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Uttar Pradesh to get a new international airport at Kushinagar

The third international airport in the state, Kushinagar Airport, is expected to provide tourists from Sri Lanka, Japan and other Asian countries with improved connectivity to places of significance along India’s Buddhist circuit.

Uttar Pradesh has received clearance from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for Kushinagar Airport, Union Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri has confirmed in a statement on social media. This will be the third international airport in the state after Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport in Lucknow and Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport in Varanasi.

Boosting international tourism within India’s Buddhist circuit

Spread over 590 acres in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar district, Kusinagar Airport is equipped with a single 3.2km by 45m-long runway with an apron that can accommodate four B737-900 aircraft at a time. It has been granted a 4C VFR license for day operations by the DGCA and is licensed to operate B737-900 or equivalent aircraft, said the Airports Authority of India.

The new airport is expected to develop tourism within India’s Buddhist circuit. It will provide provide pilgrims from India, Sri Lanka, Japan and other Asian countries connectivity to places of significance to Buddhists such as Lumbini in Nepal where Buddha is said to have been born, Bihar where he attained enlightenment, Sarnath where he first preached after gaining enlightenment and Kushinagar where he died. According to PTI, the first flight from the airport is scheduled for March 8.

Strengthening of regional routes

Soon after the annual budget was announced in February, the Civil Aviation ministry revealed its plans to upgrade and offer services to 100 regional airports and add at least 1,000 new routes within India. With the focus on domestic tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, carriers have been introducing new regional routes. SpiceJet, for example, has been expanding its connectivity to cities such as Jharsuguda in Odisha, Darbhanga in Bihar and Pakyong in Sikkim. Alliance Air will start flights from Bilsapur, Chhatisgarh to Delhi from March.

With international travel to and from India expected to revive only during the last two quarters of the year, Kushinagar presently offers opportunities for airlines in the domestic market. As the region develops, low-cost carriers such as SpiceJet and IndiGo looking to expand their footprint across India, could launch routes to the city.

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