The take off of CIAL as a project, was never an easy task. AAI, the authority vested with the construction and operation of airports in India, expressed their inability in building an airport in Kochi. Kochi, at the centre of Kerala was having a Naval runway with a runway length of 4500 ft was inadequate to provide facilities for big aircrafts. This was the very reason why there was proposal to expand the length of runway. But the meeting held in Delhi under the Chairmanship of then Union Civil Aviation Minister Shri Madhava Rao Scindia, after seeing the mammoth financial expense and the difficulties, suggested to have another Airport purely for the operation of Civil Aircraft. This was the seed for today’s CIAL.
The initial hindrance was the selection of suitable land and the team headed by Shri VJ Kurian, IAS selected couple of places and this was the time when Aluva Tahsildar Mr Raman Nair proposed Nedumbassery for the consideration. It was the destiny for Nedumbassery and the study found Nedumbassery is the most suitable place for an Airport.
Then came the shocking news that Central Govt was not having fund for the creation of new airport. Shri. VJ Kurian, IAS, Special Officer for the Airport decided to float shares and to collect money from the State Govt, PSUs and also from the general public.
With equity participation from the Government of Kerala, Industrialists, NRIs, Financial Institutions, Airport Service Providers and the Public, the Cochin International Airport Limited thus came into being as a model enterprise with the first International Airport in India outside the ambit of the Government of India, the first of its kind in the history of civil aviation in India.
The first aircraft by Air India commenced its international operation on 10th June 1999 to Damam. The Air India Jumbo Jet Boeing 747 touched down for the first time in Kerala on 21 June 1999. Domestic flight started on 01st July 1999. Today, 16 International Airlines and 9 Domestic Airlines are operating from CIAL.