Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju flagged off the new bi-weekly Air India flight to Port Blair from Visakhapatnam at a function held at the Visakhapatnam airport on Thursday.
The Minister said that there was good potential for the sector as people would have to choose either the sea or air route for travel to Port Blair as till date the islands were connected only with Kolkata and Chennai.
Air India introduced the new flight to cater to the needs of the passengers, and the frequency could be increased once the load improved on the sector in future. The new flight is expected to give a major boost to tourism from the mainland to Port Blair, a popular getaway. It would also ease travelling for a sizeable population who migrated from Coastal Andhra to Port Blair. Islanders and tourists who had to travel to Chennai or Kolkata for travelling abroad, can now fly directly to Delhi and further catch a flight for going abroad. Officials said that the frequency of the flight to Port Blair will be increased based on the response.
The new service AI 487 leaves Delhi at 7 am and reaches Visakhapatnam at 9.15 am. It will leave Visakhapatnam at 9.55 am and arrive at Port Blair at 12.10 pm. In the return direction, the flight AI 488 leaves Port Blair at 12.50 pm and arrives in Visakhapatnam at 3.05 pm. The flight will leave Visakhapatnam at 3.50 pm and reach Delhi at 6.05 pm.
On the occasion, Ashok said that there was a good potential for the new flight as people have an option to travel either by sea or air to reach Port Blair. He said that the government had decided that Air India, being a national carrier, would operate the Port Blair flight from Vizag. State HRD minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao said that IndiGo airlines had evinced interest in developing Visakhapatnam into a IndiGo hub for expanding their operations. Besides the proposed greenfield airport at Bhogapuram, the government is keen on setting up an Air City as well in Vizianagaram. At present, about 40 flights are being operated from Visakhapatnam airport and efforts are on to develop it to operate up to 100 flights. In addition to the international flights to Malaysia, Sydney, Dubai and Singapore, proposals are under consideration for operating flights to Colombo, Macau and Bangkok.
The new direct air service would help capacity addition to this tourist destination besides a time saver for passengers to two places, it said.
It would also give a fillip to tourism and industry at both the places, the release added.