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1 May 2017

Bagdogra airport sees 40% jump in footfall

Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay | TNN | May 1, 2017, KOLKATA: Bagdogra airport has shown a phenomenal growth in passenger traffic, thanks to the state government's tax exemptions and upsurge in tourism in the Hills and Dooars. It has recorded a 40% surge in passenger traffic in 2016-17 compared to the figure in 2015-16. In the last fiscal, the passenger traffic at the airport stood at 15,24,516.
It has also emerged as the 27th busiest airport in India. The abolition of surcharge on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and the Instrument Landing System (ILS) have played a major role. But the authorities are worried over the existing infrastructure. "Every airline is keen to operate more Bagdogra-Delhi flights," said Badgogra airport director Rakesh Sahay. With the terminal operating beyond its capacity, tackling flyers will be tough. AAI has urged airlines to operate before noon or after 4pm. The airport faces the biggest challenge between 2pm and 4pm when 23 flights are either landing or taking off.
"The terminal, along with conveyor belts and other facilities, can cater to around 400 passengers an hour at present. Still, we are handling 600 travellers on an average an hour. Going by the new schedule, the terminal will be teeming with 1,000 passengers per hour. Besides, we have just five aprons and the number will have to be doubled," said a source.
For infrastructure expansion, the AAI had sought 118 acres from the state government. But the state clarified that it would be impossible to give the land at one-go. The AAI then sought only 50 acres. "Bengal government wants expansion of civil aviation infrastructure in the northern part of the state. This will boost the economy of the region," said principal secretary (transport) Alapan Bandyopadhyay.

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