Union Minister for Civil Aviation P Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Vijayawada MP Kesineni Srinivas launched Air India Express, India’s first international budget carrier, operations from Vijayawada airport on Friday.

The inaugural flight IX 213 departed at 10.30 a.m, carrying 98 passengers on its maiden flight to Mumbai. The flight landed in Mumbai at 12.10 p.m. Air India CEO K Syam Sundar travelled in the inaugural flight.

The Mumbai-Vijayawada-Mumbai service of Air India Express will be available thrice a week on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. The flight will depart from Mumbai at 8 a.m and arrive at Vijayawada at 9.45 a.m.

Union Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the runway expansion would be completed by December and international flights would be operated from Vijayawada to Singapore and Dubai. He said the ministry is going to frame regulations to operate sea plane at Krishna river near Prakasam barrage in Vijayawada. He said there was good demand for cargo services from Vijayawada airport.

MP Kesineni Srinivas said that Vijayawada airport would emerge as an international destination soon. He expressed the hope that services to Singapore and Dubai would be introduced soon. He said Indigo is going to introduce flights in domestic routes from March 2.