The Kannur Internation Airport (KIAL) commenced operations on Sunday with Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan flagging off the maiden flight.
“Kerala celebrates the opening of Kannur Airport, which is the fourth International airport in the State. Among Indian states, Kerala now has the highest density of International airports,” CMO Kerala said.
The inaugural service from Kannur was an Air India Express flight to Abu Dhabi. Two more flights operated by GoAir were scheduled for later in the day — one for Bengaluru and another Thiruvanantpuram. The airport will largely serve the people of Kannur and Kasaragod districts, who had to earlier depend on the Karippur airport in Kozhikode or the one in Mangalore in coastal Karnataka.
Spread across 2,000 acres of land the airport is owned by Kannur International Airport Limited. The orientation of the runway is 7/25 and has a runway length of 3050m, which will be extended to 4000 metres, the chief minister’s office informed. It is to be noted that only three other airports in the country – New Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad – have 4000-meter runways.
The airport is located 30 km from the main town of Kannur and 3 km from Mattanur town, which also happens to be the closest urban settlement to the airport.
The first flight was scheduled for Abu Dhabi taking in consideration the large population of people from Malabar working in several countries part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In fact, flights from Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode to these countries witness heavy traffic round-the-year with prices soaring during festivals like Onam, Christmas, Vishu and Eid. Annually, the Kannur airport can handle up to one million international passengers and three lakh domestic fliers.