Kerala floods: Kochi airport resumes flight operations

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Abu Dhabi - An Indigo flight from Abu Dhabi landed at the airport.



by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sun 11 Aug 2019, 10:16 PM

Flight operations from the international airport here resumed on Sunday afternoon, two days after it was shut due to inundation of the runway area following heavy rains, an official said.
The Abu Dhabi-Kochi Indigo flight touched down at around 12.15 pm, marking the resumption of the operations, the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) official said.
Check-in commenced at 9 am in both the domestic and international terminals.
The airport had on Friday suspended all operations till 3 pm on Sunday as the runway area in the airport was waterlogged due to floods.

The operations were suspended as there was a rise in water level in Periyar river and a canal adjacent to the airport due to heavy rains lashing Kerala since last week.
The airport was non-functional for a fortnight in August 2018 due to inundation following the worst floods in the state in a century.
The temporary closure of the airport on Thursday had affected the travel plans of hundreds of UAE residents.
With some of the districts still reeling under water due to the heavy rain and floods, expats from the south Indian state of Kerala are glued to their TVs to get updates on the situation back home.
While the northern districts of Kozhikode, Kannur, Wayanad and Malappuram faced the worst with heavy rain and landslides continuing on Saturday, water level has been receding in the other districts, much to the relief of a few.
Jaleel - a Sharjah resident who hails from Nilambur where a huge landslide washed away more than 40 houses on Thursday night - said he was unable to contact his friends and relatives back home.
"The landslide area is a few kilometres away from my home. So, I'm sure that none of my relatives are affected, but the rain still continues in the district. Most of the houses don't have electricity, which means making phone calls would be impossible.
"Many of my friends and relatives are in relief camps. As the landslides and rains continue, I'm worried about their safety," he added.
Saneesh Nambiar, a Dubai resident from Kannur district, said he was still struggling to establish regular contact with his parents. "The situation remained bad even though the rain had somewhat subsided. Hundreds of families in my area are affected," said Nambiar, who works for a media company.
"Relief operations are in progress. Many people are at camps, without knowing when they can go back to their homes." According to him, the extent of the devastation is not yet known as access to the area was cut off due to the landslides.
R. Rajendran, another expat from Wayand - one of the worst-affected districts in Kerala - said he was 'shell-shocked' to see the visuals from his hometown.
"I lost two of my friends in the landslide at Puthumala. The house where I grew up in was completely destroyed," Rajendran said, adding that he is hoping to fly to Kerala next week, once road access is re-established.
"As expats, we are helplessly watching the devastation all over again. This is a terrifying recap of last year's floods," he said.
Ticket rates bother expats
The scheduled reopening of Cochin International Airport on Sunday came as a relief for expats who were looking forward to spending at least two days of the long weekend with their relatives back home.
"According to the latest update from authorities, the airport will resume operations by 12.30pm (IST) on Sunday," an Air India Express official in Abu Dhabi said.
However, even if they manage to fly out on Sunday, it has become difficult to find a return ticket from Kochi for Tuesday night or Wednesday morning (when office resumes in the UAE). Most of the flights are full. 
For those who can extend their leave and aim for a weekend return, the fares are unbelievably high, with one pegged at more than Dh7,000.
At 6pm on Saturday, Emirates' website showed it was set to resume services to Kochi only from Monday. For flight EK532, a Dubai-Kochi economy class ticket for Monday night was at Dh2,040. There are no return tickets available in the same category, but a first class ticket comes at Dh5,045, which makes the overall cost Dh7,085.
Etihad, too, will be back on service from Monday. An Abu Dhabi-Kochi economy class ticket was available at Dh1,403. However, return tickets for next week are sold out.
Budget airlines
Some of the budget airlines will resume service on Sunday. Air India Express' first flight to Kochi is on Sunday at 8.50pm and fares start at Dh890. However, a return ticket is available only from Wednesday and costs Dh2,004. So, one round trip ticket may cost around Dh2,900.
An Air Arabia Sharjah-Kochi ticket for Sunday costs Dh775, but the return ticket is available only for Thursday, at a cost of Dh1,539, placing the overall cost at Dh2,314.
Sameer Aliyar, an Abu Dhabi resident, will fly out on Sunday night to Kochi.
"I kept a watch on fares. I booked an Air India Express return ticket at Dh1,800. Of course, I am returning only after two weeks. I will leave with my brother Sabeesh as our mother wanted us to be there for Eid. Inshallah, we will be there on time."
Dubai resident Resmi Bose was set to fly with her family to Kochi on Monday.
However, she cancelled her ticket and rebooked it for Mumbai. "We will spend some time in Mumbai and from there, we'll take a flight to Kochi. We have to be there by Monday night," she said.
But there are those like Nadeem Ashraf, an Abu Dhabi expat, who has cancelled holiday plans.
"There's no point in flying now as there is still uncertainty. If it rains heavily, the Kochi airport will be shut again. I have told my family that I am not coming home for Eid and will travel in November with additional leaves saved from this time."
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com
(With inputs from Anu Cinubal and Anjana Sankar)


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