India: Donyi Polo reports good progress as Arunachal's first greenfield airport
India: Donyi Polo reports good progress as Arunachal's first greenfield airport || Picture Courtesy: Google Images

Arunachal Pradesh, India: Donyi Polo Airport, the first greenfield airport of Arunachal Pradesh and the first such facility in the state capital Itanagar, opened less than three months ago and has already operationalized several new routes while experiencing a steady increase in passenger traffic.

According to data from January 2023, the Donyi Polo airport, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened on November 19, 2022, averages 280 passengers per day and offers six flights on six days of the week, with the exception of Wednesday.

On November 28, 2022, Indigo Airlines’ A-320 type of aircraft launched its maiden commercial flight at the Donyi Polo airport, marking a significant turning point in the history of Arunachal Pradesh’s civil aviation.

Inaugurating the flight from Itanagar to Kolkata and Mumbai was Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, who was accompanied by the state’s Chief Minister Pema Khandu, along with Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, and other dignitaries via video link.

Other regional airlines have also begun operating from Donyi Polo in Itanagar, including Flybig Airlines, which began service between Itanagar and Guwahati on January 15, 2023, as part of the government of India’s flagship UDAN programme, which promotes regional air connectivity by making travel more accessible to the general public.

The cost for a one-hour, 500 km flight on a fixed-wing aircraft or a 30-min flight in a helicopter is Rs 2500 under the UDAN programme, which is applicable to 50% of the flight capacity (RCS seats).

Notably, with the launch of the Itanagar-Guwahati service, Flybig introduced Itanagar to its network as the tenth destination and third in Arunachal Pradesh, after Pasighat and Tezu. Itanagar, Pasighat, Ziro, and Tezu are the four active airports in Arunachal Pradesh. The Donyi Polo airport has improved connectivity within the state as well.

On November 29, Alliance Air began operating Dornier 228-type aircraft within the state out of Donyi Polo Airport from its base in Dibrugarh. Every Tuesday and Saturday, it offers flights between Itanagar and Ziro. Similar flights between Itanagar and Pasighat run every Thursday and Sunday.

The Donyi Polo Airport’s current interim passenger terminal building occupies a 2000 square metre space and has a 1500 square metre canopy. It is entirely air-conditioned. The terminal offers a childcare area and is set up with the necessary amenities for passengers with disabilities.

A source said, “This terminal building complies with GRIHA-IV requirements for energy efficiency and has a balanced use of wall and roof insulation, LED lighting throughout, and energy-efficient motors and drives. The installation of a sewage treatment facility at the airport will enable the use of cleaned water for horticulture and prevent soil and water body pollution.”

In addition, a 125 KWp solar plant is being built to use renewable energy and will be finished by the end of March.

The Donyi Polo airport, which is situated in the southwest of Arunachal Pradesh, serves more than 20 lakh people who live in a number of nearby districts, including Kurung Kumey, Lower Subansiri, Kradadi, East Kameng, Pakke Kessang, and Kamle in Arunachal Pradesh, as well as Biswanath and Lakhimpur districts in neighbouring Assam.

Pema Khandu, the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, welcomed the initiative to connect Itanagar with the rest of the country via air, saying, “We are grateful to the PM Narendra Modi for achieving the desire of Arunachal Pradesh people to obtain air connection after 75 years of India’s Independence. Additionally, we thank Flybig for offering the third and most significant connectivity in Arunachal Pradesh.”