Mangaluru, Mar 19: Foreign tourists will now be able to fly directly to Mangaluru International Airport, as the home ministry has given a go-ahead to equip the airport with electronic visa-on-arrival or electronic visas.
The facility will be commissioned on April 1. With this Mangaluru will be the second airport in Karnataka after Bengaluru to offer e-visa facility.
J.T. Radhakrishna, director of the airport, said that tourist, medical, and business visa holders can avail of the facility.
The airport has created two exclusive counters for e-visa holding travellers at the terminal building as fingerprints of such travellers would have to be taken, he said.
P.V.S.V. Prasad, Assistant Director, Bureau of Immigration at the airport, said immigration officials take three seconds to check a traditional visa. Separate counters for e-visa holders are required as it takes three to four minutes to check e-visa as the fingerprints of the passenger is required. Other passengers will then not have to wait for immigration clearance.
Mr. Prasad suggested that if the travellers carried a printout of the e-visa, the clearance process becomes faster, rather than checking it on the smart phone.
Foreign nationals using e-visa and visiting this coastal belt arrive at Mumbai or Bengaluru international airports first, and then take domestic flights to Mangaluru. From next month, they can fly directly to Mangaluru.
The airport handles 47 international flight arrivals and an equal number of departures per week. The international operations from Mangaluru are limited to West Asian countries. The flights are being operated to Dubai, Dammam, Doha, Kuwait, Muscat and Abu Dhabi.
Jet Airways withdrew its operations between Mangaluru and Sharjah from January 15 due to lack of passenger traffic, Mr. Radhakrishna said.