Kochi: The first direct flight from Kerala to the Saudi capital of Riyadh was flagged off from the Kochi International Airport, marking the beginning of the Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) operation in the Kerala-Gulf sector.
Kochi is the fourth Indian destination of Saudia, the other being Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. The company has been permitted to carry 8,500 passengers per week from India under a reciprocal arrangement between the two countries.
Saudia will be operating two flights each a week (Tuesdays and Sundays) in the Kochi-Riyadh sector, which will be increased to three from the coming winter schedule. Saudia is the sixth foreign airline company to be operated from the Kochi airport at Nudumbassery.
Kerala Tourism and Fisheries Minister K V Thomas says Sri Lankan Airlines will begin its operation from Kochi on 22 April 2003. ''Talks are on for connecting Kochi with Kuala Lumpur, Jakharta and Bangkok by operating flights via Chennai. And an agreement has been reached for operating flights between Jaipur and Kochi via Goa.''
Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) managing director V J Kurian calls upon Saudia to make it daily its service in the Kochi-Gulf sector. ''CIAL, which runs the airport, will make profits from the next fiscal.''