Cochin airport attracts international flights

Kochi: Singapores SilkAir will become the second foreign airline to operate from the Cochin International airport at Nedumbasseri. SilkAir will start operating from 28 October 2001.

Officials said the airline would operate two flights between Kochi and Singapore on Wednesdays and Sundays on a code-sharing basis with Air-India. The frequency is likely to be increased to four flights a week from February next year. Kochi is SilkAir's second destination in the country after Thiruvanthapuram, from where it has three services - Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.

The flights will be jointly promoted by SilkAir and Air-India and will carry both the airlines flight numbers and designator codes. Air-India, which already had code sharing tie-ups with Lufthansa and Air Mauritius, will be in charge of the entire ground operations at Nedumbasseri.

As per the agreement with Air-India, SilkAir will have to give Air-India 23 of the 142 seats (16 business class and 126 economy class) on its Airbus A320-200. The flight to Singapore (MI/AI 467) will take off from Nedumbasseri at 11 pm on Sundays and Wednesdays and will land there at 5.55 am. The return flight (MI/AI 468) will take off from Singapore at 8.15 pm and arrive at Nedumbasseri at 10 pm.

As the regional wing of Singapore airlines, SilkAir enhances Singapore Airlines worldwide network by focusing its development on new Asian destinations and providing the required regional connections using Singapore as the transit hub. In addition to Kochi, SilkAir will cover 19 destinations in the region including Langkawi in Malaysia, Cebu and Davao in the Philippines, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Chang Mai and Phuket in Thailand and Thiruvanthapuram.

Oman Air, the first foreign airline to operate from Kochi, operates four flights from Nedumbasseri a week - on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday - with a quota of 600 weekly seats. Kochi is the fourth Indian destination of Oman Air since it began domestic operations in 1993. After it started operations to Thiruvanthapuram eight years ago, the airline flew to Mumbai in 1995 and Chennai in 1997. Apart from the four flights a week to Kochi, OmanAir has five flights a week to Thiruvanthapuram, seven to Mumbai and three to Chennai.

Kuwait Airways is also set to begin its Kochi operations. It is reliably known that Kuwait Airways will start its operations on 7 January. Emirates, Saudia, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways, Yemen Airways, Aeroflot and Uzbekistan Airways are most likely to follow suit.