KGF to press for getting Coimbatore listed in bilateral air services pact

Our Bureau Coimbatore | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on March 31, 2017

Representatives from Kongu region have upped the ante by deciding to lobby for carrier rights from Coimbatore.

Unhappy over the government's inaction to include Coimbatore in bilateral traffic rights, these representatives from six districts in and around Coimbatore such as Tirupur, Erode, Salem, Karur, Nilgiris, Pollachi and Udumalpet joined hands to form the Kongu Global Forum (KGF) and fight collectively to get the government accede to their demand.

The executive committee of KGF under the Chairmanship of Vanitha Mohan, President, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, met at The Residency Towers on Thursday and decided to take up the issue aggressively with the government, as the individual representations by the different associations failed to fetch the desired result.

Soon after the first meeting of the committee, Vanitha Mohan told reporters that this coming together under the KGF umbrella would help press the demand of the region more aggressively.

The main agenda at this juncture seemed to be in getting Coimbatore listed in the bilateral air services agreement.

"There are 18 cities (including Tiruchi in Tamil Nadu) included in the list. As Coimbatore does not figure in the list, foreign airliners such as Air Asia, Tiger Airlines and Fly Dubai, which are ready to operate their flights to and from Coimbatore, are unable to do so,” she said.

Highlighting the region's potential, she said: "Domestic traffic from Coimbatore has almost doubled from 11 lakh passengers in 2009 to 21 lakh in 2016, whereas international passenger traffic has risen from 80000 in 2009 to one lakh in 2016."

Attributing the poor surge in international traffic to connectivity, she said: "We need more flights to Dubai, Malaysia and Thailand. We are now compelled to fly either to Mumbai or Bengaluru or drive to Kochi to reach an international destination."

Raja M Shanmugham, President, Tirupur Exporters' Association, said foreign buyers were reluctant to come to the Dollar City due to poor air connectivity. "If opened up, it would not only register a surge in passenger traffic but help bring more vibrancy in other related sectors as well."

"Bangalore Airport Authority people visited Tirupur last week and offered to set up facilitation centre, clear and move truck loads of cargo 24X7 to Bengaluru for onward shipment. While this is a welcome move, it will divert our earnings to Karnataka's capital," he said, emphasising the need for better carrier rights.

Carrier rights apart, Coimbatore International airport faces other issues such as a permanent licence and the airport expansion project. The latter has been hanging fire for well over 15 years.

"Land acquisition for expansion of the airport is a separate process and will be followed up parallely," Vanitha Mohan said.

Published on March 31, 2017
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