Air Kerala, a state government promoted venture, is set to become a reality in April next year. It remains to be seen how the Directorate General of Civil Aviation reacts to offer Air Kerala a license to fly first, after which the five-year mandatory rule will have to be overcome to enable it to fly overseas
Conceived in 2004 by Oommen Chandy, salted away in 2006, Air Kerala has now been revived after he became chief minister, and is set to fly on 14 April 2013. It is a not wishful thinking of a Keralite but a Vishu undertaking, determined to settle scores with Air India which has been charging high rates on the Gulf sector, affecting the large population of Keralites working in the Middle East.
The Air India drama last week, has now precipitated the resolve and is certain that expeditious moves are afoot to ensure that Air Kerala is a reality that will takes its wings on Vishu day.
The unfortunate incident, if the media reports are to be believed, has been blown out of proportion due to inept handling of the irate passengers, who apparently had poor customer service from the very outset. The flight itself was inordinately delayed before it took off from Abu Dhabi. The upset passengers may have had arguments with the cabin crew, who were also subject to insults for no fault of theirs, and, when the commander of the aircraft had sufficient safety concerns to divert the plane, announcements may have been made only just prior to touching down at Thiruvananthapuram. The full story will become known once an internal investigation is carried out and the report is made public.
Expressing the right of the state government to establish an airline with 26% holding, with the balance equity being made easily available (or secured) from NRIs working in the Middle East, it will be a cake-walk for Air Kerala to become operative. There are an estimated three million Keralites working in Gulf countries, a large number of them living in this area fore decades now. Almost every single family has at least one or more of the family working in the Middle East.
Although there is a general mandatory requirement of five years of successful domestic service before an airline is allowed to “go overseas”, there has been exception to the rules in the case of Air India Express, where this was waived on the pretext of it being a subsidiary of the national carrier—Air India.
It remains to be seen how the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) reacts to offer Air Kerala’s license to fly first, after which only the five-year mandatory rule will have to be overcome. Any leniency by DGCA will set a precedent with applications coming in for Dravida Vimanam, Air Deccan or Vayu Karanataka, Andhra Air, Punjab Express, Maratha Speedways and Gujarat Airways. And, Air India will disintegrate or find itself as a minor working partner with some of these airlines. Consolidation and regrouping of airlines, mergers and acquisitions can be expected in the next 12-18 months at best.
There is no doubt that Air India has a strong technical and commercial base. Why is the government not thinking in terms of selling out the national airline or allow it to branch out, in a manner of spin off, into regional airlines and letting the survival of the fittest?
And how will Air Kerala operate? Successfully and profitably because of full occupancy in all flights. The bulk of Air India’s passengers have been Keralites from the Gulf and they will now fly directly from their Middle Eastern locations to main airports in Kerala without having to stop over at Mumbai, Chennai or Bangalore or even Mangalore.
This airline will have all economy seats and the cabin crew will speak Malayalam also; during the holy month of pilgrimage to Sabari Malai, special food will be offered and several flights a day will take care of the rush. Similarly, their Haj flights will strictly adhere to Islamic requirements for making the holy trip a joyful experience.
In all cases, food packets will be pre-sold and collected against coupons as you enter the aircraft and drinks will be served once airborne. During the pilgrimage seasons, only soft drinks will be served apart from food requirements.
Finally, if the DGCA puts any sort of stumbling blocks due to political pressures, chances are that Air Kerala and other prospective regional airlines will come in via foreign collaborators such as Emirates, Gulf and other airlines operating from the Gulf who have been awaiting such an opportunity to enter the Indian aviation market for a long time.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)
Business houses and politicians have always been bed fellows. They are two sides of corruption at the highest levels as all scams have proved
As Yash Chopra, the man who taught the country how to fall in love passed away, entire Bollywood expressed shock and grief saying that Yashji was a legendary romantic, the poet of evergreen love and the magician who created the greatest love stories
Mumbai: The entire Hindi film industry or Bollywood is mourning the death of legendary filmmaker Yash Chopra, hailing him as one of the giants of Indian cinema and a poet of 'evergreen love', reports PTI.
Veteran actor Dilip Kumar, who acted in Chopra's 'Mashaal' (1984), tweeted, "Shattering, hard to accept. Yash was more than a friend, a brother. I am numb and have no words to express my grief."
Singer Lata Mangeshkar remembered him as a brother with jovial personality and good heart.
"Yash Chopra was like a brother to me. His filmmaking had a unique style and musically they used to be a hit. His music never used to fade. He had a jovial personality and a good person at heart. I spoke last on his birthday and after that he fell ill. I thought he will be alright," Lata said.
"Just got the news that Yashji passed on. He was one of the giants of cinema. My deepest condolences to his family. We will all miss him," posted actress Madhuri Dixit.
"Yash Uncle we will miss you. May god give peace to your soul. RIP," tweeted Preity Zinta, who worked with Chopra in 'Veer-Zara'.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt said, "Post independence, Yash Chopra's contribution to Indian cinema has been immmense. In his last project 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' he gave his everything. He was a very active man."
Shabana Azmi said, "Yashji! How could you just go? On your 80th birthday we wished for you to make 80 more films...it's heartbreaking.
"My heart goes out for his sons Adi (Aditya) and Uday. Anything that we say is so trite and inconsequential to the body of work he has done," she added.
"I'm in shock and numb, can't believe the news, the man who immortalised love, Mr Yash Chopra is no more. May his soul rest in peace. My deepest condolences to the family," tweeted actor Akshay Kumar.
"Yash Chopra passes away... Just now an hour ago," tweeted Amitabh Bachchan.
"The legendary romantic, the poet of evergreen love, the magician who created the greatest love stories... RIP Yash uncle... you will be missed!," tweeted Vivek Oberoi.
Actress Sridevi, who worked with Chopra in 'Chandni' and 'Lamhe', tweeted, "Deeply saddened by the shocking news of Yashji passing away, he was full of warmth and affection whenever we met, he will be missed forever."
Veteran singer Asha Bhosle, whose daughter Varsha passed away earlier this month, tweeted, "Just as I was getting over the grief of my daughter, my brother Yash Chopra Bhaisaab has left me. Sad year."
"My mornings will never be the same. My learnings of life will never be the same. LOVE never be the same. And cinema will NEVER be the Same. Yash ji was my anchor, my quiet strength & my father figure in Mumbai. Never realised when our relationship shifted from films to family," said Anupam Kher.
Farhan Akhtar said, "Today I understand the phrase 'The end of an era'. RIP Yash uncle."
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap said, "Yash Ji passed away before his last film came to the theatres.. Not done."
Ram Gopal Varma tweeted, "Jab tak tha yash tab tak tha cinema (Till the time Yash was there, cinema was too)."
"The man who taught the country how to fall in love passes away - you will always be with us through our work - King of Romance - RIP YASHJI," Riteish Deshmukh.
Prakash Jha said, "An institution has passed away today. He is an important chapter to the history of Indian cinema. Ironically he said two days ago that 'Jab Tak hai Jaan' is my last project. I am all numbed."
Actress Bipasha Basu said, "We lost the iconic, inspiring and always smiling Yash Chopra today. Saddened and shocked by this news.He will be missed forever. RIP Yash Uncle."
"I'm shocked and saddened by the loss of Hindi Cinema's legend - Yash ji. Romance in cinema will always be incomplete without you. RIP," said Madhur Bhandarkar.
Director Anurag Basu tweeted, "Yash Chopra - Human relations will never be the same on Indian screen... the way he potrayed, nobody did, nobody could... suppose nobody ever will."
"Saddened and numbed! Oh Yash Uncle... we will miss you," said Boman Irani.
R Madhavan said, "RIP Yash Ji. Romance and Love shall forever miss you. Farewell and may the heavens above learn Love from you."
Actress Shilpa Shetty said, "Just heard the tragic news of Yash uncle passing away. The epitome of Romance a great man... will miss him dearly."