The aerial connectivity between the capital cities of Manipur and Meghalaya began as the first direct flight Indigo 6E-7959 between Imphal and Shillong took off from Bir Tikendrajit International Airport, Imphal at 9:55 am Tuesday.
The direct flight service was launched after a little passenger girl from Churachandpur district cut the launching ribbon at a simple function. The long-awaited demand of the people of the Northeast region was accomplished under the government's regional connectivity scheme RCS-UDAN.
The five-year-old little girl, Vahchoihoi Haokip from L Khengjang village, Leimata in Churachandpur district was with her parents to board the first-ever Imphal-Shillong flight when she was chosen for the ribbon cutting to mark the launching of Imphal-Shillong flight service by Indigo airlines.
A class I student of Loreto Convent, Shillong, Vahchoihoi Haokip also known as Eliana Haokip cut the ribbon in the presence of Indigo Airlines authorities and her parents amid cheers and claps from other passengers before boarding the flight.
It was not known why Eliana was chosen for the ribbon cutting but it will remain a historic moment for her and India’s low-cost airline, Indigo, the largest airline in India by passengers carried and fleet size.
One of the leading global carriers known for offering top-notch services at economical prices, Indigo Airlines was awarded the Imphal-Shillong route during the UDAN 4 bidding process.
Eliana Haokip and her father Hengam Haokip, former leader of KSO general headquarters and her mother Jessy Kikim Haokip who is a nursing officer at NEIGRIHMS with other passengers boarded the flight from Bir Tikendrajit International Airport Imphal at 9:55 am and landed at Barapani Airport at 10:55 am safe and sound.
Indigo had earlier suspended its flight operations in Shillong for a few months possibly owing to the COVID-19 situation in the region.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Wednesday stated that IndiGo has started operating flights on the Imphal-Shillong route under the regional connectivity scheme UDAN, and it will be operating four flights in a week and will deploy its 78-seater ATR-72 aircrafts. Currently, 66 UDAN routes are operational by IndiGo airline and Shillong is the second city to be connected with Imphal under the UDAN scheme.
It also stated that owing to the non-availability of any direct mode of transportation, travellers were compelled to cover a long 12-hour journey by road to reach Shillong from Imphal or they had to take a flight to Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati and a bus service to reach Shillong.
Earlier, before the aerial connectivity service, the completion of the entire journey took more than one day to reach Shillong from Imphal or vice-versa. But now, travellers can easily fly between the two cities by opting for a flight of just 60 minutes from Imphal to Shillong and 75 minutes from Shillong to Imphal.