The Calicut International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the country is facing a severe crisis with the terminal set to partially close down from Saturday onwards causing trouble to the passengers and disrupting the cargo movement.
The Airport Authority of India (AAI) decided to close down the airport for runway relaying works following a study report of the Central Road Research Institute a few months ago. According to the airport officials, the repair works cannot be delayed any further due to the poor condition of the runway. The airport, also known as Karipur Airport, was inaugurated in April 1988 and was given an international airport status in 2006. It since then has been one of the busiest airports in the country in terms of international traffic. The airport is seen as a gateway to the Malabar region and the decision to partially shut it down for a long period of time would greatly affect the Non Resident Keralites in the Gulf countries and the businessmen in North Kerala. Runway re-carpeting is essential for the maintenance of the runway and the safety of the passengers and is carried out every now and then.
The runway would be closed for all flights from 12 noon to 8pm from September onwards and a ban on wide-body aircrafts would be imposed. Jumbo jets wouldn’t be flying for a period of two years. The uncertainty regarding their resuming persists even after the repair work is finished as it would need the permission of the Director General of Civil Aviation’s technological department. Airliners operating small aircrafts would be required to reschedule their current timings creating problems for connecting passengers. The reports released by the airport authorities in the media regarding the renovation work have been conflicting and ambiguous since the beginning. The time period for which the airport would be partly closed was six months initially. This later became one year and according to the latest reports, wide-body aircrafts won’t be allowed even after two years of repair work. Closing down of Karipur airport would increase the traffic at Kochi and Mangaluru airports and also the fare particularly for people in Malabar region. By the time the airport re-opens after two years, the Kannur international airport would also be operational.
The expatriates from Malabar region allege that the move is part of a conspiracy to close down the Calicut airport and to boost Nedumbassery and Kannur terminals. The Karipur airport like the Malabar area has always been neglected by the authorities. Neither the Ministers nor the parliament members are bothered about the problems of the migrant workers abroad who would be finding it troublesome to come home on special occasions and vacations to join their families. The expatriates in Riyadh and Jeddah would be in more trouble with the halting of jumbo jets. The elderly Hajj pilgrims would have difficulty to go via Nedumbbasery. No decisive steps have been taken even in this crucial state until now and this shows plain negligence of the concerned authorities. The airport was designed with technologies to accommodate codeC planes. The severe negligence in the developmental activities has contributed towards the present predicament of the Calicut airport. The airport authorities and the government should be coming forward to improve the conditions and hasten the process which otherwise would escalate the trouble for the fliers.