VISAKHAPATNAM: The proposed international greenfield airport site at Bhogapuram, which lies on the border of Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts, is strategically located on the east coast and it stands to benefit from the vast catchment area surrounding the region. The international airport at Bhogapuram is expected to provide impetus to retail and hospitality sectors in the region.
The airport was initially proposed in 2014. The then government wanted to acquire 15,000 acres for the purpose. But it was later scaled down to 5,311 acres due to stiff opposition from people. Finally, it was decided to set up the airport in 2,700 acres. As per the agreement, the total area of 2,703 acres, including 700 acres for commercial purpose, was awarded to GMR Airports Limited. However, the YSRC government decided to take back 500 acres of commercial land and keep it under its control and limited it to 2,200 acres only.
The project, developed by GMR, involves design, build, finance, construction, development, operation and maintenance of the greenfield international airport for 40 years, extendable by additional 20 years through international competitive bidding process, with GMR Airports Limited having RoFR (Right of First Refusal) of 10%.
In 2019, Visakhapatnam airport handled 2.78 million passengers and 4,400 tonnes of cargo. Over the past five years, the passenger traffic at Vizag airport has grown at 21 per cent while the airport ranks 5th amongst the Custom airports in India in terms of cargo traffic. GBS Raju, business chairman of GMR Airports, said, “We aim to build a truly world class airport at Bhogapuram, which will be a matter of pride for AP and provide a further fillip to the economic potential of this region.” AP Chambers of Commerce and Industry Federation Vizag Zone chairman Sudheer Mulagada said the entire topography of the region will undergo a sea of change after commencement of the international airport. “Till Shamshabad airport came up in Hyderabad, everyone thought Begumpet airport was good enough.
After construction of Shamshabad airport, Hyderabad has gone to the next level. Lot of the air cargo of Vizag is now going to Hyderabad and from there it is being transported by road. The international airport will be future need of Vizag city,” he said. Vizag Development Council president and Air Travellers Association of India vice-president O Naresh Kumar said it was a welcome move to set up the international airport at Bhogapuram. “After completion of the airport, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam will become an economic corridor if incentives are given by the Central government. The coastal corridor proposed under Sagarmala project should be taken up on a war footing.”