There is good news for air travellers from the city visiting the abode of Lord Venkateswara in Tirupati and those going to Bangalore. SpiceJet is introducing flights to these destinations from September 21. The airline will operate 78-seater Bombardier Q 400 aircraft to these two destinations as also a third flight between Hyderabad-Visakhapatnam-Hyderabad from the same day.
The Jet Airways flight to Delhi that was withdrawn a couple of months ago would be resumed from October 1.
Visakhapatnam Airport is handling around 70,000 passengers on an average every month.
The 16 arrivals and departures from the airport would increase to 19 after the three new flights are introduced on September 21.
The number of passengers handled by Visakhapatnam Airport between January and March 2011 was 1,89,265 as against 1,57,080 handled during the corresponding period last year, according to Airport Director K. Srinivasa Rao.
This figure was much higher than the domestic passengers handled by Calicut, Amritsar and Port Blair International Airports and marginally lower than Trivandrum International Airport which handled 1,89,500 passengers during the same period.
It is also higher than the passengers handled by the Custom Airports at Mangalore, Trichy, Bagdogra and Varanasi but lower than Patna Airport which handled 2,17,354 passengers during the same period.
The number of passengers from Visakhapatnam Airport increased from 2,13,632 between April and June this year as against 1,74,856 handled during the same period last year recording a 22 per cent growth in passenger traffic. Visakhapatnam Airport is ready in all respects to receive international flights. Mr. Srinivasa Rao said that efforts were being made by people's representatives and the Air Travellers Association to make airline operators to operate direct flights to various destinations abroad.
“I have also apprised the District Collector and the Principal Secretary of Airports and Ports on the need to provide international connectivity in view of the growth in traffic and development of the city,” he said.
He, however, said that no written ‘Expression of Interest (EOI)' was received from any international operator so far.
He is optimistic that international connectivity would be a reality by the end of the year.
While the Navy, which operates the Air Traffic Control, wants the airline operators to first come out with an EOI, the operators are demanding extension of the watch hours beyond 8 p.m. first so that they could plan their schedules.
One can only hope that the Navy and the airline operators do not sing: “Pahle tum…pahle tum…” (first you… first you) forever.