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New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Kushinagar International Airport on October 20, 2021, in the presence of  Anandiben Patel, Governor, Uttar Pradesh;  Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister, UP; and Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Civil Aviation Minister, among others.

The International Airport will get operational this week to ease cumbersome travel of earlier times and facilitate the air travel requirements of International Buddhist pilgrims in India.The inaugural flight will land at the airport from Colombo, Sri Lanka, carrying 125 dignitaries and Buddhist Monks, highlighting the convenience to Buddhists across the world to visit the MahaparinirvanaSthal of Lord Buddha.

The Airports Authority of India, in its continuous endeavour to upgrade airport infrastructure in the country, has developed the Kushinagar Airport with new terminal building spread across 3,600 sqm at an estimated cost of Rs 260 crore in association with Govt. of Uttar Pradesh considering the demand of the domestic and international visitors and pilgrimage.

The new terminal is equipped to handle 300 passengers during peak hours. Kushinagar is an International Buddhist Pilgrimage Centre, where Lord Gautam Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana. It is also the centre point of the Buddhist circuit, which consists of pilgrimage sites at Lumbini, Sarnath, and Bodh Gaya.

The airport will help in attracting more followers of Buddhism from home and abroad to Kushinagar and will enhance the development of Buddhist theme based circuit. Journey of Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Shravasti, Rajgir, Sankisa, and Vaishali of Buddhist circuit will be covered in lesser time now, according to a PIB release.

Inauguration of the Kushinagar Airport will facilitate the pilgrims from across different parts of the world by providing seamless connectivity to various Buddhist sites in the region. Direct aviation connectivity with South Asian countries will make it easier for tourists arriving from Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore etc to reach Kushinagar and experience the rich heritage of the region. Tourism inflow is expected to rise by up to 20% with inauguration of the flight.

The Kushinagar International Airport will not only put the pilgrimage site on International Aviation Map but also give boost to economic development of the region. It will have a multiplier effect on the hospitality industry by promoting hotel business, tourism agencies, restaurants etc. It will create employment for local people by opening immense amount of opportunities in feeder transport services, local guide jobs etc. Local industry and products will get global recognition.

The development of the airport at Kushinagar will help in developing Kushinagar as one of the four principal places of Buddhist Pilgrimage. Further, it will lead to development of India as the original Buddhist center and spread of principles of Buddhism across the world.

The airport will serve a population of more than two crore  since the airport has a hinterland of around 10-15 Districts and will be a great support for large migrant population of Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Western / Northern Part of Bihar. This will also boost the opportunities for export of horticultural products like Banana, Strawberries, and Mushroom.