Kerala airline plan cheered


PROPOSALS by the Indian state of Kerala to launch its own airline, Air Kerala, for Indian workers in the Gulf, was widely acclaimed by delegates at the fourth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) in the Indian city of Hyderabad recently.

State chief minister Oommen Chandy said the project was primarily aimed at poor workers who sweat it out in labour camps in the Gulf. “The Kerala cabinet has given the go-ahead for the proposal, and international consultant Ernst & Young, which conducted a study, also confirmed the project is feasible. It is now awaiting clearance from the Indian Civil Aviation ministry, which says the airline would be granted traffic rights to the Gulf only if it completes five years of domestic operations within India.”
Preference will be given to non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the Gulf to buy shares in the new airline company. “It is my dream to offer tickets at the most affordable prices and to reserve 15 to 20 seats on each flight for labourers who have not visited their families for more than five years,” added Chandy. “For them tickets will be offered at 25 per cent of the normal fare charged by our budget airline.”