Matthunny Mathews, the man who inspired the film Airlift, passes away

"Extremely sad news, was an honour to portray him on screen. Thoughts and prayers with his family," Akshay Kumar said in a tweet. The Chief Minister of Kerala also expressed his grief and gave condolences.

By Author  |  Published: 21st May 2017  5:45 pmUpdated: 21st May 2017  9:45 pm
Matthunny Mathews
Mathunny Mathews, popularly known as Toyota Sunny. Photo: Internet

Thiruvananthapuram: Prominent Indian businessman in Kuwait, Matthunny Mathews, who was instrumental in the safe evacuation of stranded Indians during the Iraqi invasion in 1990, passed away in Kuwait.

81-year-old Mathews, who hailed from Kumbanad in Pathnamthitta district, was ailing for some time and passed away on Saturday. Popularly known as ‘Toyota Sunny’, Mathunny Mathews was said to be the inspiration of Akshay Kumar’s character in Bollywood film ‘Airlift’.

Expressing his condolence, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday said that during the 1990 Gulf war Mathews had helped thousands of Indians to flee the gulf nation and his services would always be remembered.

By not taking efforts to save his own life and property, Mathews had done a noble service to bring his countrymen, who had lost everything in the war, safely back, Vijayan said.

“He provided food and drinking water to the stranded Indians and we remember it with gratitude,” Vijayan said.

The VP Singh government had in 1990 carried out the biggest evacuation during the gulf war when over 1.50 lakh stranded Indians had been safely brought back by flight. At that time, Mathews had functioned as the Central Government’s “unofficial representative” in Kuwait to coordinate the evacuation process, the Chief Minister said.

“Extremely sad news, was an honour to portray him on screen. Thoughts and prayers with his family,” Akshay Kumar said in a tweet.


Mathews left for Kuwait 1956 at the age of 20 in search of work. He joined as a typist in the Toyota company and rose to become its managing director before his retirement in 1989.

He started a car rental company and a general trading company in 1990 and was also the Chairman of Jabriya Indian school.