For some time, the North Eastern Council (NEC) and the union ministry of development of north eastern region (DoNER) have been trying to operate a regional airline to connect selected airports in eight northeastern states.
"The NEC had floated tenders twice to select the airline. Two operators had submitted their bids but none of them could qualify in the technical bids.Fresh expression of interest is being floated for the same," an NEC official told IANS.
"The regional airline will be beneficial for the people of the northeastern region, which lacks adequate air and surface connectivity," the official said, adding that the operator would be offered subsidies from the NEC.
With Guwahati as the hub for the new regional airline, there are 11 operational airports in the northeast including Tezpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Silchar in Assam, Dimapur in Nagaland, Agartala in Tripura, Aizawl in Mizoram, Imphal in Manipur and Barapani in Meghalaya.
The proposed regional airline would also be connected with the Bagdogra airport in West Bengal.
The official said that at least 12 new airports are expected to be operational in near future in the region.
"To develop five airports in the northeastern region, projects worth Rs.141.17 crore have been sanctioned recently on 60:40 funding basis (60 percent by NEC and 40 percent by Airport Authority of India)," the official added.
He said first instalments of Rs.25.10 crore has been released to improve five airports -- Guwahati, Imphal, Barapani, Jorhat and Dibrugarh.
The NEC has also sanctioned the construction of Tezu airport in Arunachal Pradesh with an estimated cost of Rs.79 crore, and Rs. 20.79 crore has already been released against the works, according to the official.
"Due to certain problems related to the acquisition of land and environmental clearance, the work got delayed. However, all these issues have been resolved recently. The Arunachal Pradesh government and the AAI have said the work has now been resumed," the official said.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
--IANS (Posted on 02-04-2013)