First IndiGo flight between Delhi and Dharamshala commenced direct flights from March 26, marking 78th addition to the airline’s domestic network.
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur along with Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia and Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation VKSingh flagged off the flight from Dharamshala.
Speaking on the occasion Thakur made a case for a larger airport and said that currently passengers coming to Himachal from all over India have to go to Delhi and then board connecting flights to the state. “A larger airport will provide direct seamless connectivity to passengers,” he urged.
Speaking about the magnitude of service provided by the airport, Thakur said that Dharamshala airport connects five districts with ease of connectivity and directly benefits half of the population of the state.
“This single Indigo flight goes a long way in connecting half of the state and a few places in Punjab to the rest of the country,” Thakur said while expressing that Indigo could not have become a truly national airline without flying to the hill state.
Kishan Kapoor, Member of Parliament from Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, said that the aircraft is a major contribution to air connectivity for the people of the state which had seen a tremendous decline in tourist activity during the pandemic and is now witnessing a revival. Kapoor requested the Ministry of Civil Aviation to consider further expanding the number of aircrafts flying to Dharamshala.
Civil Aviation Minister Scindia also acknowledged the requests and said that his Ministry is already working on a 2-phase plan for the same.
“The first phase involves lengthening of the current runway to 1900 mts to enable turboprop aircrafts landing with load penalty to ply without such penalties. The 2nd phase would involve further lengthening of the runway to 3110 mts to realise the vision of landing Boeing 737 and Airbus a320 at the airport,” he added.
Speaking about the other achievements in the state for his Ministry, Scindia said that runway restoration at the Shimla airport has been completed and site clearance has been provided for a Greenfield airport at Mandi. The Minister reiterated that his Ministry is committed towards the development of civil aviation infrastructure in the state.
The state of Himachal has been provided 44 routes under UDAN, of which 22 are already operational. Highlighting the Ministry’s achievements in the state, the Minister said that the connectivity has increased from 40 aircrafts per week in 2013-14 to 110 aircrafts, an increase of 175 percent over nine years. In Dharamshala specifically, he said, the number of air traffic movements have gone up by 110 percent in the past nine years from 28 per week in 2013-14 to 50 movements today.
“The direct flights from Delhi, will also connect Himachal Pradesh to the rest of the country and international destinations in Asia, Middle East, and Europe,” added Vinay Malhotra, Head of Global Sales, IndiGo.
“Direct connectivity to Dharamshala will provide a gateway for the tourists to explore the local markets, temples and monasteries, museums, churches and unwind in the picturesque waterfalls and mountains of Himachal Pradesh. This move aims to bolster passenger traffic even further as we have witnessed a strong demand for connectivity to Himachal Pradesh,” Malhotra said.