Afi Ahmed, Founder of Smart Travels, a Dubai-based businessman at the press conference said the is trying to revive an airline for expats from the Southern-Indian state of Kerala.
Last month, the entrepreneur paid another local company a whopping Dh1 million for the domain name airkerala.com, Khaleej Times reported.
“I was looking for a domain for my B2C project,” he said, speaking to Khaleej Times. “I wanted to launch an aggregator website, and I was looking for a catchy name when I saw that airkerala.com was available for purchase. I was shocked, because Air Kerala is a project that was announced by the Kerala government in 2005, and has been a hot topic among Keralites all over the world for almost two decades.”
A proposed airline by the Government of Kerala, Air Kerala was registered as a fully owned subsidiary of Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) in 2006. Aimed to provide respite to Keralites living in the UAE from sky-high ticket prices and a shortage of flight seats, Air Kerala has been shelved several times, despite being a widely discussed topic for years.
Afi said that ever since he has announced his intention to revive the airline, he has seen an outpouring of support from the Malayali community in the UAE. “Several businessmen have approached me and pledged to contribute money to get the project running,” he said. “Also, airline industry experts have expressed solidarity with me.”
Afi said he was willing to handover the domain name to the Kerala government as long as the project takes shape. “I have also volunteered to work as a consultant for a year on the project for free,” he said. “I do not intend to make any profit from it. I know how much of a difference this project will make for all the Malayalis in the UAE. If I can play a role in making it happen, I want to do so.”
However, Afi said he has a backup plan, should none of his efforts work out. “If I am not able to meet the Kerala Chief minister or I fail to garner enough support by the end of next month, I will launch my aggregator service on the same domain,” he said. “But I sincerely hope that it won’t come to that, and Air Kerala will become a reality.”
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