Kochi: Kerala’s hopes of taking its dream budget airline, Air Kerala, to the skies have been rekindled with Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajith Singh promising that the controversial rule that an Indian carrier must be five-years-old and have 20 aircraft in its fleet to fly abroad, could be discarded by next month.
Ajith Singh said the Civil Aviation Ministry would seek the Union Cabinet’s approval in this regard next month.
Air Kerala has been in hibernation for the past one year after a core team was constituted in November 2012 by CIAL managing director and director of Air Kerala, V.J. Kurien, comprising experts from CIAL in association with project advisor Ernst and Young, to work on the project.
The team was headed by CIAL Assistant General Manager C.Dinesh Kumar and two others. Ernst and Young was expected to submit the Detailed Project Report.
However, after December 2012, the Kerala Government developed cold feet on the proposal after it was found that running domestic services alone for five years wouldn’t be a viable proposition for the airliner. Since then, it has been pressurizing the Central Government to waive the 5/20 clause.
“Six months ago, the Union Civil Aviation Minister had made a similar announcement but nothing happened. Let a decision come from the Union Cabinet waiving the rule and then we can spell out our plans. Air Kerala is fully prepared to start overseas services,” V. J. Kurien told DC on Wednesday.
While desi carriers faced stiff conditions on flying abroad, many foreign start-ups had their launch flights to India which is learnt to have now prompted Ajith Singh to act in this regard.
The proposals of a few private players like Tata-Air Asia budget JV and Tata-Singapore Airlines (SIA) full service carrier and low-cost carrier GoAir, that does not have 20 aircraft in its fleet, are waiting for the waiver of the rule.