The Hubballi Airport is becoming busier and busier by every passing day, thanks to the Udan scheme, as more than 45,000 people either arrived or departed from Hubballi airport in July month alone.
The data for August are yet to be released, and the officials expect a similar passenger transit data for August too.
Within three months of implementing the Udan project, under the regional connectivity scheme, the Hubballi airport has handled approximately 88,600 passengers and movement of 1,588 flights.
It was in mid-May this year that SpiceJet started its first flight service under the Udan scheme. Indigo followed suit soon. And in May, the Hubballi Airport officials handled 435 flight movements and 15,600 passengers.
In June, 426 flight movements ensured that 28,000 passengers either landed or took off from the Hubballi airport.
Very low earlier
Prior to the implementation of Udan scheme, the Hubballi airport used to handle only one flight with two movements daily. On an average, 3,600 passengers used to board or alight the flights in a month.
Now every day the Hubballi airport is handling 11 flights and 22 movements while on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday it handles 13 flights and 26 movements. “We are seeing at least 85% occupancy on almost all the flights,” said Hubballi Airport Director S K Ahilya.
“There is a huge potential for growth at the Hubballi airport, and similarly the government is providing facilities and infrastructures for the airport,” she said, while not divulging much on the development works that are being taken up at the airport.
Bengaluru in demand
Sources said flights connecting Bengaluru and Mumbai are in great demand, while flights towards Ahmadabad and Chennai have received a mixed response.
Flight towards Goa and Cochin are getting a good response. Apart from demand for flights towards Delhi, Tirupathi and Pune, which are in the pipeline, the passengers of North Karnataka are demanding flights towards Jaipur and Delhi. Almost all the flights towards Bengaluru and Mumbai are full, Ahilya said.
It is lack of slot at Mumbai airport, which has resulted in just three flights to Mumbai every day. “This (Mumbai) is a potential route and there is a huge demand for another flight from Hubballi to Mumbai,” said sources in a private airline company that is operating from Hubballi Airport.
Recently, the Hubballi Airport started handling cargo.
While at present the private airlines-- Indigo and Spice Jet-- are allowing shipment of goods weighing 25 kilos, the Airport Authority officials say that soon a dedicated cargo handling terminal will be started with required security checking equipment to transport heavier goods.
The boom in passenger traffic was unexpected even for elected representatives who worked for implementation of the Udan scheme at Hubballi.
“We knew that Hubballi had huge potential. But, I never imagined that the airport would handle more than 45,000 passengers per month,” said Dharwad MP Pralhad Joshi, and added that if private companies market their routes better, there can be higher traffic at Hubballi airport.