Airport Director says help of user agencies needed

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has now set a one-month target to commission the new terminal of the airport here.

Briefing presspersons after another trial run on Tuesday evening, which saw the first set of passengers alighting at the terminal, Airport Director G. Chandramouli said all infrastructure was in place and the authority needed the assistance of user agencies to start flight operations.

“We have set a target of one month for commissioning the terminal project that was completed in April,” he said.

Asked about the move to operate domestic flights also from the new terminal, though it was designed for international services, Mr. Chandramouli said initially, international flights would be started.

“Within the shell, we can make modifications. In India, there are integrated terminals at several airports. The aviation scene when the terminal project commenced has drastically changed,” he said.

The Airport Director said an airline had shown interest in operating flights under the hub-and-spoke model from the existing international terminal. The proposal was to operate flights to South-east Asia and West Asia with Thiruvananthapuram as a base. The AAI had to work out the modalities.

Earlier, Air India Express flight IX 605 from Chennai, with 186 passengers, arrived at the new terminal. The aircraft landed here at 3.05 p.m. and was guided by a “follow-me' vehicle through the taxiway to Bay 26. The aircraft docked with one of the three aerobridges.

Sreekumar Nair, a native of the city, was the first to alight from the aircraft and move through the aerobridge to the terminal building. Mr. Chandramouli led the AAI and the airline officials in receiving the passengers, who included two infants and two foreigners. They were presented flowers and sweets. P. Sreekumar, Secretary, Trivandrum Airports Development Society, was present.

The passengers were surprised to see the big crowd and the media team, though the airline had announced earlier that the flight would arrive at the new terminal. Young travellers were excited to see the photographers and the television crews.

The only hitch was the delay in arranging a wheelchair for a senior citizen and the family raised a protest.

Commander Sayed Abuthahier and co-pilot D.R. Auplish said the flight was perfect and the arrangements were to the prescribed standards. But there were minor problems on the taxiway and the patches had to be sorted out.

The cabin crew was excited on being told that they were the first to land with passengers at the new terminal.

Row over taxi services

A section of the passengers got stranded following a rift between taxi drivers at the airport and the local people over operating taxis from the new terminal. The latter wanted the right to operate them. This led to a verbal duel on the parking lot and the police had to intervene to disperse the two groups. A tense situation prevailed in front of the terminal for over an hour and the stranded passengers were shifted on Central Industrial Security Force buses.