Government-owned Alliance Air said it has commenced flight services to Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport from Keshod in Junagadh district of Gujarat under the Centre's regional connectivity scheme, UDAN, an official release said.
The inaugural flight on the new route was flagged off by Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia from Keshod Airport, which is near Asiatic Lion's abode Gir, on Saturday, it said.
At present, it takes about 16 hours to travel by road from Keshod to Mumbai but with the introduction of air services between the two destinations, the travel time will reduce to just one hour and 25 minutes, as per the release.
“In the airline's summer schedule this year, Ahmedabad has been connected to three cities– Amritsar, Agra and Ranchi. Similarly, Porbandar and Rajkot have been connected with Mumbai. Apart from starting the new flight route today, we will also connect Keshod with Ahmedabad,” the release quoted Scindia as saying.
He added that two new greenfield airports are also to be constructed in Hirasar and Dholera with a capacity to handle 23 lakh and 30 lakh passengers per year, respectively, with a budget allocation of Rs 1,405 crore and Rs 1,305 crore respectively.
A special route connecting Porbandar and Delhi will start on April 27, the minister informed.
Owned by the Airports Authority of India, the Keshod airport was initially refurbished and revived in the late 1980s to facilitate scheduled operations, said the release, adding that for the last 21 years, commercial flight operations were not being carried out from this airport.
The AAI has invested an amount of Rs 25 crores to upgrade the airport for resurfacing of runway, procurement of Aircraft Crash Fire Tender (ACFT), new civil enclave, including the terminal building, apron for two ATR-72 types of aircraft and link taxiway, among others, the release stated.
Alliance Air was awarded the route under the 4.1 version of the scheme and with the opening of this new route, a total of 417 routes have been operationalised under the initiative, it said.
The airline will operate thrice a week flights on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and deploy its seven-seater ATR 72-600 aircraft, as per the release.
With this, Alliance Air becomes the first airline to connect Keshod to Mumbai under the UDAN scheme.
The new UDAN flight route will bring the tourist destination Keshod on the national air map and offer convenience and comfort to travellers of this region, said the release.