Navy yet to give written consent on extension of watch hours
Chances of Singapore Airlines flight taking off from the Visakhapatnam airport from October 1 seem to be bleak.
Contrary to the assurance given by the government that the watch hours could be extended at “short notice” once the airlines give a written consent, no decision has been taken even more than two months after Singapore International Airlines announced its decision to operate flights from here to Singapore thrice a week.
It had announced that the SilkAir flight from Singapore would arrive here at 10.05 p.m. and take off for Singapore at 10.55 p.m. Many international airlines are said to be shying away from the city due to absence of round-the-clock operations at the airport.
Though Union Ministers D. Purandeswari and V. Kishore Chandra Deo, Rajya Sabha Member T. Subbarami Reddy, Minister for Infrastructure and Investments Ganta Srinivasa Rao, and representatives of Visakhapatnam Air Travellers’ Association (VATA) and Air Travellers Association (ATA) have been pursuing the matter with the Defence Ministry, Finance Ministry, the Navy, and the Airports Authority of India (AAI), no concrete proposal has emerged so far on the demand.
The Navy, which reportedly created a stumbling block in the extension of watch hours at the airport on the plea of ‘lack of manpower’, is said to have agreed to the extension of watch hours a few day ago. But no written commitment has been given so far. “The international airline operator requires at least two months, if not three, to commence ticket booking. Though the Navy is said to have given its oral consent, we haven’t received any written communication on extension of watch hours so far,” airport director K. Srinivasa Rao told The Hindu on Thursday.
It may be recalled that passengers coming by the Air India Dubai – Vizag (via Hyderabad) flight, which commenced more than four months ago, are being forced to spend one-and-a-half hours at the Hyderabad airport as the airport here opens only at 8 a.m. As the same flight operates as a domestic flight to Delhi from here, passengers are reaching Delhi around noon, instead of 9.30 a.m.
One can only hope that the authorities concerned wake up before it’s too late.