Kerala’s fourth and largest airport – Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL) – is suffering heavy losses. Four years after the opening, sources said, losses have now exceeded Rs 300 crore. It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in 2018 and it turned out to be a huge relief to all the political leaders of Kannur descent, including Vijayan and many others, who earlier had to travel to the state capital from neighboring Kozhikode district.
One reason to put KIAL in the red is that as airport traffic increased, the Covid pandemic hit and since then it has been struggling despite more efforts to get more airlines to operate domestic and international flights from there.
Registered under the Companies Act, KIAL is a state corporation with the Kerala government holding the maximum shares, with 39 per cent, followed by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited with 16.20 per cent and billionaire businessman Kerlite M.A. Yusuf Ali, who owns nearly 9 per cent of the stock .
Sitting in opposition, CPI-M had gone so hard against the government led by Oommen Chandy (2011-16) for doing nothing to increase the airport runway to 4,000m as another area close to 240 acres of land had to be acquired. But even though the Vijayan-led government has now completed six years in power, it has also been unable to increase the runway to 4,000 metres.
Although KIAL is losing ground, it may draw its heart from the fact that the country’s first airport built according to the PPP model – Cochin International Airport Limited – opened in 1999, but only started paying dividends from 2003 to 2004. Now the total dividend is over 282 percent.
The authorities expect that things will change if more and more domestic and international flights start from Kannur International Airport.
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