Umroi (Meghalaya): The new terminal building of the Shillong airport in Meghalaya will be inaugurated on Saturday, an Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said. The terminal will be inaugurated by Civil Aviation Minister Vayallar Ravi, Shillong Airport Controller V. Mohan told the agency.

The airport, formerly known as Umroi airport, is about 35 km north of Shillong, the state capital of Meghalaya.

Mohan said the new terminal, built at a cost of Rs.30 crore, is fitted with latest equipments like explosive trace detectors, baggage x-ray machines, and close-circuit cameras.

'It has been upgraded with six check-in counters, a complete security hold area, and separate blocks have been created for arrivals and departures, and a modern medical inspection room,' the AAI official said.

Mohan said the expansion work of the airport has started with the construction of a perimeter wall. The work was earlier delayed due to land acquisition.

'We have acquired 224.16 acres of land for expansion of the airport to facilitate landing of bigger aircrafts. The work has started flowing now,' Mohan said.

The new runway will be lengthened to 7,500 feet from the present runway of 6,000 feet and will be realigned with the existing runway.

The new runway will have strength of PCN 54 (Pavement Classification Number), which means that it can withstand the load and speed of bigger aircraft such as the Airbus 300, he said.

Meghalaya Transport Minister Abu Taher Mondal said the state government has paid around Rs.50 crore in compensation to about 250 land owners for the expansion of the airport to provide better connectivity for the state with the rest of the country.

The land-locked Meghalaya is connected to the country mostly by road at present.

At present, the Shillong airport can accommodate only 50-seater ATR aircraft, serviced every day except Friday from Calcutta.

The Umroi airport was constructed in the mid-60s and became operational in the mid-70s.