Saturday, August 24, 2019

City airport is open 24x7, but airlines don’t get to choose slots

Visakhapatnam: The Indian Navy is reportedly once again imposing curbs on the movement of commercial flights at the Visakhapatnam International Airport citing a lack of available slots.

A few airline operators had expressed their desire to withdraw operations at the airport last year after the Navy asked them to reschedule their flights to avoid a clash of schedules with military slots.

The issue had snowballed into a major controversy last year, following which the Navy proposed ‘dedicated’ slots for military and commercial flights at the airport. Though the proposal of ‘dedicated’ slots was not implemented, the slots for commercial flights were substantially increased.
Things seemed to be fine until AllianceAir, a subsidiary of Air India, withdrew its ATR flight being operated between Visakhapatnam-Vijayawada-Tirupati a few months ago. AllianceAir had announced its decision to shift its Vizag-based ATR72 to Hyderabad and operate in a new sector after being denied its requested slot at Vizag Airport by the Navy. The airline wanted to operate the aircraft on the Hyderabad-Vijayawada-Vizag route and back on a daily basis.

Air travellers’ associations blamed the Navy for stifling the growth of the local aviation sector at a time when there was high demand for additional flights from the city.
24/08/19 B. Madhu Gopal/The Hindu
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