Staff Reporter

For Air India to set up maintenance base

Thiruvananthapuram: The Government has decided to hand over land to Air India at the earliest to set up a Rs.70-crore maintenance base for Boeing 737-800 aircraft in the vicinity of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting presided over by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan at the Secretariat here on Wednesday. The national carrier is demanding 6.07 hectares for setting up the facility.

Incidentally, the loss-making Trivandrum Rubber Works comes in the land identified for setting up the base.

Briefing mediapersons, Minister for Law M. Vijayakumar said the trade union leaders who attended the meeting on behalf of the employees of the Rubber Works pledged their support for setting up the base.

"They have agreed to handover the land of the Rubber Works to set up the maintenance base of Air India," he said.

The meeting also decided to constitute a committee comprising Ministers, MP, local legislator and trade union leaders to work out the modalities. Of the 6.07 hectares, 5.30 hectares is with the Rubber Works.

Mr. Vijayakumar said the maximum land would be handed over "at the earliest" as Chairman and Managing Director of Air India V. Thulasidas had informed that work would commence once land was provided.

Jobs to be protected

The Law Minister said the Chief Minister stressed the need for protecting the jobs of the 100-odd employees of the Rubber Works and at the same time the need for having the maintenance base in the capital.

Mr. Vijayakumar said the Rubber Works would be retained as a separate unit within the KSRTC premises. The compensation to the employees and the other matters would be decided by the committee, he added.

The base is to be set up by the Air India Engineering Services, a subsidiary of Air India.

The decision to set up the base in the vicinity of the international airport had been taken as Mumbai, present maintenance base of AI, is already saturated.

Minister for Transport Mathew T. Thomas, Minister for Agriculture Mulakkara Ratnakaran, V. Surendran Pillai, MLA, Air India manager H.A. Munaff, Collector N. Ayyappan, Managing Director of Farming Corporation Mohandas and trade union leaders attended the meeting.