Kerala

UDAN scheme may hit Kannur flight plans

The interiors of the Kannur international airport terminal.

The interiors of the Kannur international airport terminal.  

Next KIAL board meeting may discuss a way out

Joining the bandwagon of regional flights under the Centre’s Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme has put the upcoming Kannur international airport in a catch-22 situation.

Domestic carriers will not be able to operate flights from Kannur to Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Chennai, Bengalaru, Hubli, Goa, Delhi and back as IndiGo and Spicejet will have a three-year monopoly in the seven sectors under the UDAN scheme and the Viability Gap Funding of the State government.

Only the Mumbai- Kannur- Mumbai sector is available for the other carriers.

The two carriers came forward to operate 26 flights on 12 routes as per an MoU signed in January between the Centre and the State government and the Airports Authority of India for inter and intra-State services from the State’s fourth international airport, which is scheduled for commissioning later this year.

Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL), which is to operate the airport, will not get any revenue from the flights operated under UDAN as it cannot impose landing, parking, and terminal navigation landing charges. Besides, the State has also been asked to lower VAT on aviation turbine fuel to 1% or less, besides providing security and fire services free of charge and electricity, water, and other utilities at concessional rates to the UDAN flights.

Eyebrows have been raised on the rationale of signing the MoU and on bringing Kannur under UDAN that envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports through revival of existing airstrips and airports.

For KIAL, revenue will be from parking and landing charges of aircraft and user development fee and passenger service fee from flyers.

KIAL has a debt of ₹ 892 crore and further burrowing is needed for completing the project, official sources said.

As per the greenfield policy, KIAL has to bear the salary and allowances of the 630 CISF personnel and other personnel deputed to the airport besides purchasing the gadgets needed.

Pulling out from the UDAN scheme may figure at the next board meeting of KIAL chaired by the Chief Minister.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 7:14:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/udan-scheme-may-hit-kannur-flight-plans/article24157687.ece

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