Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday laid the foundation stone for the Tirupati international airport to provide direct connectivity from various international destinations to the temple town in Andhra Pradesh.
'After international operations commence at Tirupati airport, pilgrims from neighbouring countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka would find it easier to come to Tirupati in large numbers, contributing to its development into a major religious-cum-tourist hub,' he said.
The prime minister noted that the entire investment for the new integrated terminal is being met through the budgetary resources of the government. The first phase of the project is estimated to cost Rs.174 crore.
The state government has already handed over 293 acres of land out of the 718 acres committed for modernization and development of the airport.
Singh said once the new integrated terminal becomes operational, the Tirupati airport will have the capacity to handle 500 domestic and 200 international passengers during peak hours. The new terminal building will be equipped to provide modern state of the art amenities to passengers.
He said the civil aviation sector is a key contributor to the Indian economy.
'With our fast economic development, air traffic in India has witnessed unprecedented growth in the recent past. During the last seven years, domestic air traffic has tripled and international traffic more than doubled. Our government has continuously been making efforts to meet the growing demand for air services in the country.'
Singh said the new integrated terminal complex was a part of the efforts to continuously modernize and develop infrastructure facilities at airports all over the country, keeping in view the existing and potential traffic in a particular region.
The government has taken the route of public private partnerships to restructure and modernize the airports at Delhi and Mumbai. The recently inaugurated terminal at the Delhi Airport is truly a world class facility which the nation can be proud of, he said.