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17 Feb 2018

Boost for Bagdogra airport....Night landing system to function on March 29

AVIJIT SINHA, TT, Feb 16, 2018, Siliguri: The Bagdogra airport will get the instrument landing system (ILS), the Airports Authority of India said in a notification on Thursday.

The system will start functioning from March 29, according to the notification, issued by AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra.

"It is a major development and it will boost services at the airport," Rakesh Sahay, airport director, Bagdogra, said.

"Operational heads of all commercial airlines have been formally informed. Once ILS is commissioned, it would cut down flight cancellations or delays because of inclement weather or poor visibility."

The airport that is a civil enclave - the air traffic control and the runway are under the air force - has seen a massive surge in the number of flights and passengers over the past few years.

At present, 24-odd flights operate every day from 11am to 7pm, with the last flight departing at 6.25pm. The AAI now plans to run flights from 6am to 10pm.

"There had been a long-standing demand for ILS from all quarters because flights get cancelled during winter and the monsoon because of poor visibility," Sandipan Ghosh, general secretary, Eastern Himalaya Travel & Tour Operators' Association, said. "Also, there's no flight in the late evening hours or in the early morning hours."

About a year ago, all work for the commissioning of the ILS was done, an AAI official said. These include installation of sophisticated gadgets at the ATC, putting strobe lights at the end of the runway and expanding the runway.

"The runway is 9,000ft long, with the strobe lights extending another 750m. Usually, a minimum visibility of 1,200m is needed for flights to land in Bagdogra. But once the ILS is commissioned, this will drop to 350m," an AAI official said.

The AAI has sought land from the state government for expansion of the terminal building. "We are making best use of the existing space in the building. The state government is still to respond," an AAI official said.

"Once the ILS is commissioned, airlines will have to change the schedule of their flights. If the existing flights are spread over 16 hours, it would help reduce the congestion at the airport."

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