Kerala will soon have its own airline ‘Air Kerala’ and the formal announcement in this regard is expected to be made during the forthcoming investment meeting in Cochin during September this year.
Yousuffali MA, managing director of Abu Dhabi-based EMKE Group, which owns Lulu Hyper Markets across Gulf countries, will play a leading role in forming the new private airline. While other key stakeholders will be Government of Kerala and Gulf-based Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).
Yousuffali, who has resigned from the Air India board, is not interested for any key position in the new airline at the moment. “Position is not important, the important thing is to launch the airline as soon as possible to address travel issues of NRIs, especially based in Gulf countries,” Yousuffali told Khaleej Times.
The continued hardship being faced by the NRIs, especially in the Gulf with regard to unjustified fare hikes and irregular services are main reasons behind the resignation, he said. Yousuffali has been an independent director since May 2010 in the Air India board.
“Since my induction into the Air India Board I have tried my level best to bring change in the way the national airlines is working. But still thousands of our countrymen are getting stranded in Gulf and Indian airports due to frequent flight cancellations and delay of services and unjustified fare hikes especially in peak seasons. I really feel dejected at not being able to do justice to the faith reposed on me and I have decided to step down,” he said.
“I will continue to work towards finding better solutions for the travel issues of Gulf NRIs like reviving the proposed Air Kerala, the idea of which was first floated at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Delhi more than five years ago and I will try to garner more support for this during the forthcoming Emerging Kerala.” Yousuffali said. “It was not justified to sit in the board of one airline and promote another airline,” he said, adding: “Now I can promote the new airline.”
Formal announcement about the new airline is expected at the inaugural ‘Emerging Kerala’ investment meeting, scheduled to be held from September 12. The three-day event will be inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
The company called ‘Air Kerala’ was registered in India around four years ago. The new airline will follow the same model, which was adopted in forming Cochin International Airport — the first airport in India that was constructed with private participation, outside the ambit of Airport Authority of India.
The Government of Kerala, Non-Resident Indians from over 30 countries, Travelling Public, Financial Institutions, Airport service providers and others are the major stakeholders in the Cochin airport. It is the busiest and largest airport in the state of Kerala. For the financial year 2011-12, it was the fourth busiest airport in India in terms of international passenger traffic ferrying 2.6 million passengers and seventh busiest in terms of overall passenger traffic carrying 4.7 million passengers.