Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu on Sunday jointly inaugurated the Kannur International Airport.
With this, Kerala became the only state in the country to have four international airports. Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram are the other three cities with an international airport.
The greenfield airport, built on a public-private-partnership model, stretches across over 2,000 acres of land at Mattanur, a town 25 kilometres from Kannur town.
Constructed at a cost of Rs 1,892 crores, the airport has an integrated terminal for domestic and international passengers, six aerobridges, a 3,050 metre long runway and can handle up to 2,000 passengers during peak hours.
The airport will cater primarily to the people of Kannur and Kasaragod districts of Kerala and Kodagu region in Karnataka. It becomes an important and easy gateway for the thousands of NRI Malayalis working in the Gulf countries.
At present, Air India and GoAir have released their schedule of flights from the airport, with more domestic airlines likely to commence operations shortly.
At the grand inauguration ceremony within the airport premises, attended by close to a lakh people, Vijayan and Prabhu jointly flagged off the first aircraft from the airport – an Air India Express flight to Abu Dhabi at 10 am.
Passengers of the flight received a ceremonial welcome at the airport with ministers of the ruling Left government personally handing over boarding passes to them.
Prabhu, later addressing the function, spoke of how the airport project could be a benchmark for the country’s aviation industry.