New Delhi, Sep 6 (PTI) The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has approved the expansion and upgradation of Tirupati and Kadapa airports in Andhra Pradesh’s Rayalseema region.

The airport in the temple town of Tirupati will be upgraded at an estimated cost of Rs 177.10 crore. The project will include the strengthening of existing runway to make it capable of handling wide-body aircraft for international operations, the AAI said in a statement today.

Tirupati airport was accorded international status in 2008.

The project will be completed within 24 months.

The runway at Kadapa too will be strengthened so that the airport can operate A320 type planes, used by several carriers in the country for domestic flights. The airport can currently handle the smaller 72 seater ATR planes which are flown over short distances.

The airport was inaugurated in 2015 as part of the Centre’s efforts to promote air connectivity to tier 2 and tier 3 airports.

Other works to be carried out here include the revamping of taxiway and apron, construction of isolation bay and perimeter road.

The AAI has entered into an MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government for improving this airport and will be spending an amount of Rs 94.44 crore.

Another airport at Gannavaram near Vijayawada, too, was given international status in May this year.

The move to develop airports in the state is also in line with Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, which bifurcated the state into Telangana and residual Andhra Pradesh. The capital, Hyderabad, as well as the state’s lone international airport situated in the city were transferred to the new state of Telangana.

The Act states that the Centre must “examine the feasibility of expanding the existing Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Tirupati airports to international standards and take an expeditious decision thereon”.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.