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Tiruchi airport lags behind in domestic connectivity

Foundation work for construction of a modular integrated passenger terminal under way at Tiruchi airport on Tuesday.Cruising ahead of other non-metro airports in the State in respect of overseas passenger movements, the Tiruchi International Airport has however lagged behind in domestic connectivity.

Lack of direct connectivity to additional domestic destinations notwithstanding persistent demand from travellers in this part of the region has been a major factor in Tiruchi airport being behind Coimbatore and Madurai airports, which are better connected to domestic destinations.

Unlike Madurai and Coimbatore, Tiruchi airport does not have flight connectivity to the country’s financial capital Mumbai, and political capital New Delhi although the services that were in operation for few months last year was suspended all of a sudden much to the disappointment of travellers here.

That Coimbatore and Madurai airports are way ahead of Tiruchi in terms of domestic passenger movements is evident from the connectivity to the major cities as well as movement of travellers. Airports Authority of India statistics reveals that domestic passenger movement at Coimbatore airport during the first three months of the current fiscal (April to June) was over a little over 5.66 lakh.

In the case of Madurai airport, domestic traffic handled during the same period was over 2.69 lakh. As compared to these two airports, domestic passenger movements at Tiruchi airport was 73,527 although it is way ahead in terms of international passenger traffic.

Stakeholders say while Coimbatore and Madurai airports have flight connectivity to major cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi and Hyderabad other than Bengaluru and Chennai, Tiruchi has connectivity only to Chennai, Bengaluru and Kochi.

With the construction of the state-of-the-art new integrated passenger terminal building at Tiruchi airport underway, connectivity to additional destinations from the Rockfort city would give a huge boost to the region as a whole in all aspects, say those closely associated with tourism circles here.

Given the good patronage that Tiruchi–Mumbai–New Delhi sector flight services received when it was in operation in 2018 prior to being suspended, resumption of flights to Mumbai needs no market study as it has already proved the market potential, say stakeholders.

Although Tiruchi presently has direct connectivity with Chennai, Bengaluru and Kochi operated by Indigo Airline and Alliance Air, ATR flights operated in the three sectors by these airlines have limited seating capacity as compared to bigger Boeing 737-800 series that was being operated in the Tiruchi–Mumbai–Delhi sector.

The Tiruchi Airport Advisory Committee member Achhar Singh said he had met officials of Indigo Airlines and Spice Jet at Gurugram near New Delhi besides officials of Air India on Tuesday and submitted separate memorandums appealing for operation of flights to newer destinations from Tiruchi.

Highlighting the facilities available at Tiruchi airport, Mr. Acchar Singh in the memorandum submitted to Air India appealed to the airline authorities to introduce flights to Delhi and Mumbai from Tiruchi in the domestic sector. The service to Mumbai earlier was flying with good load prior to being suspended, he further said.

In the memorandums submitted to Spice Jet and Indigo Airline, Mr. Acchar Singh urged the airlines to explore the possibility of operating flights to Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi from Tiruchi as the demand was more to these three sectors.

The Tiruchi Airport Director K. Gunasekaran on Tuesday said he had written a letter to the Chief Executive Director of Go Airlines requesting the airline to explore the possibility of operating flights in the Tiruchi - Mumbai, Tiruchi - Hyderabad and Tiruchi - Delhi sector.

In the letter, Mr. Gunasekaran, while explaining the facilities available at Tiruchi airport, said there was tremendous demand for operation of flight services to Mumbai, Hyderabad and Delhi from Tiruchi in the domestic sector.

It further appealed to the airline to explore the possibility of operating flights from Tiruchi to West Asian countries such as Kuwait, Doha and Abu Dhabi while assuring to provide all possible support from Airports Authority of India for the commencement of the service. Mr. Gunasekaran said he had earlier written letters to Spice Jet and Air India as well.

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