Mangaluru: It was a decade ago that the first international flight landed in Mangaluru. But 10 years down the line, the city is no closer to being connected to more destinations or even attracting new airlines despite being home to what is only the state’s second international airport.
Currently, the city is directly connected to places like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and the Gulf by airlines based only in India as the government has not has signed any bilateral agreement to operate foreign flights from it. The long standing demand for the extension of its runway extension too has been placed on the backburner and air traffic from the city has drastically fallen over the last one year. Airport director V.V. Rao said there were no proposals from any new airlines to connect Mangaluru to other destinations.
Experts suggest the government needs to decrease the Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) tax and include Mangaluru under the Udaan scheme to improve its air connectivity.
“At present the ATF tax here is 28 per cent unlike in the neighbouring state where it is 1 per cent. Our state government too should subsidies the ATF tax as this will help attract newer airlines to operate from Mangaluru and make its air fares cheaper,” suggested Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industries president, Isaac Vas.
Activist, M G Hegde blamed lack of political will for the poor condition of the Mangaluru International Airport. “Be it the Congress or BJP, they have hardly concentrated on our airport or railways. But in Kerala the ATF tax has been reduced to one per cent in Kannur, which clearly shows that they are ready for competition. Our state has hardly done anything,” he lamented, adding, “It is really sad that Mangaluru, which is the state’s second international airport, has not received the importance it deserves.”...