“Within 36 months, the modernisation projects of the Agartala airport would be completed. The Rs.300-crore project has already been sent to the AAI board of directors for approval,” Sudhir Raheja, member AAI board (Planning) told reporters here.
“After execution of the proposed modernisation project, the Agartala airport would be able to handle 1,000 passengers per hour,” he said.
Agartala airport is the second busiest in the northeast region after Guwahati airport in Assam. At least 22 flights operate to and from Agartala every day, carrying about 2,700 passengers.
The Agartala airport would be the third international standard airport after the Guwahati and Imphal airports. Imphal’s Tulihal airport was recently declared as an international airport after its modernisation.
The Agartala airport modernisation project involves upgrading of the runway and aprons, construction of six aerobridges, three elevators and two escalators besides walkways to connect the international arrival and departure levels.
Raheja, accompanied by AAI executive director Kalpana Shethy and other officials, held meetings with Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, Transport Minister Manik Dey and other state government officials and discussed the execution of the project.
The AAI would also take up projects to develop two abandoned airports in Kailashahar and Kamalpur in northern Tripura to handle medium-sized aircraft.
AAI officials have also visited these airports by helicopter for an on-the-spot study. An additional Rs.100 crore would be required for upgradation of both the airports.
“Of the total passengers travelling in the northeastern states by air, 16 percent travel through Agartala airport. By 2020-21, the number of passengers travelling through Agartala would rise to 10 lakh,” Raheja added.
The Tripura government earlier urged the civil aviation ministry to operate flights from Agartala to Bangladesh and adjoining countries to boost trade and tourism.
A state government official said Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh recently assured the chief minister that his ministry would examine the issue of operating flights from Agartala to Bangladesh and neighbouring countries.
“There is considerable movement of people between northeastern states and Bangladesh and there is a lot of demand for connectivity between Agartala, Dhaka and Chittagong and other cities of that country in the context of improving relations between the two neighbours,” the official quoted Sarkar as saying during the meeting with Ajit Singh in New Delhi earlier this month.
The airports are being made international as part of India’s “Look East” policy to boost the northeast region’s connectivity and trade with Southeast Asia.