AAI plans to upgrade Hasimara Air Force Station into a civilian airport

The Airports Authority of India has written to the Bengal government for 37.74 acres of land next to the Indian Air Force base in Hasimara to convert it into a civil enclave to operate passenger flights.

Hasimara is located right in the Dooars, close to the Bhutan border as well as the Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary.

Sources in the AAI said the outfit’s jurisdiction would be limited to the passenger terminal while all other activities at the civil enclave would be handled by the IAF.

AAI plans to upgrade Hasimara Air Force Station into a civilian airport.
(Image Courtesy – Foursquare)

Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, in a letter to Alipurduar MP John Barla, revealed that AAI had surveyed the infrastructure at Hasimara and found it suitable to operate C-type civilian aircraft or commonly-used planes such as Airbus A320 and Boeing B737.

This also makes the airport suitable for the operation of smaller aircraft such as ATR, Bombardier Q400 Dash 8 and Embraer ERJ that are used in regional flights.

The airport at Hasimara, which has a 2,740-metre runway, is used for sorties by IAF’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI and Rafale fighter jets. Bagdogra, the only other airport in north Bengal, is 137km from Hasimara.

Bagdogra, the only other airport in north Bengal, is 137km from Hasimara
(Image Courtesy – Construction World)

If Hasimara gets the go-ahead, it will be an alternative to Bagdogra, which is also a civil enclave. This April, when Bagdogra had been shut for runway repairs, fliers did not have a viable alternative though some did fly to Pakyong Airport in Sikkim and then undertook a five-hour road journey to reach Siliguri.

“I assure you of all cooperation of this ministry,” Scindia added.

The three airports nearest to Hasimara are Bagdogra, Cooch Behar and Rupsi, which is in the Dhubri district of Assam. These are located 137km, 57km and 117km, respectively, from Hasimara. The Cooch Behar airport, however, is not operational.

Rafale fighter jets inducted into the 101 squadrons of the IAF that are posted at the air force base are stationed there. (Image Courtesy – Telegraph India)

Hasimara Air Force Station is an Indian Air Force (IAF) base located in Alipurduar district, West Bengal. It was established in 1962 during the India-China war. Rafale fighter jets inducted into the 101 squadrons of the IAF that are posted at the air force base are stationed there.

Hasimara is located strategically near the Indo-Bhutan border. It is also the closest Indian air base to the Chumbi Valley – the tri-junction between the Indian state of Sikkim, Bhutan and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The airport is situated at an elevation of 340 ft (104 m) above mean sea level. It has one runway with concrete surfaces: 11R/29L measuring 9,000 by 148 feet (2,743 by 45 m).

Cover Image – Trishul Trident

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