Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Kerala revives airstrip plan

Thiruvananthapuram: The state government is exploring the scope of setting up airstrips or heliports at nine destinations, mostly tourist spots. The government has revived a proposal by the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) that was gathering dust for nearly two years. The government issued fresh orders last week for CIAL to conduct a pre-feasibility study on airstrips or heliports at Guruvayur, Kalpetta, Palakkad, Munnar, Thekkady, Alappuzha beach, Asramam ground in Kollam, Varkala and Kumarakom.

The transport department sources said heliports would be the priority as airstrips would require more land.  Moreover, a high-level team had earlier explored the option of airstrips at various places, including Kollam, and found it to be unsuitable.  An airstrip was also proposed at Bekal in Kasargod. Once the heliports become a reality, heli-taxi services could also catch up.
Though a private firm had earlier launched heli taxi service in association with CIAL, it did not receive much response.  A heliport can have more than one helipads and could also have other facilities like fueling, hangar and terminal, said sources. Former chief minister Oommen Chandy had announced the plans to set up eight heliports and an airstrip in February 2016. CIAL had then submitted a proposal to the government in this regard. But it did not gain any momentum afterwards.
20/12/17 Arjun Raghunath/Deccan Chronicle