Indian Defense Minister AK Antony has officially launched the construction work at the new international airport in Kannur, Kerala state.

The Kannur International Airport is being established with an investment of around €201m. The site spans over an area of 2,000 acres and is located 25km away from the city.

The airport is expected to cater to a large number of people from Kerala staying in the Gulf countries, while opening up opportunities for tourism.

"Work on the project was delayed due to several bottlenecks."

It will be the state’s fourth international airport and the second greenfield airport being established in public-private partnership model.

Several parties will hold a stake in the airport including Kerala state, several public sector companies, expatriate investors, while public will be offered a 16% share.

The airport will be owned by public company the Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL), with the first flight slated to take off on 31 December 2015.

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro had won the Rs15.9bn ($253.85m) contract to establish the runway and allied facilities, and the company commenced the work immediately after signing of the deal, even before the formal launch.

The KIAL is expected to award the contract for the second phase of the project involving the construction of passenger terminals and allied works soon, with the work expected to begin in May.

Although the foundation stone for the project was laid in December 2010, work on the project was delayed due to several bottlenecks.

Kerala currently has airports in Calicut, Cochin and Trivandrum, which are primarily driven by Gulf-bound migrants, and the state is also planning another airport in Aranmula.