Visakhapatnam airport launches night-landing facility

March 30th, 2008 - 10:22 pm ICT by admin  

Visakhapatnam, March 30 (IANS) The much-awaited night-landing facility at Visakhapatnam airport finally became operational Sunday. With the landing of a Spicejet Airlines flight from Hyderabad at 7.10 p.m., the facility became operational at the airport, in this coastal city of Andhra Pradesh.

Till now, the flights were being operated only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as the Indian Navy, which controls the airport, had not given night-landing permission to commercial flights.

The move is expected to improve connectivity to the city, a fast-growing industrial centre and a major tourism hub.

The night-landing facility was scheduled to be launched in March last year but was postponed on several occasions as the navy was not ready.

The navy, which has its Eastern Naval Command headquarters in the city, had to obtain clearance from the defence ministry for allowing commercial flights at nights.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) had last year built a new 10,000 feet runway and installed instrument landing system.

The Air Travellers’ Association of India (ATAI) organised a programme to mark the launching of night-landing facility. Union Minister of State for Mines T. Subbarami Reddy hoped that the new facility would spur faster development of the city.

ATAI president Varda Reddy said with the facility becoming operational, more airline operators would flock to Visakhapatnam and more investment would flow into the city.

Despite the frequent flooding of the airport during rains and other problems in recent years, the airport witnessed impressive growth in passenger traffic. According to airport officials, the airport handled half a million passengers last year, registering a growth of 30 percent.

The night-landing facility is expected to increase the number of passengers by another 200,000 per annum, as at least six airlines were ready to operate flights during night.

The defence ministry, the AAI and the state government last year took up the expansion of the airport at a cost of Rs.1.91 billion. With the expansion of the runway, the airport is equipped to handle wide-bodied aircraft like Boeing 767.

The airport handles 11 flights daily, linking the city with Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi.

The authorities hope that with the new facilities, airlines would come forward to operate international flights to Visakhapatnam. They believe that the airport had the potential to emerge as a gateway for Southeast Asian countries.

The airlines, including Malaysian Airlines and Silk Air of Singapore which at present operate flights between Hyderabad and destinations in southeastern countries, may find Visakhapatnam more suitable.

Vizag, as Visakhapatnam is also called, is located about 600 km east of Hyderabad.

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