Kochi: Air India and Saudi Airlines will start three services each from Kerala to Saudi Arabia, says union civil aviation secretary and AI chairman K Roy Paul.
A new international terminal will be started at Karipur by spending Rs 90 crore and the Airport Authority of India (AAI) is also prepared to invest Rs 50 crore in the Kochi International Airport Company. The willingness regarding this has been conveyed to the chief minister. Since AI has already given Rs 5 crore, the central government's share will go up to 55 per cent.
The existing share of the state is 52.5 crore. The prospects of making available the shares of Nedumbassery Airport in the capital market is being thought about, says managing director C Babu Rajeev.
The hangar at Nedumbassery will be built only after the type of aircraft that AI buys is decided. New locks will be built separately for domestic and international terminals. The building proposed to be built will be opposite to the existing one.
The state government has agreed to hand over the land needed for the development. The duty of the construction is with the AAI. The private sector will also be considered, if they are interested. The estimated cost is Rs 150 crore.
Direct flight services to Riyadh, where there is a substantial Malayalee population, are available only from Mumbai. As per the agreement with the Saudi Civil Aviation Authority, India has given the approval for three flight services by Saudi Airlines. It is as a reciprocal gesture since AI was allowed to operate three services.
The three services of Saudi Airlines will be to Kochi. There will be 900 seats in total. AI's Riyadh services - two from Thiruvananthapuram and one from Karipur - will go to Saudi after reaching Nedumbassery.
AI's services will be started from March 2003. The number of services from Karipur to Jeddah will be increased from three to four and a new service will be started from Kochi to Jeddah, says Paul.
The international terminal at Karipur will be completed in 24 months once the foundation stone is laid in March 2003.
The central government is ready to provide the sanction to construct an airport at Karipur for tourism development. But the investment should come from the private sector. The decision regarding those who return from Saudi after being sent off is to be taken by the external affairs ministry.
The decision to withdraw the user-fee at Karipur will also be taken later. A common law will be brought in regarding the civil aviation limits.