The Airbus A 320 maiden Silk Air flight arrived here to a traditional water cannon welcome as it landed at the airport on Sunday evening from Singapore.

The usual fanfare associated with the launch of an international flight was missing with the Chief Minister cancelling his visit and the other Ministers staying away in view of the Cabinet reshuffle in Delhi.

The flash mob organised by students of Asian Institute of Management who also danced to patriotic numbers made the evening interesting. The officials and dignitaries inside the airport cut a cake to mark the inauguration.

The outgoing flight was fully booked, including all the 138 economy and 12 business class seats.

Flight No MI 448 took off from Singapore Changi Airport at 3.25 p.m. (Singapore local time) and arrived here at 5.10 p.m. (IST) on Sunday. The return flight MI 447 was scheduled to take off at 10.55 p.m. (IST) and reach Singapore at 5.55 a.m. (Singapore local time) on Monday (October 29).

The Silk Air flight will operate three times a week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. MI 448 will leave Singapore at 8.25 p.m. (Singapore local time) and reach Vizag at 10.05 p.m. In the return direction, MI 447 will leave Vizag at 10:55 p.m. and reach Singapore at 5:55 a.m. on the following day.

Principal Secretary (Infrastructure and Investments) Sunil Sharma hoped that the direct flight to Singapore would promote tourism and spur industrial growth of Visakhapatnam region. The picturesque beaches, Buddhist heritage sites and the scenic beauty of Araku are sure to draw the tourists, he felt.

The direct flight to Singapore offers excellent connectivity to onward destinations in the US, Australia, Japan, China and other parts of the globe.

Government Whip Dronamraju Srinivas, MLA s Malla Vijay Prasad and Tynala Vijay Kumar, District Collector V. Seshadri, Police Commissioner J. Purnachandra Rao, Chief Executive of Silk Air Leslie Thng, General Manager (AP) Vivek Jain, Airport Director K. Srinivasa Rao, Visakhapatnam Air Travellers Association president Cheruvu Ramakotaiah and Air Travellers Association of India president D. Varada Reddy were present.

Media denied entry

Media personnel, who went to cover the launch of the maiden flight, had a harrowing experience at the airport when CISF personnel posted at the entrance of the terminal building refused to let them in.

The journalists were made to wait outside for a long time. The organiser, who was coordinating on behalf of Silk Air, managed to convince airport officials after which the CISF allowed about a dozen reporters and stopped the rest. The scribes lost their cool after a CISF staff told them rudely to clear the way.

An argument ensued after which some officials intervened and the remaining journalists were allowed into the airport ending the impasse.

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