Karipur airport | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Karipur: Saudi Airlines (SAUDIA) is winding up its flight operations at Kozhikode International Airport amid continuing uncertainty over the relaunch of large aircraft services in the airport. The large carrier services were suspended following the Karipur plane crash in August 2020. Meantime, the authorities have stated that the decision to withdraw services are temporary.
Meantime, Saudi Airlines has completed the process of handing over its airport offices to the Airport Authority. Currently, Saudi Airlines operates the largest fleet of more than 300 Code E aircraft. However, such flights are not permitted in Karipur airport. Although Saudi Air has agreed to resume service based on various studies, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has denied permission.
Saudi Airlines has maintained the office and ancillary facilities for a year, paying huge rent to the Airport Authority hoping to resume services soon. Their withdrawal from the airport will severely affect a large number of Malayalis who work in Jeddah. Smaller planes will not be able to fly directly from Kozhikode to Jeddah. At present, a flight to Jiddah from Kerala costs over Rs 2 lakh. If there is direct service, it will be reduced to one lakh.
Saudi Air's decision could also affect Indian private airline companies that run services from India to Jeddah. According to the Air Bubble agreement, Indian airlines are permitted the same number of seats as the Saudi airline companies. With the withdrawal of Saudi Airlines, Indian companies would be facing a heavy rush in the coming months.