Hyderabad, Nov 24 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will launch next month the work on development of an international airport at Renigunta near the temple town of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.
The union cabinet last month gave its approval for the existing domestic airport at Tirupati to be declared as an international airport. The move will allow foreign airlines to land in the town, famous for Lord Venkateshwara temple.
Tirupati MP Chinta Mohan told reporters in Tirupati Monday that the prime minister would lay the foundation stone for construction of an integrated terminal building next month.
The authorities will be acquiring 736 acres of land around the existing airport for expansion works. The MP said the new terminal building would be constructed in the shape of Garuda, the eagle associated with Hindu god vishnu.
Chinta Mohan said Air India has come forward to operate direct flights from New York, London and Dubai to Tirupati. This will improve connectivity to the temple town, which receives about 60,000 pilgrims every day.
Thousands of devotees from the US, Britain and other parts of the world visit this richest temple of the country.
In the absence of international flights, people from abroad have to reach Tirupati through various cities like Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai by domestic carriers.
Chinta Mohan hoped the international airport would boost tourism and spur economic development of the region.
The proposed integrated terminal building will handle 700 passengers at a time, both international and domestic.
The existing terminal building can handle 300 passengers at a time. The airport was recently upgraded to provide landing facilities during night time.
The existing 7,500-foot runway will also be extended to 11,000 feet. The upgradation will entail deputation of customs and immigration officials, setting up x-ray machines and developing arrival and departure lounges for air travellers.
The passenger traffic at Tirupati airport has doubled in the past two years. It handled 169,333 passengers in 2007-08 against 80,830 passengers in 2005-06.
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