The State government seems to have made up its mind on further developing the existing Shillong Airport at Umroi rather than going for a new green field airport as earlier planned.
Sources confirmed that the State government has decided to develop the existing airport at Umroi. Earlier, even the Airports Authority of India (AAI) wanted the government to develop the existing airport since it already has existing infrastructure like a functional runway.
Sources also informed that necessary surveys are taking place on the extension of the runway at the airport and measures to remove the obstacles in the vicinity of the airport.
Earlier, the State government was in a fix on how to extend the airport’s runway to enable bigger aircraft to land. The government had even identified a land at Diengpasoh for setting up of a greenfield airport.
As of now, the Umroi airport is connected to only North East cities apart from Kolkata and even a flight to New Delhi is available from here twice in a week.
It is also learnt that the work for the apron in the airport is nearly completed and once it is fully completed, more aircrafts can be parked here and Shillong may be given more routes.
At a time when most of the airports in the North East including Guwahati, Agartala, Imphal and even Dimapur have flights to several places, the Shillong Airport all these years remained more or less defunct and it was in the last four-five years only that the airport has become functional and at least it has flights to neighbouring cities in the region.
Meanwhile, the Meghalaya High Court will hear the matter related to Umroi airport on October 30. The State government and AAI will file their report before the court on the progress made regarding survey of the area around Umroi airport to ascertain the extent to which the existing runway can be extended.
During the previous hearing held on August 10, the AAI had informed the High Court that at the initiative of the State government and in conjunction with the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation, a sophisticated survey of the area around Umroi airport is proposed to be conducted to ascertain the extent to which the existing runway can be extended and whether it may at all be feasible for wider-bodied aircraft than ATR and Bombardiers to operate from the airport.
According to the AAI, the LiDAR (light detection and ranging) survey will have to be outsourced and the AAI is taking appropriate steps in such regard.