Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New Delhi to offer 49% stake in Air India to foreign firms

The Indian government plans to allow foreign investors to buy up to 49% of shares in Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) in the hopes this will render the privatisation of the state-owned carrier more competitive, Hindustan Times reported.

The proposed change will still retain a differentiation between Air India and other air operators in India. Existing legislation allows for full foreign ownership of all airlines except for the flag carrier, although not more than 49% of share can be held by foreign airlines. In Air India's case, the foreign capital will be limited to a 49% stake regardless of whether the investor is an airline or another company.

According to sources cited by the Hindustan Times, the decision to change the law has already been taken but its implementation might take some time due to a number of rules that need to be amended.

Because the new rules will ensure that Air India will remain under Indian control, the carrier will not need to reapply for traffic rights after privatisation.

Thus far, a number of Indian companies have expressed an interest in buying either the whole or parts of Air India, including SpiceJet, IndiGo Airlines, Jet Airways and Tata Group-controlled AirAsia India and Vistara, but the government hopes that by changing the law it will also attract foreign groups. The aviation ministry has decided against separating short-haul and long-haul parts of the carrier's operations.
12/12/17 ch-aviation

Air India privatisation: National carrier to be split in 2 before sale

New Delhi: To fast-track the privatisation of state-run Air India (AI), the government is likely to first divide the enterprise into two: AI and Air India Express (AIE), which undertakes the airline’s profitable West Asia operations, would be combined and put up for sale; another special purpose vehicle (SPV) that will include AI’s Rs 32,000-crore working capital debt, its other subsidiaries including Alliance Air and assets such as land and buildings, will be monetised later.
According to official sources, while a Cabinet note detailing this plan has been prepared on the lines of the recommendations of a ministerial group headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley, the idea is to conclude the sale of AI-AIE by the end of the fiscal and the undertake the balance transactions in due course.
The sources added that along with AI’s 12,000-strong workforce, its headquarters building at Delhi’s Gurudwara Rakabganj Road and 115 aircraft, the prospective buyer of AI-AIE will also have to take over the airline’s Rs 20,000-crore aircraft-related loans and AI’s Rs 8,000-crore dues to oil retailers.
Though valuations are yet to be done, officials reckon that government’s receipts from the sale this year could be close to Rs 15,000 crore.
Separately, the proposed SPV will negotiate for settling AI’s Rs 32,000-crore debt which could see banks taking a haircut. During informal talks with the government, lenders to the carrier have understood to have expressed their willingness to negotiate with it on how to settle the AI loans.
12/12/17 Prasanta Sahu/Financial Express

Executive wrongly charged, didn’t fulfil Pocso conditions on bad touch: Lawyer

Mumbai: In a packed Dindoshi courtroom on Monday, the prosecutor sought 14 days' police custody of entertainment executive Vikas Sachdeva (39), charged with in-flight sexual assault on a minor.
"He purposely put a foot on the minor. With his right foot he rubbed her back and neck. She screamed at him to sit properly, but it continued," prosecutor Munna Inamdar said before woman Special Judge A D Deo.
Arguing for Sachdeva, advocate Harminder Anand said, "His economy class ticket was upgraded to business class. He didn't know who was sitting in front of him. My client has been falsely implicated, may be for publicity... The actor and her mother never complained to crew or airport authorities. Her Instagram clip shows that his left foot was on the window and doesn't mention anything about his right foot. For the first time, remand application mentions his left foot being on the armrest and the right foot being scrubbed on the back and neck... It appears to be an afterthought by a legal mind as the minor first said she was not interested in filing any complain."
Anand said the accused was returning to Mumbai the same day he went to Delhi where an uncle had died. "He told the crew to not disturb him for water or food as he wanted to sleep. He asked for a blanket and slept. He was in mental agony. He has no criminal record... Is his dignity not important? If a sleeping man puts his leg on an armrest, it's not sexual assault."
The judge observed that the "minor victim" has "crossed 17 years of age". She noted Anand's arguments that there were "no allegations about touch of body parts as mentioned under section 7 of Pocso Act. Anand argued that section 7 has been wrongly applied. He said the section describes sexual assault as an offence where particular private parts are touched, and not neck and back as the police say. "The FIR doesn't allege that body parts mentioned in the Act were touched," he said. "There is no allegation of 'sexual intent'."
12/12/17 Swati Deshpande/Times of India

Zaira Wasim molestation row: Accused's wife claims husband had apologised, the actress said 'it's okay'

Mumbai: The wife of Vikas Sachdev, arrested for allegedly molesting actor Zaira Wasim on board a Delhi- Mumbai flight on December 9, today claimed her husband, before deboarding, had "apologised" to the teenager to which she said it was "okay".
She claimed that her husband's leg had accidentally touched the actor.
Sachdev, a resident of suburban Chandivli, was arrested last evening after a huge public outcry over the incident prompted the Maharashtra State Commission for Women to seek an inquiry into the "shameful" incident.
He was booked for assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) as the actor is a minor.

Sachdev's wife Divya interacted with reporters on the premises of the sessions court at Dindoshi in suburban Goregaon after he was remanded in police custody till December 13.

Divya Sachdev claimed her husband had apologised to the actor before deboarding at the Mumbai airport "to which she said it was okay".

"My husband is a family man. He is innocent. He was mentally exhausted as he was returning after attending the funeral of his uncle (in Delhi).

"He was taking rest and was fast asleep when his leg accidentally touched the girl. Vikas apologised to the actor before getting out of the plane to which she said it was okay," she claimed.

The "Dangal" actor, who had narrated her ordeal on the Vistara flight from Delhi to Mumbai on Instagram, had said that a passenger sitting behind her put his feet on her armrest.
In the video, which Wasim recorded immediately after deboarding the flight, the 17-year-old actor broke down several times.
"So, I was in a flight travelling from Delhi to Mumbai today and right behind me one middle-aged man who made my two-hour journey miserable. I tried to record it on phone to understand it better because the cabin lights were dimmed, I failed to get it..." she said.

"The lights were dimmed, so it was even worse. It continued for another five to ten minutes and then I was sure of it. He kept nudging my shoulder and continued to move his foot up and down my back and neck," the Kashmiri teen, who shot to fame for her stellar performance in Aamir Khan's blockbuster "Dangal", said in the video.
When asked if any official from the airlines got in touch with them, Divya Sachdev said her husband had told the cabin crew not to disturb him for anything during the flight as he wanted to take rest.
She also alleged that the police lied about the timing of her husband's arrest.
As per the remand copy produced by the police in the court today, Vikas Sachdev was arrested at around 9 pm yesterday.
The woman, however, claimed that her husband was actually picked up from their residence (in Chandivali) at around 12:30 pm yesterday and that she can produce the CCTV footage from the building cameras to prove her claim.
12/12/17 PTI/Economic Times

Crammed planes a global norm; experts say focus on etiquette

Mumbai: Fllowing the alleged molestation of a minor actor on a Delhi-Mumbai Vistara flight, the question of crammed seating in flights has come to the fore. In the age of budget carriers, globally flights have increasingly reduced the 'seat pitch' or the distance between seat rows to accommodate more seats to book profit. However, experts opine that although there is a minor difference between seat pitch from airline to airline all Indian carriers adhere to global standards of flight seating and reduced seat space is not only an Indian norm.

" It is not a seat space issue. An airline like Vistara has a decent seat space. It is as per universal order." said Jitendra Bhargava, Former Executive Director, Air India.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), a global body that looks into issues of flight safety, also has no regulations for seat pitch, passenger space or seating room as it is the airline that determines seating along with the aircraft manufacturer and the aircraft's certificating authority. CASA only looks into the tested strength of seats to ensure that seat types, including the seat belts, meet international standards.

Bhargava thinks that the recent issues of sexual harassment on flights are more of a conduct issue and less of an ergonomic concern. " You cannot put your feet on another person's seat. What we need is a lesson in flight etiquette. Earlier the aviation industry was elitist. Now everyone is flying." said Bhargava.
12/12/17 Ketan Vaidya/DNA

Business man who touched actor on flight blames it on ‘lack of sleep’

Mumbai: Vikas Sachdeva (39), the Kandivali-based regional business head of an entertainment company, who was accused of allegedly molesting Dangal actress Zaira Wasim onboard a Mumbai-Delhi Vistara flight Saturday night, was remanded in police custody for two days by a sessions court on Monday.

Sachdeva’s lawyer, H.S. Anand, while rebutting the allegations against him, said that the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act does not apply as the complainant completed 17 years on October 23 and is into her 18th year.

He also argued that the Section 7 of the Act doesn't apply against his client as the parts of the complainant’s body that was allegedly touched — the neck and arm — do not find mention in it.   

Sachdeva, who stays with his wife Divya and son in Kandivali, has no previous criminal record, and the lawyer asked the court to consider that he is the father of a nine-year-old special child, and the family is dependent on him.

Mr Anand claimed that Sachdeva’s contact was inadvertent as he was in a deep slumber after attending a funeral in Delhi and had even apologised to Zaira. The actress told the police that she was on a Vistara flight on Saturday night from Delhi to Mumbai, when the passenger sitting behind her put up his feet on her armrest and tried to feel her up. According to Sachdeva’s wife, he was travelling from Delhi to Mumbai on Saturday, after attending his uncle’s funeral, and was in a disturbed state of mind.

Stating that the complaint against Sachdeva is an afterthought, Mr Anand said, “If the complainant was harassed during her two-hour flight, she could have given a complaint at the airport terminal itself. Instead, the complaint was registered at her hotel the next day, with significant discrepancies in the alleged incident and her statement.”
12/12/17 Priyanka Navalkar/Asian Age

Women’s panel yet to get details sought from airline

Mumbai: The National Commission for Women (NCW) is yet to receive details of the alleged molestation of a minor actor on board a Delhi-Mumbai Vistara flight Saturday by a fellow passenger. In spite of seeking the details from the airline within 24 hours after the matter was reported on Sunday morning, no information was received by the NCW till Monday evening.
The Mumbai police Sunday registered a case under section 354 of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act against the accused, Vikas Sachdeva.
The NCW has sought an explanation from the airline for not heeding to the complaint of the girl immediately after the incident. It has also asked why the accused was not handed over to the concerned authorities even after the victim raised an alarm during the journey.
“We are yet to receive details of the incident. As directed by the airline, we had sent an official mail to the airline on Sunday morning, asking for the requirements. Officials then asked us to mark the mail to the ethics committee of the airline,” Rekha Singh, the Chairperson, NCW said.
“After having mailed to the ethics committee, we received a reply from the airline Monday morning claiming they would want us to draft another mail to senior officials of the airline. While the timeline given to them to submit the details is over, we will wait till Tuesday to get the details,” Singh added.
“We will wait till Tuesday, else summon the airline to our office. We also await the completion of investigation by the
police. We will take the matter till the Ministry of Civil Aviation if any lapse on the part of the airline is noticed,” Singh added.
12/12/17 Neha Kulkarni/Indian Express

Actor ‘molestation’: Two-day police remand for accused Vistara passenger in POCSO Act case

Mumbai: The 39-year-old executive arrested for allegedly molesting a minor actor onboard a flight on Saturday was produced in a special court that remanded him in two days’ police custody on Monday. The 17-year-old actor, who had narrated the incident on social media Sunday, told the police the man continued to touch her with his foot even after she shifted in her seat to avoid further contact.
The Mumbai Police arrested Chandivali resident Vikas Sachdeva Sunday night after the actor lodged a formal complaint. Sachdeva, a senior executive in a Delhi-based firm, was booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
The incident took place on board a Delhi-Mumbai Air Vistara flight on Saturday night. The police said the actor was travelling to Mumbai with her mother and seated in the business class section.
Sachdeva, the police said, got himself a business class window seat right behind the actor after upgrading his economy class seat. According to the police, Sachdeva placed one foot on the armrest of the girl’s seat and repeatedly touched her back and neck. An official at the Sahar police station said the actor, who was asleep, woke up due to the contact and shifted in her seat, away from the man’s foot.
“But the accused continued to touch her inappropriately even then. After this went on for 5-10 minutes, the actress asked the man to sit properly,” said the officer. The actress also took a picture of Sachdeva’s foot using her phone and claimed that she could not take a picture of his face because the cabin lights were dim inside the aircraft.
The police have recorded statements of a fellow passenger who was witness to the chaos in the flight that followed when the actor alerted her mother and complained to flight stewards.
“The accused apologised to the girl at the time and in the confusion in the aircraft after it landed in Mumbai she left with her mother,” added the official. On Sunday, she posted a ‘story’ on social media detailing Sachdeva’s alleged unwarranted contact. On Monday afternoon, Sachdeva was produced in a special POCSO Act court at the sessions court in Dindoshi.
12/12/17 Indian Express

Zaira Wasim incident: Vistara submits final report to DGCA

Vistara today submitted its final probe report to aviation regulator DGCA on the incident of a man allegedly molesting actor Zaira Wasim on board a Delhi- Mumbai flight this week, an airline source said today. Following the incident on December 9, one Vikas Sachdev was arrested for allegedly molesting the actor. The source said the airline has submitted its final investigation report into the incident to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). According to the source, the detailed probe report was prepared after talking to all the people concerned in the incident, including Wasim, crew and ground handling staff. Earlier, the airline had submitted an initial report to the DGCA. The source also said that no action has been taken against any staffer as no one has been found guilty of any violation. When contacted, Vistara spokesperson was not available for comment.
“We are deeply concerned and regret the unfortunate experience Zaira Wasim had onboard our flight last night. We continue to give this case our highest attention and are extending our full support to all relevant authorities for the investigations underway,” the airline had said in a statement on December 10. The “Dangal” actor, who had narrated her ordeal on the Vistara flight from Delhi to Mumbai on Instagram, had said that a passenger sitting behind her put his feet on her armrest. In the video, which Wasim recorded immediately after deboarding the flight, the 17-year-old actor broke down several times.
12/12/17 PTI/Financial Express

New terminal at Hubballi airport inaugurated

Hubballi: A long-standing demand of the North Karnataka region to have an upgraded airport to accommodate more large aircraft became a reality on Tuesday with the inauguration of a new terminal building of the Hubballi airport.
To mark the occasion, a new flight to Mumbai from Bengaluru via Hubballi was also flagged off at Hubballi airport, which operates thrice a week from Tuesday.
Speaking after dedicating the new terminal building at the Hubballi airport premises, Union civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, said, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi is giving a thrust to develop aviation, to enable the common man to travel by air. We have demonstrated to the world that India is the third-fastest growing domestic aviation market in the last 3-4 years."
On the demand to make the new flight to Mumbai a daily flight, the minister said, "It's people who should make it economically viable to travel by air. Once it becomes viable, then, you can have flights in the morning, afternoon, evening and night. So, come buy ticket not only for Air India, but also other private aircraft. Make aviation economically viable, by ensuring that private aviation companies compete with one another, by cutting the prices of tickets, thus helping aviation activities."
He said in the first and second phase of the UDAN scheme, have been planned for 88 airports. "Aviation has a bright future if we all work together to keep taxation in limits, because those states which brought down taxation within reasonable parameters, have seen a boost in aviation activity," he said.
12/12/17 Times of India

Ashok Gajapathi Raju flags off Air India flight from Hubballi airport

New Delhi: An Air India flight connecting Hubballi airport in Karnataka with Mumbai and Bengaluru was flagged off today. The flight was flagged off by civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who also inaugurated the upgraded terminal building at the airport. Hubballi airport has been included in the UDAN scheme and the response from the airlines is very good, Raju was quoted as saying in a release issued by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
The central government’s Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) initiative seeks to connect unserved and under-served airports as well as make flying more affordable. The Air India flight, flagged off today, would be operated with Airbus 319 aircraft on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The new terminal building has the capacity to handle 300 peak hour passengers at a time apart from various passenger- friendly amenities and conveniences, the release said. At present, Hubballi airport has only daily flight connecting Bengaluru and is operated by Alliance Air. In 2016 -17, the airport handled 25,928 passengers.
12/12/17 Financial Express

With India's first seaplane ride, PM Modi sets vision for 106 waterways

So far, you would have only seen them in Hollywood flicks - James Bond, in particular, is quite fond of them - and in glossy travel spreads of some luxury island resort. But now you'll get to see them live across the country. We're talking about seaplanes, which became an unlikely buzzword ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted "Tomorrow at 9:30 am I will travel from Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad to Dharoi Dam via sea plane." This would be the country's first-ever seaplane flight, not including the recent trials held in Mumbai.
The historic flight is now complete, and with that, Modi has not only ended his election campaign in Gujarat dramatically, grabbing the nation's attention along the way, but has also flagged off his ambition project to revolutionise transportation in India using these amphibious aircraft. "The Congress people would never have imagined such development. It is not possible to make airports everywhere", he said on Monday, adding that "We are working to develop waterways. We are going to start 106 waterways." This is a part of the Waterways Bill that was passed by the Parliament last year.
Last Saturday, SpiceJet conducted a successful trial flight of a seaplane that landed at the Girgaon Chowpatty in Mumbai, in the presence of Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapthi Raju and the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources Nitin Gadkari. The low-cost airline is reportedly working on a cost-effective business plan to start operating small amphibious planes in the next 12 months, and is in talks with Japan's Setouchi Holdings to purchase 100 Kodiak amphibious planes. If the deal comes through, SpiceJet would become the first airline to boast such planes in its fleet. "Airports are in short supply in India. Lots of the growth in India is happening in small markets, but those small markets have little or no connectivity. The amphibian plane opens up a lot of areas, creates a lot of flexibility," SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh told Bloomberg earlier in October.
Amphibious aircraft can take off and land on both short landing strips as well as water bodies, therefore though they are slower than the usual land planes, they are far more versatile. They also have a longer range than helicopters. Hence, introducing seaplane operations in the country will help bring remote areas into the mainstream aviation network without the high cost of building airports and runways-after all, large water bodies can be found everywhere. Moreover, seaplanes can also help ease traffic in busy airports like Mumbai.
According to media reports, norms for seaplanes are expected to be finalised in three months in consultation with the civil aviation ministry. Gadkari, who had previously announced that proposals are being examined for introducing seaplanes at Yamuna, Ganga and other water bodies, invited Setouchi to Make in India following the Mumbai test flight. At the function, he went as far as to say that if found commercially viable, he would like seaplanes to be manufactured in Nagpur. Raju meanwhile has been quoted termed the move as an extension of the government's Udan scheme that aims to improve regional connectivity and make air travel more affordable.
12/12/17 Business Today

Boeing to make aircraft components near Bengaluru

Bengaluru: Global aerospace major Boeing would make aircraft components and subsystems at a new facility it would soon set up on the city's outskirts, a senior official said on Tuesday.

"The state government on Monday approved Boeing's proposal to set up an engineering and technology facility with electronics and avionics manufacturing and assembly at an investment of Rs 1,152 crore," Karnataka Udyog Mitra Managing Director B.K. Shivakumar told IANS here.

The facility will be built in 41.7 acres of land the American firm has been allotted in the Aerospace Park at Devanahalli, about 40km from the city, and adjacent to the Bengaluru international airport.

"When commissioned, the Boeing facility will provide 2,300 direct jobs and many more indirect or associative jobs," said Shivakumar.

The aerospace behemoth, which makes various types of aircraft for civil and military operations worldwide, has a global research and development centre in the city since a decade.

The high-level high committee of the state Industry Department also approved the proposal of CDC Development India Ltd to set up a Technology Innovation International Park in the hi-tech, defence and aerospace Park at a cost of Rs 740 crore, with an initial job potential for 25 high-skilled techies.

"CDC has been allotted 100 acres of land in the Aerospace Park to build its tech park," said Shivakumar.

Universal Builders has been allotted 21.3 acres of land in the hardware park area of the aerospace park at a cost of Rs 525 crore for a housing project.
12/12/17 IANS/New Indian Express

88 airports to be functional under UDAN, says minister

Hubballi: Union Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju said on Tuesday that a total of 88 airports in the country would be made functional in the next one-and-a-half-years, through two rounds of bidding under the UDAN regional connectivity scheme.
Speaking after inaugurating the upgraded Hubballi Airport here on Tuesday, he said only 71 airports had flight operations till the UDAN scheme was launched.
"During the second bidding under the UDAN scheme, we are looking at getting air connectivity from Hubballi to Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Kannur, Hyderabad, Kochi, Goa, Tirupati, Delhi and other places," he said.
Civil aviation would get a boost if the state governments keep their taxes on fuel and other materials within reasonable limits. Unfortunately, the trend is that the state governments hand over only loss-making airports to the Centre, he said.
"Amphibious aircraft (seaplane) service is also being launched in the country. This has great potential as the country has 7,500 km of coastline and a number of reservoirs," the minister said. India, at present, stands in the third position in terms of growth in the civil aviation sector, mainly due to the increasing number of domestic passengers.
12/12/17 Deccan Herald

Pradeep Singh Kharola takes over as Air India CMD

New Delhi: Senior IAS officer Pradeep Singh Kharola on Monday took charge as the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India. Kharola assumed charge from Rajiv Bansal.
A 1985-batch Karnataka cadre officer, Kharola would be steering the national carrier at a time when the government has started the process for its strategic disinvestment. He was the managing director of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd since February 2015.
Among others, Kharola has worked in various posts in Karnataka, including as the chairman of Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation Ltd. He has also served as principal secretary to the Karnataka chief minister.
As part of efforts to revive the fortunes of Air India -- which is staying afloat on taxpayers' money -- the government has decided on selling stake in the airline.
11/12/17 PTI/Times of India

Air India Express to launch flights to Dubai from city

Vijayawada: The fast-expanding Gannavaram airport will soon have the services of Air India Express, an economy airline with international standards, connecting Vijayawada, Mumbai and Dubai.

The airline operates Boeing 737 flights and the services are likely to commence on January 15.

A team of Air India officials already visited the Vijayawada airport and expressed their satisfaction at the facilities developed after it acquired international status. “We are making plans ready for an integrated terminal building at the airport,” sources said.

The sources said that the immigration notification of the Vijayawada airport was getting ready at the Ministry for Home Affairs and would reach the airport next week. The notification was already signed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and once the notification was released, the Vijayawada airport would have 10 immigration counters — five each for arrival and departure — to help initiate the immigration process, the sources said.

Soon after receiving the notification, a team of officials from the National Informatics Centre (NIC) would arrive at the airport at Gannavaram to install the necessary apparatus such as servers to carry out the checking process with available data such as fingerprints and photographs, the sources added.
12/12//17 The Hindu

Jet Airways opts for paperless billing with help of E-Lock Digital Signing Solution

Jet Airways, a leading international airline in India, has opted for digital signing of invoices issued to its customers, using E-Lock digital signing solution provided by Sify Technologies. The electronic tickets that are issued to the Jet Airways customers would now be digitally signed. Jet Airways is the first organization in Aviation industry in India to go for Digital signatures on their Invoices.

Jet Airways uses BulkSigner software for offline signing of Invoices at regular intervals and web service based SDK solution for online and real time signing of Invoices. E-Lock’s bulk digital signing software - BulkSigner can digitally sign thousands of documents in few minutes, in a secure way. For this project, it uses a Hardware Security Module (HSM) to achieve complete automation and create a layer of security to prevent any unauthorized access to the digital signing solution.

E-Lock provides PKI based solutions that are legally acceptable in India and most other countries. E-Lock signing solutions can sign any type of documents using digital signature certificates issued by any Certifying Authority. These digital signatures can be stored either on e-tokens or HSMs (Hardware Security Modules) or can be in the form of document signer certificate. This project was implemented in partnership with Sify Technologies Ltd., is a leading Certifying Authority and security solutions provider.
12/12/17 PR Urgent

Odisha Spent Rs 26.55 Crore Towards Airfare Of CM, Ministers

Bhubaneswar: The State government has spent more than Rs 26.55 crore towards airfare of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and other ministers in last three years, Parliamentary Affairs Minister B K Arukha, said in a written reply to BJP member Dilip Ray, in the Assembly today.

He said the expenditure on account of air travel was for the period 2015-17.

While Rs 8.43 crore was spent towards airfares of chief minister and other ministers during 2015, the amount was Rs 11.14 crore in 2016 and Rs 6.97 crore in 2017, the minister said, adding, this included fare for travel within the state and outside.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had used a chopper 104 times for his movement within the state and other ministers used choppers for 45 times within a span of three years, Arukha said.
This apart, Arukha also said the chief minister had undertaken flights outside Odisha on 11 occasions in the three years while one minister undertook air travel outside the state only once.
12/12/17 PTI/Odisha TV

Fog affects flight services at Chennai airport

Chennai: Four flights, including two international flights, were diverted and nine arrivals and more than 20 departures were delayed due to poor visibility caused by fog at Chennai airport on Tuesday.
Flights which were scheduled between 5.30am and 8am were affected.
Sources said an IndiGo flight from Singapore was diverted to Hyderabad while an Oman Air flight from Muscat, a GoAir flight from Mumbai and a flight from Pune were diverted to Bengaluru after visibility dipped to 100 metre.

Fog delayed morning departures from Chennai. Flights scheduled at 6am could depart only after 8am.
A Chennai-Kochi flight was delayed by three hours while flights to Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Guwahati, Dubai, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore and Kolkata were delayed by two hours.
12/12/17 V Ayyappan/Times of India

Airfare offers: Ticket prices not as high as expected; Delhi-Goa, Mumbai-Goa rates rise, but New York, London trips rates fall

New Delhi: It is the festive season as Christmas and New Year are just a few weeks away. Just like every year both for domestic as well as key international locations, airfares tend to increase as tourists pay their visit to different holiday destinations across the globe. This year Delhi-Goa, Mumbai-Goa, Delhi-Kochi and Mumbai-Kochi flights have remained costly with an increase of 25 percent but tickets to New York, Washington and London are down by nearly 27 percent, as per data from Cox & Kings. The data shows that flights to International destinations like Bangkok, Dubai and Singapore are however costlier between 20 and 34 percent in December this year. According to PTI, the increase in network and fleet expansion by domestic carriers have caused flight tickets to not climb steeply.
The data reveals that Airlines like Indigo, Goair and Vistara have continued to expand their fleet through this year, which leads to more frequent flights, and lower fare offers to fill these up before the upcoming holidays. The flight tickets to the US, are down as many of the Gulf carriers are seeing a fall in load factors from their hubs. For almost all the Gulf carriers, India is the largest market either as direct connections or hub operations. Similarly, in Europe, the prices have not seen a sharp rise, where new carriers like Brussels Airlines, Alitalia have started operations, while Jet Airways is expanding its capacity in the India-Europe sector.
For domestic flights, during the Christmas week (December 22-26), a Mumbai-Goa ticket is up just about 2 percent, but for the New Year week (December 29-January 2), the same is up almost 21 percent, while Mumbai-Kochi for the same periods is up marginally 3.65 percent and 18.48 percent, respectively.
12/12/17 Financial Express

SpiceJet To Launch Additional Flights For Year-End Holiday Season. Check Out The Routes

Spicejet launched six new additional flights anticipating a surge in demand owing to the upcoming holiday season. The new seasonal flights will be effective from December 22, 2017 and will continue till February 5, 2018, the company said. The airline will operate the new daily direct flights on the Chennai - Kochi, Chennai - Kolkata and Kolkata - Port Blair routes. SpiceJet will deploy its Boeing 737-800 aircraft on these sectors. Leisure travel sees a seasonal surge during the winter months.

Christmas and New Year signals the beginning of the winter tourist season in India.

Bookings for tickets are now open on www.spicejet.com, SpiceJet's mobile apps and through online travel portals and travel agents, the company said. SpiceJet operates 396 average daily flights to 51 destinations, including 44 domestic and 7 international ones.

Domestic airlines carried 954.45 lakh passengers in the first 10 months of 2017 (January-October), as against 813.70 lakh in the corresponding period of the previous year, registering a growth of 17.30 per cent, according to data from aviation regulator DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation).
12/12/17 NDTV

AirAsia India to expand fleet, add more routes on rising travel demand

Mumbai: AirAsia's Indian venture is expanding its fleet and routes as the budget carrier hopes to turn in a profit next fiscal year amid a surge in air traffic in the world's fastest-growing aviation market.

The airline, a joint venture between Malaysia's flagship budget airline AirAsia and India's Tata Group, is looking to cash in on the surge in India's air travel that has been growing at an annual pace of more than 20% in recent years. Rising incomes and the advent of no-frills carriers prompt more people to shun trains for long-distance travel in the world's second-most populous nation.

Last year, India became the third-largest aviation market behind the U.S. and China with domestic traffic touching 100 million passengers.

AirAsia India plans to expand the number of routes it is flying to 20 from 16 by the end of next fiscal year, Amar Abrol, chief executive and managing director, told reporters in New Delhi on Monday. It also plans to start its maiden international services from the country in the second quarter of 2019, he said.

To operate international flights, an airline needs a fleet of at least 20 aircraft, according to Indian rules. AirAsia, Asia's largest budget carrier, currently operates a fleet of 14 Airbus A320 planes in India, which it plans to increase to 20 by the first quarter of 2019, Abrol said.
12/12/17 Nikkei Asian Review

Full runway operations to take few months more

Surat: High-flying Surtis and airline companies will have to wait for another couple of months before the 2,905 metre runway is made operational at the city airport.
The expansion of the runway to 2,905 metres and the strengthening work on 185 metre patch on it were supposed to complete by March 2017. However, the work was delayed for almost six months due to less workforce and slow decision making by authorities concerned. For limited international operations, the airport needs 2,905 metre runway, which has been reduced to 1,900 metre due to strengthening work on the 185 metre patch. The strengthening work on the runway was stopped due to heavy rains and for want of dry days in August. The 185 metre patch is located in the middle of the existing runway. Due to re-carpeting and strengthening work, about 1,000 metre runway was not in use. At present, the usable length of the runway at the airport is just 1,905 metre, which is not enough for landing of wide-bodied aircraft.
12/12/17 Times of India

Tucked in for the ultra long haul

There’s a race on in the skies to see who can fly the longest distance non-stop. Last year Air India with its Delhi-San Francisco ultra long haul flight was the uncrowned king covering 15,127 kms in 15 hours. Qatar Airways’ Doha-Auckland flight covering 14,535 kms in 17 and-a-half hours, was longest in terms of time.

If you take a look at aviation data firm OAG’s list of the longest flights in the world, the pecking order keeps changing – close to the top is also Emirates’ Dubai-Auckland that takes 16 hours one way and 17 hours 15 minutes the other way. According to Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, Vice President, India & Nepal for Emirates, that flight shaved off three hours travelling time otherwise wasted in transit.

Come 2018, the records in ultra long-haul are all set to be broken. Next March, Singapore Airlines will restart its non-stop flight to New York that takes 19 hours. It will be using an Airbus A350-900 ULR plane – a new ultra long-range aircraft developed specially for flights up to 20 hours.

Qantas is upping its game too – in 2018 it proposes to fly non-stop between Perth and London, a distance of 14, 469 kms that will take over 17 hours. But it’s also pushing its two aircraft suppliers –Airbus and Boeing - hard to produce aircraft that can crack the 20 hour barrier and allow it to fly between Sydney and London and New York by 2022.

United Airlines launched Los Angeles to Singapore this October, using Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and now has announced non-stop from Sydney to Houston which could take over 17 hours.

Out of India, apart from AI which flies a few ultra long haul flights to the US, there is United Airlines connecting Mumbai and Delhi to New York non-stop. Now there is buzz about Air India launching Delhi-Los Angeles non-stop as well.

All the Gulf carriers are using the ultra long haul to their advantage attracting Indian customers with direct connectivity to the US. Etihad’s Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles flight is its longest at 16 hours on a Boeing 777. But it is Emirates which connects five US cities (LA, San Francisco, Orlando, Houston and Dallas that is more aggressive. Says Ahmad, “ With our modern fleet of 777 and A 380 aircraft, and a future order of 787 Dreamliners we can access most part s of the globe allowing us to open and connect new markets if necessary.”
12/12/17 Chitra Narayanan/Business Line

One way international flight tickets dip below Rs 10,000 for early 2018

Two weeks left till we say goodbye to 2017 and international travelers already have their bags packed. As one way airfares to certain international destinations fall, there has been a spike in last minute bookings to quick getaways.

Travel marketplace, ixigo, noted on Monday that there was a spike in ‘last minute international bookings from India’ in the month of December.

“Flight fares for the Christmas and New Year long weekends have also dipped considerably with one-way tickets for certain international sectors costing even lower than Rs 10,000,” the marketplace said.

The travel marketplace, ixigo has recommended that anyone planning a trip in early 2018 should get cracking on booking those flight tickets.

“We strongly recommend travelers to plan their international travel for the next 2-3 months. International flight fares are at an all-time low, that plus additional offers in the market such as ixigo’s Check-in to 2018 sale, which gives flyers minimum savings of Rs 2,018 on each international booking, make this the ideal time to book. We have seen a considerable spike in last minute international bookings, with 48% travelers preferring to book within 30 days of their date of travel. With 16 long weekends in 2018, we expect this trend to rise even further,” said ixigo CEO and Co-Founder, Aloke Bajpai
11/12/17 Zee Business

On average, two bird-hits reported from Indian airports every day

Visakhapatnam: On the aggregate, two incidents of bird-hits (or planes hit by animals) are reported from Indian airports every day and it is a matter of grave concern, which has to be addressed in all earnestness, according to aviation experts. They were speaking here on Tuesday, the second day of a three-day conference on bird-hits being organised by the World Birdstrike Association (WBA), South Asia.

According to official sources, 607 cases were reported in 2012, with damage to 67 aircraft; 736 cases in 2013 (67 planes damaged); 719 in 2014 (81 planes damaged); 764 in 2015 (66 planes damaged); and 839 in 2016 (103 planes damaged). In 2017, 363 incidents were reported till the end of June, with damage to 72 aircraft.

In 2016, New Delhi report reported the highest number of cases, 135, followed by Mumbai, 72. In all, 4,000 aircraft have been damaged in the past five years in 80 airports in the country due to bird-hits or collisions with other animals on the runways.

H. Pulla, Director of Tirupati airport, narrated his experiences and emphasised the need for the authorities at the airports to work in tandem with the civic and revenue officials to prevent bird-hits. "Garbage accumulation and the lack of sanitation in the vicinity of the airport is one of the main causes. Birds are attracted to the neighbourhood of airports," he said and added that local communities should also be involved in the exercise.

Hazard management plans have to be drawn up based on scientific studies in each airport and standard operating procedures (SPOs) should be followed, he added. Srinivas Jillela spoke about a software (StrykerAV) application for controlling bird-hits in airports.

Raman Emani, the Director of BirdGard India Pvt Ltd, spoke about bird repellent devices and other mitigation measures such as habitat management in the vicinity of airports. Lalita Vaswani, another director in the same company, also spoke about mitigation measures.
12/12/17 CH. RS Sarma/Business Line

Japanese tech to make flying safer in India

Indian sky-space is expected to get safer for fliers during time of low visibility and fogs as state owned Airport Authority of India (AAI) with help from Japan, is mulling over introducing an advanced system where the aircraft will use signal multiple transponders, instead of one at present for on-ground communications, which at times does not give out exact position of the aircraft.

The technology can be useful in increasing airport safety and capacity, especially under low visibility conditions, by providing airport surface surveillance and, at the same time, protecting against runway incursions by aircraft and vehicles. AAI is mandated with running of most of the civil aviation airports in the country including the air traffic management system.

According to officials from Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) department of AAI, the ultra-low cost technology increases the capability of ground-based surveillance with the aircraft to 15-30 nautical miles (NM). At present the range of the ground based surveillance covers only till the terminal side.

The system is currently being implemented at Sendai International airport in Japan. Japan's Electronic Navigation Research Institute (ENRI) recently made a presentation regarding it recently at an Aviation Seminar held in Mumbai to discuss the development of indigenous technologies in Civil aviation.

According to Hiromi Miyazaki, Chief Researcher at ENRI in Japan the new technology which is normally referred as multilateration surveillance system (MLAT) offers better immunity to multipath interferences though it requires fewer number of receiver stations. Also, the installation is much easier due to small size receiver unit and requires no electric construction using optical power feeding.

As per UN backed International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), MLAT is an enabling technology that will enhance the provision of ATM (air traffic management) in a variety of applications, from "radar-like" air traffic control purposes to enhanced situational awareness of surface movements. MLAT offers most advantages in situations where other surveillance systems (eg radar) are not available.
12/12/17 Shahkar Abidi/DNA

Seaplane services to be launched in River Krishna

Visakhapatnam: Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said that they have taken decision to start seaplane services near Prakasam Barrage in Krishna river in Vijayawada, while inaugurating an awareness conference on aviation safety organised by World Bird Strike Association (WBA) and Andhra Pradesh government at a private hotel here on Monday.

It may be noted that the Aviation Ministry has given permissions for seaplane services at Mumbai airport. Speaking on the occasion, Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the airport works at Bhogapuram would begin soon as well as cargo services too will be started from Vizag. The Aviation Minister spoke about the future of aviation sector and introduction of seaplanes, UDAN scheme and setting up of proposed additional airports in the country.

“As of now, 10 crore passengers are flying in the country. With this figure, the country stands at third spot in world in regard to air passengers count,” he said adding that with introduction of seaplanes, the tourism sector would get a boost.
He said construction of 80 new airports is underway across the country.  Energy Principal Secretary Ajay Jain stressed the need of having an airfield away from the Central Business District. Rear Admiral Manish Singh from Indian Navy also spoke on the occasion.
12/12/17 Hans India

Maharashtra government pushes take-off of 11 new airports

The state government has fast-tracked the development of Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN) and 10 other airports. The State has set up an 11-member Project Monitoring & Implementation Committee (PMIC), headed by Chief Secretary Sumit Malik, for early clearance of the Request For Proposal (RFP), Concession Agreement and other documents necessary for the bidding process and awarding the contract. PMIC's members include joint secretary of the Union Civil Aviation Ministry and chairman of the Airports Authority of India.

Recently, a similar PMIC, chaired by the Chief Secretary, approved the financial bid submitted by GVK-led Mumbai International Airport's (MIAL) to construct the Navi Mumbai International Airport.

MIHAN is an airport project for Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur, hometown of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister of Transport Nitin Gadkari. Ten other airports are being developed at Kolhapur, Shirdi, Amravati, Gondia, Nashik, Jalgaon, Nanded, Solapur, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.

They are all under the Centre's Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), part of the ambitious National Civil Aviation Policy, 2010.

MIHAN aims to exploit Nagpur's central location and convert the present airport into a major cargo hub with integrated road and rail connectivity. The project is made up of two parts – an international airport that will act as a cargo hub and a Special Economic Zone with a residential zone.

The project cost is envisaged at Rs 2,581 crore, based on 2002 rates and it is expected to attract investment of over Rs 20,000 crore.
12/12/17 Sanjay Jog/DNA

Air traffic restored from Srinagar airport

Srinagar: Air traffic was restored at the Srinagar International Airport after remaining affected due to poor visibility and snow since early Tuesday morning.
The runway has been cleared of snow and visibility has improved at the airport, an airport official told UNI.

However, the first flight which left New Delhi had to wait for about half an hour in mid-air as visibility suddenly dropped at the airport. The flight has now landed after the visibility again improved, he said adding two more flights also landed safely.
12/12/17 UNI/WebIndia123

Gold seized from Trichy airport

Trichy: The air intelligence unit of customs recovered Rs 25 lakh worth gold bars weighing 886gm from three air passengers who arrived at Trichy international airport by Malindo Air and Sri Lankan Airlines on Tuesday.
The passengers were identified as Mohammed Rafique, 39, of SP Pattanam in Ramnad district, Mohammed Abdulla, 35, and Abdul Samad, 49, both from Chennai. According to customs officials, they recovered 300 gm gold worth Rs 8.15 lakh, concealed in a mobile phone charger, from Mohammed Rafique when he arrived from Kuala Lumpur by Malindo air. Mohammed Abdulla was caught with 375 gm of gold worth Rs 10.20 lakh concealed inside a home theatre system. He arrived here from Colombo.
Abdul Samadh who arrived from Kuala Lumpur by Malindo Air was caught with 229 gm of gold worth Rs 6.55 lakh. The customs authorities have confiscated the gold and are conducting an inquiry.
12/12/17 Times of India

Flyer nabbed for smuggling gold in diaper buttons

Pune:  After concealing gold in the handles of trolley bags, hotplates and even electronic items over the years, smugglers have now started hiding the metal in babies' diapers.
On Sunday, the customs authorities at the Pune airport recovered gold worth almost Rs 18lakh that was concealed as diaper buttons from a male passenger coming from Dubai.
The passenger, who hails from Mumbai, was caught with a total of 48 diapers in his luggage. A close check revealed that the buttons on the diapers were indeed made of gold.
"The passenger had come to Pune from Dubai on the SpiceJet flight number SG-52, which had landed at 4.34 am. At this moment, the identity of the passenger cannot be revealed. The baggage scanners spotted something metallic when his luggage was being checked in here. When the luggage was opened, we found 48 diapers. As the passenger was travelling alone, we got suspicious and a close check revealed that the buttons fixed to the diapers were made of gold. This is the first-of-its-kind catch at Pune airport," an officer told TOI.
"The total weight of the recovered gold was 606.83g. There were 288 gold pieces, most of them weighing roughly 2.5g. The gold was seized under the reasonable belief that there was an attempt to smuggle it into the country, and it was liable for confiscation under Section 108 of the Customs Act, 1962. The passenger has admitted to possession, carriage, concealment and recovery of the gold. Further investigations are on," he added.
12/12/17 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Merely possessing a gun or cartridges is not a crime: HC

Mere possession of a gun or cartridges is not a crime, Bombay high court ruled, while coming to the rescue of a 39-year-old Bangladeshi businessman who was arrested in 2013 at the airport as live cartridges were found in his bag during a security check. A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi ruled that to constitute a crime under the Arms Act, it will have to be shown that the accused had knowledge or was consciously carrying these arms or ammunition. The court struck down an FIR lodged by the Airport police station against Jhenaidah Sadar resident Latif Zahedee.
"A bare perusal of (the provisions of) the Arms Act clearly reveals that the term 'possession' used therein refers to 'conscious possession' and 'not unconscious possession' or 'inadvertent possession'," said the judges, and cited Supreme Court and high court judgments on the issue. "It is thus clear that mere possession of the firearm or ammunition would not constitute an offence (under law)," the bench said.
Zahedee was on a four-day business trip to various parts of India and was returning to Dhaka from Mumbai airport on September 29, 2013. The airlines informed him that there was a problem with his luggage and he was taken to the screening room by CISF personnel. When his bags were checked, CISF recovered five live cartridges and an empty one from his toilet pouch. He informed police that the cartridges belonged to his brother, who had a license for the German-made revolver and live cartridges. Since he shared the travel pouch with his brother, the cartridges could have been left behind without his knowledge. He got his brother to fax the licence but police lodged an FIR and booked Zahedee for illegally bringing out or taking out arms or ammunition from India under the Arms Act, which prescribes a minimum three-year and maximum seven-year prison term.
The prosecution opposed Zahedee's plea and said he should face trial where it could be proved whether he was in conscious possession of the arms. "It is not in dispute that Zahedee was not carrying any weapon, such as revolver or a pistol. Therefore, it is obvious that these live cartridges and the empty one remained in his baggage inadvertently on account of carrying the toilet kit pouch of his brother with him," observed the judges.
12/12/17 Times of India

Two held with 210 star tortoises at airport

Chennai: The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Chennai airport customs seized 210 Indian star tortoises from two passengers at the airport late on Sunday.
The reptiles listed under the vulnerable category by The International Union for Conservation of Nature were put inside two plastic boxes and hidden amid chocolates inside abag of clothes.
Safur Ali, 33, and Mohamed Thamim Ansari, 27, were bound for Bangkok on a Thai Air Asia flight, when they were stopped by customs officials based on suspicion.
When their baggage was checked, two plastic boxes with 130 and 80 star toirtoises were found hidden beneath chocolates. The tortoises and the men were handed over to the forest department, who fined them Rs 50,000.
12/12/17 Times of India

Security lapse: Afghan exits Delhi Airport without Indian visa

In a major security lapse, an Afghan national managed to exit from Delhi's Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport after landing there from Kabul, without an Indian visa.

The unaware traveler was detained, but allowed to leave after it was found that it was the fault of immigration officials.

The incident happened on November 30. Here's what happened.
The man arrived in India via SpiceJet flight SG-022. He was to travel further to Beijing.

To board the next flight, he was to go to the international transfer area, but "by mistake, he approached the immigration counter and was allowed to leave without stamping the passport", an official said.

He re-entered the terminal with his Beijing ticket, but couldn't produce an Indian visa.
Several security lapses have been reported at the Delhi Airport in recent times. In October, a woman was detained over her seemingly fake passport, but she managed to give airport officials the slip and escape.

In July, another foreigner sneaked out of the airport after being detained for not having a visa.

Earlier, BCAS managed to get dummy bombs through several security layers.
12/12/17 Gogona Saikia/News Bytes

Monday, December 11, 2017

Parliamentary panel split on Air India divestment; Shatrughan dissenting voice

A Parliamentary panel on Monday meet on Air India disinvestment plan witnessed sharp differences of opinion among ruling and opposition members over the move even as BJP member Shatrughan Sinha is believed to have opposed the decision to privatise the national carrier.

The committee, headed by TMC leader Derek O Brien, convened the meeting to hear representatives of Air India employees' unions as well as officials of various Air India subsidiaries on the proposed divestment of the airline.

The meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture that began at around 1430 hours lasted for more than three hours.

A Lok Sabha member said there were sharp differences of opinion among the BJP and non-BJP members at the meeting. All the trade unions strongly opposed the decision to privatise Air India, while some members wanted to know why profitable ventures like Air India Express are being sold, he added.

Another person who was present at the meeting said there were differences of opinion among the members, with some supporting and others opposing the disinvestment of Air India.

Even though BJP members were in support of the Air India disinvestment decision, party member Shatrughan Sinha voiced his opposition to the plan, the person said on condition of anonymity.

A BJP MP from Bihar, Sinha has been critical of certain government decisions in recent times.
11/12/17 PTI/moneycontrol.com

ai Air India seeks over Rs 1,100 crore loan for VVIP planes

Mumbai: Debt-laden Air India is seeking loans worth over Rs 1,100 crore for modification of two Boeing aircraft for ferrying VVIPs, news agency Press Trust of India reported citing an official document.
These planes will be used to ferry the President, Vice President and Prime Minister. In a tender document, the national carrier said it would like to avail a bridge loan of up to USD 180 million to finance the cost of modification. At current exchange rates, the amount will translate to over Rs 1,160 crore.
"The Government of India has indicated that they would issue its guarantee for the financing cost of modification of the two B777-300 ER aircraft for a period of 12 months or less," the document issued last week said.
These planes will undergo reconfiguration before being put to service.
The proposed loan amount will be availed during the period from January to April 2018.
Last week, Air India sought short-term loans of Rs 1,500 crore to meet the urgent working capital requirements.
11/12/17 Times Now

Why it makes sense to allow foreign players to bid for Air-India

The Air India divestment process is on the home stretch with EY, the consultants to the process already having made a presentation to the Aviation Ministry. While there is no decision yet on the roadmap ahead, a media report said that the government is contemplating allowing foreign airlines to bid for the national carrier.

The news has been enough to get the red flag atop the Air India building, with unions suddenly realizing that the airline is an asset which they can endlessly exploit, and not a liability.

Successive governments have failed to turn around the airline. A loss-making Air India with nearly Rs 50,000 crore of debt cannot be supported unendingly by taxpayer money. The airline needs to stand up on its own or be allowed to perish. The airline needs to be run like a business enterprise and not a social obligation.
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Having said that, Air India’s divestment needs to be evaluated from all its stakeholders’ viewpoints, namely, promoters, employees, customers and finally the company as an entity itself.
11/12/17 Shishir Asthana/Moneycontrol

Know what Irfan Pathan says on Zaira’s molestation controversy

New Delhi: Baroda-based cricketer Irfan Pathan breaks silence on actress Zaira Wasim’s molestation controversy by expressing his disappointment over the fact that people in India discuss issues like nationalism and religion except for important things like women’s safety and security.

The left-arm seamer, tweeted, “A girl was molested on an airline and the people are busy discussing nationality and religion. It amazes me what our mindset is becoming,” garnered 1.2 thousand retweets in 12 hours.

The Dangal actress made a shocking revelation while traveling in Vistara flight bound from Delhi to Mumbai.

The 17-year-old actor uploaded a video on Instagram describing the horrific molestation act.

In the words of Zaira, “I was sure of it. He kept nudging my shoulder and continued to move his foot up and down my back and neck. This is terrible. No one will help us if we don’t decide to help ourselves.”
Air Vistara airline has apologized to Zaira and has launched an investigation into the matter.
11/12/17 Siasat

Dangal actress molestation: Who is Vikas Sachdeva? All you need to know about accused and incident

It became one of the top stories of the day when the Dangal girl’s alleged molestation incident grabbed the limelight. Now, cracking the whip, the Mumbai police on Sunday night arrested the man who allegedly molested the Dangal actor onboard a Delhi-Mumbai flight. The famous actor, who shot to fame after Aamir Khan’s Dangal movie, had alleged that she was molested by a middle-aged co-passenger on board the Vistara flight on Saturday night. The Mumbai police had registered a case against an unknown person in connection with the incident. However, the identity of the accused was not immediately revealed but now his details have been made public.

Here are details of the man accused of molesting the minor girl:-
– His name is Vikas Sachdev
– He is 39 years old
– Reportedly, he is businessman in Mumbai
– Sachdev has been booked under section 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of IPC, and relevant sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) since the actor is a minor.
– He will be produced in the court on Monday
–  She had narrated her ordeal on Instagram via live video.
– In the video, which she recorded immediately after deboarding the flight, the 17-year-old actor broke down several times.
– After the matter came to light, a woman police officer was sent to the hotel, where the actor is staying to record her statement, and a case was registered against an unknown person at Sahar Police station.
– The investigation is on.
11/12/17 Financial Express

Accused Claims he Touched Bollywood Teen Star Unintentionally on Vistara Flight

Mumbai:  The 39-old-man, who allegedly molested a 17-year-old Bollywood actress during a Vistara flight, reportedly told police that he had touched her leg unintentionally. He also told the police that he had apologised after she started yelling at him.
Vikas Sachdev, a resident of Andheri in Mumbai, was returning from a funeral in Delhi. He reportedly told the police that he hadn’t slept for a long time and he requested the cabin crew not to disturb him. He said he chose not eat his meal.
He told the police further that he had apologised to the actor after he realised that his leg had touched brushed against her unintentionally.
His wife Divya also supported his claims. She said he was not in the right frame of mind and was feeling very low.
“My husband was coming home from Delhi. His mamaji (maternal uncle) had passed away and he was not in the right frame of mind. He was feeling very low and asked for a blanket. He wanted to sleep. I am shocked at (the actor’s) allegation. The police have taken my husband into custody,” India Today quoted him as saying.
The man has been booked under the POCSO Act and IPC Section 354. He was arrested on Sunday.
11/12/17 India.com

Zaira Waseem Molester Sent To 2-Day Police Remand

Srinaga: A session’s court here on Monday remanded the 39-year-old, Vikas Sachdev, arrested for allegedly molesting actor Zaira Wasim on-board a Delhi-Mumbai flight, in police custody till December 13.
Sachdev was presented before Judge A D Deo where Assistant Public Prosecutor Munna Inamdar sought his remand.
"Police need to verify the credentials of the accused, whether he is a repeat offender,” Inamdar said while arguing before the court. “The accused can influence the case since he holds a high position."
Sachdev has been booked under section 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of IPC, and relevant sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) since the actor is a minor.
According to the reports, Police on Sunday arrested Vikash Sachdev from Mumbai for allegedly molesting the teenaged Kashmiri actress on board a Vistara flight from Delhi to Mumbai on Saturday evening.
Top Bollywood actors, including Kareena Kapoor, Bhumi Pednekar and Madhuri Dixit, have condemned the alleged molestation of National Award-winning actor Zaira Wasim.
When asked about the incident, Pednekar said she was shocked to know about the alleged molestation but the actor was happy that Wasim showed courage to speak up about her ordeal.
“I am appalled. She is a child. There is a problem in our culture where people think, especially if you are an actor, that you are their property. This is hugely problematic.
“But I am very happy that she put it out on social media.
I am glad she took that step because it needs a lot of courage to speak, to come out and take a stand like that. More power to her,” Pednekar said.Actor Kareena Kapoor Khan said women are far superior than men and the females can rise above any difficulty.
“I definitely feel women are way more superior than men. We are fighters and whichever situation it is in our life, personal or professional, we all come out as fighters.
When we talk about God, we talk about goddess. So, we look from the perspective of a woman.
“When we talk about the earth, we say Mother Earth. So, whenever we talk about anything, we talk about women. Women are far superior (than men). So, they can fight out of every situation,” Khan said.
11/12/17 Farooq Shah/Kashmir Observer

DGCA probing flying of Air India aircraft with dent, 3 derostered

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is probing the incident of an Air India aircraft that was operated with alleged dent in its fuselage area and three personnel have been derostered, airline sources said.

The incident involving an A319 aircraft that was flying from Patna to the national capital happened in October, they added.

The DGCA has started a probe after it was reported that the plane was operated despite a dent or a crack being detected in the fuselage area at the time of inspection.

According to the sources, the regulator has been provided with all the documents related to the matter and the probe is likely to be concluded soon.

Aircraft are subject to strict inspection procedures on a regular basis. In the wake of the alleged incident, two pilots and an engineer have been derostered till the investigation is completed, the sources said.
11/12/17 PTI/moneycontrol.com

Government considering developing own civilian aircraft: Official

The government is considering manufacturing civilian aircraft and would like to move ahead with the plan "very fast", a civil aviation ministry official said today.

The country's domestic aviation market is one of the fastest growing in the world and has registered high double digit growth for more than two years.

Many airlines are embarking on ambitious expansion plans and authorities are working on developing new airports to cater to the rising demand as well as boosting regional air connectivity.

"We are considering manufacturing our own civilian aircraft... definitely, the concept is there and we are looking for smaller aircraft like a 20-seater which can be used within the country and this also is supported by our policy of Make in India," said Shefali Juneja, Director at the Civil Aviation ministry.

Currently, aircraft are imported or taken on lease from overseas lessors.

"Developing our own civilian aircraft is something we are considering... and is something which we need to move forward very fast," she said.
11/12/17 PTI/Economic Times

Jet Airways still facing rough weather as fuel prices & operating expenses weigh

Jet Airways (Jet) continues to face turbulence compared to its peers. The company posted a disappointing set of numbers for the second quarter ended September 2017 marred by an increase in fuel and other operating expenses.

We have a neutral stance on the company on the back of its underinvestment in the domestic market and tepid capacity expansion despite some benefits coming out of cost optimization and agreement between Jet Airways and Air France-KLM.

Quarter in a Snapshot: Fuel cost played spoilsport

Jet 2Q18_1Revenue from operations witnessed a growth of 4.1 percent (YoY) led by increase in revenue passengers (7.4 percent) which partially got offset by the fall in the yield (3.1 percent). Additionally, the load factor witnessed a dip of 20bps over the same quarter last year.

Despite the growth in the top line, the company witnessed a significant decline of 574bps (YoY) in EBITDAR margin. The decline was attributed to the rise in fuel prices (up 254bps as a percentage of operating revenues), aircraft maintenance cost (up 95bps as a percentage of operating revenues) and other expenses (up 343bps as a percentage of operating revenues). The company has, however, been able to manage its employee costs (down 118bps as a percentage of operating revenues).
11/12/17 Nitin Agrawal/Moneycontrol 

Go Air offers: Special fares unveiled, ticket prices start as low as Rs 1,383; here are details

As the Christmas break draws near, people would be seeking cheap travel tickets to visit their hometowns or go out for vacations. Amid all the excitement of the festive season, domestic airliner Go Air announced special fares for commuters. The ticket prices starts at as low as Rs 1,383 (inclusive of all taxes). The booking period for the tickets will start December 12 and will go on for three days. The last date for booking is December 15. People interested should visit the official website goair.in to book the tickets. The travel period as set by Go Air is January 10 to March 31, 2018. The offer is available on the first-come-first-served basis as there are limited seats.
This Go Air offer is not valid on infant and group bookings and cannot be clubbed with any other on-going promotional offer. Fares are subjected to Standard Cancellation; Rebooking policy applies. Go Air also said that it reserves the right to cancel/ modify/substitute/alter any aspect of this offer either partly or entirely, at its sole discretion without reason or prior notice. Launched in November 2005, GoAir is the aviation foray of the Wadia Group and currently operates across 23 destinations with over 1544 weekly flights and approximately 2,000 plus connections weekly.
11/12/17 Financial Express

Vehicle to shoo birds off flight path

Bhubaneswar: The Biju Patnaik International Airport authorities will buy a bird hazard control vehicle to prevent bird-hit incidents.

The specialised vehicle will have sirens and other equipment to distract birds flying in the operational zone of the airport.

"A tender for procuring the vehicle has already been awarded and it is likely to be introduced by this month. The vehicle can go through the bushes and cover every nook and corner of the airport. The men in the vehicle will be using crackers and laser guns to distract birds from the operational area," said airport director S.C. Hota.

The official said that a similar vehicle was earlier introduced in Lucknow airport. "At present, routine manual inspections of the runway are being conducted before landing and take off of every flight," said an airport official

Data available with the airport says that 19 bird-hits were reported in 2011, while it was 18 in 2012. In 2013 and 2014, 10 such hits were reported. Some 12 bird-hits were reported in 2015. The number of incidents decreased to 11 in 2016.

Hota said that they were in constant touch with the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and other government agencies to keep away shops selling non-vegetarian food items around the airport area. "As the airport has already started international operations, we are taking utmost care to prevent bird-hit cases," added Hota.
13/12/17 Lelin Mallick/Telegraph

Gold found abandoned inside Air India flight

Thiruvananthapuram: Gold in the form of nine biscuits, each weighing 116.6g, was found abandoned in an Air India Express flight, which landed at Trivandrum International Airport on Monday.
The gold was found abandoned inside the tissue paper tray in the toilet of the aircraft. Based on a tip-off that gold was being smuggled in the flight, the officers of customs preventive unit conducted the inspection in the aircraft, after it was shifted from the bay to the apron. The gold was recovered during the search.
The Air India Express flight IX 540 had arrived at the international terminal of Trivandrum International Airport at 2.30 am. "As the aircraft was scheduled to depart for return journey in next few hours, only the cleaning and maintenance staff have access to the aircraft at the apron," said an official from customs preventive unit. "It indicates that a different modus operandi and more than one person may be involved in the act. It may be the strict checking and x-ray screening that led them to adopt the new method. We are investigating the case, to find whether the staff at the airport are involved in the smuggling," said the official.
11/12/17 Times of India

Rs 15 lakh worth smuggled goods seized at Goa Intl Airport, 2 held

Panaji: Goa Customs on Monday seized gold, saffron and cigarettes worth around Rs 15 lakh from two passengers hailing from Kasargod in Kerala.
Speaking to reporters, G B Santimano, Additional Commissioner, Goa, said two passengers were arrested in connection with the crime.
Gold worth Rs 11 lakh, 4.3 lakh worth Saffron and 50 cigarette cartons were the articles seized by the customs officials from the two passengers one of whom had come from Dubai on Oman Airlines.
11/12/17 UNI

Three held at Imphal airport with gold bars in body cavities

Imphal: Three men, who were allegedly carrying gold bars in their body cavities, were apprehended by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel from the airport here today, officials said.
Six gold bars, worth Rs 51 lakh, were also seized from the possession of the three — Noor Mohammed, Azmal Hussain and Shahid Ahamed — who were travelling to Kolkata, the CISF officials said.
At around 2.30 pm, while the passengers were being frisked ahead of their boarding, it came to light that the three were carrying two gold bars each, which were hidden in the rectum area of the body, a senior official said.
The gold bars, weighing 1.73 kg, and the three men were handed over to the Customs authorities, he added.
11/12/17 PTI/India.com