First international flight from Visakhapatnam today
By Express News Service | Published: 28th October 2012 09:19 AM |
The dreams of people from North Coastal Andhra will materialise on Sunday evening with the much-waited first and direct international flight by SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, taking off from Visakhapatnam to Singapore. The inaugural international flight (MI 448) is scheduled to arrive at Visakhapatnam airport at 5.10 pm on Sunday.
An(Airbus-320, which has a seating capacity of 150, is expected to take off from the city airport on Sunday, with 138 passengers who have already reserved tickets to fly in the first non-stop international carrier. Incidentally, the flight would take about four hours to land in Singapore, knocking off the extra 40 minutes it would take from Hyderabad.
The operation of international flights from Visakhapatnam has been a distant dream for the port city. For several months, the Visakha Air Travellers Association (VATA) and other concerned citizens have been making serious efforts and took up the matter with chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, Union minister D Purandeswari and Rajya Sabha member T Subbarami Reddy who in turn took up the issue with the Centre to get clearance for round-the-clock operation of flights from the city airport.
Recently, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) agreed to sanction additional staff to handle international flights. Accordingly the Navy, which controls the air traffic here, decided to extend the airport timings from 8 pm to 11 pm for three days a week.
“The SilkAir has made its presence felt in India and is offering an opportunity to fly to some of the sought-after exotic destinations within South-East Asia. We are the first airline to provide a non-stop international air connectivity from Visakhapatnam,” said GM Toha, general manager, SilkAir India.
The new services would be operated with Airbus A319 and A320 aircrafts, featuring both business and economy class cabins.
The flights would be operated thrice a week, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays with the next-day return flights.
The direct connectivity to Singapore is expected to open the doors to businessmen and entrepreneurs and natives of Coastal Andhra Pradesh for an easy travel to the South-East Asia region.
“We are expecting more international flight operators to start operations from here as the city is becoming a major business hub,” said Visakhapatnam airport director K Srinivasa Rao.
Terming the commencement of the non-stop international flight from Visakhapatnam as a major success, Union Minister D Purandeswari attributed the credit to air passengers and people’s representatives for getting Union government’s nod for the operation of flights round-the-clock.