The domestic terminal of Cochin International Airport.
Aerial view of Cochin International Airport.
Check-in counters and passenger facilities at the Cochin International Airport.
Passenger waiting area near the departure gate of CIAL.
International terminal departure concourse of CIAL.
Air India Express Boeing 737-800W parked at Cochin International Airport.


Cochin International Airport (CIAL) is the first greenfield airport in India to be built under a public-private partnership (PPP). The airport is located at Nedumbassery, 25km north-east of Cochin, Kerala. It is also the world’s first airport to operate entirely on solar power.

A new international terminal building was constructed at the airport by Larsen & Toubro to meet growing international passenger demands. Construction began in February 2014 and the terminal was officially opened in March 2017. It was completed at a cost of Rs10.8bn ($167m).

CIAL is the fifth busiest international airport in India and features an annual passenger movement of more than 8.94 million. It witnessed more than 62,000 domestic and international aircraft movements between 2016 and 2017.

The airport’s 12MW solar power plant originally came on stream in August 2015. It has a capacity to generate approximately 48,000 units of electricity a day. The plant includes 46,150 solar panels and is located across 45 acres of land near the Cargo complex.

Cochin International Airport design

CIAL occupies an area of 1,300 acres and is strategically situated near to three National Highways NH 47, NH 17 and NH 49.

The main railway line from Kanyakumari to Delhi passes through the airport and the Cochin Sea Port is also situated close by.

The airport was designed to handle any type of wide-bodied aircraft and features modern facilities combined with traditional architecture unique to Kerala.

“The airport is located at Nedumbassery, 25km north-east of Cochin, Kerala. It is also the world’s first airport to operate entirely on solar power.”


CIAL’s development was phased out on a modular basis to address future needs and reduce the initial investments.

The total development cost was estimated at approximately Rs3.15bn, including Rs850m that was acquired via a paid-up equity capital and Rs2.18bn from term loan.

Terminal features

Cochin International Airport has two modern passenger terminals, one for international and the other for domestic passengers. The international and domestic terminals cover 478,000ft² and 120,000ft² respectively.

The terminals feature fully computerised check-in counter displays, closed-circuit camera systems, and fire detection and control systems, as well as integrated flight information display system (FIDS) and a public address system.

CIAL’s international terminal efficiently handles a peak capacity of 2,400 passengers an hour. It also features India’s largest duty-free shop known as Cochin Duty Free. The domestic terminal complex has a peak hour passenger handling capacity of 800 and features a large shopping complex with 21 shops.

Passenger facilities at the airport include a waiting room, medical room, currency exchange bureau, tourism information centre, bookshop, restaurant and lounge, coffee kiosk and public conveniences.

CIAL also offers 14 well-furnished guest rooms for passengers within the airport. The business centre provides internet, photocopying, printing, fax, scanning, e-ticketing and internet calling facilities. Modern illuminated signage is provided for adequate guidance / direction in and around the terminals.

Modern, automated and computer-controlled cargo terminals are located in the cargo village, which is the airport’s cargo centre spread across 50 acres.

It features a dedicated area for the storage and handling of domestic and international cargo, including trans-shipment cargo.

“CIAL plans to develop a fully fledged airport city known as Aerotropolis, which will cover 450 acres of land.”

The cargo centre handles more than 15 scheduled and non-scheduled carriers, operating over 80 aircraft daily to major cities worldwide.

The cargo terminals accommodate aircraft loading both narrow and wide-body upper deck and narrow-body belly. They also have a warehouse and storage space of 100,000ft².

CIAL awarded a contract to air transport communications company SITA to set up common-use self-service (CUSS) kiosks in November 2010 in order to facilitate fast and convenient check-in and boarding.

The five-year contract also included the automation of passenger check-in and bag reconciliation points at the airport.

Features of the new international terminal

CIAL’s 1.5 million square feet, two-level terminal building features a 30,000ft2 concession and retail area, and is able to accommodate 4,000 passengers an hour.

The terminal features 112 check-in counters, 100 immigration counters, 19 boarding gates, 15 aero bridges and six baggage conveyer belts.

The new terminal was added to the existing international terminal to facilitate the airport’s international passengers.

CIAL security

CIAL’s security wing screens registered baggage through a BCAS-certified hold baggage screening system known as X-BIS. The hi-scan X-ray unit performs automated X-ray inspection at higher detection rate and minimised error alarm rate. The three-level, fully automatic system is able to screen hold baggage according to BCAS regulations to detect explosives.

The CIAL’s security wing also provides aircraft security services to Gulf Air, Air Arabia and Etihad Airways.


CIAL has a single runway (27 / 09) measuring 3,400m long and 45m wide. A 3,400m taxiway is also provided alongside the runway.

The runway is equipped with a Category I approach lighting system, simple approach system and precision approach path indicator.

The 807m by 125m apron comprises 16 stands and can accommodate five wide-bodied and eight narrow-bodied aircraft.

Ground transportation

Buses frequently run from the airport to major destinations in Cochin. Pre-paid taxis are available 24/7 from CIAL to most of the places in Cochin. Fully computerised, pre-paid taxi counters are located at both the domestic and international terminals.

Future projects at the CIAL

CIAL plans to develop a fully fledged airport city known as Aerotropolis, which will cover 450 acres of land. The proposed project will include an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility, an aviation academy, a selection of star and budget hotels, and a golf course.

It is also expected to comprise a convention and exhibition centre, logistics centre, amusement park and cultural village.

Contractors involved

Larsen & Tubro was contracted to carry out civil works relating to CIAL’s new international terminal.

Forest Industries Travancore supplied 1,000 single-seater teak wood sofas for the new terminal.

Dinesh Chandra R. Agarwal Infracon was awarded a deal for the construction of a four-lane road over bridge.

Bosch was awarded a contract to set up a 12MW solar plant at the Cochin International Airport.

Systemair was contracted to supply air-handling units, stair pressurisation fans, sound attenuators, grills, diffusers, cabinet exhaust fans, smoke exhaust fans, dampers and louvers for the airport development.