India's first private greenfield airport at Durgapur begins operations

India's first private greenfield airport project at Durgapur in West Bengal commenced commercial air operations on Monday with state-owned carrier Air India flying one of its planes to and from the airport.

The ATR 42-320 airplane of Air India took off from Kolkata, carrying MPs, other dignitaries, government officials and others, landed at the Durgapur airport and flew back to the eastern metropolis.

Christened Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport (KNIA), the airfield has been developed by Bengal Aerotropolis (BAPL) with the technical expertise from Singapore based Changi Airports International.

"The flight schedule has been structured in a manner which will enable on time and easy connectivity from Durgapur to major metros like Delhi and Mumbai via Kolkata," BAPL said in a statement.

"Through check-in" facility will be available to passengers travelling from Durgapur to and from Mumbai and Delhi airports.

"Our vision to put Durgapur on the national aviation map of India is now a reality," said company managing director Partha Ghosh.

Private carrier, Pinnacle Air which is conducting air trials to the nearby Cooch Bihar airport in north Bengal also touched down in KNIA during the premiere commercial operations.

The West Bengal government has declared a 100 per cent sales tax exemption on aviation turbine fuel till 2021 for flights refueling at KNIA besides a 25 percent concession on the base fare of the tickets in four passenger categories, in the commercial flight services by Air India.

Those eligible for the concessions are students from the airport's hinterland, land losers' family members, state government officials flying onward to Delhi and Mumbai from the hinterland and patients from 'Jangal Mahal' area travelling to Kolkata for treatment. The government officials will get the concession for a year.

"The concession will be provided in the way of a cash back format, wherein a passenger availing the discount is reimbursed with the entitled amount on producing valid documents as proof of meeting the criteria for any of the eligible concession categories," the company said.

The Asansol-Durgapur belt houses some of the largest industries in the state encompassing Durgapur Steel Plant, Alloy Steel Plant, Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, Durgapur Thermal Power Station, Alstom, IISCO, Philips Carbon Black, Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation and Ultratech Cement among others which results in an increased commutation activity in the area.

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