The Eastern Naval Command‘s recent proposal to restrict the movement of civilian passenger and cargo flights at Vizag airport has triggered protesting reactions from various sections of the city. As per the proposal, slots from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM would be reserved for military purposes. Responding over the same, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has urged the centre not to implement the restrictions under consideration in Vizag airport.
In his letter to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday, CM Naidu requested not to impose the restrictions, at least until the planned Greenfield International Airport at Bhogapuram, Vizianagaram district would be established.
“The city of Visakhapatnam hosts INS Dega, the headquarters of Eastern Naval Command of Indian Navy. The Airport at Visakhapatnam is a Civil Enclave, part of INS Dega and the only operational International Airport in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is also the largest Airport and handled about 60% of air passenger traffic in the state. During FY 2018, Visakhapatnam handled cumulatively about 2.5 million air passengers including both domestic and international traffic,” Chandrababu Naidu’s letter read.
“If the proposed restrictions are implemented, it shall have an effect of about 5-7 hours on weekdays including peak traffic period in the evening. The proposed restriction is envisaged to have severe impact on the civil air traffic in Visakhapatnam along with economy and tourism of the state. Scheduled airline operators may likely be forced to reduce number of aircraft movements at Visakhapatnam Airport. This may result in reduced number of flight options to the business travelers and passengers and also decrease the number of tourist footfalls in the region.
I would like to bring to your notice that the Government of Andhra Pradesh is planning to develop a Greenfield International Airport at Bhogapuram, Vizianagaram district (about 45 km from existing Airport at Visakhapatnam). The Airport is envisaged to be developed at a cost of Rs. 2300 Crore on 2500 acres of land. After the development of the Airport at Bhogapuram, the runway of the INS Dega will be available completely for military purpose.
In this regard, I request you not to impose any restrictions on the civil air traffic, till the time the Airport at Bhogapuram is completed, and the airport be allowed to continue to operate as per the current schedule for civilian passenger air traffic,” the letter further stated.