THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The IT and tourism industries are optimistic as the Adani Trivandrum International Airport Limited (ATIAL) — a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises Ltd takes over the Trivandrum International Airport (TIA) from the Airport Authority of India (AAI) today. According to many, the take over is expected to bring massive development to the airport and give a much-needed boost to the capital city’s overall development.
According to many development activists and other stakeholders, Adani’s take over can offer better connectivity from and to the capital city at affordable fares. As per the agreement signed by the group in January, they will take over the airport by October 18 and manage it for the next 50 years.
According to sources, the Adani had already invited subcontracts to develop the airport which would soon have new duty free shops, brand outlets, food courts and a slew of other amenities. Though the state government had plans to expand the airport earlier by acquiring around 19 acres of land, nothing materialised owing to the change in leadership. Even land acquisition wasn’t initiated. Owing to the sorry state of the airport, many airline companies had cancelled fleet operations from there, prompting commuters to switch to other international airports.
President of the Trivandrum Chamber of Commerce and Industries S N Raghuchandran Nair said the introduction of more flight operations would reduce airfares. “Over 40% of travellers were relying on other airports. Infrastructure development would help bring them back. Introduction of flights to major cities including Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata should be prioritised. Currently, the Airport Authority of India is collecting user development fees, which would be lifted once the Adani Group takes over. Also, they can adopt the Cochin International Airport model and collect landing and parking fee to add to the revenue,” he said.
Duty-free shop from Nov
Raghuchandran added that the lack of duty-free shops is a major inconvinience. An existing one was shut down in 2018 following allegations of tax evasion. Adani Group’s new duty-free facility will be established jointly with Dubai-based Flemingo International. It will be functional from November end, he said.
Boost to tourism & IT sectors
The airport’s development is also expected to nurture the district’s IT industry. Secretary of GTech (Group of Technology Companies) Binu Jacob said direct connectivity to international destinations would help bring in more investors.
“We need to create more high-paying jobs in the next five years. For that, we need to participate more in the international IT market. Many IT companies hesitate to invest because of the lack of infrastructure,” said Binu.
Former joint director of the tourism department and general secretary of Federation of Residents Association, Thiruvananthapuram (FRAT) M S Venugopal said more flight operations would also help southern Kerala attract tourists. “Kovalam, Varkala, Ponmudi, Alappuzha and several other spots would get more visitors if more flights are introduced,” he said.
“The development of the airport has been pending for nearly three decades now. This is the first-ever domestic airport in South India. The take over will benefit the public, since more flights would mean more choices hence, an increase in quality. The same company operating the district’s seaport and airport will help coordinate things better,” said Venugopal.
Meanwhile, around 350 people employed at both the international and domestic terminals of the airport are apprehensive about the takeover. As per the current agreement, employees other than senior officials will become part of the Adani Group for the next three years. “We are yet to get our offer letters and are apprehensive of our futures. As per the job agreement, they can transfer us to any company under the group. A majority of the employees are yet to decide whether to continue here or not,” said an employee at the airport.