Giving wings to the long forgotten dream of starting a budget airline called ‘Air Kerala’, the non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the UAE and other Gulf countries are planning to float a new private airline. With the project coming into effect, it will address the travel woes faced by the South Indian community.
The proposal of starting a budget airline, was first floated at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in New Delhi five years ago. But it was not granted permission by the Central Government as the proposal did not meet the criterion of the existing provisions which permit an Indian carrier to operate International services - a minimum fleet size of 20 aircraft and experience of five years of continuous operations in the domestic sector.
The idea has gained momentum with M A Yusuff Ali, chairman, EMKE Group, resigning from the Director Board of Air India on Saturday.
Though the official release from the EMKE group stated the hardships faced by the NRIs, unjustified fare hikes and irregular services as the main reasons behind the resignation, the observers in the aviation industry see it as a planned decision by Yusuff Ali to head the new venture ‘Air Kerala’.They are of the opinion that with the much-awaited initiative, Emerging Kerala, round the corner, the ‘Air Kerala’ movement gaining prominence is a major pointer in this regard.
Yusuff Ali was appointed to the board of Air India as an independent director in May, 2010.
In a press release, he said that the non-cooperative attitude of some sections of the employees and executives was always a hindrance to the revival of Air India. “I will try to garner more support for the ‘Air Kerala’ venture during the forthcoming Emerging Kerala meet,” Yusuff Ali said.
According to reports the NRIs claim that they have the support of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for the ‘Air Kerala’ project.If all goes well, lakhs of expatriates from Kerala can heave a sigh of relief after the Emerging Kerala conclave with the formation of ‘Air Kerala’.