Cochin International Airport
|Airport type||Public-Private Partnership (PPP)|
|Location||Nedumbassery, Kochi, Kerala, India|
|Opened||10 June 1999|
|Focus city for|
|Elevation AMSL||9 m / 30 ft|
|Statistics (April 2022 - March 2023)|
Cochin International Airport (IATA: COK, ICAO: VOCI) is an international airport serving the city of Kochi, in the state of Kerala, India. It is located at Nedumbassery, about 25 km (16 mi) northeast of the city center. The airport is the first of its kind to be developed under a public-private partnership (PPP) model in India. This project was funded by nearly 10,000 non-resident Indians from 32 countries.
It is the busiest and largest airport in the state of Kerala and 4th biggest airport in South India. As of 2019[update], Cochin International Airport caters to 61.8% of the total air passenger traffic in Kerala. It is the third busiest airport in India in terms of international traffic and also the eighth busiest overall. In fiscal year 2018–2019, the airport handled more than 10.2 million passengers with a total of 71,871 aircraft movements. As of 2023, Kochi airport is served by over 25 airline companies carrying passengers to 31 international destinations and 22 domestic destinations.
The airport operates three passenger terminals and one cargo terminal with a total area of over 225,000 square metres (2,421,880 sq ft). In 2015, Cochin International Airport became the world's first fully solar-powered airport with the inauguration of a dedicated solar plant. For this entrepreneurial vision, the airport won the coveted Champion of the Earth award in 2018, the highest environmental honor instituted by the United Nations. The airport was awarded The Best Airport in Asia-Pacific in 2020 (5 to 15 million passengers per year) by Airports Council International.
Kochi's airport began as an airstrip on Willingdon Island, built in 1936 by the Kingdom of Cochin, intended for transporting officials involved in the development of the Cochin Port. The Kingdom of Cochin allowed the British, who ruled India at the time, to convert the airstrip into a military airport for use by the Indian Navy during World War II. The Royal Navy chose it as a strategic site for their headquarters in Southern India and as an air station cum landing craft and seaplane base. The military facility hosted naval fighter planes and was intended to thwart possible Japanese air raids. A small naval unit set up operations just two days before the outbreak of World War II.
After India achieved dominion status and the merger of the Kingdom of Cochin with India, the Indian Navy operated the airport, though it permitted civilian aircraft to use the facility. The Gulf economic boom of the 1980s made it necessary to develop international connections to Kochi in the interests of expatriates working in the Middle East.
The original proposal for the airport outlined an estimated cost of ₹1 billion (US$13 million) and an expected date of commission in 1997. Approval was granted in May 1993. The funding was envisaged to be from interest-free loans from non-resident Indians working abroad, donations from industrial undertakings, exporters, cooperative societies and loans from the state government. A body called the Cochin International Airport Society, under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister of Kerala K. Karunakaran, was registered in July 1993 to execute the project. To better fund mobilization, as well as an administrative convenience, a public limited company under the name Cochin International Airport Ltd. (CIAL) was registered in March 1994 with an authorized capital of ₹900 million (US$11 million).
In 1996, E. K. Nayanar took over as chairman of the CIAL project. The construction picked up momentum during this period and Nayanar ensured that the airport project received special attention from the State Government and gave his unstinted support to CIAL. By 1997, substantial land was taken into CIAL possession through negotiated settlements. A total of 491 ha (1,213 acres) of land was acquired for the construction of the airport. Approximately 2,300 landowners and 872 families were resettled under a rehabilitation package. Major electric lines and an irrigation canal had to be diverted. The facility was formally inaugurated by the then President of India, K. R. Narayanan on 25 May 1999 and the first commercial service began on 10 June 1999. The operations from the old naval airport were moved to CIAL on 1 July 1999.
The airport had 18,580 m2 (200,000 sq ft) of floor space at its inauguration. CIAL envisioned four phases of expansion over 20 years, the third phase of which was completed in 2009. The original airport terminal was envisioned to handle just 100 passengers at a time. However, by 2001, the international passenger traffic was growing, making it necessary to redevelop the terminal.
In 2002, the floor area for the international operations of the original building rose due to the completion of a separate domestic terminal, shifting all domestic operations there.
With a rising number of airlines operating at the airport, CIAL decided to construct an exclusive terminal for domestic operations, namely Terminal 2, making the international one Terminal 1, increasing the floor space for international operations by 37,161 m2 (400,000 sq ft). As part of the second phase of the expansion plans, an airline center complex of 7,500 m2 (81,000 sq ft) was constructed on the western side of the terminal to accommodate the airline and CIAL's administrative offices. The cargo terminal was also expanded in the second phase.
Work on the third phase was intended to accommodate 5 million passenger movements annually and was started in 2007. The third phase involved the commissioning of a central block, connecting the domestic and international terminals and enlarging the airside area to accommodate more gates and waiting areas along with increased shopping areas. This increased the built-up area by another 29,700 m2 (320,000 sq ft). The airside area of the international arrivals and departures blocks were integrated and glass walls were installed to allow for more natural light. The runway was re-surfaced in 2008. The number of parking areas was increased from 15 to 24, including three dedicated for cargo airlines. The third phase also completed the expansion of the cargo village and a second aircraft taxiway to the MRO facility.
The fourth phase of expansion was originally planned to upgrade the domestic terminal, which has remained untouched in the past three phases. However, the expansion plans were changed after the new UDF government took over the administration of the state in May 2011.
As per the revised plans, the international terminal is to face a major renovation before being converted completely into a domestic terminal, while a new state-of-the-art international terminal is coming up. As per the new plans announced by the board of directors in September 2011, the new international terminal would come up on the eastern side of the existing structure. The built-up space of the new terminal would be 140,000 m2 (1,500,000 sq ft) having segregated departures and arrivals at different levels. The new terminal with an elevation featuring Kerala temple architecture will have all the latest features of international standards. Construction major Larsen & Toubro is building the facility which will be ready within 30 months. The two-level terminal will have provisions for 112 check-in counters, with in-line baggage screening facilities, 100 immigration counters, 3,716 square metres (40,000 sq ft) of duty-free shops at departure and arrival lounges, 19 boarding gates, 15 aerobridges, six baggage conveyor belts and fully covered alighting and boarding area.
The current domestic terminal would be converted into an "Executive Pavilion" and would handle VIP and private chartered flights and jets. The current international terminal once converted into a domestic terminal, will have 5 aerobridges and 10 boarding gates, apart from increased parking bays.
Cochin International Airport is the first in India to be built by a public-private partnership and is owned by a public limited company called Cochin International Airport Limited, better known as CIAL, created by the Government of Kerala in 1994. The Government of Kerala holds a 33.36% stake, making it the single largest investor in the project. Indian government companies like Air India, BPCL and AAI hold an 8.74% stake, while foreign companies like Abu Dhabi based Emke Group, the Oman-based Galfar Group, UAE based Majeed Bukatara Trading holds a 5.42% stake. Indian companies hold 8.57% stake, while scheduled commercial banks like Federal Bank, SBT and Canara Bank holds 5.91%. The remaining 38.03% stake is held by more than 10,000 personal investors from 29 countries, mostly non-resident Indians.
The company has decided to go for a public offering and give 10 million shares to HUDCO as part of a debt settlement, which would to lead HUDCO having a 3.37% stake in the company and a reduction of the stake of other holders.
Cochin International Airport has three main terminals: two domestic and one international. There is also a cargo terminal.
Terminal 1 (Domestic)
Terminal 1 used to be an international terminal until the operations were shifted to the new international Terminal 3. The terminal underwent a massive upgrade and renovation after that, which took its total handling capacity to 4,000 passengers per hour which is 5 times the previous capacity. The renovated Terminal 1 was opened to travelers on 12 December 2018.
With a total built-up area of 55,742 m2 (600,000 sq ft), Terminal 1 has 56 check-in counters, 7 aerobridges and a conveyor belt system to transfer baggage from 12 flights at a time. It is also equipped with 6 reserve lounges, an art area, a food court, an executive lounge, and a 4,645-square-metre (50,000 sq ft) shopping area. The terminal has a solar carport facility that can generate 2.4 MW of power and can house 1,400 cars. Together with the solar carport at the International Terminal 3, it can generate 5.1 MW of power which is the largest carport in the world.
Terminal 2 (Executive)
Terminal 2 has an area of 10,000 m2 (110,000 sq ft) and is designed to handle up to 400 passengers at peak times. The departure hall has 26 common use terminal equipment (CUTE) enabled check-in counters, including 6 premium check-in counters, 4 self check in counters. It has 6 security gates and a common waiting area that can accommodate 400 passengers at a time. There is also a family lounge and a premium lounge for business class passengers and a food court is housed in the waiting area, while a restaurant operates in entry lobby. There are 4 remote gates facility available for domestic passengers. The arrivals hall has 2 baggage carousels. This block was converted into an executive terminal on 12 December 2018.
Terminal 3 (International)
The new international Terminal 3 was opened to travelers in March 2017. The theme of the terminal is inspired by Thrissur Pooram and is built in traditional Kerala architecture. 15 real-size fiber elephants, adorning traditional costumes welcome the travelers at the departure facility area. The terminal has 5 entry gates, 84 check-in counters and 80 immigration counters. It is equipped with 10 escalators, 21 elevators, and 3 moving walkways. The terminal has a solar carport facility with a capacity of generating 2.7 MW power and can provide a parking facility for 1,400 cars. Along with the solar carport at the domestic Terminal 1, it is the largest solar carport in the world with a total capacity of 5.1 MW of power and a parking facility for 2,800 cars.
With a total area of more than 150,000 m2 (1,614,587 sq ft), the terminal is built over 4 levels. The ground level handles arrivals. With a total ground area of around 41,156 m2 (442,999 sq ft), it has 10 customs counters, 3 bank counters, a shopping complex for the passengers and the general public, a VIP lounge, arrival duty-free shops and a baggage claim area. The second level (5.5 metres above ground level) also handles arrivals and is equipped with 30 immigration counters, 10 e-T-Visa counters, 5 health check counters, and 2 moving walkways. The third level (10.5 metres above ground level) is the departure facility area. It has a 20,836 m2 (224,277 sq ft) check-in area, 3 check-in islands having a total of 84 counters, 40 emigration counters, an 800-square-metre (8,611 sq ft) departure duty-free shop, 3 VIP reserved lounges, airline offices, 2 prayer rooms, and 1 moving walkway. The fourth level (15.5 metres above ground level) is the departure security hold area. With an area of more than 8,674 m2 (93,366 sq ft), it has a food court, restaurant, 3 airline executive lounges, smoking lounge, bar and reclining area.
With the commissioning of Terminal 3, Cochin International Airport became India's 4th largest airport after Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata, with a total built up area of more than 213,677 m2 (2,300,000 sq ft) for commercial operations.
Cochin Airport has a dedicated cargo center on the eastern side of the complex. The cargo center is one of the largest facilities in India with a total floor space of 11,000 m2 (120,000 sq ft) in 20 hectares (50 acres) of land. There are three complexes in the cargo village:
- The Centre for Dry Cargo (CDC), with an area of 4,600 m2 (50,000 sq ft), has a dedicated warehousing facility and air-customs inspection facility for both import and export.
- The Centre for Perishable Cargo (CPC) is the largest dedicated cold storage center for perishable goods in India. It has a floor area of about 2,000 m2 (22,000 sq ft) and can handle approximately 25,000 tonnes of cargo. It was commissioned in 2008 at a cost of ₹380 million (US$4.8 million) jointly by CIAL, the Government of India through the Agricultural and Food Promotion Export Development Authority (APEDA), and the Government of Kerala.[unreliable source?]
- The Transshipment Cargo Complex is a dedicated warehouse allocated for transshipment cargo. The import and export cargo from the customs warehouses in the catchment area, as well as from airports like Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore, etc., are handled and stored at this center for export.
Business Jet Terminal
“This terminal stands unique as it is India's first Charter Gateway. This one-of-a-kind terminal integrates tourism, international summits, business conferences and the movement of high net worth individuals, also accentuates the idea of cost-effectiveness in the development of an elegant airport terminal,” CIAL said in a release. Spread in 3,700 m2 (40,000 sq ft), the business jet terminal will cater to international and domestic business jet operations with a ‘safe house’ facility for security-exempted persons, CIAL informed. Besides, it comprises an exclusive private car parking space, a drive-in porch, a grand lobby, five opulent lounges, a business center, duty-free shop, a foreign exchange counter and a high-end video conferencing room. “Upgradation and modernization of transport systems are indispensable for industrial development in Kerala,” said Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan after inaugurating the terminal.
Air traffic control
The air traffic control (ATC) tower is 60 m (200 ft) tall. Cochin ATC controls flights below an altitude of 7,800 m (25,500 ft). The airport has two instrument landing systems (ILS) using distance measuring equipment (DME) which enable flights to land from both sides of the runway even in rough weather conditions. CIAL is the only airport in the country besides the airport in metros to have such a facility. The ATC uses Doppler VHF omni range I and II.
Large-scale upgrades such as the latest AIRCON 2100 air traffic control automation system were also introduced.
Airport surveillance radar
The Airports Authority of India has installed an advanced airport surveillance radar (ASR) as well as monopulse secondary surveillance radar (MSSR). In addition, a surface movement radar was installed for effective monitoring of flights on the runway and in parking bays.
Cochin International Airport has one 3,445m long runway oriented as 27/09, which can handle Code E planes. It has a full-length parallel taxiway of 3,445 m (11,302 ft). The 807 m × 125 m (2,648 ft × 410 ft) apron comprising 16 stands can accommodate five wide-bodied and eight-narrow bodied aircraft. The runway is spread over the panchayat areas of Nedumbassery, Sreemoolanagaram and Kanjoor.
Cochin Airport has one helipad for dedicated use of helicopters, meant for air-taxi purposes. Plans for constructing a heliport are underway.
The Indian Navy has set up a Naval Aircraft Enclave at Cochin International Airport Ltd. (CIAL). The Naval Aircraft Enclave comprises a hangar for bigger aircraft of the Navy, an administrative office, a disbursal center, an apron capable of holding 2 Boeing-type aircraft (P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft) and a taxi track. The Naval Aircraft Enclave at Cochin airport is the second such facility of the Navy attached to an international airport, after Mumbai. It is the first public-private participation model airport to hand over land to the Navy for such a facility.
Indian Coast Guard Air Enclave
The Indian Coast Guard has taken space in CIAL to develop its second air squadron in Kochi after the INS Garuda facility to improve coastal air surveillance and air-related assistance.
The facility comprises 2 hangars to accommodate the Chetak helicopter squadron, and the Dornier squadron along with advanced light helicopters are expected to be based here. The Air Enclave would have a 50m taxi link to the runway at CIAL and would consist of aircraft hangars, technical areas and administrative buildings.
Airlines and destinations
The following cargo airlines fly to the airport:
Graphs are temporarily unavailable due to technical issues.
|Financial Year||Passengers||Change from previous year||Aircraft operations||Cargo tonnage|
Cochin International Airport is listed among the 12 major airports of India. Its safety and security is handled by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security through the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). Cochin was the third international airport and the first private airport in the country to come under the cover of CISF in 2001, after the Government of India decided to hand over airport security to CISF in the wake of the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814. Security was handled by the Kerala Police; Special Branch of Kochi Police before the CISF. The airport company's Aviation Safety Wing (ASW) oversees security facilities and equipment. The ASW is also responsible for fire and emergency services.
Security management training is provided by CIAL's Aviation Academy and personnel are employed by the company as security agents – deployed in baggage screening rooms, entry gates, the general cargo area and the lounge areas. CIAL ASW employs Army-trained sniffer dogs to check for explosives in baggage areas, the only Indian airport to have such a facility. CIAL has introduced three state-of-the-art ION scanning detectors that can identify small amounts of material, down to nanograms, of explosives.
The airport is under the direct protection of the Kochi City Police, who have a station outside the terminal. CISF maintains two armed squadrons and one bomb detection and disposal squad. CISF has a command center 250metres outside the terminal, with an intelligence division and mobilization cell. The air customs division operates a narcotics detection squad in the terminal. The CIAL ASWs are working on installing a fully automated perimeter intrusion detection system that will detect any possible violation, using sensors that will provide critical time for the security forces to react. Phase one of the intrusion prevention system is in place with barricades, automatic retractable bollards, surveillance cameras, parking gate management systems and the introduction of biometric ID cards for staff.
The immigration department is handled by Kerala Police, Special Branch officials trained by the Bureau of Immigration.
The airport company also has a high-end robotic security system capable of remote-handling of explosive devices and fire-fighting and hostage situations. The system is operational from September 2014, making CIAL the first in South India to have such a facility. It comprises safety robots developed by Canada-based Pedsco Ltd. and Threat Containment Vessel (TCV) and sophisticated luggage containment vehicle – both developed by Nabco, USA. The main equipment of the system is a threat containment vessel (TCV) carried by robots, which is capable of containing a blast of minimum 8 kg of TNT or equivalent quantity of explosive, triggered by suspected luggage including chemicals, radioactive materials and bombs. The container is reusable as it withstands repeated detonations and size of the TCV can be adjusted with the size of the suspected baggage. In addition to TCV, the technology also comprises a remote mobile Investigator (RMI)-9WT, which is a multipurpose six-wheel vehicle with removable tracks for step climbing capability. Using fixed arm extenders, the robot can be configured for different applications such as under car searches and second-store window access.
Education and training
Since 2008, CIAL has been the first airport to venture into providing higher education in aviation management and technical areas to overcome the shortage of skilled manpower in the aviation industry. CIAL has teamed up with the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to start two schools in aviation education.
CIAL Aviation Academy provides two-year management degrees in aviation and airport management, operations, economics, finance and human resources, along with short-term aviation oriented vocational diplomas. The academy also trains technical manpower required for airport operations. Air India Express has its temporary stewards grooming and training center in the facility.
Aviation Security Training Institute – The Aviation Security Training Institute (ASTI), envisioned by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security has been inaugurated in February 2014. The institute has state-of-the-art facilities like X-ray simulators (21), explosive model room, two classrooms with LCD projectors and other training infrastructures. Explosive model rooms display different types of switch mechanism to trigger explosion. Library consists of CDs, catering to International Civil Aviation With the establishment of ASTI in Kochi, employees and management personnel from Mangalore, Kozhikode, Coimbatore, Trichy, Madurai and Thiruvananthapuram airports can take training here. Employees of the proposed Kannur international airport are also likely to be trained here.
CIAL is located between National Highway 544 (NH 544), one of the main highways of South India, and the Main Central Road (MC Road), one of the State Highways of Kerala. An expressway is planned from NH 49 to the MC Road to facilitate faster transport. Though the main railway line is only about 500 meters from the airport, the nearest station is Angamaly about 8 km away.
Cochin airport has dedicated air-taxi services for passengers to travel to major pilgrim destinations in Kerala as well as to cities like Trivandrum and in northern Kerala like Kozhikode. In association with Bharat Airways, it provides scheduled air-taxi services to Sabarimala.
One of the main projects for the future of the airport was the CIAL Aerotropolis, or Airport City, with a total area of 202 hectares (500 acres). The Aerotropolis was proposed by its founder, V.J. Kurien, to ensure additional revenue sources for the growth of the company and to increase airport traffic through tourism and allied activities. The Aerotropolis first began in Nedumbassery and nearby villages, aimed to convert into a self-sustainable town, with the airport forming the core element with a residential zone. Work on the Aerotropolis commenced in 2007, and most of the aerotropolis has been completed, as of 2023.
Manufacturing and business zone
The master plan envisages the creation of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for aircraft-allied industries, especially spare parts and OEM manufacturing units, an airline research and development center, workshops and service zones. In addition to this an Information Technology Park, with dedicated airline support technology, design and development centers is also proposed. An integrated logistics center and central container freight station are planned at the cargo village.
CIAL's proposal for establishing the SEZ was approved by the Board of Approval of SEZs in 2008; however, work is yet to start due to the global recession. The project is estimated was started in August 2011, and some parts are completed, as of 2023.
CIAL solar power project
The CIAL Solar Power Project is a 15 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) power station built by CIAL. Cochin International Airport became the first fully solar-powered airport in the world with the commissioning of the plant.
The plant comprises 46,150 solar panels laid across 18 ha (45 acres) near the international cargo complex, and was installed by the German-based Bosch. It is capable of generating 50,000 units of electricity daily, and is equipped with a supervisory control and data acquisition system (SCADA), through which remote monitoring is carried out. The project components include PV modules of 265 watt-peak (Wp) capacity manufactured by Renesola, and inverters of 1 MW capacity manufactured by ABB India.
The plant is coupled with a 1.1 MW solar plant that was commissioned in 2013, the first megawatt scale installation of a solar PV system in Kerala. This plant was installed by Emvee Photovoltaic Power Pvt. Ltd., consisting of 4,000 monocrystalline modules of 250 Wp and 33 string inverters of 30 kW capacity each.
CIAL has doubled solar production to 28.8 MW of power production within 2 years as part an ambitious plan to expand solar power, with 3 major projects under construction. The first came up over a 3.4 km-long (2.1 mi) canal close to the airport, the second was through development of India's first solar carport roof utility plan and the third will use ground level panels on open space near the airport.
Accidents and incidents
- On 30 July 1998, Indian Airlines Flight 503, a Dornier 228 from Agathi, crashed into a building after takeoff, killing all six people on board and three more people in the building.
- On 25 April 2010, Emirates Flight EK 530, a Boeing 777-200 from Dubai, dropped around 61 metres (200 ft) during heavy turbulence as the aircraft entered a thick cumulonimbus cloud while on its descent. 20 passengers were injured and some internal damage was caused to the plane. The aircraft was on descent into Kochi when the incident occurred. There were 350 passengers and 14 crew on board.
- On 25 August 2011, a 13-year-old boy was found roaming around the runway area, raising questions about the security system of the airport.
- On 29 August 2011, Gulf Air Flight GF 270, an Airbus A320 from Bahrain, carrying 137 passengers skidded off the runway at 3:55 am during its descent. The reason for the crash is suspected to be the heavy rain at the time. The aircraft had been said to have slipped off the runway and landed nose first. The aircraft broke one of its wings while landing and stalled air traffic for hours. Passengers after the crash, in chaos, were reported to have jumped from the aircraft through emergency exit doors even before stairways were brought into place. The crash caused seven minor injuries and two serious injuries due to the chaos that followed.
- On 4 September 2017, Air India Express Flight IX 452, a Boeing 737-800 which arrived from Abu Dhabi, got stuck in the drain canal while taxiing to the international terminal 3 after landing. Passengers and crew were safely evacuated. The incident happened when the pilot took a wrong turn from the parallel taxiway, almost 90 meters before the link taxiway through which the aircraft was supposed to vacate.
- In 2018, an Indigo employee and his friend were nabbed after it was discovered they used a fake ID.
2018 Kerala floods
As a consequence of 2018 Kerala floods, the airport was closed 14–29 August 2018. Water in the Periyar, which flows 500 metres (1,640 ft) away from the airport, rose to 1,433 mm (4.7 ft) during these days. The runway and other facilities were non-functional due to excessive flooding and inclement weather. Flights to Kochi were diverted to and were operating from other airports in the state like Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. From 20 August 2018, INS Garuda (a naval airbase in Kochi) was used as a civilian airport for small aircraft operations to neighbouring cities like Bangalore, Chennai, and Coimbatore. The airport reopened on 29 August 2018, 14:00 Indian Standard Time (UTC+05:30). It suffered an estimated loss of ₹3 billion (US$38 million) during the closed period.
2019 Kerala floods
As a consequence of 2019 Kerala floods, water flooding the runway due to the heavy rains led to temporary suspension of airport operations from 8 August 2019 to 12:00 Indian Standard Time on 11 August 2019.
Awards and accolades
Cochin International Airport achieved major international recognition in 2015 when it became the first fully solar-powered airport in the world. In 2017, it also became the first airport in the world to implement a solar carport, a parking bay with rooftop solar panels. The airport was selected as "the best non-metro airport in India" in 2016 by the Air Passengers Association of India. The airport has also won numerous awards for energy conservation, productivity and infrastructure. In July 2018, the airport was selected for the Champion of the Earth award, the highest environmental honour instituted by the United Nations.
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