K S Shibu Kumar
April - June 2018
Chief Project Engineer, Kannur International Airport
An initiative of the state government of Kerala, the Kannur International Airport, with its world-class infrastructure supporting green energy, is set to start operations shortly to improve connectivity to an important tourist destination in south India. K S Shibu Kumar, Chief Project Engineer talks to AIBM during Wings India 2018 regarding the new airport.
Why has the airport taken a long time from conception to reach the stage where it is close to completion?
Concept for the airport was rooted around 15 years back by the north Malabar region wherein a demand was made to the then central Government of India (GoI) that Kannur must have an airport because a lot of Non Resident Indians (NRIs) visit the place. Principle approval to set up the airport was given in 2008 by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA). In 2010, Government of Kerala formed a company by the name Kannur International Airport Limited and we received all clearances from GoI by 2013.
Construction started in 2014. Now in 2018, the airport is complete – spread over 2,100 acres with modern facilities, around six aero bridges, 48 checkin counters and integrated terminal building. We have a runway of 3,050 metres that is enough to receive widebodied aircraft up to the 777-300ER.
The airport has some specialties like baggage drop, which is probably the first in India. Around 10 international flights will be operating from day one. We are waiting for the aerodrome license and by May this year, all our facilities will be ready. We will go for a soft launch in June or July and full launch will be in August or September.
Which airlines will be operating to and from the airport and what are the routes served?
Many airlines are expressing interest in operating to and from Kannur. A total of 24 flights in a day under UDAN will connect Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Goa, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi and other domestic points. Apart from domestic, international connectivity is being offered by Air India Express to eight destinations including Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Kuwait, Muscat, Doha and Dubai. GoAir is connecting to Damam, and Jet Airways to Abu Dhabi.
We have also approached MOCA to explore possibilities of opening a bilateral policy to bring in foreign carriers who have keen interest to fly to Dubai.
In view of the international tourist arrivals in Coorg, will airlines also connect Kannur?
There are discussions going on in European sectors but as of now, direct connectivity to Europe is not envisaged. From Kochi, some carriers have expressed intention to directly operate to Europe and they may connect via Kannur also because many people from Europe stay in Kannur.
How do you plan to limit the airport’s carbon footprint?
The airport is fully solar-powered and LEED certified. We have taken measures to ensure that the airport runs on green energy, battery-operated vehicles will be employed, along with other carbonneutral facilities at the airport.
There are other international airports in Kerala. How will Kannur airport compete and help improve connectivity to and from south India?
A huge percentage of work-force in Bengaluru is from Kerala and especially Kannur. Buses operating from Kannur to Bengaluru are always full. With the launch of new airport, people in Kannur will now be able to fly to Bengaluru. Further, people visiting Coorg are currently dependent on the Bengaluru airport, from where they have to travel for six hours by road, whereas from the Kannur airport, Coorg is only 45 minutes away. Mysore too, is a six-hour journey from the Bengaluru airport. From Kannur, it will take 3.5 hours.
What are your expectations in terms of passenger count?
The airport was designed for 1.8 million passengers including a mix of 80 percent international and 20 percent domestic travellers. But now because of UDAN, we are expecting more than 20 percent domestic passengers whereas the percentage of international passengers will remain 80 percent. So footfall will be around two million per annum.
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