On December 9, the Kannur International Airport started operations, and the first flight from the airport, an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 to Abu Dhabi, was flagged off by the chief guests.
With this, Kerala gains the distinction of having four operational international airports. The other three airports are located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.
The excitement was palpable both on the ground and on the flight as there were celebrations all around. The crew comprising of Malayalis and some of the passengers even recited the ‘mappilappattu’, which are essentially folk songs within a melodic framework.
In February 2016, the first trial flight, a Dornier Do-228 aircraft of the Indian Air Force landed at the airport and was manned by Raghunath Nambiar, a Kannur native.
Two years hence, it will be Raghunath’s son, Ashwin who will be the First Officer of the first domestic flight landing in Kannur.
In a report published by the Indian Express, a jubilant Ashwin said, “It is a proud occasion for me and everyone else in my family. I’m a third generation pilot. My late grandfather was a pilot in the Air Force. My father, currently the Eastern Air Commander of the Indian Air Force posted in Shillong, has also been a pilot. He flew the Dornier 228 aircraft at Kannur. If my grandfather were alive, he would have been extremely proud. I’m looking forward to it.”
GoAir has announced direct flights from Kannur to Bengaluru (6 times weekly), Hyderabad (4 times weekly) and Chennai (3 times weekly). Air India Express will operate flights from Kannur to Riyadh and Doha, in addition to Abu Dhabi.
This airport is equipped to handle 2000 passengers at any given time.
It will have parking bays for 14 Code E aircraft or 20 Code C aircraft.
With a large Malayali population working overseas, this airport comes as a huge relief to many of them who can now opt to fly out of the Kannur airport and save on travel time.
Speaking to the publication, Manoj PV, the owner of an interior design business in Dubai, who is a native of Mayyil in Kannur district, said that he flew all the way home just so that he could be one of the first passengers on the inaugural Air India Express flight to Abu Dhabi.
With other private carriers looking to start operations in Kannur, the residents of the city have a lot to cheer for.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)