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Andhra Pradesh - Visakhapatnam Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Dismal growth in air traffic belies expectations

B. Madhu Gopal

‘Ready for 24-hr operations if operators come with concrete proposals'


Air Travellers Association attributes the situation to the indifference of authorities

Sources in airport say there is no written commitment from any international operator


Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam

A view of the new terminal building at Visakhapatnam airport. —

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Visakhapatnam airport seems to have been caught in the proverbial Catch 22 situation as far as 24-hour operations are concerned.

The expansion of the runway to accommodate large bodied aircraft, opening of the modern new terminal building, and provision of night landing facilities were expected to hasten the pace of development. Two years down the line, the dismal growth in traffic belied all expectations.

The Air Travellers Association (India) attributes the poor growth in traffic to the indifference of the authorities concerned and the authorities say there is not much demand for night operations.

Malaysian and Thai airlines had “evinced interest” in operating their flights from Visakhapatnam. Silk Air had announced its plans to operate direct flights to Singapore from Visakhapatnam before the opening of the new terminal building two years ago.

It is learnt that representatives of Silk Air had met the airport and Naval authorities some months ago and expressed their willingness to operate flights to Singapore if the airport authorities provide landing facilities around midnight.

Airport sources, however, say that no international airline operators have given any written commitment either to the Navy or to the airport authorities.

“Operation of the airport during nights involves double the normal expenses. When no airline operator comes forward with a written proposal, there is no point in providing 24-hour operations,” felt an airport source.

‘Waste of expenditure'

“The Customs Department has sanctioned 30 posts for Visakhapatnam airport. The department is ready with manpower, X-Ray machines, and other equipment. It's a colossal waste of expenditure,” felt an official.

“Let them come out with concrete proposals. We are ready to operate the airport round the clock,” Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development D. Purandeswari, who represents Visakhapatnam in the Lok Sabha, told this correspondent when asked about the “interest” shown by international airline operators.

Airport Director C. Pattabhi echoed similar views when asked to comment on the issue. Are airlines operators listening?

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