Kerala Association of Travel Agents seeks VS' intervention
The Kerala Association of Travel Agents has urged Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and the MPs from the State to put pressure on the Union government and the Civil Aviation Ministry to set up the headquarters of Air India Express (AIE) in the city.
After Mumbai, the State capital is the most preferred place in the country to set up the headquarters of the no-frills airline of Air India.
“Efforts are on to scuttle the move from the top level of Air India, and the massive cancellation of the flights of the national carrier and the AIE is aimed at this direction,” association president K.V. Muralidharan told a press conference here.
The association also demanded immediate steps to restore the flights that had been cancelled as the air fare to various destinations from the State capital had gone up several times after the flights were cancelled.
The association claimed that the premier airport was one of the best airports in the country and flights could be operated on all weather conditions. It was used as an alternative for Kochi, Karipur and Colombo airports when flights had to be diverted on account of inclement weather.
On an average, 300 flights were diverted every year from Karipur and 100 flights from Kochi as per the Civil Aviation Ministry figures.
According to Mr. Muralidharan, the upcoming Aircraft Maintenance Base of Air India in the vicinity of the new world class terminal to take care of Boeing 737-800 aircraft is another aspect that will come in handy for the airline once the AIE headquarters is shifted here. Besides, the airline has spacious offices at Vellayambalam and at Mascot Square and there are only 40 personnel now working at these offices.
He said the airline would be able to park the aircraft of the AIE at concessional rate since the airport is owned, managed and operated by the Airports Authority of India. The premier airport is the only one in Kerala that has apron facilities to operate 18 flights at a time from two terminals.
The close proximity to Colombo and Male airports, which can be accessed in less than 30 minutes, is also a major advantage for the airport in the capital that was declared international in 1991.
Mr. Muralidharan said it was surprising that despite the infrastructure facilities and a host of positive factors, the authorities were not willing to set up the headquarters of the AIE in the capital.
He urged the State government and the people's representatives to put pressure on the Union government to end the bias against the premier airport.