Air India to Restore Cancelled Flights

Saturday, 27th October 2012 at 02:32am

Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express would soon restore all its flights from Kerala's three hubs to various Middle East destinations, as promised last month by Federal Civil Aviation Minister Ajith Singh.

According to Shashi Tharoor, a Parliament member from Trivandrum, the promise was made after the Minister caught hundreds of passengers stranded in the state after their flights were canceled without notice.

Minister Ajit Singh also assured the public that there will be no more canceled flights in the future. The Minister was also reportedly planning to visit Kerala to see for himself the problems facing air travelers from the state to the Middle East.

Lately, Air India and Air India Express have canceled their respective flights out of the state's three major hubs, Cochin, Calicut and Trivandrum causing their passengers to get upset by such sudden cancellations without prior notice. In last month alone, a total of 168 flights were canceled.

The last straw came when AIE canceled a flight without prior advice from Trivandrum to Sharjah at the last minute, thereby stranding its passengers for hours in the airport.

Officials from Air India met with people's representatives (including Tharoor) to propose alternative arrangements after a series of protests from passengers affected by canceled flights. Tharoor made a report to the Minister that in one week alone, six flights were canceled by the airline and that it caused so much inconvenience to the passengers.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, on the other hand, told the media that the Civil Aviation Minister made a promise to study the proposal by the state government for the relaxation of the norms to put up an international carrier to serve the needs of Keralites, numbering about two million, seeking employment in the Gulf.

The current aviation law requires carriers, planning to fly to international destinations, to have at least 20 aircraft in its fleet and at least five years in the commercial aviation business. The present statute hinders the state's plan to fly overseas with its own airline, called Air Kerala, having only five aircraft in its fleet.

The matter was already relayed to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during his visit to Cochin on September 12 following the inauguration of Emerging Kerala 2012 summit.

As soon as the cabinet agrees to relax the current aviation law, the state government might be able to launch its airline in early 2013. The board of directors of the state's newest airline held its first meeting in Cochin and had decided to lease five aircraft in its initial phase.

Air Kerala will be jointly owned by the state government and the Cochin International Airport Ltd or (CIACL).

The new airline will have a unique business model wherein its passengers will become shareholders themselves of the company. By flying Air Kerala, passengers will not only enjoy discounts but also earn profit as shareholders.

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