Govind D. Belgaumkar
It's being inaugurated by Praful Patel today
Air passenger traffic likely to increase enormously
Business community hopes to witness high growth
MANGALORE: The inauguration of the Rs. 160-crore state-of-the-art terminal building — catering to both domestic and international passengers — here on Saturday is expected to propel the growth of the region.
The airport, which handles five international and 12 domestic flights a day, was declared a “custom airport for limited international operations” in 2006.
The business community hopes that it will soon be declared a full-fledged international airport and the cargo movement will begin from here soon. The Saturday's opening of the new terminal, it is hoped, will add force to the demands.
The business community hopes that more domestic and international carriers will start operating from the airport, considering the steady growth it has witnessed in recent years.
The sharp increase in the air passenger traffic — up from 2.4 lakh in 2005-06 to over 6.5 lakh in 2009-10 — is expected to increase further and generate more revenue to business establishments, including the catering sector, here.
The Bangalore-based MRG Group, which runs the Gold Finch Hotel here, has planned to establish a larger hotel at Kuloor, which is midway between the city and the airport. The “new facility will certainly bring in more guests to Mangalore”, said Prasad Kumar Shetty, who is in charge of the Gold Finch. The group is also setting up smaller hotels as part of a township proposed on a 50-acre plot at Kulai in partnership with K. Raheja Builders.
President of the Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry Srinivas S. Kamath said it was only a matter of time before the Mangalore airport was declared an international airport. Passenger movement would sharply increase and bring in more business for many in the region. Medical tourism would get a fillip, he said.
Besides, the launch of cargo services from the airport would lead to export of flowers and vegetables to West Asian and other countries, Mr. Kamath said.
Assistant Director of Marine Product Export Development Authority (MPEDA) Rajkumar S. Naik told The Hindu that the ornamental fish breeders had been enquiring about the facilities available in Mangalore for export by air. The MPEDA has already targeted export of live fish worth Rs. 1.5 crore this year, he said. Mr. Naik, who was in Kochi on Friday, said he had brought this matter to the notice of the top officials of the authority.
There is a huge demand for fresh fish from Mangaloreans settled in West Asia. “We get good quality fresh fish here and at Karwar. They can be packed in thermocol boxes with ice and exported directly. Initially, there would be exports worth Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 2 crore (of such fish),” he said. Chilled fish producers might also be interested in exports, he added.
The new integrated terminal, to be inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation (independent charge) Praful Patel, will have two aero bridges, seven escalators, as many lifts, three arrival baggage conveyors, one departure baggage conveyor, 20 check-in counters and parking space for 300 cars and 10 buses.
The services, presently being offered from the terminal building at Bajpe, are expected to be fully shifted to the new terminal building in 10 days' time. The Kenjar terminal will reduce the distance to the airport from city by about 7 km.
The 47,000-sq. m apron (parking space for aircraft) will accommodate five aircraft at a time, and there is scope to expand it to accommodate three more.