AI resumes wide-bodied flight operations
KOZHIKODE, Feb 18: National carrier Air India (AI) on Monday resumed operation of wide- bodied flights from Karipur Airport to Jeddah after a gap of five years, providing further boost to the air connectivity from the Malabar region to the Gulf.
The Boeing 747-400 flight which has a capacity to fly 423 passengers from Jeddah arrived at the airport at 7.05 am and was accorded a water cannon salute by the Airport Authority of India (AAI).
The passengers and crew in the flight was welcomed by Union minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan along with MPs P K Kunhalikutty, M K Raghavan and P V Abdul Wahab and senior officials of AAI and Air India.
Speaking at the function, Muraleedharan said that union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri has assured that steps will be taken to introduce new flights and increase the number of flights on existing routes from Karipur and Thiruvananthapuram airports.
He said that the government has also included Thiruvananthapuram airport as one of the 18 airports in the country to provide hassle free air connectivity to SAARC and ASEAN countries as part of steps to strengthen the tourism sector.
Muraleedharan said that the resumption of jumbo flights by Air India from the airport will come as a relief to the economy of Kozhikode and North Malabar which had suffered following the ban imposed by DGCA on operation of wide bodied flights from Karipur in 2015.
The new Karipur- Jeddah flight of Air India will operate on Mondays and Saturdays. The flight will land at Karipur at 7.05am and will depart for Jeddah at 5.30pm.
DGCA had banned the operation of wide- bodied aircraft from the airport in May 2015 following runway safety concerns.
Following the ban, the AAI had carried out strengthening of the runway and expanding the RESA. Subsequently the DGCA asked the AAI and the airline companies to submit reports on safety assessment and mitigation plans.
Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) was the first airline to get nod to recommence operation of wide- bodied aircraft after the ban and Saudia had begun jumbo services from Karipur in December 2018.
The DGCA gave the nod for Air India to resume operation of jumbo flights following the safety assessment conducted by the airline in August 2019.
Airport director K Srinivasa Rao, Air India zonal general manager, Bhuvana Rao, station manager Raza Ali Khan, among others, attended the function.
Various organisations like Malabar Development Forum (MDF) had also arranged welcome for the passengers at the airport by distributing sweets. -TNN