KOCHI: The Kerala government’s ambitious plan to operate low-cost chartered flights from the Gulf region during peak seasons, such as Onam, seems to be facing challenges. Government sources said the approval of the proposal by the Centre is highly unlikely due to the existing regulations. Chartered flights are typically operated only for evacuation or pilgrimage purposes.
“Moreover, the bilateral air service agreement with foreign countries already allocates pre-fixed quotas for operating services to Indian cities. Allowing additional chartered flights could potentially disrupt normal airline operations between the UAE and Kerala,” sources added.
The state government’s request is currently pending before the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Prof K V Thomas, the Kerala government’s special representative in Delhi, acknowledged that airlines often increase airfares during peak seasons.
“The matter has been discussed with the Aviation Ministry several times, but they responded by saying they have no role in controlling the airfares anymore,” said Thomas, adding that he would take up the matter on behalf of the state government with the Aviation Ministry after he reaches Delhi.
The proposed plan involves operating 175-seat chartered flights at a low cost during festive and peak seasons from the Gulf region to Kerala in partnership with Norka Roots. The aim is to combat the foreign airlines’ practice of hiking airfares during the festive season, which significantly impacts blue-collar expats, making it difficult for them to travel during these times.
“As of now, progress on the project has been minimal, awaiting approval from the Civil Aviation Ministry. The Central government’s approval is required at both technical and operational levels. Once approval is granted, decisions on various aspects, such as destinations in the UAE and Kerala, airfares and operational dates, will be made,” Norka sources said.
In an effort to secure the necessary permission, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the principal secretary of the Industries and Norka department have written to the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation, requesting permission to operate chartered flights between the UAE and India from August 15 to September 15, adhering to the stipulated CAR (Civil Aviation Requirements) of 30 days under ITP (International Travel Permits) provisions.