Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport and said that this was a 'manifestation of decades of aspirations and efforts'.The first flight from Sri Lanka touched down at the Kushinagar airport on Wednesday morning, bringing a high-level delegation that comprised ministers and Buddhist monks."This was my commitment and we have fulfilled it. We lay special emphasis on linking Buddhist destinations, improving hospitality facilities and ensuring the comfort of tourists. This airport will not only serve tourists from India but also Buddhists from across the world, including Sri Lanka, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Cambodia and other countries," he said.The Prime Minister pointed out that other Buddhist destinations like Lumbini, Sarnath and Bodh Gaya were at a short distance from Kushinagar which added to the importance of the Buddhist circuit.
He said India had expanded its connectivity by increasing the number of airports and in the coming years, India would have 200 more airports."Flight academies are also being set up and our drone policy will benefit agriculture, health and other sectors, including disaster management.Earlier, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia, while welcoming the guests, said that flights from Kushinagar would soon begin for Mumbai and Kolkata and other destinations.He said that 54 crore Buddhists across the globe would benefit with this airport becoming functional.Built at a cost of Rs 260 crore and spread over 3,600 square metres, the airport is crucial for religious tourism as Kushinagar is the place where Lord Buddha attained 'Mahaparinirvana'. It is one of the four prominent Buddhist circuits. The airport will also serve nearby districts of Uttar Pradesh as well as Bihar.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that Kushinagar was the ninth airport in the state and 11 more were nearing completion.