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Bengal Aerotropolis woos airlines for Durgapur airport

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With the construction of Changi's proposed airport at Andal near Durgapur in West Bengal going on in full swing, to meet the 2012-end deadline, promoter Projects () has initiated talks with major airlines for participation.

"We were always confident about the potentiality of the airport due to the huge a catchment area in the Durgapur-Asansol-Dhanbad region. There are several public sector units here like the Durgapur Steel Plant, Eastern Coalfields, Bharat Coking Coal and IISCO Steel Plant. We expect several airlines to operate flights from Andal," BAPL Chief Executive Officer and Director said during an aviation summit here.

Travel agents and officials from the , too, were present at the event showcasing facilities at Andal airport city.

Airlines representatives were "impressed by the projected facilities", but would conduct independent surveys before taking a final call. "Changi's association will surely instill confidence among the carriers. But, we will have to look into many operational aspects such as traffic potential and infrastructure like number of hotel rooms available in case of cancellation of flights etc," said an official of a private airline.

Operators, however, may seek incentives from the state government in the form of cut in sales tax on aviation turbine fuel ().

"We will definitely look into the operational costs, what the BAPL or state is offering. In states like Maharashtra, at non-metro airports, sales tax on fuel is four per cent against 20 per cent in case of airports in metros. We will see how the state comes forward here," said officials of another airline.

When asked about it, Paul said, "We will approach the state government along with the airlines to discuss these issues." Last year, BAPL made presentations to the network planning groups of airlines. It had suggested route plans to the airliners, which includes two daily flights to Delhi and one flight to Bombay and Kolkata each day. It had also proposed three flights in a week to either Chennai or Bangalore depending on passenger traffic, which would be linked with either Guwahati or Bagdogra in North Bengal.

Work is on in all aspects of airport like terminal building, runway and ATC building. The 6,500-sq m terminal building will have an annual passenger-handling capacity of one million. In the first year, the company it is expecting a passenger traffic of about 350,000.

The first phase of the work, scheduled to be completed by year-end, includes construction of the airport and initial infrastructure for the proposed township. The initial infrastructure for the township will involve an investment of Rs 624 crore.

After the first phase, BAPL plans to come out with an airport city, which would have an information technology park, hospitals and a residential complex. The airport city is expected to see an estimated investment of about Rs 10,000 crore.

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