India Business
Air Kerala request rejected, opposition blames government
Mar 13, 2007 - 9:48:04 PM

New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, March 13 - The central government has turned down Kerala's request to allow its proposed airline Air Kerala to fly abroad even as the opposition in the state blamed the state government for failing to do its homework.

'The government of Kerala has informed that a public limited company, Air Kerala International Services Ltd, has been registered by the state government as a special purpose vehicle - for a budget airline project,' Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday.

The Kerala government had requested the civil aviation ministry to exempt Air Kerala from the conditions relating to fleet size and length of operations in the domestic sector for an airline to be considered for international operations, he added.

The ministry did not consider the request as the existing provisions of minimum fleet size of 20 aircraft and experience of five years of continuous operations in the domestic sector for permitting an Indian carrier to operate international services 'are considered essential for safe and reliable operations on international routes', the minister pointed out.

Besides, the Gulf routes that the new airline intends to take up are presently reserved only for Air India and Indian, Patel added.

A large number of people from the state are working in the Gulf countries and the state government wishes to provide more air connections to them with the proposed airline.

In his reaction, Kerala's Leader of Opposition and former chief minister Oommen Chandy flayed the V.S. Achuthanandan government for failing to lobby with the centre in the matter.

Chandy said it was he who had had worked out the proposal when he was in office and put maximum pressure to see that it became a reality.

'The sanction had to be accorded by the civil aviation ministry only by bypassing the current norms. For that, it is the responsibility of the state to bring pressure.

'But the Kerala government failed miserably and no wonder we lost what would have been a great boon for the thousands of Keralites who work in the Middle-East,' Chandy told IANS.

'We had worked out a blueprint and the present Left Democratic Front government due to its callous attitude has virtually lost the project,' added Chandy.

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