, Shillong is the only capital city in NorthEast India to produce two football clubs that participate in the I-League, namely, Royal Wahingdoh FC and Shillong Lajong FC. In addition to these, Shillong Golf Course is one of the oldest golf courses in the country.
Due to the non-availability of any direct mode of transportation, people were compelled to cover a long 12-hour journey by road to reach Shillong from Imphal or they had to take a flight to Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati, then bus service to reach Shillong. The completion of the entire journey took more than 1 day to reach Shillong from Imphal or vice-versa. Now, natives can easily fly between the two cities by opting for a flight of just 60 mins from Imphal to Shillong and 75 mins from Shillong to Imphal.
Shillong is the second city to be connected with Imphal under the UDAN scheme. The airline M/s Indigo was awarded the Imphal-Shillong route during the UDAN 4 bidding process. The airlines are being provided Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under the UDAN scheme to keep the fares affordable & accessible for the common people. The airline will be operating four flights in a week and will deploy its 78-seater ATR 72 aircraft. Currently, 66 UDAN routes are operational by M/S Indigo airlines.
Till date, 361 routes and 59 airports (including 5 heliports and 2 water aerodromes) have been operationalized under the UDAN scheme. The scheme is envisaged to establish strong aerial connectivity in all States and UTs of the country which hitherto were not connected, laying the foundation of a new regional segment in India’s aviation market.