New Delhi: Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL), the second greenfield airport set up under the public-private partnership (PPP) model, near Mattannur in Kannur district was inaugurated on Sunday.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union minister Suresh Prabhu jointly inaugurated Kannur airport. The Air India Express to Abu Dhabi is the first plane to fly out of Kannur. All 180 passengers received a gift each from the KIAL.
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 will become a new benchmark of how airports will be constructed in the country. The airport will help the non-resident Keralites, 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.
Pinarayi 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.
Pinarayi 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.
CM slams UDF over 'delay'
However, he criticised the UDF government over the delay in the completion of the project.
"The project idea envisaged in 1996 took so long to complete. No action was taken on completing the airport during 2001-2006 (when the UDF was in power). It was only after VS Achuthanandan government took over in 2006 that some work began. Though work did not get stalled during the 2011-16 UDF rule, the project could not be completed. they just held a namesake inauguration,” he added.
Both the opposition Congress-led UDF and the BJP boycotted the inaugural event. The UDF is miffed as former chief minister Oommen Chandy was not invited.
Construction of the airport, considered a flagship programme of the previous Congress-led UDF government, was inaugurated by then Defence Minister and senior Congress leader A K Antony on February 2, 2014.
Kerala's fourth international airport
A large number of people have arrived at the airport on the inaugural day. The airport built in an area of 2,300 acres has all modern passenger amenities.
At present the length of the runway is 3,050 metres and works to extend the length of the runway to 4,000 metres had already began, it was stated. After expansion KIAL will be the biggest airport in Kerala.
The airport has 24 check-in counters, self-baggage drop counters, self-checking machines and 32 immigration counters.
The airport has arrangements to facilitate the landing of big aircraft like Boeing-777. It has bays to park 20 aircraft at a time. Flights that would operate from here includes those to the UAE, Oman, Qatar, besides domestic ones to Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai among others. The KIAL is slated to serve more than 1.5 million international passengers annually.
The Kannur airport will be the fourth international airport in the state, the others being in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.
Kannur airport is the second to be built under PPP route after Nedumbassery International Airport at Kochi. It is only 20 km away from Kannur city and 2 km from Mattannur on Kannur Mattannur Mysuru road.
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