Calicut-Southeast Asia flights found unviable

An Air India Express plane at the Calicut airport. The airport is looking at options of improving domestic connectivity.

An Air India Express plane at the Calicut airport. The airport is looking at options of improving domestic connectivity.

An ambitious plan of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to open a window to Southeast Asia from Malabar region via the Calicut International Airport is unlikely to work with the experimental Air India Express (AIE) flights operated via Tiruchirapally to Singapore for a month failing to yield the desired results.

As part of network planning and collecting data, Air India Express had operated a weekly service from Calicut via Singapore in November. Approximately, 20 passengers from Calicut took each flight to Singapore. The flight departed on Thursdays from Calicut at 7.15 p.m. and arrived at 4 a.m. the next day in Singapore. The return flights arrived at Calicut at 8.15 p.m. on Fridays.

“The experiment was unsuccessful for many reasons. Unlike Tiruchirappally, Calicut is not an East-bound airport. Then again, passengers, both tourists and business class, may not opt for weekly flights. Besides, the flights were operated during the COVID-19 pandemic with Singapore imposing travel restrictions,” R. Mahalingam, Calicut Airport Director, told The Hindu on Tuesday.

West-bound airport

He said Calicut was basically a West-bound airport whereas flights from Tiruchirappally to Singapore and Malaysia were usually fully booked. “In fact, Air Asia, the low-cost airline headquartered near Kuala Lumpur, operated its first India flight from Tiruchirappally sensing the potential of the sector”, he said.

Two years ago, proposals had been sent to Air Asia, Malindo Air, Malaysia Airlines, Tiger Airways, and Scoot to operate at least one non-stop direct flight from Calicut to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. This was mooted so that flyers would also take connecting flights to other destinations including Manila, Seoul, and Bangkok. However these proposals failed to take off.

“Airline companies will surely aim at profits. They will not operate flights on the unfeasible sectors,” Mr. Mahalingam said.

He said Calicut airport was carefully looking at options of improving domestic connectivity. Now flights are available to Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. “We have to get direct flights to Madurai, Hubli, Mysuru, Vijayawada, Belgaum, and Agati,” he said.

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 1:57:28 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/calicut-southeast-asia-flights-found-unviable/article38007331.ece