Kerala’s fourth international airport, the Kannur International Airport, was inaugurated on Sunday, 9 December, amidst much fanfare. The inauguration was marked by a ceremonial lamp lit by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu in the presence of various state ministers, including Sports and Industries Minister EP Jayarajan, and Social Justice and Health Minister KK Shylaja.
Its inaugural commercial flight, a Boeing 737 to Abu Dhabi, was flagged off by CM Pinarayi Vijayan and Suresh Prabhu, and it took off from the 3,050-metre-long runway at 9:55 am on Sunday.
Air India Express and GoAir flights are also operating out of the airport on Sunday, with flights to Thiruvanathapuram, Bengaluru and Delhi.
The Chief Minister, speaking at the event, mentioned that the new airport at Kannur was a source of particular pride and happiness in Kerala. He also said that the airport would be useful to people from other states, not just Kerala, such as those travelling to and from Mangaluru, Coorg and Mysore.
Kannur Takes Off!— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) December 9, 2018
Kerala celebrates the opening of Kannur Airport, which is the 4th International airport in the State. The airport (IATA: CNN) will change the fortune of Northern Kerala. It is spread across... https://t.co/WuP3mLRteV
He added that the government is conducting studies to uncover logistics around the construction of a new airport at Erumely near Sabarimala to ease access of pilgrims to the holy shrine.
Interestingly, the airport is at the centre of a unique father-son link.
When the airport saw its first landing in 2016, of a 228-Dornier Indian Air Force aircraft, one of those present in its cockpit was Kannur-native Raghunath Nambiar. His son, Ashwin Nambiar, will be the first officer of the first domestic non-revenue flight landing in Kannur airport, which will be a GoAir flight from New Delhi to Kannur. A few hours after this flight lands, he will be the first officer of the first domestic flight taking off from Kannur airport – from Kannur to Bengaluru.
The festivities around the inauguration of the Kannur International Airport began around 6 am on Sunday. The event was attended by over 2,000 members of the public. It saw performances by various music and dance groups, including a percussion set headed by renowned percussionist Mattannoor Sankarankutty.
The fourth international airport in Kerala, and the second to be built under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model, the new airport’s terminal building is said to be the largest in India.
The runway will be expanded from its current 3,050 meters to 4,000 meters, making it, upon expansion, one of the four largest airports in India, reported Onmanorama.
The new Kannur airport currently boasts of numerous self check-in machines, 24 regular check-in counters, 32 immigration counters, and bays to park 20 planes at any given time.
The new airport is expected to be of particular service to Keralites working in the Middle East, and ease access to tourist destinations like Coorg, Mysore, Kasargod and Wayanad.
Kerala Ports Minister Ramachandran Kadannappally inaugurated the airport’s VIP lounge, while the ATM counter was inaugurated by Transport Minister AK Saseendran.
The foreign exchange counter was inaugurated by Health Minister KK Shylaja, and the food and beverage service at the airport was inaugurated by Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan.
BJP, UDF MLAs Boycott Event
The inaugural event was boycotted by BJP and UDF MLAs, who have boycotted various government events, including the swearing-in of new minister K Krishnankutty. They have disrupted the progress of the Kerala Legislative Assembly in protest against the imposition of curfew under Section 144 at Sabarimala.
UDF MLAs, in particular, boycotted the airport’s inauguration to protest the fact that two former Kerala Chief Ministers – VS Achuthanandan and Oommen Chandy – both of whom played key roles in the construction of this airport, had not been invited to the inauguration.
A few individuals were also seen holding placards at the airport to register their discontent over VS Achuthananthan and Oommen Chandy not being invited.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute. This article has been lightly edited for clarity.)
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