On a day when heavy rains and subsequent opening of dam shutters in Kerala caused suspension of operations for a brief period at Cochin International Airport, came resounding promises from Delhi to soon start amphibian seaplane operations and other air operations from the state.
“A greenfield airport at Kannur would be made operational from October 1. This airport will host flights on many UDAN routes, and Saudi Arabia Airlines have already promised to start international air operations from here,” said Suresh Prabhu, Union minister for civil aviation.
“Indigo Airlines, Air India and Go Air have also promised to start domestic operations from here,” said Prabhu, while announcing that the Calicut Airport would be upgraded soon. Already, the DGCA has given its safety approvals to the airport for starting operations of wide-bodied aircraft like the Airbus A-330 and Boeing B-777s from Calicut.
Elaborating on the operations out of Kannur, Jayant Sinha, minister of state for civil aviation, said Jet Air, Go Air and Indigo would start operations from Kannur Airport to Abu Dhabi, Dammam and Doha, once the airport starts operations from October.
“With Kannur, it will be for the first time that a greenfield airport would start international and domestic operations,” said Prabhu, calling it a proud achievement for the civil aviation ministry and fulfillment of a long-standing demand of the local public and airlines.
While the DGCA has permitted air operations from the Kannur Airport, R.N. Chaubey, Union civil aviation secretary, said permission has been given considering that ‘mitigation measures’ would be taken up by the Airports Authority of India and by the airlines.
“You know that ensuring safety of operations is our number one priority,” Chaubey told media persons on Thursday. Air operations from Calicut Airport was suspended subsequent to start of a re-carpeting work of its runway in 2015. The carpeting work was completed in 2017, though air operations were still not deemed safe by the Airports Authority of India so far.
Among other things, the Union civil aviation ministry has given its nod to a first-ever policy for setting up scheduled operations of amphibious sea planes and waterdromes in the country.
The move is seen as a signal to start operations of twin turbo planes to islands like Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar or to dams in Munnar or to Sardar Patel dam site. A similar seaplane operation in Kerala was earlier suspended after a few years.
This time though, the Union ministry is hopeful that there will be no dearth of operators seeking to run 19-seater twin turbo seaplanes in the coming days.
Union Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons, who was present during the announcement, said his ministry has proposed a list of 34 iconic destinations to where air routes can be made operational. He has given a proposal to the civil aviation ministry, suggesting that his ministry is ready to bear the cost for the same.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, for the first-time, a trial of night time landing of a commercial airliner would be attempted at Srinagar. The Indian Air Force-operated airport was specially equipped for the purpose.