Dubai: Around 100 passengers, who were aboard the Kannur-Abu Dhabi maiden flight on December 9 last year, flew together again on the same route to mark the first anniversary of Kannur International Airport in India on Monday.
The passengers, including some UAE residents and prominent members of the Malayalee community in Kannur in the south Indian state of Kerala, reenacted their “dream flight” not just to relive those moments of celebrations.
Wearing uniform jackets, members of the “historic flight journey” WhatsApp group were also on a mission seeking development of the fourth airport in the state.
Though the inaugural flight was operated by Air India Express, the group chose to fly Go Air on the same route for the anniversary flight due to cheaper tickets.
Prior to boarding the flight, they held a seminar in the airport premises following the grand anniversary celebrations inaugurated by the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
On arrival here on Monday night, they were accorded a warm reception at the Abu Dhabi International Airport by the expat community group We All Love Kannur (WALK).
“This is said to be the first-of-its-kind flight in the world,” Ranjith N.P.C, a Malayalam journalist, who was on board last year and this year, told Gulf News.
“This is also a flight that seeks development of the airport and the nearby areas.”
Another passenger Abdul Khader Panakkat, a technical consultant with an insurance firm in Dubai, said the main demand of the flyers is the approval for wide-body aircraft and foreign carriers’ operations.
“The airport and the surrounding localities will prosper only if the central government gives permission to operate wide-body aircraft and foreign airlines,” said Panakkat.
Also the president of Welfare Association of Kannur Expats [WAKE] Global, a society registered in Kerala, he said the non-political group of expats hailing from Kannur had spearheaded various charity initiatives in the district. Now, they are focusing on development of the airport and bringing investment to the district.
“We are meeting the Air India officials in Dubai to seek the Dreamliner service of wide-body aircraft at Kannur. Separate delegations from Kannur and Dubai will fly to New Delhi later to raise our demand for approving the service of foreign airlines to Kannur,” he added.
Advocate Hashik T.K, general convenor of the anniversary celebrations in the UAE, said the airport was a dream come true for expats from Kannur, who form one of the largest groups of the one-million-strong Keralites in the UAE.
“Just with the operation of three airlines, the airport received one million passengers in nine months. All the airlines from the GCC countries are waiting for approval to operate to Kannur. Having cargo facilities and health approvals for transporting human remains are other facilities that expats are looking forward to having at the airport.”
To highlight the investment opportunities in Kannur to the expat community in the UAE, a seminar titled “Emerging Kannur” was arranged on Tuesday evening.
Officials from government departments and members of the private sector had also flown in to make presentations about various investment opportunities in Kannur.
Former Indian Civil Aviation Minister C.M. Ibrahim, Dr. Azad Moopen, chairman of Aster DM Healthcare, who is also a director of Norka Roots (Non-Resident Keralite Affairs) and director of KSIDC (Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation) were the chief guest and key note speaker.