With support from the state government, Guwahati, Assam's main city and the gateway to India's northeast, has the potential to become a major airline hub, says budget carrier SpiceJet's Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh.
Singh feels that because of the northeast's strategic location, it can also become a major airline cargo hub and generate hundreds of jobs.
"The northeast can be made a cargo hub which will create hundreds of jobs if training institutes can be started with government support," Singh said at a seminar on "Assam's Trilemma: Create jobs, Enhance skills, Promote entrepreneurship" here late on Saturday evening.
The seminar was organised by the Delhi Alumni Association, Assam, a group of people across multiple professions hailing from the state who have spent a part of their life as students in the national capital.
Singh stressed that jobs get created when GDP grows and connectivity was a major source of such growth.
In this connection, tourism has "absolutely beautiful potential" in the region, he said.
Stating that SpiceJet had a lot of employees from the northeast, he said people from the region were courteous and spoke well.
Though Guwahati is one of the busiest airports in the country, Singh is of the view that it is time to look at other airports in Assam like Jorhat and Lakhimpur.
He stressed two things - a hangar for his airline at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi (LGB) International Airport in Guwahati and lower sales tax on aviation fuel.
Singh said if SpiceJet got a hangar, it can keep planes there overnight and "we can have first flights out from Guwahati in the morning to major cities across India".
He said the West Bengal government had been very pro-active and had cut sales tax on aviation fuel. This helped SpiceJet in making Kolkata a hub.
"We have flights from Kolkata to Guwahati and Silchar and we are now looking at flights to Jorhat and Lakhimpur."
Saying Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had a positive attitude towards business, Singh said if his government reduced sales tax on aviation fuel, SpiceJet could make Guwahati one of its hubs.
With the Centre's stress on Act East, connectivity to Southeast Asia also cropped up.
Though India was working on a trilateral highway connecting with Myanmar and Thailand, Singh felt such infrastructure projects take time to be completed.
But if Guwahati becomes an airline hub, flights to Southeast Asia "can be made from tomorrow".
SpiceJet on Friday reported a rise of 103 per cent in net profit for the second quarter of 2016-17.
The company's Q2 net profit stood at Rs 58.9 crore, up from Rs 29 crore in the corresponding quarter of 2015-16.
(Aroonim Bhuyan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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