M.K. Raghavan on ‘save Calicut airport’ mission, goes on fast

M.K. Raghavan, Kozhikode MP, launched a 24-hour fast here on Thursday seeking the Prime Minister’s intervention to get the operations of wide-bodied aircraft resumed from the Calicut International Airport and restore the Haj embarkation point there.

Opening the event, P.K. Kunhalikkutty, MP, said that the security concerns raised from different quarters over operation of wide-bodied aircraft were of no relevance now as an expert panel appointed by the Union Civil Aviation Ministry had given a go-ahead.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had suspended operation of wide-bodied (Code- E) aircraft from the airport from May 1, 2015 citing runway safety concerns. It was pointed out that only narrow-bodied (Code- D) aircraft could operate from the airport with a runway length of 2,850 metres.

The Runway End Safety Area was insufficient too, it was reported. After this, the Haj embarkation point was shifted to the Cochin International Airport, as big aircraft could not land here, though a majority of Haj pilgrims are from Malabar and they depend on the Calicut airport. However, a few months ago, the Airports Authority of India recommended to the DGCA that mid-size wide-bodied aircraft could be operated from here. The DGCA is yet to announce its decision.

Mr. Kunhalikkutty, who is also chairman of the airport advisory committee, claimed that airline companies such as Saudi Airways and Air India were ready to start services from the airport. He pointed out that questions over land acquisition should not be raised at this point as it was related to future development.

“The State has made it clear that land would be acquired for the new terminal and parking facility soon after the Centre announces the compensation package,” he said. Mr. Kunhalikutty urged the Centre to intervene in the issue claiming that the Calicut airport was a “common man’s airport”.

The protest will conclude on Friday.

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