Kannur International Airport Ltd. (KIAL), the fourth international airport of the State, has been able to use only 20% of the inbuilt facilities since commencing commercial flight operations from the ₹2,292-crore airport six months ago.
The problem is due to the inability to throw open the fourth international gateway of the State and north Malabar to the foreign carriers and rope in more domestic carriers.
“Opening the doors to foreign carriers would have resulted in 40% use of the state-of-the-art facilities. One flight of a foreign airline would make the difference,” says managing director of KIAL V. Thulasidas.
In addition to the national carrier Air India and its low-cost arm, Air India Express (AIE), the aviation needs of Kannur are catered by IndiGo and GoAir. AIE has only been granted slots to operate to and from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Doha in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in the UAE to the Kannur airport.
The grounding of Jet Airways due to financial crisis and ban of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Boeing 737 Max 8 on Indian airspace had come as setbacks.
“The first six months of fight operations had gone beyond our expectations. Going by the current rate, we will surpass the targeted 1.8 million travellers in the first year ,” he told The Hindu .
The KIAL authorities are surprised by the demand for domestic flights from Kannur in the initial months. The air connectivity to Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Goa, Hubli, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram and the passengers from Mysuru and Kodagu depending on Kannur have resulted in the surge.
The Karnataka government has planned to commence more services to Kannur to cater to the needs of flyers from Mysuru and Kodagu. But, this needs the Kerala government’s nod.
The airport has been able to give a big fillip to the development of north Malabar, increasing the tourist footfalls and creating a brand equity.
“Inquiries are coming from beyond Gulf. Steps are being taken at the highest level to enable the flight operations by foreign carriers from Kannur airport,” Mr. Thulasidas said.
On an average 1.5 lakh flyers are flying in and out through the airport monthly. Although the airport needs over ₹13 crore for meeting its expenses, including salary bill of the CISF personnel, it is fetching only ₹4 crore.
More flights and the opening of the cargo complex, duty free shop and food courts are expected to increase the revenue from the airport.