Giving a boost to transform Guwahati as the gateway to the ASEAN region, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal flagged off the first direct flight to Bangkok at Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati on September 22.

Nok Air, which will be flying its sortie between Guwahati and Bangkok, has carefully drafted its sorties to enable passengers to reach the destination at Don Mueang near Bangkok in less than three hours offering a convenient connection to both business and leisure travellers twice in a week.

Sonowal viewed that introduction of the flight is not just an extension of airline route but more importantly a futuristic gesture, which will go a long way in reinforcing the cultural and economic ties between Assam and Thailand and strengthening the bilateral relations.

Sonowal also observed that connectivity has always remained a major bottleneck in optimum realization of the growth prospects of the region. Keeping this in view, the Union government has taken up steps to connect six South East Asian destinations from Guwahati under UDAN scheme.

On July 1 this year, first Guwahati-Dhaka flight by SpiceJet under International Air Connectivity Scheme was flagged off.

The flight marked roll-out of UDAN-International, pioneered by Assam government with Viability Gap Funding of Rs 100 crore. In the next few months, flights connecting to Kathmandu, Yangon, Hanoi and Kuala Lumpur will also commence.

DSC 0868 – The News Mill
Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal and others cut cake ahead of the first Guwahati-Bangkok flight. (Image: CMO)

Last year DrukAir – Royal Bhutan Airlines introduced Paro-Guwahati-Singapore flight. Indian government has also taken a historic decision to bring 19 destinations in the Northeast including five cities in Assam under the regional connectivity scheme UDAN-2. This initiative would significantly facilitate regional air connectivity by making air travel affordable for the masses. The union government aims to turn LGBI Airport into an International airport, connecting Southeast Asia.

Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport has undergone numerous expansions and renovations since its establishment in 1958. It handled more than 3.7 million passengers in 2017, an increase of 36% from 2016. The LGBI Airport has witnessed annual traffic increase of over 23% in 2018-19 with a total footfall of 5.7 million passengers and 55,066 aircraft movements in the same period.

The existing terminal building at the airport has maximum handling capacity of 850 arrival/departure passengers an hour. The work on a New Terminal has already made significant progress. This will further boost the growth narrative of the entire region. The new terminal will be the first sustainable terminal of the Northeast having sewage treatment plant, solar power, rain water harvesting, solid waste disposal system and energy efficient lighting.

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