Assam’s WWII-Era Rupsi Airport to Restart Operations From September: Centre

After a gap of 36 years, the airport is being brought back to life after several calls for its revival by the residents of Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Goalpara and Chirang districts.

New Delhi: Assam’s Rupsi airport, situated in strategic and close proximity to Bangladesh, Myanmar and China — and until the early 1980s, the sole means of ensuring air connectivity to the lower Assam districts — is set to restart operations from September 2019.

Minister of state for civil aviation Hardeep Singh Puri informed parliament of the devlopment on Thursday. This means that work on renovating the airport, in Parbhatkhora sub-division of the state’s Kokrajhar district, is on track.

In February, while laying the foundation stone for the renovation, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal had told local reporters that the airport was likely to reopen in September – after a gap of 36 years. 

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Situated about 15 km from Dhubri town, bordering Bangladesh, the airport, which as a 600-feet-long runaway, was set up by Allied Forces during World War II and played a key role in providing air support to the American army’s China-Burma-India theatre.

Even though Indian Airlines flights, plying under its Vayudoot scheme, touched down at the airport, it wound up its operations in 1984. Since then, there has been a demand from a wide section of people residing in Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Goalpara and Chirang districts in Assam and the Garo hills in Meghalaya for its revival. Residents of all these areas need to travel to Guwahati for air connectivity.

In parliament, Puri said Rs 63.36 crore has been allocated to various agencies by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) under its regional connectivity scheme, UDAN. 

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The minister, in a written reply to an unstarred question (No. 3160) by All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) MP Maulana Badarruddin Ajmal, who represents the Dhubri constituency, said that work for the renovation has been given to Turbo Mega Airways Private Limited.

The Hyderabad-based company also owns Trujet, a carrier which connects 14 major destinations in south and west India. In 2018, Trujet was awarded 20 new routes by the Narendra Modi government for its expansion in the western states and the starting of its operations in the east. Among these routes include the one between Guwahati and Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh and Guwahati to Rupsi.

The airline uses ATR-72 aircraft.