The Cochin International Airport Limited, the country’s first green field airport, added another feather to its cap when it registered a new high in passenger volume and crossed the five million mark during the 2013-14 fiscal.
It is the only airport in the State to achieve the feat and it assumes added significance at a time when there are concerns over the severe challenges facing the aviation sector.
The airport has been registering consistent growth both in passenger and aircraft movements ever since its inception in 1999. In the just concluded financial year, CIAL handled 5.39 million passengers, thus registering a growth of 10.01 per cent compared to the previous fiscal.
Significantly, the number of international passengers exceeded domestic passengers. It is realising this potential that CIAL launched the construction of a new swanky, state-of-the-art international terminal spread over 15 lakh sq.ft. last year.
While 3.27 million international passengers passed through the airport, domestic passengers were numbered at 2.11 million during 2013-14. The growth in international passengers has been an impressive 11.49 per cent while that of domestic passengers has been pegged at 7.80 per cent. The airport recorded 47,072 aircraft movements exceeding that from the previous fiscal by 13.32 per cent. CIAL managing director V.J. Kurian said that offering international quality service in a cost effective manner remains the USP of the Kochi airport.
“We have been always adhering to this vision. Our aim is to make this airport a hub of air traffic in South India,” he said. Airport director A.C.K. Nair said that it is the impressive growth that prompted the airport company to go in for a new international terminal at an investment of Rs. 850 crore.
At present, 19 international carriers and six domestic carriers operate services from the Kochi airport. They operate 963 weekly schedules, including 35 services each to Middle East destinations like Sharjah and Dubai with a considerable presence of Malayali expatriates.Cargo handling
The cargo division of CIAL has also recorded an impressive growth during 2013-14 fiscal. The total tonnage during the period rose by 17 per cent in comparison to the previous fiscal.New terminal
CIAL handled 54,440 tonnes of cargo against that of 46,530 tonnes in the previous year.
The perishable cargo has witnessed a growth of 22.19 percent thanks to the state-of-the-art air-conditioned warehouse.
Meanwhile, the construction of the new international terminal is making steady progress to meet the target of commissioning it in less than three years.
It will have a peak hour capacity to handle 4,000 passengers. The present international terminal with a built-up space of 4.75 lakh sq.ft has a peak hour capacity to handle only 1,200 passengers each on the arrival and departure sides.