NewsGram Staff Writer
Thiruvananthapuram: In a move to appease expatriates, the Kerala government assured free flights home to them from the state working in the Middle-East. However, only the persons who have not been able to visit their kin for a long time will be eligible to avail the facility.
Announcing this after the weekly cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told media persons that with the government’s dream project Air Kerala still uncertain due to existing aviation rules in the country, “we have decided to move forward on our own”.
“The whole purpose of Air Kerala was to charge reasonable air fares from the Kerala diaspora. We all know that the numerous airlines operating the route are just fleecing passengers from the Middle-East,” he said.
“Numerous requests to relax rules and thereby allow Air Kerala to take wings neither moved the previous UPA government nor the present central government. So we decided that we will fly our people from the Middle-East, who have not come home for long, for free,” the chief minister said.
“For this, our Diaspora Minister KC Joseph has got in touch with various Kerala associations in the Middle-East to prepare a list of people who have not returned home for 10 years, seven years and five years. Some airlines have offered us free seats, while we have now got sponsors who have offered to help charter flights to bring these people who are unable to meet the high air fares,” Chandy added.
The chief minister said he recently came across a person who was not able to come home for even his daughter’s marriage. “Even though his friends were willing to foot his airfare, he sent that money to his family to be used for the marriage expenses,” Chandy added.
(With inputs from IANS)