Vijayawada, Jan 11: Vijayawada international airport is gradually losing out on its passenger traffic. It was waiting to happen considering that some airlines started withdrawing their services, citing 'unviable proposition' as the prime reason.
The airport registered a 6.70 per cent decline in the passenger movement by December-end. While the movement of 1,02,420 passengers was recorded in 2018 December, last year it was put at 95,558. However, even though political circles attribute this to the change-of-guard, there is no denying that few airlines are also to be blamed for this.
In the second half of 2018, Alliance Air withdrew the Tirupati to Visakhapatnam service, which adversely impacted Vijayawada traffic. Similarly, Indigo withdrew its Airbus 320 afternoon service to New Delhi from Vijayawada and SpiceJet did the same with its Boeing 737-800 service to Mumbai from Vijayawada. It should be noted that the carrier that could accommodate 180 passengers in one go, was full every day. The national carrier, Air India also put an end to its thrice-a-week Mumbai service from Vijayawada. Cancellation of Visakhapatnam service, which used to be twice per day, also hit Vijayawada traffic. Another notable point is that the much-hyped Indigo's Singapore service was also withdrawn, as the State Government stopped Viability Gap Funding (VGF).
Ironically, each of the airlines has shifted their base to Hyderabad, besides operating services to Bellary, Belgaum and Mysore, as they are receiving fund support from Union Government, under Regional Connectivity Scheme ( RCS).
In fact, Andhra Pradesh has only one airport Kadapa, under the RCS scheme.
If this is the industry fact, political parties are blaming the three capitals formula for the withdrawal of even popular services. Losing flights to Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi has affected the traffic movement to and from Vijayawada. One should note that domestic traffic movement has registered a 4.26 percent decline from April to December last year when compared to the corresponding period in 2018.
It was the same tragic story with regard to international traffic in the same period.