Andhra Pradesh

Vijayawada airport flies high

The Vijayawada International Airport has reached a new milestone by handling over 10,000 international passengers in a short span despite several shortcomings.

Until May this year, the airport handled only one international service to Singapore for about seven months witnessing over 10,000 passengers at the old airport terminal which has been converted into the makeshift international terminal.

However, the Central government's Vande Bharat Mission (VMB) to bring back Indians stuck in various nations during the pandemic has necessitated the city airport to rise to the occasion even with meager staff and facilities.

Between May 20 and July 29, the airport handled 73 international flights and 10,244 passengers from various countries on 46 operational days. The international airlines that made direct landings in the airport include Jazeera Airways, Kuwait Airways, FlyDubai, Air Arabia, Salam Air and a few others besides Indian airlines Air India Express, Indigo, Air India, and SpiceJet.

"When compared to all established airports, the city airport has limited infrastructure to handle international passengers. Currently, we are operating in the terminal spreading over 3,600 square meters. Handling two services a week had been challenging then and now we are handling three to four flights a day by incorporating COVID screening facilities and other additional services in the same space," airport director G. Madhusudhan Rao told The Hindu.

Smooth operations

“The resumption of services was with the VBM scheme and now we are receiving more chartered flights arranged by the State government, employers of the returnees or NGOs. We are ensuring smooth operations though we have only one team each for customs, immigration, medical and airport staff. It has been a team effort of all the wings,” he added. Besides international terminal staff, nearly 120 personnel of various wings work at the airport.

The airport has witnessed international passengers from Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Qatar, Kazakhstan, USA, Germany and France. A majority of the passengers were from gulf countries and from Kuwait alone 5,324 persons returned to the State via city airport. Few passengers, who came from Kuwait in the initial days, tested positive for COVID.

Mr. Rao said that none of the staff members handling the returnees directly or indirectly tested positive so far as they took utmost care and foolproof measures at the airport premises. Meanwhile, the airport has been handling four to five domestic flights a day.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 4:54:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/vijayawada-airport-flies-high/article32225319.ece

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