'International flights from Madurai in about 4 months'

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Trade bodies, airline operators to meet on Sept 17.

New terminal building of the Madurai airport.
New terminal building of the Madurai airport.

Our Correspondent

Madurai, Sept. 12

The Union Home Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, inaugurated the Rs 129-crore new integrated passenger terminal building at Madurai airport on Sunday.

Speaking on the occasion, he said that focussed attention had been given for infrastructure development in the last six years and larger investments have been made in surface transport, shipping and civil aviation than done in the last 50 years.

A visible change has come about, with air travel ceasing to be looked upon as elitist. Airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore have been modernised.

In Tamil Nadu, airports in Tiruchi, Madurai and Chennai have been upgraded.

Responding to requests for international flights from Madurai, Mr Chidambaram said that a meeting has been called in Chennai on September 17 by trade bodies with airline operators and in about three-four months, international flights would start operating from Madurai.

More importantly, the domestic connectivity from Madurai to Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore should be augmented to bring about development in the region, he added.

Presiding , the Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Mr Praful Patel, said that he was happy to have had the opportunity to both lay the foundation stone and now to inaugurate the new building.

Assuring to get international flights started soon from Madurai, Mr Patel said between 2004 and 2010, the profile of the people who fly has changed and the number had increased three-fold , marking the fast growth in the country.

The 9 per-cent GDP growth achieved is uncommon in many parts of the world. The yearly growth in air travel is around 21 per cent.

A related concern is the augmentation of cargo transport in a big way. The runway is being streamlined for the purpose, he added.

The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr M.K. Alagiri, emphasised the need to operate international flights from Madurai to Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai.

Mr V.P. Agarwal, Chairman, Airports Authority of India (AAI), explained the features of the new terminal building and said that efforts are on to extend the runway immediately to 9,000 ft once land acquisition is completed.

Mr S. Raheja, Member (Planning), AAI, proposed a vote of thanks.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 13, 2010)
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