Malappuram: After a hiatus of three-and- a-half years, the much awaited wide-bodied aircraft touched down the tarmac of the Calicut International Airport at Karipur on Wednesday.
The airport authorities, staff, peoples’ representatives and passengers welcomed the Saudi Airlines flight with 211 passengers onboard.
The Jeddah-Kozhikode flight landed here on 11.10 am and received the customary water salute. The Saudi Airlines resumed its service by bringing back its seven services to Jeddah and Riyadh, which were operating from Cochin International Airport, Nedumbassery.
According to airline officials, the final approval for resumption of service from Karipur came only on Tuesday. The airline had completed all the requirements prior for this. Of the seven services, four will be on Karipur-Jeddah sector and three on Karipur-Riyadh sector.
With the return of direct services to Saudi Arabia, where 1.2 million expats from the Malabar region work, the number of passengers to Karipur is all set to witness huge increase. It is estimated that around three lakh additional passengers will come to Karipur. National carrier Air India is also considering the resumption of its services to Saudi cities.
The blanket ban on services of wide body aircrafts from the airport was imposed on May 1, 2015 for the renovation of runway. Though the renovation works were completed last year the civil aviation authorities delayed the approval for wide bodies aircrafts which drew huge flak from the public and expat community. There were huge protests against the reluctance of the concerned authorities for delaying the decision....