Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Govt, airlines discuss UDAN, Delhi airport terminal issues

Airlines executives today held detailed discussions with Civil Aviation Ministers and senior ministry officials about the regional connectivity scheme and issues pertaining to terminals for carriers at the Delhi airport.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and his junior Jayant Sinha as well as Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey and other officials were part of the meeting.
Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani, SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh, GoAir Managing Director and CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, IndiGo President and Whole Time Director Aditya Ghosh as well as representative from Jet Airways were among those in attendance.
Choubey said RCS (regional connectivity scheme) and issues related to terminal 2 of the Delhi airport were discussed during the meeting with the airline officials.
Earlier this year, Delhi airport operator had asked no- frills carriers -- IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir -- were asked to shift some of their operations to terminal 2 from terminal 1D.
However, differences have been persisting over the matter between the airlines and the airport operator.
About the issues pertaining to terminal 2, Choubey said several rounds of discussions have happened.
"We are taking the process forward... Today, there was one more round of discussions," he said without providing specific details.
Before taking a decision, the requirements of the airlines, airport and the passengers have to be kept in mind and those requirements have to be matched, Choubey noted.
After the meeting, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said, "we have to find a way to use the two terminals at the Delhi airport.... We are trying our best on how to find a pathway taking into account the Delhi airports master plan".
28/03/17 PTI/India Today

Higher ATF to affect airlines’ Q4 profitability

Our 1-month forward fare tracker for 11 routes shows a flattish fare trend over a seasonally weak Q4; average fares declined y-o-y/q-o-q. Airlines’ management also suggested that fares have faced downward pressure in January and February 2017. In the seasonally strong Q3 too, there was a significant pressure on yields; IndiGo’s yield declined ~16% y-o-y and SpiceJet’s yield declined ~10% y-o-y. We believe the downward pressure on yields continues in Q4FY17.
Passenger growth remains strong — up 20% y-o-y in February after 25% growth in January; 31 consecutive months of double-digit growth. However, the strong domestic passenger growth is stimulated by lower fares, as seen in the air ticket price trend. Increased industry PLF (~83% in Q4FY15 to ~88% in Q4FY17) on a robust ASK growth (21 consecutive months of double-digit growth) has resulted in a strong RPK growth (29 consecutive months of double-digit growth).
28/03/17 Motilal Oswal/The Finacial Express

Confident about PM Narendra Modi's policies; Qatar Air plans to Qatar Air plans to introduce new airlines with 100 jets order in India new airlines

In a bid to gain larger share in one of the world's biggest markets, Qatar Airways Ltd. may order 100 new jetliners in 2017. The Gulf-based carrier also plans to announce a couple of new routes in England, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said.
In a media interaction in London, Al Baker said that Qatar Airways is confident about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aviation policies that might permit 100 per cent foreign ownership of a domestic airline.
Confirming the speculations about Qatar Airways launching a new airline in India, the CEO said, "It could happen this year".
Last June, liberalising the FDI regulations, the Government allowed foreign investors -- barring overseas airlines -- to own up to 100 per cent stake in local carriers. At present, foreign airlines are allowed to invest only up to 49 per cent in domestic carriers.
Qatar Airways is British Airways-owner IAG's biggest shareholder. It also has its stakes in South America's biggest carrier, Latam Airlines Group SA and Italy's second-largest airline, Meridiana Fly SpA.
28/03/17 Business Today

Taking Flying to the Masses

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has been working on making the aviation sector more accessible to the consumers who otherwise won’t choose to fly. By sweeping in economic factors and making services more affordable, the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) 2016 is making matters easier and more convenient for the common man. With an emphasis on regional connectivity, the NCAP has the AAI as its supporting pillar. The AAI is acting as the nodal agency here, implementing regional connectivity through the Regional Connectivity Scheme. Considering the need to revive the un-served airports of the country, an increased scale of operations is being looked at; this will also help the authorities get private funding and further revive the airports.
The challenge that lies ahead for the AAI is to meet the requirements for the airlines, aircrafts and also passengers that the various airports cater to. According to figures, the last two years have witnessed resurgence of air traffic in India. The total number of aircraft movements in 2015-16 was 179,361, thereby registering a growth of 11.9 pc over the previous year. Total passenger movement stood at 223.62 million, a growth of 17.6 pc over the previous year and the total freight carried was 2,704,268 metric tonnes, an increase of 7 pc over the previous year. Average passenger load factors of all the scheduled domestic airlines have been 80 pc. The domestic passenger traffic has increased from 139 million in 2014-15 to 169 million in 2015-16, registering an impressive growth of 21.6 pc. The international passenger traffic has increased from 51 million in 2014-15 to 55 million, which implies a 7.7 pc growth over the previous year. Airlines like IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir and Air India have placed purchase orders for more than 800 aircrafts in the last one year.
While these figures seem encouraging, they are challenging at the same time. The overall available capacity (2015-16) at the Indian airports is 270 million passengers per annum (mppa), while the present demand (2015-16) is 223.44 mppa. Hence, at present the overall capacity is sufficient to cater to the demand. The projected requirement, based on the growth, will be 397 mppa by 2020-21, which requires a capacity addition of approximately 127 mppa. There are plans to augment the capacity of airports by 196.9 mppa in order to cater to the traffic up to 2024-25, which includes the AAI airports and the private airports.
28/03/17 MIG

Air India cancels Sena MP’s tickets again

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, who had planned to fly to New Delhi from Mumbai on Wednesday, was left disappointed as Air India has cancelled two of his tickets. Mr Gaikwad, who had slapped and hit a 60-year-old duty manager of the national carrier “25 times” with his sandal when the official persuaded him to disembark after the plane landed at New Delhi’s IGI Airport from Pune on March 23, has become the first flier to be put on the “no-fly list” of all airlines in India.

Air India officials said Mr Gaikwad wanted to travel to New Delhi on Wednesday on Flight AI 806, that takes off from Mumbai at around 8 am. “The MP booked an open ticket (a facility for VIPs where the date of travel can be adjusted after the ticket is booked) before the (slapping) incident, that was rebooked for Wednesday,” an airline official said. An Air India statement said the ticket “has been cancelled”.

This was followed by another attempt to book a seat on Flight AI 551 from Hyderabad to Delhi, again for Wednesday, which was cancelled as well. Both these bookings were made on open tickets issued to him before the ban was imposed.

The airline is now ascertaining how many open tickets and frequent flyer tickets have been issued to the MP so that these could be cancelled, a source said. The Shiv Sena MP, at the centre of a raging storm after assaulting an elderly Air India staffer, was earlier barred from flying by all domestic airlines in an unprecedented step in India’s aviation history. A day after the incident, Air India had cancelled the MP’s return ticket while IndiGo too followed suit, forcing him to take a train to Maharashtra. The Osmanabad MP has so far refused to apologise for his alleged conduct.

Explaining why Mr Gaikwad’s tickets were cancelled, Air India spokesman Dhananjay Kumar said in Mumbai: “The situation for us remains the same, hence the ban on the MP still remains.” The MP has also been banned by Jet Airways, SpiceJet, GoAir, Vistara and AirAsia. The civil aviation ministry is, however, yet to take a decision on whether this move is legitimate or not.
29/03/17 The Asian Age

Air India: Why are MPs hell bent on funding the white elephant with tax-payers' money?

Members of Parliament are loath to give up the numerous entitlements bestowed by our great democracy. Not only do some of them feel entitled enough to assault airline staff for being denied Business Class travel on a short domestic flight, they remain unapologetic even in the face of severe criticism and instead threaten to sue the airline for denying them a seat subsequently. All because these MPs feel their station in life allows them privileges which lesser mortals, the aam aadmis, do not enjoy. And this sense of entitlement does not end with demanding various privileges at airports or on board the aircraft, it seems to extend to various other forms of travel too.
Why else would a parliamentary standing committee, comprising MPs, rue the fact that loss-making Air India be pumped in with more government funds? When it is amply clear that Air India’s turnaround is still on shaky ground and the government continues to throw good money after bad. Do the MPs want the airline to survive on taxpayers’ money so that their privileges while travelling by air continue? Private airlines are less likely to suffer their whims, after all.
Then, why will a bunch of MPs also go on to advocate repeatedly that the government fix air ticket prices in a free market and why would they single out Air India to complain about its catering? Remember, Air India has contracts with the same catering agencies that other full service airlines like Jet Airways and Vistara (which also offer complimentary meals) have and the airline has claimed in the past that it hardly gets any complaints about its catering. AI serves hot snacks on even one-hour flights!

These are three of the several suggestions that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tourism Transport and Culture has made in its 244th report submitted to Parliament recently.
28/03/17 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post

Air India may post operating profit

Air India is projected to post an operating profit of ₹300 crore in the current fiscal and there is no plan to privatise the airline, the government said today.
28/03/17 PTI/The Hindu Business Line

Air India-Sena MP row: Govt maintaining official no-fly list is a bad idea

The airline-wide boycott of Ravindra Gaikwad, a member of Parliament belonging to the Shiv Sena, following his assault of a duty manager on an Air India flight, has prompted the civil aviation ministry to consider drawing up an official no-fly list as well as rules specifying the grounds on which airlines can bar people from travelling. Nothing could be more ill-advised. Instead of applauding the private airlines for supporting their public sector competitor in a united reprimand of the loutish behaviour of an elected representative, these moves send all the wrong signals and open the door for government intervention in a matter that is best dealt with at the level of individual airlines. For one, the moves suggest that the government is equivocal about Mr Gaikwad’s conduct. His attack was doubly reprehensible because it was a blatant misuse of power provoked by the airline’s inability to meet an MP entitlement — in this case, a business-class seat on an all-economy flight. It is astonishing that Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan should consider a privilege motion by the Shiv Sena on the airline boycott of their MP. Surely, there are more important issues for members to consider.

Moreover, these rules and no-fly lists will appropriate from the airline industry, in which the private sector dominates, the right guaranteed under international aviation law to accept or decline passengers on grounds of flight safety. Already, there are reports that rules could be amended to allow Mr Gaikwad to avail air travel because, as Ms Mahajan reportedly said, an MP “can’t take a train every time” to attend Parliament. Mandating the dos and don’ts of public behaviour is, at best, a hazardous business for governments when set against a citizen’s rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Such rules run the risk of opening room for litigation. The experience in the US, where the list was mobilised after 9/11, has been far from happy, not least because people can be assigned to it without even being informed.
29/03/17 Business Standard

Zoom Air - India's Newest Airline - Aims High, In Talks To Raise Funds

Zoom Air will soon look at raising funding for business expansion. India's newest full service airline, which marked its entry as the 12th operational carrier in the domestic aviation market on February 15, 2017, started as a debt free organisation, Zoom Air's chief executive officer and director Koustav Mohan Dhar told NDTV Profit. After adding fifth aircraft to its fleet, the airline should be looking at venture capitalists and private equity or PE funds to assist the airline in funding and business expansion in a phased manner, the Zoom Air CEO said in an emailed response.

"It's important that we start our planning for same now and I'm in talks with few PE players to encourage them to look at a sector which has always been negatively portrayed, whereas it remains as very long and sustainable business with global visibility," Mr Dhar said, commenting on the company's business expansion plans going forward.

"Definitely beyond five aircraft it's important for the airline to expand and thus we are exploring even equity participation with a robust ASEAN carrier and talks are in advanced stages," he added.

Zoom Air is expecting delivery of its second aircraft in the first week of April, and the third around mid-April. Zoom Air plans to induct two more aircraft by June-July 2017, Mr Dhar added.
28/03/17 Sandeep Singh/NDTV

Laptop ban in flight cabins: Nearly 11 lakh US-bound Indian passengers to be hit

Nearly half of 22.21 lakh passengers traveling from India to the US via transit flights in cities of Middle East, Europe and North Asia will be affected by the Donald Trump administration’s ban on carriage of laptops and any other electronic devices larger than a smartphone in cabin baggage on flights from 10 airports in Middle East and Africa.
While passengers taking Air India’s non-stops flights to the US will not be affected at all, thousands of them using airlines including Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines, which halt for transit at cities affected by the US ban, will have to put in their devices in checked in luggage.
Around 82.6 per cent of the total traffic to the US from India transited via Middle East, Europe, North and South Asia in 2016, as per data from the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA). Around 11 lakh passengers travel to the US from India via transit cities affected by the US ban, as per estimates. The two-way traffic on the India-US route in 2016 was 53.80 lakh passengers. Passengers flying from 10 airports — Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Riyadh, Jeddah, Istanbul, Cairo, Amman and Casablanca — to the US have been prohibited from bringing electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smartphone in the cabin.
These devices — which include laptops, tablets, e-readers, printers and scanners and portable DVD players — must be put in the checked luggage before boarding.
Air India expects the ban will help it improve load factors, while Emirates has introduced a new service to enable customers to use their laptops and tablet devices until just before they board their flights to the US.
29/03/17 Sunny Verma/The Indian Express

Aujla takes up Amritsar airport issue with P Raju

Member of Parliament from Amritsar Gurjeet Singh Aujla today met Union Minister for Civil Aviation P Ashok Gajapathi Raju and handed over a memorandum regarding Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport.
He also discussed the issues of the airport with the Civil Aviation Minister in detail.
P Ashok Gajapathi Raju assured the MP that he would make sure that the Amritsar airport got a good share of flights and facilities.
Aujla said, “I told the minister that the Amritsar airport has been neglected since long. Amritsar is an important city and situated on the international border. It is also a transit point between India and Pakistan, which brings diversity in the culture, tourism and trade.”
The Amritsar airport was knows as a hub of direct connectivity to Singapore (Singapore Airlines), London (Air India and Jet Airways), Birmingham (Air India), Moscow and Abu Dhabi (Air India). Now all these flights have been either shifted to Delhi or Ahmadabad.
28/03/17 The Tribune

Afghan carrying over 60 heroin capsules faints on flight

When Mohammadi Hamid fell unconscious just before his Kabul to New Delhi flight was about to land at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), the officials took it for a casual case of nausea often witnessed on flights, and rushed him to the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in Vasant Kunj. To their surprise, the 19-year-old was immediately referred to the Safdarjung Hospital, where as many as seven capsules of heroin were recovered from his rectum.

The Afghan national had arrived at the IGIA from Kabul by Air India flight AI 244 on Saturday. Police have confirmed that Hamid was a carrier of drugs and as many as 60 capsules, which he had swallowed, are yet to be retrieved from his body. He is still unconscious and is admitted in the ICU of Safdarjung Hospital.
29/03/17 DNA

Enforcement Directorate seize unaccounted foreign currency worth Rs 2.39 crore

Enforcement Directorate officials seized unaccounted foreign currency worth Rs 2.33 crore from an employee of a foreign exchange firm, at the Karipur airport.
Subsequent raids held at the office of the forex firm in Kozhikode on Monday yielded unaccounted foreign currency worth Rs 6.5 lakh and Rs 8 lakh Indian currency.

Officials said that foreign currency worth Rs 2.33 crore was seized from the suspect, Muhammad Junais, a forex teller, while he reached Karipur Aiport at 8.10 pm on Saturday night. He was scheduled to fly to Nedumbassery airport in Air India Express flight.
28/03/17 K R Rajeev/The Times Of India

Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa formally launches ‘Aviation Turbine Fuel Digital Issue and Payment’

The new Digital Issue and Payment system will be implemented from Apr 1.

The Aviation Fuel Management in the Indian Air Force involves over two lakh transactions and a substantial portion of the Air Force revenue budget per year.

The IAF has embarked upon an e-billing system in line with the Government of India's flagship programme of Digital India.

A web based e-billing module christened as `ATF DIP' or the `Aviation Turbine Fuel Digital Issue and Payment' has been developed for the speedy accounting and clearance of Aviation Fuel bills of Oil PSUs.

During the formal launch, the CAS highlighted that this was a milestone achievement for the IAF and complimented all stake holders, especially CGDA and Chairman of M/s IOCL for their whole hearted association with the IAF in completing the project within a short span of time, read the government statement.
28/03/17 India Blooms

Qatar Airways plans to buy 100 jetliners to launch airline in India

CEO Akbar Al Baker said he was confident that ‘futuristic’ PM Narendra Modi's aviation policy will allow 100% foreign ownership of the domestic airline.

Taking cues from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans for the aviation sector, Qatar Airways is likely to order 100 new jetliners before 2017-end to enter India with a new airline, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker also said the company plans on launching two new routes to the United Kingdom, even though the nation has imposed increased security restrictions.

Al Baker said the airline was confident that “futuristic” Modi’s new aviation policy will allow 100% foreign ownership of a domestic airline. Speaking to reporters in London, Al Baker said the airline was consulting its legal team in India to start a tender for the aircraft soon. “It could be this year. It depends how fast we can arrange our application,” Al Baker said.

The development follows Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways takeover of a 24% stake in Jet Airways India Ltd. Singapore Airlines Ltd and AirAsia too have 49% stakes with their affiliates in India.

Waiting for refund by Air Pegasus

Air Pegasus Pvt. Ltd, a regional airline headquartered in Bengaluru, has been non-operational since 27 July 2016 and its licence had been suspended by DGCA on 22 November 2016. The airline had taken huge advance bookings before 27 July 2016 and the same has not been refunded to passengers even after 9 months.
29/03/17 Jitender Singh/The Times Of India

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

SpiceJet Starts Twice Daily Delhi-Surat Flights

Amid strong growth in Indian aviation market, SpiceJet has started daily direct service from Delhi to Surat, Gujarat, and back to the national capital. SpiceJet launched the flight with a traditional flag-off and lamp lighting ceremony at Surat airport, the airline - which competes with the likes of Air India, IndiGo, Jet Airways and AirAsia India in the domestic market - said in a press release. The new flight between Delhi and Surat - also known as Gujarat's textile city - is in line with the emphasis being laid on "regional connectivity", SpiceJet added.
SpiceJet also said the new Delhi-Surat flight "is part of its enhanced summer schedule and will augment its connectivity in the domestic sector".
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha inaugurated the flight. Among others, Mr Sinha was accompanied by the airline's chairman and managing director Ajay Singh, on board the Boeing 737-800 SpiceJet flight from Delhi to Surat.
"SpiceJet is proud to connect Surat, one of the fastest growing cities of the country with the national capital. Our twice daily flights will offer immense flexibility to the corporate and leisure travellers on the SpiceJet network," SpiceJet's Mr Singh said in a statement.
27/03/17 NDTV

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad May Soon Fly Again After Sumitra Mahajan's Intervention

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today pitched for an amicable resolution of the issue involving domestic airlines' blanket ban on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad.

Though she did not categorically call for the lifting of the fly-ban on Gaikwad, who had assaulted an Air India staffer last week, she said MPs need to attend Parliament and they cannot always travel by train.

"MPs need to attend Parliament and they cannot travel by train always. At times, they need to travel by plane also. I feel that this issue (blanket ban) should be resolved amicably through talks," she said.

Mahajan, however, said that she was not the one to pass a judgement but was trying to help resolve the issue as the
agitating MPs have sought help from her as she was the Speaker.

"I am playing the role of 'tai' (elder sister). As of now, everybody is angry. It is time to calm down and resolve the issue. How the ban could be lifted needs to be discussed and resolved amicably," she told reporters after a meeting attended by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Sena MPs.

After Air India put him on the no-fly list, the Federation of Indian Airlines, which has Jet Airways, SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir as its members, also imposed a ban on Gaikwad from flying on their network.
27/03/17 PTI/Jagran English

Domestic airlines log 16% more fliers in February

Domestic airlines flew 15.77% more passengers in February, compared with the same month last year, latest official data has showed.

According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), airlines carried 86.55 lakh people last month, compared with 74.76 lakh in February 2016. This means that the domestic carriers flew a total of 182.34 lakh passengers in the first two months of this year, against 151.31 lakh, clocking a growth of 20.51%. SpiceJet continued to be on the top on the seat occupancy list by filling 93.7% seats, followed by GoAir 90.9%.
28/03/17 Deccan Herald

Private charter firms to fly on regional routes

Private charter firms Deccan Charter and Air Odisha together are learnt to have bagged around 50 regional air routes to propel Udan — the government’s ambitious regional connectivity scheme. The process of selection of the routes and operators is nearly complete, and the government is likely to make an announcement in this regard in a few days, sources told PTI.
Air India’s subsidiary Alliance Air, regional carrier TrueJet’s holding company Turbo Megha Airways and budget airline SpiceJet are among the other operators that have won the bids for the Udan (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagarik) flights. While the first RCS (regional connectivity scheme) flight is likely to be operated by Alliance Air to Bhatinda from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport soon, full-scale operations are expected to commence from May, the sources said.
27/03/17 PTI/The Siasat Daily

Violence of any kind can be disastrous for airlines: Government on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad's bad behaviour

The government today implicitly defended domestic airlines' ban on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad , whose loutish behavior on an Air India flight last week stunned the country.
"The rules are the same for everyone," was the unequivocal comment by the aviation minister. "We have good safety regulations but never in my dreams expected an MP to be caught (doing this). Violence of any kind can be a disaster for airlines," civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said in the Lok Sabha.
Last Thursday, Gaikwad hit a 60-year-old Air India staffer 25 times with his footwear on a Pune-Delhi flight. Not just that, he then bragged to reporters about it. "I hit him 25 times with my sandal," Gaikwad strutted.
Minister Gajapathi Raju has been consistently disapproving of what the Sena MP did. A day after the incident he said such an episode ought not to have occurred at all.
"No political party will endorse such an act. Any citizen hitting an airline staffer doesn't make any sense... No political party will encourage physical assault. It should never have happened," the minister said last Friday. He added that lawmakers are not above the law.
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said that hopefully a solution can be taken out through talks.
"Its a different matter whose fault it is and what happened but an MP needs to come to the House sometimes by train and also by plane." She said, adding, "A hearing is awaited in the matter in the Sabha on Wednesday."
27/03/17 Shailaja Neelakantan/The Times Of India

15 Air India Staffers' Statements Recorded, CCTV Footage Obtained: Police

A team of Delhi Police recorded statements of 15 Air India staffers on Monday, including the 60-year-old airline official, who was allegedly assaulted by Shiv Sena lawmaker Ravindra Gaikwad at Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi last week.

The team supervised by Crime Branch DCP Ram Gopal Naik reached the Indira Gandhi International airport and recorded the statements of the Air India staff. They also took possession of the CCTV footage and videos capturing the incident.

"The statements of around 15 Air India staffers who witnessed the assault on Sukumar were recorded. The CCTV footage and other videos capturing the incident were also obtained," said a senior police officer.

The 57-year-old first-term MP had repeatedly hit the Air India staffer on March 23 after the Pune-Delhi flight landed in the national capital. He was furious at having to fly economy on an all-economy flight despite having a business class coupon.
28/03/17 PTI/NDTV

Air India brawl: Shiv Sena MP says he had asked for a complaint book, not a business class seat

Ravindra Gaikwad accused the airline of trying ‘hide their careless attitude and their cheating of lakhs of passengers’.
Deviating from his earlier statement, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad on Tuesday said his scuffle with an Air India staffer took place because the airline had refused his request for a complaint book, ANI reported. In his new statement, the Osmanabad MP said the national’s carrier’s employee had misbehaved with him after he said he wanted to record his feedback on their “carelessness and substandard” service.

“I was demanding proper facilities, not a business class seat. Just to hide their careless attitude and their cheating of lakhs of Air India passengers, they tried to create a picture that I was continuously demanding a business class seat. This is completely baseless,” Gaikwad told ANI.

The Sena leader had earlier said he hit the Air India employee 25 times with his sandal because he was flown in the economy class despite booking business class seats for his flights from Pune to Delhi. However, Air India had said the plane he had chosen to fly on was economy-only, and that he had refused to take a different flight.

How Air India, Everyone's Whipping Boy, Finally Found Its Spine After The Ravindra Gaikwad Incident

The other day a writer friend was in a tizzy. He had been invited to judge a prestigious literary award in London. But the organizers had booked his flight on Air India.

"But it's business class," I told him.

"But it's still Air India," he replied despairingly.

Such is the reputation of the Maharaja of airlines these days – a sort of dowager, the antithesis of cool, especially the retro-cool of newer kids on the block like Indigo.

Who would have thought that old Air India, the butt of so many jokes, could suddenly find its spine?

For that if nothing else, Air India should be grateful to Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad. Now Gaikwad is famous all over India (and the internet) for assaulting an Air India employee because he was upset he could not travel business class on a flight that had no business class. He refused to alight from the plane after it had landed. He bragged that he assaulted the staffer with his slippers "25 times".
27/03/17 Sandip Roy/The Huffington Post

House panel asks govt to release Air India funds

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport has said the finance ministry not agreeing to infuse the equity amount that Air India had sought will affect the performance of the airline.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget for FY18 allotted Rs 1,800 crore against Air India’s demand of Rs 2,587 crore.

As part of a turnaround plan approved by the former United Progressive Alliance government in 2012, the Centre had agreed to infuse Rs 30,231 crore in the airline till 2020-21.

The committee headed by Trinamool Congress M P Mukul Roy said the shortfall of Rs 787 crore could force the airline to borrow from banks at a higher interest rate.

“A shortfall when the company is at a critical position in achieving targets under a turnaround plan should be avoided. The committee recommends that the full amount of equity infusion be restored to Air India,” the panel’s report said.
28/03/17 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard

Air India Expects Surge in Demand Following Electronics Ban on Flights from Muslim Nations

The state-owned Air India expects a surge in demand on flights to the U.S. and U.K. following a ban imposed by those countries on in-flight electronics larger than a cellphone on certain flights from Muslim countries.

"All our flights to the U.S. are non-stop. This ban is only for the countries in the Middle East and Gulf, and will not affect us at all," Vinod S. Hejmadi, director finance of Air India, said.

The airline says it is open to adding more flights to these countries, if there is an increase in demand following the ban.

"This is positive news for us and we are watching the situation. If load and demand increases to a great extent then, yes, we will be thinking about additional flights," said Hejmadi.

The U.S. and U.K., citing terrorism concerns, have barred passengers from certain countries in the Middle East and North Africa as well as Turkey from carrying large electronic devices like cameras and laptops as cabin baggage.

"We can take it as an advantage because what is likely to happen is that passengers booked on other airlines operating from or through the Middle East may consider cancelling their flights going forward," he said.

Air India operates six non-stop flights to four destinations in the U.S. – San Francisco, New York City, Newark and Chicago.
28/03/17 PTI/India West

Croatia Airlines & Air India Sign Codeshare Agreement

Croatia Airlines have announced that they have signed a codeshare agreement with Air India.

Croatia’s national carrier and India’s national carrier have entered into a codeshare agreement on the use of flight with shared codes of both carriers.

Croatia airlines have been Star Alliance member since 2004, whilst Air India joined in 2014.

The agreement, which will come into effect on 1 April 2017, allows for increased choice for the customers of both airlines.

Regardless of the operating carrier, passengers can fly a combination of Air India and Croatian Airlines services using the ticket and code of either of the two airlines.
27/03/17 Croatia Week

Made-In-India Dornier 228 Civilian Plane Set To Take Flight In May

The first made-in-India civilian aircraft is set to take off.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) will soon test a 19-seater civilian version of the Dornier 228 aircraft, built completely at the state-owned company’s Kanpur facility, Chairman and Managing Director T Suvarna Raju said in an interview to BloombergQuint. Two such aircraft are current being built there.
“HAL-made civil Dornier aircraft will fly from HAL airport’s at Nashik on May 1,” he added.
Originally made by Dornier GmbH, HAL tied up with the German company and has built 125 Dornier 228s since 1985 for the armed forces and the Coast Guard, initially by just assembling the aircraft before it started manufacturing all the parts in India.
HAL may now give the aircraft on dry lease to Indian civil aviation companies, Raju said, adding that Air India Ltd. has shown interest in using Dorniers for regional connectivity.
“We have an inquiry from Air India for 20 aircraft and were asked to give a schedule of 10 aircraft which we have proposed. We are also looking for other customers,” he added.
27/03/17 Nishant Sharma/Bloomberg Quint

Blacklisting Sena MP: India looks at global examples for no-fly list

On Friday, as one airline after other started making public announcement about not allowing Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad in their aircraft, the civil aviation ministry found itself in a peculiar situation.

Senior officials of the ministry led by minister Jayant Sinha were examining if the current laws allowed the airlines to take such a step. “We were examining the legality if the airlines can blacklist a certain person and if they are allowed to refuse boarding to a bonafide ticket holder under the current laws,” a senior civil aviation ministry official said.

Civil aviation secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey said that the ministry has received many suggestions from the airlines and was now studying examples of other countries where such a system exist. “We are deciding the modus operandi of having such a list, it has to be full proof if it comes, there should be concrete laws deciding what situations can lead to a person to be blacklisted, how long the ban will last and what will be the redressal mechanism for a passenger if he feels that he has been wrongly indicted,” Choubey told Business Standard in an interview. Among developed markets, UK doesn’t maintain a no- fly list but each individual airline will have its own list and can ban a passenger. Following the 9/11 attacks USA government in coordination with airlines implemented a common no-fly list according to which people who have their name on the list are not permitted to board an aircraft in and out of the country.
27/03/17 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard

Govt May Change 'No-Fly' Rules Following Airline Ban On MP Ravindra Gaikwad After He Assaulted Crew

The government is considering changing aviation rules that govern who can bar people from flying on airlines and for how long, following a collective airline ban on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad after he physically assaulted an Air India crew and bragged about it publicly.

Mint reported a senior government official as saying "certain areas" within regulation need to be clarified, adding that airlines were within their rights to stop someone from flying if they showed unruly behavior.
28/03/17 The Huffington Post

E-visa facility on arrival at Pune airport from April 1

Foreign tourists will be able to get e-tourist visa on arrival at the city airport beginning April 1.
This facility will benefit tourists from as many as 130 countries, who will be able to get visa on arrival provided they have applied for it online four days prior to their travel.
"The e-visa facility received a go-ahead during the recent meeting of the airport advisory committee. All I can say right now is that we are ready and waiting for some immigration formalities to be completed," Pune Airport director Ajay Kumar told TOI.
"The counters have come up in the airport already," an airport official said on Monday. Sources in the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Mumbai said that the equipment needed in connection with the service had been handed over to the Airports Authority of India officials in Pune.
"The system is all to be operational and the infrastructure work is almost done. Our officers will be at the Pune airport for the purpose. However, all matters regarding visa will be mainly handled by the Mini stry of Home Affairs in Delhi," the official said.
28/03/17 Joy Sengupta/The Times Of India

Airlines to have surprise quiz to find out if passengers were listening to safety instructions demonstrated by cabin crew

Concerned with reports that most passengers ignore safety instructions demonstrated on flight, DGCA has decided to step in and asked all airlines to conduct surprise quiz before take off to check passenger preparedness.
All major airlines have been asked to comply with this directive and DGCA has asked for a report to be submitted every week for analysis.

Speaking to Faking News a senior official said, “Demonstrating safety instruction is an essential part of flight travel. But we have information that most passengers ignore these instructions while choosing to stare into their smartphones instead. So we have decided to have a surprise quiz of 25 marks. The quiz will consist of questions based on safety instructions by crew. The test will have to be completed in 5 mins and there are negative marking too. The cut-off for test is 10 mks.”

When questioned as to what will happen to those who flunk the test, he replied, “They will be thrown off the flight. If the flight has already taken off, they will thrown out with a parachute.”
28/03/17 Faking News

FitToFly gym launched by IndiGo in Nagaland

As part of its flagship programme, 'FitToFly', to promote fitness and healthy lifestyle, IndiGo Airlines has launched a fully equipped gym for police personnel here.

The gym was launched yesterday by Aditya Ghosh, President and Whole-time Director, IndiGo.

"This is not only encouraging, but is much needed for everybody to be a part of this transformational process. It will push the police personnel towards a healthy lifestyle", a senior police official said.

"Setting up gyms for police personnel is an important move to encourage them to start making choices to live a healthier life by choosing to be holistically fit", Ghosh said.
28/03/17 PTI/Business Standard

Airlines' ban on Sena MP may be lifted, Govt mulls changing rules

The Central government is mulling amending the Civil Aviation Requirements rule that would allow Shiv Sena lawmaker Ravindra Gaikwad to fly again on seven airlines that had banned him after he assaulted an Air India staff last week.

According to a report in NDTV, the government is thinking of amending the rule to ‘balance service and safety requirements’. These rules empower airlines to prevent unruly passengers from boarding.

The decision came after Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Shiv Sena MPs meet for 45 minutes on the flying ban on Gaikwad.

The Samajwadi Party and the Congress had come out in support of the lawmaker on Monday.

The 57-year-old MP, who represents Osmanabad, had on Thursday abused and assaulted a 60-year-old duty manager of the national carrier with slippers over not being able to fly business class despite having boarded an all-economy Pune-New Delhi flight.
27/03/17 The Asian Age