Sunday, June 10, 2018

Navy planes tp reschedule passenger flights at Vizag airport, kicks up row

The Eastern Naval Command (ENC) under the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is reportedly planning to impose restrictions on passenger and civilian flights at the Visakhapatnam Airport, for 'security' and practice sessions by the Navy.

This move came in the backdrop of the growing air traffic at the airport, where ENC's naval airbase INS Dega also operates its flights. 

Media reports suggest that officials were looking at restricting passenger flights to five hours a day and only five days a week, to avoid clashes of timing with the ENC.

The move is expected to greatly affect air travel in the city, with airline operators even potentially moving out to other airports if they fail to make a profit. It could also have an adverse effect on tourist footfall, as the state pushes Visakhapatnam district as a tourism hub.

Passenger flight timings are expected to be changed from November 1.

The proposal was pitched during a recent Military-Civil coordination meeting held in Visakhapatnam, where the ENC said that it wanted to increase the movement of military aircrafts at the airport.

"A Naval Alternative Operating Base (NAOB) is already under construction at Rambilli in Visakhapatnam and an airstrip can be developed there. This apart, an airstrip at Badangi in Vizianagaram district is under development by the Navy. Airstrips can be developed at both the places in short time for the exclusive use of the Naval aircraft,” Naresh Kumar, chairman of the Tours and Travel Operators of Andhra (TTOA), told The Hindu.

The issue was also brought to the notice of Visakhapatnam Member of Parliament K. Haribabu.

According to reports, the airport presently sees around 25.5 lakh passengers a year and is the ninth biggest airport in the country, with airlines like SpiceJet, IndiGo, JetAirways, AirAsia and Air India operating daily flights.
10/06/18 News Minute

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