Andaman & Nicobar Islands’ tourism and hospitality industry appeals to the Ministry of Home Affairs for increased flight frequency at Port Blair in order to ensure enough tourist footfalls.
India’s apex hospitality association, Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), has submitted a representation to the Additional Secretary (UT), Ministry of Home Affairs, Govind Mohan requesting removal of the restriction imposed on the number of incoming flights at Port Blair to allow at least ten flights a day. Airfares have skyrocketed, tickets cancellations are through the roof and the islanders are boxed in.
Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, FHRAI, says, “There has been no tourism activity since the last 18 months and the economy of the UT is in dire straits. Ironically, no such restriction applies on flights anywhere else across India. To recover from the damage is going to require a massive amount of effort and time and removing the current restriction on the number of incoming flights to allow at least ten flights a day will be a good start. This will still be less than 50 percent flights in operation at Port Blair compared to the pre-pandemic levels.”
The FHRAI has pointed out that between October 2021 and March 2022 flight movement on Port Blair will be restricted to before 2pm only on account of re-carpeting of the runway. This would mean that Port Blair Airport will not be able to operate at full capacity even during the peak tourist season. “Prior to COVID19, Andaman & Nicobar Islands had twenty-two operational flights a day which is now restricted to less than four flights. As a result, the islanders are unable to obtain tickets. Also, airfares have skyrocketed and the curtailment of flights has led to cancellations and cut-offs from many metros and important cities. Students and patients who are unable to secure seats are suffering the most due to this. We hope that Government will understand and allow at least 10 flights a day immediately.