UDAN 4.0: Connecting Northeast India to Southeast Asia

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India’s ambitious UDAN 4.0 scheme is taking a major leap forward with its iteration plans to empower tourism and connectivity in the Northeast by establishing direct air routes between airports in the region and key cities in Southeast Asia.

The Indian government, along with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA), are actively working towards realizing the vision of Act East Policy.

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The UDAN, or Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik scheme, was launched in 2017 with the goal of making air travel affordable and accessible to the common man. It has already achieved significant success in connecting under-served airports within India.

UDAN 4.0 builds upon this foundation by setting its sights on the international stage. The initiative envisions linking airports in the Northeast, such as Guwahati, Imphal, and Agartala, with popular destinations in Southeast Asia like Bangkok, Yangon, and Mandalay.

People would be able to fly on the following routes at subsidized rates under the UDAN Scheme. These new routes, Guwahati-Bangkok, Guwahati-Dhaka, Imphal-Mandalay, and Agartala-Chittagong, which will soon become operational, were finalized based on demands from concerned states. In addition to these routes, there is a plan to add four more routes in the future.

Presently, there are two international airports in the northeastern region – at Guwahati and Imphal and are operated by Guwahati International Airport Limited (GIAL) and AAI, respectively.

At present, Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati and Bir Tikendrajit International Airport, Imphal are the only two international airports in Northeast India.

Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport in Agartala is set to become the third international airport upon the completion of its upgrade, expected by 2025. A new integrated terminal building has been designed for this purpose.

Connecting the Northeast to Southeast Asia through air travel is a bold and strategic move by the Indian government. It has the potential to unlock a new era of growth and prosperity for the region, while also strengthening India’s position as a key player in the globalized Asian landscape.

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