Wide-body aircraft resumed operations at Calicut International Airport after a ban of three years. Saudi Arabian Airlines a.k.a. Saudia from Jeddah arrived at the airport and was welcomed with a water salute tradition. The flight carried 282 passengers onboard.
Director General of Civil Aviation initially imposed the ban in May 2015 citing safety guidelines and re-carpeting works for six months. The ban was imposed after a court inquiry report on Air India Express Boeing 737 crash in Mangalore in May 2010. However, various technical issues delayed the process. The delay irked the passengers, primarily among the regular travellers from the Malabar region. Many people hinted the vested interests of multiple parties to destroy the airport.
In August 2018, the Director General of Civil Aviation gave green signal to resume the operations of wide-body aircraft.
Saudia Airlines will operate Seven flights from Calicut Airport to Jeddah and Riyadh
Saudi Arabian Airlines will operate four flights from Jeddah and three flights from Riyadh in a week to Calicut International Airport. While the services to Jeddah will be available on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, the services to Riyadh is scheduled to occur on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.
Saudia Airlines will operate two wide-body aircraft – A330-300 and B777-200ER for providing the services. The flights will have a seating capacity of 298, including 26 business class seats. “We are eager to expand our services to India. We have plans and strategies. But any expansion of services is a bilateral issue. The services can only be expanded if both the countries agree,” Saudia Assistant Vice-president International (Sales) Nawaf N Al Jakthami said to media.
During the time of suspension of service from Calicut airport, the airline, that has permission to conduct 15 services to Kerala, reportedly increased the number of its services from Cochin International Airport. Hence, its revenue from the sector was not affected due to the suspension.
On arrival, the passengers too received a warm welcome. Calicut airport manages more than 3 million passengers annually, among which 2.6 million are passengers to international countries