Thiruvananthapuram: Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri has called a meeting of MPs from Kerala in Parliament complex on Thursday to discuss the issues connected with airports, exorbitant airfare in Gulf sector and proposed privatisation of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.
Though the Union Cabinet on Wednesday did not discuss the privatisation of Thiruvanantha-puram international airport, it is yet to take a call on the request made by the state government on handing over operations. It plans to take a decision based on facts on record and the bid received.
The Union minister has clarified that there was no move to privatise Karipur airport.
Earlier, the chief minister had requested the Centre to handover the airport to state government for operation. On this issue most UDF MPs are also on the same page.
The Centre had in 2018 accorded ‘in- principle’ approval for leasing of six airports of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) — including Thiruvananthapuram — for operation, management and development through public private partnership mode.
The MPs from Kerala said the issue of exorbitant fares in Kerala-Gulf sector would be raised at the meeting prominently. It is alleged that during vacations when Malayalis return home in big numbers, the airfares are increased by 200 to 400 per cent by airlines companies. “There is no ceiling. Fares are hiked in an uncontrolled manner. This is done to meet the losses incurred during off season. While there is a ceiling in reducing fares, no such limit when it comes to hiking the fares,” said LDF MP A M Ariff.
While the air companies try to take advantage of the passenger rush in this sector, the MPs point out that majority of the people working in Gulf are on low salaries and they cannot afford the hike in airfares.
“The meeting Kerala MPs with union civil aviation minister will discuss the inflated air fares. This meeting has been convened on the request of MPs to take up matters related to the state,” V. Muraleedharan, union minister of State for external affairs said.
Ariff said apart from air fares, the issue of more international, domestic connectivity will we taken up with the minister. “We also need more intra state connectivity involving major airports. The seats for trains connecting major cities and towns not available for even months, air travel could be an option especially for those who prefer to travel by AC compartments,” he said.
Apart from collective demands, the MPs will also submit separate memorandum regarding the specific needs of their respective areas.