Shillong, July 20, 2019:
Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma has hinted that the State Government is not going to go head with the expansion of the Shillong Airport.
“With an investment of Rs 8000 crore, it is going to be difficult to go ahead with expansion of the airport. But at the same it does not mean that we will leave asset which has been created,” Sangma said while taking to reporters after landing at the Shillong airport from Kolkata to launch the first Indigo flight on Saturday evening.
He said that the Government is looking at all options to make this airport functional. “We are looking at whatever airlines and connectivity. May be smaller ATR aircraft or jet planes which are smaller in size which is equally safe and fast like any other Boeing airlines or Airbus,” he said.
When asked if the Government is looking to have a new airport somewhere else, Meghalaya Chief Minister also informed that they are also discussing with the centre if there is a possibility of have a plan B.
“But the discussion with the centre is in a very nascent stage. But definitely that option is not closed,” Sangma said.
He said that the expansion plan is not feasible due to huge financial implications. “We we will try to put this up in-front of the court on the huge financial implications which are involved,” he said.
Meanwhile, Meghalaya Chief Minister said that the State Government had in fact invested a huge amount to cut some of the obstructions that were there in the airport. Sangma said that in the long run, the Government will try to bring bigger aircrafts to land at the Shillong airport.
“It is really difficult to really decide on the way forward. It does not mean that we stop the current activities. We would try to ensure that we utilise whatever we have in a best possible manner,” Sangma added.
Earlier, in its order passed on July 2, 2019, the Meghalaya High Court had directed the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to submit list of obstacles which are required to be removed in order to ensure landing of Boeing Aircraft at the Umroi airport.
The DGCA had informed the court that without cutting of cluster-I, it will not be possible to grant permission for landing of regular turbojet i.e, Boeing Aircraft at Umroi airport, adding that cutting of cluster-I would entail an expenditure of Rs 8,000 crores.
Umroi airport requires extension of its 6,000-feet runway which supports only an ATR-42 aircraft now. The runway will need to be extended to about 8,000 feet to facilitate operation of bigger planes. However, extension of the runway would entail cutting of two big hills, which will cost around Rs 8,000 crore.