Kannur International Airport will boost tourism in Kodagu: Thulasidas

Kannur International Airport.

Kodagu Connect Exclusive

MADIKERI: Kerala’s fourth international airport, at Kannur, is expected to boost tourism in Kodagu. The airport located in Mattannur, just 58 km from Virajpet and about 90 km from Madikeri, will soon open for commercial operations. With the National Highway Authority of India planning to convert the road into a national highway, the travelling time will be reduced further.

In an interview with Kodagu Connect, V Thulasidas, Managing Director, Kannur International Airport, says increase in inbound tourists and export opportunities will improve the socio-economic conditions of Kodagu district.

Excerpts from the interview.

Mr. V Thulasidas, Managing Director, Kannur International Airport Ltd.

Do you think Kannur International Airport will boost tourism in Kodagu and how?
Kannur International Airport is located in Mattannur, just 58 km from Virajpet and about 90 km from Madikeri. We expect that passengers will be able to reach the airport within two and half hours or less from Madikeri. Moreover, National Highway Authority of India is planning to convert the road into a national highway which will reduce travelling time further. Thanks to this proximity, the airport will surely bring in more tourists to Kodagu. Also, the improvement in support infrastructure and road connectivity will attract more tourists.

Is there a potential to export fruits, flowers and vegetables grown in Kodagu to Middle East and South East Asia destinations?
Kannur International Airport will initially offer connectivity to the Middle East and later to South East Asia, thereby creating multiple export opportunities. An international air cargo complex of 1.05 lakh sq.ft., with modern facilities to handle perishable and general cargo is under construction. The airport is equipped to handle wide-body aircraft, and currently features a 3,050m long runway which will be extended to 4,000m in the near future. These facilities will further help boost the exports from Kodagu, given the airport’s proximity to the region.

Kannur International Airport’s passenger terminal.

How will Kannur International Airport help domestic and international fliers from Kodagu? Which are the cities in India and abroad that will be connected via Kannur International Airport soon after launch?
There are plans for domestic connectivity all across the country. International routes would initially connect most destinations in the Middle East and later South East Asia, SAARC region, etc., which offer onward connecting flights to all major airports around the world.

Which are the airlines/ operators which are already on board with Kannur International Airport?
We are in dialogue with all major airlines in the country and almost all of them have confirmed their plans to operate from Kannur International Airport. We would be in a position to confirm the final list soon. While most Gulf carriers and some from South East Asia have shown keen interest to operate flights from Kannur, we are awaiting Union government’s concurrence to allow foreign airlines.

Road connectivity between Virajpet and Kannur Airport will be an issue till Kodagu border since the ghat roads are narrow, congested and prone to landslides during monsoons. Are there any plans to improve road infrastructure from Mysuru to Mattannur?
National Highways Authority of India has declared the road between Madikeri and Kannur a national highway. A connecting road from Mattannur to Koottupuzha (Kerala state border), which leads to Kodagu, is being developed. The work on this road is nearing completion and it is constructed for two-lane traffic.

Kannur International Airport.

Local residents are expressing fears that Kodagu will get over commercialized like Ooty because of Kannur International Airport? What are your thoughts?
While there are positives and negatives to most developments, we are confident that the increase in inbound tourists and the export opportunities created will improve the socio-economic conditions of the Kodagu region.

What are the projections of passenger traffic numbers in the first year of operations?
The airport is projected to have an annual traffic of approximately 1.8 million passengers in the first year of operations, of which we expect approximately 1.65 million international and 0.16 million domestic passengers.

Kannur International Airport’s passenger terminal.

What are the new features in Kannur International Airport which are not there in other three airports in Kerala?
Kannur International Airport has several distinct features such as the 1.05 lakh sq.ft. international air cargo complex under construction. The 3,050m long runway of the airport will be extended to 4,000m in the near future, making it the longest in the state. The integrated passenger terminal building will cater to both domestic and international passengers under a single roof. A day hotel within the terminal building and self-baggage drop counters are some of the other unique facilities for passenger convenience.

When is the tentative official launch of the new airport?
Once the airport receives the final aerodrome license for operations, the opening date will be decided and formally announced. We will keep you posted on the same.

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