State-run chopper operator Pawan Hans is likely to invest Rs 1,500 crore for improving the air connectivity and give a boost to tourism in north-east region.
Pawan Hans, pioneer in off-shore helicopter operations in India, will make Guwahati in Assam as its hub for development of the region under a proposed 'hub-and-spoke' model and will also set up engineering training and helicopter pilots training institutes in the region, company sources told PTI.
The model aims at feeding to scheduled airlines and address the viability issues in a systematic manner within the region and a detailed plan in this regard is expected to be unveiled shortly, they said.
At present, it operates 155 weekly flights, connecting 33 destinations across Meghalaya, Tripura, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland with a dedicated fleet of 12 helicopters.
"The proposal for hub-and-spoke model is for providing point to point inter-state connectivity between various cities of Assam by using helicopters. Under this model all the important cities within the states will be interconnected by using helicopter with creation of heliports/helipads at small cost, thus reducing the requirement huge expenditure on airports," they said.
Passenger can fly directly and without any stopover between any two cities within the NE region, they said, adding such flights will also be very convenient to the business travelers.
Sources also said the proposed hub-and-spoke model can be achieved by three-tier helicopter services model in remote districts to the smaller heliports, airfields, regional hubs and helipads, which may be operated depending on the daily/weekly needs to connect various small villages and towns and also promote regional tourism.
The plan entails an investment of Rs 1,500 crore which include acquisition of helicopters, some fixed wings planes as well as construction of heliports and helipads, they said.
This three-tier system would fit into a 'hub-and-spoke' model to feed big carriers to outside of the region and address the viability issues in a systematic manner within the region, they said, adding regional hubs shall be developed in Guwahati which will connect all NE state capitals with it.