To take off on getting exemptions from the Union government

A meeting of the Board of Directors of Air Kerala in Kochi on Friday decided to launch the proposed airline with an initial capital of Rs. 200 crore as soon the Union government grants it exemption from a couple of norms to start international operations.

The State government, Cochin International Airport Ltd. and public sector undertakings will together hold 26 per cent of the shares of the company. The public will hold the rest, with non-resident Keralites expected to take a major share. The Board has set Rs. 10,000 as the minimum investment to be a shareholder, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told presspersons after the meeting held on the sidelines of the Emerging Kerala summit.

He said Ernst & Young, consultants, had been asked to submit an updated feasibility report for the airline as the initial report was drafted some six years ago.

Mr. Chandy said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in favour of granting exemption to Air Kerala from the norms stipulating that an airline should have a fleet of 20 aircraft and five years’ experience in domestic operations before it can fly to international destinations.

V.J. Kurian, Managing Director of Air Kerala, said that the feasibility report was likely to be obtained within three-and-a-half months.

“We look at almost two lakh people participating in the airline venture initially. We would like to make it the largest shareholding company in the world, ultimately growing to 10 million people. This unique model means that the shareholders will be passengers also,” Mr. Kurian said.

Yousuf Ali, member of the Director Board, said there was already an offer to invest Rs. 100 crore in the proposed airline.

But the government, he said, is particular about having public participation.

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