The Visakhapatnam Air Travellers' Association (VATA) would launch a vigorous drive to increase its membership ten times from the present 100 to 1,000, its newly elected president Cheruvu Ramakotaiah said here on Wednesday.

“The idea is to muster as much support as possible to improve the amenities at Visakhapatnam airport and make it operational round-the-clock with international airlines arriving in the city. The VATA will not be a one-man show and function involving everybody to achieve our goals,” he said. Even septuagenarians were forced to move in long queues at the airport for over half-an-hour every time, he pointed out, and added the VATA would approach Union Ministers D. Purandeswari (HRD) and M.M. Pallamraju (Defence) to improve air connectivity.

Mr. Ramakotaiah, who also took over as president of Builders' Association of India local chapter, said at present no flights were operated after 8 p.m.

Since most of the international flights took off only between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., it was necessary that operations should be on 24/7, the outgoing VATA president D. Panduranga Rao said. “We can at least ask the international airlines operating from Chennai and Hyderabad to places such as Singapore and Malaysia go via Vizag airport which will save the precious time and money,” he said. A flat Rs.2,000 would be fixed for life-membership to achieve the target, he added.

The VATA leaders also felicitated Prof. Panduranga Rao for his services. Senior members A.S.N. Prasad, K. Rama Rao and Khasim Mehdi were also present.

Office-bearers

The other new-office-bearers of VATA elected for the three-year term are: D. Panduranga Rao (honorary president), K.M. Rao (vice-president), K. Rama Rao (secretary), V. Bhaskara Srinivas (deputy secretary), P.L.K. Murthy (treasurer), K. Kumara Raja, A.S.N Prasad, Kasim Mehdi, D.S. Varma, Kootikuppala Surya Rao, S. Vijayakumar, and S. Ravindra (executive members).

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