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Dubai businessmen launch low-cost airline Air Kerala


Dubai businessmen launch low-cost airline Air Kerala. The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has granted an operating license to ‘Air Kerala,’ a Kerala-based airline, bringing joy and excitement to the people of the state.

Air Kerala, the brainchild of UAE entrepreneurs Afi Ahmed and Ayub Kallada, will be the first regional airline in Kerala. “This is the result of years of our hard work,” said Afi Ahmed, speaking to Press Conference. “My partners and I have been working tirelessly to make this a reality. Many questioned us, saying it would never happen. We still have a long way to go, but the NOC is a big step for us.”

Last year, Afi Ahmed, founder of Smart Travels, paid a local company Dh1 million for the domain name Initially seeking an aggregator website, he stumbled upon the domain and decided to purchase it, reigniting hopes for Air Kerala, a project first proposed by the Kerala government in 2005.

“Our next steps involve acquiring aircraft and complying with the necessary regulatory requirements to obtain our Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC),” said Ayub Kallada. “This phase is critical to ensure we meet all safety and operational standards set by the aviation authorities.” The airline plans to start operations with three ATR 72-600 aircraft, with options in both the leasing market and direct procurement from manufacturers to secure the best fleet for their operations.

Afi Ahmed, Ayub Kallada, and Kanika Goyal, who have extensive experience in the aviation industry, form the Zettfly Aviation board. Their expertise will guide the airline through its next crucial steps.

After procuring the aircraft, Air Kerala will initially focus on regional operations before branching out into international flights. “Our initial operations will focus on regional connectivity,” said Ayub. “We plan to connect Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities with Tier 1 and metro airports, improving accessibility and convenience for travelers across these regions.”

International flights are part of Air Kerala’s future plans. “Once we expand our fleet to 20 aircraft, we will start exploring international routes to expand our reach and service offerings,” Afi explained. “The initial investment for our project is approximately Dh110 million.”

Headquartered in Kochi, the airline is expected to promote tourism and trade in Kerala, creating at least 350 jobs in the city. “Once we start our international flights, we will bring job opportunities to the UAE,” said Afi. “Dubai will be one of our first international destinations, ensuring affordable travel for all expats.”

With the operating license in hand, Air Kerala is poised to make a significant impact on regional and international aviation, fulfilling the dreams of many and boosting the state’s connectivity and economy.

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