Kochi: The Indian Government has paved the way for the arrival of foreign airlines and a consequent competitive reduction in passenger fares by conferring international status to Karipur airport near Kozhikode.
It’s a dream come true for the people of north Kerala, especially the Gulf-bound emigrant workers, who had been virtually at the mercy of the national carriers, Air-India and Indian Airlines, all these years. The only foreign airline operating from Karipur has been Srilankan Airlines.
"Nearly 18 foreign airlines have queued up for permission from the Federal Government for starting operations in Karipur. The immediate impact is it will spur competition and bring down the fares. Passengers at Karipur have been paying almost 35 per cent more compared to those flying from other airports in the State", says C E Chakkunny, president of Calicut Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Karipur airport director R Veeraswamy told The Peninsula that the airport was all spruced up for international status. "The Rs900m expansion project, which includes a second terminal, will be completed by July", he said. The airport, which was commissioned on April 13, 1988, is perhaps one of the busiest airports in the country with 214 flights, which includes 186 international flights, operating out of the airport a week.
Malabar Chamber of Commerce President Mohammed Kunhi said the announcement by the Federal Government was the culmination of a concerted effort by all sections of people cutting across the political divide. "Lower fares would be a boon since the bulk of the passengers from the Malabar area constitutes the low-paid emigrant workers", said Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre overseas coordinator C V M Vanimel.
The elevated status is a big boost to tourism and exports. The Kerala Tourism next priority is to tap the potential of the virtually unexplored Malabar.