Kochi: Air Kerala, the state government's proposed airline, would start operations with five leased aircraft flying to the Middle East, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said in Kochi on Friday.
"The Middle East is the place where we have our people in large numbers and the need of the hour is to come to their help by operating flights with budget fares to suit the common man. Hence, we will start operations to the Middle East countries with five leased aircrafts," Mr Chandy told reporters at the 'Emerging Kerala' investor meet.
"We see an initial investment of Rs.200 crore, of which 26 percent would come from the state government and the rest through issue of shares priced at Rs 10,000 per share, open to the general public and also to other institutions."
Addressing reporters after the first meeting of the reconstituted board of directors, he said the idea was first mooted by his government in 2005. The Left government that followed did not take this up when it assumed office in 2006.
"We have with us a report prepared by Ernst & Young in 2005. We have already entrusted them to update that report and get back to us," said Mr Chandy.
The Chief Minister said that his cabinet had briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the urgent need for his intervention because an airline should have successfully operated in the domestic sector for five years to start international operations and should also own a stipulated number of aircraft.
"We just want these two conditions to be waived because in the past this was done when Air India started operations with their subsidiary company Air India Express. He (the Prime Minister) has asked (advisor) T.K.A. Nair to look into these aspects. We are expecting things to get moving real fast," added Mr Chandy.
Air Kerala will be set up as a subsidiary of the country's first private-public funded Cochin International Airport Limited.