UAE’s top air carriers express keen interest in new airport in Kerala

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UAE’s top air carriers express keen interest in new airport in Kerala
By Ivan Gale, Staff Reporter / GULF NEWS Published: August 26, 2007, 23:40

Dubai: A new airport in Kerala is drawing the interest of local air carriers, as heavy demand on existing routes has led them to schedule additional frequencies.

The Kerala government is in the process of acquiring 1,200 acres of land for the upcoming new airport at Kannur, located in the uppermost portion of the state north of Calicut.

Construction of the airport will take roughly three months once the land has been acquired, local media reported.

Already, Emirates, Etihad and Air Arabia said they harbour hopes of flying there once necessary governmental approvals have been made.

Currently travel between Kerala and the UAE is at all all-time high, due to the large numbers of Indian labourers and professionals working in the UAE as well as leisure travellers.

“Any new airport development in Kerala, and in fact anywhere in India, is of great interest to Etihad because of the strong customer demand for air travel between the country and Abu Dhabi,” said Eain Burns, vice president of corporate communications.

Just three months after launching flights to Kerala, Etihad said it would add more flights there.

“We started flying in May to Kerala and both Cochin and Tiruvananthapuram have performed so well that we will add extra flights to both cities at the end of October,” Burns said.

According to the Kerala government, inbound tourism is expected to grow by 10 per cent once the airport is in operation. In 2006, Kerala took in five million domestic visitors, and 450,000 international travellers.

Emirates airline has been a beneficiary of this rise in air travel, experiencing 85 per cent load factors on its Kerala flights.

Recently, it added three frequencies to Cochin.

“Given the burgeoning Indian market, Emirates is keen to expand its India operation by commencing services to new destinations and increasing flights on existing routes,” an Emirates spokesperson said. Currently, Emirates said it has no firm plans to fly to Kannur.

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