Kochi: Following the tense situation in Kerala due to deadly flooding in the state, there was finally a sight of relief as a day after a test-landing by a medium-size plane on a wet runway, the first commercial flight hit the tarmac at the naval base in Kochi on Monday morning.
The Alliance Air twin-turboprop ATR aircraft, which came from Bengaluru, took off again packed to capacity. An IndiGo plane was the second aircraft to land at the Kochi naval base.
The main airport at Kochi which is shut since August 15th will not be re-opened till August 26th.
Photos posted by the Navy show passengers queuing up in front of a makeshift airline counter at the INS Garuda naval base in Kochi. The Navy said it has done substantial work at INS Garuda to ensure the military facility is compatible with civilian air operations.
The parking bays at the naval air station have been clearly demarcated to be shared between military and civilian aircraft, said Commodore RR Iyer at INS Garuda.
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On Sunday, an Alliance Air plane landed at the Kochi naval base carrying a team of officers from the aviation regulator DGCA, the Airports Authority of India and other flight safety officers to test whether the base could be used for commercial flight landings. The joint team then gave the go-ahead for the flight operations at the Navy’s air station in Kochi.
#OpMadad #KeralaFloods #KeralaFloods2018 Temporary Check-in counter. Passengers checking in at INS Garuda Kochi (SFNA building) which is a makeshift arrangement to ensure Kochi remains connected by air to the rest of the country @DefenceMinIndia @SpokespersonMoD @AAI_Official pic.twitter.com/SQaCMz5IMD
— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) August 20, 2018
Apart from the first incoming aircraft this morning — a 70-seater ATR plane of Alliance Air, a subsidiary of state-run carrier Air India — more airlines are likely to arrive at Kochi, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said.
Flights to other destinations such as Coimbatore and Madurai are also likely to resume shortly, Prabhu said.
The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association or ICPA has told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that they are willing to fly to flood-hit Kerala without taking any payment.