Fly to lion's abode Gir this winter
The Times Of India
RAJKOT: This winter, tourists can actually take the aerial route to reach Asiatic lions' kingdom Gir or even the famous Somnath temple.
After 18 years, the airport of Keshod town in Junagadh district will become operational with Trujet small flight brand of Hyderabad-based Turbo Megha Airways beginning commercial operations.
Keshod airport, founded by Junagadh's last ruler Nawab Mahabatkhanji III for his personal use, had become dysfunctional after the only carrier Jet Airways had ceased operations in 2000. Jet operated a 42-seater aircraft to Mumbai.
Keshod airport director S K Saran told TOI: "Truejet will start commercial scheduled operation from November 15 between Keshod and Ahmedabad. We have made this airport operational under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)." The operator is planning to start 72-seater aircraft.
Sasan Gir, the abode of Asiatic lions which witnesses heavy rush of tourist in winters, is around 32 km from Keshod. At present, tourists from outside Gujarat, who avoiding the eight-hour road travel from Ahmedabad to Gir, have to take flights to either Rajkot or Diu.
Saran said that Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) approval to start operations of commercial flights is expected within a week. A team of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) along with other agencies will visit the airport on October 14 to review the security situation.
After the 9/11 attacks in the US, Keshod airport also had to be developed as per the new security norms that came into effect. There was only visitor room before 2000, whose area has now been doubled. The arrival and departure wings have also been segregated. The X-ray baggage scanning machines have been installed along with the requisite number of CCTV cameras.
The airport authority also planning install TVs for entertainment of the passengers and a food court. "We also had to develop the runway as per the requirement of 72-seater aircraft, for which we had to remove some obstruction near the airport area to make the path clear for take-off and landing." Saran said.
NAWAB FLED TO PAK FROM THIS AIRPORT
Rajkot: According to the information on Airport Authority of India (AAI) website, Keshod airport is spread over in area of 460 acres and built Mahabat Khanji, the last ruling Nawab of Junagadh, sometime between 1944 to 1947. The Nawab had fled from this airport to Pakistan by his own aircraft when small princely states in independent India were being unified.