Port Blair Airport Guide: Essential Tips for Travellers

Veer Savarkar International Airport, known to many as Port Blair Airport, serves as the aerial gateway to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Located just 2 km south of Port Blair, the territory’s capital, this airport is pivotal in connecting the archipelago with the Indian mainland and beyond. Operating as a civil enclave under the Indian Navy’s control, this facility bears witness to the islands’ rich history, which dovetails with India’s broader narrative.

Despite its strategic importance and the administrative weight it carries, the airport is renowned for its compact size and the limited yet vital range of services it offers. With a single-runway design, the airport is equipped to support the steady flow of domestic traffic and some international connections, focusing on Southeast Asian destinations. Its infrastructure caters to the needs of travellers, with amenities such as eating venues, a medical room, and facilities for passengers with additional needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Veer Savarkar International Airport is the primary airport for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, based in Port Blair.
  • It operates under the Indian Navy’s jurisdiction as a civil enclave and is a critical connector to several Indian cities and select international destinations.
  • The airport supports tourism and the local economy through its operations and is a strategic asset for India.

History and Significance

Port Blair Airport, officially known as Veer Savarkar International Airport, stands as a significant gateway connecting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with the mainland of India. It embodies a rich historical backdrop, intertwining the stories of the islands and a notable freedom fighter.

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Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

  • History: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, an eminent figure in the history of Indian independence, was incarcerated in the infamous Cellular Jail, located in Port Blair.
    • Imprisoned by the British colonial authorities for his revolutionary activities
  • Airport Namesake: The airport is named after Savarkar to honour his contribution to India’s freedom struggle.
    • Comprises a terminal named after him
    • Features a blue plaque commemorating his life and philosophy

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

  • Geographical Significance: An archipelago situated in the Bay of Bengal with strategic importance for trade and defence.
    • Includes over 500 islands
  • Cultural History: Home to a diverse range of indigenous communities with traces of human settlements dating back tens of thousands of years.
    • Known for the native tribes such as the Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarwa and Sentinelese
  • Airport’s Role: Serving as the primary airport for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
    • Handles flights that connect these remote islands to major Indian cities like Chennai, Kolkata, and Delhi
    • Aids in tourism growth, being instrumental in making the islands accessible to travellers

Given its pivotal role and historic resonance, Veer Savarkar International Airport is much more than just an airport—it is a symbol of freedom, survival, and connection for the people of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Airport Infrastructure

Port Blair Airport, an essential travel hub in the Andaman Islands, has recently seen significant upgrades in its infrastructure. These improvements aim to enhance the travel experience, facilitate easier business operations, and improve overall connectivity for the island.

New Integrated Terminal Building

  • Overview: The freshly inaugurated New Integrated Terminal has vastly improved the capacity and efficiency of the airport.
    • Cost and Capacity: Constructed at a cost of approximately ₹710 crore, it can serve about 50 lakh passengers annually.
    • Facilities:
      • Check-In Counters: Ample check-in counters to reduce wait times.
      • Conveyor Belts: Modern conveyor belts for efficient baggage handling.

Civil Enclave

  • Management: The Civil Enclave at Veer Savarkar International Airport is under the Indian Navy’s control, while the Passenger Terminal Building and Apron are administered by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
  • Apron Specifications:
    • Can accommodate Code ‘C’ type of aircraft.
    • Equipped with power-in and power-out configuration to support six parking stands.

Passenger Terminal

  • Function: The Passenger Terminal serves as the main point for passenger processing and includes various passenger-centric facilities.
    • Structure: Occupies a significant space within the airport confines ensuring easy movement for travellers.
    • Amenities:
      • Designed to streamline passenger flow from check-in to boarding.
      • Improved systems for security and baggage claim.

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Flight Connectivity and Airlines

Port Blair Airport serves as a pivotal hub in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, enabling a network of flights that connect the region with various Indian cities and potentially beyond. This section will provide a detailed look at the domestic routes, the scope of international travel, and the airlines that facilitate these services.

Domestic Connectivity

  • Direct Routes
    • Starting with Chennai, flight operations are frequent with a travel time of approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes.
    • Flights to Kolkata cover the distance in roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes, another primary mainland link.
    • From Delhi, the connectivity to Port Blair is catered to with an average flight duration of 5 hours, usually with one stopover.
    • Air services from Bangalore to Port Blair have been introduced, reducing travel time and offering more options for travelers.
    • Airlines have recognised Hyderabad as a crucial connecting city, with flights making the journey in about 2 hours and 20 minutes.
  • Frequency of Flights and Expansion
    • Akasa Air, the new entrant, has enhanced the connectivity with daily services.
    • The other major airlines such as Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, and Vistara, have maintained and periodically adjusted their schedules to suit passenger demand.

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International Reach

  • Current Status and Developments
    • While the airport predominantly supports domestic travel, future expansions and introduction of potential international routes are plausible considering the island’s growing tourism and strategic importance.
  • Tourist and Economic Impact
    • Direct flights from the mainland to Port Blair are crucial not only for tourism but also for the economic development of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Airlines Operating

  • Major Domestic Carriers
    • Air India: Offers consistent services to several key cities, including Chennai and Kolkata, known for their reliability.
    • IndiGo: Known for economic fares, IndiGo connects the island to major urban centres such as Delhi and Bangalore.
    • SpiceJet: Often providing competitive rates, this airline adds to the options available for travel to and from Port Blair.
    • Vistara: A newer full-service carrier offering comfortable travel experiences to Port Blair from different cities.
    • Akasa Air: Recently launched daily flight services to the region, improving accessibility and frequency.
  • Emerging and Future Operators
    • Potential new entrants and existing airline expansion plans could further elevate Port Blair’s status as an air travel hub.

By highlighting the significant routes, frequency of flights, and discussing the airlines operational in the region, tourists and other visitors can plan their journey to the Andaman Islands with better understanding and ease.

Operational Capacity

The Veer Savarkar International Airport, Port Blair, has seen expansions to accommodate the growing influx of visitors to the Andaman Islands, enhancing its operational capacity.

Passenger Throughput

  • Annual Handling Capacity: The new terminal can handle up to 1.2 million passengers annually.
  • Peak Hour Traffic: Peak hour capacity allows for 1,200 passengers to be processed smoothly.

Air Traffic Movement

  • Air Traffic Over Port Blair: Managed by the Airports Authority of India alongside the Indian Navy, which oversees air traffic operations.
  • Types of Aircraft: The airport can accommodate a wide range of aircraft, handling numerous flights daily.

Apron Area

  • Surface Area: The apron area supports the increased air traffic with adequate space for aircraft.
  • Capacity: Designed to accommodate multiple flights simultaneously, ensuring efficient traffic movement.

Strategic Importance

Before delving into specifics, it’s key to understand that Port Blair Airport serves as a crucial node for both India’s defence strategy and geopolitical influence in the Indian Ocean region.

Role of Indian Navy

  • Expansion of Naval Presence: The Indian Navy utilises Port Blair Airport as a strategic outpost, enhancing India’s maritime security.
    • Establishment of Naval Air Stations: With facilities to accommodate advanced naval aircraft.
      • Example: Possible deployment of maritime patrol aircraft and surveillance drones.
    • Helps in Patrolling: Aids in monitoring the vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and maritime borders.
      • Fact: The Andaman and Nicobar Command is India’s first integrated theatre command, with all land, sea, and air forces under a single commander.

Geopolitical Relevance

  • Increased Passenger Capacity: The expansion of the airport’s capacity to handle up to 11,000 passengers daily bolsters its role in regional connectivity.
    • Economic and Strategic Amplifier: Boosts tourism and local economy; acts as a deterrent in the Indian Ocean region.
      • Statistic: The new terminal inaugurated, part of a ₹700-crore investment, marks a significant upgradation.
  • Inter-island Connectivity: Enhances connectivity between the islands, fostering socio-economic development and strategic reach.
    • Tourism Growth: Enhanced airport facilities are expected to boost job opportunities significantly.
      • Case Study: IndiGo and Air India commencing operations from the new terminal demonstrate the blending of commercial and strategic uses.

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Tourism and Economy

Before the inauguration of the new integrated terminal at Veer Savarkar International Airport, Port Blair was already capturing travellers’ attention worldwide. The renovation ushers in a promising future for local tourism and job creation.

Impact on Local Tourism

  • The new terminal is expected to handle increased tourist traffic, catering to the growing interest in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as a travel destination.
    • Increased capacity: The upgraded terminal can accommodate larger aircraft, potentially introducing new direct flights from major cities.
    • Tourist attractions: From pristine beaches to historical Cellular Jail, tourists can enjoy a varied itinerary.
    • Investment potential: Businesses see the upgrade as a nod to invest in local hospitality and services.

Employment Opportunities

  • The upgrade represents a significant investment in the region, translating into direct and indirect job creation.
    • Direct employment: The terminal itself has new positions for airport operations, maintenance, and customer service.
    • Indirect employment: Local businesses including hotels, restaurants, and tour services benefit from increased tourist spending.
    • Sewa (service): Emphasis on indigenous employment aligns with the spirit of Sewa—ensuring the local community thrives alongside the tourism sector.

Sustainability Initiatives

The Veer Savarkar International Airport at Port Blair is at the forefront of eco-friendly design, embracing modern sustainability features to enhance efficiency and minimise environmental impact.

Rainwater Harvesting

  • Implementation: The airport has incorporated an advanced rainwater harvesting system.
    • Collection tanks: Strategically placed to gather maximum runoff.
    • Filtration system: Ensures water purity for reuse.
  • Usage: Collected rainwater is utilised for non-potable purposes.
    • Landscaping irrigation: Reduces dependency on municipal water.
    • Sanitary flushing: Augments water conservation efforts.

Energy Efficient Design

  • Architecture: Natural light is optimised in the terminal design.
    • Skylights: Reduce the necessity for artificial lighting during daylight hours.
  • Energy conservation: Incorporation of energy-saving measures.
    • Motion sensors: Regulate lighting and air conditioning.
    • LED lighting: Installed throughout to decrease energy consumption.

Development and Expansion

The major development and expansion at Port Blair Airport is indicative of the Indian government’s continued investment in infrastructure to boost connectivity and economic growth in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Government Investment

  • Airport Authority of India (AAI): Committed to enhancing air connectivity and ensuring modern facilities, AAI has undertaken significant projects.
    • Funding of Rs.707.73 crore: Investment for the modernisation and expansion of the airport’s infrastructure.
    • Increase in Passenger Handling Capacity: The previous terminal could handle 4,000 tourists, with the new terminal scaling up to 11,000.
  • Prime Minister’s Inauguration: The Prime Minister inaugurated the new integrated terminal building at Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair via video conferencing on 18 July 2023.
    • Enhancement of Connectivity: Aimed at increasing ease of travel and ease of doing business.
    • Boost to Local Economy: Expected positive impact on tourism and related sectors.

Future Projects

  • Expansion Plans: Reflecting on future growth and to cater to the forecasted increase in passenger volume.
    • Increased Aircraft Parking Capacity: With the new terminal, 10 planes can now be parked simultaneously.
    • Annual Passenger Handling: The projected capacity to handle up to 40 lakh passengers per year.
  • Strategic Importance: Recognising the geopolitical importance of the region and its potential for tourism.
    • Tourism Opportunities: Enhancements at the airport are anticipated to unlock tourism potential and generate employment.
    • Long-term Development: Continued investment indicates sustained efforts in developing the nation’s borders and remote regions.

Technological Advancements

In the bustling heart of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands lies the Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair, which has recently undergone significant technological enhancements. These upgrades aim to streamline passenger experience and establish a new benchmark in the aviation sector.

Check-In and Security

  • Upgrade of Check-in Counters: Installation of additional counters and advanced systems to expedite the check-in process.
    • The integration of self-service kiosks for faster check-ins.
    • Enhanced baggage handling systems with automated sorting.
  • Security Enhancement: Implementation of modern security screening equipment.
    • The induction of state-of-the-art body scanners and luggage X-ray machines.
    • Introduction of biometric verification for a seamless identity check process.

Communication Systems

  • Advanced ATC: Modernisation of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) with upgraded communication systems.
    • Incorporation of satellite-based navigation and surveillance systems.
    • The establishment of a more sophisticated radar system for efficient airspace management.
  • Passenger Communication: Improved public address and information systems within the terminal.
    • Real-time flight information display systems across the airport.
    • Free Wi-Fi facilities for passengers to stay connected.

With these technological advancements, Port Blair Airport is poised to not only enhance the operational efficiency and security but also ensure a comfortable and connected environment for travellers.

Key Figures and Events

Before addressing the subsections, it’s essential to note some significant events and figures associated with Veer Savarkar International Airport, especially those that mark milestones in its development and underscore its importance to the region.

PM Modi’s Inauguration

  • In July 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the New Integrated Terminal Building of Port Blair Airport via video conferencing.
  • The project, costing around ₹710 crores, aims to significantly enhance the airport’s capacity, handling an impressive 50 lakh passengers annually.

Notable Visits

  • There have been several distinguished visits at Port Blair Airport, many of which contribute to the region’s recognition and development. However, specific individual visits have not been detailed in the provided information.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating through an airport and planning a trip can raise several questions. Below are specific queries tourists often have about the Port Blair Airport, accompanied by straightforward information.

What enhancements can travellers expect from the new terminal at Port Blair airport?

  • Facilities and Capacity
    • The Veer Savarkar Airport’s new terminal covers 40,837 square metres.
    • Investment of Rs 707.73 crore into the infrastructure.
    • Capacity of up to 1200 passengers during peak hours and an annual footfall of 40 lakh passengers.
  • Amenities and Design
    • 28 check-in counters and 12 immigration counters are available.
    • Three passenger boarding bridges to ease the boarding process.
  • Additional Services
    • Designed to provide a seamless and comfortable travel experience.

Could you guide me through getting the pin code for the Port Blair airport?

  • Pin Code Retrieval
    • Tourists seeking the Port Blair Airport’s postal code can quickly find this information via the airport’s information desk or online postal services.

Who is behind the architectural design of Port Blair Airport, and what inspirations were drawn?

  • Architectural Design
    • Details on the specific architect or firm and their design inspirations might need to be enquired from the Airport Authority of India (AAI) or through architectural review publications.

Where might I find an accurate and detailed map of Port Blair Airport?

  • Map Accessibility
    • Available at the airport and through various travel and airline websites.
    • High-level details on terminal layout, including gates, check-in counters, and services, are provided for navigational ease.

What’s the latest scoop on Port Blair Airport from today’s headlines?

  • Current News and Updates
    • Travellers can check the latest updates and news regarding Port Blair Airport through airport’s official website, news portals, or social media channels.

How is the Andaman airport ticket pricing structured for various destinations?

  • Ticket Pricing Structure
    • Factors influencing ticket cost: destination distance, airline choice, booking window, and seasonality.
    • Competitive pricing observed with airlines like IndiGo, SpiceJet, and Air India operating in the region.

This section has been compiled to cater to tourists visiting Port Blair, offering them a guide with a friendly and practical tone. The aim is to deliver relevant and reliable information about Port Blair Airport, as it serves as an essential gateway to the Andaman Islands.

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