New Delhi/Kannur: Kerala is to get its fourth international airport at Kannur, the foundation stone for which will be laid Dec 17, state Tourism and Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said on Saturday.
The foundation stone will be laid at Mattanur near Kannur town, Balakrishnan told reporters in New Delhi after meeting with Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel.
"Once complete, this would be the biggest airport in the state. Close to 1,300 acres of land has already been acquired and another 700 acres would be acquired once work commences this year itself. We expect to complete the work in two years time," said Balakrishnan.
Patel and Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan would be the chief guest at the foundation stone laying ceremony.
A new company, Kannur International Airport Ltd (KIAL), has already been registered and the new Rs.1,000-crore airport would be built under a private public initiative, officials said in Kannur.
The state government has appointed former civil aviation secretary V Thulasidas as the managing director of the new company.
The shareholding pattern of the new airport would be 26 per cent held by the state government, 23 per cent by state-owned public sector units and two percent by organisations in which the state government has minor stakes. The remaining 49 per cent would be held by the public, including non-resident Keralites.
The state government`s contribution would be the value of the land that it has been acquiring for this venture since 1998.
An airport at Kannur was first proposed when EK Nayanar was Chief Minister (1996-2001).
The nearest international airport to the proposed one is at Kozhikode, located under 80 km away by air.
The proposed airport will come as a boon for the large number of non-resident Keralites in the districts of Kannur and Kasargode who now have to either travel to Kozhikode or Mangalore.
Moreover, tourists headed to Coorg can also use this airport.
According to a study, close to 1.5 million passengers would use this airport and it would handle 86,000 tonnes of cargo a year after it opens.
Kerala already has three international airports at Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvanananthapuram.