New Delhi: Facing criticism over inadequate air services in the Northeast, government would soon appoint a consultant to advice on the scope and viability of strengthening air connectivity in the region, including linking the state capitals with major metros.
Air travellers in the region have been complaining of infrequent services, frequent cancellations and diversion of flights as well as infrastructural problems like small
runways, lack of instrument landing systems and navigational aids to guide the aircraft in the difficult terrain.
Barring national highways, air link is the only option available to people to visit other parts of the country.
Quite often the highways are rendered useless due to landslides, protests or insurgency-related issues, while flight cancellations virtually cut off the Northeastern states
from the rest of the country.
With elected representatives from the region, parliamentary panels and the Northeastern Council raising these issues vigorously, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has floated a tender to appoint a consultant which would undertake a study on the issue, official sources said.
The consultant, when appointed, would be asked to deal with issues like viability of linking all state capitals of the region, connecting them with Delhi and other metros,
integration with helicopter services, overall heli-connectivity and hub-and-spoke operations.
It would also have to deal with air cargo issues, especially transportation of agricultural, horticulture and floriculture products.
The scope of investments in airports and related infrastructure would also have to be studied. It would include the need for improvements in airports, terminals, hangars,
apron and runways, the sources said.
Problems relating to night landing facilities, which is a major factor in the region, and introduction of sophisticated navigational aids which can guide the aircraft
through fog, mist and rain, would have to be studied by the consultant.
Issues relating to the use of particular types of aircraft, which can operate on small runways and have short landing and take off (STOL) capabilities, lengthening runways
wherever possible would also have to be studied.
The consultant would have to submit its report, along with recommendations, within six months after the contract is awarded to it, the sources said.