Agartala airport to be air hub

Agartala, March 2 (IANS) The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has undertaken a plan to make the airport here an air hub to expand connectivity between India's northeast and neighbouring countries, a Tripura minister said here Friday.

"The AAI has sought 300 acres of land to build a new terminal building, expand the runway and construct additional infrastructure at the Agartala airport to make it an air hub," Transport Minister Manik Dey said quoting an AAI communique.

"The air hub scheme was planned to improve connectivity among the northeastern states, the rest of India and adjacent countries."

Speaking in the assembly, he said: "The AAI has sought 300 acres of land from the state government free of cost. The state government has told the civil aviation ministry, AAI and others to acquire the land making necessary payments."

The Agartala airport or Singerbhil Airport, located 15 km southeast of Agartala, was built by Tripura's last king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur (1923-1947) in 1938-39.

The AAI has begun preliminary work to upgrade it to an international airport to boost connectivity with Southeast Asian countries.

"AAI has taken up an ambitious Rs.80 crore project to gradually develop Agartala airport to international standards. Also, a modern Air Traffic Control tower is being set up at a cost of Rs.10 crore," an AAI official told IANS.

The minister, in his statement, said that on an average, 176 aircraft operate every week through the Agartala airport, connecting Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Imphal and Silchar, among other places.