Surats diamond baron announces launch of charter airline

Written by fe Bureau | Ahmedabad | Updated: Oct 22 2014, 06:53am hrs
A day after Savji Dholakia, a Surat-based diamond exporter made a splash with his unique R50-crore loyalty programme for employees which inlcuded gifts of houses, cars and jewellery, he hogged the news yet again on Tuesday by announcing the launch of a not-for-profit charter airline with two other diamond barons and a real estate developer for better connectivity between Surat and other cities in Gujarat.

Diamond barons Savji Dholakia of Shri Harekrishna Export, Govind Dholakia of Shri Ramkrishna Export, Lalji Patel of Dharmanandan Diamonds along with real estate developer Avadh-Anjani Group have joined hands to launch the states first full-fledged air taxi service named Diamond Aeronautics from Surat starting from Diwali day.

The intention behind this is purely service to people and it is our way of giving it back to the society. We will soon be having an aircraft that can be used as an ambulance service too, said Savji Dholakia while talking to FE. Dholakia maintains that Surat does not have good air connectivity specially during times of emergencies like medical emergency or pilgrimage travel. When asked about pricing, he refused to divulge details but said the airline would be run on cost basis as profit from this venture is not our intention.

Initially, Diamond Aeronautics has planned purchase of three aircraft at an estimated cost of R40 crore to connect Surat with important cities across Gujarat and India. Our airline will be able to connect Surat to Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Bhuj, Amreli, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Shirdi to begin with, said Dholakia. While two aircraft will be 9 seaters, one would be a 4-seater. A nine-seater Cessna aircraft has been delivered on Tuesday on the auspicious occassion of Dhanteras. While these aircrafts can be doubled up as ambulance and used in medical emergencies, a special air ambulance is also in the pipeline. The plan for the ambulance is being executed on an urgent basis, added Dholakia.

Recently, Savji Dholakia had also given a bonus of R4 lakh each to 1,216 of his companys 6,500 employees to buy cars, flats and jewellery. There was a loyalty reward programme in the company, and the employees were selected by the management after evaluating their performances. This will boost their morale and encourage them to work harder, added Dholakia.

Of those who were made this mouth-watering offers, 491 employees accepted the gift to buy cars,while 207 employees opted to buy flats and 570 chose jewellery. Each of the selected employees would get R4 lakh to buy a Fiat Punto Evo car, or a residential apartment or get gold jewellery worth R4 lakh. The employees, who are the beneficiaries of the generosity, range from managers to diamond polishers to cleaning staff.