Air Kerala, a new Indian ultra-low-cost airline, is set to begin domestic operations in the first quarter of 2025 and aims to expand internationally by 2026. Spearheaded by UAE-based businessman Afi Ahmed, the airline has secured an initial no-objection certificate (NOC) from India’s Civil Aviation Ministry. The next steps involve finalizing technical aspects and securing contracts, with preparations expected to be completed in six to eight months.

Initially, Air Kerala will operate with three ATR 72-600 aircraft and plans to grow its fleet to 20 for international routes. The startup will require between 60 and 100 crore Indian rupees ($7.1 million to $11.9 million) in initial funding, with an estimated 250 to 300 crore rupees needed for international expansion. The airline is exploring options to lease or purchase aircraft.

Originally proposed by the Kerala state government in 2005, the Air Kerala project was delayed but revived when Ahmed purchased the domain name for $270,000. The launch coincides with expected growth in India’s aviation sector, with domestic traffic projected to increase by 6-8% and international traffic by 9-11% annually.

Air Kerala plans to serve under-connected cities within Kerala and across India, leveraging its ultra-low-cost model and punctuality. The company is open to partnerships with the Kerala state government and expatriates. Although initial years may be unprofitable, the airline anticipates profitability by its third or fourth year.

Source: The National News