Sunday, January 13, 2019

6 airports in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh set to hit cruise mode

The aviation sector across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is in for a massive explosion with all airports in expansion mode.
Apart from the big three — Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada — Rajahmundry, Kadapa and Tirupati are set to see operations being revved up this year, with better connectivity, increased flight frequency, higher passenger traffic and longer runways. While Kurnool and Nellore added their names to the list of airports recently, Warangal, Nizamabad and Kothagudem too could soon join the rolls, if the government’s plans stay on track. Also on the cards, according to Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials, is Donakonda (Prakasam district) and Bobilli (Vizianagaram).
“Surveys have been conducted to ascertain if they are feasible locations and the results have been positive. Now, someone (either AAI or state government) has to come forward to give shape to the projects. As and when developed, it’ll be done under the Udan-Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS),” said G M S Rao, Vijayawada’s airport director who was part of the survey team.
The central government scheme – aimed at making air travel more affordable and accessible – gave wings to Kadapa in 2017. Just about a year later, footfall at the facility has doubled – from 44,000 in 2017-18 to 90,000 in 2018-19 (till date) – and work is on to extend its runway length, begin night operations and even attract new domestic carriers. “We are expecting to finish the runway work by May. We are also coordinating with the forest department to install obstacle lights on hills around the airport. This will help us start night and allweather operations,” said P Siva Prasad, Kadapa’s airport director. The airport currently operates from dawn to dusk. Speaking about the potential of smaller airports in the two states he said: “It will boost businesses, within and outside the region. Vegetables and flowers, for instance, are very cheap in Kadapa. If we have strong air network with other cities, we can transport these perishables smoothly. It will, in turn, generate tremendous revenue,” Siva Prasad said.
13/01/19 Sudipta Sengupta/Times of India