The Air Kerala project has got a new pair of wings with the Ministry of Civil Aviation deciding to initiate talks with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to relax the rules regarding fleet size and operational experience.
The Union Minister for Finance P Chidambaram had recently announced his support for a suggestion made by the civil aviation minister Ajit Singh in favour of relaxing the restrictions. At present, only an airline company having an operational experience of five years and a fleet of 20 aircrafts could operate international service. This rule had dampened the spirit of Air Kerala, which was eyeing international operations, because domestic operations were unviable.
The Air Kerala International Services Limited, registered in 2006 as a subsidiary of Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), had incurred huge losses as the company was not able to start operations. The flights operated by the company could be a boon for Keralites working in the Gulf region, who often allege exploitation by airline companies.
“If Air Kerala is allowed to operate international flights, with a limited fleet, the people of Kerala can travel to Gulf countries by paying a reasonable fare,” he said.
Poulose K Mathew, Chairman, Travel Agencies Federation of India (Kerala), said it is high time that the aircraft operation rules in the county are amended. “We are still using the rules framed in 1937,” he said.
Poulose Mathew said the government while making the amendment, should ensure that companies have the expertise to operate the airline. “The CIAL is a good example, which has the expertise to operate the service and Air Kerala, if introduced, will enable those seeking job abroad ro fly at a low cost,” he said.