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Cabinet nod for airline plan

Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Cabinet on Wednesday accepted the detailed project report for starting `Kerala Airways', a joint sector company for operating overseas flights, especially to the Gulf countries. The report will now be sent for approval of the Union Government.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters here that clearance from the Union Government on three counts would be needed for the State Government to start the airlines. The Centre should exempt the proposed company from the stipulation that it should have a fleet of 20 aircraft and five years experience in operating domestic services. The Airways proposed to start international services with a fleet of four to five aircraft. The Centre should also issue necessary notification extending its open skies policy to three airports of Kerala.

Replying to questions, the Chief Minister said it was highly discriminatory on the part of the Union Government to have excluded the three airports in the State from the open skies policy. This was on account of objection raised by Air-India. The airfare to the Gulf sector was high on account of this. Mr. Chandy said airports in the State had facilities if the Centre permitted international flights to be operated by private airlines from there. The Government was trying its best to persuade the Union Government to do that so that fares would come down. He said the new airlines proposed by the State Government would not operate in competition with Air-India. Air-India would be a partner. Much of the equity for the company would be raised from overseas Keralites.

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