CIAL plans Rs.3,500-crore projects

TAKES A NEW LOOK: Interior of the new arrival block of the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery to be inaugurated by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Saturday. Photo: H. Vibhu  

A Correspondent

NEDUMBASSERY: The feasibility study on the budget airline proposed by the State Government was progressing and the report was expected by early November, V.J. Kurian, managing director of the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), said here on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference ahead of the inauguration of the new arrival block of the international terminal, he said the airport company had conceived a new type of financing for the budget airline. He, however, said that nothing had been finalised and that the designated consultant was considering the financing proposal as well.

As per the proposal, the airport company would hold 26 per cent shares of the airline and the remaining 74 per cent would be with common shareholders. Discount coupons would be issued to the shareholders equivalent to their investment and would have a validity of six years.

Asked about the risk factor involved, he said that though risky it would be highly beneficial to the Non-Resident Keralites. The innovative financing system was thought about to overcome the possible risk of inadequate passenger flow that a newly launched airline would face. According to him, the issuance of discount coupons would serve as a motivating factor for the passengers to travel by the airline in which they invested.

Regarding the company's commercial development plans in its 400 acres of land, Mr. Kurian said that Ernst & Young, the consultant appointed to do the feasibility study, was expected to submit the report within two weeks. Investments worth Rs.3,500 crores, with the participation of private sector, were being planned. When implemented this would generate 17,000 job opportunities, he said.

Mr. Kurian said that the airport company would be investing in some projects while in some other its participation would be limited to providing land alone. The company would make 51 per cent investment for the proposed Rs.35-crore rupees aircraft maintenance hangar while the rest of the contribution would be from outside. He said that talks were on with a couple of airlines regarding a possible tie-up for operating the hangar by bringing in the technicians of the airlines concerned. He, however, said that it was too early to talk on a possible outcome.

The land use plan drawn up include free zone logistic centre, centre for perishable cargo, 18-hole golf course, convention centre with seating capacity for 4,000, star hotels, exhibition halls, shopping complex, gems and jewellery park, family entertainment complex, including amusement park, and go-carting track.

Regarding the fiscal performance, Mr. Kurian said the airport company was able to achieve a turnover of Rs.100.26 crores and had registered a net profit of Rs.28.79 crores during the financial year 2004-05.

He said if approved by the Annual General Meeting, a 10 per cent dividend would be declared for the shareholders. He said the first four months of the current financial years registered a pre-tax profit of Rs.20 crores.

The AGM is scheduled on August 20 at Kerala Fine Arts Society Hall in Kochi.