Vijayawada: The expansion of the runway at the Gannavaram airport and the construction of a new, permanent terminal building will facilitate the handling of 50 lakh passengers per year in the near future. This small airport, according to official sources, used to handle up to six lakh passengers per year before the coming into the availability of the new terminal that was inaugurated by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu on January 12.
Since then its capacity has more than doubled and the Airports Authority of India (AAI)’s endeavour is to scale it up to 50 lakh in five years.
The AAI is confident of achieving the target on the back of an impressive growth rate in passenger traffic which stood at 73 per cent in 2015-16.
The AAI has spent Rs.162 crore on the new terminal building. It is extending the runway from 2,286 metres to 3,360 metres at an estimated cost of Rs.150 crore. Another Rs.30 crore has been expended on other expansion works.
The airport is at present suitable for operation of Airbus – 320 and twin-engine turboprop short-haul aircraft.
“The AAI is gearing up to accommodate Boeing 747 aircraft at this airport once the extended runway is ready. From that day, the airport will acquire international character,” said Secretary (civil aviation) R.N. Choubey in the January 12 event.
Boeing 747 is categorised as a Code–E-type aircraft having a wingspan of 52 to 65 metres. Code-F is the highest in the global civil aviation sector with the wingspan ranging from 65 metres to 80 metres.
More airlines such as Air India, Spice Jet, Air Costa and Jet are about to start operating flights from Vijayawada from addition to the existing players.
Vijayawada airport is at present connected to Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Kadapa, Hyderabad, Tirupati and Visakhapatnam.
With the government giving top priority to Vijayawada airport, its expansion is set to take place at a rapid pace while efforts are under way to revive the smaller airports at Kadapa and Puttaparthi as part of the regional connectivity scheme.