'Full-fledged integration of AI, IA in 4 mths'

The full-fledged integration of Air India and Indian Airlines would be completed within three to four months, minister of state for Civil Aviation K C Venugopal said here today.

"There are certain issues like salary discrepancy and service ranks to be looked into before completing integration of the airlines in three to four months," he said, speaking at a meet-the-press programme at Calicut Press Club here.

On the proposed Air Kerala project, the state government's budget airline, he said, "it is the state Government project. The civil aviation ministry has not yet received the full project report on Air Kerala".

"However Air Kerala officials met me and said they are in the process of submitting the report", he said.

To a query on increasing incidence of complaints of Air India's services, he said, the government's approach was to reduce the problems and make passengers' travel comfortable.

"Air India is a public sector undertaking and killing Air India and Air India Express (AIE) is not a solution. Our responsibility is to strengthen Air India and solve the problems', he said.

The minister pointed out that the aviation sector has several complex issues and the services rendered by Air India cannot be forgotten.

"During the Kuwait-Iraq war years ago, Air India flew lakhs of NRIs and NRKs back home. This service by the airline was appreciated by all."

He said a high-level meeting of ministers, MPs, MLAs and officials would be convened soon to discuss future development of Karipur International Airport in Malappuram district.

Work for the International arrival block, modification of international passenger terminal building and construction of a apron at an estimated expense of Rs 120 crore would be undertaken at Karippur airport, he said.

Acquisition of 137 acres for development of the airport was not moving along as desired, he said.

He said AIE has started operating 48 winter services per week from the Airport to Middle East destinations.

In addition, three flights per week to Mumbai, seven to Kochi and one a week to Thiruvananthapuram had begun operating taking the total services to 59 per week, he said.

Stating that a major problem in Kozhikode was flight diversion, he said, all flight arrivals in Karipur airport would be before 5 AM or after 11 AM.

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