Agra - A group of tourism industry leaders and politicians from here met Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh in New Delhi to demand the introduction of Air India flights to the Taj city, a member of the delegation has said.
K.C. Jain, president of REDCO (Real Estate Developers and Colonizers Organization) told IANS on phone from New Delhi that the civil aviation minister has given a firm assurance on this on Friday. They also demanded starting work on the new civil terminal at Kheria Air Force Station.
"Work on the new terminal building will start as soon as the Uttar Pradesh government acquires the 60 acres of identified land," Jain told IANS after the meeting that also included Agra's Bharatiya Janata Party MP Ram Shankar.
"Flights between Agra and Delhi, Khajuraho and Kolkata by Air India could start soon, once the instrument landing system (ILS) is certified by the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation)," he said. "A team is likely to be in Agra this weekend to review available facilities," Jain said.
The delegation members told the minister that the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has installed the ILS about a year back at a cost of about Rs.4 crore.
The ILS, so installed, is to be certified by Directorate General-Civil Aviation and AAI for being made functional but the same has not been done so far.
Total number of charter flights come into Agra every year are from 600-700, each bringing 80-100 foreign tourists.
However, because of poor visibility and lack of ILS, the flights are forced to over-fly or cancelled, bringing much inconvenience to the tourists.
In the last 15 days, about 15 flights had to be diverted from Agra for the want of proper visibility.
Agra needs to be well connected with other tourist destinations like Khajuraho, Varanasi, Jaipur, Lucknow and Delhi. Agra also receives more than seven million visitors annually but does not have proper air connectivity.
The present AAI's civil terminal is located within the Air Force area without a separate corridor for the entry/exit or for the parking of the private aircrafts, he said.
"The lack of the separate entry/exit corridor creates a hurdle to the passengers and private airlines as the Air Force people discourage the movements of the private aircrafts and the private passengers," Jain said.
The AAI has identified 55-56 acres of land in village Dhanoli (near Air Force Gate No.3 and adjoining the state highway No.39) which is owned by the state government and private people, Jain said.
On that land, a separate corridor and civil terminal can conveniently operate and it is only 100 metres away from the present runway, he said.