Hindon civil terminal becomes operational, first flight lands from Pithoragarh
The new terminal has come up under the regional connectivity scheme, also known as ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik’ or UDAN.Updated: Oct 12, 2019 04:03 IST
Eight months after it was inaugurated in March by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the new civil terminal at Sikandarpur near the Hindon airbase became operational with the first civil flight landing from Uttarakhand’s border town of Pithoragarh on Friday afternoon. The nine-seater aircraft of Air Heritage then took passengers to Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand.
The new terminal has come up under the regional connectivity scheme, also known as ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik’ or UDAN. The new terminal that costs about Rs 60 crore is to operate flights on eight routes, including Nasik, Pithoragarh, Kannur, Hubli, Faizabad, Shimla, Jamnagar and Kalaburgi.
The passengers at the new civil airport were welcomed by Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and Ghaziabad MP General (retired) VK Singh.
“The flight operations will reduce the travelling distance to just 50-55 minutes as against a long journey by road that takes about 17-20 hours. The flight operations will also open Pithoragarh to more tourists as the area is rich in nature and biodiversity,” Rawat said.
After the opening of the Pithoragarh route, another airline, Star Air, will also start operations on the Ghaziabad-Hubli route on November 6.
The first flight on Friday was operated by Air Heritage and its chief executive officer Rohit Mathur said that the Ghaziabad-Shimla route from Hindon will be operational by December.
“At present, only one route to Pithoragarh is operational. The second route is likely to start by mid-November. We will also be starting a route to Shimla in December. Currently, we have six helicopters and two aircraft. More aircraft in the same category will also be procured soon,” Mathur added.
The company officials said that tickets from Hindon to Pithoragarh have been priced at Rs 2,270, while the Pithoragarh to Hindon tickets are priced at Rs 2,470.
“We currently allow seven kilograms of baggage. We have opened our counter at the terminal and bookings are also available online through our website,” he added.
The officials of the other airline, Star Air, said that they will be using a 50-seater plane on the route to Hubli. The Hindon-Hubli route would start on November 6 and a one-way ticket would be priced at Rs 3,699.
The distance between Delhi and Pithoragarh is about 500 kilometres, which includes driving through difficult, hilly terrain. The passengers who took the first flights welcomed the move.
“It is very tough for a single woman to travel by bus to Pithoragarh, due to the long journey and the condition of the available buses. Time is the most important factor. I remember last year I had tried to book a seat on a bus at least three times at ISBT in Delhi, but they were all booked. This year, as soon as I came to know about the flight, I immediately booked the ticket and will be able to see my parents in a little while,” Ereena Hussain of Pithoragarh, who runs an online business and stays in Delhi, said.
“For the past 20 years, I have been visiting my parents at Pithoragarh after a long and tiring bus journey. The new route is a pleasant surprise and very convenient for me,” Mukul Mehta, a passenger who is from Pithoragarh and lives in Switzerland, said.
The officials of the new civil terminal said that the facility has a capacity to cater to 300 passengers.
“The passengers should check in at least two hours before the departure of flights. The airline counter will close 45 minutes before departure. The traffic in Ghaziabad is also a concern that can delay passengers to the airport. We already have a facility for parking 90 cars. A car rental facility will soon be started for passengers,” Shobha Bhardwaj, the director of the civil terminal, said.
She added that the fully air-conditioned terminal has eight check-in counters, including one for specially abled passengers, and other facilities, such as a child-care room, drinking water, and convenience facilities.
There was some delay in landing the first flight, but the officials said that it was due to awaiting landing clearance.
“This was the first flight and issues will be streamlined soon,” Bhardwaj added.
Ghaziabad district magistrate Dr Ajay Shankar Pandey said that he has also proposed three more popular routes.
“I have also sent a proposal to add the more popular routes of Lucknow, Prayagraj, and Varanasi from Hindon,” he said.
First Published: Oct 11, 2019 20:26 IST