The operations at Bagdogra airport will remain closed from April 11 to 26 for runway maintenance works, announced the Airports Authority of India (AAI). AAI released the official notification on its official Twitter handle.
There are rising concerns from the state government and other travel bodies, including the tourism industry, about the closure as it can heavily impact flight operations. It is peak tourism season for the Darjeeling district, where Bagdogra airport is the primary access. There are reports that the state government has taken their concerns with AAI. However, no change of plans seems to be in place. The airlines have reportedly started informing passengers about the closure and change of flight operations.
Bagdogra airport is a civil enclave under the maintenance purview of the Indian Air Force, which maintains the runway and the air traffic control. IAF informed AAI about closing down Bagdogra airport last month for resurfacing work of the final layer of the flexible portion of the runway.
How Does the Shutdown of Bagdogra Airport Affect Passengers?
The passengers planning a trip to Darjeeling for summer will have to change their plans. “Passengers who have already bought tickets or have thought of flying from or to Bagdogra during this fortnight should revise their plans. That is why we have circulated the message through different media,” Telegraph India quoted a representative of an airline company based in Bagdogra.
Another hotel owner from Siliguri has conveyed that senior government officials have promised that they are in talks with the Central government. However, he said that there is no indication of the change of plans, and the decision may not be changed.
The prime tourism season in Darjeeling starts in April. Passengers from across India visit hill stations like Darjeeling during the summer season as the place has a low temperature compared to the rest of the nation. The closure of Bagdogra airport will become a massive setback for the tourism sector and the allied stakeholders who depend on the tourism sector. The COVID-19 pandemic already affected the tourism industry in the region for the last two years. Sikkim is mainly dependent on Bagdogra airport as only one flight operates from Pakyong.