MP demands operation of big planes at Kozhikode airport

A demand to allow wide-bodied aircraft at Kozhikode airport after speedy completion of an inquiry into last year’s Air India Express crash, was made in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

Raising the issue through a zero hour mention, M.V. Shreyams Kumar of Loktantrik Janata Dal said the Kozhikode airport had been neglected in utilising its full capacity by increasing the traffic and expediting the development works.

“Kozhikode airport has been one of the high earning airports with revenue of about ₹160 crore per year. It has been reduced to just above ₹70 crore now,” he said.

The shifting of the Haj embarkation point to Kochi had left about 15,000 pilgrims from Malabar in difficulty, he said, adding international flight services from the airport too had been reduced to half their number. “It happened because large aircraft are not allowed operation for the past six months since the Air India crash on August 7, 2020,” he said.

On August 7, 2020, an Air India Express Boeing-737 plane repatriating Indians stranded in Dubai due to the pandemic, overshot the runway in heavy rain and crashed, leaving 21 persons dead. The authorities, he said, were waiting for the release of the report of the enquiry committee entrusted by the DGCA to restart the operation of wide-bodied aircraft at the airport.

“The preliminary inquiry report was to appear at least within a month of the appointment of the committee. But even after six months, the inquiry report has not seen light. Even more, the committee has asked two more months to complete the inquiry,” he said.

Mr. Kumar said most Gulf workers from Malabar had been depending on the Kozhikode airport for many years. Due to the discontinuation of large-bodied aircraft, big airline companies had withdrawn their services from the airport. Also, many development works were delayed, including the extension of the runway, new parking area, apron and approach road.

“I request that the inquiry on the air crash be expedited and the report be released,” he said.

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