Sunday, August 13, 2023

Runway closure plan upsets stakeholders

Visakhapatnam: The industry and business circles of Vizag are worried over how the proposed runway resurfacing works at Vizag airport would affect the flight operations. In a recent communique, the INS Dega authorities informed the airport director about the runway mending activity.

The works are preliminarily proposed from 9 pm to 8 am between November 15 and March 2024. This may bring the services of about 10 flights, including the only international flight being operated from the Vizag airport to Singapore, to a complete halt. The runway resurfacing works are done once every 10 years at an airport sized Vizag with the last one being done in 2009.

Representatives of various trade and commerce bodies claim that the complex activity, which involves a comprehensive survey, runway strengthening and alignment, and repairs, does not pose much trouble at the airports having more than one landing strip. But they say that Vizag having only one runway brings all the issues into picture. The prolonged disruption in flight operations may cripple the economic activity in the region, leave a lasting impact on businesses, affect the tourist footfalls in the peak season (winter is the peak tourist season for Vizag), and bring the air traveller numbers at Vizag airport back to the dark days of the Covid-19.

AP Chambers of Commerce and Industry Federation president Pydah Krishna Prasad requested the authorities to reduce the hours of the proposed runway activity. “The runway closure for night flying operations will hit nearly 10 flights. The resurfacing works may be taken up between 11 pm to 6:30 am instead of the proposed 9 pm to 8 am to minimise the impact,” said Krishna Prasad.

Andhra Pradesh Air Travellers Association president K Kumar Raja and vice-president DS Varma said the passenger footfalls at Vizag airport are yet to touch the pre Covid-19 levels. “At this juncture, the long runway resurfacing hours may prove a problem for the investors, tourists, businessmen, and other stakeholders,” said Kumar Raja.

13/08/2023 Umamaheswara Rao/Times of India

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