KOCHI: With its proximity to major pilgrim centres, Kochi is the perfect gateway for Sabarimala devotees from other states and even countries. No wonder then that airport here is seeing an influx of passengers this ‘mandalam’ season.
On the back of a rise in the number of devotees taking a flight to Kochi en route to the Sabarimala shrine, the Cochin International Airport Limited is witnessing a quantum jump in passenger movement since November 17. About 60 per cent of this growth is on account of the flow of pilgrims who are opting for an air travel despite an upward spike in ticket prices, say airport officials.
“Unlike the preceding years, the number of pilgrims departing through here have also been on the higher side which also contributed to this growth,” said a senior airport official. The arrival of devotees in the season has been well beyond the expected levels with an average of 900 pilgrims using the airport on a daily basis.
The figure is expected to touch the 1,500, especially during the days preceding the Makaravilakku festival.
When compared to the figures last year, passenger flow in the international sector increased by 9,778 while that in the domestic sector by 11,833 passengers during the two weeks starting from November 17, when the season took off. In domestic sector, the largest number of devotees is from Hyderabad, followed by Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai.
In the international sector, a large number of devotees are coming in from Malaysia and Singapore.
“All the four daily flights from Kuala Lumpur are packed to the capacity and traffic in the sector has reached such a point that Malindo Air, a low cost carrier from Malaysia is planning to operate an additional flight in the sector from next week onwards,” officials said.
Given the flow of devotees through the airport, the Travancore Devaswom Board has opened a facilitation centre in the domestic arrival hall of the Cochin International Airport Limited.
The help desk offers assistance to the pilgrims on their onward journey to the shrine from the airport .