After 21 years, the Keshod airport near Asiatic lion’s abode Gir, will start commercial operations.
On March 12, union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia will inaugurate the new airport and flag off the first flight to Mumbai.
The announcement of making this airport operational was made in 2018 but was delayed pending some approval with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
The Keshod airport has been developed under the revival of airports scheme of the government of India at the cost of Rs 25 crore. Alliance Air, under regional connectivity scheme -UDAN will start the operations.
Keshod airport director P L Prasanna said, “A 72-seater Mumbai-Keshod-Mumbai flight will be operational from March 12. We are planning one more flight to Ahmedabad once the re-carpeting work of the runway there is completed. ”
He added that the Airports Authority of India has obtained all the regulatory approvals and licences to start scheduled flights. The terminal is capable of handling 75 passengers at a time.
Sasan-Gir, the last abode of Asiatic lions, is 50 km from Keshod. The flight connectivity is expected to boost tourism in Sasan as well as Gir National Park. At present, tourists coming from other states have to land at Rajkot airport and then undertake a 3-4 hours road journey to Sasan.
Junagadh, 35 km from Keshod, too is being developed as a historical city and after commencement of the ropeway at Girnar mountain, the number of tourists has increased manifold. The tourist influx to Somnath temple is also expected to rise as it is just 55 km from Keshod.
Keshod airport is spread over 450 acres of land. This airport was constructed by the last ruler of Junagadh Nawab Mahabat Khan. Praduman Khachar, head of department of history at Dr. Subhash Mahila Arts and Commerce college, Junagadh said, “The airport was built in 1945 and inaugurated in 1947. Nawab himself had to flee using this airport to Pakistan within a couple of months of inauguration when this princely state was unified with independent India.”