On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport. Situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), the airport is expected to help connect key Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region and give a significant push to tourism in the area. Let’s find out more.
Built at an estimated cost of ₹260 crore (approximately $34.7 million), the airport has a 3.2-kilometer-long runway – the longest in the state of UP, according to the Hindustan Times. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has built a terminal that can handle 300 passengers in an hour, and the airport’s taxiway and apron are also fully operational.
However, the airport still awaits the setting up of the instrument landing system and the completion of an approach roach connecting it to the main highway. According to the Times of India, the idea for the airport was first thought of in 2008, following which the UP government acquired 590 acres of land for its development.
With its current infrastructure, Kushinagar International Airport can handle up to eight flights in an hour.
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Tourism boost in the region
Kushinagar holds quite a significance as a Buddhist pilgrim destination. It is believed to be the final resting place of Gautam Buddha and is a vital part of a Buddhist tourist circuit, which includes Lumbini in Nepal, Sarnath, and Bodhgaya.
Both Sarnath (close to Varanasi) and Bodhgaya are served by international airports that welcome large numbers of pilgrims, mainly from the South East Asian countries. This new airport is expected to further provide seamless connectivity to both domestic and international visitors.
A SriLankan Airlines charter flight carrying Buddhist monks and politicians landed at the airport on Wednesday for its inauguration. The event was also attended by diplomats from countries with heavy Buddhist populations such as Mongolia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Thailand, Bhutan, Republic of Korea, Nepal, and Japan, as reported by the Hindu.
Speaking at the inauguration, PM Modi said,
“There is a special focus on the development of places associated with Lord Buddha through better connectivity, and creation of facilities for devotees.”
LCC SpiceJet will be the first carrier to serve the airport, with scheduled services to Delhi starting November 26th. Connections to Mumbai and Kolkata are expected to follow soon after, most probably in December.
@flyspicejet is proud to be a part of the dream to connect the remotest corners of India #KushinagarInternationalAirport is yet another leap towards connecting the unconnected.SpiceJet to operate Delhi-Kushinagar from 26Nov & thereafter connect Mumbai & Kolkata. @myogiadityanath pic.twitter.com/ALmKynQZo8
— SpiceJet (@flyspicejet) October 20, 2021
Airport development in UP
Kushinagar International Airport is the third airport in UP with international status after Lucknow and Varanasi. With this, the total number of airports that can handle scheduled passenger flights in the state has gone up to nine. Some of the airports in the region that have started to see regular flights include Prayagraj, Kanpur, and, more recently, Bareilly.
According to TOI, a senior government official said that many more airports are currently under construction in UP. Some of these include Aligarh, Azamgarh, Moradabad, Shravasti, Chitrakoot Dham, Saharanpur, Noida, and Ayodhya.
Noida and Ayodhya will be international airports, pushing up the tally of international airports in the state to five. The Noida airport (in the town of Jewar) will be pretty significant as it will serve the Delhi NCR region in addition to IGI Airport and the regional civilian enclave at Hindon.
Speaking at the event, PM Modi spoke about the development of airports in Uttar Pradesh, stating,
“In UP alone, including this airport, 9 new airports and terminals have been made available to people. Jewar Airport, which will be India’s largest airport, is also being worked on at a record pace.”
What do you feel about this new airport? Have you flown through any airports in UP? If yes, do share your experiences in the comments section below.