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Passenger traffic at Tiruchi airport goes up

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Passenger movement at the international airport here has remained brisk since the beginning of the current fiscal year. The steady upward movement of passenger traffic at the non-metro Tiruchi airport can be gauged from the figures put out by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

The overall passenger movement- international and domestic both put together has already surpassed the five lakh mark in the first four months of the current financial year.

With more overseas flights in operation than domestic ones, international passengers account for the bulk of traffic at Tiruchi.

According to AAI statistics, international passenger movements from April to July was a little over 4.74 lakh at Tiruchi airport which has direct connectivity to Colombo, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and Sharjah right now.

The international passenger figures clocked during the first four months of the present fiscal was higher than the one recorded during the corresponding period of the previous fiscal when it was 3.99 lakh.

Tiruchi is far ahead of other non-metro AAI international airports including Coimbatore, Goa, Jaipur, Mangalore, and Amritsar with respect to movement of overseas travellers, the statistics further point out.

However, there has been a slump in the domestic front during the period April – July with the passenger movement clocking a little over 38,000 which is down when compared to the corresponding period of the previous year when it was 59,912.

New service

Overseas travellers’ movement is set to swell further with the Thai AirAsia deciding to start a new service in the Tiruchi – Bangkok – Tiruchi sector from September 29. The airline has already announced operation of its new service from Tiruchi four days in a week – Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Travel industry circles here say Tiruchi airport which clocked over 13 lakh in overall passenger traffic during the 2016-17 fiscal could easily touch the 1.5 million mark if overseas flights to more West Asian destinations were introduced.

A large chunk of Indians from the central and southern regions are employed at various destinations in West Asia.

“There is a lot of traffic to West Asian destinations such as Kuwait, Doha, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi from this part of the region”, says a senior office bearer of the Tiruchi Travel Federation (TTF). If there is direct connectivity to these destinations, the volume of passenger traffic would definitely witness a quantum jump at Tiruchi, he added.

Travel industry circles strongly feel that the Air India could tap this potential and introduce flights in the Tiruchi – Kuwait – Tiruchi sector or in any of the other destinations in West Asia. Given the huge demand, Air India would definitely stand to gain by operating a new service to another West Asian destination from here, says the TTF member.

Air India had been operating a direct service to Abu Dhabi from Tiruchi a few years ago. However, the airline withdrew the service despite tremendous potential. Direct flight services were also being operated to Kuwait from Tiruchi until a few years ago. But, that too was withdrawn.

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