The inhabitants of Western Assam, India, have had cause to celebrate, with Rupsi Airport witnessing its first Commercial Flight Touchdown on Saturday 8th May. Indeed, it was an ATR-72 Aircraft operated by FlyBig that landed shortly after midday local time, coming from Lokopriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport, also in the state of Assam. There were a total of 24 passengers onboard the flight. The commencing of flight operations is part of the UDAN-RCS programme implemented by the national government, in an effort to make flying affordable for the common citizen.
The Airports Authority of India spent Rs. 69 Crores (Approximately US $9.4 Million) renovating Rupsi Airport, which was a former World War II airstrip. It is expected that the Airport can handle up to 200 passengers with its 10 check-in desks.
To mark the occasion, a water cannon celebrity salute was on display above the Aircraft, as it exited the runway. Given that India is witnessing its worst phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is also important to note that the Airport’s Covid-19 compliance programme was fully implemented, operational and enforced for its inaugural flight.
Moving forward, Fly Big will operate flights from Guwahati to Kolkata, via Rupsi Airport, four days a week, on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
Local Livelihoods To Benefit
It is anticipated that the local economy of Bodoland will benefit from the increased connectivity to the region. These sentiments were echoed by local residents. Pulakesh Chakraborty from the nearby village of Khudimari, said, “It gives me immense pleasure to see the airport operational. I don’t know whether I could travel again or not, but important connectivity has been restored which will bring a sea change in the economy in this part of Assam.”
Indeed, India’s vast and complex geographical makeup is always going to make connectivity challenging, but the UDAN-RCS initiative will assist in such developments, as evidenced by Rupsi Airport.