Commercial flights have started from Rupsi airport in Assam, with Flybig, a regional airline, operating its Guwahati-Rupsi-Kolkata flight May 8. The flight was accorded a water cannon salute in keeping with aviation traditions.
Rupsi airport, built on an abandoned Second World War airfield, has been made operational under the regional connectivity scheme, RCS-UDAN. The airport was opened for commercial flights after a trial run on May 5.
Flybig is scheduled to operate its flights on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. According to the website, fare for the Guwahati-Rupsi leg starts from Rs 555 and that for the Kolkata-Rupsi leg starts from Rs 999.
Rupsi airport will mainly service areas of lower Assam (including Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Goalpara, etc.). It is a little over 20km by road from Dhubri town.
The airfield was built by the British during the Second World War and used by the United States Army Air Forces on the China Burma India Theatre. Subsequently, it was abandoned. According to reports, India&rsquos regional airlines from the 1980s, Vayudoot, used to operate services from here but that too stopped.
The foundation stone of the new airport was laid in February 2019, and the construction was undertaken by Airports Authority of India (AAI). The airport is spread across 337 acres of land, with a terminal building measuring 3,500 sqm. There are 10 check-in counters and the terminal is expected to handle 200 passengers during peak hours. The runway of the airport is suitable for landing ATR-72 type of Aircraft, the AAI had mentioned in an earlier press release.
Besides Assam, the airport is also expected to reduce the travel woes of those travelling to and from Cooch Behar and Alipurduar districts of West Bengal.
Lying along West Bengal&rsquos border with Assam, the districts of Cooch Behar and Alipurduar are known for their historic and natural attractions. But so long travellers had to use Bagdogra airport, about 200km away by road, for air connectivity. Even to travel to the state capital Kolkata, people from these districts had to go to Bardogra to catch a flight. Rupsi, which is only 70km away by road, will help to cut down the total journey time.
According to local travel operators, the airport will also ease travel to Phuntsholling, transit and commercial hub, adjoining West Bengal&rsquos border with the neighbouring Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Instead of Bagdogra, travellers from Kolkata can fly to Rupsi and visit Phuntsholling, which is about 40km away by road. Travellers bound for the famous Jaldapara National Park will also be able to avail the Rupsi airport, travel operators said.
According to the Flybig website, passengers bound for Guwahati and Rupsi have to carry a negative RT-PCR report with sample collection done within 72 hours of arrival as well as undergo a seven day home quarantine those arriving without the negative report will have to submit to test at the arrival airport.
Rupsi (IATA code RUP) is the seventh airport in Assam.