NEW DELHI: Calicut airport will witness operation of wide-bodied aircraft as the aviation regulator DGCA on Thursday granted permission for this. Moreover, Saudi Arabian Airlines will also be able to operate direct flights from the city in Kerala.
Union Civil Aviation minister Suresh Prabhu said that after the operation of international flights from Calicut, it would also likely to become an embarkation point for Haj pilgrims.
"The DGCA has today decided to start operations from Calicut, which will facilitate a large number of people from Kerala who are living abroad," Prabhu said.
The minister was accompanied by minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha and Tourism minister Alphons Kannanthanam.
Speaking further, Sinha said that the Saudi Arabian national carrier has also planned to fly aircraft like A 320 and Boeing 777 to Calicut and technical clearance had been given for these wide-bodied planes.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) had suspended wide-bodied aircraft operations at Calicut airport in May 2015 following a directive from the DGCA, citing safety concerns. However, there were heavy demands to restart the operation from local representatives.
"Safety and passenger convenience are our primary concern and we have to ensure that these are not compromised," Prabhu said adding that AAI has informed that all mitigation measures (to enable wide-bodied flights) will be in place by August 20.
Ministry officials said the Saudi Airlines had not intimated a date for starting operations from Calicut.
Officials said that the Calicut airport will witness a revamp and work is underway to construct a new international terminal which will increase its current passenger handling capacity of 3.5 million people per annum to 5 million.
Officials said that Kerala's fourth international airport at Kannur will start commercial flight operations in October.
Moreover, Suresh Prabhu said that Kerala will also soon start twin-engine sea-plane operations following the DGCA's issuing of the regulatory framework for such aircraft and the waterdrome certification.