Ahmedabad Mirror | 6 days ago | 25-11-2022 | 06:00 am
The heavy VVIP movement in Gujarat due to the Assembly Elections resulted in five flights hovering above the city for nearly an hour on Thursday before they got landing permission.Ahmedabad airport has seen a surge in chartered flights as several leaders visit poll-bound Gujarat. PM Narendra Modi visited the state on Wednesday and again returned on Thursday afternoon. Three central ministers also visited on Thursday. Airport sources said since the PM was to visit the state the airport was on high alert. “Five flights were scheduled to land at the Ahmedabad Airport but the ATC could not give them clearance and so they flew over the city skyline for an hour,” said the source.One such flight was SpiceJet which was flying from Bagdogra and was running short on fuel. The pilot informed the ATC and suggested if not Ahmedabad they will have to land at Surat airport. The ATC then gave the flight permission to land, said sources.Advocate Mahendra Bhavsar, who was on SpiceJet flight, said, “We flew over the city for some time and later the pilot announced we were running low on fuel. This got the passenger worried. The pilot also suggested landing at Surat but we were allowed to land at the international terminal runway in Ahmedabad,” said Bhavsar.Conveyor belt affectedThe conveyor belt at Ahmedabad airport was not operational for one-and-a-half hours due to a technical snag and passengers had to manually collect their luggage, sources said. The belt has conked off several times in the past few days leading to hassles for passengers. Several flights have also been delayed as luggage does not get loaded on time.
AHMEDABAD: Just ahead of the assembly elections in Gujrat, some five passengers arriving from Sharjah at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport in Ahmedabad were arrested on Tuesday by the air intelligence unit of the Customs Commissionerate, Ahmedabad, for smuggling gold. Some 18.34kg of gold was recovered and seized by the Customs department officials. Gold price stood at Rs 54,500 per 10 gram in the Ahmedabad market. Accordingly, the seized gold is estimated to be worth Rs 10 crore in the local markets here. The duo was among the five passengers who were intercepted by the customs officials, based on passenger profiling carried out using scientific tools. Two of the five were found to be carrying gold concealed in paste form in a waist belt. Officers of the air intelligence unit at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport in Ahmedabad said, "Gold was concealed in the form of paste and kept in pockets of a specially designed belt the passengers wore around their waist. The duo claimed they were wearing a specific belt for relief from backache". The gold was confiscated by the Customs department officials under section 111 and section 11(3) of the Customs Act, 1962. "Upon interrogation, the remaining three passengers admitted active involvement in smuggling gold with these two passengers," said a Customs official. Offence has been registered against all five passengers under Section 132 and Section 135 of the Customs Act 1962. All have been arrested and produced before the court. Of late, Ahmedabad Customs has been increasingly unearthing cases of gold smuggling in huge quantities. Gold smuggling has particularly increased over the past 8-10 months as the basic customs duty on gold has been increased by the Union Finance Ministry as a result of which gold price is higher in India. “Lately, due to geopolitical uncertainty and economic instability, yellow metal prices are already high. With the Indian currency depreciating past the 81-mark, the effective price of gold in the Indian market is even higher after adding duties. Therefore, procurement of gold through unofficial channels is increasingly taking place here to save duties,” said Haresh Acharya, director, India Bullion, and Jewellers’ Association.
Domestic air passengers will have to reach the airport two hours before schedule. Usually, passengers usually reach one hour before their scheduled domestic flight. However, with increased footfall, many have been missing their flights on busy routes. Keeping this in mind, airlines may also issue advisory asking passengers to reach 1.5 to 2 hours earlier for check-ins.Post Diwali, passenger footfall at Ahmedabad airport has witnessed a steady rise. Owing to NRI season, elections and religious programmes, domestic passenger traffic at the airport has touched 32,000 people per day.As a result, during peak hours on busy routes, check-in and boarding counters witness heavy rush leading to long queues.On the other hand, there have been complaints that on some routes, passengers are offloaded due to overbooking by airlines.Prahladnagar resident and businessman Chirag Patel is a frequent flyer. He flies in and out of the city 8-10 times a month.He said, “A few days ago, I reached on time for my early morning flight and yet, the airline had closed the luggage counter. Many times, the doors are closed. As a result, I had to pay more money to catch a connecting flight.”Airlines, which overbook have to offload many passengers due to load restrictions. This happens because most flyers arrive at the airport an hour before the scheduled flight. As a result, the check-in and boarding counters get crowded and lot of time is wasted there.Ahmedabad airport sources said normal footfall ranges between 26,000 and 27,000. However, during Diwali it rises and after the festive season it drops again. However, this time with elections and NRI season at the peak, passenger traffic has risen by 5,000. Such an advisory was issued during Diwali festive season also.Sources said airport and airlines may issue the advisories asking passengers to reach two hours early.
AHMEDABAD: As political bigwigs 'carpet bombed' poll-bound Gujarat by holding 400-odd rallies across state since the announcement of the election, slogans as well as charter flights have rent the air. At least 650 charter aircraft movements were recorded at the general aviation terminal of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport from November 4 to November 28, as star campaigners held rallies and public meetings in the run-up to one of the most consequential elections in recent time. The charter flight movements are about 60% higher than in September, when on average 15 charter aircraft flew in and out of Gujarat, an airport source told TOI. In addition to corporate travel, electoral campaigns are driving charter movements in the state. Besides PM Narendra Modi, a battery of political notables including BJP president J P Nadda, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath have visited Gujarat since the poll was declared. Airports and airstrips across Gujarat have been busy handling private jets and helicopters this month, catering to the VIPs from the BJP, the Congress, and the AAP. “Since November 11, about 270 non-scheduled flight movements have been recorded here, including those of 180 choppers,” said another source. “The surge was spurred by the bustling election campaign and movement of star campaigners.” The Bhavnagar airport, which typically handles one flight a day, had to deal with 19 aircraft landings on Saturday alone. That day Union home minister Amit Shah, Gujarat BJP president C R Paatil, and Congress MP Shaktisinh Gohil, among others arrived in the district for canvassing. Most political heavyweights flew by private charters and hired helicopters. Ahmedabad’s SVPI airport, which contended with 650-700 charter movements over the past 28 days, also handled scheduled commercial operations of about 6,700 flights.
SURAT: Multiple roads in the city are to remain closed for routine traffic movement on Sunday evening and Monday morning owing to stringent police bandobast for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the city on those two days. People coming or going to Surat airport from the city will have to plan movement in advance as Dumas Road will be off bounds for general traffic for a few hours. After arrival at the city airport, Modi will go to Mota Varachha through Dumas Road, Athwalines main road, Ring road and from Sahara Darwaja to Parvat Patia. He will reach the venue through BRTS canal road and Savji Korat Bridge. Barricading at a few locations on the stretch has already been done as people are expected to gather in large numbers to get a glimpse of Modi. Similarly, Modi will return to the airport from Circuit House on Monday morning. For this, there will be traffic restrictions from Athwalines to the city airport. City police had earlier announced restrictions for parking and movement of vehicles from 6am on Sunday on the entire stretch. While returning to the airport, restrictions will be imposed between 7am and 2 pm. Senior police officials have issued clarification that the traffic restrictions will not be for the entire day, but only for specific periods facilitating the PM’s convoy to cross through these stretches. “The traffic restrictions will not be for the entire day but for some time when the PM’s convoy passes through the stretch. The traffic restrictions will be not more than a few minutes in the evening,” said Ajay Tomar, city police commissioner. The police will install tight bandobast on the entire stretch, even as the intersections to cross the road on which Modi’s convoy will pass through, will be kept closed. On weekends, Gaurav Path Dumas Road is the favourite hangout for Surtis and Modi’s visit is likely to attract thousands.
After Air India announced direct flights to Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, demand for direct flights from Ahmedabad to US is on the rise.Aviation department sources said, “Despite allotment of slots for direct flights from Ahmedabad to US 10 years back, the flight has not started.”He added, “As a result, lakhs of tourists coming to Gujarat reach Ahmedabad via Delhi or Mumbai after hours of halt. Due to this, the elderly and students suffer a lot.”Hence, the Federation of Gujarati Association (FOGA) has made representations at different levels to start direct Ahmedabad-US flights.Of around 50 lakh Indians living in US, 17-18 lakh are Gujaratis. And, these people travel to Gujarat mostly in the November-January period, which is considered NRI season.However, irrespective of the NRI season or religious events like the Pramukh Swami birth centenary, millions of Gujarati families from the US frequently visit Ahmedabad from New York, New Jersey, San Francisco and Chicago.Instead of Delhi and Mumbai, demand for direct flights from Ahmedabad to various places in the US has risen.As further evidence, Manish Sharma, chairman of the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) Gujarat Chapter, pointed, “About 62-70% on Air India flying from Mumbai and Delhi to US are Gujaratis.”He added, “Though a direct flight slot from Ahmedabad to US was allotted to Air India in 2007, it was discontinued in 2012. At that time, the US government gave excuse that the baggage screening system at Ahmedabad airport was not ultra-modern.”However, airport sources claim that the baggage screening system has touched international standards over the past one-and-a-half years after the management of Ahmedabad Airport was handed to a private company.