Madurai all set occupy a prominent position in air map

Air India Express, the low-cost carrier and subsidiary of national airline Air India, is expected to operate flights from Madurai to west Asian destinations such as Dubai and Muscat soon, according to Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry senior president S. Rethinavelu.

Addressing a press conference in Madurai on Monday on the eve of first full-fledged international flight service from Madurai to Colombo by SpiceJet, he said that Madurai airport was all set to occupy a prominent position in the international air map. The chamber was also holding direct talks with Air Arabia, the Sharjah-based United Arab Emirates national budget airlines, which had expressed keen interest in launching flights out of Madurai as early as the upcoming Deepavali season.

Air Arabia’s appeal

Air Arabia’s officials have urged the trade body to impress upon the Central government to expeditiously accord the requisite clearance. Further, Mihin Lanka, a low-cost airline based in Colombo, was expected to launch services to Madurai in December.

With steps under way by the district administration to acquire 614 acres for the Airport Authority of India, the runway length of Madurai airport could be extended from 7,500 feet to 12,500 feet which would enable big aircraft to land in Madurai.

The chamber was going to hold talks with international car manufacturers and urge them to consider establishing units in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu.

Bilateral agreements

Mr. Rethinavelu urged the Central government to include Madurai airport in the bilateral air service agreements with Malaysia, Singapore, U.A.E. and other Gulf countries as airliners in those countries have expressed interest in operating flights to Madurai. The non-inclusion of Madurai airport in the treaties was holding them back.

With India already being the fourth largest investor in Sri Lanka, this international flight service would be a stepping stone to increase bi-lateral trade, he said.

Chamber president N. Jegatheesan is leading a trade delegation of 50 members in the inaugural flight itself to Sri Lanka to meet their counterparts, officials and Ministers to further improve bi-lateral trade and investment between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.

The Government of Sri Lanka has agreed to send its officials from the Department of Industry and Commerce to attend a meeting with trade bodies. The Minister concerned is also expected to take part along with High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha, he added.

Mr. Rethinavelu reiterated his opposition of the Centre’s move to open up the retail sector to FDI and added that the trade body will fully take part in Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) call for ‘Bharath Bandh’ on September 20.