To help UAE amnesty returnees

Air India (AI) will introduce a special discount package for Indians returning to the country on the amnesty scheme initiated by the UAE government for all illegal residents, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation K.C. Venugopal has said.

The details of the package, to be in force from January, were being worked out. Even though the scheme was launched in December, the number of Indians availing it seemed to be low. We expect the rush to start by January, he said.

On his Ministry’s expansion plans, Mr. Venugopal said a complaint redressal cell for Gulf passengers would function from his office in New Delhi.

Complaints cell

The complaints may be mailed to Officials concerned would respond to the complaints in a week of its receipt, he said.

The operations of Air India Express (AIE) would be shifted completely to Kochi by January. The heads of departments would be available in Kochi regularly.

A centralised customer feedback cell would also function here. Keralites will get feedback on various aspects related to AIE in Malayalam. Personnel would be deployed exclusively for customer relations work in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Kozhikode airports, he said.

Claiming that the performance of AIE had improved in the last two months, Mr. Venugopal said passenger load had gone up to 75 per cent in the Gulf sector.

The shortage of pilots in AIE would be resolved in four months.

A meeting would be held in Thiruvananthapuram on December 24 and in Kozhikode on January 10 to evaluate the ongoing expansion and consolidation plans of AIE, he said. The Pawan Hans helicopter services company had held discussions with the State government and Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) to start services between Kochi, Guruvayoor, and Sabarimala. We plan to launch the services on a pilot basis soon, Mr. Venugopal said.

The Director General of Civil Aviation and the Defence and Home Departments had cleared the Kannur airport proposal.

An environment public hearing would be held on December 18. Asked whether the Kerala government’s plans to launch its own airline, Air Kerala, would take off in the near future, the Minister said the government had requested waiver of conditions including the clause that an airline should have successfully operated in the domestic sector for five years before starting international operations. Discussions on such requests had to be taken up at the highest level, he said.

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