Agra: The Agra tourism industry welcomed the civil aviation ministry`s announcement Saturday that the Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the airport here was operational, paving the way for the city to get regular air connectivity.
The tourism industry has welcomed the "rather prompt" response from Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, who interacted with a local delegation Friday and promised he would take up the demand of regular air connectivity to Agra on priority.
The Airport Authority of India (AAI) had installed ILS at the airport about a year ago at a cost of about Rs 4 crore. The system had to be certified by the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Up to 700 charter flights come into Agra every year, each bringing 80-100 foreign tourists each.
However, because of poor visibility and lack of ILS, many flights are forced to over-fly or are cancelled, inconveniencing tourists.
AAI`s present civil terminal is located within the Indian Air Force area, without a separate corridor for the entry or exit or for parking of private aircraft.
Prahlad Agarwal, president of the Tourist Welfare Chamber said: "There could not be a better Diwali gift for Agra. We have just been informed that the Instrument Landing System installed last year at Agra Airport has been declared operational by the Director General of Civil Aviation."
He added: "The new system with provisions of flight calibrator and appropriate landing procedures will make landing and take-off by aircrafts in cases of visibility as low as 800 metres possible. It will be helpful particularly during fog."
Real Estate Developers and Colonisers Organisation (REDCO) president KC Jain told IANS: "It is a matter of delight for us that the long overdue demand for certification of ILS has been made."
With the ILS becoming operational, the Kheria airport in Agra would be able to allow night landing by chartered planes even in relatively poor visibility conditions, airlines sources said.
The aviation minister has asked Air India to start flights connecting Delhi, Agra, Khajuraho and Kolkata.
Rajiv Tiwari, president of the Federation of Travel Agents of India, told IANS: "ILS is fine, but what about action on the promise that VAT on aviation fuel would be reduced from 22 to 4 percent to promote Agra? The chief minister had cleared the proposal but it seems to have got stuck in bureaucracy."
"Regular air connectivity with Agra will bring down vehicular pollution, reduce traffic jams and would give tourists more time to visit monuments other than the Taj Mahal," said Surendra Sharma, president of Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.