Kannur airport inaugurated, Kerala first state to have 4 international airports
Kannur (Kerala): Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday inaugurated the Kannur International Airport Ltd (KIAL) and expressed confidence that it will change the fortune of the state with all towns within four hours of drive from an international airport.
"Kannur Takes Off!" Vijayan tweeted, after flagging off the first flight at 10 a.m. along with Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu.
All 180 passengers of the inaugural Air India Express flight to Abu Dhabi, received a gift each from KIAL.
This is the fourth international airport in the state, the rest are in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.
In his Facebook post, the Chief Minister said: "The airport will change the fortune of northern Kerala. It is spread across 2,300 acres and has a runway length of 3,050 metre, which will be extended to 4,000 metre.
"Connectivity and mobility are vital for inclusive development. The admirable progress Kerala has made in human development is because of this focus on inclusivity."
With the inauguration of Kannur airport, Kerala is setting new standards in connectivity. Among Indian states, Kerala now has the highest density of international airports, he said, adding: "All district HQs are now within three hours of drive from an international airport. Almost all towns in state are within four hours of drive from an international airport."
Hundreds of people, including politicians, were present to witness a cultural programme ahead of the take off of the Abu Dhabi flight.
Two more flights were listed for the day.
Flights that would operate from here includes those to the UAE, Oman, Qatar, besides domestic ones to Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai among others.
"Kannur International Airport was conceived with a very good model of development where State Govt, Central Govt(PSU) and Private Sector joining hands to create a world class infrastructure.
"This airport is in a way is a gateway to the future progress of Kerala," Prabhu tweeted, congratulating the Kerala government and people of Kerala for "making their dream to come to reality" which will "usher Kerala into a new growth trajectory".
The KIAL is slated to serve more than 1.5 million international passengers annually.
It is expected to boost tourism in Kannur, Kasargode, Wayanad and increase trade and commerce in the handloom and spices sectors.
The airport would be able to handle 2,000 passengers at a time.
Also, Kerala has become the first state in the country to have four international airports with the inauguration of the Kannur airport on Sunday.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan jointly flagged off the inaugural Air India Express flight, carrying 186 passengers to Abu Dhabi, at the airport near Mattannur town in the morning.
With the commissioning of the airport, the state has become the first in the country to have four international airports, with Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode being the other three.
The airport depicts not only cultural traditions of Malabar and Kannur, but also of Kodagu in neighbouring Karnataka. Virajpet in Kodagu is just only 58-km away from the airport, while district headquarters Madikeri is around 90-km away.
Mural paintings depicting the heritage of Malabar and Indian dance forms, including Theyyam of north Kerala, Kathakali and Yakshagana, the traditional theatre art form of Karnataka, are among the art works that vie for attention at the airport.
Speaking at the inaugural function, Prabhu said the commissioning of the greenfield airport was expected to pave way for the state's overall development and prosperity, especially the northern region.
The Kannur airport, built on a public-private partnership (PPP) mode, will become a new benchmark of how airports will be constructed in the country. The airport will help the non-resident Keralites (NRKs), especially in the Gulf region, besides boosting tourism and exports, which will result in several job opportunities, Prabhu said.
The minister also wanted the airport to use green power as it would result in economic savings. India already has about 100 airports and, in 10-15 years, another 100 would be added, he said.
"The Centre is also preparing an integrated logistics plan to fast-track movement of goods and cut transactions cost of business and we are actively working with Kerala government on this," Prabhu, who is also the commerce and industries minister, added.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan hailed the support of the minister in fulfilling the state's dream project.
Vijayan said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's response was also positive when he had met him as part of bringing foreign carriers to the airport.
"The effective interventions of everyone has helped the airport become a reality now," he said, adding that Kannur was the second airport in which the state government has a stake.
Vijayan also remembered various personalities, including late CPI(M) veteran and former state chief minister, E K Nayanar, and late industrialist Krishnan Nair, who had contributed in making the Kannur airport project a reality in various phases.
The Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party have boycotted the function. The UDF is miffed as former chief minister Oommen Chandy was not invited.
Various state ministers and NRI businessman M A Yousuf Ali were among those who attended the event.