Kannur gets an international airport

Kerala’s fourth international airport at Kannur was inaugurated jointly by Union civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan by flagging off the maiden Air India Express flight to Abu Dhabi.

The Opposition Congress boycotted the function to protest the exclusion of former CM Oommen Chandy from invitees list and the BJP also kept away protesting the government stand on hill temple Sabarimala.

Around one lakh people were present to witness the inaugural ceremony and ace percussion artist Mattanoor Sanankarnkutty enthralled audience with his “chenda melam” and “pachavadyam”.

A semi-corporate airport, 67.14% shares in the Kannur International Airport Ltd are owned by individuals (mostly NRIs) and corporate entities while the state government holds 32.86% stakes in return for land and other development undertaken in the area.

The new airport is expected to give a big push to tourism and other developmental activities in north Kerala and adjoining Kodagu region of southern Karnataka.

Kerala, which has a sizeable expatriate population worldwide, already has three international airports, at Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

Kerala’s airports largely cater to its citizens shuttling between the oil-rich gulf nations and their home towns, with more than 11% of Kerala’s population -- as many as 25.2 lakh malayalis living abroad, the bulk of them in the middle-east.

The airport saw its share of controversy after Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah’s chartered flight landed there on October 27, much before the official inauguration. A section of BJP workers began a vigorous campaign claiming Shah had inaugurated the airport, leading to a spat with the Left Democratic Front government.

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