Kerala to have its very own airline for Gulf diaspora?

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Oommen Chandy
New Delhi, Nov 22: Taking into consideration the rising airfare and the various other troubles encountered by Keralites, especially those traveling in the Gulf sector has more reason to cheer. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is considering a proposal to start an airline intending to provide low-cost travel options to the large diaspora that has made the Gulf their home.

Speaking on the thought, Chandy said that he will pursue the matter with the Central govt and said, "We are at the moment concentrating on our fourth international airport at Kannur. Once that is done, we will pursue the airline option. We have not given up on the idea of a low-cost carrier."

He added, "We have also brought down the minimum level of investment in the Kannur airport project to Rs 50,000 from Rs 200,100 for individual investors." Chandy added that this was a major request from investors after he resumed office of the CM for the second time around.

The project will be implemented under the public-private partnership and will be set up by a consortium in which 26% of the equity will rest with the government, 23% with public sector units, 2% with other institutions and the remaining 49% with private players.

The airline when up and running is expected to serve an annual traffic of more than one million international passengers and 300,000 domestic passengers as per 2009-2010 estimates. The Kannur airport will also act as an air cargo hub for perishables like flowers, vegetables, fruit and seafood. Kannur was recently named as one of the 10 best cities in India to live with 13% of its population employed overseas. The airport is slated to come up on a 2,000-acre area and is expected to be operational from 2013.

Kerala already has three other international airports at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. The state has close to four million of its residents living overseas with a good majority of them living in Gulf countries.

Taking the opportunity to slam the earlier UPA govt in the state that had laid down guidelines to operate the airline that stated that the project should have a fleet of five planes, and five years of domestic operations with no operations to the Gulf, Chandy commented, "We said Air India Express with just two planes was allowed. Within three months, it got permission to fly to the Gulf. They said it is an Air India subsidiary. We said, okay we accept, but you also have to accept this -- this is a state government airline."

OneIndia News

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