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Kannur Airport in run up to inauguration; but allied infrastructure lagging behind

Kannur Airport in run up to inauguration; but allied infrastructure lagging behind

Kannur: Kannur International Airport is continuing step by step its preparations for commissioning with full commercial operations expected following inauguration planned for 9 December.

Two key departments for international operations, Immigration (Passport Control) and Customs conducted their inspection of the facilities on Tuesday. A top level team of 11 officials from Customs Collectorate in Kochi visited the airport.

This was followed by a site visit by Immigration team. There were also representatives from different airlines to see the facilities allocated fot them. Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has already taken over the security of the facility with a force of around 700.

As for technical inspection for flights, two airlines - Air India Express and IndiGo - have already made their test flights. It is expected that other airlines will conduct similar test flights from 15th this month.

Meanwhile, the airport terminal building which was kept open for public to visit, was swarmed by a rushing crowd from all around leading to traffic jams in all the approaching roads. The crowd that entered the terminal was also so huge as to cause some damage to certain interior items too.

In order to facilitate the inspection by government agencies, the public visit was suspended for two days. However, from Wednesday, permission will be given to a limited section of people, i.e. those hailing from Mattanur municipality and Keezhallur Grama Panchayat. On Saturday and Sunday the airport will be open for visit by KIAL share-holders and a maximum of 4 accompanying visitors.

Meaanwhile, prospective airlines are reported to have expressed concerns about the limited hotel room facility in and around the airport. The hotels of the standard airline crew are to be provided, are few and far between in nearby areas. The nearest place with such hotels is Kannur, but that is an hour's drive from the airport which may also involve hectic traffic and resultantly further delay in driving to and fro.

The airport authorities have promised the airlines that adequate hotel facilities will be built inside or close to the airport area within a year. It is learnt that KIAL is planning to tie up with private entitites for constructing hotels and allied facilities within such short time.

Another hurdle in the effective operation of the airport is lack of wide roads that can contain the passage of heavy trucks to and from the airport in the direction towards major towns like Kannur and Thalassery. This is beside the passenger flow that may also impact the traffic in the approach roads. If the cargo domain of the airport is to develop, convenient roads is a pre-requisite, but as of now, no concrete measures are visible so far.

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