Monday, February 08, 2016

Old Air India planes a disaster in waiting: Pilots

New Delhi: Air India pilots have sounded a warning over the almost 25-year-old Airbus 320s the airline is still using and warned of a 'disaster'.
The airline, on its part, maintains that these 'classics' are perfectly safe to fly and plans to use them for two to three more years.
In the past too ICPA has several times written to the airline and the DGCA on the issue of using the A320 classics that IA started inducting in late 1980 to early 1990s as they are prone to snags. However, the regulator has refused to act so far.
A senior AI official dismissed safety fears over using these old planes and says that they will be used for up to three more years.
08/02/16 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

No more airport fee at Delhi International Airport

New Delhi: Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) has directed Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) to discontinue collection of airport development fee (ADF) from May 1 this year, effectively making air-tickets cheaper for passengers flying out from the capital’s IGI airport.
While air tickets for domestic flights from Delhi would cost Rs 100 less, those flying international routed out of the city would pay Rs 600 less.
“The ADF levy of Rs 100 per embarking domestic passenger and Rs 600 per embarking international passenger as approved vide Order No. 30/2012­-13 dated December 28, 2012 at IGI Airport shall be continued only till April 30, 2016,” the regulator has said in its order.
“The AAI (Airports Authority of India) be granted six-months time after the cut-off date to reconcile and close the account, and to arrive at the over-recovery or under-recovery of ADF.”
“Based on AAI’s report, the authority shall decide on the treatment of over recovery or under recovery of ADF and to close the ADF account,” it further said.
The public sector AAI is the nodal agency to maintain an escrow account on ADF.The final cut off date has been determined by AERA taking into account data on collection basis. The authority has in the order said that the principal ADF outstanding is Rs 167.89 crore noting the report from an independent auditor.
08/02/16 Financial Chronicle/Asian Age

AI receives complaints of inadequate rest for cabin crew, issues circular

Mumbai: Admitting that it has been unable to implement the cabin crew mandates requiring sufficient rest for cabin crew members, national carrier Air India (AI) issued a nationwide circular stating that the crew members must get at least 24 hours rest in seven days and 36 hours rest with two local nights in 15 days during international flights.
For three years now, the crew members have been complaining of over-work, including lack of sufficient leave from work. Following the death of Air India technician Ravi Subramanian in a mishap during a flight’s pushback operation in December last year, the cabin crew and ground technicians have become more aggressive in demanding their rights.
A circular issued now by Captain Arvind Kathpalia, executive director (operations) in AI, says that attempts to improve the functioning of the airline’s software, called Arms system, are being made to help prepare automated rosters for cabin crew with their weekly offs prepared by the system itself. With a large count of cabin crew employees, a manual roster has been difficult.
08/02/16 Tabassum Barnagarwala/Indian Express

Air India ground handling unit reports profits for the first year of its operation

New Delhi: In a big boost to Air India's target to become profitable by 2018-19, its ground handling subsidiary Air India Air Transport Services Ltd has reported profits for the first year of its operation as a separate company.

Air India Air Transport Services (AIATSL), which started operations as a separate company on April 1, 2014, has reported profits of Rs 103 crore for 2014-15 — three years before its profit target year of 2017-18. "We have registered profits during the first financial year of our operations as an independent company and would report better profits during the current fiscal too," AIATSL CEO Captain Ashvini Sharma told ET.

AIATSL and Air India Engineering Services Ltd were carved out as subsidiaries of the airline as part of its turnaround and financial restructuring plans approved by the government in 2012. The Centre had also cleared infusion of Rs 30,231 crore into Air India till 2021-22. The creation of subsidiaries were made operational in April 2014. The engineering subsidiary, however, is still reeling under losses.
08/02/16 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Airlines reap record profits, and passengers get peanuts

Helped by falling oil prices, airlines are reporting record profits, but for many passengers this sudden bonanza has meant little more than extra bags of free peanuts and pretzels.

The four biggest domestic carriers - American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines - together earned about $22 billion in profits last year, a stunning turnaround after a decade of losses, bankruptcies and cutbacks. A big reason for this is the plunging price of jet fuel, which now costs only a third of what it did just two years ago.

But that windfall is only slowly finding its way down the aisles. Days after reporting record profits, for instance, two of the nation's biggest airlines brought back free snacks in coach.

United said it would begin serving complimentary stroopwafels, which it described as "Dutch-made toasted waffle treats," and American said it would offer free meals in economy class on flights between Dallas and Hawaii, and free snacks on all domestic flights. Airfares, however, have remained stubbornly high.
08/02/16 Jad Mouawad/Business Standard

Navi Mumbai intl' airport: Permission to be sought this week for proceeding on bids

Mumbai: Maharashtra government’s City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) will be asking this week to be allowed to move on with the process of getting bids for the proposed Navi Mumbai international airport.

Cidco’s aim is to get the Request for proposals (RFPs) out by early March and the final contract issued by June. Four bidders had qualified but one of these, the consortium of the Hiranandani Group and Zurich Airport, was denied security clearance to proceed by the Union home ministry (first reported in Business Standard).

That leaves the GMR group, the GVK group’s Mumbai International Airport, and the Tata Realty-MIA Infrastructure consortium.

Cidco, nodal agency for the airport project, will be asking the Maharashtra chief secretary-led project monitoring and implementation committee (PMIC) for approval to proceed with the issue of a formal RFP to the bidders.

Sanjay Bhatia, vice-chairman and managing director of Cidco, told Business Standard: “We’ll seek PMIC approval and then the state Cabinet’s clearance will be sought. We expect to issue the RFP to the three qualified bidders by the first week of March.”
07/06/15 Sanjay Jog & Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

To beat tourist blues, aviation policy to focus on connectivity

Jaipur: Alarmed at the drop in number of foreign tourists in Rajasthan, the state government is drafting an aviation policy to brace up its unkempt infrastructure for airways transportation. Measures in the proposed policy also include setting up of an aircraft manufacturing zone.

To boost arrival of commercial planes on its 17 ailing airstrips, the state government will revamp them to accommodate more number of flights. According to officials, the government is also finding ways to attract investors under public private partnership (PPP) for developing commercially viable airports at these places.
"The policy is in its initial stage but government is serious about it. We are studying similar policies of other states to include the best practices. Our focus is to make air traffic viable in the state so that a greater number of tourists can visit here. If there is a need to seek services from a consultancy we will look into that possibility too," said an official of general administration department.
08/02/16 Times of India

Air India plans to take flight from MRO work

Mumbai: Air India is looking for a private player to operate and manage the air frame branch of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility that Boeing had set up at Mihan in Nagpur and handed over to the carrier about half a year ago.

The contract is expected to be given on revenue-sharing or any other mutually agreed terms. On Sunday, the airline issued a tender stating, "Expression of interest from interested parties having technical/ financial capabilities for operating and managing Air India's Air Frame MRO which is already set up in Nagpur and functional on revenue-sharing basis or any other viable business proposal."
08/02/16 Shahkar Abidi/Daily News & Analysis

Patel opposes proposal to dilute airlines' substantial control

New Delhi: Former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel today strongly opposed NDA government's proposal to hand over substantial control of Indian airlines to foreign carriers, terming the suggestion "ridiculous" and saying such a move, if approved, would harm national interests.

Patel, during whose tenure the civil aviation policy was formulated, also stressed that the government should not be seen to be favouring select Indian carriers while bringing in a new policy and instead ensure a level-playing field for all of them, while continuing the "time-tested" route dispersal guidelines to ensure air connectivity across the country.

Asked about the proposal to raise the FDI cap in airlines from 49 to beyond 50 per cent, he said "all over the world, the issue of substantial ownership and effective control (of an airline) is very minutely scrutinised" as aviation industry is different from any other and is affected by several factors including external.

"I am surprised that the draft aviation policy carries a provision to increase the FDI limit over 50 per cent. That is ridiculous. You have already done 49 per cent. 50 per cent or more will hurt the country," Patel told PTI.
07/02/16 PTI/Business Standard

Curbs on night flight operations at Dabolim airport in March

Panaji: Nearly 10 flights, including a few international charters, will have to reschedule their arrivals and departures in March as authorities have decided to curtail operations between 10pm and 4am. The change in flight operations will come into effect when work to strengthen the runway's shoulder and drains begins, sources said.
The Indian Navy has issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) informing that the long-pending work to strengthen and level the runway shoulders will be taken up from March 1, during which time landing and take-off operations will not be possible, an official of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said. The work is likely to be completed within 30 days.
The repair work has been pending since the summer of 2015 and was not completed even during the subsequent phase of work undertaken in November.
Among the flights that have been rescheduled, there are seven arrivals and two departures. AAI has already rescheduled flights, instructing that they arrive either before 10pm or after 4am. Airport sources said that GoAir may cancel the Mumbai-Goa-Mumbai flight it operates close to midnight.
08/02/16 Times of India

Gujarat to get India's first aviation park

Ahmedabad: To strengthen the aviation sector in Gujarat, the state government has planned to set up the country's first-ever Aviation Park with a slew of facilities including an airstrip, training school, helipad and space for setting up small manufacturing units among others.

According to officials of government-owned Gujarat State Aviation Infrastructure Company Ltd (GUJSAIL), this integrated park aims to raise the awareness about the potential of the aviation sector among students, professionals, policy makers and business entities.
GUJSAIL, which is given the task by the government to carry out the project, has recently identified a piece of land near Bagodara village, about 30 kms from Ahmedabad.

According to GUJSAIL CEO Captain Ajay Chauhan, the main aim of this Aviation Park is to raise awareness about the aviation sector among investors, students and people at large.

It will also provide a platform for manufacturing activities and human resources related to the sector, he said.

"This will be a first ever Aviation Park in India.

There are hardly three or four such parks in the world. We have identified 60 hectares of land near Bagodara. Now, we will conduct a feasibility study of that location and hoping to finalise that location after government approval by the end of this financial year," said Chauhan.
08/02/16 PTI/Daily News & Analysis

Air India Express to add Dubai, Sharjah services from Delhi

New Delhi: Air India Express (AIE) on Thursday said it will introduce flight services to Dubai and Sharjah from New Delhi from May and also enhance connectivity to the Gulf region from Mumbai. It also said it was adding Ras Al Khaimah as its new destination in the Gulf region.

This is the first time since its launch in 2005 that the Kochi-based airline, the international budget arm of national carrier Air India, will be spreading its wings to the national capital. The flights from Delhi are set to be launched from May 10 and are a part of the recently announced summer schedule of Air India Express, as per a statement.
07/02/16 PTI/Gulf News

Chiranjeevi detained at Rajahmundry airport

Congress Rajya Sabha member K Chiranjeevi was reportedly detained on Monday at the Rajahmundry airport when he was on his way to meet Kapu crusader Mudragada Padmanabham in Kirlampudi, East Godavari district.

Kapu crusader Mudragada Padmanabham is fasting unto death demanding reservation for the Kapu community people. Along with APCC chief Raghuveera Reddy, former Union minister K Chiranjeevi, who recently underwent a shoulder surgery, was on his way to meet Padmanabham and extend the support of Congress party to him. Both the Congress leaders took a special flight from Begumpet airport this morning.
Addressing the media at Gandhi Bhavan on Sunday, APCC chief N Raghuveera Reddy said that Chiranjeevi and some other ministers had decided to pay a visit to Padmanabham at Kirlampudi and extend their support to him on Monday. Raghuveera had alleged that Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu was trying to create rift between Kapus and BCs through his provocative statements.
08/02/16 Shekhar H Hooli/International Business Times

Amritsar airport worst performer

Amritsar: Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport has been listed as the top loss-making airport in the country by the Airport Authority of India (AAI).
Latest data, released by the AAI, pegged its loss at Rs50 crore per year. The airport has been incurring losses for several years. The situation aggravated after several airlines discontinued international flights.
The Singapore Airlines had launched thrice-a-week Amritsar-Singapore flight on October 1, 2004. The service ran well for around five years before it was discontinued in early 2009.
The national carrier, Air India, discontinued its Amritsar-Birmingham-Toronto flight, which used to witness over 90 per cent occupancy, on October 31, 2010.
The British Midland International (BMI) pulled out its Amritsar-Almaty-London flight in October 2012. Later, Jet Airways launched Amritsar-London flight only to withdraw it after sometime.
07/02/16 Neeraj Bagga/Tribune

Airports invoke dispute clause as AAI demands audit by CAG

New Delhi: GMR-led Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) and GVK-led Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) have entered into a dispute with their joint venture partner Airports Authority of India (AAI), against the AAI’s demand for an audit of the books of account of the two airport operators by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG). If the dispute is not settled within 60 days, then the matter can be referred to an arbitration tribunal.
DIAL as well as MIAL, late last December, invoked the dispute clause available in the Operations Management and Development Agreement (OMDA) that they signed with the state-owned AAI in 2006 to modernise and operate Delhi and Mumbai airports, respectively, according to sources.
DIAL and MIAL have both contested AAI’s argument that OMDA empowers AAI to appoint CAG as its representative for audit purposes, the sources said.
In September 2015, citing its rights under Article 11.3 of the OMDA, AAI sought to nominate CAG as its representative to audit books of accounts of DIAL and MIAL.
Article 11.3 of the OMDA says: “The AAI and its representatives shall be permitted to inspect at any reasonable time the books, records and other material kept by or on behalf of the JVC in order to check or audit any information (including the calculation of Revenue) supplied to the AAI under this Agreement.” -
08/02/16 Sunny Verma/Indian Express

Air India holds special screening of 'Airlift'; officials recall Kuwait evacuation

Dubai: A special screening of the movie 'Airlift', based on the evacuation of the stranded Indians in Kuwait, was organized by Air India in Dubai on Friday February 5. Air India had invited community leaders, corporates, retail customers, travel agents and the officials of the Indian Consulate in Dubai for the screening.
Welcoming the gathering, Melwin D’Silva, regional manager, G, ME & A said that it was a pleasure to have all the invitees to share and relive the moments of pride for all Indians especially those in the Gulf, and added that the incident had been depicted well in the movie. Further, he informed that the evacuation in this scale had got Air India in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest evacuation of civilians by a commercial airline.

"Though, being a commercial airline, the primary function of Air India is to take care of the travel needs of the clients, Air India goes the extra mile when the nation looks towards it. The Kuwait evacuation was not the first and may not be the last," he said. He went on to narrate more incidents quoting the Yemen evacuation which, he said, in a scale of 1-10, he would rate it as high as 10 because during the Yemen crisis, Air India flew in to a war zone on an oral assurance from both the conflicting parties. Each day Air India got a window of three hours during which it would fly in to the conflict zone with crew and ground staff on board and evacuate around 6,500 people including the citizens of other 33 countries, he said.
While addressing the audience, the Consul General of India mentioned about the controversial hug between Saddam Hussain and the then foreign minister of India I K Gujral during the Gulf War, the goodwill hug that cast a temporary shadow on the career of I K Gujral which led the way for the evacuation of a large number of Indians.
07/02/16 daijiworld

UP CM Accused AAI of Not Working on Three Airport Projects

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has written to Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajpati Raju accusing the Airports Authority of India (AAI) of violating terms and conditions of MoU signed with his government by not taking up airport projects in Meerut, Moradabad and Faizabad.

In a letter to Raju, he has sought his intervention in the matter.

Yadav has said AAI presented an action plan to the state government in 2013 to develop new airports, besides some existing ones, an official spokesperson said here today.

Yadav said the state was asked to provide land free of cost for the implementation of these projects. The state agreed to give airstrips at Meerut, Moradabad and Faizabad for developing airports around them for which and additional land was made available.
07/02/16 Outlook

Dense fog leads to delay in flights at IGI airport

Delhi: Several flights were delayed at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport here on Monday morning due to poor visibility caused by the dense fog. The visibility in the areas surrounding the airport had dropped below 75 meters in the morning.

Dense fog and bitter cold gripped northern India last week disrupting normal life. Rail services were hit in the region with cancellation of many trains.
08/02/16 ANI/Daily News & Analysis

British Airways’ love is unnecessary, unbelievable

Here we go again. There’s a new ad and it’s got lakhs of views on YouTube and everyone seems to love it – and I don’t.
The ad is the new British Airways six-and-a-half minute commercial, ‘Fuelled by Love’. “In this ad, British Airways gives us a simple, beautiful story about falling in love with India. England and India have always had a complicated relationship, but British Airways just sent a love letter to India on Britain’s behalf. It’s the simple, true story of flight attendant Helena Flynn, whose generous nature led to a connection with an even more generous Indian grandmother,” gushes Adweek, a leading and respected publication focused on advertising.
As I read praise all over the place, I try to decode what makes me reject this ad. The ad is well produced and directed, the casting seems perfect, the dialogues are delivered effortlessly, the accents are real, and it’s a syrupy-sweet story with a happy ending.
The happy ending is my first reason for rejection. When you’re about a minute into watching this spot, you can predict precisely how the story ends, reducing the need for you to watch for another five-plus minutes in this attention-deficit world we live in.
The second reason for rejection is far more important – the believability.
Even a cynic like me finds it easy to believe that the commercial is, indeed, inspired by a true incident. But if the intended message is to suggest that Indian passengers will find the cabin crew on BA flights as warm and friendly as the attendant we see in the film, it doesn’t work for me. It’s not just BA. It’s the category. Check out Google for ‘British Airways racism’ or ‘Lufthansa racism’ or ‘United Airlines racism’ and so on. The results do not make for happy reading.
In most cases, it is the individual who has racist leanings, not the airline – and that’s the problem. The attitude of an individual is all but impossible to monitor or guarantee – and that makes one question the cornerstone of the BA film.
08/02/16 Anant Rangaswami/The Hindu

Curbs on night flight operations at Dabolim airport in March

Panaji: Nearly 10 flights, including a few international charters, will have to reschedule their arrivals and departures in March as authorities have decided to curtail operations between 10pm and 4am. The change in flight operations will come into effect when work to strengthen the runway's shoulder and drains begins, sources said.
The Indian Navy has issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) informing that the long-pending work to strengthen and level the runway shoulders will be taken up from March 1, during which time landing and take-off operations will not be possible, an official of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said. The work is likely to be completed within 30 days.
The repair work has been pending since the summer of 2015 and was not completed even during the subsequent phase of work undertaken in November.
08/02/16 Times of India

Farce of In-Flight Safety Demonstrations

Safety demonstrations by cabin crew on airplanes before take-off are done so routinely all of us passengers hardly even care for what those flight attendants are saying or doing. Passengers shut their eyes to take a nap, chat, browse the in-flight magazine or crackle some home-cooked munchies in their mouths while the cabin crew is instructing them on how to save their life in case of emergency on the plane. Who is to blame – the passengers or the airlines? Well, obviously the airlines, but the airlines will say they are just following the standards set by the national aviation authorities. And the national aviation authorities – DGCA, the Director General of Civil Aviation, in case of India – would say this is the procedure approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the specialized agency of the United Nations headquartered in Montreal that, according to its charter, “codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth.”
You can’t blame the passengers at all. The flight attendants do it like a routine, like the motions they have to go through before the flight takes off and they rush to the food and beverages drawers and roll the trolleys down the aisle. There are times when the flight is hard on time and is doing both the things at the same time, preparing to take off and shooting out the safety instructions; the plane starts moving for the take-off even before the attendants have finished demonstrating. Sometimes the attendants rush through very quickly; sometimes their voices, sometimes accents are not clear.
The larger airplanes equipped with in-flight entertainment now make safety demonstrations through video on screens fitted in the backs of seats. It is clear to see that the device of replacing live demonstrations by flight attendants with recorded videos is done with the intention of saving cost on the staff, rather than saving the lives of passengers, because the video does not make it better and easier for the passengers to grasp the instructions.
08/02/16 Navhind Times

LED TV crashes at airport, none hurt

In yet another instance of glass panels crashing at the renovated domestic terminal at the airport here, passengers at the departure lounge had a providential escape when a LED TV screen crashed this morning. Airport sources said, no one was injured in the incident. The LED screen used to display the timingof the arrival and departure of flights for the benefit of passengers. This was the 56th occasion of glass panels coming crashing down in the airport. The sources said the mishap occurred near the entrance of the departure-2 area.
07/02/16 UNI/WebIndia123

Female passenger held at Mumbai airport with gold bars, bangles

Mumbai: In yet another case of a female smuggler the Intelliegnce officer of Mumbai Customs intercepted traveling by Jet Airways a passenger flying from Dubai. Shaikh Mumtazben Ishak who landed by 9W 527 (that lands Mumbai at 11.55pm) was intercepted based on a specific input to the Customs department. Shaikh is a 37-year-old female who was coming from Dubai and was then followed from the aerobridge by Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) officers in order to not only keep a watch on her movements but also to catch hold of her red handed. She was intercepted after green channel and search for her handbag resulted in recovery of 26 foreign marked gold bars of 10 tolas each totally weighing 3031gram valued Rs.75, 10,485 and 18 gold bangles of 11gram each totally weighing 198gms valued Rs.4, 90,622. Total weight of seized gold-3229gms, total value Rs.80, 01,107. An AIU Official said, “The passenger is a frequent flier but she has never landed in Mumbai. This was the first time that she landed here. She is a frequent flier to Goa and Mangalore airports." The officer added, “One third of the total smuggling cases that take place in Mumbai airport since a year involve women as a smuggler. Cases of women smuggling gold have shown significance growth.”
08/02/16 Neha LM Tripathi/Mid Day

Sunday, February 07, 2016

GoAir IPO likely next fiscal as it awaits clarity on A320 neos

New Delhi: Carrier GoAir plans to come out with its initial share sale offer in the next financial year amid  uncertainty over delivery of new Airbus aircraft, key for the no-frills carrier’s growth strategy.

The airline originally was looking to hit the capital market in the current financial year, which saw budget carrier IndiGo’s blockbuster initial public offering (IPO).

Sources said GoAir is still awaiting clarity on the delivery of 72 Airbus A320 Neo planes before taking a final decision on the IPO’s timing.  Delivery of the aircraft was to start from April this year.

While the Wadia group airline has not officially made its IPO plan public, sources said GoAir would be looking to raise around Rs 1,000 crore.

At current exchange rate, this would translate into Rs 1,000 to 1,200 crore.

Apart from aircraft delivery schedule, GoAir would also be taking into account market conditions before deciding on the IPO timing, sources said.
07/02/16 PTI/Business Standard

Jet Airways Posts Record Quarterly Net Profit

New Delhi: Jet Airways Ltd said on Saturday its December quarter net profit rose more than seven times, with sharply lower fuel costs helping the carrier post a third consecutive quarterly gain following a series of losses.

Jet, the country's second largest carrier by market share, said net profit in the October-December period rose to Rs 467 crore ($68.88 million) from Rs 63 crore a year earlier, marking a record high quarterly profit.

The airline's fuel expenses dropped by 27 per cent in the period, its fiscal third quarter. Total income from operations grew by 8 per cent to Rs 5,443 crore, aided by a 20 per cent surge in passenger traffic, the company said in a statement.

"Our strong operational performance resulting in record profit demonstrates the progress we continue to make in our turnaround plan," CEO Cramer Ball said in a statement.

Despite rapidly rising demand for air travel in India, Jet, which is 24 per cent-owned by Abu Dhabi's Etihad, has not made an annual profit since 2007, dragged into the red by high operating costs and fierce competition for passenger fares.
06/02/16 Thomson Reuters/NDTV

Airlines revenue increase per km, finds IATA report

New Delhi: The revenues earned by airlines per kilometre on a international passenger grew by 6.5 per cent last year, while it was 6.3 per cent for domestic services, an International Air Transport Association report has said.

For the international sector, it was fastest pace since 2010 and well above the 10-year average annual growth of 5.5 per cent. “While the economic backdrop was weaker in 2015 compared to the previous year, passenger traffic received a strong boost from lower air fares. After adjusting for distortions from the rise in the US dollar, global airfares in 2015 were approximately five per cent lower than in 2014,” the report said.

Total traffic growth outstripped the rise in capacity and the global load factor reached an all-time high of 80.3 per cent in 2015. The passenger load factor increased for carriers in all regions except the Middle East, where capacity growth exceeded a 10 per cent increase in passenger traffic.

In the domestic market, the report said there was a wide dispersion in performance by market. The Indian and Chinese domestic markets led the way, with both registering impressive annual growth.
07/02/16 Deccan Herald

Maha govt seeks aerodrome licence for Shirdi airport

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has sought approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to start flight operations from the under-construction airport at the pilgrimage town of Shirdi, a senior government official said.

"Air connectivity to Shirdi will promote tourism and boost industrial development in Ahmednagar district," Prem Singh Meena, Additional Chief Secretary of the Maharashtra General Administration Department, told PTI.

"DGCA officials, during their last visit to the airport site, had raised objections on a part of the airport boundary wall which was incomplete, and thus, the aerodrome licence was not given," he said.

"Work on a 2,500-metre airstrip and the disputed boundary wall has been completed, besides other pending works," he said.

"We have again applied to DGCA for aerodrome licence. We expect to get it within three months so that we can start (operation of) non-scheduled flights.
07/02/16 Business Standard

Centre to invest Rs 1,500 cr for Nagpur airport’s upgrade

Nagpur: The central government has decided to invest Rs 1,500 crore to upgrade the city airport and make it an international level one. Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari told a gathering at Nagpur zilla parishad that the tender process was in final stages and work was expected to start soon. Later, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said that yoga exponent Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Peeth would invest Rs 15,000 crore in setting up food parks in Nagpur, Katol and Amravati.
Gadkari also said that the Mansar-Tumsar state highway would be fully concretized and work on it would begin soon. "The central government is aware of its social responsibilities and has given Rs 9 crore for development of Deekshabhoomi and Rs 10 crore for Kamptee's Dragon Palace Temple. The government is also considering the Rs 99 crore proposal for overall development of Dhapewada temple premises and village. All these projects and many others will lead to overall development of Vidarbha," he said.
07/02/16 Times of India

Air India’s Rs 5 crore software a flop

Mumbai: A software installed to feed the data regarding the attendance, leaves and weekly offs of the national carrier Air India’s cabin crew, has became a source of trouble for the employees. Apparently, the software has some faults and it does not show the weekly off days of employees on their due dates, leading to
chaos among the crew members.
According to the sources from Air India, the cabin crew has on several occasions complained about not getting the list of their weekly offs on the roster.
The airline has issued an internal circular amongst their cabin crew stating that there have been problems in feeding the list of the employees’ weekly off days into the software. As a result, the officials have to insert the details of the off-days into the system manually. This, claimed the sources, has defeated the entire purpose of installing the software and having the system automated.
A month ago, the cabin crew union of the airline pointed the problem out to the management. The crew said that saying that there were not getting their prescribed days off that gets counted as the mandatory rest. The mandatory rest is provided to the crew members between two flights. The civil aviation requirements for cabin crew mandates 24 hours rest in seven days and 36 hours rest with two local nights in a period of 15 days for international operations.
07/02/16 Ashita Dadheech/AsianAge

Online petition seeks international airport for Surat

Surat: The airport action group in the diamond city has moved an online petition addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding an international airport for Surat.

The Surat Airport Action Committee (SAAC), in its petition on change.org has urged the central and state governments to provide international air connectivity to the Diamond City. The petition has stated that the city is ranked second-biggest in Gujarat and is among 35 biggest metropolitan cities in the world. Besides this, Surat has been declared as the fourth-fastest city in terms of average annual growth from 2006 to 2020 as per the City Mayor's Foundation. With the population of over 45 lakh, the city has recorded 11.5% GDP grown during the last seven fiscals from 2001-2008, which is fastest in India compared to other cities.
06/02/16 Melvyn Reggie Thomas/ETRealty.com

Sky War: Indian Carriers Protest Dubai Diktat

New Delhi:  India has lodged a strong protest with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority for turning down the requests of Indian carriers for viable and feasible slots at Dubai International Airport. The Dubai authority’s move has come as a big setback for Indian carriers, leaving 13,000 unutilised seats per week.

The option for shifting of operations from Dubai International Airport to the new Dubai World Central Airport, 30 km from the city, is not commercially viable for Indian carriers, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said in a letter to the president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

“Designated UAE carriers such as Emirates or Fly Dubai are being given their request slots and India has always recognised their requirements and responded in a positive manner. UAE and India have strong ties in the civil aviation sector... I shall be grateful if you could look into the matter on priority and direct Dubai International Airport authorities to facilitate Indian carriers in getting commercially and operationally feasible slots,” Raju requested Al Maktoum.

Considering the traffic potential on the India Dubai sector, both sides mutually agreed in 2014 to enhance the capacity entitlements from 54,200 to 65,200 seats per week.
07/02/16 Samiran Sarangi/New Indian Express

BMC may allow private helipads on higrises


Mumbai: After Bangalore, the civic administration in Mumbai may allow helipads on residential towers for commercial and personal use. The BMC has said that primarily, helipads on high-rises will help it tackle emergencies, especially fires, in a better way.

In fact, in 2014, the state Urban Development Department had launched the process of drafting a proposal that made it compulsory to construct helipads on buildings that are more than 150-200 metres high, after a Coast Guard chopper was successfully deployed for rescue work in the Lotus Park fire that year.

Currently, Mumbai has three helipads for such use, located at the domestic airport (where rates are considered exorbitant even by corporate standards), the Juhu aerodome, and the Mahalaxmi Racecourse (the latter two don't allow flying and landing at night).

The two helipads in south Mumbai that are out of bounds for citizens, are at the Raj Bhawan, and the Indian Naval Ship Shikara (Kunjali) at Colaba.

In March last year, the Karnataka government gave clearances to 20 high-rise buildings in Bangalore, including 10 residential towers, to build helipads for commercial and personal use.
07/02/16 Sanjeev Shivadekar/Mumbai Mirror

Hope for zero flight diversion in fog brightens

Pune: The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and India Meteorological Department (IMD) officials have expressed confidence that it might soon be possible to ensure "zero flight diversions" during extreme fog events.
Data compiled under the recent 'fog campaign' by IITM-IMD showed that the number of flight diversions from Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) have reduced drastically over the last four years, from 89 diversions in 2012-13 and 143 in 2013-14 to 20 flight diversions in 2015-16.
When visibility at an airport drops to below 50 meters during a fog event, it is referred to as CAT III C conditions, when no aircraft is allowed to land and is, hence, diverted.
07/02/16 Neha Madaan/Times of India

All set for daily air service on Gaya-Delhi route from April 1

Gaya: The long pending demand of Gaya flyers for all-season service on Gaya-Delhi route is set to be realised with the aviation ministry deciding to operate daily Air India flight on the route from April 1 onwards.
For the last one decade, the airlines has been operating only seasonal flights (October-April) on the route. Foreigners visit Bodh Gaya in large numbers during tourist season. In the off season too, a sizeable number of foreigners, including pilgrims from Sri Lanka, visit the land of Buddha's enlightenment.
Gaya airport director Dilip Kumar said he had recently received a communication regarding the off season continuance of the air service on Gaya-Delhi route. "The new arrangement will enhance capacity utilisation of the airport, as the discontinuation of the flight between April and September each year resulted in non-utilisation of the facilities and made the local work force virtually redundant," Kumar said.
06/02/16 Abdul Qadir/Times of India

One held for flying drone

New Delhi:  Rahul, a freelance videographer was arrested for flying a drone with a camera attached to it in Karol Bagh, said the police. The 23-year-old man was booked under Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) of IPC, DCP (Central) Parmaditya said.

The incident took place on Thursday evening when Rahul was spotted flying the drone at a private function at a park in Karol Bagh.

The quadricopter having a camera, was also being operated at a very low height, following which some locals informed the police, a police official said.
07/02/16 The Hindu

Flight Support Group ASM Expands In India and Beyond

Flight support specialist Aviation Services Management (ASM) is expanding with a move into a new headquarters at Dubai International Airport. The company now employs a team of 45 people and expects this to grow to 60 during the course of 2016. In addition to its Dubai base, it also has offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Goa (in India), as well as in Sri Lanka, the UK, Kenya and Italy.

ASM, which handles all aspects of trip support and ground handling supervision, also is boosting its presence in the Indian market with a newly rebranded subsidiary there called Aviation Travel & Tourism Services (ATTS). In addition to its head office in Goa, the company has a presence in both Mumbai and Delhi.

According to managing director Vito Gomes, around 40 percent of the 120 operators ASM supports worldwide are in the business aviation sector. He said that the volume of traffic the company is handling is currently increasing by around 15 to 20 percent each year, adding that he is eager to acquire some smaller trip support providers in Asia and Africa.
06/02/16 Charles Alcock/AINonline

IAF to vacate Leh airport, to develop base at alternate site

Srinagar: The airport in Leh will be vacated by the Air Force which will develop its base at an alternate site in the strategically-located district of J&K bordering Pakistan and China under an agreement intended to be finalised by this month end.
Similarly, the Army has agreed to vacate a large tract of land presently under its control in Kargil district, adjoining Leh, in Ladakh, which will be used for the expansion of the town. Army will be given alternate land in lieu.
A meeting held by divisional commissioner (Kashmir) Asgar Hassan Samoon yesterday was told that IAF has agreed to vacate the Leh airport which will be handed over to the Airports Authority of India for expansion as part of efforts to encourage tourism in Ladakh region, an official spokesman said here today.
The meeting, also attended by officials of IAF, Airports Authority of India and civil administration, was informed that the state government has identified land in lieu of the existing IAF airbase in Leh.
06/02/16 PTI/Times of India

Off season air service too on the Gaya-Delhi route

Gaya: Long pending demand of Gaya flyers for all season service on the Gaya-Delhi route has been accepted by the aviation ministry and from 1st April 2016 onwards, Air India would provide daily service. For the last nearly one decade, the airlines had been operating only seasonal flights (October-April). Foreigners including Europeans and Americans visit Bodh Gaya in large number during the tourist season. In the off season too, a sizeable number of foreigners including a large number of tourists/pilgrims from Sri Lanka visit the land of Buddha's enlightenment.
According to airport director Dilip Kumar, he has formally received official communication regarding the off season continuance of the air service on Gaya-Delhi route. The new arrangement, according to the director will enhance capacity utilisation of the airport, as the discontinuation of the flight between April and September each year resulted in non-utilisation of the facilities and made the local work force virtually redundant.
Earlier, in 2015, two aero bridges were made operational thereby bringing the much needed relief to the elderly and weak passengers. Aero bridge facility is not available even at the Patna airport. A few weeks back, the airport entered into an agreement with Abhay Institute of Medical sciences for prompt medical assistance to passengers in times of need. The Institute is located just outside the airport area. An art gallery providing impetus to amateur artists too has been established at the airport.
06/02/16 Abdul Qadir/Times of India

AirAsia X starts direct New Delhi-Kuala Lumpur flights

With the take-off of its maiden flight on Wednesday from Indira Gandhi International Airport, the AirAsia X started direct flights from New Delhi to Kuala Lumpur. The Asia Pacific bound airline group now provides India with better connectivity, low-fares and high-value service straight to the capital city of Malaysia.
AirAsia X has announced a promotional offer that provides all-in-fares from New Delhi to Kuala Lumpur from as low as Rs 6,790 one way for standard seats or from Rs 29,990 one way for the award-winning Premium Flatbed seats.
The online booking for promotional fares stated today through their website airasia.com and new mobile app on iPhone and Android devices, and mobile site at mobile.airasia.com.
06/02/16 Shah Mohsin/Financial Express

Denied boarding pass, drunk flyer creates ruckus

Ahmedabad: After noticing that a passenger was heavily drunk and unable to stand properly, IndiGo airlines officials denied him boarding pass for Mumbai-bound flight 6E-214, on Saturday morning. This irked the man, Deepak Keshvani, 40, who started shouting at airline officials, who in turn called in CISF.
Keshvani, however, decided to put up a fight and even got into a mild scuffle with CISF staff while they were taking him towards the exit.
Once outside the departure gate, Keshvani started complaining loudly of chest pain. Bystanders called up 108, but their staff arrived to find Keshvani's blood pressure and pulse to be normal.
"He started howling and shouting that he is having chest pain. People gathered around him. Someone called 108," said a source who had witnessed the scene.
Later, one of his relatives arrived to take him home. The major part of the ruckus took place in the departure area of the domestic terminal in city airport.
07/02/16 Times of India

Fiji Airways in Talks on Code-sharing

Chennai: Seeking to boost trade and tourism ties, Fiji Airways is to soon finalise code-sharing negotiations with an Indian airline, amove that would improve connectivity between the two countries.

With the flag carrier of Fiji all set to launch a new service to Singapore in April, it is holding talks with Air India and Jet Airways for a code-sharing agreement that would enhance connectivity to Indian cities with the Southeast Asian nation. This comes in the wake of Fiji actively wooing Indian investors to the archipelago, with an Indian origin population of 37 per cent.
07/02/16 New Indian Express

Air Intelligence Unit officials nab smuggler with gold worth Rs 80 lakhs

Mumbai: Smuggling has become a global issue and each day authorities at major arrival points of the country fight with them so that nothing illegal either gets in or goes out. Major airports are one of the favourite destinations where smugglers try to cash their costly item. In a latest incident, Air Intelligence Unit of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport caught a person with 26 gold bars weighing approx 3.031 kilograms and 18 gold bangles weighing 198 grams.

The AIU officials have mentioned that the gold bars are worth of Rs 75,10,485 and the bangles cost another Rs 4,90,622 in the international market. Though the identity of the smuggler is yet to be declared, the intelligence unit have taken the smuggler into custody and are investigating the matter.
07/02/16 Saurav Mukherjee/India.com

Two Afghan nationals detained for carrying undeclared cash

New Delhi: Custom officials on Saturday detained two Afghan national at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport for carrying massive amounts of undeclared cash.

The two men were held with $ 1 lakh and $ 90,000 respectively.

Meanwhile, custom officials have also arrested a person from Delhi airport for carrying 1800 gms of gold in form of ornaments and also recovered four small gold bars from him.
06/02/16 Siasat Daily

Police scour Nedumbassery airport for forex touts

Kochi: Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) is once again becoming a hub of touts engaged in currency trading.

The Nedumbassery police arrested two persons, identified as Stanley, 52 and Sebastian, 48, from the parking area outside the international terminal of CIAL on Friday night. Several foreign currencies valued at Rs.1.30 lakh were seized from them.

“The arrests followed a tip-off that the racketeers were offering passengers attractive rates and that they pestered foreign passengers. Their operations are based on the departure and arrival segments of international flights,” said R. Rustum, Deputy Police Superintendent. The accused have been booked under Section 13 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act and IPC 420.

The police have intensified the search for four more persons, who fled the spot on seeing the personnel. Official sources said the touts had links with a couple of taxi drivers operating at CIAL.
07/02/16 Hiran Unnikrishnan/The Hindu