MPs call for more flights between Gulf countries and Indian state of Kerala
Photo used for illustrative purposes.
Members of India’s parliament have sought to increase the number of flights between Persian Gulf airports and Kozhikode in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
A written question to Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, asked “whether the government has taken note of the lack of adequate connectivity between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Kozhikode Airport [known as Calicut International Airport]The question asked for “details regarding government interventions to increase connectivity with GCC countries.”
Kozhikode is a growing aviation hub for passengers, especially Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), arriving in Kerala from the Gulf and hence the demand for more flights. The Malabar Coast of Kerala, of which Kozhikode is a part, also shares historical ties with Arabia and Europe. Tourism is sought to be promoted in this region. Kerala has four international airports.
In response, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan, gave parliament a halt to flights between GCC and Kozhikode Airport. According to the current summer schedule for this year, Kozhikode is connected to UAE airports by 78 weekly flights, the minister wrote in response.
Thirty-seven of these return flights are to Dubai, 21 to Sharjah, 18 to Abu Dhabi and two to Ras al Khaimah. In addition, Saudi Arabia has 49 weekly flights, Qatar 22, Oman 14, Bahrain’s share is 13 while Kuwait has five flights.
“Calicut is well connected with each of the GCC countries,” Muraleedharan added. Bhubaneshwar Airport, the state capital of Odisha, is also seeking direct flights to the United Arab Emirates as the state seeks to step up its engagement with the Gulf. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has written to India‘s civil aviation ministry asking for such direct flights.
Any major increase in connectivity between India and the UAE would necessitate a review of their bilateral air services agreement. There have been attempts to schedule talks to that end since demand for airplane seats in both directions soared.