The inaugural flight flew with a 50-member delegation of the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, led by its senior president S. Rethinavelu and president N. Jagadeesan

When a Bombardier Q400 aircraft of SpiceJet on Thursday took off to Colombo it made the inaugural departure of a scheduled international flight from Madurai Airport. The Airport Authorities of India gave a water canon salute to the aircraft when it landed in Madurai later in the day.

The inaugural flight flew with a 50-member delegation of the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, led by its senior president S. Rethinavelu and president N. Jagadeesan. A total of 77 passengers, including two women, (all Indians) and a lone US national, were seen off by Airport Director K. Sangaiah Pandian, along with members of Madurai Travel Club, led by its president B.S.G. Mustafa and past president G. Vasudevan. The first boarding card was received by Mr. Rethinavelu. At last, the dream of Maduraiites to have international air services from Madurai airport became a reality, he said. “The chamber has been working for years for this day,” he added.

“Madurai is an important destination for us,” SpiceJet Chief Commercial Officer Harish Moideen Kutty said adding that the airliner was considering more international services from Madurai to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

Stating that South Tamil Nadu had a good potential for international air services, he said that SpiceJet was ready to operate a bigger aircraft instead of the 78-seater Bombardier Q400 when required. “We are ready to operate Boeing 737 with 189 seats.”

Joint Commissioner (Customs and Central Excise), A.S. Meenalochani, oversaw the customs clearance done by Station Duty Officer M. Chandrasekaran. A nine-member immigration team, led by Immigration Officer B. Victor, has been posted. V. Sundararaman, Regional Passport Officer, Madurai, and K. Gopalakrishnan, Deputy Commandant, Central Industrial Security Force, Madurai Airport, were present.

Mihin Lanka

Following SpiceJet, Mihin Lanka, a low-cost airliner from Sri Lanka will begin its Colombo-Madurai-Colombo air services from December 7. The booking of tickets for the flight on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays would begin on October 1, partner of a Madurai-based travel agent, N. Sriram, said. It would be operating a bigger aircraft. He said that either it would be flying A320 (160 seater) or A321 (210-seater).