Lakshadweep’s lakshya: New airport, more hotels | India News

Lakshadweep’s lakshya: New airport, more hotels | India News



NEW DELHI: Lakshadweep could get improved aerial connectivity with mainland India and the world in coming years with a proposed dual-use airfield for civilian and military purposes in Minicoy that can handle Airbus A320/Boeing 737-size planes as well as fighter jets.
Also, a two-decade-old plan to extend Agatti’s 1.2-kmlong airstrip may finally take shape now, allowing A320s to operate there instead of the smaller turboprops that currently do so.
Indian hotel majors say they are scouting for more sites in Lakshadweep. Taj has already announced it will open new hotels in Lakshadweep’s Suheli and Kadmat islands by 2026. The administration is also pushing for more cruise tourism to the Arabian Sea archipelago.

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The Lakshadweep administration says it has taken several steps to make a trip to the archipelago easier by shifting the mandatory e-permit completely online and lifting prohibition on tourists from some areas. Earlier travellers, Indian citizens included, had to pay a fee of Rs 200 in a bank and submit the deposit challan to apply for an entry permit.
Now, an online process ensures a permit can be issued within a day or two.
Also, just how badly improved air connectivity is needed can be gauged from the fact that Alliance Air — the only Indian airline that operates to Lakshadweep — has all its Kochi-Agatti-Kochi flights — the only aerial route to the archipelago — sold out for till March.
The yet-to-be-divested and cash-strapped PSU operates a 70-seater turboprop ATR-72 daily to Lakshadweep and is now considering adding flights there. Maldives has about 60 weekly flights from various Indian cities by desi airlines alone.
Lakshadweep additional DM Giri Sankar told TOI: “Government, in addition to expanding the existing Agatti airport (runway), is also planning a greenfield airport at Minicoy for A320/B737 type of operations. The existing Agatti runway is proposed to be expanded towards its north side. The shoulder is proposed to be expanded to handle bigger planes. There will be sea platforms.”
A B737/A320 can seat upto 189 passengers in all economy configuration. Agatti runway extension plan has been held due to green concerns. Comments were sought from Airports Authority of India (AAI) on the new plans that take care of those concerns and awaited till the time of going to press. Smaller planes means lower capacity and higher fares.
“Bangaram is a very premium island resort which used to have 32 rooms till April 2023. However, now the capacity has been doubled to 64 premium rooms. Premium Resorts with all modern amenities are being constructed in Suheli and Kamat Islands. In addition to the above mentioned initiatives, new tent cities are coming up in Agatti and Kavaratti Islands.” Sankar said.
While Lakshadweep has prohibition like Gujarat, parts of the tourist areas are exempted and liquor is sold there.





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