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International flights from Tirupati still a mirage
The airport was already equipped with integrated terminal building whereas in Vijayawada foundation stone was laid for the construction of that facility on December 4, on the day service to Singapore was launched
Tirupati: The international flights elude Tirupati owing to various factors including lack of initiative from both the Central and the state governments. Though Tirupati was given the status in June 2017 itself and was equipped with all the prerequisites, still no single flight has been operated to abroad from here though Vijayawada airport got international status after Tirupati is handling Singapore flights.
The airport was already equipped with integrated terminal building whereas in Vijayawada foundation stone was laid for the construction of that facility on December 4, on the day service to Singapore was launched. Similarly, customs, immigration and health wings were provided and staff were posted long back. As there was no word about the services, these staff were attached to their parent departments.
Passengers who go to Chennai to board flights for the US or Gulf countries were of the view that lack of initiative from the governments was the main reason behind this. Since, the Chief Minister was determined to run flights to Singapore, the government agreed to fulfil viability gap funding and convinced IndiGo airlines to operate its services. That kind of determination was lacking in case of Tirupati, observed a passenger.
Travel agents were of the view that initially government should operate Air India services as was done at Kannur from where Air India Express, the sister concern of Air India was pressed into service. There will be traffic from Tirupati mainly to US and Gulf. Passengers from Chittoor district and surrounding Kadapa, Anantapur and Nellore districts may get the option of travelling from Tirupati which is fast developing as Industrial hub also.
“Many multinational companies are located in Sri City and there is a regular stream of travelers from various countries. All of them were utilising Chennai airport now. That traffic can be easily tapped,” observed a travel agent.
Another agent V Kodanda Rama Raju of Air Wings made it clear that at least 200-300 passengers travel daily from this region either to US or Gulf through Chennai, Bengaluru or Hyderabad.
He observed that there will be regular traffic to Malaysia from here and by giving connectivity to their flights to Korea can also be operated which will be beneficial in view of Kia Motors in Anantapur. “Occupancy is not a factor. If flights are operated to Malaysia and Gulf, we get the required occupancy.
Alternatively, we can operate services to Gulf via Hyderabad to fill the balance load from there. Connecting a two-tier city and a one-tier city to operate international flights will be a better option,” he felt. Still, if there are any doubts about the occupancy factor, they can do a survey to assess the situation or they can analyse the data from Chennai airport to know how many passengers travel from this area daily as they will have all passport details there, observed Raju.
Cargo services can also be induced from here as farmers can export flowers, fruits and vegetables to Gulf. Chittoor MP Dr N Siva Prasad told The Hans India that the demand for international flights has been pending for a long time but was never addressed due to negligence of Central government. “We were having the ready to go international airport in our city but forced to go to other cities for abroad travel needs.
Now, we will make serious efforts and bring pressure in the Parliament as the sessions are going on. We request Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu to take up the matter with the Minister for Civil Aviation,” he maintained. From Tirupati there are no convenient flights to New Delhi or Vijayawada also, he remarked.
The in-charge Director of Tirupati Airport Maya Devi J Nayar has said that, the airport was all ready to operate the services to abroad from any time. If Airlines show interest and come forward, government will take a decision.