By Elton Gomes
Union commerce minister Suresh Prabhu and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the Kannur international airport on December 9. With this, the total number of airports in Kerala has increased to four.
The chief guests flagged off the inaugural Abu-Dhabi bound flight Air India Express IX 715 at 10.06 am, which took off with 186 passengers.
International flights operating from Kannur will include those to the UAE, Oman, and Qatar. The airport will also be connected to Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Mumbai.
“It is a historic moment for north Kerala. No doubt the new airport will fuel growth in Malabar area,” said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Hindustan Times reported.
CM Vijayan further said that the new airport would be useful to people from other states, such as those travelling to and from Mangaluru, Coorg, and Mysore. He also stated that the Kerala government is conducting studies to assess logistics around the construction of a new airport at Erumely near Sabarimala.
Prabhu said Kannur has scripted another chapter in India’s aviation industry and it will pave the way for the overall development of Kerala. He added that the new airport will be a role model for upcoming airports.
Former Civil Aviation Minister C.M. Ibrahim, a native of Thalassery who first proposed the idea for the airport in 1995, was also felicitated at the occasion. Roughly one lakh people were present to witness the inauguration ceremony that also saw a thrilling performance by ace percussion artist Mattanoor Sankarankutty.
All you need to know about the airport
The Kannur International Airport is the second greenfield airport that has been set up in the public private partnership (PPP) model in civil aviation infrastructure sector in Kerala.
Spread across 2,000 acres and built at approximately Rs 1,800 crore, the new airport can reportedly handle around 2,000 passengers at a time and will serve more than 1.5 million international passengers yearly, with the number expected to rise five-fold by 2025. The runway length of the airport is 3,050 metres and is set to be extended to 4,000 metres.
The airport is located 30 km from the main town of Kannur and 3 km from Mattanur town. The 95,000 sq m terminal building is the eighth largest in India, and it has been equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.
The airport will have 24 check-in counters initially, which can be increased up to 48 as per requirement. The airport is equipped with six passenger boarding bridges, which can also be increased in future.
In terms of connectivity, GoAir will operate flights from Kannur airport to Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Chennai. It will eventually operate flights to Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Goa, Hubbali, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Solapur, and Hindon.
Big push for tourism
The new airport is expected to give a big push to tourism and other developmental activities in north Kerala and the adjoining Kodagu region of southern Karnataka. This is mainly because Kerala has a sizeable population working in the Gulf.
Kerala’s airports largely cater to its citizens shuttling between the Gulf nations and their home towns. More than 11 percent of Kerala’s population resides abroad, with the bulk of them in the Middle-East. The newly-inaugurated Kannur airport will most likely see a steady influx of passengers.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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