Visakhapatnam: Over 98 per cent of the air travellers prefer Visakhapatnam International Airport rather than going to distant Bhogapuram International Air-port (BIAL) as per a passenger-friendly survey conducted by Air Travellers Association India (ATAI).
The travellers’ body questioned the state gover-nment’s reasons for constructing a ‘Greenfield’ airport at Bhogapuram instead of expanding the current airport in Visakhapatnam.
Visakhapatnam airport, owned by the Indian Navy, has two runways for both civil and military operations, and it operates on a 24-hour basis. With a capacity of handling 200 flights a day, this airport was not fully utilised with only 76 flights landing daily. “There was no necessity to have another international airport as the current airport has all the infrastructure facilities", said ATAI president D Varada Reddy.
Comparing Vishakhapatnam's situation to Hyderabad, he said: “The density of aircrafts at Hyderabad is 230 flights a day. Bigger aircrafts couldn’t come to Begumpet airport as it has a single runway. So, it was necessary to have an international airport at Shamshabad which is only 35 km from the city. However, it will take around one-and-a-half hour to reach Bhogap-uram from Visakhapa-tnam because the distance between the two places is more than 60 km. This will be a major concern for the international passengers.”
Recently during a teleconference, AP Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu had asked the Dubai-based Emirates Group to make upcoming Greenfield international ai-rport at Bhogapuram a hub.
The ATAI president condemned this statement as foreign airlines cannot use Indian Airpo-rts as their hubs except as turn-around flights. The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation or the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) can only allow a foreign airline company to make the airport as its hub, said a member of the ATAI.
“The bankruptcy of the thought process of the State Government is clearly evident. On one side BIAL claims that Airports Authority of India (AAI) has bid and won the contract for the Greenfield airport and on the other hand are these str-ong rumours that Emirates was being requested to help in its development,” he pointed out.
The ATAI president also blamed the government for diverting the loan amount of Rs 868 crore borrowed from NABARD to build the temporary Assembly Ha-ll in Amaravati.
“This loan burden will now fall on taxpayers instead of going for the construction of the airport,” he added.
Despite repeated calls, the BIAL management has not responded....