Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), the company which operates Kochi International airport, is planning to enter the airline services by launching a separate company.
The director board at a meeting held on Saturday revived the proposal to commence an independent airline and entrusted its managing director, VJ Kurian, to submit a feasibility report in four months.
Air Kerala, the proposed airline, would commence operations in association with the Kerala government and would have a preliminary capital base of Rs 200 crore.
Chief minister Oommen Chandy and chairman, CIAL, informed that a company — Air Kerala International Services Limited — was already formed a year ago for the purpose.
The objective is to provide provide budget airline services to NRKs (non resident Keralites) mainly in the West Asia region. According to official statistics, 3 million Keralites are working abroad, of which 2 million are in the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries.
CIAL plans to mobilise the initial capital by issuing shares to the NRIs, especially from NRKs. Special privilege cards would be issued to the shareholders and CIAL would give concessions in the airport-based charges for the new company.
It was during the regime of the last UDF government (2001-06) that the plan to launch an airline for Kerala was mooted. But the Centre had turned it down as according to the existing provisions, a minimum fleet size of 20 aircraft and an experience of five years in the domestic sector are required for permitting an Indian carrier to operate international services.
A clause that stands in the way of Air Kerala’s hopes is the Gulf routes that the new airline intends to take up are currently reserved only for Air-India and Indian.
Kurian also informed direct services from Kochi to the US and Europe would commence soon. Talks were on with international airlines like Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France. CIAL had offered concessions in landing and parking charges for one year for these airlines. The companies had cited lower number of passengers in the business class from Kochi as the main hurdle in commencing direct services these countries.