Rajamahendravaram (AP), Sep 19: Andhra Pradesh has seen a steady increase in air passenger traffic and the proposed extension of a runway here will help meet this demand and also boost development in the region, said Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said today.
The growth of air passenger traffic in Andhra Pradesh stood at 61 per cent as against the average national figure of 17 per cent, he said. The Union Urban Development Minister was speaking after laying the foundation stone for the runway extension at the airport here in East Godavari district which involves a cost of around Rs 187 crore.
Once extended, the length of the runway will be 3,165 metres, allowing landing of large aircraft. This will increase the passenger flow and also give impetus to economic growth in this part of the state, Venkaiah said.
"I am sure the airport will play a major role in the development of this region in view of an industrial corridor coming up along the coast from Visakhapatnam to Chennai. This will also help in transportation of perishable goods from the region," he said.
The project will improve air connectivity to other cities in the country and provide a major boost to tourism in the East and West Godavari districts, the Union Minister said. He said the aviation sector has witnessed a phenomenal growth in passenger traffic.
Indian airports handled 223.6 million passengers in 2015-16 and this figure is likely to touch about 400 million in 2020. Venkaiah complimented Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu for reducing VAT on aviation turbine fuel.
"This, along with upgradation of infrastructure, is the main driver for the phenomenal surge in air traffic in Andhra Pradesh. The Centre has taken up several developmental works for upgradation and expansion of airport infrastructure in Andhra Pradesh," he said.
Speaking at the occasion, the Chief Minister said all regional airports in the state will be connected and equipped with adequate passenger facilities.
He said an MoU has been signed among the Civil Aviation Ministry, Andhra Government and Airports Authority of India on interconnectivity of airports. There is a need to develop Visakhapatnam airport for international flights, he added.