‘Private airlines keen on starting services to destinations in West Asia’

The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved international status to Mangalore Airport, according to the Director of the airport M. R. Vasudeva.

Addressing a gathering at a meeting at the Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Mangalore on Thursday, he said that the Cabinet had also approved the international status for airports at Lucknow, Varanasi, Trichy and Coimbatore.

He said that he came to know about it on Thursday. He clarified that he had still got nothing in writing.

Later, Mr. Vasudeva told presspersons that several airlines, including Jet Airways, were interested in starting international routes from Mangalore airport. At present, the airport was connected to Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Muscat, Dubai, Doha, and Qatar. The newer routes could be to other geographies depending on the “benefits”, he said.

“I am very, very happy… today, it has become truly international,” Mr.Vasudeva, who will retire this month end, said. He said that the airport handled 9.29 lakh passengers from July, 2011 to June, 2012 although it was projected to handle 9 lakh passengers in 2025.

‘Create demand’

Earlier, addressing the gathering regarding exports and infrastructure at the airport were concerned, he likened it to a chicken-and-egg situation, with exports and the cargo facilities waiting for each other to start. However, now that the cargo facility was being created, it was up to exporters to use it.

However, he said that it was unclear how much cargo could be expected to move through the facility. The KCCI had not been able to provide details of the quantity of exports through the airport though the New Mangalore Port and 30 other exporters and importers around Mangalore were mentioned as potential users of the airport. A report submitted by Visvesvaraya Industrial Trade Centre (VITC) to Government of Karnataka had said that Mangalore was the best place among all districts to export from, he said.

“Quantifying is the one problem…Customs has to give us this information.

“It is not clear to the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) also, which has only certain information,” he said. “We have the infrastructure (in Mangalore airport), we have to create the demand,” he said. The KCCI has a role in this and the MPEDA had indicated that 20 to 25 tonnes of marine products could be exported from Mangalore, Gangolli, and Malpe, he said.

“Potential can be created in Mangalore,” he said.

D. Purushotham, Commissioner of Customs, Mangalore, spoke on the promotion of the air cargo complex at Mangalore airport. He said that Customs was ready to start export work once approvals were done.

The KCCI representatives said the chamber had sufficient figures of exports and had presented it to Customs. At the end of the meeting, it issued a document with data on air cargo expected to move through Mangalore airport. It mentioned 50,075 MTPA (metric tonnes per annum) of exports and 735 MTPA of imports.

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