International flights from Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport (MBB) in Agartala will soon commence operations connecting Bangkok via Guwahati airport and Chittagong and Dhaka in Bangladesh, officials from the Airports Authority of India said earlier ( IAA).
According to AAI officials, MBB Airport, located 20 km north of the capital Tripura, in terms of aircraft and passenger handling, is the second busiest airport in northeast India after Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport (LGBI) in Guwahati.
LGBI and Bir Tikendrajit International Airport in Imphal (Manipur) were previously declared international airports and Ministry of Civil Aviation before starting flights to Bangkok and Bangladesh will soon declare MBB airport as third airport international in the northeast region, they said.
A water cannon salute was given earlier after the first flight with 143 passengers on board from Kolkata landed at MBB Airport’s new integrated terminal, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 4.
The commissioning of the new terminal on Saturday was attended by Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Pratima Bhoumik, who was among the first passengers to board from the airport on Saturday.
A brief cultural function and a famous Hojagiri tribal folk dance was performed by the female tribal performers on this occasion.
Constructed at a cost of Rs 5.00 crore and with a built-up area of 30,000 square meters, the new integrated terminal has been designed to accommodate 1,500 passengers including 200 international passengers during peak hours and it is equipped with all modern conveniences , IAA officials said.
Officials said that the new terminal is considered one of the best in the North East region and with all modern facilities, the new integrated terminal would allow more than 5,000 passengers to pass through per day.
Agartala Airport, which was first built in 1942 after the land was donated by the then King of Tripura, Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur, was used as the technical base for the Royal Air Force during World War II.
Agartala Airport, formerly known as Singerbill Airport, was renamed after Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur in July 2018. It is widely used by nationals of Bangladesh, for whom Agartala is sometimes the first stop to a destination in India or abroad as the airport is much closer to their region than the airports in their own country.
Minister of Transport and Tourism of Tripura, Pranajit Singha Roy said that as MBB airport is already developed with all international facilities and standards, the state government has urged the central government to start operating flights from this airport to neighboring countries.
According to historian and writer Pannalal Roy, the lands of Agartala, Kailashahar and various other (now abandoned) airports in Tripura were donated by the kings of Tripura at the time.
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“During World War II, King Bir Bikram supported and aided the Allied Powers, especially Britain. He deployed a contingent of the army from Tripura to aid Britain. Meanwhile, Agartala, Kailashahar and other airports were built to facilitate the allied powers,” Roy, author of numerous books on the royal history of Tripura, told IANS.
He said that in 1943, Japanese fighter planes twice bombed Agartala airport.
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