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Proposed Kerala airline hits airpocket

International flights not permitted for proposed budget airline Air Kerala.


March 15, 2007: Air Kerala has not yet become a reality, but set backs are already in. The Centre has turned down Kerala’s request to allow its proposed airline Air Kerala to fly abroad.

According to the civil aviation minister Praful Patel, his 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, a report said.

The Kerala government had earlier registered a public limited company, Air Kerala International Services Ltd, as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for a budget airline project. The state’s request to 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, however has been turned down.

A large number of people from the state are working in the Gulf and the Kerala government looked forward to provide more air connectivity on the route. A clause that stands in the way of Air Kerala’s hopes is that the Gulf routes that the new airline intends to take up are presently reserved only for Air-India and Indian.

Meanwhile, the Kerala’s Leader of Opposition and former chief minister Oommen Chandy seemd to have seen a opportunity here and lambasted the V S Achuthanandan government for failing to lobby with the Centre in the matter.

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