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Daijiworld News Network - Mangalore

Mangalore, Feb 7: The long-pending demand of the people of Mangalore to have direct flights to West Asian countries is likely to materialize soon with Air India Express - the budget carrier of Air India - planning to operate a flight from Mangalore, a leading business daily of 'The Hindu' group Business Line reported.

Air India Express may operate a direct flight to Sharjah from Mangalore by May 7, provided the required facilities such as Customs and immigration counters are ready at the airport by that time. There is also a possibility of Air India Express operating a flight on Thiruvananthapuram-Mangalore-Sharjah route from May second week, if these and other required facilities are in place at the airport.

A seven-member team of Air India visited the Mangalore airport on Saturday for a preliminary inspection.

Operation of flights to international destinations, especially to West Asian countries, is one of the major demands of Mangaloreans working in those countries and the trade industry bodies here.  Their demand is for a direct flight from Mangalore to West Asian countries, which will bring down the cost and time of travel.

People from coastal Karnataka, Kasargod and Kannur districts of Kerala, who work in various West Asian countries, prefer Mangalore airport for their travel.

All these years, the airport was not in a position to handle flights to international destinations because of lack of facilities.  With the commissioning of the second runway at Mangalore airport by April this year, the airport will be in a position to handle wide-bodied aircraft.  By then, night-landing facility will also be in place.

When Daijiworld contacted Mangalore airport authorities, they have confirmed the news and are optimistic about starting the flight from May 7.

The official who did not want to name said, similar efforts are on to start flight from other Gulf countries, but the inaugural flight is definitely from UAE.

"There is also a request from NRI associations in the UAE to start the flight from Dubai airport instead of Sharjah, but once union minister Praful Patel visits the airport, everything will be finalized" he said

When Daijiworld contacted Rajesh Sequiera who, over the past two years, has been instrumental in speeding up the 'Mangalore Airport Movement' , said, "We were little worried when there was the political drama going on in Karnataka. But bureaucrats in Bangalore have assured that the change in government will not affect the ongoing efforts for Mangalore International airport"

Rajesh has requested all the NRI organizations to keep exerting pressure until the very first flight from the Gulf would land at Mangalore.

Daijiworld has been updating every single event happening related to Mangalore airport, while the authorities in Mangalore airport have been extremely co-operative. In fact, they have been highly inspired by the media attention received to the airport expansion and internationalization of plan through

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