Indian Aviation

Port Blair Veer Savarkar Airport
(IATA code: IXZ - ICAO code: VOPB)

Port Blair's Veer Savarkar International Airport is the main airfield in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The airport is an Indian Navy/Coast Guard (mainly Dornier Do-228's and HAL Chetaks) air base with a civil enclave. BOAC used to fly from Calcutta to Singapore via Akyab, Bassein and Port Blair enroute to Singapore although the stop at Port Blair was mainly for refuelling purposes and mail. Port Blair was cut out of this service after World War II. But a regular scheduled civilian air service was needed. Various amphibian modes of air transport were tried and tested but did not succeed. Airways (India) Ltd. started a weekly service with a Catalina in 1957. This was to be shortlived. The airstrip was in a dilapidated condition after the War and had to be developed and repaired before commercial operations could commence. Indian Airlines began a weekly service from Calcutta (Kolkata) to Port Blair via Rangoon (Yangon) in 1960 using a 21-seater DC-3 Dakota and later on replaced by the 26-seater DC-4. The flight took seven hours to complete. The fare was just a bit higher than a deluxe cabin on a ship.

Due to increasing demand at the time a larger aircraft was equired. Thus, a 48-seater Vickers Viscount, was introduced on the Calcutta-Port Blair route in 1970. The flight duration had also decreased to 5½ hours with a refuelling stop at Rangoon. A weekly stop at Car Nicobar's airstrip was introduced in 1969. The dawn of the jet era began with Indian Airlines introducing a 126-seater Boeing 737-200 service in 1977. The aircraft enabled a nonstop two hour service from Calcutta. In 1982, a bi-weekly service from Madras (Chennai) was introduced and the frequency on these two routes was eventually increased to three weekly flights.

Passenger traffic at the airport had increased multifold during the last decades. The airport handled just a handful of weekly flights in the 1980's whereas today approx. 20 daily jet flights operate to several destinations in mainland India. The airport handled 1.66 million passengers, 5 972 tons of air freight and 14 235 aircraft movements in fiscal 2019-20 ie approx. 39 daily ATMs. Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, Vistara and GoAir offer regular air services from Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.

Pawan Hans provides inter island helicopter services from the airport. Helipads are available at Rangat, Rangat, Mayabunder, Diglipur, Havelock, Wandoor, Hut Bay, Campbell Bay, Katchal, Kamorta in addition to Port Blair and Car Nicobar. Seaplane (Jal Hans) services using Cessna 208 amphibian prop aircraft are operated to Havelock, Little Andaman and Diglipur.

A new three-level and five million annual passenger capacity integrated passenger terminal is under construction and is estimated to be completed by end-2021. The terminal will have a total floor area of almost 41 000 m² and will feature three aerobridges, four baggage carousels. The total cost of the shelled shape terminal is approx. ₹ 7 billion. The present terminal has a floor area of 6 500 m² and was designed to handle 0.7 million passengers per annum.

Port Blair Airport - Flight Arrival and Departure Information (provided by FlightsStats)

An Indian Navy Dornier Do 228 multirole turboprop landing at Port Blair airport - © Timir Mozumder

An Indian Airlines Airbus A320 readying for takeoff at Port Blair airport - © Timir Mozumder

An Indian Airlines Airbus A320 taking off at Port Blair airport - © Timir Mozumder

Port Blair Airport Photo Gallery

The 45 m wide tarmac runway at Port Blair Airport has been extended to 3 420 m. Earlier before the runway extension had been completed, full thrust was applied before a jet aircraft could initiate a take-off as the the runway was only 6 000 ft long. Larger fixed-wing aircraft land and takeoff in one direction (southwest) due to a hill obstruction at the northeast end of the runway.

An Air Deccan Airbus A320 (later Kingfisher Red) taxiing to parking position. Kingfisher Red operated two single daily flights from Kolkata and Chennai to Port Blair.

The control tower at Veer Savarkar airport.

An Indian Coast Guard Chetak (A�rospatiale Alouette III) helicopter.

The runway slopes noticeably.

A view of the passenger terminal and apron.

An Indian Navy Dornier Do-228 ready for take-off.

Rotate/V1 and positive rate of climb for this HAL-Dornier Do-228 while rain clouds ahead rapidly minimize visibility.

Clouds blanket all of the airport area in a matter of minutes and heavy rain follows.

An Indian Airlines Airbus A320 taxiing for take-off. The airport is open for civil operations from 6.30 AM till 1 PM.

An Indian Airlines Airbus A320 taxiing for take-off.

An Indian Airlines Airbus A320 taxiing for take-off.

An Indian Airlines Airbus A320 backtracking on the runway for take-off. Separate taxiways are not available.

The civil apron can accomodate upto three mid-sized jets simultaneously.

The departure section of the terminal building. The terminal is spacious and has one baggage carousel and some eight check-in desks.

Full view of the airport.

An Air Deccan A320 parked in the apron. Departing passengers are transported by bus to the aircraft.