The upcoming Kannur International Airport after its inauguration in September will change the face of north Kerala — whether in tourism or business activities like handloom, textiles and floriculture.
Standing to gain through this new airport are the nearby located popular tourist destinations of Coorg and Mysore in Karnataka.
The Rs.1,892 crore airport located at Mattanur in a 2,000 acre area is billed as the fastest completed in the country.
Former Air India Chairman and Managing Director V Thulasidas, who is currently the Managing Director (MD) of the Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL), said that work was progressing and commercial operations at the airport would be started in September this year.
"To start with, we expect an annual traffic of around 1.85 million passengers and expect to touch its maximum of around nine million in a few years' time," he said.
"The airport will be able to handle 2,000 passengers at a time," said Thulasidas, a 1972 Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Tripura cadre officer.
Elaborating on the boosting of the economy, he said the airport would rev up tourism activities in the hilly districts of Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargode.
There are numerous unexplored destinations in these districts that can be reached from Kozhikode and Mangalore airports. But these are far away and the connectivity is a problem, given the size of these two airports.
The handloom and textiles industry will be another segment to get a major boost as with the new airport, as exports through Kannur will be cheaper.
"Floriculture activity is another industry that's going to enter newer realms of business as the airport will have provisions for preserving and storage. This is also going to boost the local economy," said Thulasidas.
This airport will start off with a runway of 3,050 metres and within 18 months of its opening, the runway length will be increased to 3,400 metres and eventually it will touch 4,000 metres, making it one of the four biggest airports.
The first trial operation took place in February 2016 when an Indian Air Force aircraft landed for the first time at the airport.
The Kerala government has 35 per cent stakes, public sector undertakings have 25 per cent, the Airport Authority of India 10 per cent, and cooperatives, banks and other shareholders have the balance 10 per cent.