Vijayawada: Footfalls have dipped at all airports with the Covid-19 spreading its tentacles and the governments scrambling to impose restrictions on travel and businesses.
In AP, Vijayawada International Airport used to operate 46 flights per day in pre-Covid times and it now barely operating eight to 12 flights to sectors like Hyderabad, Bengaluru and New Delhi. Travel bans imposed on flights from India are only adding to the dwindling air traffic by the day.
The crisis has hit revenues of airports as well as income of shops and business establishments dependent on air travel. Though Airports Authority of India charges airlines for operation of flights annually, reduced operation of flights is denting its income as airlines pay charges, based on the services availed and not in advance.
It is learnt that financial constraints are adversely impacting various development and maintenance works taken up by airports, such as extension of runways, development of aprons, tarmacs, renovation of terminal buildings and other on development of other amenities and facilities.
On how they are coping up with the Covid situation, Vijayawada airport director G. Madhusudhana Rao said, “We are providing all amenities to passengers to avoid any inconvenience even as the footfalls have come down due to Covid at our airport and are strictly following all safety norms.”
Tirupati airport used to operate 32 movements of flights in a day during pre-Covid times and at present it is able to operate only three to six services that too to Hyderabad only. Tirupati airport director S. Suresh said, “We are witnessing a lot of cancellation of operation of flights by the airlines for want of patronage from the passengers due to Covid. Except for delay in taking up several developmental works, we ensure all safety precautions for operation of flights.”
Rajahmundry airport which used to operate 22 movements of flights a day to sectors like Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati during per-Covid times is operating only six at present. However, it looks forward to cater to choppers for oil companies as they are going to resume offshore exploration of oil and gas. In May, 2020, the airport witnessed footfalls of 681 passengers and in March, 2021, it went up to 26,277 but slid to 20,000 in April. Rajahmundry airport director Manoj Nayak said, “We are maintaining all safety norms and even prepared to operate medical ambulances. We may stop developmental works for the moment to resume them later given the situation.”
Visakhapatnam International Airport, which operated 794 flights with a passenger footfall of 79,727 in September 2020, witnessed a drastic fall as it just saw 20 flights with 1,214 passengers to domestic sectors like Delhi, Hyderabad, Raipur, Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kurnool and Port Blair on May 21. However, Covid relief is arriving by air at the airport. On Friday, the airport received 101 boxes of oxygen concentrators from Hyderabad....