Four places in south to be linked
Officials of Pawan Hans Helicopters hold meetingEfforts are on to introduce the first service on April 14
MADURAI: The groundwork for launching helicopter services linking Madurai with tourist destinations in the southern districts has begun.
A high-level team from Pawan Hans Helicopters met Collector T. Udhayachandran and Airport Authority of India officials here on Wednesday to study the feasibility of operating regular helicopter services to nearby tourist spots, including Kodaikanal, Thekkadi and Rameswaram. Efforts are on to introduce the first service on April 14, the Tamil New Year's Day.
The Madurai MP, P. Mohan, who mooted helicopter tourism for Madurai in Parliament during the monsoon session, said Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had assured all support from the Centre. "Madurai has enormous tourism potential. We are also involving the State Tourism department in this venture. Since the number of tourists, including foreigners, visiting the south is steadily on the rise, this project will enjoy a good patronage," he told The Hindu.
According to M. Suresh, Airport Controller, the basic infrastructure for accommodating helicopters was available at the Madurai airport. Since helicopters flew at a lower altitude, flight movements would not be affected. "We only need to co-ordinate during landing/take-off of helicopters. Helipad facility is available in some places. Even a hard grass surface is enough for landing," he added.
The proposal is to connect Kodaikanal, Palani, Rameswram, Thekkadi and Kanyakumari with 12-seater helicopters. The need to link Karaikudi to promote heritage tourism is also under consideration. All these destinations can be reached in less than thirty minutes from Madurai.