Kerala welcomes Air Arabia Kozhikode-Sharjah flight

February 22nd, 2008 - 10:44 am ICT by admin  


Kozhikode (Kerala), Feb 22 (IANS) The announcement by Air Arabia, the Middle East’s first low-cost airline, that it would be starting a Kozhikode-Sharjah air service is being welcomed here. “We have been fighting for a foreign airline service from Kozhikode for the last three years. This is a moment of achievement for us,” P. Zakir, president of the Malabar Chamber of Commerce, told IANS.

“Air Arabia is charging only Rs.11,000 from Coimbatore to destinations in the Gulf, while Air India is charging around Rs.4,000-5,000 more for its service to the Gulf from Kozhikode,” Zakir added.

Till recently, Air India enjoyed a monopoly over flights from Kozhikode, Kerala’s third largest city, to the Gulf. Last month, one of India’s leading private airlines, Jet Airways started services to Muscat and Doha.

By July, Etihad, Emirates, Oman Air, Qatar Airways and Saudi Airlines would also start operating from Kozhikode, Zakir added.

And on Wednesday came the announcement from Air Arabia.

“We are extremely pleased to announce the launch of service to our newest destination in India, demonstrating once again Air Arabia’s unmatched commitment to the subcontinent,” Air Arabia head of commercial department A.K. Nizar had said in a statement from Dubai Wednesday.

“The addition of Kozhikode to our growing destination network is particularly significant for the Indian expatriate population in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and wider Gulf region, which includes an especially large percentage of non-resident Indians who call Kerala their home.”

The Malabar area in the state witnessed on Oct 27 last year a shutdown organised by the Indian Union Muslim League on the issue of development of Kozhikode Airport and the launch of services by foreign airline companies from here.

“We met the prime minister Dec 6 with the request for service by foreign airline companies from here,” Zakir said.

A significant proportion of the 1.4 million expatriate Indians in the UAE are from Kerala. Air Arabia will operate its new service from its base in Sharjah International Airport.

Kozhikode will be the 10th city in India to be served by Air Arabia. Initially, the service will operate three flights a week, but plans are on to increase it to six flights a week by May, subject to approval from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

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