Proposal for setting up airport city on 100 acres will come up before CIAL board soon, says outgoing managing director V.J. Kurien
Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), which blazed a trail by becoming the first airport in the world to depend solely on solar power for its day-to-day operations, now plans to become the first airport in the world that will not impose landing and parking charges.
Plans are ready to diversify revenue streams and to replace the income from landing and parking charges with the income from them. “Kochi hopes to operate without landing and parking charges by 2030,” said its outgoing managing director V.J. Kurien here.
Mr. Kurien was interacting with media persons at the airport office as he retires on Wednesday after serving the airport for a period of around 20 years since its inception in 1992.
Mr. Kurien said that a proposal to develop an “airport city” on 100 acres of land held by the airport authority close to the National Highway will come up for the consideration of the Board of Directors of the company soon. The airport city will showcase the best in the world, including the best food collection. Income from the proposed airport city will make up for the income the airport would forego as landing and parking charges, Mr. Kurien added. He said that landing charges constituted 25-30% of the airport’s income.
₹204-cr. profit last fiscal
CIAL’s airport operations registered a turnover of over ₹655 crore during 2019-20 and a profit after tax of ₹204 crore.
He said that the COVID-19 pandemic had held up the project a little, but exuded confidence that the airport would easily overcome the setback suffered due to the curtailed operations for more than a year. “We have overcome bigger challenges in the past and it will take about six months for the airport to recover fully to reach the pre-pandemic level,” he said. It is estimated that the airport sustained losses of around ₹80 crore.
Mr. Kurien, as a young IAS officer in the early 1990s, proposed the setting up of a greenfield airport with people’s participation. The idea looked ridiculous then, but the State’s political leadership, including the then Chief Minister K. Karunakaran, backed Mr. Kurien. Mr. Kurien recalled that a capital of ₹20,000 was received from a private investor initially.
Fund raising and land acquisition proved extremely difficult, he said and pointed out that the airport authority fought around 2,000 cases during its initial days. “Transparency and frugality have been our greatest strengths these years,” he said, listing reasons for the success of the airport venture.
The airport has paid a total dividend of 282% so far and “we are advising our shareholders not to sell their holdings,” he said.
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