India's civil aviation ministry to discuss developing Kerala's new airport

Gulf airlines are due to attend the meeting to expand operations to the southern Indian state
India's civil aviation ministry to discuss developing Kerala's new airport
The state-owned Air India Express operates international flights to Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and some other cities in GCC from the newly built Kannur airport
By James Mathew
Sun 06 Jan 2019 03:47 PM

India’s civil aviation ministry and Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan have jointly convened a meeting on January 21 to discuss, among other things, the issue related to granting special permission to airlines from the Gulf region and India to operate daily flights to the newly opened Kannur International airport from various cities in the GCC region.

The meeting will be attended by senior officials from leading airlines from the Middle East region and India.

Government sources told Arabian Business that civil aviation secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey is slated to attend the meeting, to be held in Trivandrum.

The managing director of Kannur International Airport Ltd (KIAL) V Thulasidas will also attend the meeting, which is to discuss various initiatives to be taken to develop the new airport.

At present, only the state-owned Air India Express operates international flights to Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and some other cities in GCC from the newly built Kannur airport, which was opened for operations on December 9 last year.

Go Air is the lone domestic carrier which operates from Kannur currently.

“We hope a favourable decision will be taken at the forthcoming meeting on our request for special permission to Gulf-based airlines and Indian carriers to fly from Kannur to the Gulf region, outside the bilateral flying rights between UAE and other GCC countries,” V Thulasidas, MD, KIAL, told Arabian Business.

KIAL had written to the union civil aviation ministry and director general of Civil Aviation, India’s aviation regulator prior to the inauguration of the airport, for allowing Gulf-based carriers to operate two daily flights to Kannur airport, outside the existing passenger capacities agreed under the bilateral flight rights.

It has also sought to allow domestic airlines to operate a matching number of flights to airports in GCC.

UAE, Saudi expansion

Emirates and Saudia are among the Middle East carriers which have shown interest in operating to Kannur and are understood to have sought permission from the India aviation authorities.

Such special dispensations on flights to Gulf region were granted to Cochin and Calicut international airports when they newly commenced operations.

Thulasidas said KIAL is keen to get airlines from some of the Southeast Asian countries and the Indian carriers also to operate from Kannur airport to various destinations in the Southeast Asian region.

“The CEOs of some of the Southeast Asian countries-based airlines are also expected to attend the forthcoming meeting,” he said.

KIAL, the second greenfield airport in Kerala developed on the public-private partnership (PPP)  model, after Cochin international airport, has offered concessional landing and parking charges to all airlines, including the international carriers in a bid to attract them to operate to the airport.

India and many GCC countries are said to have already exhausted the airline passenger capacities under the existing bilateral rights and hence constrained to operate new or additional flights.

Indian civil aviation ministry has also scheduled a meeting with its counterpart from UAE later this month in Mumbai to hold preliminary round of discussion on increasing airlines passenger capacities between the two countries, a precursor to renegotiating their bilateral air services agreement.

The meeting will be held during the Global Aviation Summit, to be held on January 15-16 in Mumbai.

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