Low-Cost UAE-Kerala Airline Hoping to Take Off

The upcoming flight service likely to prove both prosperous and economical.

Jul 8, 2024 - 15:51
Low-Cost UAE-Kerala Airline Hoping to Take Off

The sky’s the limit for a projected new airline between UAE and Kerala. The ambitious Air Kerala hopes to offer a cheaper and more regular alternative for Indian ex-pats and visitors from the southern Indian state of Kerala, who are currently shelling out for Emirates Airlines fares. With around 90% of Kerala’s 2.36 million-strong dispora in the Middle East, this is a much-needed and potentially lucrative venture. 

The project, which is the brainchild of a Dubai-based business duo, may take a while before it gets off the ground. But it has received the crucial green light from India’s Civil Aviation Ministry. Air Kerala is the baby of ex-pat visionaries Afi Ahmed and Ayub Kallada, who along with a Kanika Goyal, comprise the top brass of Zettfly Aviation. This, incidentally, is the company which plans to get Air Kerala airborne. 

The low-cost airline project has been in the pipeline since 2005 when the Kerala government first expressed its wish for such a service. But it was not until last year that Mr. Ahmed used his considerable resources from his travel agency Smart Travels to purchase the AED 1 million domain - airkerala.com. Now, he and his partners are soon to begin the process of acquiring three ATR 72-600 aircraft by looking at “lease” and “direct procurement” options. 

Mr. Kallada points out that his team will also have to adhere to aviation authority standards for “safety and operation”, which will require a fair amount of logistics. The Zettfly board plans to start with regional flights, connecting Tier 1 cities and metro airports with Tier 2 and 3 cities. But they are dreaming big, hoping to eventually acquire 20 aeroplanes and go international. 

Based out of Kerala’s industrial hub of Kochi, Air Kerala also hopes to add some thrust to the state's tourism industry and create over 350 jobs in the process. With a traffic volume of 4.8 million between the UAE and India in 2023, it looks like there is quite a market awaiting Zettfy to spread its wings and fly... high!