Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation K.C. Venugopal has expressed his disapproval of airline companies’ strategy to maximise profits by hiking fares during the peak season.
He was speaking after inaugurating the state-of-the-art radar system at the Cochin International Airport Limited at Nedumbassery on Friday. Mr. Venugopal said under the present system, the Ministry of Civil Aviation hardly had any role in regulating increase in fare rates. He, however, said the government would have to take up the issue if the trend continued.
He said more airline companies would shortly launch operations to the Middle East and Indian cities from all three airports in the State. He said the Thiruvananthapuram airport would get a similar radar system later this month.
“Kochi has the potential to develop in to an international travel hub and CIAL will shortly become the gateway to Kerala,” Mr. Venugopal said. He said the tender procedure for the second Instrument Landing System for the Kochi airport had been initiated.
Minister for Excise and Airports K. Babu, who presided over the function, called for better air connectivity in the State. He said airport operations in future would never be suspended owing to flooding in monsoon as remedial measures had been taken. An expert team from NIT, Kozhikode had undertaken a preliminary study in this regard.
Mr. Babu said the airport was on the path of growth and was about to declare the highest ever dividend of 17 per cent at the forthcoming annual general meeting.
Eighty taxi permits were granted on the occasion. Mr. Babu said now only 54 families, who surrendered their home or property for the airport, remained to be compensated either through a job in the airport or taxi permit.
Earlier, Mr. Venugopal inaugurated the automation of the air traffic control at the area control centre of the airport following the introduction of the radar system.
The radar set up at a cost of Rs.16 crore will considerably reduce the take-off and landing time by enabling air traffic controllers to give direct and shorter routes to aircraft. This will increase the peak hour capacity of the airport from 10 arrivals to 20 arrivals per hour. Airline companies will also benefit as they are expected to save about Rs.15 crore in a year by saving about two million litres of fuel annually.