KOZHIKODE: The long wait for direct air link between Malabar and Saudi Arabia, home to majority of expatriate population from north Kerala, will continue, even after getting permission to commence service on the route using mid-sized aircrafts from Airport Authority of India (AAI). Initially, Saudi Airlines declared that they could commence flight service from Calicut International Airport in the last week of September.
According to media reports, commencement of Saudi Airlines services from Calicut got delayed due to the unavailability of international aviation routes as per the facilities at the airport at Karippur and insufficient number of flights due to Hajj return services.
Later, Saudi Airlines announced that they will start service by mid-October. Even this proposal is unlikely to be implemented. No reason is put forward for the delay.
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked operators to limit the services to Calicut during day hours only in the initial phase.
This proposal to limit the services during day hours was necessitated due to the fact that the runway renovation was finished only recently and the construction of Runway End Safety Area (RESA) is yet to be completed. The restriction will last for six months.
AAI granted permission to Saudi Airlines for operating flight service from Calicut to Jeddah and Riyadh, as per their request. A letter granting permission for starting the service of mid-sized aircrafts from Calicut was delivered to the Jeddah central office of the Saudi Airlines.
National carrier, Air India has also started moves to begin Jeddah and Riyadh services.
Large-sized aircrafts were cancelled from Calicut airport in 2015 owing to the maintenance work on runway. Saudi Airlines and Emirates which had only large-sized aircrafts terminated service to Calicut.
Jumbo flight of Air India used for Jeddah service was also cancelled.
Even after the runway maintenance was completed and RESA extended later, the permission was caught in red tape.
Also on Wednesday, another passenger flight conducted a trial run at the Kannur Airport, which is expected to be inaugurated shortly. Air India Express Boeing 737-800 test flight landed at the Kannur Airport on Wednesday.