Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor urged Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday to increase the frequency of repatriation flights to Thiruvananthapuram and make the state capital a crucial entry point for bringing back Indians stranded abroad to Kerala.
In a letter to Mr Puri, Mr Tharoor expressed support to the government's ongoing flight schedule to bring back stranded citizens from overseas.
A majority of incoming flights to the state have either been directed to the Cochin International Airport (COK) or the Calicut International Airport (CCJ), the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.
"While the volume of flights catering to individuals from Kerala is certainly welcome, for those who reside in southern parts of the state such as my constituency of Thiruvananthapuram, neighbouring districts of Kollam and Pathanamthitta and even parts of Tamil Nadu such as Kanyakumari, the destination of these flights offers an additional logistical challenge," Mr Tharoor said.
Once cleared of any coronavirus symptoms and directed to quarantine at their respective homes, these individuals would have the burden of arranging their own transportation, at a time of considerable restrictions, and travelling for at least 4-6 hours to make it back to their homes, he said.
"I believe that there are strong grounds to consider increasing frequency of such flights to Thiruvananthapuram. This would not only allow us to tap into the proven potential of this airport and the district administration, but it would also bolster the capacity of the state to process the vast volume of returnees and also offer these individuals greater ease of travel," Mr Tharoor said in the letter.
"Equally, it would be worthwhile considering extending existing flights to Cochin and Calicut to Thiruvananthapuram since the journey time between these airports is only between 30 minutes to 1 hour," he said.
The utilisation of Thiruvananthapuram's airport to a greater extent and increasing the frequency of flights, would also allow us to bring back more "pravasis" hailing from the state in a more timely manner, Mr Tharoor said.