Friday will mark one year since the takeover of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport by the Ahmedabad-based Adani Group. Though the takeover has resulted in some improvement in facilities, it remains one of the expensive airports in the State in terms of airfare.
For instance, a Thiruvananthapuram-Bengaluru flight on Friday costs between ₹6,136 and ₹12,590, and the fare in the return direction is between ₹6,529 and ₹12,729, while from Kochi, it will cost between ₹2,024 and ₹4,805 to Bengaluru and between ₹2,352 and ₹6,372 in the return direction. So is the case with many other routes.
Weekly domestic flight services from the airport have seen a jump from 58 to 110 and international flights from 60 to 124. The average daily passenger volume, which was between 3,000 and 4,000 during the time of the takeover, has increased to 9,000-10,000 now. But this only 90% of the pre-COVID-19 passenger volume. This means, the airport has not much to boast about considering the pre-COVID flight movement and passenger volume.
“To be honest, though we were expecting much more from the new operator, direct connectivity to new destinations from Thiruvananthapuram has not seen any major growth,” said K.V. Muralidharan, president, Kerala Association of Travel Agents. The Thiruvananthapuram-Kochi-Delhi daily flight which was one of the popular flight services from the capital, cancelled ahead of COVID-19, was yet to be restored, he said.
On the other hand, the airport operator has brought in a slew of new facilities, including reopening the duty-free shop and lounge facilities, and a couple of new international and domestic destinations on the route map. It has also been considering expansion for which a master plan has been prepared. The State government will have to acquire and hand over the land required for the expansion.
The Adani Group had formally taken charge of the operations and management of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport at midnight on 14th October 2021, disregarding the objections raised by the Kerala government, which had challenged the Central government’s decision to lease out the airport in the court. The case is still pending before the court. The airport was awarded to Adani Thiruvananthapuram International Airport Ltd. (ATIAL) to operate, manage and develop for a period of 50 years under a concession agreement signed with the Airport Authority of India (AAI).