SpiceJet, the second largest airline in India by the number of domestic passengers, started non-stop flights between Shillong and New Delhi from February 24.
The first Q-400 aircraft with 18 passengers took off from Delhi at 7:40 am and it reached Shillong airport at 10:50 am on Friday.
The air passengers were felicitated by the officials of Shillong airport on their arrival.
The aircraft left Shillong at 11:15 am with 12 passengers on board and the flight reached Delhi at 2:40 pm.
Initially, SpiceJet will operate flights from Shillong to the national capital twice in a week on Monday and Friday.
“The new flight is operational on the specified route from today with its Q-400 aircraft. Meghalaya has tremendous potential for the tourism industry and this new flight service will undeniably provide a major boost to it,” said an official of SpiceJet.
“As the airport is located near a hill only Q400 series aircraft with 72 to 80 seat capacity can be operated,” he also said.
“We are excited to extend our network to Shillong. Meghalaya is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the North East with magnificent landscape and scenic views and there is tremendous potential for tourists traffic to the state. Non-stop flights providing hassle-free connectivity will provide a major fillip to travel and tourism in the state,” he added.
On January 14, SpiceJet signed a memorandum of understanding with Meghalaya State Transport Corporation (MSTC) for operating direct flights between Shillong and Delhi.
SpiceJet has a total fleet of 23 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft. The aircraft will be deployed for the Delhi-Shillong-Delhi route.
An initiative to operate direct Delhi-Shillong-Delhi flights was undertaken by the Meghalaya government in 2020. Initially, Big Charter Pvt Ltd (FlyBig) was engaged to operate the flights.
FlyBig had deployed Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft on the route which were initially chartered from SpiceJet.
However, FlyBig later expressed its inability to continue its operations.
Subsequently, the state government held several deliberations with FlyBig and also explored other alternatives. Accordingly, the agreement with FlyBig was terminated in 2021.