Mystery shrouds Veer Savarkar International Airport’s ‘International’ status New Terminal building to come up by July 2020

7 months ago TPP 0

Adele Macdonald

 

Port Blair, Mar 20: Veer Savarkar International (VSI) airport here was deemed as an international airport in the year 2007. Today, 10 years down the line, there are no international flights operating out of the airport. The number of domestic flights have increased over the years but there are still no signs of international airlines plying in or out of Port Blair.

When asked about the above issue, Airport Director, G.K. Khare, said, “This has been a big issue and I have searched all old documents related to same and could not find anything here. It has been declared as an International airport by our Headquarters in New Delhi. I found a Power Point presentation which said, vide notification number AV 20036/005/1992/ VB (AAI), dated 25th May, 2007, the airport has been declared an international airport. On further investigation of the notification I still did not find anything conclusive”

When asked if there are any plans in the pipeline to start international flights in the near future, Khare said, “We have not got any proposals for the same from any international airlines. We get many requests from domestic airlines asking permission to commence operations but none from any international airlines as yet.”

The only international flight that presently plies to and from the airport, once every six months, is the aircraft that comes from Myanmar to take its prisoners that have been apprehended by the Indian Coast Guard and imprisoned here, on the islands. Officers from the Customs Department have to be specially called for when the aircraft comes as foreign nationals are not allowed to enter the country without clearing customs and immigration.

Work on the new airport terminal building  is underway and is expected to complete by July, 2020. The tender for the new terminal building has been awarded to Pallonji Mistry’s Shapoorji Pallonji Group for an estimated 400 crores.

Addressing issues such as cleanliness and air-conditioning of the current airport terminal, Khare said that a new Chennai based organisation has been employed to maintain the cleanliness of the present terminal and will start work by the end of March, 2017. The new contractor will be providing double the number of staff for the maintenance of the airport’s cleanliness as compared to the present one. About the air-conditioning, he said that old buildings do not have the correct architecture to support air-conditioning because of their high ceilings and old structure. However, the new airport terminal will be fully air-conditioned.