KOCHI: A long-cherished dream of the business community and NRIs in Kerala was fructified on Friday as the first direct flight from a European country touched down at Kochi airport at 3.28 am on Friday. Welcoming the Onam gift from Air India, Cochin International Airport Ltd welcomed AI 1186 from London with a water salute. In a bid to promote direct connectivity to Europe, CIAL has decided to waive off landing fee for airlines operating direct services to European countries from Kochi. The decision will give instant advantage for the national carrier as it schedules direct London-Kochi flight till September 27.
The Air India flight from London-Heathrow Airport landed at Kochi with 130 passengers on board. A ‘follow me’ vehicle service was facilitated by CIAL and as the aircraft entered the taxiway link, fire tenders of CIAL Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting team rendered a water salute. The Air India flight departed to London at 6.30 am with 229 passengers. As part of Vande Bharat Mission, Air India has scheduled biweekly direct flight services to Heathrow airport till September 27.
The decision to waive off the landing fee is expected to reflect in the ticket price as the airlines. The airport operator also hopes that the decision will attract more airlines to operate services to Europe. As the Ministry of Civil Aviation permits ‘travel bubble’ operations in sharing air space, more airlines have announced the commencement of services to the Middle East, Africa, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
Air India will operate stopover flights from the US, Australia and Europe.