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Made in Madurai                

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When will Madurai become/operate International Customs Airport - Madurai Airport

Madurai airport is poised for a major leap with the decks being cleared for the operation of international flights. Madurai airport is all set to become International Airport, but no Airlines is operating yet. All approvals from Centre is provided for Madurai Airport to operate as Customs and International airport, but the airlines are not ready to operate from Madurai yet. The operators are afraid to operate of any loss. Even the Tamil nadu Chamber of Commerce had appealed in all possible ways, but no international flight yet. Only Domestic flights are operating. That is the situation today. One more reason told is - Bilateral Airport Treaties entered between India and other countries(except Srilanka) does not include Madurai.

The notification declaring Madurai airport as customs airport was issued by the Centre in January. Subsequently we started the works facilitating the establishment of customs counters. Now, space for customs as well as immigration counters has been earmarked. As many as ten immigration counters are at the airport.

Sankiah Pandian said that the airport was ready with all facilities required for international flight services. "We are only waiting for international flight services to commence operation ," he said. The airport was established in the year 1957 and a new swanky terminal was inaugurated in 2009 sprawling across 189,000 sq ft. Only four airlines currently operate flights to Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi.

In another note - Sri Lankan Airlines, Manager (Tamil Nadu and Karnataka), B. Pirathapan, said that unless the travel agents guaranteed the profitability of flight operations to Colombo, the airlines industry, which was going through a rough patch, would not come to Madurai. “We are for making profit. There should be enough number of passengers to convince our bosses to launch operations from Madurai,” he said.

The senior president of Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, S. Rethinavelu, said that the chamber had promised Air Asia to bear the initial loss, if any, caused to the airlines on operation in Madurai-Kuala Lumpur route. “We are sure there would be no loss at all,” he said. 

The products of textile, rubber, jasmine and fish processing units were among the major goods that would give potential for international cargo movement. International operations would also help domestic tourism and medical tourism, he said. Around 50 to 70 passengers were going to each of foreign destinations of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Dubai/Sharjah, Muscat and Colombo from the southern districts every day, he added.
Airport Director, Sangaiah Pandian, promised to extend all help to the airlines, including night operations from Madurai. The airliners need not bother that Madurai airport would eat into their revenues from Tiruchi. 

Apart from having been declared as a ‘Customs Airport,' it also has a world-class high-tech integrated terminal built at a cost of Rs.130 crore. The runway has been extended to 7500 feet to facilitate introduction of international flights.
Chamber senior president S. Rethinavelu informed the Union Minister that there was lot of potential for both passenger and freight traffic for international flights from Madurai to Malaysia, Singapore, Muscat, Dubai, Sharjah and Sri Lanka. However, during chamber delegations to some of these countries, they were told by international air liners that, with the exception of Sri Lanka, Madurai Airport had not been included in the Bilateral Airport Treaties entered between India and those countries. This was preventing air line companies from operating international flights to Madurai Airport.

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