KOCHI: Boosting global connectivity post-pandemic, the Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) emerged as the third-ranked airport in the country in terms of international traffic for three consecutive months (July to September 2021).
CIAL, in a release here, said it anticipates a fairly high growth in international traffic for October as more foreign carriers schedule frequent services from Kochi -- the latest one being Sri Lankan Airlines, which started its daily operation to Colombo from Sunday. With this, CIAL handles 58 international arrival/departure aircraft operations a day for October.
S Suhas IAS, managing director CIAL, said that the airport witnessed significant growth in traffic during September and has scheduled more international flights for October. "We are optimistic as the world has started to see a revival in all sectors. Global aviation is also responding to it. We hope that our international connectivity will return to 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels in the coming month, while domestic aircraft movement will return to near normalcy in the upcoming winter schedule. As per the instruction of the chairman and board of directors, CIAL has rolled out several initiatives to increase connectivity," said Suhas.
With more airlines starting operations in the UAE sector, which eased travel regulations for passengers from India and enhanced European connectivity by scheduling three flights from and to London in a week, the traffic started to pick up gradually from August 2021.
In the pre-covid times, the Kochi airport handled over 30,000 passengers per day, both international and domestic. However, with the nationwide lockdown, only evacuation and repatriation flights were operating. After the government imposed relaxations on travelling, the airport gradually started to pick up the passenger traffic which again saw a footfall with the second wave hit the state in May 2021. The daily average footfall of passengers dropped to 2,500 at that time.
Following the second wave, with more flight services and travel relaxation, the airport handled 85,395 international passengers in July, 1,572,289 in August, and 1,94,900 in September. The cumulative passenger volume, comprising both international and domestic, for September was 3,70,044.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Airlines resumed their daily service from Kochi to Colombo on Sunday. Sri Lankan flight UL 165 arrives at Kochi airport at 9:45 am and departs as UL 166 to Colombo at 10:45 am on all days except Sunday. On Sunday, the arrival and departure are scheduled for 8:45 and 9:45 am, respectively.