Wait for international flight services from Gannavaram gets longer

AI denied security nod for operating hopping flight to Dubai through Mumbai.
Wait for international flight services from Gannavaram gets longer

VIJAYAWADA:  The wait for international services from Gannavaram airport seems to take a little more time as the Air India has not yet finalised its plan for the same. In fact, Air India withdrew its proposal to start international services from Gannavaram airport a week ago due to some hurdles in getting security clearances. But with the intervention of Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu during his recent visit to Vijayawada, things have started rolling again.  Though the Gannavaram airport received international status in May 2017, international services are yet to take off.  

Early this year, Air India has given nod to start services to Dubai with a Boeing carrying 160 passengers in each trip. However, fearing low passenger traffic, Air India wanted to operate a hopping flight through Mumbai, but it didn’t get security clearances from the Ministry of External Affairs.  The ministry said that both the domestic and international passengers will be in Mumbai from the originating place (Vijayawada) and it will pose a security threat.  Meanwhile, airport authorities have initiated talks with other airline companies like Singapore-based Silkair and Dubai-based Emirates and flydubai. 

In March, a Silkair team visited and examined parking bays, runway, terminal and immigration and customs sections. They discussed the viabilities and business options with Airport Director G Madhusudan Rao. It is said that the State Government has assured minimum seat guarantee for the services. The airways are expected to operate services to Singapore and Malaysia, which is in the pending stage.

Speaking to Express, Airport Director G Madhusudhan Rao said, “In fact, Air India did not withdraw its proposal. There are some  hindrances in getting security clearances from the Ministry of External Affairs. If that is the case, they can start a direct flight from Vijayawada to Dubai. The other options are from Emirates flights, as they have direct flight services and bilateral traffic rights. However, as their aircrafts are wide-walled ones  like Boeing 777 and Boeing 747 and Vijayawada airport runway cannot support those flights. As of now, the runway is just 7500 ft and the runway expansion works will only get completed in November. However, we are looking at various other options like flydubai and other air service providers.”

The airport authorities have also initiated talks with flydubai, which are low cost and budget airlines. Recently, the flydubai team has shown interest in operating direct services from Gannavaram airport.
Meanwhile, with the delay of starting international services from Gannavaram airport, Krishna District Collector B Lakshmikantham held talks with Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, during his recent visit, sources said. The Vice-President reacted positively and instructed the cabinet secretary to put a note on the issue in the coming Union Cabinet meeting.  The business people and other citizens from Vijayawada are eagerly waiting for the international flight services. 

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The New Indian Express