Kannur: Arrangements are on full swing for the gala inauguration of Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL), scheduled for Dec. 9. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu would jointly light the lamp inside the terminal building, marking the inauguration of the airport. They would then flag off the inaugural flight, by the Air India Express, to Abu Dhabi, at 10 am on that day.
The Kannur Airport has been constructed atop a hill at Mookapramabu. It is just 32.4 kms from the border town of Makutta, 58.3 kms from Virajpet, Kodagu and about 90 kms from Madikeri. From Mysuru, the Kannur Airport is about 180 kms, lesser than the distance between Mysuru and Kempegowda International Airport at Devanahalli in Bengaluru that is over 184 kms.
The deluxe interiors of the six-storey terminal of the Kannur International Airport are in the final phase of being spruced up. Workers are giving finishing touches to the facilities at the stylishly luxurious terminal building and its facilities that include immigration, transit launch, international and domestic hold areas, baggage make-up and break-up facilities, departure halls, three big baggage retrieval belts, customs checking counters, viewers’ gallery, lifts and elevators, among others.
The Kannur Airport is Kerala’s fourth international airport after Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi which is set to serve the people of Kannur and Kasaragod districts, who had to earlier depend on the Karippur airport in Kozhikode or the one in Mangaluru in coastal Karnataka. Annually, the Kannur Airport can handle up to one million international passengers and three lakh domestic fliers.
The Greenfield Airport has been constructed as a private-public partnership project. “The inauguration of the new airport is the fulfilment of the dream of the people in the region,” KIAL Managing Director V. Thulasidas said at a press conference at the airport terminal. It was inconceivable for many people that the new airport had been completed, he said. KIAL was committed to making this airport one of the best in the country, he added.
Arrangements are underway to start food and beverages facilities, duty-free shops, baggage wrapping facilities, pre-paid taxi services and other passenger services in the airport by the inauguration of the Airport, which is equipped to handle over 2,000 passengers an hour.
Security facilities including in-line X-ray system are in place. The airport has self check-in for domestic flight and self-baggage drop-in system, which is first to be introduced in an airport in the State. The Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT) for the airport staff has been done by a Hyderabad-based company.
“Our estimate is that the annual expenditure for running the airport will be Rs. 250 crore a year,” Thulasidas said. Though the original estimated cost of the airport project was Rs. 1,892 crore, the cost of the project once completed would be around Rs. 2,350 crore, he added.
More revenues for the airport should come from cargo operations, Thulasidas said hoping that the airport would cater to the business, tourism and export sectors not only in the region but also in the neighbouring Kodagu district of Karnataka.
Foreign airlines had submitted proposals to start services connecting Kannur. KIAL and the State government were making their best efforts to ensure that the foreign airlines get the permission. There would be 10 to 13 flights from Kannur soon, he said.
GoAir would operate flights to Abu Dhabi, Dammam and Muscat and would soon add Doha and Kuwait to its route. Air India Express would add Muscat to its route as per availability of the aircraft which was undergoing repair.
GoAir would also operate in domestic routes such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Indigo would have services to Bengaluru, Chennai, Goa, Hyderabad, Hubballi and Thiruvananthapuram. These airlines would release details of their schedule as soon as they get clearance from the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), he said.
The Airport, built on 2,000 acres of land, has the rare distinction of having a 4,000-metre runway, considered massive in civil aviation and comfortable for take-off and landing of wide-bodied aircraft like Airbus A-380. Only three other airports in the country — New Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad — have 4000-metre runways.