The Kerala Road Fund Board (KRFB) functioning under the Public Works Department will carry out a feasibility study on a project to develop the international airport here as a multi-modal hub in the transport system.
A decision in this regard was taken by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at a high-level meeting convened by the Union Civil Aviation Ministry here on Monday to sort out the issues faced by the airport. Briefing mediapersons after the meeting, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation K.C. Venugopal said the Chief Minister had asked for the completion of the feasibility study in a time-bound manner. The project, chalked out by Airport Director V.N. Chandran, had the backing of the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
Mr. Venugopal said the proposal was significant in view of the close proximity the Rs.300-crore terminal complex had with the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, research institutions, and Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul (MRO) facility of Air India Charters Ltd.
He said the State government and the AAI had promised that after receiving the feasibility study report, they would take up the responsibility for making the multi-modal hub a reality. A collaborative process between airport management and the State had been suggested for implementing it.
Pointing out that the new terminal complex was 500 metres from the Parvathi Puthanar, Mr. Venugopal said a cruise service would be introduced soon from the airport to Kovalam. He said a new aerobridge would be installed at the international terminal on the city side, and online baggage facility would be introduced at the airport from June. The domestic terminal on the Shanghumughom side would get a closed-circuit television by March and the Air Traffic Control a new radar by April. The aerobridge would take eight months to commission.
The AAI request to expedite the acquisition of land near Karali to construct the new domestic terminal on the city side came in for opposition from local MP and Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, Health Minister and local MLA V.S. Sivakumar, and Mayor K. Chandrika.
Mr. Venugopal said the land acquisition was the prerogative of the State. Mr. Tharoor told mediapersons that he favoured the current arrangement of domestic flight operations.
The other land issues with regard to the development of the airport and that concerning the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Aviation Technology had been resolved at the meeting, he said. The meeting was attended by the AAI Chairman V.P. Agrawal, Joint Secretaries in the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation Alok Sinha and Ashok Kumar, former Chairman and Managing Director of Air India (AI) V. Thulasidas, Thiruvananthapuram Development Authority Chairman P.K. Venugopal, AAI Regional Director D. Devaraj, Mr. Chandran, and top officials of the AAI and the AI.