India has been on a spree to start new airports. This has led to the operational aircraft count change frequently, many a times. This website had written about Kurnool being 106th operational airport, but it turns out – somebody is breaking the queue and it would now be Bilaspur as the 106th operational airport in the country.
The long wait for air connectivity to Bilaspur will see light of the day next week when Alliance Air – the subsidiary of Air India launches flights connecting Bilaspur to Jabalpur and Prayagraj. The flights would operate as per below timings on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. ATR72-600 aircraft would fly the route.
AI9691 JLR1420 – 1520PAB
AI9692 PAB1630 – 1730JLR
AI9697 PAB1500 – 1600IXD
AI9698 IXD1545 – 1705PAB
Bilaspur will get a one-stop connection to Delhi, since the aircraft is being rotated as Delhi – Jabalpur – Bilaspur – Prayagraj – Delhi while another aircraft operates Delhi – Prayagraj – Bilaspur – Jabalpur – Delhi route.
Bilaspur is one of those places which have benefitted from the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) – UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik). While the airport was included and saw bids in the very first round of UDAN, the shaky start of certain airlines like Air Odisha and Air Deccan meant that the airport was left without connectivity for a longer period, even while other airports made a beeline on the air map of the country.
The state of Chattisgarh has relied only on a single airport – at its capital Raipur, for air connectivity until Jagdalpur joined the air map recently with flights to Hyderabad and Raipur – again by Alliance Air. While the state may not rank high in terms of GDP in the country, it is rich in minerals and has steel plants as well as power plants in the region.
Bilaspur Airport (IATA: PAB) has been operationalised again after years of neglect. The airport has two bays capable of handling ATR72 aircraft and a runway which is certified for VFR (Visual Flight Rules). Bilaspur is two hours away from Raipur and a major rail head on the Indian Railways network. The high court of Chhattisgarh is located at Bilaspur. An airport at Bilaspur could help boost tourism in the region with places like Amarkantak – where the Narmada river originates getting an airport nearer than existing one at Jabalpur. Large industrial projects like power plants, a super thermal power plant at nearby Korba and Jindal Steel and Power at Raigarh will form the catchment area for Bilaspur airport.