The Indian low-cost airline IndiGo recently hogged headlines when it imposed a three-week ban on LDF convenor and CPM leader E P Jayarajan for pushing two protesting Youth Congress members inside a flight on June 13. After the ban, he had urged people to use trains and boycott the IndiGo airlines.
“They have imposed a three-week ban on me but I don't intend to travel in an IndiGo flight ever again,” Jayarajan said as he was about to board a train to Kannur from Thiruvananthapuram last week. He had even claimed that the company will collapse if people opted to boycott it.
Now, being miffed at a particular airline may not be that easy for those travelling from the Kannur International Airport for there aren't that many options to choose from.
Currently, Air India, Air India Express, Go First and IndiGo are the only airlines operating from Kannur airport. As Air India Express does not offer domestic services, domestic passengers have to depend on the other three carriers. Apart from Kozhikode, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, domestic services are being operated to only five cities in the country.
IndiGo holds the monopoly over services to Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. Only Air India operates services to Delhi. But as this flight is via Kozhikode, Kannur can be merely said as the destination. Go First operates services only to Mumbai. This is the state of the domestic services from Kannur airport.
The airport sees at least some bustle only on Tuesdays, when there are 38 aircraft movements. Before the Covid pandemic, there were up to 50 aircraft movements daily.
Expats are among those who have stated that the Kannur international airport has fallen victim to the vested interests of certain people despite having world-class facilities.
No permission for foreign carriers
Even in the case of international services in Kannur, the situation is far from desirable. Kannur is the only airport in Kerala, where foreign carriers do not have permission to operate services.
Direct flight services are available to Kuwait, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Muscat, Salalah, Dammam, Riyadh, Dubai, and Bahrain. Two services each are available only to Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Doha. Due to the fewer number of domestic and international services, the ticket fares in Kannur are higher than other airports. Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates, Gulf Air, Jazeera Airways, Sri Lankan Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Saudia, and FlyDubai all operate services from Kochi. So when comparing these ticket fares with those from Kannur, there is a significant difference most of the time.
IndiGo will soon offer daily service along the Kannur-Mumbai sector. Currently, IndiGo offers services on all days, except Sundays and Wednesdays. This would be made daily from July 25. The flight, which will depart from Kannur at 2.30pm, will land at Mumbai at 4.15pm. And depart from Mumbai at 12.15pm and land in Kannur at 2pm. With this, there would be two services between Kannur and Mumbai daily. Apart from IndiGo, Go First also operates services along the Kannur-Mumbai sector. Also in the Kannur-Bengaluru sector, IndiGo offers services on all days, except Sundays.