The Naval air base in Kochi is almost ready for commercial flights to begin operation from tomorrow in flood-ravaged Kerala. Naval Air Station INS Garuda received clearance to operate passenger planes. The decision came soon after the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who flew into Kochi on Saturday for an aerial review of the situation in the state.
Today, the spokesperson of the Navy tweeted to say that all arrangements are in place: "#OpMadad #KeralaFloods2018 #KeralaFloodRelief Naval Air Station INS Garuda at Kochi cleared for operating civil flights commencing tomorrow morning @DefenceMinIndia @SpokespersonMoD @nsitharaman @CMOKerala.
All Terminal Security equipment incl Baggage scanners alongwith certified screening staff have reached our Airport at INS Garuda. CISF pers also reported. All arrangements in place.Civil admin sprucing up areas around airfield.Civil flights good 2go tomorrow onwards @nsitharaman— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) August 19, 2018
The airport in Kochi, the state's busiest, has been shut since last Tuesday, when the runway got flooded and the water entered certain facilities. Shocking visuals from the airport showed majestic planes standing forlorn amid a sea of dirty brown water. The authorities said the airport will be shut till August 26.
The situation in Kochi had left the state with only two operational civil airports -- at Thiruvananthapuram and Calicut.
Alliance Air, a subsidiary of the state-run Air India will be the first airline to begin operations from the naval airstrip. Civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu said more airlines will join in as destinations, including Madurai, is added.
Mr Prabhu earlier tweeted to say a joint team had checked the feasibility of using the Naval base.
A Joint team comprising representatives from DGCA, BCAS, CISF, AAI and Indian Navy carried out inspection of #Cochin Naval Base today to check the feasibility of scheduled operations from there. Steps being taken to start operations with ATR-72 from Monday, 20th August. (5/n)— Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) August 19, 2018
INS Garuda is one of the oldest operating air stations of the Navy built on British-era aviation facilities. A naval air training centre and an operational air base, it lies adjacent to the Southern Naval Command.