Thursday, April 12, 2018

Calicut airport turns 30

Kozhikode: The Vishu day on April 13, 1988, was a red-letter day for north Kerala. That day, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) commissioned the operations of the Calicut International Airport after several years of public agitation. Rising from its humble beginnings, with just four flights a week, 30 years ago, the airport now operates 60 international movements (arrivals and departures) and eight domestic flights daily.

In the beginning only domestic flights operated from the airport. The first direct international flight, to Sharjah, commenced in February 1992. However, the airport achieved its international status only in February 2006. And a few years later, the airport was made an embarkation point for Haj pilgrimage along with the largest flow of migrants to the Gulf nations.

“The three-decade journey has been memorable for an airport that now handles more than 32 lakh passengers a year,” J.T. Radhakrishna, Airport Director, told The Hindu here on Wednesday.

He said that the airport had emerged as the seventh top international airport in the country, having a real impact on the economic development of Malabar. The number of international passengers rose from 22 lakh to 26 lakh during the period while the number of domestic passengers increased from 4.3 lakh to 5.1 lakh.

“Possibly, with the expected operation of wide-bodied aircraft, the passenger volume will touch 60 lakh in the next five years,” he said.
The passenger volume increased by 18% and cargo movement by a whopping 35% during the previous fiscal. The airport expects to increase the international and domestic cargo movement by 35% in the new financial year.

However, the airport at present is at the crossroads with the ongoing ban on the operation of wide-bodied aircraft and bleak prospect of expansions of the table-top runway. But that has not deterred the airport authorities from its development plans.
12/04/18 The Hindu