THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: There is good news for Kerala expats travelling frequently. Soon, they will be able to fly from the country to any global destination at discounted rates. Norka-Roots, a public sector undertaking of the Non-Resident Keralites (NRK) Affairs Department, has entered into negotiations in this regard with major air carriers, including Emirates, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Indigo and others.
“We will soon ink a pact with Qatar Airways. Negotiations with Emirates, Kuwait and Indigo are progressing at the right pace,” said K Varadarajan, resident vice-chairman, Norka-Roots. In August, Norka had entered into a pact with Oman Air which assured seven per cent cut in airfare for their travel to or from India.
Varadarajan said once Norka and Qatar Airways enter into an agreement, the latter can offer NRK a 10 per cent cut in airfare, which could be availed for return flights also. “The offer can be availed by NRKs possessing the Norka-issued identity card. In our agreement with Oman Air, we didn’t have the space for bargaining. However, with Qatar Airways willing to provide a 10 per cent discount, we expect others to follow suit,” Varadarajan said.
Norka-Roots CEO Harikrishnan Namboothiri said discussions were mainly being held with airlines offering services to Gulf countries. NRK Affairs Department feels the cut in airfare will provide some respite to those expats who travel three to four times a year.
‘Discounted rates are not a permanent solution’
Kerala Pravasi Welfare Board chairman P T Kunhimohammed told Express, “It is known that forces of demand and supply govern airfares. Ensuring discounted rates cannot be surmised as an everlasting solution.”
“The key is to develop the Cochin International Airport in Nedumbassery as an international hub. This will mean arrival of more international airlines to the state, which will positively impact the fluctuating airfare, " Kunhimohammed said.
Earlier, while handling complaints on skyrocketing airfare, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had said travel by air was a contractual matter between the airline and the passenger and was commercial in nature. It had also highlighted that as per the prevailing regulation, every air transport undertaking engaged in scheduled air services was free to establish tariffs having regard to all relevant factors, including the cost of operation, generally prevailing tariff and others.