Shillong was finally connected by air with New Delhi today, with the first flight between the two cities launched by brand new airline, flybig.
Transport Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar boarded the aeroplane in New Delhi and landed at Umroi Airport in the afternoon. There was a bit of surprise among those not in the know when the aircraft came into view on approach to Umroi as it displayed Spicejet livery; the state government had said recently that due to the Covid-19 pandemic flybig would not be able to fly its own planes for the near future.
Today also marked the formal re-opening of the state to tourists after nine months of closure because of the pandemic.
Flybig CEO Capt Srinivas Rao said the direct flight to Delhi would operate twice a week, with regular service commencing on January 4. Dhar, meanwhile, said that he hoped the airline will operate daily flights once demand for air travel recovers from the coronavirus meltdown.
Flybig was awarded the contract for this route through a tender floated by the Meghalaya Transport Corporation at the beginning of the year.
Other dignitaries at the inauguration were Umroi MLA George Lyngdoh, Chief Secretary MS Rao and Ri-Bhoi Deputy Commissioner RM Kurbah.
Meanwhile, it was officially notified that a ‘facilitation centre’ (or entry-exit checkpoint) at Umroi Airport has been formally established under the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act 2016. The centre will operate under the Ri-Bhoi district taskforce.