Kochi: The Civil Aviation Ministry has decided to map air routes of helicopters following the crash, which claimed the life of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others.

"We have decided to have mapping of routes of helicopters to fly especially after Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister's death," Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi said on Saturday.

Khandu's Pawan Hans chopper crashed on April 30 last at Luguthang ten minutes after take-off from Tawang helipad, killing him and four others on board.

There were ambitious programmes to improve all airports and have more airports in the country. But billons of dollars are needed and the government's policy was to develop them on Private Public Partnership, Ravi said.

There is need to increase the connectivity in North East and different areas where new airports and helicopters services are necessary were also being looked into, he said at a function at nearby Nedumbassery airport to mark the regional centennial celebrations of Civil Aviation.

Air India was passing through a 'turbulent' period, he said, adding, its accrued loss was so high that PSU oil companies had stopped supply of fuel for a day.

"We need Air India to improve. It needs planning and cost cutting for the financial health of the airlines," he said.

Air India's biggest asset was its 43,000 employees which include casual workers as well, he said.

On AI's high paid employees, he said though he did not want to criticise them, he wanted them to cooperate with government to make it more viable.

"There is a need for everyone to cooperate. I am trying my best to make the employees understand this. I have no problem with lower or middle class employees, but the highest paid employees."

Ravi said the Union Government was considering a proposal to provide air connectivity between
Thiruvananthapuram and Goa touching airports on the western coastal stretch- Kochi, Kozhikode and Mangalore.

The Air India Chairman has been asked to look into the proposal and suggest a suitable aircraft, he said.

Centre would extend all help for the Kannur airport,but the Kerala governemnt should give it top priority, he said.

In Kerala, demand has come from ministers and MPs for constructing airports at Idukki, Wayanad and Kozhencherry. The state government must find financial resources for setting up the airports, he said.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had spoken to him about holding a business meeting of Air India, Airport authorities and government in the state and this would be held at the earliest, he said.

State Minister for Ports, Airports and Excise, K Babu said about 1300 acres have already been acquired in Kannur for the airport. While the Airports Authority of India is the project consultant, Centre for Earth Sciences Studies is undertaking environment assessment study, he said.

The state government was also giving shape to a Civil Aviation policy in tandem with the Central government's policy, he said.

Education and Inland Waterways minister, P J Joseph, said within the next 100 days, work would start on the Rs 50 crore proposal to connect the Kochi airport-high court jetty through the waterways. This would enable an air passenger to travel by boat to the city-- saving time and money.
Cochin International Airport ltd has expressed its willingess to participate in the venture which can be
completed in 18 months. CIAL has offered to invest Rs three crore, he said.

On the coastal air connectivity, Joseph said this would be a very economical sector giving good returns. Tourists coming to Goa would come to Kerala also.
 
The tourism sector in the state will get a boost once the Kannur, Idukki, Wynad, Kozhencherry airports become a reality.

CIAL Managing Director, V J Kurien said the Kochi airport was in the fourth position in terms of passenger volumes and the International passengers were more than their domestic counterparts.

As part of the centennial celebrations, the visitors would be allowed to enter the airport free of cost from June 19-25. School children would be permitted in the terminal area without any charges, he said.

Former CIAL MD C G Krishnadas Nair said this year the passenger traffic in Kochi will touch five crore. The airport will have 15-16 million passengers by 2020.

Aerospace museum and International Trade fair and business centre will be opened this year.

Agencies