Kushinagar airport gets necessary approvals from DGCA to operate int'l flights

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Mumbai/Lucknow, Feb 23 (PTI) Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said the Kushinagar Airport in Uttar Pradesh has got the necessary clearances from aviation regulator DGCA to operate international flights from the facility.

The Union Cabinet had in June last year approved the Kushinagar airport's status as an international facility, stating it will offer improved connectivity to the important Buddhist pilgrimage site.

Once this airport begins operating international flights, it will become third functional international facility in the state.

'Kushinagar to become 3rd licensed international airport of UP. Will boost tourism in the region and facilitate travel on Buddhist circuit by providing direct aviation connectivity to the city where Lord Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana,' Puri said in a tweet on Tuesday.

At present, two international airports -- Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport at Lucknow and Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport at Varanasi -- are operational in the state while another one is coming up at Jewar in Gautambudh Nagar.

Kushinagar is the mid-point of the Buddhist circuit. It has pilgrimage sites in Lumbini, Shravasti, Kapilvastu nearby it. A little farther, it has sites in Sarnath and Gaya, the government had said at the time of granting the international status to the airport.

The Central government had also said that around 200-300 devotees from Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Myanmar, among others, come to offer prayers at Kushinagar on any given day.

In Lucknow, an UP government spokesperson in a statement said that Kushinagar is a very ancient and important historical site, where Mahaparinirvana of Mahatma Buddha took place. Very large and beautiful Buddhist temples built by many countries are located here, where millions of domestic and foreign tourists from all over the world come to visit.

He also said 1644 meters x 23 meters of the runway-sized airstrip was constructed on 101 acres of land by the state government in Kasya, Kushinagar district in the past. It was decided by January 15, 2010, to upgrade the runway to an international airport, for which a total of 589.35 acres of land was purchased by the state government, but no construction could start for the next 7 years.

The current state government sanctioned an amount of Rs 199.42 crore for the construction of the airport and got the development works done at a rapid pace.

The spokesman further said that under the MoU signed between the Airports Authority of India and the state government on October 04, 2019, the Kushinagar airport was transferred to the Airports Authority of India for operation.

Kushinagar Airport is currently selected under the RCS scheme. As per the standards, the work related to Kushinagar airport, such as runway, approach road, peripheral road, drainage work, boundary wall, ATC tower, fire station, underground tank, etc. have been completed and the license was applied by the state government.

The spokesman said that an aerodrome license has been granted by the Government of India on February 22, 2021 for the operation of air services from Kushinagar International Airport.

The spokesperson said that the first flight from Bareilly Airport is beginning on March 8, 2021.

The operation of the airport will create many employment opportunities in the eastern region of the state and will ensure the social and economic development of the entire region. PTI IAS NAV RDM RDM