The tiny South Indian coastal state of Kerala has just about 580 km shoreline. But it is all set to have its fifth airport if the government's plans to establish one in Pathanamthitta come true! The state has sought the Centre's nod to construct an airport at Erumeli in Pathanamthitta, near the busy pilgrim centre Sabarimala Temple.  Besides this, it has proposed two airstrips to land chartered flights. 


After meeting Union Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju in New Delhi on Wednesday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the Centre's response was positive to its proposal to build an airport at Erumeli in Pathanamthitta. The CM also informed the Union Minister that the state had found suitable land for the airport near the pilgrim centre. 

 

The state government also sought permission to build air strips at Bekal in Kasargod and Munnar in Idukki. The airstrips are planned to land chartered tourist flights. Bekal in the northern most district of Kerala has a wonderful 300-year-old fort, the biggest in the state. Munnar, a scenic hill destination is also one of the busy tourist destination in Kerala.

 

Earlier, the plans for a private airport at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta had sparked strong protests following which the project was shelved. It is learned that the airport project at Erumeli would come up in plantation area to minimise environmental and social impacts. 

 

Kerala has three international airports located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. The upcoming Kannur International Airport at Mattannur will be operational in a few months.  Besides this, Kerala has an airport at Kochi which is operated by Indian Navy. Until 1999, when the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery, the first greenfield airport in the country was opened, the Naval airport used to operate domestic flights.