The pattern of air travel by the people of Malabar in recent years showed that those from Kasaragod and Kannur districts were heavily dependent on Mangalore airport while those in Kozhikode, Wayanad and Malappuram almost solely relied on the Calicut International Airport at Karipur.

With international connections, particularly to destinations in the Gulf, available from the airports of Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode and Mangalore, people have been opting for airports closer to them. “Proximity to the airports mattered more to them than the services or choice of airlines,” said Chandra Mouli, Director of Calicut International Airport.

Hence almost the entire travelling community of Kozhikode, Wayanad and Malappuram districts have been depending on Karipur. For those in northern Kannur and Kasargod, the airport at Mangalore has been closer than Karipur.

“Still we have a fairly good number of passengers from southern Kannur travelling through Karipur,” said Shabeer Babu, manager of Al-Hind Tours and Travels, Kottakkal.

Over 90 per cent of air passengers from Malabar fly to the Gulf. Hence all international airlines taking off from Karipur are heading for Gulf destinations.

When Air India Express flies from Karipur to Sharjah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Muscat, Salalah, Bahrain, Al Ain and Doha, Air India mother flight connects Kozhikode with Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.

The former Indian flights continue to fly to Dubai and Sharjah from Karipur with their original IC code.

While Emirates offers connections through Dubai, Etihad flies to Abu Dhabi, Qatar Airways to Doha, Oman Air to Muscat, Saudi Airlines to Jeddah, Dammam and Riyadh, Air Arabia to Sharjah, and Bahrain Air to Bahrain.

“We have flights to almost all destinations in the Gulf. We have 340 flight movements a week from Karipur,” said Mr. Mouli.

Calicut International Airport witnessed a considerable growth in passenger movement in the term ending February. The international traffic flow through Karipur saw 13.7 per cent growth when the traffic through Mangalore airport saw a growth of 14.7 per cent.

“That is an indication of the heavy dependence on Mangalore airport by the people of North Malabar,” said Mr. Shabeer.

As many as 1.8 million people travelled through Calicut International Airport in the last one year. “About 90 per cent of them travelled to the Gulf,” said Mr. Mouli.

Getting tickets from Gulf destinations have become difficult due to vacation. The peak inward passenger flow will continue till June end. And the return rush will begin in August and continue till September end.