The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has undertaken a Rs 438 crore project to upgrade the Agartala airport to international standards by providing world-class facilities, a top official announced on Thursday.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar met union minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Wednesday in New Delhi and discussed about the upgradation of the Agartala airport, which was built in 1942 by the then Tripura king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur.
According to the official of the Chief Minister;s Office, the union minister responded positively when Sarkar requested him to expedite the works.
AAI’s Agartala airport Director S.D.Barman said that though the tender for the project was not yet floated, the works for building of a new terminal is likely to start by April-May.
The Agartala airport is the second busiest in the northeast after Guwahati’s Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport.
“Currently three airliners operates an average 14 flights in the Agartala-Kolkata, Agartala-Guwahati and Agartala-Delhi routes,” Barman told IANS.
During World War II, the Agartala airport was used by the 4th Combat Cargo Group (4th CCG) of the US Army Air Forces Tenth Air Force, flying Curtiss C-46 Commando aircraft over Myanmar.
The airport was used as a supply point from which the unit air-dropped supplies and ammunition to the advancing Allied forces on the ground.
Tripura Transport and Power Minister Manik Dey said that after the completion of the proposed project, flights between (Bangladesh capital) Dhaka – as well as important cities like Chittagong and Sylhet – and Agartala could then be operated.
Dey said that the Agartala airport handled on an average nine lakh passengers per year.
The state government had already provided 72 acres of land to AAI for construction of the new terminal building, runway and other necessary infrastructure, Dey added.