Kochi, Sep 13 (IANS) The first meeting of the newly-constituted board of directors of Air Kerala will be held here Friday, said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy while discussing the speedy take-off of the Kerala government-sponsored airline.
Chandy was speaking to reporters at the Emerging Kerala investor meet after he submitted a list of urgent demands of the state government to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Among the items on the list was clearances required from the central government for the setting up of Air Kerala.
"For the past 35 years, Keralites have been demanding reduced airfares and better connectivity to the Middle East, where a large number of people from the state work. Air India also did not come to our help. We have now requested the prime minister to see that two conditions are waived so that Air Kerala can start operations," Chandy said.
To start international operations, an airline should have successfully operated in the domestic sector for five years; it should also own a stipulated number of aircraft.
"Air India Express, when it started, got these rules relaxed on the ground that it was a government company and a subsidiary of Air India. We also seek the same exemption," Chandy said.
Air Kerala was first conceived of by the then Chandy government in 2005. At that time, it had four board members. "There are now seven members on the board, including ministers from the state. Tomorrow (Friday) the modalities would be discussed and we plan to see that a lakh of shares are kept for non-resident Keralites because we have conceived this as an airline of Malayalees," Chandy said.
Air Kerala will be set up as a subsidiary of the country's first private-public funded Cochin International Airport Limited.
An announcement to this effect is expected to be made Friday at the special session of non-resident Keralites that is part of the ongoing three-day Emerging Kerala meet that was inaugurated here Wednesday by the prime minister.