MADURAI: The winter schedule for Madurai airport has something to cheer for domestic passengers as airlines have applied to operate flights to Mumbai, Chennai and Tirupati. However, there is no such interest in the international sector in the absence of night operations at the airport.
According to the schedule released recently, Spicejet and Air India Express have applied to operate flights from Madurai to Mumbai. As of now, IndiGo and Air India operate a flight each to Mumbai. Air Asia India has applied for operating a flight from Madurai to Chennai while IndiGo has applied for operating a daily flight from Madurai to Tirupati. Mahendran Varman, an aviation enthusiast and member of Madurai Infrastructure and development (MID), said the city needs more services to Chennai, especially early in the morning and late night, and an additional service to Hyderabad and New Delhi. “A one-stop flight to Ahmedabad via Chennai or Bengaluru is a long-pending demand,” he said.
On the international front, Madurai’s most urgent need is a direct flight to Kuala Lumpur. There is also significant demand for direct flights to Sharjah and Muscat. Recently, Air India Express resumed daily operations to Singapore, which is the only positive move in the international sector. “Despite Madurai airport having large potential, it has failed to attract airlines to operate international flights due to lack of night operations and exclusion from Bilateral Airport Service Agreement (BASA),” added Varman.
AAI had notified six months ago that all arrangements will be made to implement night operations in Madurai, Agartala, Imphal, Bhopal and Surat by April 2023. Virudhunagar MP Manickam Tagore told TOI that around 270 CISF personnel are deployed currently in Madurai airport. “But we need around 460 personnel for round-the-clock operation. Many airlines are not coming forward as we don’t have 24×7 operations,” he added. Airport director P Muthukumar reiterated that they are working to implement night operations at the airport.