The maiden flight from Madurai to Dubai took off at 11.35 p.m. on Friday and what it carried apart from 158 elated passengers is something that provides the authentic scent of the soil – ‘Madurai Malli,’ a jasmine variety with Geographical Indication tag.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) could not have chosen a better day to inaugurate a stall to sell ‘Madurai Malli’ at the departure end of the airport terminal building than Friday when the airport was all set to begin night operations with the introduction of a direct flight to Dubai.
Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan inaugurated the stall given on lease to S. Nagarathinam and Sons, one of the leading exporters of jasmine from here. The firm had obtained rights to sell the flowers inside the terminal building for three years.
Passengers could purchase 1.5-metre flower strand packed in a colourful box for Rs.100 each.
After inaugurating the stall in the presence of Airport Director K. Sangiah Pandian, the Minister asked Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry senior president S. Rethinavelu and president N. Jegatheesan to carry the flower boxes along with them on the maiden flight to Dubai.
Mr.Jegatheesan, also the proprietor of the firm that had obtained the rights to sell ‘Madurai Malli,’ said the demand for the flower was so high among the passengers that some of them wanted to purchase the flower boxes even before the shop was inaugurated by the Minister.