Kochi is the fifth destination to be connected with flight service from Madurai, after Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad and New Delhi.
Air India’s inaugural flight between Kochi and Madurai arrived here on Thursday. Twenty passengers, who arrived by the ATR aircraft, were greeted with rosebuds at the airport.
Kochi is the fifth destination to be connected with flight service from Madurai, after Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad and New Delhi. “This connects two preferred international tourist destinations,” Airport Director K. Sangiah Pandian said. This would be the only flight connecting Madurai with Kerala. “East West Airlines used to operate a service between Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram via Madurai in the 1990s,” Mr. Pandian said.
The service would be available weekly thrice on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. AI9503 Kochi-Madurai flight would leave Kochi at 3.30 p.m. and arrive Madurai at 4.15 p.m. On the return direction, AI9504 Madurai-Kochi flight would take off from Madurai at 4.35 p.m. and land in Kochi at 5.20 p.m.
Air India would also offer through boarding cards for international passengers who fly to Sharjah from Madurai. “However, they will have to undergo customs and immigration clearance at Kochi for the AI 933 (Kochi-Sharjah flight),” Air India Station Manager A. Anil Kumar said. “Though the permitted luggage in the ATR-42 would be only 15 kg per passenger, we will permit an additional five kg for Madurai-Sharjah passengers in the 48-seater flight,” he added.
N. Sriram, a Travel Club member, said that the Madurai-Kochi flight would open international air connectivity to various destinations for tourists and business travellers from the southern districts.
“Besides a good flow of tourists, both domestic and international, the service would also help traders from both sides,” S. Rethinavelu, senior president, Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.
Lot of trade of food grains, rice and spices take place between Madurai and Kochi/Ernakulam. “This flight will certainly spare traders from the tedious road travel for more than eight hours on the mostly ghat road,” he added.
For software engineer K. Parthiban, who was on a family tour to Ernakulam, the launching of air service between Kochi and Madurai was a pleasant surprise. A native of Cumbum in Theni district, Mr. Parthiban went to Ernakulam by two trains. “It was a 15-hour journey. But now we flew down in 45 minutes. I found the availability of this flight service while browsing on the net and decided to fly back,” he said.