VISAKHAPATNAM: Visakhapatnam will soon have flight services to Rajahmundry and Vijayawada. While IndiGo has announced daily flights to Rajahmundry from September 17, Air India has confirmed time slots at the airport for its regular flight services to Vijayawada in the evening. In all probability, Air India will operate flight services later this month. The slots confirmed for the Air India Vijayawada flight at Vizag are 8.55 pm and 9.20 pm.
The development assumes significance in the wake of two international airlines’ recent decision to operate flights from Vizag.Scoot Airlines, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, earlier announced that it will be operating services five times a week (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) from Vizag from Oct 27. The flight will depart Singapore at 8.45 pm and arrive in Vizag at 10 pm. It will depart from Vizag at 11 pm. NokAir, which is launching flight services from Guwahati to Bangkok three days a week from October 28, is contemplating launching the service four days a week from the city from October 28.
Earlier, international airliner Thai Air Asia withdrew its service from Vizag. Sri Lanka Airlines and Silk Airlines of Singapore also followed suit soon. The airlines cited non-viability as the reason for the withdrawal of services.
President of Tours and Travels Association of Andhra Vijay Mohan told TNIE that high ground handling charges being levied at Visakhapatnam by the Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL) was one of the reasons for the withdrawal of services by the airlines.
He said AIATSL was charging `85,000 per international flight at Vizag as against `35,000 at Hyderabad. This difference has to be bridged to make the international flights viable to operate from Visakhapatnam. He said Sri Lanka Airlines withdrew flight stating `1.5 crore loss. Ground handling charges it paid was much more than that amount. Vijay Mohan said that ground handling charges at Visakhapatnam should be the same as those prevailing at Hyderabad.
Meanwhile, Navy has given slots for the operation of only eight flights at the Visakhapatnam airport during peak hours in the evening. It gave slots for two flights between 7 pm and 8 pm, three between 8 pm and 9 pm and three between 9 pm and 10 pm.
Speaking to TNIE, vice-president of AP Air Travellers Association O Naresh Kumar said the navy should immediately lift restrictions to pave the way for operating more flights by various airlines. He said the latest casualty due to restrictions was TrueJet service. TrueJet proposed to operate a service from Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam at 8.30 pm. However, it was denied the slot by the Navy, he said and added that this was giving rise to the demand for having a civilian airport to further the air traffic growth of Visakhapatnam.
AI approved slots
Leaves Vijayawada at 7.55 pm and arrives at Vizag at 8.55 pm
Leaves Visakhapatnam at 9.20 pm and arrives at Vijayawada at 10.20 pm
IndiGo daily non-stop service
6E7923 Rajahmundry-Visakhapatnam departs Rajahmundry at 5.45 pm reaches Visakhapatnam 6.30 pm
6E7967 Visakhapatnam-Rajahmundry departs Visakhapatnam at 6.50 pm reaches Rajahmundry 7.40 pm.