Saturday, March 17, 2018

Govt assures of no abnormal fare hike in prices after grounding 14 planes

The government today said there has been "no abnormal increase" in airfares following the grounding of 14 aircraft on engine issues and that only 1-2 per cent of the total capacity has been impacted by the decision.

IndiGo and GoAir, whose 14 A320 neo planes on the ground, have decided to cancel more than 600 flights this month resulting in tough times for passengers who already have booked tickets.

Against this backdrop, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said the civil aviation ministry has been monitoring prices on the impacted route and that "there has not been a significant or abnormal increase in airfares".
"With 17 engines (14 aircraft) grounded due to safety considerations, imp to note that it is around 2 per cent of capacity. With two planes coming in every week, we expect supply-demand to be back in balance quickly. Fares have not seen any meaningful spike," Sinha said in a tweet.

Along with the tweet, he posted a statement with an analysis of statistics about engines and aircraft grounded as well as flights cancelled.
Seeking to allay concerns over flight cancellations, the minister said the 1-2 per cent capacity impact is small in light of the industry, which is adding capacity at 20 per cent year-on-year.

"1.5 to 2 per cent capacity growth is taking place every month. The capacity impact of this safety measure is expected to be mitigated in a few weeks," he noted.
The number of engines grounded is 17 compared to 1,174 engines in service and the ratio translates to 1.4 per cent, as per the analysis.
17/03/18 PTI/DNA

Back to price caps, again: There is little evidence of airlines gouging, but so what?

Tt has to be quite amazing that, despite several failed attempts in the past, India’s parliamentarians are not deterred and are making one more attempt to impose price caps on the airlines industry. A parliamentary standing committee has just proposed that caps be put on the price of airlines, to prevent price gouging during certain times of the year. Certainly it is possible that, on certain days, ticket prices go through the roof, and it is also true that tickets tend to cost more in the holiday/festival season. But those are exceptions and, even in those cases, if the tickets are bought early enough, the prices can be quite different. Anecdotal evidence is not something you can go by, but fortunately, the DGCA files monthly reports on the ticket sales by each airline for most routes, and these are available on its website. These, however, show no evidence of exorbitant pricing. In the case of an Indigo, for instance, 1.6% of the seats on the Kolkata-Chennai route were sold in the highest fare bucket in December—this was the highest—and it was 0.02% for Delhi-Mumbai. In terms of revenues earned, the highest was in the Kolkata-Guwahati sector where 3% of revenues came from seats sold in the highest bracket. None of this suggests the kind of price gouging our MPs are alleging.

Indeed, when a similar charge was made in 2015, the DGCA analysed air fares on 18 routes including high density routes (Delhi-Mumbai and Bangalore-Mumbai) and low-density ones (Kolkata-Port Blair) during the four quarters of 2014. In the fourth quarter of 2014, on the high density Mumbai-Delhi route, high fares accounted for just 2.6% of Jet Airways revenues, 1.4% for Indigo and 0.5% for Air India; low fares accounted for 9% (Jet Airways), 22.2% (Indigo) and 0.3% (Air India) and bucket fares accounted for the balance.

MPs need a crash course in how businesses run. In the old Air India days, all prices tended to be the same within the same category—economy, business class—so it didn’t matter whether you bought the ticket today or a month ago. That, however, has changed and tickets bought three weeks ahead may well turn out to be half the price as the ones bought a few hours before the flight. MPs can frown on this form of pricing, but this is what has made flying so affordable and the rush of traffic is what has made India one of the most exciting aviation destinations today.
17/03/18 Financial Express

Investment in Vistara has been positive for us: Singapore Airlines

New Delhi: Investment in Vistara has helped Singapore Airlines (SIA) reaped benefits in India. Vistara is a joint venture between Tata Sons and SIA, in which the Singapore-based carrier holds 49 per cent.
“The partnership with Vistara has proved mutually beneficial for SIA and Vistara. It has allowed us to get traffic from areas where we don’t fly to,” said David Lim, general manager, India, at SIA.
Last month, the promoters infused another Rs 2 billion into Vistara, taking the total infusion from 2015 onwards to about Rs 15 billion. Total infusion includes a start-up capital of Rs 6.2 billion, followed by tranches of Rs 1.5 billion and Rs 2.5 billion in 2016. Vistara, however, has registered losses of Rs 4 billion and Rs 5 billion in FY16 and FY17, respectively. With losses in successive years, the airline’s net worth is negative by Rs 10 billion.
Lim highlighted that the importance of Indian market was growing for SIA, with the number of outbound tourists growing. Singapore gets one of the highest numbers of tourists from India, which is behind China and Indonesia. The India-Singapore outbound market has grown by 16 per cent in 2017, compared with last year.
SAI, however, has not been able to take much advantage of the growth due to constraints of bilateral flying rights.

Due to the constraint, SIA and its sister concern, SilkAir, together are able to increase only 10 flights for the summer schedule to 104 from 94 weekly flights now.
17/03/18 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard

Jet Airways Offers Domestic Flight Tickets From Rs. 1,170 On Select Routes

Jet Airways is offering domestic flight tickets at a starting all-inclusive price of Rs. 1,170 on select routes. The fares are applicable on one way journeys in economy flights operated by Jet Airways, said the carrier on its official The travel period of Jet Airways' offer starts on March 25, 2018. There is no upper limit mentioned on travel period. "Enjoy seamless connectivity to a wider network of destinations within India at convenient times with our new flights this summer. With delightful meals, competitive fares and warm Indian hospitality, get a whole lot more when you see more of India with Jet Airways", mentioned the carrier on its website.
Jet Airways is offering domestic flight tickets at a starting price of Rs. 1,170 on flying from Bagdogra to Guwahati. Some of the other discounted fares available under this offer are on flights from Guwahati to Bagdogra (starting at Rs. 1,527), from Imphal to Guwahati (starting at Rs. 1,700), from Guwahati to Imphal (starting at Rs. 2,057), from Bengaluru to Indore (starting at Rs. 2,601), from Imphal to Kolkata (starting at Rs. 3,170), among others.
17/03/18 NDTV

Finally, IndiGo to partially shift to T2 of Delhi airport

After lots of dilly- dallying and court battles, the largest airline IndiGo has agrreed to relocate a chunk of its operations to the revamped terminal 2 of the Indira Gandhi airport in the national Capital from March 25.

Another budget carrier SpiceJet too had announced yesterday that it would move 22 of its flights to seven destinations from March 25 to the T2. GoAir had already moved its entire operations to T2 last October.

The IndiGo decision comes after the Supreme Court had last month dismissed its petition against the airport operator GMR Group which had asked these low-cost carriers to partially move to the T2 which has been revamped at a cost of Rs 100 crore.

As part of the move, IndiGo will operate as many as 10 sectors--Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Raipur, Srinagar, Udaipur, Vadodara and Vishakhapatnam--with 6E2000-6E 2999 flight numbers, Delhi International Airport said in a statement today.

SpiceJet will relocate seven sectors--Ahmedabad, Cochin, Goa, Gorakhpur, Patna, Pune and Surat--to the new terminal with SG 8000 to SG 8999 flight numbers, it said.

The shifting of partial services to the new terminal, which has been refurbished at a cost of Rs 100 crore, from the existing terminal T1 will pave the way for expansion work at T1, the airport operator said.

There are three operational terminals--T1, T2 and T3. While IndiGo and SpiceJet operate their domestic services from T1, GoAir flies from T2.

State-run Air India and private carriers Jet Airways and Vistara have their operations from the international terminal T3.
17/03/18 PTI/

Passengers Safe After Spicejet Aircraft Hits Runway Lights at Bengaluru Airport

New Delhi: An official from Spicejet aircraft said that all passengers on-board are safe after the aircraft they were travelling in hit runway lights on landing at Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru.

The official informed that aircraft was coming from Hyderabad. While landing the aircraft damaged three runway lights, due to which runway was closed from some time. There were no reports of injuries.

During the course of runway closure, 10 flights were diverted to Tiruchirapalli and Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. The aircraft has not mentioned reason. But unseasonal rain which has inundated whole city was seen as one of the reason.

Bengal police enter Calcutta air traffic control room (again) to ensure timely landing of Mamata's flight

Calcutta: The air traffic control room at the city airport had two outsiders on Friday afternoon - cops sent by the Bidhannagar commissionerate to ensure hassle-free landing of chief minister Mamata Banerjee's flight from Bagdogra, sources said.

This was the second time in less than a month that police entered the ATC - a high-security zone - before the touch-down of the chief minister's flight from Bagdogra.

In November 2016, a delayed landing of Mamata's flight from Patna, and the pilot's complaint that the aircraft was running out of fuel, had prompted Trinamul to allege a conspiracy to murder the chief minister.

On Friday, two officers of the Bidhannagar commissionerate sat in front of the official in charge of the ATC for the entire duration of the chief minister's flight.

"They entered the control room before the CM's flight had taken off from Bagdogra and stayed there for more than an hour, till it landed. The ATC team was extremely uncomfortable at the presence of the policemen," an airport official said.

Both cops had entry passes, he said.

Four policemen had entered the control room when Mamata was flying back from Bagdogra on February 23. Three of them allegedly did not have an entry permit.
17/03/18 Sanjay Mandal/Telegraph

GoAir's New Offer: Domestic Flight Tickets Under Rs 1000

GoAir airline is offering domestic flight tickets starting at an all-inclusive price of Rs. 991 on select routes under its new promotional offer. GoAir's new offer is available till March 20, 2018, according to GoAir's official website- Consumers can also avail an extra 10 per cent discount on booking via SBI Bank credit cards by using promo code GOSBI10. "Enjoy the lowest fares this March. Fly Smart with our fares starting as low as Rs. 991. Also get 10% off when you book with your SBI Bank Credit cards by using the promo code GOSBI10", said GoAir on its website.

GoAir is offering domestic flight tickets starting from Rs. 991 from Bagdogra to Guwahati. GoAir is also offering discounts on domestic flight tickets on flying from Chennai to Kochi (starting at Rs. 1,120), from Lucknow to Delhi (starting at Rs. 1,205), from Chandigarh to Delhi (starting at Rs. 1,254), from Delhi to Lucknow (starting at Rs. 1,294), from Guwahati to Bagdogra (starting at Rs. 1,346), from Leh to Jammu (starting at Rs. 1,383), among others.
17/03/18 NDTV

Anti-hijacking mock exercise performed at airport

Anti-hijacking mock exercise was done at Raja Bhoj Airport on Friday. In this exercise, hijacking efforts were foiled through the better co-ordination between the officials of Airport Authority of India, security agencies and officials of other concerned department. This type of exercise is held once in a year in sync with the guidelines issued by Bureau of Civil Aviation. Officials of Airport Authority of India, Army Intelligence Bureau, Madhya Pradesh Police and administration took part in Friday’s exercise.

Airport Director Akashdeep Mathur informed that to combat with hijack-like situation, all type of necessary resources and trained manpower is available at Bhopal airport. During the exercise, armyman, armed with guns and binoculars, displayed the acumen over how to deal with hijack-like situation.
17/03/18 Hitavada

AAI to replace PBTs, chairs at Dabolim airport

Vasco: As part of its continuing efforts in enhancing customer experience at Goa International Airport, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has decided to replace all the existing old passenger baggage trolleys (PBTs) with new ones in a phased manner in the next few months. Under this initiative, the first batch of 250 new PBTs has reached Goa airport and will be put into use very soon.
In addition to replacing the old PBTs, AAI has also decided to replace most of the old three-seater passenger chairs from inside the terminal building particularly from security hold area where the passengers spend maximum time before boarding their flights. The first lot of approx 200 new three-seater passenger chairs is expected to reach Goa in April, informed AAI Director BCH Negi.
17/03/18 Herald

NCC air squadron gets two new aircraft

Surat: Pilot training of cadets of air squadron of National Cadet Corps in Gujarat has received a major boost with the Vadodara NCC unit receiving two microlight aircraft from the authorities concerned. The Vadodara NCC unit, which has one aircraft, will start giving flying training to cadets in the two new aircraft from June, group commander, Baroda Group NCC, Brigadier Dinesh Lalchandani said at the award function for distribution of C certificates in the Diamond City on Friday.

The Virus SW-80 microlight aircraft manufactured in Slovenia is named Garud in India. “The two Virus SW-80 microlight aircraft have digital display control and glass cockpit. Cadets will get good training in the aircraft equipped with latest features,” commanding officer of 1 Gujarat Air Squadron NCC Wing commander Hemant Singh Chauhan said.
“The two aircraft have arrived in Vadodara and will be parked at the airport of Indian Air Force. Currently flying trials of the aircraft and staff training are continuing and we hope to commence training of the cadets from June,” said Lalchandani, who delivered the keynote address, at the event in which he referred to the achievements of Baroda Group NCC.
Additional director general, NCC, Major General Shubhash Sharan was the chief guest at the event. “It is an important day as we are handing over 700 leaders to the country. Many times parents ask us how does the NCC benefit a student? I tell them that an NCC cadet will never give up in life and they will become leaders because of their strong character. Anyone can earn money, but NCC cadets have greater responsibility,” Sharan said.
17/03/18 Yagnesh Bharat Mehta/Times of India

Lost Baggage at Airport? Now Track Complaint Status Through Mobile App

A mobile application to help air passengers track the status of their complaints of items lost at airports across India with just a click on their Android phones has been launched, a CISF official said.

The EDP Cell of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), in collaboration with Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG) team of National e-Governance Division (NeGD), has developed the mobile application of "Lost and Found" as well as a technical consultancy.
"The main advantage of this mobile version is that passenger can directly register complaints and get status of the complaint immediately. In this application, the user can also request for technical consultancy," CISF Assistant Inspector General Hemendra Singh told IANS.
Launched on the raising day of the CISF on March 10, the application has three facilities - "Lost and found items at airports", "Tracking complaint/request status" and "Technical consultancy in security and fire services".

"In 2015, the CISF had started a passenger friendly "Lost and Found Web Application" on the CISF official website for items and valuables left behind by the commuters at airports, but it did not have facility to take a complaint by user.

PMC demolishes 14 illegal buildings around airport

Pune: Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has demolished 14 bungalows as part of its demolition drive against illegal constructions built within 100 metres of Lohegoan airport, which is a restricted zone.
Property owners, whose buildings have been demolished, have cried foul against the action.
“Action is being taken against these building following a high court order,” Madhav Jagtap, head of PMC’s anti-encroachment department, told TOI.
The court, while hearing a PIL in June 2015, had ordered demolition of all illegal constructions built after the date of filing of the petition, i.e. October 3, 2003. A survey of the properties was conducted by the Air Force and PMC following the order of the high court in Vadgaonsheri, Kharadi, Kalwad, Khese Park, Ahmednagar Road, Khulewadi and Forest Park areas.
“A total of 147 properties will be demolished.” stated a PMC official.
He said that the owners of these properties had gone to court for a stay order. Stay has been granted only for some properties.
17/03/18 Prasad Kulkarni/Times of India

Indian banks broke rules to give loans to Kingfisher Airlines, says UK judge in Vijay Mallya hearing

London: The British judge hearing the extradition case of liquor baron Vijay Mallya today said that it was 'blindingly obvious' that rules were being broken by Indian banks which sanctioned some of the loans to the erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines.

Presiding over a hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, Judge Emma Arbuthnot directed the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian government, to provide a breakdown of where some of the emails and documentary evidence presented in the case came from.

The hearing today marked the effective end of oral arguments in the case, which will now return to the court on April 27 to consider the additional material sought by the judge and for closing submissions by Mallya's defence team.
The judge described the case as a 'jigsaw puzzle' with different pieces of 'massive evidence' to be put together to paint a picture, which she said she was now able to see "more clearly" than a few months ago.

"There are clear signs that the banks seem to have gone against their own guidelines [in sanctioning some of the loans]," she said, 'inviting' the Indian authorities to explain the case against some of the bank officials involved because that relates to the 'conspiracy' point against Mallya.

She also made the court aware of an 'unsolicited' email correspondence in Hindi received from India, a language she "unfortunately" is unfamiliar with.

In response, the defence team said all sides in the case had been at the receiving end of such unsolicited correspondence.

Mallya, who is on trial for the UK court to rule if he can be extradited to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores, watched the proceedings from the dock.
17/03/18 PTI/New Indian Express

Friday, March 16, 2018

IndiGo, GoAir Cancel 626 Flights This Month After Regulator Grounds 11 Planes

Passengers are likely to face harrowing times with IndiGo and GoAir deciding to cancel more than 600 flights this month, of which 488 are by IndiGo alone, following grounding of 11 A320neo planes with faulty Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engines.

The cancellations by the two budget carriers, which operate more than 1,200 flights daily on average, may significantly disrupt the summer schedule. There was no immediate clarity about the way possible compensation and alternative choices would be made available to the passengers already having tickets.

IndiGo, which has the largest share in the domestic aviation market, would be cancelling as many as 488 flights during the period March 15-31. GoAir has decided to cancel a total of 138 flights between March 15-22, as per announcements made on their respective websites.

According to the curtailed flight schedule submitted to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and posted on the airline’s website, IndiGo would not operate 36 daily flights between March 15 and March 21.

Another 18 daily flights would remain cancelled between March 22 and March 24. The number of flights cancelled between March 25 and March 31 stands at 16 per day, the airline indicated.
This takes the total number of cancelled flights to 488 till the end of this month.

The revised schedule of Wadia group-promoted GoAir showed that the airline has cancelled seven daily flights to 10 destinations between March 16 and March 24, apart from cancelling six services per week between March 15 and March 22. On the whole, 138 flights stand cancelled.

Put together, IndiGo and GoAir have cancelled around 626 flights.
15/03/18 PTI/Bloomberg Quint

We are keeping an open mind on Air India, says Singapore Airlines' India chief

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has a long history in the Indian aviation scene. The airline started operations from Chennai in 1970, and since then, its interest in the Indian market has gradually grown. Nearly four years ago, SIA tied up with conglomerate Tata Group to start full-service carrier Vistara.

Of late, SIA is in news again after showing interest in national carrier Air India, which will be up for sale soon. The government's decision to allow 49 per cent foreign direct investment in Air India has opened doors for SIA to look for an Indian ally - which most likely will be Tata Group - to snap up Air India in some form and shape. In a conversation with Business Today's Manu Kaushik, SIA's general manager for India David Lim said that the airline has not closed the door on Air India yet. Here are edited excerpts from the interview:

Q. What are the latest developments at Singapore Airlines?

David Lim: We have just announced our quarterly results. It looks really good. The net profits and operating profits have increased because revenues have increased more than the expenditure. Even though the fuel prices have increased, we have managed to grow our revenues much more.

We are excited to take delivery of the new Airbus A380 a few months ago, and we have built a new product that includes suites, business class, premium economy and economy class. It's one of the best in the industry. By the end of this month, we are going to take delivery of Dreamliner (Boeing 787-10). It's different from 787-8 and 787-9. It's a longer version. With that, we will unveil a new product.

Dreamliner will be a medium-haul business class product. It will be flying on routes [with a flight duration of up to] 7 hours that would include India. We have ordered 49 Dreamliners. They are meant for growth as well as to replace some of our existing fleets such as A330 and Boeing 777.

Dreamliner and A350-900 are new generation aircraft which are lighter and more fuel efficient. We use A350 for the long-haul. We already have 21 A350s.

Q. Where does India fit into the global strategy of Singapore Airlines?

David Lim: India is an important market. We started our first flight to India (Chennai) nearly 48 years ago. Today, we are flying to 14 cities from Singapore under SIA and Scoot brands. Excluding Scoot, we have 98 weekly services currently. In the coming summer, we are adding new flights. We will have 104 weekly services.

We are adding more flights from Coimbatore, Trivandrum, Mumbai, Kochi, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad. We want to increase the flights as far as possible, but in some cities like Chennai, we cannot grow anymore because we have reached our entitlements. We have about 25,000 weekly capacities under bilaterals.

Q. What's going on with Air India?

David Lim: We are keeping an open mind on the bidding process for Air India. We have not closed the door yet.

Q. Are you going to be participating in Air India's bidding?

David Lim: I really don't know. It really depends when the [bidding] document is published and everybody will see if it's of sufficient value. Then whoever has the resource will have to show that they want to own it.

Q. Most players are interested in the international side of the business?

David Lim: There are so many speculations. I guess the seller wants to have more interest. Air India is a national asset. Every Indian has some pride in the airline.

Q. Are you pushing for more bilateral seats from India?

David Lim: We will use what we have as far as we can. Currently, 90-odd percent of the bilaterals [from our side] are being used. We are seeing Indian carriers also increasing their flights to Singapore. Air India Express is flying from more points. IndiGo, Air India and Jet Airways have increased their flights. Air India Express has started services from Madurai to Singapore. The Indian carriers are getting more interested in Singapore because they also see that many Indians are going to Singapore.

Q. What percentage of India's share of the bilaterals is being used presently?

David Lim: It's nearly 80 percent. The Indian carriers don't fly to Malaysia and Vietnam but many Indian carriers are flying to Singapore.
16/03/18 Manu Kaushik/Business Today

Quell passengers' anxiety over aircraft engines:Bombay HC to DGCA

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today directed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to ensure that "passenger safety was not compromised with," in light of the engine troubles being faced by some aircraft belonging to private airlines Indigo and Go Air.

A bench of Justices Naresh Patil and GS Kulkarni also directed DGCA to test the airworthinessof all Prat and Whitney engines used for A320 neo planes including those which had not been flagged by expert air safety bodies.

The bench directed the DGCA to file, within a week, an affidavit on all steps taken to quell the anxiety of passengers over the aircraft engines.

The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by a city resident, Harish Agarwal, seeking appropriate directions to the civil aviation authorities over recent reports that certain 'Pratt & Whitney (PW) engines' which power A320 neo planes were more susceptible to engine failures.

In February this year, a European Air Safety Authority issued an airworthiness directive for A320 neo planes fitted with PW1100 engines having a particular serial number.

As per the directive, PW1100 engines are classified into two types or series of numbers, 449 and 450 and beyond.

The EASA ruled that engines having the serial numbers 450 and beyond had combustion and othersafety problems.

It ruled that across the world, allA320 neo aircraft with both engines having serial numbers 450 or beyond should be grounded, while those with only one engine having serial number 450 and beyond could continue to fly.

However, DGCA's counsel Adveith Sethna told HC that earlier this month, the DGCA conducted its own independent study and ruled that aircraft with even one 450 and beyond PW1100 engine should be grounded.
Nine aircraft belonging to Indigo and five to Go Air had one or both engines belonging to the flagged serial number, said Sethna.

"Keeping public safety in mind, we grounded all affected aircraft. The issue is being further examined by the DGCA and by authorities in the United States where such engines are powered," said Indigo's counsel senior advocate Janak Dwarkadas.

Go Air's counsel Venkatesh Dhond made similar submissions.
"While we appreciate your decision to ground the affected flights, you must take steps to ensure that air passengers are not inconvenienced due to the consequent cancellation of flights. Take all possible steps to address the issue," the bench said.
16/03/18 PTI/Business Standard

Former Air India Chairman returns for third term at Kerala's Kannur International Airport

Thiruvananthapuram: The government reappointed former Air India Chairman V Thulasidas as the Managing Director of Kannur International Airport (KIAL) for a third term. He will replace P Bala Kiran who also holds the post of Tourism Director. The appointment order issued on March 14 states Thulasidas is appointed for a period of three years or until further orders, whichever is earlier.
Thulasidas was the first MD of KIAL and his reappointment comes at a time when the airport is set for a formal launch.

Considered an expert in the aviation sector, successive state governments have been keeping the chair warm for him.  However, his previous appointments were fraught with controversies and he had quit the post twice. He relinquished the MD post last year after facing a CBI investigation on deals he had made as Air India head, during his tenure between 2003 and 2008. The CBI probed the purchase of 111 aircraft for `70,000 crore as well as the alleged irregularities in the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines.

He had then also resigned from Executive Director post at the Rajiv Gandhi Academy for Aviation Technology. Thulasidas, as founding MD, offered to quit in September 2012 following controversies over KIAL signing consultancy agreement with a blacklisted firm STUP Consultants.
16/03/18 New Indian Express

IndiGo, SpiceJet shift over 120 flights to Delhi airport's Terminal 2 from March 25

After a four-month long legal battle, IndiGo Airlines and SpiceJet have finally agreed to abide by Delhi International Airport Ltd's (DIAL) directive to partially shift their operations to Terminal-2 (T2) with effect from March 25. India's largest airline in terms of market share announced on its website that from March 25, flight numbers 6E2000 to 6E2999 will operate from T2.

A whopping 102 IndiGo flights have been shifted out, including flights connecting the capital to smaller cities like Bagdogra, Visakhapatnam, Udaipur, Vadodara and Srinagar. Basically, IndiGo has prefixed '2' to all flights that have been shifted out to make it easier for passengers. For instance, flight 6E 273 from Delhi to Bangalore has now become 6E 2273 and Chennai-Delhi flight 6E 3752 has changed to 6E 2752.

Just a day ago, SpiceJet had announced that it will shift 22 flights serving seven domestic sectors - Cochin, Ahmedabad, Patna, Pune, Goa, Surat, and Gorakhpur - out of Terminal-1 (T1) of the Indira Gandhi International airport to T2. The airline said that all its remaining domestic flights will continue to operate from T1.
16/03/18 Business Today

Aviation Ministry looks at chopper services in cities

New Delhi: People living in congested and metro cities in India may soon have an option of flying over congested stretches. Aviation minister Suresh Prabhu said on Friday his ministry should look at an option of launching helicopter operations in congested and metro cities.

“The minister mooted the idea of launching helicopter services in congested cities and from metro cities to hinterland with big capacity choppers,” said a senior government official, who was part of the meeting but did not want to be identified.

Currently, Bengaluru is the only city in India that provides helicopter connectivity between the airport and electronics city, which has helped reduce commute time from 2 hours by road to 15 minutes by helicopter. Prabhu took the additional charge as the aviation ministry on Monday, has been held meetings with all key departments under the ministry during the week.

Among other suggestions, He has also suggested developing a framework of deregulation for the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) along with the industry, which will go a long way in achieving ease of doing business for the aviation sector.
16/03/18 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Air India mopped up Rs 5.43 bn from asset monetisation in five years: Govt

New Delhi: Air India has mopped up Rs 5.43 billion so far from monetisation of its assets in prime locations such as Mumbai and Chennai, the Lok Sabha was informed on Thursday.

The monetisation included the sale of six flats at Sterling Apartment, Mumbai to the State Bank of India with each of these flats fetching Rs 220 million, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said in a written reply.

The national carrier also collected Rs 2.91 billion as lease rental from its priced Air India building at Nariman Point, Mumbai between 2012-13 and January 2018, he said.

"In all, Air India has monetised a sum of Rs 5.43 billion from 2012-13 to 2017-18," Sinha told the House.

However, he said the state-run airline has failed to meet its target of asset monetisation due to issues with land titles and end user restrictions.

The Centre had in 2012 approved monetisation of real estate assets in AI to the tune of Rs 50 billion over the next 10 year period with an annual target of Rs 5 billion from 2013 financial year onwards.

The monetised asset included selling of a vacant land at Coimbatore to NBCC for Rs 198 million and Lakshmi House at Chennai to the Ministry of External Affairs at Rs 977 million.
15/03/18 PTI/Business Standard

Jagmeet Singh now rejects glorification of Air India bombing mastermind

After having expressed some doubts, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said today he accepts the Air India inquiry's conclusion that Talwinder Singh Parmar was the mastermind behind the deadly mid-air bombing that killed hundreds of Canadians — and he thinks it's inappropriate for some Sikhs to glorify Parmar by displaying his photo.

"There was an inquiry that was conducted into this horrible terrorist act. The inquiry identified specifically Talwinder Singh Parmar, and I accept the findings of the investigation, of the inquiry. I accept them and I condemn all those responsible," he said in an interview with the CBC's David Cochrane Thursday.
The 18-month long Air India inquiry, led by former Supreme Court justice John Major, pointed to Parmar as the chief terrorist behind the bombing.

A separate inquiry, carried out by former Ontario NDP premier and Liberal MP Bob Rae, also fingered Parmar as the architect of the 1985 bombing that left 329 people dead — 268 of them Canadians.

In an interview with CBC's Terry Milewski last October, Singh refused to denounce extremists within Canada's Sikh community who glorify Parmar's memory.

When Milewski asked him specifically about Parmar, Singh said this: "I don't know who's responsible [for the bombing] but I think we need to find out who's responsible, we need to make sure that the investigation results in a conviction of someone who is actually responsible."

A day after a 2015 appearance by Singh at a Khalistan "sovereignty" rally ignited criticism, the NDP leader said the inquiry's findings are not in doubt and he accepts that Sikh extremists were behind the attack.

Singh said the aftermath of the bombing was painful not only for the families of the victims but also for many Sikhs who felt they were "collectively punished for the acts of some individuals."

Because of the history of violence and persecution directed at some Sikhs, it has been hard for some in the community to accept that Parmar was to blame, he said.

"There are some in the community that don't accept the official record," he said.
When asked if he thought it was appropriate for some gurdwaras — Sikh houses of worship — to display pictures of Parmar, Singh said he did not.

"Personally, I think the displaying of a picture of Mr. Parmar is something that re-traumatizes and hurts and injures people that are suffering so much in terms of that loss in their lives," he said.

"I don't think it's appropriate, so I don't think it should be done. It doesn't help us move forward with peace and reconciliation."
15/03/18 John Paul/CBC News

Kannur International Airport to a glorious take-off

Kannur International Airport, situated 25 kilometers from Kannur and Thalaserry railway stations, arguably is the most modern airport under construction in India. Although it is situated on the northern tip of Kerala, it serves Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. With 6 aerobridges, 48 check-in counters, 16 immigration and customs counters, KIAL is equipped to handle one million passengers in the first year. This is expected to go up to 5 million passengers by the year 2025. On the sidelines of "Wings India" 2018 at Hyderabad, K S Shibu Kumar, the Chief Project Engineer of KIAL, spoke to Gautam Sen and answered his questions with elan.

So how did it all begin?

KIAL is a company formed by Govt. of Kerala in 2010. Chairman of the company is the Chief Minister. I came in from Airports Authority of India on deputation and started working on the mandatory clearances from MHA, MOD, IMD, DGCA and the biggest challenge of clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forest. It's a PPP project on BOO model. 30 per cent is owned by Govt. of Kerala, 25 per cent BPCL and other small PSUs, 10 per cent AAI, balance 35 per cent is open to public. Another Rs. 892 crore came as consortium of Canara Bank, South Indian Bank & Federal Bank. We are short of Rs. 400 Crore which will be put up for IPO at a later date.

What was your personal experience, in choosing your team and how did your past experience help you?

My experience of 8 years at Delhi airport trained me a lot on international airports. Another 8 years in Tiruvanthapuram allowed me to interact with the aviation industry closely. My colleagues, who are now heading various airports in India were consulted during the project. The team shortlisted from AAI workforce, has done a grand job in 4 years, considering that effectively we work half the year due to heavy rains.

Why was Kannur chosen for an International airport?

Apart from the tourist point of view, it was a strategic decision for defence. We have a defence Enclave within KIAL. Spaces of 10 acres each has been earmarked for Airforce, Navy and Coast Guard to operate out of Kannur Airport. This has the shortest distance from the Gulf.

With so many modern airports constructed and under construction, what is the USP of Kannur Airport?

There is not one but many USPs of KIAL. Truly an International Airport constructed on 2300 acres of land, KIAL is equipped to operate Code - E aircrafts (like B-777) and compatible with Code - F aircrafts (such as A-380). We have a parking stand and a double-decker aerobridge ready for Airbus A-380 to land and park. The runways are designed to expand to accommodate A-380 when required. KIAL is going to be a hub for cargo in Kerala. Emirates has already scheduled 2 wide bodied aircrafts for Kannur Airport each day, one in the morning and the other in the evening. KIAL has 9,553 sqm of international air cargo complex, on modular format, expandable when required. This airport is going to be the second international airport of Karnataka. Coorg is 45 minutes and Mysore is 4 hours from KIAL. From tourist standpoint, 50 per cent catchment is from Karnataka and other 50 per cent Kerala and Tamil Nadu combined. It also connects Bekal and Wayanad. The Terminal building is built in a way that it integrates passengers from both domestic and international sector under one roof. The swing glass door allows the arrival section to be compartmentalized into international arrival when an international flight lands. Otherwise it is open to domestic passengers at other times.
15/03/18 Gautam Sen/millenniumpost

Jet Airways’ new SVP Edward Davidson steps in to quell pilot unrest, shares his priorities

Mumbai: Pilot woes have assumed centre-stage at Jet Airways with Edward Davidson, the airline’s recently-appointed senior vice-president (SVP) flight operations and an expat aviation veteran of 40 years, having to clearly acknowledge this in an e-mail communication to pilots in the group. He clearly spelt out that his immediate priority is to focus on addressing grievances of the cockpit crew, beginning with manpower planning in general and rostering — including allocation of international flying and roster “optimisation process”. “Let me assure all Jet Airways pilots, not just the B737 (pilots), that I hear you loud and clear. I have met and talked with a large number of you from all bases and fleets,” said Davidson, further stating that he has “retained an airline industry expert in these processes who has over 30 years’ experience in designing and maintaining roster systems that find the appropriate balance between productivity and quality of life. He starts his work this month”.

Davidson’s e-mail was in response to an anonymous mail sent by narrow-body fleet pilots on March 10 about their plight. “Our lives have been tormented and torn apart since the introduction of particular software called Pairing Optimizer. The software treats human beings as just numbers and machines, thus assigning them maximum duty and minimum rest, altering between day and night thus renders a triangle of confusion for the human body,” their mail said. Davidson, who was specifically roped in to set the airline’s operations in order and to put it on the expansion track with a massive hiring of 400 pilots (to fly the 75 narrow-body Boeing 737-MAX aircraft that it will start taking deliveries of soon), sought to reassure the pilots of his appreciation of their concerns. “Professionalism and adherence to safe operations is not negotiable on my watch,” he said, adding, “The quality of crew coaches, timelines and operational oversight leaves much to be desired. We must ensure this is repaired quickly as it impacts both your personal safety and your ability to report to flights on time. I have begun a project along with our ground services colleagues to upgrade coach quality, reduce their age and improve their operational safety and management”.
16/03/18 Manisha Singhal/Financial Express

Airport projects: The sky’s the limit

When it comes to construction projects, airports are right at the top of the list when it comes to complexity and risk. According to data provided by the Centre for Aviation (CAPA) US$1.1 trillion is spent on airport construction globally – this is broken down by US$255 billion being invested in new (greenfield) airport projects around the world and US$845 billion in projects such as new runways and terminal buildings, runway and terminal extensions.

This investment, though, is by no means spread equally around the world, with North America and Canada only spending US$3.6 billion between them on a total of 11 airport projects. It is the Asia Pacific region which is the most active when it comes to aviation projects, spending just under US$400 billion.

One project which accounts for some of that spending is Beijing’s 80 billion Yuan (US$12.6 billion) new airport, which will be one of the world’s largest when it opens in October 2019. The contractors for the project are Beijing Construction Engineering Group, Beijing Urban Construction Investment and Development Co. Ltd and China Construction 8th Engineering Division Co. Ltd.

The project is part of the large infrastructure drive overseen by President Xi Jinping. The ‘Beijing New Airport’ is made up of 1.6 million m3 of concrete, 52,000 tonnes of steel and spans a total area of 47km² including runways.

It is expected to serve an initial 45 million passengers a year with an eventual capacity of 100 million, as China seeks to boost its profile as an international aviation hub. The airport will be connected to Beijing by a high speed train with a top speed of 350 km an hour, as well as an inter-city train and an expressway. It is hoped that the new airport will relieve pressure on Beijing’s existing international airport.

India is looking to boost its connectivity by establishing 100 airports – doubling the current number – in the next 15 years at an estimated cost of RS 4 trillion rupees (US$62.2 billion). The Regional Air Connectivity Scheme will split the investment between building 70 airports at new locations while the rest of the money will be allocated to second airports or expanding existing airfields. There has already been approval given for 18 new airports.

In an interview Jayant Sinha, minister of state for aviation in India, said: “Airport planning in the past was such that an airport is saturated by the time its development work is completed. We need to get out of that incremental trap and think for the future and take a long-term view. We will need to add about 100 new airports, as aviation in India grows.”

Information from the Centre for Aviation suggests that India’s aviation industry will be the third largest for departures by 2019. One of the flagship new airports will be the Greater Noida airport at Jewar, approximately 60 km from Delhi and 2,378 acres of land has already been acquired to develop the airport. Catering to around 30 to 50 million passengers every year over next 10-15 years, the project will eliminate the current dependency on Delhi airport for air travel.
15/03/18 Andy Brown/International Construction

AAI conducts international workshop for utilising GAGAN

New Delhi: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) conducted an international workshop for utilising GPS-aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN).

In the two-day workshop that concluded on Friday civil aviation representatives from SAARC and Southeast Asian nations were provided training about GAGAN.
In keeping with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's objective of using technology as a means of development and co-operation, the AAI has offered GAGAN to SAARC and Southeast Asian countries in order to allow them to reap the significant benefits that accrue from such an advanced navigation system.

The workshop was inaugurated by R. N. Choubey, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation with Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra, Chairman, AAI delivering the Key Note address. A. K. Dutta, Member (Air Navigation Services), AAI along with S. V. Satish, Executive Director (Air Traffic Management), AAI and in charge GAGAN, set the context for the workshop by providing an update on the GAGAN programme.

During the workshop, AAI, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as equal partners in implementation of GAGAN shared their perspective and learnings from the development, deployment and certification of the system along with Raytheon, which has provided the ground equipment necessary for GAGAN operations.

Leading aircraft and receiver manufacturers such as Airbus, Bombardier, BELL helicopters, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins and Accord also provided information to the SAARC and Southeast Asian nations regarding readiness of solutions for GAGAN enablement in various types of aircraft. KPMG also presented how a business case was built to prove to the stakeholders that GAGAN was not only a viable alternative to the current land-based navigational aids, but is a highly efficient option.
Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra, Chairman, AAI stated that the system had been designed with adequate capabilities to be able to cater to the needs of the Asia Pacific region. He hoped that the countries across the region collaborate to operationalize Asia's SBAS in a time bound manner.

The conference was followed by a visit to the Master Control Center at Nangloi, Delhi on the second day of the workshop. The representatives of neighbouring countries were shown the infrastructure that has been built to ensure operational integrity of the GAGAN service. The visitors not only appreciated the efforts being made by AAI to push the boundaries of safe, reliable and cost-efficient air navigation services, but they also expressed sincere intent that their countries can collaborate towards making GAGAN not just a reality in India but also across a larger region.
16/03/18 ANI/Business Standard

Diamond City may get third airline operator in Air Asia India

Surat: If all goes well, the Diamond City may get a third airline operator in Air Asia India in the next couple of months.
Senior officials from Air Asia India Private Limited led by head of commercial Kiran Jain visited the city and organized a series of meetings with the stakeholders from the trade and industry, private organizations, non-governmental organizations and airport groups crusading for the increased air connectivity from Surat on Thursday.
The visit of Air Asia India team is credited to the ‘We Work for a Working Airport at Surat’ (WWWAS), a Facebook group, crusading for the increased air connectivity and international airport from the past many years. The group members were constantly in touch with senior officials in Bengaluru and they convinced them to visit Surat to explore traffic and business potential.
Talking to TOI, WWWAS member Sanjay Jain said, “We have given a detailed presentation to the Air Asia India team on the potential routes and air traffic. We have also shared the passenger traffic data of the last two years and the team members were impressed with the kind of phenomenal increase.”
Jain added, “The airline has shown its interest in operating on the destinations, including Indore, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Pune. They will be submitting a detailed report to the group CEO in Bengaluru for final approval.”
16/03/18 Times of India

Air India confirms its Israel flights over Saudi Arabia will start next week

New Delhi:  State-run carrier Air India said Friday it will begin flights to and from Israel over Saudi airspace from next week, in a move that ends a decades-long Saudi ban on the use of its airspace for flights to Israel.
The new route is being launched at a time of growing ties between India and several Middle Eastern countries, and after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at a diplomatic realignment in the region earlier this month.

“The Air India flights to Israel will start from March 22. The flights will take around seven hours and five minutes, and fly over… Saudi airspace,” airline spokesman Praveen Bhatnagar said.

The new service was first announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last July, with Netanyahu then suggesting in January the route could pass over Saudi Arabia.
16/03/18 AFP/Sue Surkes/Times of Israel

SpiceJet denies reports of fire aboard aircraft

Mangaluru: SpiceJet has denied reports in a section of the media that there was a fire in its aircraft bound for Hyderabad from Mangaluru International Airport at 8.50 a.m. on Wednesday. The reports had suggested that the plane had to return from the runway to the parking bay.

The official spokesperson of the airlines, in a release on Thursday, said: “The news reports are factually incorrect, baseless and defamatory. Nothing of this sort happened. No fire brigade was called to the spot, as stated by some news reports, nor was any emergency declared.”

“It is really unfortunate that some news organisations have tried to sensationalise and twist the incident and create a safety scare,” the release said. “After pushback, a technical issue was noticed in the aircraft SG 1007, IXE-HYD and as a precautionary measure the aircraft went back to the bay on March 14.”

The spokesperson said all the passengers were deplaned safely after the issue was noticed and offered alternative flights for Hyderabad, which included a flight via Mumbai, a flight via Bengaluru, an evening direct flight, and a flight on the next day.
15/03/18 The Hindu

India-bound IndiGo flight returns to Toulouse due to technical glitch

Toulouse: IndiGo Airline's brand new ATR plane, which was flying from France's Toulouse to India on Thursday, returned to its base an hour after taking off.

The flight returned to its base due to low oil pressure in one of its engines for maintenance check.
"Within an hour into flight, engine low pressure was detected in one of the engines of IndiGo ATR 72-600. The aircraft was being ferried (non revenue flight/no revenue passengers onboard), from Toulouse (France) to India." read an official note.

"As a precautionary measure the aircraft immediately returned to Toulouse for maintenance checks. Post maintenance the aircraft was released for ferry. The matter has been brought to the notice of the regulator," it added.

16/03/18 ANI/Business Standard

Jet Airways to deepen domestic presence with 144 new weekly flights this summer

Continuing its focus on growing its domestic presence, Jet Airways, India's premier full-service international airline, will introduce 144 weekly flights in the first phase of its forthcoming summer schedule.

The new schedule will feature a combination of non-stop services – several of them on unique routes being introduced for the first time in the industry, as well as direct, one-stop services between new city pairs in the airline’s existing pan India network, bolstering it further.

As part of the new schedule, Jet Airways will strengthen connectivity between the country's capital and the North Eastern region via a bouquet of pioneering, non-stop services including thrice-a-week flights to Aizawl and Jorhat and four times-a-week flights to Silchar from New Delhi. The airline also commences four times-a-week non-stop service to Imphal from Delhi. Cementing its presence further in the young, urban metro city of Pune, the airline also launches new, non-stop services to Patna, Raipur and Chandigarh. Additionally, Jet Airways begins a daily, non-stop service for the very first time between Mumbai and Tiruchirappalli - Tamil Nadu's famous temple city and a religious centre, aside from a new, direct service between Tiruchirappalli and Delhi, according to Jet Airways.

The airline is also commencing direct, one-stop services between Mumbai and the North Eastern cities of Jorhat and Imphal, marking its return to the capital of Manipur. Imphal will also be connected with Pune with direct flights via Guwahati and Kolkata, enhancing access and connectivity between the North-East and its hubs in Mumbai and Delhi. In fact, Guwahati will play an instrumental role in facilitating this season's connectivity, enabling non-stop daily flights also to Bagdogra, Imphal and Mumbai. The upcoming robust connectivity between the North East and India’s financial as well as political Capital is expected to provide a positive stimulus to the region’s economy, boosting tourism as well as development of business and trade, leading to growth enhancement of Cargo movement.

Among other network enhancements, summer 2018 will also see Jet Airways connect the holy city of Amritsar with non-stop and direct flights from its hubs in Mumbai and Bengaluru respectively for the first time. In fact, Bengaluru will witness addition of other new, non-stop flights that will connect it to the bustling cities of Indore and Patna, reinforcing the cities’ position as Jet Airways’ third domestic hub, after Mumbai and Delhi. Additionally, Jet Airways will also connect Patna with non-stop flights to Mumbai.
16/03/18 Financial

Jet Airways to fly to Amritsar, Patna from Bengaluru

Bengaluru: Jet Airways, Jet Airways flight to amritsar, jet airways flight to patna, jet airways flight to bangalore “The service will be on five days a week to Amritsar via Delhi, six days a week to Indore and daily to Patna starting from the week of March 25,” said Jet in a statement here.
Jet Airways will soon fly to Amritsar, Patna and Indore from Bengaluru, the carrier announced on Friday. “The service will be on five days a week to Amritsar via Delhi, six days a week to Indore and daily to Patna starting from the week of March 25,” said Jet in a statement here.

“With the addition of these flights, Bengaluru, the fastest growing metro, will have its position reinforced as Jet’s third upcoming domestic hub, after Mumbai and Delhi,” it said.
16/03/18 IANS/Financial Express

AAI gets hold of 16 acres for airport expansion

Pune:Airports Authority of India officials in Pune on Thursday said they have got the official possession of 15.84 acre land belonging to the Indian Air Force (lAF) and the construction on the plot will begin soon.
A tweet on Thursday by the Pune airport authorities said, “The IAF has given permission for work on the 15.84 acre land. This will speed up the projects of the airport.”
Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar in 2016 had said that the IAF will give the land to the Pune airport for expansion. An airport official, when contacted on Thursday, said,” We got the official letter from the IAF today and we can start construction on the plot.”
The airport authorities have been saying that a new terminal building, at a cost of Rs 500 crore, will come up on the plot with the facility expected to be ready by 2021. Last year, the IAF provided additional 16 acres of land to the AAI for expansion. The IAF has asked for land in lieu of the plots.
“The state government is working on the matter and infrastructure committee chairman and Union minister Nitin Gadkaro has already told the state to provide 15 acres of land to IAF and additional 10 acres to the AAI. Earlier this week, there was a meeting about this between Pune MP Anil Shirole and the PMC and next week the PMC will have a meeting with the IAF authorities. More land under IAF which is unused has been sought,” another official added.
16/03/18 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Chandigarh International Airport To Remain Completely Shut For 20 Days in May 2018

Chandigarh International Airport is all set to lose its aerial connectivity by remaining completely shut for 20 days in the month of May this year. Due to major expansion works and projects, Chandigarh International Airport has scrapped the flight schedule for May 2018. Losing over 1 lac travellers along with a great deal of monetary loss to the airlines, the Airports Authority of India, i.e. AAI has informed them well in advance about the same.

So, for all those who were planning their itinerary via Chandigarh International Airport, it is time to re-schedule your plans. Know details about Chandigarh International Airport being closed along with dates and details herein.

As the airport shall be completely shut for at least 3 weeks, travellers now shall have to plan their outings in the peak summer travel season again. The Chandigarh International Airport shall remain closed from May 12, 2018 to May 31st this year. The airlines have been have been notified about the closure of Chandigarh International Airport in advance for them to be prepared for the same.

Serving as the air base for Indian Air Force along with civilian flights, Chandigarh International Airport was previously shut in February this year. This was done to enhance the 9000 ft runway to 12000 ft. Although some of the expansion work was completed in February. The pending remaining work of expansion of Chandigarh International Airport shall be accomplished in the next closure of May 2018 now.
16/03/18 Oberoi Aneesha/Chandigarh Metro

Government paid ₹1100 crore more per Rafale: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: After repeatedly asking the NDA government to reveal the actual price of the Rafale fighter aircraft deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday put forward figures and claimed the Modi government paid ₹36,000 crore more than what the UPA had agreed to.

He said the amount was equivalent to 10% of India’s defence budget.

Tagging an annual report of the French plane maker, Dassault Aviation, which manufactures the Rafale, Mr. Gandhi tweeted that government of India paid ₹1670 crore per aircraft that is almost ₹1100 crore higher than UPA’s price of ₹570 crore.

“Dassault called RM’s lie and released prices paid per RAFALE plane in report: Qatar = 1319 Cr, MODI = 1670 Cr, MMS = 570 Cr,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted.

Mr. Gandhi also argued that India paid ‘extra’ at a time when the armed forces are facing a resource crunch. “1100 Cr per plane or 36,000 Cr i.e 10% of our Defence budget, in the pocket. Meanwhile, our Army begs our Govt. for money,” said the Congress chief.

While the government has refused to reveal the exact price of the deal, in November 2016, Minister of State for Defence Subash Bhambre in a written reply had mentioned the approximate price of each fighter jet as ₹670 crore.
16/03/18 The Hindu

Maple's duty-free store at Mumbai airport offers 20% discount on Apple products

Passengers taking flight from the Mumbai airport can now take advantages of exclusive discount son apple products.

The country's first duty free Maple store at T2, CSIA departure at the Mumbai airport is offering discount upto 20 per cent on all Apple products.

The new Maple store at the airport offers a range of Mac, iPad, iPhone and Apple watches at duty free prices along with a wide range of phone accessories.
At the opening of a store, Maple Head of Retail and Marketing Vinayak Kamath said, “We’re very excited to open a new store at the International airport where our focus is to give travellers the best experience while they shop for Apple products and accessories at the Maple store."

“We offer a superb range of accessories from the best brands across the world. These include Adam Elements, Zifriend, Xmini and Quick brown fox leather bags," he added.

Meanwhile, in a tie, both, the Mumbai and Delhi Airport have been rated as the World's Best Airport for Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards, 2017 for customer experience, announced by the Airport Council International (ACI).
15/03/18 DNA

Emirates flight lands in Hyderabad for medical emergency, passenger declared dead on arrival

Hyderabad: A Dubai-Bangkok flight of Emirates made an unscheduled landing at the airport here today due to a medical emergency involving a passenger, who, however, was declared dead on arrival, airport sources and the airline said. The flight landed at the international airport here around 4.30 PM after the passenger was understood to have collapsed on board, airport sources said. A spokesperson for Emirates said the passenger was confirmed to have passed away on arrival and the flight resumed its journey to Bangkok about one hour and forty-five minutes later.

“Emirates confirms that flight EK372 Dubai to Bangkok on 16 March was diverted to Hyderabad due to a medical emergency. Sadly on arrival the passenger was confirmed to have passed away. Emirates offers sincere condolences to the family,” a statement said without giving any further details.
16/03/18 PTI/Financial Express

Chennai airport put on high alert after bomb threat call

Chennai: Chennai airport officials were put on high alert following a bomb threat call to an airline, hours before the arrival of the vice president and defence minister to the Tamil Nadu capital.

The call was made to an airline operating flights between here and Hyderabad, and security measures have been put in place, officials said.

Twenty flights are scheduled through the day between the two cities.

Security was stepped up at the airport in view of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visit today.
16/03/18 PTI/Indian Express

Hastakshar art gallery launched at Kolkata Airport

Kolkata: A one of its kind art gallery 'Hastakshar' was launched at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, commonly known as the Kolkata Airport on Friday, introducing art in its various forms to the commuters. The unique project initiated by Airports Authority of India seeks to bring the vision and talent of artists out of galleries and museums, out to the community at large through the airport terminals. The Art Gallery at the Kolkata Airport is in partnership with Hastakshar Art & Craft, an enterprise involved in the recognition and promotion of art amongst people and art collectors and providing a platform to the local and regional artists.
16/03/18 millennium post

Gold capsules hidden inside dates instead of seeds seized at airport

Cylindrical shaped gold bars, hidden inside hollowed dates were seized at the Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) airport on Wednesday.

A customs officer told Hindustan Times that a passenger on Jet Airways flight 9W-509 was carrying a packet of dates. On offering a date, they found cylindrical shaped gold bars instead of seeds. 34 gold bars, weighing 350 grams were found.

This is the first time the customs officials have come across gold smuggled in dates. The caught passenger was not the only one and another smuggler was caught in the evening carrying 25 pieces of gold, weighing 259 gms.

Both the passengers weren't arrested as the value of the gold didn't exceed INR 20 lakh, reported the daily.
16/03/18 Khaleej Times

Three held at airport on charge of theft

Kochi: The police on Thursday arrested three employees of a private customs house agency (CHA) at the Nedumbassery airport on the charge of stealing materials from export consignments.

The arrested are Sajad Syed Muhammed, 21, Aashik, 22, both natives of Kunnamkulam, and Sujil Sunder, 24, of Alangad near Aluva.

Acting on a complaint that cloth pieces in a consignment destined to Italy had gone missing, the authorities examined the CCTV visuals at the ground handling section and found the trio open the consignment. Following this, the police were alerted, and they were taken into custody.

According to the police, CHA staffers are authorised to open up consignments for inspection under certain circumstances like suspicion of the presence of banned items. The police are examining if the trio had committed similar offences earlier. “They are being interrogated to ascertain whether anyone else is involved,” officials said. The three were produced before a local court which remanded them in judicial custody.
16/03/18 The Hindu

Customs seizes air gun parts at Delhi airport, 1 held

New Delhi: An Indian man was arrested at the Delhi airport by the Customs for allegedly trying to smuggle air gun parts into the county, according to an official statement issued today.

The man was intercepted after his arrival from Dubai yesterday.

A detailed search of his baggage and personal examination resulted in the seizure of an air gun barrel and air gun trigger action of Carl Walther make, three gun mounted scope and butt stock (plastic), the statement issued by the Customs said.

“The said parts can be converted into an air gun (5.5mm/0.22 bore),” it said.
16/03/18 PTI/