With the fourth international airport in Kerala at Kannur all set for inauguration on Sunday, widow of legendary communist and three-time Kerala Chief Minister E.K. Nayanar recalled how the airport project was conceived.
K.P. Sarada, speaking to a TV channel on Wednesday, said the idea of having the airport came when Nayanar told the then Civil Aviation Minister C.M. Ibrahim that it was time they thought of an airport.
Ibrahim was a minister in the I.K. Gujaral cabinet in 1997-98 and Nayanar was the Chief Minister.
"Once when Ibrahim came calling on Nayanar, he told Ibrahim that now that 'you are the Civil Aviation minister and your wife's house is at Kuthuparampu (about 25km from Kannur), you should seriously think of an airport in Kannur, so you can fly down to her house'," recalled Sarada.
Nayanar was known for his wit and humour.
From that day, successive governments in Kerala have been taking forward the dream project of an airport at Kannur. It will be a reality on Sunday (December 9) when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurates it.
December 9 is also Nayanar's birthday.
"I am eagerly waiting to fly from the new airport. I consider myself lucky that I have seen it become a reality," said Sarada.
The Rs 1,892-crore airport is located at Mattanur, about 16 km from Kannur, and is spread over 2,000 acres.
With this, Kerala will be the only state in the country to have four international airports, the other three are at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.
The first trial operation at the airport took place in February 2016 when an Indian Air Force aircraft landed and was received by former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
The airport will have parking bays for 14 Code E aircraft or 20 Code C aircraft and will be able to handle 2,000 passengers at a time.
The KIAL is slated to serve more than 1.5 million international passengers annually.
This airport will start off with a runway of 3,050 metres. The runway length will increase to 3,400 metres, eventually touching 4,000 metres.