Kerala is to launch its own airline “Air Kerala” to cater to passengers travelling between the state and Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Parliamentarian E.T. Mohammed Bashir told Times of Oman in Muscat that this is likely to ease problems of NRIs travelling between Kerala and the GCC nations.

“During peak seasons, they have to shell out huge amounts to purchase air tickets. So, the Government of Kerala is moving ahead to start its own airline, Bashir told the newspaper.

The company, named Air Kerala, was registered in India around four years ago.

He said the new airline will follow the public-private partnership model, as was adopted in building the Cochin International Airport.

Cochin was the first airport in India that was constructed with private participation. “The airline project is ready and is awaiting approval of the central government”, he said, adding the state Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has held talks in this regard.

Bashir said funds for the project will not be a problem.

According to the report, the formal announcement of the commencement of the new airline is likely to be made at the Emerging Kerala investment meeting, scheduled from September 12 in the State.

Bashir was in Muscat to attend an Iftar organised by the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre in Ruwi.

The proposal of starting a budget airline, was first floated at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in New Delhi five years ago.

But it was not granted permission by the Central government as the proposal did not meet the criteria for operating international services.

Such an airline would need a minimum fleet size of 20 aircraft and must have had five years of continuous operations in the domestic sector, the report said.