Thiruvananthapuram: The decision of non-resident Keralite businessman Yousuf Ali M.A. to quit from the board of India’s national carrier Air India following disappointment about not being able to do much for improving air travel option of Keralites in the Gulf, has breathed new life into the six-year-old dream, Air Kerala.
Yousuf Ali, chairman of the LuLu group said that he was stepping down from the board of Air India because he was “pained” that he could not contribute much to easing the commuting travails of Keralite families in the Gulf, and particularly so despite his role as a businessman based in the Middle East.
“In the current situation, fares are increased at the whim of airlines and hurting passengers” he said, adding that it was a sorry sight to see Keralite families with children stranded at airports seeking those elusive air tickets at reasonable prices.
Yousuf Ali said he had put forth a proposal for Kerala’s own airline named Air Kerala six years ago when Oommen Chandy was chief minister in his first tenure in that post. The LuLu chairman is now hoping to realise that dream, and is stepping down from the Air India director board so as not to be on the board of a competing airline simultaneously.
The development comes, incidentally, at a time when hopes have been revived about an international airport at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district, piloted by Chennai-based KGS group and conceived as India’s first fully private greenfield airport project. In addition, there is the Kannur International Airport which is proposed to be established as a public-private venture. The two airports will take Kerala’s international airports to five, the highest for any Indian state.
There has been some opposition to the Aranmula airport from green activists, but the project seems poised to go ahead, with both the ruling United Democratic Front and the opposition Left Democratic Front having given their nod for the project.
The time may also be ripe for Air Kerala in the backdrop of a vacuum in the Indian skies following the financial setbacks to Kingfisher airlines and the problems plaguing the national carrier Air India, which is also saddled with billions of rupees in debt.