Till now, Itanagar remained the only capital city of India, which is yet to have an airport. Arunachal Pradesh also is the only state which does not have a dedicated airport. Arunachal Pradesh did have operational airports at Pasighat, Ziro and Tezu, but it is a military airport, with a civil enclave that supports domestic air travel.
Arunachal Pradesh had many military airports at many places, but there was no proper dedicated civil airport. An airport near the capital city Itanagar was much needed. However, Itanagar is a mountainous region, and there were technical challenges in building an airport.
Arunachal Pradesh is bordered by 3 countries, namely China, Myanmar and Bhutan. Hence airports and road connectivity in the state is much needed from a defense point of view. Itanagar airport, which is located in the center of the state, will be helpful in defense of the country also.
PM Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the airport on 9 February 2019. Construction started on 15 December 2020, and was inaugurated on 19 November 2022. The airport is now completely ready for flight operations to distant airports like Kolkata and Mumbai.
This greenfield airport was built and completed in under 2 years. The urgent need for the airport as well as choice of site are important reasons for such quick construction. The airport is built some distance (14 km) from the capital city in flat land, which will not constitute any technical challenges for the pilot, or cause constraints in the runway.
The airport has been named as Donyi Polo airport, but is more commonly known as Hollongi airport after the name of the site. The airport has a 2300 meter runway, with future extension provisions of up to 2800 meters. Also, unlike the Pakyong airport of Sikkim, Donyi Polo airport offers night landing facilities and other navigation facilities.
Commercial flights to Kolkata and Mumbai are about to begin from 28 November 2022. More destinations like Dibrugarh, Pasighat and Ziro are about to be linked with Itanagar by air in the next 2 days. The airport, as of present, will be a domestic airport, with no connectivity to airports of foreign countries.
Written by – Himadri Paul