Monday, July 18, 2022

Just one player offers air connectivity within Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: Though Left Democratic Front (LDF) convener E.P. Jayarajan on Monday announced that he would not use IndiGo flight anymore, even if forced to walk home, it would be difficult for him to keep his word in the long run. His resolve, on the other hand, has turned the spotlight on the poor air connectivity within Kerala.

Mr. Jayarajan had said that a lot of airlines companies offered quality services in Kerala. However, in the intrastate domestic sector, only IndiGo offers connectivity between Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Kannur airports. According to IndiGo officials, the airline holds daily services linking the three airports.

Earlier, Air India had operated a flight from Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram which was stopped after the COVID-19 outbreak. The Air India Express (AIE), the low-cost arm of Air India, had also offered a domestic service from Thiruvananthapuram to Kozhikode. In fact, it was an international flight from Thiruvananthapuram, but it had a stopover in Kozhikode before flying to its West Asian destination. But the service was stopped even before the COVID-19 due to poor patronage.

A senior airline officer told The Hindu, “The occupancy on the domestic leg of the AIE international flight was very poor. Only some politicians, mainly a few CPI(M) leaders and senior Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leaders from Malabar, and a handful of businessmen used the flight seasonally. The service was not viable and later we stopped the domestic leg of the flight and provided direct international connectivity from both airports to West Asia.”

“Kerala’s passenger flow is mainly directed towards the overseas job markets. Despite offering over 250 weekly services to West Asia from Kerala, we could not make the domestic leg of our international flight profitable,” added the officer. Further, IndiGo is the segment leader in the domestic sector in Kerala and other airlines cannot compete with them for the time being. The remote location of airports — away from the main cities — is also another reason for passengers to explore other means to reach destinations in a short time, according to experts.

18/07/22 Dhinesh Kallungal/The Hindu

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