Malkangiri Airport To Open Today; When This Odisha Dist Got Its 1st Tribal Woman Pilot

Malkangiri: Almost four years after Anupriya Lakra scripted aviation history by becoming the first female pilot from Malkangiri, air services to this southwesternmost district of Odisha will begin on Tuesday.

According to sources, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is scheduled to reach Malkangiri at 11.45 am and inaugurate the airport at Katelguda under Goudaguda panchayat, on the outskirts of the town. He will take a look at the terminal, the 1,620 metre long and 30 metre wide runway and other infrastructure works at the airport during his 10-15 minutes stay. While the airport will be opened for non-scheduled flight, regular services are expected to begin soon, taking the number of operational airports in the state to seven.

This follows a successful trial run of a nine-seater VT-100 double-engine flight, slightly bigger than the one operating between Jeypore and the state capital, at Malkangiri airport on Sunday. The aircraft landed at the airport within one hour and 10 minutes after leaving Bhubaneswar and was greeted to a customary water canon salute by fire services personnel.

The airport has been built over 94.5 hectare of land for Rs 33 crore and the air service is likely to boost Malkangiri’s economy, higher education avenues, health sector by facilitating movement of specialist doctors and security scenario by quicker deployment of security forces.

In the first phase, nine-seater aircrafts are likely to operate from the airport while larger aircrafts will provide services later.

Malkangiri airport is the second significant connectivity project in the district after Gurupriya bridge over river Janbai, inaugurated by the Chief Minister in 2018. It went on to become the paragon of development in Swabhiman area, once considered a Maoist hotbed, by providing connectivity to 151 villages spread over eight panchayats with a population of 30,000 tribals that were cut-off from the mainland for over five decades.

Notably, this will also be the CM’s second visit to the district in 3 months On October 12, 2023, Naveen visited Malkangiri to launch the LAccMI bus service facilitating the movement of tribal people from panchayats to blocks and district headquarters.

Daughter of a Havildar in Odisha police, Anupriya had quit engineering studies midway and joined an aviation academy to pursue her dream of becoming a pilot. After six years of rigorous training, she was was inducted in a private airline.



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