Friday, February 12, 2021

Cial’s flying colours

Kochi: After the Covid-induced slowdown, Kochi airport is slowly regaining normalcy. Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) recently handed over J33.49 crore as dividend to the state government and managed to restart 70% of its in-house services. The airport aims to further diversify their returns in the coming months

The economic slowdown brought about by the pandemic put brakes on domestic and international travels, affecting the aviation sector around the globe. While some fell into abysmal loss, a few limped back to normalcy soon. Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), Kerala’s premier airport operator was quick on its feet, emerging from the dip gracefully. Returning to 70 per cent of pre-lockdown aircraft service capacity in domestic services, the agency is well on its way to achieving full capacity in a few months. “We were handling around 30,000 passengers daily in January 2020.

We had a total of 242 aircrafts operating everyday out of international and domestic terminals. Currently, the international operations are limited to the Vande Bharat mission. We also have ‘air bubble’ service which offers a direct route to international cities omitting layovers flights. Around 20 international flights arrive at the airport now,” said a CIAL spokesperson.

The airport was handling 15,000 domestic passengers daily before Covid. “We have managed to bring it back to 12,000, on 30 domestic flights touching down at the airport daily now,” said the official. According to the officials, cancellation of a few popular services in the wake of Covid has dented their plans. “We have started the London service back in August 2020. Though it started as a bi-weekly service, it was a hit. Air India increased the number of flights to three later. However, the new variant of Covid has put an end to this service,” the official said.

Earlier, the Union Ministry of Airways had permitted only 20 per cent travelers while restarting the services. It was later increased to 50, 70 and 80 per cent. The relaxations have increased passenger volume substantially. Nevertheless, amid the pandemic-related issues, CIAL managed to complete several infrastructure projects.

“The `162 crore project for resurfacing of runways and refurbishing runway lighting system was completed before lockdown. We are yet to utilise them fully due to the Covid-induced dilemma,” he added. Cial has a huge investor base with 19,000 shareholders from 30 countries. The government has 32.42 per cent share in the undertaking and its PSUs hold a 2.27 per cent. The company registered a turnover of Rs 655.05 crores in 2019-20 with a profit of `204.05 crore.

12/02/21 Kiran Narayanan/New Indian Express

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