Small aircraft with capacity of 19 passengers can be run from Malda airport, says AAI

Kolkata: Flight operations from Malda airport may soon be a reality with an expert committee from Airports Authority of India (AAI) hinting at the fact that small aircrafts with a capacity of 19 passengers can be run from the airport.

The expert committee visited the site of the airport on Monday to take stock of the infrastructure and to examine areas of improvement particularly in infrastructure which will make flights with larger passenger capacity to fly from Malda airport.

The team was accompanied by senior officials of the district administration and the Public Works Department.

A senior official in the district administration said that some improvement in infrastructure is required for operating flights with 42 or 90 passengers' capacity. The runway should be extended further for making larger flights operational.

The expert team will submit a report to the state government as well as the AAI after their visit and accordingly steps will be taken to clear the hurdles for commencing flight operations. The license from DGCA is also needed for regular flight operations.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee while chairing administrative review meeting at Malda on December 8 had expressed her interest in making Malda airport operational in quick time. She had also said that expansion of runway will not be a major issue with availability of land. Presently the length of the runway of the airport is 1100 metre.

However, there are electric towers and highrises in close proximity to the runways which are hindering the full utilisation of the runway, according to experts.

"Under the present circumstances, flights with less capacity can be run but for operationalising larger flights it will take some more time," a senior state government official said.

The expert team will also visit Cooch Behar and Balurghat airport in North Bengal and scrutinise the readiness of the facilities and report to the Centre, which will then take a call on operationalising.

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