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Kerala mulling budget airline to Gulf

Manu A B in Mumbai | January 09, 2005 16:02 IST

The Government of Kerala is planning to start a budget airline to the Gulf region, Chief Minister Oomen Chandy has said.

Responding to the demand for such an airline from delegates at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2005, he said the state was in the process of seeking the Centre's permission for starting it.

The state government is very gung-ho about the project, more so after the government decided to open up the foreign skies for domestic airlines. With about 15 lakh Keralites in the region, the cash-strapped Kerala government hopes the airline will be a profitable venture.

Currently, Air India is the only national carrier operating flights to the region. And though it has got permission to fly a low-cost airline from March 2005, Air India has excluded the Gulf region from the scheme, Chandy pointed out.

"The budget airline will be on the lines of the Nedumbassery international airport, which was the first airport in the country to be built with NRI funds," Chandy said. He said the success of the airport had made the state to look into the prospect of entering into the competitive airline business.

The Government of Kerala expects NRI support in the airline project also. The state hopes that most of the Rs 500 crore initial investment required will come from NRIs.

The airline will be aimed at the lower and middle class people among the 3.5 million NRIs in the Gulf, Chandy said.

The delegates at the PBD 2005 said a budget airline would be a dream come true.

"There are lots of NRIs who would want to come to India more frequently if the fares are made more affordable,'' Damodaran Moosed, an NRI based in Abu Dhabi, said.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2005: The Complete Coverage

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