A former board member of Air India is dusting off a five-year-old proposal to set up an airline to cater to the large number of Indian workers in the Gulf region.
Non-Resident Indian businessman and former Air India board member Yusuff Ali
promises to make travel between the Gulf region and India easier and more convenient for his countrymen through the proposed Air Kerala
Air Kerala Revival Proposal
Air Kerala will target the hundreds of thousands of workers from the South Indian state of Kerala who are employed in the Middle East.
Most of these migrants are blue-collar workers like sweepers, cooks, drivers, painters, household help and construction laborers who make annual trips to their home towns in Kerala.
Ali Quits Air India Board
Yusuff Ali recently resigned from the Air India board citing continued hardship faced by Non-Resident Indians in the Gulf region over "unjustified fare hikes" and "irregular services" as the main reasons.
Ali made no secret of his displeasure over thousands of Indians getting stranded in the Gulf and Indian airports due to frequent flight cancellations, service delays and unjustified fare hikes in peak seasons.
Ali seemed to be referring to Air India, where a 58-day pilots strike from early May to early July caused enormous inconvenience to the traveling public.
Air India is also seeking to slash commission to its travel agents and is asking them to charge a transaction fee on passengers to make up for the reduction in commissions.
Ali blamed a section of Air India employees and executives for thwarting the revival of the struggling airline.
Reviving Air Kerala
"I will continue to work towards finding better solutions for the travel issues of Gulf NRIs like reviving the proposed Air Kerala, the idea of which was first floated at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Delhi more than five years ago and I will try to garner more support for this during the forthcoming ‘Emerging Kerala
,’ Ali said. Emerging Kerala
is a high-level investment conference scheduled to be held in Kochi, a port city in Kerala, in September 2012.
Yusuff Ali is managing director of the Abu Dhabi-based EMKE Group, the parent company of retail supermarket chain Lulu Hyper Markets with branches in United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt.
Besides Ali, the other key stakeholders in Air Kerala could possibly be the Government of Kerala and Middle East based Non-Resident Indian businessmen.