Junagadh district’s Keshod will once again have its own airport. The new complex will be inaugurated on April 16 by Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia. Chief minister Bhupen Patel will also be present on the occasion.
To begin with, flights will be operated only thrice a week in the Mumbai-Keshod-Mumbai sector. The 72-seater aircraft is expected to run full capacity. Keshod Airport was built by the Nawab of Junagadh, Mahabatkhanji III for his private use, by acquiring land from Kotadias (the Patel community). The airport was refurbished and revived in the late 1980s to facilitate scheduled operations. The last airline to fly here was Jet Airways, which ceased flying to Keshod in 2000. Alliance Air was supposed to start a flight to Mumbai from April 1, 2019, as per UDAN scheme launched by the government, but due to shortfalls in the airport facilities observed during inspection had to postpone the commencement of flights.
The airport has been revamped under the Government of India’s revival of old airports scheme at an outlay of Rs 25 crore. The earlier deadline of March 12 was pushed back owing to last minute hitches. On Wednesday, district collector Rachit Raj held a meeting with the concerned authorities to take stock of the preparations. “We look forward to a robust revival of tourism in vibrant Gujarat. Rajkot and Porbandar airports are both a 100 km away from Gir and Somanth. On the other hand, Keshod airport will reduce travel time. We are also optimistic of the hospitality industry receiving a shot in the arm with this inauguration,” he opined.
The formal ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 2 pm on Saturday. Under the aegis of Airport Authority of India, the new airport boasts state-of-the-art facilities and infra. Once the runway re-carpeting is complete, Keshod-Ahmedabad flights will become operational.
It is hoped that the airport will boost tourism. Keshod is strategically located, 50 km from Gir National Park and 55 km from Somnath Temple. Hitherto, Rajkot airport was the nearest landing point, after which, Sasan (Gir) is a four-hour road trip.