Several non-resident Indian (NRI) businessmen in the Gulf have demanded that private investors must get a majority stake in a public limited company set up to develop and manage the proposed new international airport at Kannur in Kerala.

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, also the Chairman of the company who presided over an investors’ meeting in Thiruvananthapuram recently, said their demand would be considered at the next meeting of the Board of Directors of the Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL).

Prominent NRIs who attended the meeting include Yousuffali M.A. of the UAE-based Emke group, P. Mohammed Ali of Galfar group, Oman, and C.K. Menon of the Doha-based Behzad group.

Yousuffali and Ali are also Directors of the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIA) in which private individuals and institutions hold the majority stake.

According to a report in the Gulf Times, the government has decided to hold 26 per cent equity in KIAL and allot 23 per cent shares to public sector undertakings and 2 per cent to government-promoted companies that are not PSUs, limiting the stake of private institutions and individuals to 49 per cent.

KIAL Managing Director V. Thulasidas, a former Chairman and Managing Director of Air India, and other Directors, State’s Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, Principal Secretary Venu V., and Air India CMD E.K. Bharat Bhushan also attended the meeting, the report said.

According to company officials, over 959 acres of land has been acquired in the Mattannur municipality and Keezhallur village areas for the project, the fourth international airport in Kerala.

The foundation stone for the Rs. 10 billionn airport with a 12,000-ft runway will be laid on the Kerala Formation Day on November 1. New roads would also be laid from the airport to Wayanad and Bakel, the two tourism hotspots in north Kerala.