Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ravindra Gaikwad's ban from airlines: DGCA needs institutional mechanisms to fight hooliganism

If you answer to the name of Ravindra Gaikwad, are not the (in)famous Member of Parliament from Osmanabad, and intend to take a domestic flight, beware. With no specific mechanism in place to bar an individual from flights, India’s airlines seem to have played to the gallery, never mind the legalities or even the practical difficulties in implementing the ban on the MP. Shiv Sena’s Ravindra Gaikwad was banned from all domestic flights on Friday, after Air India and private airlines united and barred him from coming on board. The MP had to finally leave for Pune on a Rajdhani. The airlines were reacting to Gaikwad hitting an Air India staffer with his sandal on Thursday, after refusing to disembark from a flight at Delhi. The MP was travelling on an open ticket from Pune and was miffed at not being allotted a business-class seat on the all-economy flight.
First, it is not clear if the ban is restricted to Gaikwad’s domestic air travel or will also apply to overseas flights by Indian airlines. Second, is it indefinite?
On the very day that airlines decided to ban Gaikwad from flying, a peculiar situation developed. The crew of a leading airline was on ‘pins and needles’ yesterday evening as there were clear instructions to stop the MP from boarding this flight to Pune and their checklist showed an 'R Gaikwad' booked on this flight. Imagine the crew’s relief when the gentleman in question actually turned out to be “an old man travelling with family,” said a person close to developments. This person said the crew allowed this individual on the flight before confirming he was not the barred MP since the photo of the MP had been circulated beforehand. But how will Air India or any private airline actually implement this decision for other such bans in future?
The violence unleashed by Gaikwad is condemnable in the strongest possible manner but now, after the airlines’ unilateral decision to bar him from flying, countless other men christened ‘Ravindra Gaikwad’ could well face harassment when they want to next take a flight to anywhere in this country. There is no fool proof mechanism in place to implement such a ban, how does only the intended Ravindra Gaikwad get barred from boarding a flight?

An airline veteran spoke of the need to make some sort of identification mandatory while booking domestic tickets, saying linking the process to Aadhar or a passport identification could be a possible solution. If this happens, it is feasible to just block a particular Aadhar number from booking an airline ticket, otherwise the process will remain arbitrary.
25/03/17 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post

It was almost like a hijack, one against us, says cabin crew

New Delhi: In her 11-year-long career with Air India, senior cabin crew Pratibha Dhar said she has never witnessed a day as horrific as Thursday. One of her colleagues, R Sukumar (62), was beaten with a slipper by Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad after he asked the minister to disembark from the AI852 from Pune-Delhi Thursday. In the 83-second video clip that went viral, Dhar could be seen pleading with Gaikwad to stop the ruckus as he was a “role model” and a “democratic leader”. Recalling the incident, she said they landed at Indira Gandhi International Airport at 9.10 am.
Since Thursday, she said she has been having sleepless nights. “It was a nightmare. I still can’t sleep. Just before we landed, we suddenly heard this man (Gaikwad) screaming and asking us to call senior officials. Disclosing his identity, he said he wanted to meet the Civil Aviation minister,” Dhar told The Indian Express.
“Before we could find out the reason for his anger, he had almost thrown one of my colleagues, a senior citizen, off the plane.”
Deputy chief cabin crew, Shweta Mukhia, said she had tried to pacify the MP.
“We asked him to deboard the flight as we had to prepare for its scheduled departure to Goa at 10.55 am. But he started misbehaving with us,” Mukhia said.
“As an elected representative, he should be a role model. He threatened to set the plane on fire. It was almost a hijack-type situation — one passenger held up the flight for 40-50 minutes, beating, abusing and threatening us. I have heard about such incidents, but I experienced it for the first time in my career,” she said.
Sukumar, a contractual employee of Air India, said, “My crew told me one passenger had not disembarked. I went to meet the MP to ask what was wrong but he said he would only speak to the senior management and asked me to call the CMD.”
“I said I cannot call the CMD. I said I will have to complain to his higher-ups. He asked me who and I said, if required, I will complain to Modiji. As soon as I uttered Modi’s name, he took his slipper and started hitting me. He even tried to push me through one of the aircraft doors,” he said.
25/03/17 Mahender Singh Manral/Indian Express

Airlines under government scanner for banning unruly Sena MP Gaikwad

New Delhi: All those rejoicing Indian carriers' decision to bar Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad from flying should keep their celebrations on hold.
The government is examining the 'legality' of all schedule Indian airlines' move to bar him from flying. Air India, IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir had issued the first-of-its-kind no-fly order for an individual on Friday, a day after the MP had beaten up an AI staffer with his sandals. Tata Group airlines, Vistara and AirAsia India, have also decided to bar Gaikwad for their flights.
"The airlines have advised us that they would not be willing to carry this particular passenger (Gaikwad). We are studying their inputs on this matter. This is an action they have taken independently and we are examining it. Any action undertaken has to be lawful; it has to fit in with the general provisions of the law and the Aircraft Act. We are seeing how this whole approach should work. We have to see if this action of the airlines is within the framework of law," Jayant Sinha, Union minister of state for aviation, told TOI.
If the government says the ban is not in conformity with the law, then there could be a face-off with Indian carriers who, for once, are unanimous on the issue of not allowing Gaikwad on their flights.
"A common citizen would have been arrested on the spot for behaving like this. The MP stayed on the aircraft for 40 minutes and had to be 'requested' to alight. A common man even threatening to stay inside an aircraft and abusing crew would be handed over to security and jailed," fumed an airline official.
25/03/17 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Aviation Min To Probe “Legality” of Fly Ban on Shiv Sena MP

The government is examining the legality of the ban on flying that Air India and the Federation of Airlines have imposed on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad.
After Air India filed two FIRs against the lawmaker for assaulting one of their staff members, IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir also issue a no-fly order.
MoS Jayant Sinha condemned the MP’s unruly behaviour. He told the Times of India:
The airlines have advised us that they would not be willing to carry this particular passenger (Gaikwad). We are studying their inputs on this matter. This is an action they have taken independently and we are examining it.
An airline official told Times of India that a common citizen would have been jailed for such violent acts, while the MP was “requested” to deboard the flight after he reportedly hit the staffer with his sandal.
In the wake of the ban, Gaikwad took a train back to Mumbai on 24 March. He pushed reporters away when they approached him at the platform.
25/03/17 The Quint

MP ban strikes a chord with airlines staff

Kolkata: The decision by all Indian carriers to ban Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad for assaulting an Air India staffer has been hailed by a cross-section of employees at various airports, including Kolkata. They see in the decision a divine retribution for all the humiliation and abuse they have quietly suffered over the years at the hands of VIPs, hoping the tables would turn one day.
"VIPs have been given a long rope for far too long. Some of them behave attrociously with airline staff and get away . Had regular passengers behaved half as bad, they would have been turned away . It is good to see the Federation of Indian Airlines display some spine and act against the MP ," said the airport manager of a private airline at Kolkata airport.
In 2007, a Left MP from Bengal created a ruckus at Kolkata airport when he was denied boarding pass for reporting late for a flight to Mumbai. The MP , who has since lost the Parliamentary seat, threatened to get the young Kingfisher Airlines ground staffer dismissed for not bending the rule. The plucky airline employee, however, stuck to her stand, and the remaining 117 passengers on flight IT 512 who had reported on time didn't get held up due to the errant MP.
The next year, a Jharkhand MP who was also a Union minister of state, booked on a Kingfisher Airlines flight to Ranchi and went a step further after arriving late. When told that he could not board the aircraft, the MP threatened to keep the aircraft grounded in Ranchi if he was not accommodated in the flight.
25/03/17 Subhro Niyogi/Times of India

Airlines back AI: Why doesn't govt make a no-fly list for troublemakers?

New Delhi: Airline executives in unison demanded a no-fly list on the lines of those in other countries so that habitual offenders could be debarred from boarding aircraft.

In a rare show of strength, private airlines decided they would refuse to fly Shiv Sena parliamentarian Ravindra Gaikwad for allegedly assaulting an Air India employee on Thursday.

“Air India and FIA member airlines have decided to ban this Member of Parliament from flying on all our flights with immediate effect,” a statement from the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) said. The FIA is a lobby group of private airlines IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir and Jet Airways.

The airlines also demanded exemplary action against the accused MP for assaulting the employee. Air India Chairman Ashwani Lohani stated full support for the 60-year-old employee.

“Passengers displaying disturbing and abusive behavior get away with it. We have raised the issue with the ministry and the DGCA several times but with little effect,” said an executive with a private airline.
25/03/17 Arindam Majumdar/Business Standard

‘Will raise hand where needed’: Sena on Air India staffer assault by its MP

Mumbai: The Shiv Sena does not support Ravindra Gaikwad's behaviour but party leaders would "raise their hand" wherever needed, its Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said here on Friday.

He was responding to a question at a press conference here about the party's stand on Gaikwad hitting an Air India employee with a slipper on Thursday.

"The Shiv Sena can never support Ravindra Gaikwad's behaviour. But there should be an inquiry to find out why our MP was forced to behave this way," Raut said.

"Hitting anybody can never be the culture of the Sena, but we will surely raise our hand wherever required," Raut said.

It is not about a single MP but thousands of passengers who have to face numerous troubles due to Air India's poor service, he said.

"It would have been better had Air India been as quick in improving its service as it was in banning our MP from flying on its aircraft. Passengers are fleeced at airports like Mumbai and Delhi. What happens to their (AI's) quick decision-making then?" he asked.

Before the party take any action against Gaikwad, the MP will have to face action as per the law, Raut said.
25/03/17 Deccan Chronicle

Air India staffer assault case: Ravindra Gaikwad denies being summoned by Uddhav

New Delhi: While media was abuzz with reports of Uddhav Thackeray's meeting with Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaekwad after he assaulted an Air India staffer on Thursday, the MP said that no meeting has been planned yet.
Gaikwad was reportedly to visit Matoshree to meet Thackeray and to narrate his version of the incident today. When asked if he was called he said, "I have not been called yet and there has been no communication with the Shiv Sena chief."
On being asked if he spoke to Uddhav after the incident, he said that he did not have a detailed interaction between the party chief. He added that he was heading for his constituency Osmanabad.

He also refuted the rumours surrounding the creation of a three-member committee to probe the incident. "I have been to stay mum and not interact with any media," Gaikwad told India Today.
Earlier there were reports that the party was likely to issue a warning to the MP.
Gaikwad was barred from flying by prominent airliners after he assaulted an Air India staffer on Thursday. After he was barred from flying, he had to board a train to Mumbai on Friday.
25/03/17 India Today

My husband reacted as Air India staffers insulted PM, says rogue MP's wife

Mumbai: Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad's unruly bhevaiour+ on Thursday has stunned his own kin as well. His wife Usha told Mirror this was the first time that she witnessed his "violent side".
"I had never imagined my husband would be hitting somebody, like he did in Delhi. For the first time, his violent side has been seen and that was mostly because of the rude behavior by the airline staffers," she insisted.

Gaikwad, who represents the Osmanabad Lok Sabha constituency, had visited Pune with his wife Usha and son Kiran for a family function a few days ago. Kiran had recently lost the zilla parishad polls in Osmanabad. After the function, his family stayed back in Pune while he decided to fly back to Delhi on Thursday.
"My husband has a fairly long experience in politics," Usha said. "He was an MLA for two terms and is now representing the Osmanabad constituency in the Lok Sabha. Teaching was his profession and he has been extremely popular in Osmanabad because of his friendly behaviour. Anyone who knows him personally would have not even imagined that he would be doing something like this," she said.
She claimed that her husband, who was caught on camera force-feeding a Muslim employee during Ramzaan+ at the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi a few years ago, doesn't get angry at all.
25/03/17 Anurag Bende/Mumbai Mirror/Times of India

FIA’s move to ban Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad shows some spine

New Delhi: The Federation of Indian Airlines has shown some spine finally to come out in support of Air India and its aggrieved staffer who was beaten up by Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad with his slipper 25 times onboard a flight. Air India and FIA banned Gaikwad from flying on their aircraft from immediate effect.
The MP had assaulted the staffer after the latter asked him to vacate the plane after it had landed in Delhi but he was miffed as he didn’t get to fly in business class. It is also good to see that the FIA came in support of a non-member airline–Air India. Members of the FIA include IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir.
There are signs that when self-styled heavyweights like Gaikwad try to bully, there is some unity in the airline sector which will safeguard the honour of employees in such situations.
MPs, MLAs and other ‘VVIPs’ have caused many fracas and created a nuisance in the past at many places and have gotten away easily.
24/03/17 Kanishka Singh/Indian Express

Sena asks Air India to introspect

New Delhi:  Boarding a domestic airline will now be just a flight of fancy for Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, who beat up a 60-year-old Air India staffer with his sandal and tried to throw him out of the aircraft in Delhi on Thursday. In a first in the country, all scheduled Indian airlines on Friday barred the Lok Sabha member from their flights for an indefinite period.
Acting on complaints of the victim and Air India, the Delhi police registered an FIR against Gaikwad for attempt to commit culpable homicide and for assault or criminal force with an intent to dishonour a person. "We're transferring the case to the crime branch for a thorough probe," said senior police officer Dependra Pathak, adding that the MP may be called for questioning.
But both Gaikwad and his party, Shiv Sena, remained unrepentant. While Gaikwad left for Mumbai by train, Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said Air India "needs to introspect" and ponder "what would happen if the public decides to blacklist the airline" — a not-so-veiled warning to the national carrier and other airlines that banned the MP as a passenger.
Raut said, "Aam aadmi ho ya mantri ho, kisi ka bhi gussa phut sakta hai agar uske saath galat hua hai (anybody can lose their temper if they've been wronged, be it a common man or a minister)... Galti hui hai, haat utha hai... We'll find out who's responsible for this. So what if an FIR has been registered? Hum dekh lenge aur kis par FIR honi chahiye."
25/03/17 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Obsessive focus on cost, efficiency made IndiGo BS Company of the Year 2016

InterGlobe Aviation, the company that operates IndiGo, India’s most profitable airline, has redefined aviation in the country. The airline, which started operations in 2006, has become the largest in the country and has proved that it is possible to consistently make profits in the highly competitive domestic aviation industry.

IndiGo has run a tight ship with an obsessive focus on cost. It brought in efficiency to reduce turnaround time, getting more out of each aircraft, without losing focus on quality, cleanliness and customer service. IndiGo was the first airline to tell customers that it respected their time and made “on-time performance” a key metric, and continuously reinforced the message. It also made flying a pleasurable experience with responsive attendants, innovative food and beverages, and quirky merchandise.

The company had announced its arrival with a bang in the 2005 Paris Air Show through a surprise $6 billion order of 100 planes, when very few had even heard about it. Naturally, people were sceptical. Teal Group, a US-based aerospace consulting firm, even said that the order would never convert into final deliveries. In 2016, the airline completed a decade of operations and is currently valued at around Rs 35,000 crore, many times more than the $80 million that promoters Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia had initially invested.

The year 2015-16 was also a landmark one for the company, as it came out with its initial public offering (IPO) in October 2015. For the aviation industry, 2015-16 was a relatively comfortable year with soft crude prices, allowing airlines to add capacity in a mad rush for market share, but at the cost of losing pricing power. IndiGo, however, ended the year with a Rs 1,990-crore net profit, the highest in the airline’s history.
25/03/17 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard

Vistara starts direct Delhi-Leh flights on weekends

New Delhi: Full-service airline Vistara on Saturday said it has started direct flights on the Delhi-Leh route on weekends.

The frequency will increase to daily flights during peak summer season, starting from May 10, the airline said.

"The airline has begun to operate direct flights between Delhi and Leh in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturdays and Sundays from March 25. Vistara has especially configured two Airbus A-320 aircraft for the service," it added.
25/03/17 IANS/Business Standard

Deoghar airport by 2019

Ranchi: The Deoghar airport would be completed by 2019 and would prove a milestone for composite and comprehensive development of the state, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das today said.
He was speaking after Jharkhand government, DRDO and Airport Authority of India signed an MoU to develop Deoghar airport.
Das said that eastern states should develop and the airport at Deoghar would play a vital role in it.
The new airport and new air connectivity would boost investments, he said adding work was on for connectivity between Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Dumka, Palamau, Ranchi and Deoghar.
A proposal has been kept from flight connectivity between Ranchi and Chennai and Ranchi and Hyderabad, he said.

Sharjah flight from Kathmandu makes emergency landing in Lucknow

Lucknow: A Sharjah-bound Air Arabia flight with nearly 168 passengers on board from Kathmandu made an emergency landing at Lucknow airport on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday because of a technical snag in the aircraft's engine.
The flight (G9-532) took off around 11pm on Friday evening. Just over an hour into flight the pilot detected vibrations in the engine. Eyewitnesses said that the aircraft almost shuddered mid air when the pilot decided to make an emergency landing at the Lucknow airport around 1 am.
"Full emergency was declared and necessary action was taken," said Airport Authority of India spokesperson. The passengers were later taken to hotels by the handling agency, the spokesperson added.
25/03/17 Pankaj Shah/Times of India

AI seeks slots for Mumbai flight service from Ozar

Nashik: The state carrier Air India is keen to start a flight service connecting Nashik with Mumbai. It has written a letter to Airport Authority of India (AAI), seeking slots at Mumbai and Nashik airports to start the service connecting these two cities.
Air India said its subsidiary Alliance Air is mulling a Mumbai-Nashik-Mumbai flight and wants AAI to provide slots at Mumbai and Nashik airports.
Lok Sabha member Hemant Godse recently had a meeting with Air India chairman Ashwani Lohani on commencing flight from Ozar airport in Nashik to Hyderabad and Surat.
An apex body of industries Nashik Industries & Manufacturers' Association (NIMA) had also given a proposal to Air India for the purpose. However, the state carrier said it wants to begin with the Nashik-Mumbai as it is more viable.
25/03/17 Tushar Pawar/Times of India

Domestic terminal of IGI airport will soon be a Metro ride away

New Delhi: By the end of this year, the domestic terminal of the Indira Gandhi International Airport will be a Metro ride away as the DMRC’s upcoming Janakpuri West to Botanical Garden line is set to have a stop metres away from Terminal 1. With four interchange stations plotted on the 38-km line, it will connect commuters from all parts of the capital, as well as Gurgaon and Noida.
Starting from Janakpuri West, the corridor will run through 22 stations and connect south Delhi at Vasant Vihar, Munirka, IIT, Hauz Khas, Greater Kailash, Kalkaji, Okhla, Jamia Millia among others and culminate at Botanical Garden in Noida. For commuters in south Delhi it will be a direct ride — as quick as 20 minutes from Nehru Place.
The four interchange stations — Janakpuri West, Hauz Khas, Kalkaji Mandir and Botanical Garden — will connect the upcoming line with four existing Metro corridors. Janakpuri West and Botanical Garden Metro stations will link the corridor to either ends of the Blue Line (Dwarka Sector 21 to Noida City Centre/Vaishali) in west and east Delhi respectively.
Commuters from Gurgaon, north and central Delhi will have to change trains at Hauz Khas station, while those in Tughlakabad, Lajpat Nagar and Khan Market can change at the Kalkaji Mandir station.
According to the initial estimates in the Detailed Project Report, the ridership of Terminal 1 station in 2016 is expected to be 66,405 commuters per day and is likely to rise to 97,184 commuters a day by 2021.
25/03/17 Indian Express

At airport, giving them wings to fly

A bunch of overqualified airport workers with basic jobs have been assigned functions they are ideally suited for, thanks to a fantastic initiative.
A master's in zoology, Suman Paul used to sweep floors at the airport. A polytechnic engineer, Subha Sannyashi's job was to mow grass off the runway. An MBA in human resources, Nita Das Kundu used to spend her day passing on telephone calls to one extension to the other.
Now, all three — and at least five others like them — handle the Airport Operation Control Centre (AOCC), one of the most prestigious and responsible wings at the Kolkata airport, maintaining direct liaison with pilots, air traffic control, airlines and the airport.
"We identified that some of the men who were working as Group D staff and other tasks that required lower intellect were actually far more qualified to handle better responsibilities. We identified some of the talents over a period of time and have inducted them in the AOCC department," said Atul Dikshit, the Kolkata airport director.
The recipients of the new jobs are even happier that although they were once forced to take up jobs that required much less qualifications, they can now hold their heads high.
25/03/17 Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India

SBI mulling Air India request to reduce interest rate

New Delhi: In order to provide some relief to the debt-laden Air India, the country's largest public sector bank, State Bank of India (SBI) and its other consortium lenders are considering the request of the airline's chief to cut the interest rate on its borrowings. Ashwani Lohani, chairman and managing director of Air India, in a letter to SBI requested the lender to link the interest rate to marginal cost of fund-based lending rate (MCLR) from the existing base rate. "The reduction of interest rate to 8.5 per cent from 10.05 per cent will provide the much needed relief. The alignment of interest rates would accrue a savings in interest of around Rs.200 crore annually on the total loan base of around Rs.15,000 crores," it said.

 The government is making all attempts to turn around the airline's fortunes. Officials in the finance ministry also said it has also sought support from the government in terms of sovereign guarantee to convert its long-term working capital of Rs.10,500 crore into non-convertible debentures (NCDs) with 10-15 year duration.

As part of the airline's revival plans, it is trying to monetise its assets. Officials said, "A list of 38 properties has been forwarded to NBCC. Out of the 38, NBCC has identified 21 properties whose valuations are completed and Air India may sell directly. However, the e-auction process will start after getting the fresh valuation done." The official added that a second list of 28 properties have been forwarded to NBCC for their scrutiny and advice on monetisation.
24/03/17 Statesman

Lucknow airport to get a new terminal

Lucknow:  Lucknow airport may soon get a new terminal. Airports Authority of India on Friday appointed a consultant for development of a terminal building at the airport.
Estimated at a cost of Rs 1,200 crore, the integrated terminal building will have facilities for both domestic and international flyers.
The complex, proposed to come up over an area of over 200 acres, was mooted last year but could not take off. The project envisages a grand building with natural light with a large number of baggage handling systems, laser scanners for luggage, tourist visa counters, duty free shops, premium lounge and shops as well as eateries. It will be called as T3 terminal.
25/03/17 Times of India

Trump admin asked to push for F-16 sale to India

Washington: Two top Senators have urged the Trump administration to push for the sale of F-16 fighter jets to India to build its capability to counter security threats and balance China’s growing military power in the Pacific.

Senators Mark Warner from Virginia and John Cornyn from Texa in a joint letter to US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, the Trump administration must make the fighter jet acquisition a priority during initial bilateral discussions with India.

India has launched an effort to expand its combat aircraft fleet and the competition has reportedly narrowed down to Lockheed’s F-16 and Saab’s Gripen.

Noting that the last F-16 for the US Air Force rolled off the production line in Fort Worth in 1999, the two Senators said India remains the only major F-16 prospect customer.

“A primary factor in India’s decision will be compliance with Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, which will require establishing some level of local production capacity,” Mr. Warner and Mr. Cornyn wrote.
25/03/17 PTI/The Hindu

Hot Air balloon creates panic in yet another Goa village

Panic gripped gullible residents of a village in South Goa when a hot air balloon--which is part of the state government's tourism initiative--landed in their locality this morning.
The incident took place 9.30 AM in Raia village located on Margao-Ponda highway, 35 kms from here.

Fear-stricken villagers raised an alarm on seeing the hot air balloon and even called the local police.

"We all panicked as we saw the huge balloon with people coming down. We ran for shelter but it landed safely," said an eye witness from Raia village.

The exact number of tourists which were on board the hot air balloon could not be known.
This is the second such incident within a week, the last one being at Panchwadi in Shiroda village where a balloon with six tourists including two foreigners had landed near a house, 60 kms from here, prompting State Tourism Minister Manohar Asgaonkar to order an inquiry into the landing which created panic.
According to Tiger Balloon Safari, the company which manages the Hot Air Balloon operation as a part of Goa Tourism Development Corporation's initiative, the landing was normal and there was nothing to panic.
25/03/17 PTI/DNA

Hundreds of flights delayed by thunderstorms in UAE

Dubai, Abu Dhabi: Heavy rains, coupled with thunderbolt and lighting that hit the country from pre-dawn to early morning on Friday, has sent air traffic into a tailspin, causing delays in more than 100 flights, both inbound and outbound, Gulf News has learnt.
The inclement weather brought different intensities of rain that fell over scattered areas of the country, triggering a number of road accidents.
Between the 9am and noon on Friday, more than 100 flights out of Dubai were dalayed.
Another 30 or so inbound flights into Dubai were also delayed, including flights of flydubai from Prague, Virgin Atlantic from London, Air Astana from Almaty, Jet Airways from India, and Emirates from Islamabad, according to aviation tracking site, Flight-Tracker.
Furthermore, more than 20 flights into Dubai were delayed between 12noon to 3pm on Friday.
24/03/17 Gulf News

Friday, March 24, 2017

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad banned from flying top Indian airlines

New Delhi: Air India and the member airlines of the Federation of Indian Airlines on Friday banned Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad from flying on any of their aircraft with immediate effect. The ban comes a day after Gaikwad assaulted an Air India staffer over a seat.

“Air India and FIA member airlines have decided to ban this Member of Parliament from flying on all our flights with immediate effect. We believe that exemplary action should be taken in such incidents to protect employee morale and public safety,” Ujjwal Dey, Associate Director of the Federation of Indian Airlines said in a statement issued.

While Air India is not part of the FIA, others who are part of the alliance include IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir.

Meanwhile, Sukumar, the Air India staffer who was assaulted, said he had only asked the MP to deboard as the cleaning staff had to continue their work. “I had requested him (Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad) to deboard  the aircraft as the cleaning staff had to do their work. They are public servants, elected by public they need to behave in a decent manner.”

Gaikwad, however,refuses to apologise for the assault on the officer as he doesn’t believe ‘there is anything to repent about’. “Kaahe ka pashchataap (what is there to repent?),” he said. The Shiv Sena MP had bragged about hitting an AI staffer 25 times with his slipper. A video that came to light late Thursday evening, showed a stewardess pleading with the MP to stop beating the staffer. She said if he threw the staffer down from the aircraft, he will die and there will be a murder case against the MP. However, Gaikwad responded by saying he already had many cases against him, one more will not be a big deal.
24/03/17 Indian Express

Two more airlines ‘ban’ Shiv Sena MP

New Delhi: Two more airlines — AirAsia and Vistara — on Thursday “banned” Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad for beating up an Air India employee.

The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association also sought an unconditional apology from Gaikwad and threatened to direct its members “not to operate any flight which has Gaikwad on board”.

While AirAsia said it “will support any decision taken by the industry”, Vistara said “the concerned individual will be barred from flying on any of our flights with immediate effect”.

Vistara said it was “in full solidarity” with Air India.
24/03/17 IANS/CanIndia

Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir bar Sena MP after assault on AI staff

New Delhi: Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad was on Friday barred from flying by four private Indian carriers after his brazen assault on an Air India officer.

The Federation of Indian Airlines, which has Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir as its members, has taken a "strong view of the incident and accordingly taken a decision to bar Gaikwad from flying", an FIA source said.

The FIA will not allow the Sena MP to fly on its member carriers, the source said.

It is likely to come out with a detailed statement on the issue soon.

Meanwhile, Budget carrier IndiGo said it will support any move which bars unruly passengers from flying, a day after Air India said it was mulling preparing a no-fly list for such people.

"We will support a no-fly list," IndiGo President and Whole Time Director Aditya Ghosh said.
24/03/17 PTI/Business Standard

Shiv Sena’s clout in airport unions emboldened MP Ravindra Gaikwad

Mumbai: Shiv Sena reprimanded its MP Ravindra Gaikwad on Friday for slapping an Air India official and condemned the incident, but a former party leader says the parliamentarian’s unruly behaviour could be attributed to the Sena’s influence in the airport unions.

Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai who was entrusted by party President Uddhav Thackeray to speak to Gaikwad to get his version of events told ET that parliamentarian’s act “was unbecoming of an MP”.

“He (Gaikwad) was told that this kind of behaviour was unbecoming of an MP. As a people’s representative he should have shown some restraint. You just cannot go and beat people like that. You have to show humility,” said Desai. He added, “He has been clearly told that he carries the party image and when such an incident occurs the peoples’ faith in the democracy itself is shaken. The party is very firm and he has been asked to give a reply to party President Uddhav Thackeray by tomorrow.”
Desai, however, said the Air India official’s conduct should also be investigated, to find out why the Sena MP got provoked. While the Sena pulled up its MP, there is a political context that could explain why Ravindra Gaikwad beat up the Air India official and brazenly admitted to it.
Shiv Sena has had a strong presence in the Airport unions and not just Gaikwad but even lowlevel Sena functionaries have managed to get their way simply because they belonged to the party.

“See many years ago the Sena had a strong presence in the Airport Unions. If anyone misbehaved with a Shiv Sena worker or functionary, we used to shut down not just the airline operations but the entire airport.

I believe when Gaikwad beat up the Air India official he felt that nothing would happen to him as the Sena union would not let the Airline act against him,” said Kiran Pawaskar, an old Sena hand who headed party’s Bharatiya Kamgar Sena for a long while. Pawaskar has now switched sides and joined the NCP. He heads the All India Aviation Employees Association (AIAEA).

“What Gaikwad did not know is that the Sena has almost a negligible presence in the Mumbai Airport now, which is why the airline has been able to debar him from flying. While his behaviour was reprehensible, no CMD would dare to debar a Sena functionary, that too an MP, earlier. The Sena would have never allowed it, ” he said.
25/03/17 Krishna Kumar/Economic Times

Delhi Police to seek legal opinion on FIR against Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad

New Delhi: Delhi Police will seek legal opinion on whether an FIR can be registered against Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad who today allegedly attacked an Air India staff with his slippers over seating issues. Gaikwad, the Lok Sabha MP from Maharashtra’s Osmanabad, slapped and, by his own claim, hit 60-year-old duty manager Sukumar 25 times with his sandal when the official went to persuade him to disembark after he refused to alight, holding up the aircraft for over 40 minutes. Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju wrote on Twitter: “Recd. report from @airindiain on the incident of unruly behaviour today morning. FIRs have been filed for assault and causing flight delay (sic).”
However, a Delhi Police spokesperson in a statement said: “A complaint has been filed in this regard at PS IGI Airport.
“Another complaint has been filed by Air India which alleged the flight got delayed due to Gaikwad and therefore, action should be taken against him.”
“The complaints have been received and legal opinion from prosecution branch is being taken as prima facie no cognizable offence is made out as per contents of the complaints received. Appropriate legal action will be taken as per opinion,” he said.
The spokesperson said a medical examination of the complainant has been conducted “but no fresh injury was noticed”.
24/03/17 PTI/Financial Express

Govt says crew, passengers' safety vital, unruly behaviour unacceptable

New Delhi: The government on Friday said the safety of fliers and cabin crew is a top priority and unruly behaviour will not be tolerated.

The statement came after the assault on an airline manager by a Shiv Sena MP snowballed into a controversy.

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said law will take its course and one has to ensure that such “regrettable incidents” are never repeated.

“It was an unfortunate incident. It should never have happened. What has to happen (now), will happen. I am not saying no action has to be taken. Action has to be taken and we will do it. That is not the problem at all. I am also an MP. We are not above the law and we have to follow the law of the land,” he told reporters outside the Parliament House.

Raju said his ministry is also working on creating institutional mechanisms to check undesirable flight behaviour and unruly passengers.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said people expect dignified conduct from MPs.
24/03/17 Deccan Herald

After Air India, Indigo cancels ticket of Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad

New Delhi: After national carrier Air India cancelled the Pune flight ticket of Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad for assaulting one of its staffers at Delhi airport, budget carrier IndiGo also refused to take him on board.

The Sena MP had booked a ticket on IndiGo flight to Pune for this evening, which has been cancelled by the airline, sources said.

"He had booked on IndiGo's fight today at 1750 hours from Delhi to Pune. But the airline has cancelled the booking and is refunding the entire amount," the source said.

In a related development, Tata-SIA joint venture carrier Vistara also joined the national carrier Air India and four private carriers' decision to ban Gaikwad from flying.

Disruptive and abusive behaviour by passengers is a serious issue and cannot be tolerated, both for safety and security reasons in a critical and sensitive industry such as aviation, as well for the safety and well-being of our staff and all other passengers, a Vistara spokesperson said.

"We support the statement made by Air India and the FIA, and are in full solidarity with them in support of the ban. The concerned individual will be barred from flying on any of our flights with immediate effect," the spokesperson said.
24/03/17 PTI/Deccan Chronicle

'Man At 1F Not Going' Air India Official Was Told. Moments Later, Assault

New Delhi:  The Air India official assaulted by Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad today described his worst experience in nearly five decades in the national airline. "He was sitting with his legs crossed. He picked up his slipper and started hitting me," 60-year-old duty manager Sukumar Raman.

Mr Gaikwad has been barred from flying by an association of airlines and two airlines have cancelled his ticket.

The MP's attack on Sukumar Raman has been held up by airlines as an example of egregious VIP behaviour, especially of politicians on flights.

Mr Raman yesterday approached the Sena lawmaker on being told that "the passenger seated in 1F is refusing to exit the plane and cleaners cannot get in".
The aircraft was scheduled to fly to Goa.

"I told him we need to dispatch the flight, asked why aren't you getting off? He kept insisting he wants to see the top management, the CMD (Chairman and Managing Director) immediately," Mr Raman said.
Mr Gaikwad was incensed at having to fly economy despite his business class ticket. He refused to listen to the airline when told that his flight was all-economy seats.

"I was speaking in English. He said I don't understand, speak in Hindi. It went on and on. He was sitting with one leg on the other. His slipper was on the floor. He picked it up and started hitting me," Mr Raman shared.
The crew watched in horror.

"They tried to help and said sir...sir, how can you hit such an elderly person? The MP tried to push me down the (step-ladder) and kept hitting me with the slipper. He grabbed my spectacles, which broke, and tore my shirt and jacket. He called me MC, BC (expletives)," the veteran official said.
24/03/17 NDTV

Air India bars Sena MP Ravindra Gaekwad, cancels ticket fearing backlash by employees

New Delhi:  State carrier Air India today barred Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaekwad, who had assaulted its staffer, from its flights and even cancelled his return ticket to Pune from here, anticipating backlash by its employees.
 Gaekwad, who has been unapologetic about the incident yesterday, had earlier today said that he will be taking the Air India flight this evening.
 Air India said it has also written to the Shiv Sena communicating the decision to cancel the ticket. Shiv Sena Secretary Anil Desai told PTI that he has asked Gaekwad to change his travel plans as the party doesn't want the tensions to escalate.
 Gaekwad was booked on Delhi to Pune flight AI 849 scheduled for departure at 4 PM today.
 "We have intimated Shiv Sena that we can't fly Gaekwad on his return flight because our employees are agitated. He has assured us that the party will advise the MP not to fly Air India today," said an Air India source.
 "Our airport employees have said that they won't attend to him and they won't let him enter. In order to avoid any violence, we have written to Shiv Sena," he added.
Gaekwad told TV channels this morning, "I am booked on a 4 PM flight to Pune. I will take that flight. How can they not let me travel when I have a booking and I am their passenger."
Desai, also an MP, said that he has "acceded" to Air India's request and has also asked Gaekwad to "change his travel plans".
24/03/17 IANS/Economic Times

Air India considering no-fly list after MP assaults staffer

New Delhi: Air India is examining creating a no-fly list for unruly passengers — a negative entry list which will mean that a person mentioned in that will not be allowed to fly on flights operated by the national carrier.

This follows an incident on Thursday at the IGI airport here in which Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad assaulted an Air India staffer after he was upset that despite having a business class ticket he was made to travel in the economy class.

Sources told BusinessLine that early on Thursday the airline received a call from the MP’s staff that Gaikwad would be travelling to Delhi from Pune on AI 852. Since the MP was holding an “open business class” ticket, the airline staff informed them that they could consider travelling on another AI flight as business class seating on that particular flight had been discontinued. Sources in AI claimed that Gaikwad agreed to travel on the flight despite knowing that there was no business class seating in it.

However, when the flight landed in Delhi at 9.40, Gaikwad was “agitated” and declined to get off the aircraft demanding that senior officials of the rank of Chairman and other Directors come to meet him and address his complaint on the spot.

Sukumar, a former Air India crew member who was the senior most person at the AISATS, was deputed to pacify the MP. AISATS, an airport services company, is a 50:50 joint venture between Air India Ltd and SATS Ltd, a leading gateway services and food solutions provider..

The MP lost his temper when Sukumar told him that being an elected representative of the people, he should conduct himself accordingly. In reaction to this, the MP took off his slipper and hit the AISATS employee and pushed him out of the aircraft’s exit door. Sources claimed that crew members and others intervened and physically restrained the MP from causing further harm to the employee.
23/04/17 Business Line

Air India passenger jet is 'grounded at Heathrow as it's hit by a BIRD in mid-air causing a massive dent to the nose'

A passenger jet has been grounded after a bird slammed into in mid-air causing damage to the nose of the plane.
The Air India flight from Ahmedabad to London via Newark suffered a bird strike, forcing the airline to cancel its return journey from Heathrow.
The bird slammed into the plane and dented the nose and the radar antenna.
The plane landed at 10.39am yesterday but the airline was forced to cancel the next leg of the return flight to Ahmedabad in Gujarat while repairs were carried out.
Following the incident a picture emerged of the damage to the front of the plane.
Of the 230 passengers on board flying to Newark, 50 were put on another flight.
Aviation expert Adrian Gjertsen told MailOnline that such incidents are fairly common.
He said: 'They are a sufficiently common occurence known as bird strikes.
'When they hit the nose it can shatter the nose dome and birds can even damage the edge of the wings if they hit the wrong spot.
'A worst case scenario would be a large bird, like a Canada Goose, slamming into the engines - that can cause serious damage.'
He added that most airports have departments with bird scaring devices because such incidents are most likely to take place at an airport.
23/03/17 Keiligh Baker/Daily Mail

Spice Jet outweighs Air India to become 2nd most valued aviation company

Mumbai: SpiceJet has surpassed Air India to secure 2nd place in Most Valued Aviation Company and continue to retain the top position after a stiff competition.
 Spice Jet's m-cap surged to  Rs 5,598 crore which topped Jet's 5,464 crore valuation.
 For the 2nd day, the aviation player was ahead of Air India that has a valuation of Rs 5606.76 crore in the afternoon trade on BSE.
 Spice Jet shares ended in BSE gaining the trade up by 0.80% at Rs 94.20.
 Jet airways shares ended up by 2.38% at Rs 492 per share.
 InterGlobe Aviation operated Indigo, is the most valued aviation player by a wide margin at a market cap of Rs. 36,652.89 crore securing the first position in the list of Most Valued Aviation Company.
24/03/17 India Infoline

India to acquire at least 60 Airbus C-295 transport aircraft: Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to begin contract negotiations for acquiring 56 Airbus C-295 transport aircraft as replacements for its ageing Avro HS-748 aircraft. According to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, due attention is being paid to all assets of IAF, fighters and transporters included, and that “contract negotiations for 56 C-295 aircraft to replace the ageing Avro fleet are likely to commence shortly”.

Separately, official sources indicated that the Border Security Force (BSF) is also looking at four C-295s for movement of its troopers within the country. That takes the projected number to 60, but as the aircraft will be made in India by the Tata Group, their number should go up eventually, keeping in mind the regional connectivity plans of the Civil Aviation Ministry, particularly in India’s northern Himalayan cities.

Airbus officials have also said they are looking at a sizeable share of the Indian civil aviation market, pointing out that the C-295 is already operational in 19 countries.
24/03/17 IANS/Financial Express

IAF to participate in air combat exercise in Israel

In tune with India's growing defence ties with Israel, the Indian Air Force will participate in an air combat exercise in the Jewish country later this year.
 This will be the first time IAF will be part of the multinational exercise 'Blue Flag', known to be one of the biggest in West Asia.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin had visited India in November last year during which both sides decided to "broad-base" their already close defence partnership.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Israel in June or July, which will be a first by any Indian PM to the that country.
23/03/17 PTI/DNA

SpiceJet launches first daily direct flight from Kolkata to Dhaka

Mumbai: Homegrown low-cost air carrier SpiceJet on Thursday has launched its first daily direct flight from Kolkata to Dhaka.

The new flight will operate from Kolkata International Airport to Dhaka which is capital of Bangladesh.

SpiceJet has launched its seventh international destination with launch of this new flight and is the first and only low-cost airline to operate a daily direct flight on the route, SpiceJet said in a press release.

According to SpiceJet, the new daily flight on the Kolkata-Dhaka route will help increase the connectivity with Bangladesh from India.

The new flight will provide convenient onward connections to cities such as Bangkok, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Guwahati, Bagdogra, Aizawl and Silchar via Kolkata to Dhaka, it said.
23/03/17 Tejal Yerunkar/Zee Business

The Little-Known Story of the First Air India Flight in 1932, and the Legendary Man Piloting It

Most Indians remember Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, better known as JRD Tata, as the man who headed the largest industrial group in India for five decades. What few know is that he also played an important role in the history of India’s flagship carrier, Air India.
Born on July 29, 1904 in Paris, JRD was the second child of Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata and his French wife Sooni. Little Jehangir was passionate about flying and grew up admiring French aviators Louis Blériot (the first man to cross the English Channel by air) and Adolphe Pegoud (the first fighter aircraft ace in history).
    In his later interviews, he would often recall how he had fallen in love with flying after seeing a plane land on Hardelot beach in France for the first time. “It was flown by Adolphe Pegoud, the first man to loop-the-loop. From then on I was hopelessly hooked on aeroplanes and made up my mind that come what may, one day, I would be a pilot,”JRD would say.

JRD, who grew up in France, renounced his French citizenship in 1929 and returned to India. Twelve days after the launch of India’s first flying club in Bombay – the Aero Club of India & Burma – JRD achieved his dream of becoming a pilot.

In 1932, JRD set up Tata Air Services, the first Indian commercial carrier to transport mail and passengers within India. In the absence of proper facilities, the firm was initially based out of a small hut with a thatched roof at the Juhu Airstrip in Bombay.

On October 15, 1932, a date that made aviation history, JRD famously piloted the first-ever flight of the Tata Air Services from Karachi’s Drigh Road Aerodrome to Mumbai’s Juhu Airstrip via Ahmedabad. The aircraft was a single-engined De Havilland Puss Moth and it carried 25kg of 4-anna airmail letters.
    “On an exciting October dawn in 1932, a Puss Moth and I soared joyfully from Karachi with our first precious load of mail, on an inaugural flight to Bombay. As we hummed towards our destination at a dazzling 100 mph, I breathed a silent prayer for the success of our venture and for the safety of those who worked for it.

    We were a small team in those days. We shared successes and failures, the joys and headaches, as together we built up the enterprise which later was to blossom into Air-India and Air-India International,” JRD recalled later.
23/03/17 Sanchari Pal/Better India

Over 57,000 airline snags reported since 2014: govt

New Delhi: There have been over 57,000 technical snags reported by airlines in India between 2014 and February this year, the government said today.

The number of snags have also grown by over 20 per cent in 2016 compared to the previous year with these glitches going up from 17,483 to 21,500, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

These technical snags include fires during flight, engine shutdown, defects related to landing gear and cracks on aircraft structure, among others.
23/03/17 PTI

SpiceJet relaunching its Delhi-Surat services from March 26

Surat: After terminating its services from the diamond city for two-long years, SpiceJet is re-launching its flight services from the Surat airport starting from March 26.
Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha will be visiting the diamond city to flag off the Spice Jet aircraft from Surat to Delhi on March 26. Spice Jet will be operating two daily flights between Surat and Delhi.
Earlier, Air India (AI), which is already operating two daily Airbus between Surat and Delhi, announced its plan to operate the morning Airbus to Delhi via Rajkot. The decision came as a big surprise for the Surti fliers starting from March 27, allegedly for allowing the smooth operation of Spice Jet.
The AI's decision was highly opposed by the Surti fliers including the air-connectivity crusaders and the two BJP MPs from Navsari and Surat, who immediately contacted the AI CMD for revoking the decision to fly the Airbus to Delhi via Rajkot.
Meanwhile, SpiceJet is preparing for the launch of its Surat-Delhi services after two long years following the ill-fated buffalo-hit incident reported in November-2014.
24/03/17 Melvyn Reggie Thomas/Times of India

Chopper rides from MU's helipad soon?

Mumbai: The Mumbai University, in collaboration with Pawan Hans, has decided to offer Mumbai darshan chopper rides for students from the helipad on its Kalina campus. The pilot project, as announced by university vicechancellor Sanjay Deshmukh on Thursday , would take off from March 28.
However, clearances required to fly from the campus are still not in place.
"The university's vicechancellor said there was a helipad in the university . He suggested that we could start weekend flights from there for other students of the university , so that they get an exposure to aviation. I have given consent to his plan. We will look at technical feasibility of the plan and apply for clearances from respective departments," said Sanjay Kumar, general ma nager, Pawan Hans.
Deshmukh announced the plan while launching dual qualification course in B Sc (Aeronautics) affiliated to the university and Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Course of Pawan Hans (recognized by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation). The helicopter service company signed an MoU with the university's Garware Institute of Career Education and Development to offer the course.
24/03/17 Times of India

Pawan Hans to start ‘Dilli Darshan’ chopper rides at Rs 2,500

New Delhi: National chopper operator Pawan Hans is set to launch its “Delhi Darshan” rides from next month with a 10-minute sortie costing Rs 2,499 per person.
Besides, the state-owned aviation firm will also offer a 20-minute helicopter ride for Rs 4,999.
The company’s Chairman and Managing Director, B P Sharma, had at the inauguration of its first heliport in north Delhi’s Rohini area announced the roll out of these services from April 1.
“Pawan Hans is commencing helicopter ride and helicopter Delhi Darshan from its state-of-the-art integrated Rohini Heliport.
“Initially, the helicopter ride/Delhi Darshan is planned for March 25-26. Further, regular helicopter ride/Delhi Darshan is commencing from April 1 onwards,” Pawan Hans Limited said in a statement.
Visitors can take a helicopter ride and Delhi Darshan by Pawan Hans’ helicopters and experience the breathtaking beauty through aerial view of Pritam Pura Tower, Majnu Ka Tila, Red Fort, Rajghat, Akshardham Temple and surrounding areas by paying Rs 4,999 for 20 minutes for Delhi Darshan, it said.
23/03/17 PTI/

GVK divests 33% in Bangalore airport to Fairfax India for ₹2,200 crore

Hyderabad: GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd has divested 33 per cent of its stake in Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) from its wholly-owned subsidiary, Bangalore Airport & Infrastructure Developers Pvt Ltd, to Fairfax India Holdings Corporation. The divestment was made through its wholly-owned subsidiary in Mauritius for ₹2,202 crore.

GVK Reddy will continue to be Co-Chairman, BIAL, and GV Sanjay Reddy will lead the management team as Managing Director of BIAL.

GVK Reddy, Chairman and Managing Director, GVK, said, “We reiterate that our primary focus is on deleveraging our balance sheet, and all proceeds from this stake sale shall be used to bring down our debt obligations to our lenders. We look forward to partnering with Fairfax and working with all the stakeholders in developing the Kempegowda International Airport through its next stage of expansion.'
24/03/17 Business Line

Lack of certifying agencies hampers export of goods from Tiruchi airport

Tiruchi: Even as overseas air cargo movement has witnessed a robust growth, absence of certifying agencies for various commodities at Tiruchi has been a major factor hindering export of goods of diverse types from the international airport here.

Ever since the international air cargo terminal was commissioned in 2011, perishable commodities continue to occupy the lion’s share in respect of overseas cargo since then.

This is because of the presence of plant quarantine unit functioning at the airport providing certificate required for export of perishables.

Stakeholders say other than this unit there is no other certifying agency or laboratory connected with it in Tiruchi to enable export of other products such as food stuff, marine products, leather, pharmaceutical, handicrafts and spices.

All these products require separate no-objection certificate from the competent certifying agency.

Due to the absence of such certifying agencies at Tiruchi, exporters are forced to travel to Chennai to obtain the necessary certificate entailing time and cost.

This has restricted shippers in exporting only perishables by five overseas carriers – Air Asia, Sri Lankan Airlines, Tiger Airways, Air India Express and Malindo Air.
Keeping in mind the fast growing nature of Tiruchi international airport both in terms of overseas passenger and freight traffic, it is high time that certifying agencies are set up at Tiruchi having proximity with 14 districts in the central and southern region, say stakeholders and exporters.
23/03/17 R Rajaram/The Hindu

Darwin to India flights a step closer

The Territory’s hopes of tapping into the emerging India tourist market is a step closer with one of India’s premier international airlines adding Darwin to its destination footprint.

Mumbai-based Jet Airways and Singapore-based Jetstar Asia have signed a codeshare agreement for flights from Singapore extending Jet’s footprint to Darwin.

Under the agreement, Jet Airways will place its marketing code ‘9W’ on Jetstar Asia flights between Darwin and Singapore.

Jet Airways chief commercial officer Jayaraj Shanmugam said Darwin was now an increasing feature in the itineraries of Indian travellers seeking newer leisure destinations.

“Jetstar Asia flies to some of the most popular leisure and business destinations across the Asia Pacific,” he said.

“With this codeshare agreement, our passengers will now be able to tap into this extensive network to explore new and exotic destinations like Darwin.”

Jet Airways is the second largest airline in India after IndiGo with a 21.2 per cent passenger market share. It operates more than 300 flights daily to 68 international destinations.

Top End Tourism CEO Trevor Cox has welcomed the news saying it commits Jet Airways within India to marketing Darwin and the Northern Territory as a tourist destination. “It is a small step in the right direction,” Mr Cox said.
23/03/17 Gary Shipway/NT News

AI’s CTE eyes deemed aviation varsity status

Hyderabad: National carrier Air India's Central Training Establishment (CTE), which is headquartered in Hyderabad, is planning to spread its wings to transform itself into a full-fledged aviation university with satellite campuses at Mumbai and Delhi.
"We are planning to convert CTE into a deemed university by 2020-21. We have already roped in Educational Consultant India Ltd (EdCIL) to prepare the feasibility report," CTE executive director (training) Amitabh Singh told newspersons here on Thursday.
He said EdCIL, which is expected to submit its report by May this year, will also guide CTE in the process of applying for deemed university status and getting the necessary approvals from the relevant authorities. In its aviation varsity avatar, CTE plans to offer full-time and part-time courses, including MBA courses in aviation management. It also plans to offer engineering diploma courses in various aspects of aviation as well as short term training courses for pilots, aviation security and cabin crew, among others.
23/03/17 Times of India

Man sneaks into Delhi airport on cancelled ticket, arrested

New Delhi: A man has been arrested at the airport in New Delhi for allegedly sneaking into the terminal area on an invalid ticket to see off his daughter. Officials said the incident was reported on Thursday morning. CISF personnel apprehended a man, identified as R Malik, while he was roaming inside the terminal. On being probed, they said, Malik was found to have entered the airport terminal using an e-ticket to Dubai which he had booked but cancelled later. Singh informed security personnel that he had entered the airport to see off his daughter who was travelling to Dubai.Officials said Malik was handed over to Delhi Police that arrested him. Under the law, only fliers with a valid travel ticket can enter the airport terminal area.
24/03/17 PTI/Indian Express

State yet to approve Rs 16,000cr airport deal

Navi Mumbai: Though over a month has passed since Cidco closed the finance proposal for the Rs 16,000-crore greenfield Navi Mumbai International Airport, the state government is yet to approve the deal and finalize it.
Government sources attributed the delay to a change of chief secretary midway and model code of conduct for the zilla parishad polls.
Cidco has asked for convening the chief secretary-led Project Management and Implementation Committee (PMIC) meeting, so that terms and conditions, rates of revenue-sharing with GVK-led Mumbai Internationl Airport Ltd (MIAL) and other aspects of the deal can be approved and forwarded to the state cabinet for nod for finalizing the deal.
Cidco can issue the letter of allotment only after the cabinet nod, which will be followed by signing of agreement with its strategic partner.
Bhushan Gagrani, Cidco MD, sought a meeting with the chief secretary on Tuesday for convening the PMIC meeting. The PMIC includes the joint secretary of civil aviation ministry and representative of Airports Authority of India (AAI).
23/03/17 Times of India

India’s youngest student pilot set to earn her ‘wings’, fly passenger plane

Mumbai: A few heads turn as 21-year-old Ayesha Aziz breezes into a coffee shop in south Mumbai, clutching a sheaf of papers. She blames the city's traffic for being late as she settles down to talk about getting a commercial pilot's licence (CPL) within a day or two and flying passenger aircraft soon.

The city-based Rehmani Group will felicitate Aziz at Islam Gymkhana near Marine Lines on Friday.

Aziz, who became the country's youngest student pilot at 16 on receiving a student pilot's licence in 2011, epitomizes courage, diligence and perseverance to follow a dream. At a time when conservatives jump at every opportunity to curtail women's freedom, Aziz, the daughter of a businessman from Worli, has worked hard to earn her wings. "The first time I flew an aircraft with my parents on board, the greatest feeling I had was of independence ... a sense of liberation," says Aziz, who graduated in aviation from the Bombay Flying Club last year. So far, she has flown single-engine aircraft for 200 hours for her training.
 Aziz credits her success to her father, Abdul Aziz. "I have always believed that knowledge and enquiry are keys to human progress. If my child had a dream which was achievable, I had to be part of the process and see that she realized this dream," says Abdul Aziz, who is married to a Kashmiri.
 And here lies a related tale. As a child Aziz would accompany her mother to travel to Srinagar by air. "I got fascinated by pilots. As I grew up, my fascination only increased and I finally landed up at Bombay Flying Club," says Aziz.
When news of her becoming the youngest student pilot was splashed across media platforms, many celebrated, but a few naysayers, especially the conservatives in Kashmir, derided her. "A Muslim girl without hijab, not a perfect profession for a Kashmiri girl" and similar disapproving comments were hurled at her.
"If the Prophet's wife Hazrat Ayesha could ride a camel in a battle, why can't I fly an aircraft? We have to change our attitude and do justice to girls," says Aziz, who can win any debate on gender rights hands down.
24/03/17 Mohammed Wajihuddin/Times of India