New Airport to Facilitate ATR Type Aircrafts to Fly to Puducherry

With a new terminal building expected to be ready by August this year, the Puducherry airport is all set for a makeover. While there are no scheduled flights to this Union Territory(UT), airport authorities plan to facilitate airline operators to fly ATR type aircraft.

Presently un-scheduled flights, helicopter operations and flying clubs operate this airport. “The Rs30 crore new terminal building that can accommodate 150 passengers at a time will be opened by August this year,” said Airports Authority of India (AAI) southern region executive director D. Devaraj. Noting that no airline has filed for any operations from Puducherry airport, he said the AAI has made the airport ready for ATR operations.

“The present runway length is 1,503 metres and it is enough to operate ATR type aircraft,” he said, adding that there are no constraints for airlines to start operations right away as the old terminal building is available for passenger movement.

However, Mr Devaraj noted that bigger aircrafts like Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 can’t be operated from Puducherry airport unless the runway length is extended to a minimum of 2,200 metres. “As per our master plan, we have asked for 436 acres of land to increase the runway length to cater to operations of bigger aircraft,” he added.

Due to runway length constraint, Puducherry airport that can be reached in just 10 minutes by air from Chennai cannot handle flights that have been diverted from Chennai because of bad weather conditions.

When contacted, Puducherry welfare minister P. Rajavelu told that the UT has sought the help of the Tamil Nadu for acquiring 200 acres of land at both ends of the runway.

“The land at both ends of the runway comes under the territorial limits of TN. So we have started a dialogue with TN government and in a recent communication, the TN government has asked us to send exact requirements,” he said.

Airlines game to operate from Pondy airport soon
Airline companies are interested in operating from Puducherry airport. A Puducherry government source said Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher have expressed their interest in operating from Puducherry.

“The companies have accepted to depute technical experts to study the feasibility of operating flights from the Union Territory to various destinations in the country”, the source added.

While noting that Puducherry has a good potential to attract a large number of tourists particularly from France who can land directly in the Union Territory instead of other locations, state tourism director A. S. Sivakumar said the congestion at Chennai airport would get eased when Puducherry airport becomes operational. He noted that about 80,000 tourists visit Puducherry between April and August every year.

Mr Sivakumar further noted that it is advantageous for private carriers to fly to Puducherry, as the VAT on aviation turbine fuel is only 1.5 per cent in Puducherry compared to 15 per cent in TN.

“Puducherry is turning into an industrial hub with chemical factories, medical and engineering colleges and consumer industry base. So the need for air travel is bound to improve in the coming days,” said Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) president D. Sudhakara Reddy.

A frequent flyer, Mr Reddy said Puducherry is already a tourist destination and so it will be viable to operate long distance flights to and fro the Union Territory.

When contacted, a Jet Airways spokesperson said the airline company would look at operating flights from Puducherry only after AAI completes the development works at the airport there.

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Posted on March 2, 2012, in Transportation, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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