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Kannur, Kerala’s fourth international airport, to begin flight operations from Dec 9

The new airport is expected to give a big push to tourism and other developmental activities in north Kerala and adjoining Kodagu region of southern Karnataka.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2018 23:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Kannur: An Air India trial flight being accorded water salute after its successful landing at Kannur International Airport in September this year (File Photo)
Kannur: An Air India trial flight being accorded water salute after its successful landing at Kannur International Airport in September this year (File Photo) (PTI)
         

Kerala’s fourth international airport at Kannur will be inaugurated jointly by Union civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on December 9.

Even before the inauguration, the airport saw its share of controversy after Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah’s chartered flight landed there on October 27. A section of BJP workers began a vigorous campaign claiming Shah had inaugurated the airport, leading to a spat with the Left Democratic Front government.

“The state had shown its tradition of hospitality by permitting him to land at the airport which was not officially opened but in return, he threatened to oust the government,” state finance minister T M Thomas Issac had said. In Kannur, the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the BJP have been engaged in a bloody battle for supremacy which has claimed at least 300 lives in three decades.

Though the BJP wanted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the airport, its leaders said that the ruling CPI(M) rushed with its plan. There was similar confusion during the inauguration of Kochi Metro which was finally flagged off by PM Modi in June 2017.

On December 9, Vijayan and Prabhu will flag off the first Air India Express flight to Abu Dhabi. When the first flight schedule was announced two weeks back, all tickets were sold in 50 minutes.

A semi-corporate airport, 67.14% shares in the Kannur International Airport Ltd (KIAL) are owned by individuals (mostly NRIs) and corporate entities while the state government holds 32.86% stakes in return for land and other developments undertaken in the area.

The new airport is expected to give a big push to tourism and other developmental activities in north Kerala and adjoining Kodagu region of southern Karnataka. “GoAir, Indigo and SpiceJet are awaiting clearance from the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). If clearance is received, GoAir is likely to operate its first flight on Dec 9. IndiGo will start its services by the middle of January,” said KIAL managing director V Thulsidas, a former MD of Air India.

Go Air will operate flights to Abu Dhabi, Dammam, and Muscat initially and will add Doha and Kuwait later. Air India Express will add Muscat to its route as per aircraft availability. GoAir will also operate on domestic routes such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. Indigo will have services to Bengaluru, Chennai, Goa, Hyderabad, Huballi, and Thiruvananthapuram.

These airlines will release details of their schedules as soon as they get clearance from the DGCA, he said, adding the length of the runway, which is at present 3050 metres will be soon increased to 4000 metres.

Kerala’s airports largely cater to its citizens shuttling between the Gulf nations and their hometowns, with more than 11% of the state’s population -- as many as 25.2 lakh Malayalis living abroad, the bulk of them in the Middle East. Of this, close to 10 lakh hail from the Malabar region. The small state where narrow roads are a standard norm due to the paucity of space is clearly betting its future on its vast NRI community whose remittances account for 40% of the state’s GDP.

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 23:38 IST

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