Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray has flagged off the first flight from Sindhudurg's Chipi Airport.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray inaugurated the new greenfield Chipi Airport, putting the pristine coastal Konkan region on the national air-map, here on Saturday.
Present on the occasion were Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia in New Delhi, MSME Minister Narayan Rane, Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and other dignitaries.
The inauguration was preceded by the maiden Mumbai-Chipi Alliance Air commercial flight making a smooth landing amid loud cheers and music, bringing a host of VVIPs for the event.
More than two years ago, then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and former Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu had inaugurated the new terminal building and other facilities at the Greenfield Airport as flights under the UDAN scheme were expected to be launched from there
After overcoming a series of delays the Chipi Airport - first in the Konkan - was finally ready at a cost of around Rs 520 crore under DBFOT and launched operations from Saturday.
Aviation circles said that most seats are booked till Diwali on various flights connecting Sindhudurg with Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik, Nagpur and gradually other cities.
With a runway length-breadth of 2,500 metres X 45 metres, which can be extended by another 1,000 metres, the airport can manage up to 400 passengers or two flights per hour with an estimated annual capacity over a million passengers.
The airport can handle aircraft like A-320 and B-737 and give a huge fillip to tourism in Konkan, renowned for its magnificent coastline, dazzling beaches, big and small rivers, creeks, abundant greenery and natural beauty, ancient temples, sea and land forts, a rich cultural heritage, unique lifestyle and major historical landmarks.
Built by the IRB Sindhudurg Airport Pvt Ltd, a SPV, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation was the nodal agency to facilitate and supervise the entire project.
The Chipi Airport will also create more opportunities for the regional economy as the state government has announced plans to develop the coastal region as a major tourist and business-cum-leisure travel hub, hoping to convert 'Konkan to California'.
Initially scheduled to operate intra-state flights, later the Chipi Airport would offer inter-state connectivity to Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, etc, with a target for over two-dozen daily services in five years, according to Scindia.
(With IANS inputs)