Friday, July 29, 2016

Lessors approach DGCA to get 3 Air Pegasus planes deregistered

New Delhi: Aircraft lessors have approached the civil aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), asking it to deregister their three planes loaned to Air Pegasus after the airline defaulted on rental payment.

The Bengaluru-based airline, which is facing severe fund crunch, has already suspended operations indefinitely, DGCA sources said.
The airline has not been carrying out operations since Wednesday.

"We have received an application from the lessors seeking deregistration of three ATR-72 plane with Air Pegasus," a source said.
The application is being processed, it said, adding that of the three aircraft, one is already out of operation for quite sometime.

The deregistration will enable the lessors to take the aircraft out of the country after repossessing them.
29/07/16 PTI/Economic Times

Airlines in India Report 122 Drunk Pilots Over 3 years

In medical examinations before flights over three years, 122 pilots of Indian airlines were found to have drunk alcohol, the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) was told on July 21, 2016.
IndiaSpend's report on the same mentions that: Mumbai airport registered the most drunk pilots, 34, followed by Delhi (31), Kolkata (18), Chennai (10) and Bangalore (9). The list of 16 airports where Indian pilots were tested includes four foreign international airports-Bangkok, Prague, Istanbul and Sharjah. The first half of 2016 registered 23 drunk pilots; 2015 saw the most drunk-pilot reports, 43, followed by 2013 (30) and 2014 (26). In a previous reply on May 5, 2016, the Lok Sabha was told that 112 tested positive for alcohol. These data reported pilots by airline: Jet Airways reported the most, 33 of 112, followed by Indigo (25), Spice Jet (20), and Air India (19).
29/07/16 One India

Spicejet leads, GoAir next in passenger volumes game in India

Domestic passenger volumes were robust in June (up 20% y-o-y) with airlines flying 7.9million passengers versus 6.6million y-o-y. International passenger volumes grew 5.4% y-o-y. PLFs on domestic routes were however mixed — SpiceJet recorded highest PLF at 93% followed by GoAir (84.6%), Jet Airways (JAL) (78.5%), while Indigo at 77.9% witnessed sharp drop of 880bps y-o-y. Market shares across players remained broadly similar as in May’16 — IndiGo topped the lot with market share of 38.1%, followed by JAL (19.1%), Air India (15.2%), SpiceJet (12.7%) and Go Air (8.4%). Brent crude, at $49.68/barrel, fell 22% y-o-y, but was flat month-on-month.
Among carriers, IndiGo reported 20% growth, SpiceJet 26.3% and JAL 8.9% y-o-y even as new players such as Vistara and Air Asia witnessed healthy growth of 32.4%. PLFs were however mixed with SpiceJet continuing to record healthy 93% (93.2% in June’15), followed by JAL (78.5% versus 77.7% y-o-y), while Indigo saw a sharp drop of 880bps from 86.6% to 77.9% y-o-y.
29/07/16 Edelweiss/Financial Express

Missing An-32: Focus shifts to underwater search operations

New Delhi: After six days of intense aerial and surface scanning for the missing An-32 aircraft, the search and rescue operations are now shifting significantly under water, with additional deployment of specialised vehicles that can go deep into the sea.

While the aerial and surface searches will continue, officials said the strengthening of underwater capabilities is primarily because of two reasons: the lack of any credible leads yet, and the likelihood of the aircraft being deep under the sea.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in the Lok Sabha on Thursday that no concrete evidence on the missing aircraft had emerged so far. “Current search operations are focused on surface and underwater domain to look for survivors and debris,” he informed the House.

In addition to the Navy submarine which was deployed a few days ago, several other underwater assets were being pressed into service to monitor the sea bad. The general depth in the search area is about 3-3.5 km.

INS Nirupak, with autonomous underwater vehicle and camera, joined the search on Wednesday. Assistance has also been sought from the Geological Survey of India for the deployment of its Oceanographic research vessel, Samundra Ratnakar, for sub surface search. In addition, the National Institute of Ocean Technology research vessel, Sagar Nidhi, is expected to reach the search area in a few days for conducting sea bed profiling.

Briefing Parliament on the events of the day of the crash, Mr. Parrikar said weather in the area, approx. 500 km East of Tambaram, was mainly overcast with multi-layered clouds and embedded convection. “One thundershower cloud was reported in the area. The aircraft had weather avoidance radar and had asked for deviation to the right to avoid it,” he observed.
29/07/16 The Hindu

Parents of missing pilot await a ‘miracle’

Gurgaon: Even as the search operation for Indian Air Force’s AN-32 aircraft (K-2743) with 29 persons on board drew a blank five days after it went missing last Friday, the parents of the missing aircraft’s pilot, Flying Lieutenant Pushpender Singh, in Gurgaon said they are optimistic of his safe return.

“The whole nation is praying for their safety. I hope all those on board will return to their homes without any harm. Miracles do happen,” said Pushpender's father Anchal Singh, a Master Warrant Officer in the IAF, posted at Palam in Delhi.

Sitting in the verandah of his house in Sector 4 here, Mr. Singh, recalled Pushpender as an “adventure sports enthusiast”.

“He loved trekking and often went on mountain motorcycle rides with his friends. He was clear about joining the Air Force from the beginning. He had made it to an engineering college in Hyderabad, but chose the National Defence Academy over it. Also, he marked the IAF as his first choice in the NDA,” said Mr. Singh, not betraying any signs of despair while talking about his son.

Pushpender’s elder sister, a software engineer, works at a private firm in Gurgaon.

Mr. Singh conceded that it were difficult times and not easy for the women in the family to come terms with the situation.

The family got the news about the missing aircraft through television channels and later confirmed it from Pushpender’s regiment.

“He would often fly AN-32 aircraft from Chennai to Port Blair. So when the television broke the news of an AN-32 plane having gone missing, we got a bit worried. And our worst fears came true after his regiment confirmed that it was Pushpender who was flying it,” said Mr. Singh.
29/07/16 Ashok Kumar/The Hindu

Missing AN-32: late arrival of NIOT vessel delays underwater search

Chennai: Failure to locate oil sleek or any obvious signs of the missing aircraft after extensive scouring of 300 nautical mile off the Chennai coast has made rescuers anxious.  reuters file photo for representation
As the fruitless search for the IAF aircraft AN-32 continued on Day 7, defence authorities deferred the underwater search due to the delay in the arrival of NIOT’s vessel, Sagar Nidhi.

Failure to locate oil sleek or any obvious signs of the missing aircraft after extensive scouring of 300 nautical mile off the Chennai coast has made rescuers anxious.

“(NIOT’s vessel) was supposed to reach Chennai coast on Thursday. It is delayed due to bad weather and will arrive soon to start deep-sea search,” a senior Coast Guard official seeking anonymity said.

He said Sagar Nidhi is a vessel with fully automatic diesel-electric propulsion equipped with high-tech searching devices including a winch to lift 60 tonnes from the depth of 6000 metres in the sea.

The official said despite the weather remaining good, the sea has become rough since Wednesday evening.

“We will have difficulties in intensifying the search,” he said, adding the search would not be stopped.

Coast Guard sources said they have requested deployment of INS Nirupak, since Sagar Nidhi is taking time to arrive.
29/07/16 Deccan Herald

Look for an alternative to Soviet-built AN-32 planes: BJD MP

New Delhi: India should pro-actively search for an alternative to the Soviet built AN-32 transport aircraft, one of the IAF planes which has gone missing over the Bay of Bengal on July 22, the Lok Sabha was told today.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab expressed concern that the IAF transport plane was still missing despite a combined search by the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and the IAF.

He strongly pleaded that it was time India looked for an alternative as it faced a strange situation as regards supply of spares in the wake of the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Mahtab said that while the engine part of the plane was being built by Russia, other components are being manufactured by neighbouring Ukraine, the two countries which are not on the best of terms.
28/07/16 PTI/Business Standard

Tech too old, experts turn to maths to pinpoint AN-32

Chennai: The search for the missing Indian Air Force transport aircraft is decidedly more difficult than it was during the hunt for the Coast Guard’s Dornier, as the flight data recorder of this plane - one of the older versions of aircraft - does not emit any signals, said experts.

The AN-32 carrying 29 passengers, had plunged into the sea on July 22 soon after taking off from Chennai. The black box of an aircraft is usually the only hope when the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) fails. The black box emits signals for 30 days - it was due to that the Coast Guard plane’s debris was retrieved from the sea after the ROV, MSV Olympic Canyon, detected its signals.

All hopes now lie on the success of National Institute of Ocean Technology’s research vessel Sagar Nidhi in locating the debris of the aircraft in the seafloor. Scientists are working on a mathematical model, said the director of Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Sciences (INCOIS) Satheesh C Shenoi, who also holds the additional charge of NIOT director. That was how a missing Air France flight was located in the bed of Atlantic Ocean after two years.

With 228 passengers and crew aboard, Air France Flight AF 447 disappeared during stormy weather over the Atlantic Ocean while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009. During the first two years, the search party tried four separate times - the first went on for six days after the aircraft went missing, and the second was acoustic searches to detect pings.
29/07/16 C Shivakumar/New Indian Express

No concrete evidence about missing AN-32 plane: Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi:  "Several inputs and leads" regarding floating objects have been picked up but there is no concrete evidence so far with respect to missing AN-32 aircraft of the IAF, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
Making a suo motu statement on the disappearnce of the plane on July 22, he said the search efforts are focussed on the surface as well as the underwater domain to look for survivors and debris.
Giving details of the incident, Parrikar said the search for the missing plane is being supplemented by the use of indigenous satellites such as CARTOSAT 2A and 2B which have the ability to cover areas of the swath of 27x27 km and have a resolution of 0.8 metres.
"Several inputs and leads on floating objects and possible transmissions have been picked up from satellite imagery and air surveillance efforts. Each of these has been thoroughly investigated by ships and aircraft. However, no concrete evidence with respect to AN-32 has emerged, so far," he said.
28/07/16 PTI/Times of India

Will AN-32 meet fate like Malaysian airline MH-370, ask people in Port Blair

It has been six days and Sunita Verma is glued to her television set, in the hope that she gets some news of her son Raghuveer Verma.
Newly inducted into the Indian Air Force, airman Raghuveer is one of the 29 people who were onboard the ill-fated AN32 aircraft which went missing on Friday. Even as the Indian forces conduct their biggest ever search operation, family members of the missing people are hoping against all odds for the return of their loved ones.
In Port Blair, Raghuveer's family is in a state of shock.
The 22-year-old had just completed his training from Air Force Training college in Bengaluru and joined duty with a posting in Rajasthan's Barmer. He was coming to meet his family when the plane went missing.
Raghuveer reached Tambaram last week and to be ferried to Port Blair in the AN32.
"Papa, receive me from the airport at 11:30," were his last words to his father, Lakhichand Verma. Since then, it has been the longest wait for Verma family.
28/07/16 Indrajit Kundu/India Today

Bhullar may be acting DGCA chief, hunt on for full-time DG

New Delhi:  Senior aviation ministry official B S Bhullar is likely to be given additional charge as Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday with the incumbent, M Sathiavathy, being named as the next secretary, ministry of labour and employment. Bhullar, an additional secretary in the aviation ministry, is a 1986 batch IAS officer of UP cadre.
"The process of selecting the full time DGCA will take some time. In the interim period, a senior official will be given additional charge of the post. Bhullar could be given additional charge as DG," said a highly placed source.
The top source also scotched rumours of Air India chief Ashwani Lohani being moved out of the airline to the Railways. Lohani has been seen as instrumental in bringing about key changes that have helped AI in getting back on track. In recent days, there has been intense speculation that Lohani may be appointed Railway Board chairman or be made in charge of the Bullet Train project. "Lohani will continue to run planes and not go back to trains," the top source said.
29/07/16 Times of India

First woman head of aviation regulator moves out

New Delhi: The first woman chief of aviation regulator DGCA M Sathiyavathy was today named as new Union Labour Secretary. Sathiyavathi, a 1982-batch IAS officer of the union territories cadre, was in September last year appointed as the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved her appointment as Officer on Special Duty in the Ministry of Labour and Employment with immediate effect, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said. The officer would take over as Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment on superannuation of the present incumbent Shankar Agarwal. Agarwal will retire on September 30. Senior IAS officer B S Bhullar is likely to be given additional charge of the post of DGCA, official sources said adding that the new chief of aviation regulator will be announced soon. Bhullar is presently Additional Secretary in Civil Aviation Ministry.
Sathiyavathy, who was appointed as Additional Secretary and Financial Adviser to the Civil Aviation Ministry in February last year, had served as Puducherrys chief secretary before that.
28/07/16 PTI/India Today

Delhi HC directs SpiceJet to deposit Rs 580 crore in 12 months

Mumbai: SpiceJet has been directed to deposit Rs 579 crore with the Delhi High Court in a Share Purchase Agreement case.

The Delhi HC ordered the airline to deposit the amount with it in five instalments over the next 12 months with the first tranche to be paid out in August.

Sun Group owner Kalanithi Maran and Kal Airways Pvt Ltd filed a plea against the airline for the non-issuance of warrants in the favour of Maran after the ownership was transferred to Ajay Singh, the controlling shareholder of the company.

According to ANI, Maran and Kal Airways had transferred their entire 350.4 million shares in SpiceJet, or 58.46% stake, to co-counder Singh in February 2015. Maran has alleged that despite giving around Rs 579 crore to SpiceJet, the airline didn't issue warrants or allot them tranche 1 or 2 of Convertible Redeemable Preference Shares. He further alleged that the amount was not used to pay statutory dues because of which they were facing prosecution, a PTI report said.

For the Rs 579 crore, in return, Maran and Kal Airways were slated to receive redeemable warrants, the ANI report says.
29/07/16 DNA

When Superstar Rajini-'Kabali'-kanth flew Air Asia

We all have said it infinite times before, but we don't mind saying it again -- "Rajinikanth is undoubtedly - The Superstar". Even before the film released, the Rajinikanth starrer 'Kabali' became one of the much talked-about films in recent times. And, the buzz around it still refuses to die down. The film, which hit the theatres on July 22, has broken all records. As they say, "When it's Rajini, one can always expect the unexpected".
This is also true with the way Rajinikanth movies are promoted, and his latest film 'Kabali' is a case in point. The promo of this latest blockbuster is airborne! Hang on...
Cashing in on the Rajni-mania and to promote the Superstar's latest movie, AirAsia has launched the campaign '#AirAsiaKabali'. AirAsia India devoted a special livery to the Superstar and his die-hard fans. The low-cost carrier unveiled its all new rebranded aircraft i5, with a livery dedicated to the movie 'Kabali' earlier this month.
Bearing the image of Rajinikanth from the movie, the aircraft has been painted and stickered with the livery at the GMR maintenance repair and overhaul facility in Hyderabad. The team of over 100 skilled workers worked round the clock for over 250 hours to complete the job.
The entire process of rebranding the aircraft with the movie's poster was filmed and was uploaded on AirAsia's Facebook page, 'The making of the Kabali livery'. Until now, the video has registered 5.4 million views and 1,91,000 likes.
According to Amar Abrol, CEO, AirAsia India, liveries are common with AirAsia. AirAsia India has dedicated a livery to JRD Tata who pioneered aviation in India.
"When we decided to be the official airline partner of 'Kabali', we thought why not go that extra mile and dedicate a plane to the stalwart of Indian cinema Rajinikanth? It made sense to do it with an aircraft that flies in India, so as to create maximum visibility among the Indian audience. Only a superstar like him (Rajinikanth) calls for a dedication of this sort," says Abrol, adding, "Never in the history of Indian cinema has this been done for any other star. This is AirAsia's way of paying tribute to the Thalaivar and his fans across the globe."
The aircraft, in its new 'Kabali' avatar, took off on its first flight on July 1, 2016. Ever since, the Kabali livery aircraft is flying across the AirAsia India network of 10 destinations spanning Bengaluru, New Delhi, Goa, Pune, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Guwahati, Imphal, Vizag, and Kochi.

What's more, Rajnikanth fans were flown from Bengaluru to Chennai, to watch the movie! A total of 180 guests took the special flight i5 9227 from Bengaluru to Chennai in the early hours of July 22 to watch the film, amidst all the frenzy and celebrations in Chennai, along with the top brass from AirAsia India.
29/07/16 Sunit Roy/OOH News/afaq

Jet Airways, Indigo, GoAir slash ticket prices by up to 30% to ride out lean season

Trying to capitalise on the lean air travel season of August and September, India's airlines have cut prices by up to 30 percent for the months.
The price reduction, which has lead to an airfare war, the Mint noted, was started by Jet Airways on Wednesday. Soon GoAir and IndiGo have matched up the price to Jet Airways' offer.
With booking period mostly confined to July 29, Jet Airways indicated the travel period could be anytime after Aug. 15. Indigo noted that the travel offer would be applicable to flights between Aug. 9 and Sept. 30.
A quick search on travel portal Cleartrip revealed the cheapest fare from Bengaluru to New Delhi was priced at Rs. 2,499 on a Jet Airways flight. Indigo's fare was Rs. 2,537 and Go Air charged Rs. 3,393, which remained the least charged by the airline.
The cheapest fare for Delhi-Mumbai travel during the two-month period across all the three airlines hovered between Rs. 2,681 to Rs. 2,688. Including free meals, Jet Airways priced its tickets Rs. 80 more. Fares for the same route booked a week in advance in 2015 was charged anywhere between Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000, according to the news daily.
28/07/16 Harish Revanna/IBTimes

11,000 Air India flights rescheduled, 16,000 flights delayed till June 2016

New Delhi: Government-run Air India rescheduled over 11,000 flights while over 16,000 flights were operated by a delay of more than 15 minutes in the first six months of this year, Lok Sabha was informed today.

A total of 11,267 flights were rescheduled by Air India between January and June 2016, according to a written reply by Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha.

While the number of rescheduled flights in January and February stood at 2,822 and 1,764, respectively, in March and April the number of flights rescheduled by the national carrier was 1,768 and 1,424, according to Sinha.

Similarly, in May a total of 1,773 Air India flights got rescheduled while in June the number of such flights stood at 1,716.
28/07/16 PTI/Economic Times

Air India Express expands fleet, explores new routes

Kochi:  Air India Express (AIE), the Kochi-headquartered low-cost arm of Air India, has increased its fleet strength by adding three Boeing B737-800 NG aircraft, and is all set to further expand by including three more aircraft by year-end.

The company expects to tap the potential of the growing middle class segment, mainly comprising the working class, by increasing the fleet size and exploring new destinations. The customer base of AIE rose to 2.8 million in 2015-16 from 2.6 million in 2014-15.

Speaking to ‘Express,’ airline officials said, “we would be the first major airline to commence operation from the Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL), and preparations are currently on to commence service to various Middle East destinations as soon as the KIAL becomes operational. We will soon enhance our fleet strength from 20 to 23 by adding three more B737-800 NG aircraft.”

Three leased aircraft have already joined the AIE fleet and begun operation. In addition to the existing destinations, the airline has commenced a new service to Ras Al Khaimah from Kozhikode, with a frequency of four flights per week.

The other new services are daily flights between Mumbai-Dubai (vice versa) and Mumbai -Sharjah (vice versa) from April 2016, and Delhi-Dubai (vice versa) and Delhi-Abu Dhabi (vice versa) from May 2016. Meanwhile, frequency of the Dubai-Kozhikode service has been doubled from one to two daily flights from June 2016.
29/07/16 Dhinesh Kallungal/New Indian Express

Air India looks to Narendra Modi Cabinet to save Rs 900 cr annually

New Delhi: What could provide a significant respite to Air India and help it save around R900 crore annually, the Union finance ministry has approved a proposal from the civil aviation ministry to give the national carrier a part of the annual bailout package as grant from the government.
This can be used towards retiring its aircraft-related debt and cut its interest outgo. Currently, the annual interest outgo from the airline is R4,500 crore.
Air India’s total debt stands at R50,000 crore, of which R20,000 crore is aircraft-related. Its annual interest outgo will come down to around R3,400 crore as a result of this package recast.
“This will also bring down the equity component of the government in Air India as the interest component was a part of it. This proposal, once approved by the Cabinet, will be effective retrospectively from FY15 till the tenure of the bail out package. Officials believe around R14,000-15,000 crore will be saved if the proposal goes through,” said a senior bureaucrat in the ministry.
The airline has been trying to reduce its interest outgo on debt by taking a series of measures like converting the long-term debt in to NCDs and repaying a third of the short-term loans in FY 17.
29/07/16 Bilal Abdi/Financial Express

SpiceJet offers discount scheme for senior citizens

Discounts are raining in the aviation sector and this time, it's the turn of senior citizens to avail benefits. In a surprise move, private airline SpiceJet  has announced 15 per cent discount on base fare on domestic routes.
To avail the offer, booking and travel period should be from 15 July to 30 September, 2016.
It is mandatory for a senior citizen to carry a valid photo ID with date of birth and display it at the time of check-in at the airport, the airline's website says.
The scheme is applicable for citizens above the age of 60 years.
28/07/16 Business Today

Lack of air service hits IT growth

Nashik: The constant hurdles in the take-off of air services from Nashik have affected the launch of IT sector for the past 15 years. All that the city can boast about is the setting up of the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) innovation centre in January 2015.
Once touted as the next destination for the IT hub considering its proximity to Mumbai and Pune, Nashik has failed to attract IT majors despite repeated attempts. Industrial associations said the IT growth of Nashik will take off once air connectivity is established with major cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi at least through hopping flights via Mumbai.
Sudhir Mutalik, chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry, North Maharashtra Zonal Council, said, "The IT growth of Nashik will not take off unless we have air service here. Why will foreigners come here if they have to drive for five hours from Pune to Nashik and three hours from Mumbai to Nashik. They will reach Singapore in the time required for road travel between Pune to Nashik."
"There is no problem of human resource as youths from Nashik are working in many large IT companies. Moreover, there is also no issue of scarcity of land as it can be made available from Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). New industrial estate is also coming up at Talegaon-Akrale near Nashik. Hence, government should take efforts to commence air service from Nashik here," said Mutalik.
29/07/16 Tushar Pawar/Times of India

Twitterati unhappy with minister's 'biased' response to Rahul Bose's Air India complaint

Bollywood actor Rahul Bose couldn't have asked for a better birthday gift.
MoS Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha today tweeted a promising action in response to Rahul Bose's one and half months old complaint on Air India.
On June 16 Rahul Bose, complaining about an Air India flight, had tweeted  "Broken seat controls, broken hand rests, broken headphones, no flat beds. As a staunch #AirIndia supporter, time to say a broken goodbye."

Interestingly Air India, criticised for ignoring customer complaints more often than not, had replied to the celebrity on June 16 itself.
"Hi Rahul, we are sorry to hear this. Kindly DM us your flt details, seat no. & date of travel for a corrective action," the airline tweeted.
So it was a surprise for many when Harvard educated Jayant Sinha who has recently taken charge as MoS Aviation responded to the actor's complaint over 40 days later.
Twitterati went into a frenzy terming his actions a celebrity bias.
"I think observing internet etiquette can save embarrassment for everyone. Like we are in offline world, we should be careful in online world", said Faisal Farooqui, CEO of on the Twitter controversy.
While Modi government  has many social media savvy ministers including the PM himself and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, there have been some misfires too.
Some like Venkaiah Naidu have used twitter to pull up national carrier recently.
Recently Venkaiah Naidu had vented his anger over a delayed flight due to which he missed an appointment.
28/07/16 Devina Gupta/India Today

Drones in India: There are several regulatory hurdles to overcome

The prospect of having deliveries made by drones has everyone excited. The first ever commercial home delivery was made a few days ago by 7-Eleven in the United States. Amazon promises future deliveries within 30 minutes at your doorstep through Amazon Prime Air. What’s preventing the full-fledged use of this technological innovation is regulating it. India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) initially banned the civil use of drones in October, 2014, promising regulations within a few months. The first draft of these regulations were finally issued a year and a half later in April this year. Now, the latest regulatory hurdle is in fixing a regulatory authority for the drones. The Economic Times reports that the DGCA is unwilling to regulate the drones due to lack of adequate resources, and stated that regulation was possible only with the involvement of the state governments and police.

The Draft Guidelines are not designed for commercial deliveries

The concerns of the DGCA are certainly understandable. The implications, particularly safety and privacy concerns with permitting the large scale civil use of drones are immense. Around the world, drone regulations are in the process of being framed. Drone deliveries on an experimental basis are also being conducted. The DGCA’s first attempt to regulate drones has come in the form of the draft Guidelines for Obtaining Unique Identification Number and Operation of Civil Unmanned Aircraft System (the Draft Guidelines). Given the uncertain nature of the use of and security of drones, these guidelines are extremely stringent, and are clearly not designed to cover commercial large-scale deliveries like those proposed by Amazon and similar entities.

Every single drone flying above 200 feet to be registered

Consider Amazon’s model drone, which weighs less than 25 kilos, and flies within the height range of 200 to 400 feet. Under the Draft Guidelines, every single delivery drone used by Amazon will need a separate permit.

As per the Draft Guidelines, every drone being used for any civil purpose, such as the proposed drone deliveries, will have to obtain a permit from the regulatory authority. The only exception to this rule is for drones that fly below a height of 200 feet and within ‘uncontrolled airspace’. ‘Uncontrolled airspace’ refers to any airspace that is not under the control of an aviation authority. For example, airspace in and around airports is a controlled airspace. All civil uses within these limitations, including model drones used for recreational and research purposes, will be exempted from obtaining permits.

Operator will need aircraft level training

In addition to acquiring separate permits for each delivery drone, Amazon would need separately licensed operators as well. The Draft Guidelines do not contemplate multiple drones being operated by the same pilot or operator, from which it can be assumed that every drone must have a separate operator. Every operator would have to undergo pilot training equivalent to that of the aircrew of a manned aircraft.

Authorities need to be notified of every flight

For each and every delivery to be made, the operator of the delivery drone needs to inform several authorities- the regulatory authority, the Air Traffic Services Unit and the local police. In addition, a ‘flight plan’ will have to be notified for every delivery. This will include details like the purpose of the flight, the contents of the payload (the item to be delivered) and the route to be taken.
29/07/16 Asheeta Regidi/First Post

Dibrugarh airport runway extension project faces further delay

Dibrugarh: The work of the ongoing much discussed runway extension project of Dibrugarh airport, has been marred due to alleged unwanted interference of Army authority.

The ground work at the site although features a material testing laboratory, stacking of stone chips and sand and also some eight odd pilings on the ground, unfortunately wears a deserted look as it came to be understood that in the first week of July, Army authorities personally met the Airports Authority of India officials at the airport and asked the latter to shift the material testing laboratory elsewhere and also to stop dumping of materials claiming that the land on which the same had been set up and dumping of materials was being done, belonged to them. Even as the Airports Authority of India approached both the Army authorities and the Dibrugarh Deputy Commissioner with the plea for an early resolution of the issue in the greater interest of the already delayed project, it could not be ascertained when  all the parties concerned are going to hammer out a much needed solution across the table.

The Army had handed over 5.33 acres of land for the runway extension project in Dibrugarh in exchange for 8.0 acres of land and also some other facilities to the Defense department  from the Airports Authority of India at Lilabari in Lakhimpur district. Dibrugarh airport is also going to have a hanger capable of accommodating an Airbus 320 aircraft and also a new control tower building having advanced facilities like those available in metro cities.  As per the blue print, besides a new taxiway from the extended portion of the runway to the isolation bay, there will also be a kilometre long array of guiding lights leading the extended portion of the runway.
28/07/16 The Sentinel

Spice Jet Airlines to start new flights from Jabalpur soon

Spice Jet Airlines would soon start initiating efforts to ply new flights on Delhi-Jabalpur-Mumbai-Delhi, Jabalpur to Banglure-Chennai, Jabalpur to Kolkata sectors.
Spice Jet Vice-President, Dabashish Deb to Member of Parliament Rakesh Singh has given the assurance during a meeting at his MP's residence in New Delhi.
It may be mentioned that following an accident at Dumna Airport the Spice Jet had stopped its flights on Delhi-Jabalpur-Mumbai, Delhi-Jabalpur-Banglore-Chennai sectors. To retain Spice Jet services from Jabalpur continuous efforts are being initiated by Member of Parliament Rakesh Singh by maintaining regular communication with higher management of Spice Jet. As outcome, on instruction of Spice Jet Management, its Vice-President Debashish Shah met MP Rakesh Singh at his residence. In this discussion MP Singh apprised him about business possibilities and availability of passengers from Jabalpur on these sectors and asked to initiate flight for Kolkata sector too.
28/07/16  Hitavada 

Chief Minister keen on revival of air connectivity

Puducherry: Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy on Thursday said his government has been making consistent efforts to revive air-services from Puducherry airport and pointed out that he has met Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju recently in this regard.
He was addressing reporters after distributing regularisation orders to vocational instructors in Government Higher Secondary Schools at his chamber.
On Saturday, the Union Government is going to implement the new aviation regional connectivity scheme with a fare of Rs. 2,500 for hour-long flights operating from regional airports.
Health and Tourism Minster Malladi Krishna Rao and Chief Secretary Manoj Parida would participate in the programme.
29/07/16 The Hindu

Mass cleaning taken up at airport

Madurai: Officials and employees of Madurai airport were urged to make conscious efforts to keep the airport and its surroundings clean to create a healthy atmosphere.

Speaking to them before launching a cleaning drive under Swachh Bharat programme outside the airport terminal building on Thursday, Airport Director V.V. Rao said that a clean environment was conducive for fresh thinking and good work environment.

He said that though the contribution of officials and employees of Airports Authority of India during the cleaning drive would be very minimal, it will send a positive thought among all to keep the airport and its vicinity neat and spotless.
29/07/16 The Hindu

Now, It's 66. The Number Of Chennai Airport's Glass Panel Disasters

Chennai: Glass sheets coming crashing down at the Chennai airport occur so frequently that the National Human Rights Commission sought an explanation from airport officials as well as the Civil Aviation Ministry.

For the 66th time since the airport was renovated in 2012, there was an accident - a glass panel fell 20 feet away in a corridor between the old and new terminals.  Airport officials said that nobody was injured.

Glass panels and sections of the false ceiling have collapsed with bizarre frequency at the domestic and international terminals. The airport was upgraded four years ago for a cost of Rs. 2200 crore.

The National Human Rights Commission has been informed that the airport's structural design is not defective, but that the glass used all around the modernized terminal is "impure". In last night's case, the glass sheet broke under the impact of renovation work being carried out nearby, said  Airport Director Deepak Sastri.

The Airports Authority of India, tasked with maintaining terminals, has been given a 35-lakh contract in Chennai to assess the condition of the glass panels that are the prevailing design element of the terminal and replace sections that are found infirm with sturdier sheets.
29/07/16 Bhanu Priya Vyas/NDTV

Posted threat from RT Nagar has airport police in a tizzy

Bangalore: A 'group' has threatened to hijack aeroplanes at the Kempegowda International Airport in the name of jihad, and has also challenged the police to try and prevent it from succeeding in its endeavour. A letter posted to the chief executive officer of the airport has gone on to detail that three international planes will be targeted.

KIA police, which is investigating the case against a complaint filed by the airport officer, Manjunath KM, is yet to make an arrest over the threat. In his complaint, the CEO has stated that his office received the threat through post on July 18. The sender has called himself Tayab-ur-Rehman, and goes on to state that he owns Vintage Tours and Travels, and that he operates from RT Nagar.

The letter reads: "In the name of jihad, we will hijack three international airplanes. I am openly challenging the security of the KIA and police to stop it if you can." The police are not disclosing all the details of the letter, as making the information public might be "detrimental" to the investigation.

Soon after receiving the letter, the officials alerted the police and a team was formed to crack the case. Tension prevailed at KIA till a team from the north-east division rushed to the airport and performed a standard scrutiny operation. Each and every corner of KIA was subjected to an anti-sabotage check; every person entering the KIA was frisked before being allowed inside. A sniffer dog squad was also pressed into service.
29/07/16 Chaitanya Swamy H M/Bangalore Mirror

Airline employee booked on extortion charges at Indira Gandhi International Airport

New Delhi: An employee of Qatar Airways working at the Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi, has been booked on charges of extortion after he was allegedly caught taking Rs 35,000 cash from a Doha-bound flyer.
Officials said the incident took place late night on July 26 after CISF personnel detected the foreign airline employee taking some cash from the passenger on CCTV.
The Qatar Airways employee has been identified as Prashant Bhatia and was handed over to the IGI police after he reportedly could not give a satisfactory reply as to why he accepted cash from the flyer when his travel documents were in proper order.
“He has been booked under Section 384 (extortion) of IPC and investigation is on. Prima facie it looks like this was a ploy by Bhatia to extort money from low profile and desirous flyers going to Gulf countries and ensuring them a seat on the airline,” said a senior police officer.
28/07/16 PTI/Indian Express

23 theft cases registered at Delhi, Mumbai airports this year

New Delhi: As many as 23 theft cases have been registered at the airports in the national capital and Mumbai this year till June, the government said today.
During this period, 16 theft cases were registered at the Delhi airport while seven were registered at the Mumbai aerodrome, according to the data provided by Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha to Lok Sabha.
Last year, the two airports together saw registration of 86 theft cases.
In a written reply, Sinha said various steps are being taken to prevent such incidents even as he noted that theft cases are a “law and order issue”.
These include frisking of ground handling staff while leaving the airport and prohibition of cell phone use in the airside by ground handling people.
Besides, a “committee has been constituted to identify the grey areas of CCTV coverage,” Sinha said.
In a separate written reply, Sinha said steps are being taken to control air traffic congestion at airports.
28/07/16 PTI/Financial Express

500 star turtles seized at Chennai airport

Chennai:  In a major seizure, the customs and wildlife crime control bureau on Thursday night seized 500 star turtles at the Chennai airport that was being smuggled to Malaysia in a Thai Airways flight.  The cute little star turtles, known for its beautiful ornate design on the shell, is one of the most common targets for smugglers due to its high demand as a pet and medical purposes across the world.

The Thai Airways officials grew suspicious when they found something suspicious moving inside the thermocol boxes that were to be uploaded as cargo in the flight.  They alerted the customs, who opened the boxes and found nearly 500 star turtles bundled in cloth bags. The wildlife crime control bureau officials also confirmed that they are star tortoise, whose export is banned.  In each of the cloth bag, about ten tortoise were bundled and they were placed inside the thermocol boxes.

The exporter, identified as Cosmic Exports with office at Ambattur in Chennai, had declared that the consignment contains crab.  The export company's owner has been identified as one Rajavelan and further investigations are on if the company was involved in the smuggling or some other middlemen were involved.  An airport source said the under the Risk Management System, a few of the parcels meant for export would go unchecked and this is how the consignment containing the start turtles had made its way up to the air craft.
29/07/16 M Sathish/New Indian Express

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Caution for govt's regional connectivity scheme; fund cruch halts Air Pegasus' ops for 2nd day

New Delhi: In October 2012, Kingfisher Airlines stopped operations because its engineers refused to certify aircraft fit for flying. This was a culmination of a long list of woes that the airline was facing. What happened over the next few months is well documented. Eventually, the airline's flying permit expired and it never flew again.
In December 2014, SpiceJet had to cease operations for a day because of unpaid dues to oil companies but then, with gradual help from the government, it got back on its feet under a new promoter who presented a comprehensive turnaround plan. The return was in a smaller avatar but operations have continued uninterrupted since. Cut to 2016, and another airline has been unable to conduct its operations for two days running. Only this time, it is a regional carrier called Air Pegasus which was operating just three aircraft, connecting Bengaluru to smaller cities across South India.
The suspension of operations of Air Pegasus is a cautionary tale, specially since the Centre has been emphasising enhanced regional connectivity through a draft scheme which caps fares on regional routes in return for some viability gap funding to airlines. The scheme is not yet finalised but essentially encourages airlines with smaller aircraft to launch flights to India's hinterland while getting some help from the Central and state governments in the form of VGF. The severe fund crunch which crippled the operations of Air Pegasus in the last two days should serve as warning against pitfalls of this ambitious scheme.
A source confirmed that operations of Air Pegasus remain suspended today as well, as the promoters continue to hold negotiations for getting back aircraft and infusing some urgently needed funds into the airline. This person confirmed that the "cash burn" at the airline is Rs 5 crore a month and that there is an immediate need of up to Rs 100 crore to fund operations. What could not be ascertained is whether the three ATR aircraft which Air Pegasus was operating till day before yesterday have been possessed by lessors or not.
28/07/16 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post

Air Pegasus denies shutting down operations

Bengaluru: Regional airline Air Pegasus, whose aircraft was taken back by lessors on Wednesday, denied reports that it had shut down operations, maintaining that the suspension of services was temporary.

Sources in the airline told BusinessLine that it was in talks with creditors to raise fresh funds, while also confirming that Elix Aero had repossessed its aircraft for non-payment of dues.

The airline, which needs ₹100 crore immediately, has been in talks with several lenders for some time now. Sources said discussions with a major Gulf carrier, with which Air Pegasus had signed a non-disclosure agreement, lay suspended.

Air Pegasus’ Managing Diretor Shyson Thomas has been one of the main votaries for differential charges for regional and national players. He had earlier told BusinessLine that high cost of operations and airport charges had forced regional players from expanding their network.

Air Pegasus’ fleet consists of three ATRs 72-500s. Two more aircraft were expected to be inducted by December.

According to independent sources, the airline has a monthly liability of about ₹5 crore, and it earns an equivalent sum in revenues. The monthly leasing cost is ₹85 lakh.
Air Pegasus’ salary bill alone amounts to ₹1 crore a month, and its fuel bill accounts for 40 per cent of cost of operations. The airline was on recovery mode until it was hit by a cash crunch.
27/07/16 K Giriprakash/Business Line

Air Pegasus leaves poor children stranded after cancelling flight

Madurai: About 30 children from Chennai, most of them from orphanages and poor families who were taken on a special trip on flight to pay tribute to former president APJ Abdul Kalam, were stranded at Madurai Airport for about hours on Wednesday, after Air Pegasus cancelled the Madurai-Chennai flight.

This came amid reports that the nascent small airline operator is facing turbulent times that has apparently forced it to cancel several flights.

Around 45 passengers, including 30 children between 10 and 18 years, were taken to Rameswaram by an organisation, Raindropss, to pay tribute to former president on his first death anniversary. They had booked tickets on Air Pegasus flight from Chennai to Madurai, each paying `4,300 for a return ticket.

After visiting Kalam’s memorial at Peikarumbu, the children came to Madurai airport around 3.30 pm to take the 6 pm flight. They came to know  that the flight was cancelled, apparently due to technical glitches.

The coordinators from the NGO demanded that the airline arrange alternative flight or accommodation for the children, but the airline staff turned it down. The children and others waited at airport till 10.30 pm, after the NGO arranged a private bus to return to Chennai.

The plan for such a trip to motivate children to study well was made a year ago, soon after Kalam died. “We had chosen the 30 children from various homes who consistently scored good marks in their school. They have studied hard to win the competitions to get the opportunity,” said Vivek Nair, trustee of Raindropss.

Even though tickets were available in next flight for the same price, the airline employees refused to make any arrangements, alleged Vivek, adding that the children were not even provided food.
28/07/16 B Anbuselvan/New Indian Express

IndiGo flight diverted to Mumbai, 2 detained for unruly behavior

An IndiGo Airlines flight from Dubai to Kozhikode had to be diverted to Mumbai after a man was accused by his co-passengers of making pro-Islamic State (ISIS) slogans.
According to Mumbai Police, two people have been detained for unruly behaviour and being interrogated. They have not been identified yet.
The Mumbai airport police, however, is not sure if pro-ISIS slogans were raised on the flight. "Two passengers have been detained after the airlines complained of passengers fighting on board. We can't confirm ISIS slogans right now," Airport Police DCP told ANI.
"A case will be lodged against them on the basis of statements made by the detained passengers and crew members," a police official said.
IndiGo has also not hinted at any terror link to the incident. "A passenger suddenly started misbehaving with the crew, jumped on the forward cart (used for food and on board merchandise), and sat on it," the airline said in a statement.
28/07/16 Anindya Banerjee/India Today

Indigo flight diverted to Mumbai after passenger shouts pro-ISIS slogans

New Delhi: An Indigo Airlines flight from Dubai to Kozhikode today was diverted to Mumbai after a passenger started shouting pro-ISIS slogans onboard.

The “unruly” behaviour of passenger led to the emergency landing of the flight in Mumbai at 9.15 am.

“Two passengers were detained after Airlines complained of passengers fighting onboard. I can’t confirm ISIS slogans right now,” news agency ANI quoted DCP, Airport police as saying.

In a statement, IndiGo airlines confirmed the diversion of its flight 6E 89 (Dubai-Calicut) to Mumbai this morning on grounds of unruly behavior on board.

“A little before landing, a passenger seated on 5D (who was accompanied by his brother) suddenly started misbehaving with the crew. He jumped on the forward cart (which is used for food and onboard merchandise) and sat on it. The crew immediately informed the Captain-in-command and the lead crew. The lead, politely requested the passenger to step down from the cart and he obliged. This passenger after stepping down from the cart, suddenly got violent and started physically abusing the other co-passenger.

“Taking the precautionary measure, the Captain immediately informed the Air Traffic control (ATC) and the ground security staff about the situation onboard. The flight made the precautionary landing at the Mumbai airport where this passenger was handed over to the CISF for further investigations. The matter is now with the local authorities.
28/07/16 ABP Live

Drop in last minute fares only to fill empty seats: Air India

New Delhi: Government-run Air India on Wednesday rejected the charge that it was driving air fares down by offering cheaper ticket prices for the last minute travel against the industry's practise of increasing them manifold.
"We are not driving down air fares. We are only filling empty seats by lowering last minute air fares to the level of AC-II class ticket prices of Rajdhani trains," Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.
In a move that check-mated its rivals like Jet Airways and Vistara on the pricing front, the national carrier had early this month announced dropping its last minute fares to the level of AC II tier ticket prices of Rajdhani trains to four key destinations from Delhi -- Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai, to begin with.
Later, it extended the offer on seven other routes, giving jitters to the private airlines, which jack up their last minute fares to astronomical sums.
The move, however, attracted criticism from the industry.
Lohani said that since only 2-3 per cent of the bookings are made in the last 6-7 hours of flight departure, the drop in fares for last minute travel instead of jacking them up was unlikely to have any adverse impact on yields.
27/07/16 PTI/Times of India

Vistara doubles market share, Jet sees steep fall

Mumbai: Vistara has doubled its market share to 2.8 per cent in June over the corresponding month last year. Jet Airways saw the sharpest fall among all airlines during this period.

Domestic air traffic rose 20.81 per cent in June on the back of low fares and peak season demand.

Carriers flew 7.9 million passengers against 6.6 million passengers in June 2015. According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data, domestic airlines flew 47.5 million passengers between January and June this year, registering a year-on-year (y-o-y) growth of 22.52 per cent.

Vistara's market share grew from 1.3 per cent in June 2015 to 2.8 per cent as it inducted aircraft and expanded its network.

The market share of Jet Airways and JetLite (combined) slipped two percentage points to 19.1 per cent as it did not add aircraft and most of its capacity enhancement was through better aircraft utilisation.
28/07/16 Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

15 airlines keen to fly from Kannur

Thiruvananthapuram: As many as 15 airlines, including major international airlines, have expressed their desire to operate services to the Kannur greenfield international airport coming up at Mattannur.

This was communicated by representatives of these airlines at a meeting convened by Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL) here on Wednesday. Air India, Air India Express, Go Air, Air Arabia, Qatar Airways, Air Asia India, Ethihad Airways, Jet Airways, Silk Air, Gulf Air, Oman Air, Spice Jet, Emirates, Fly Dubai, and Indigo are the airlines that have come forward. The meeting was convened by KIAL against the backdrop of the airline gearing up for the preparation of the summer schedule.

“The exercise was to sensitise the invited airline representatives to attract them to Kannur. We have succeeded in the task,” Managing Director of KIAL V. Thulasidas said. During the open house and the one-to-one interaction after the airport was showcased, the airline representatives told KIAL that they were keen to operate to Kannur once the airport became functional in March 2017. International and domestic routes to and from Kannur and the flight schedules came up for discussion.

The airlines sought night parking facilities as the apron can accommodate 20 Code C aircraft in Phase I and another 40 in Phase II, lounges in the integrated terminal building and communicated their keenness to commence cargo operations from Kannur airport.
28/07/16 The Hindu

Aviation Minister A Raju hopes new policy would make flying 'easy'

New Delhi: The government on Thursday hoped that the new civil aviation policy will ensure better viability gap funding which will result in improved connectivity of smaller airports by airlines operators and benefit the passengers.
Responding to supplementaries in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour, Civil Aviation Minister A Gajapathi Raju said the funding was to be provided by the Centre as well as the state governments on a 80:20 ratio and 90:10 ratio for Northeastern states.
He said revenue from passengers as well as viability fund will help the airline operators. "I hope that the scheme
succeeds," he said.
It was pointed out to the ministers that certain airlines in the recent past have stopped services to some smaller airports citing lack of revenue.
"The National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016 envisages to take flying to the masses by making it affordable and
convenient. To promote this objective, the policy provides for regional connectivity scheme by way of upgradation/development of no-frills airports and viability gap funding to the airlines operating to these airports based on demands," Raju said in his written reply.
28/07/16 PTI/First Post

SpiceJet sees growth in passenger traffic; more in regional market

Lower oil prices has led to a growth in the domestic airline industry and also airlines have increased their capacity. According to data from Directorate General of Civil Aviation the airlines have carried almost 21% more passengers in June 2016 than it was in June 2015 (7.97 million and 6.6 million passengers respectively). SpiceJet is flying the highest in this criteria as reported, they are functioning at 93% seats full. SpiceJet told Bloomberg TV India, that it has seen good growth of 22 percent in the number of passengers. It has spotted a change in the mode of transport that people are using, that is more and more people are upgrading to air travel.
Although Spicejet said that it doesn’t see any drop in the demand for domestic air travel, but most of the growth is from the regional market, and the growth in the metro cities market has been rather mute. Still the airline believes that continuous discounting will keep stimulating demands. Demands for International flights has been seasonal. It was only two years ago, the airline was making huge losses as they were not getting oil refills and also the retreating of creditors had hit them badly. Spicejet recently launched its subsidiary called ‘SpiceJet Merchandise Private Limited’ with a focus on consumer merchandise, including readymade apparel. From January to March this year, in a fifth straight quarter, Spicejet posted a net profit Rs 73.19 crore, a three fold rise.
28/07/16 Financial Express

Home flight simulator in MH370 captain's home plotted Indian Ocean course - JACC

Sydney: A home flight simulator owned by the pilot of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was used to plot a course to the southern Indian Ocean where the aircraft is believed to have gone missing, the Australian agency in charge of the search said on Thursday.

But the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said the presence of the simulator data did not prove that the pilot had intentionally crashed the Boeing Co. plane.

"The MH370 captain’s flight simulator showed someone had plotted a course to the southern Indian Ocean," JACC said in an email to Reuters on Thursday.

"The simulator information shows only the possibility of planning. It does not reveal what happened on the night of the aircraft’s disappearance, nor where the aircraft is located," it said in an earlier statement.

The jetliner, with 239 aboard, disappeared in March 2014 while on a flight from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It has long been believed that the plane crashed into the ocean in the remote region plotted on the simulator.

Almost A$180 million ($135.70 million) has been spent since then on an underwater search spanning 120,000 square kilometres (46,332 square miles) in the southern Indian Ocean.
28/07/16 Matt Siegel/Reuters

Mid-air technical glitch forces Madurai bound flight to return to Chennai Airport

Chennai: The Madurai Bound Air Carnival flight had to be diverted to Chennai Airport mid-air due to technical glitch, according to airport sources.

The flight which departed at 8.45 to Madurai had to be diverted back immediately due to a air pressure leak, said Airport director Deepak Shastri.

The flight was diverted back and it landed at Chennai Airport around 9.39. It had 39 passengers, including the crew members. Currently, the aircraft is still grounded at Chennai Airport.

Air Carnival is an Indian regional airline based at Coimbatore International Airport with a hub at Chennai International Airport.
27/07/16 New Indian Express

Ministry assures revival of air services from Puducherry

Puducherry: Union Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju today assured the Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi today that the Civil Aviation Ministry would extend support for reviving the air services from Puducherry.
The assurance was given during a meeting between them in Delhi, an official relese said.
The air services would be expeditiously taken up under "regional air connectivity scheme" to bring Puducherry and Karaikal regions back on the air map once again.
Kiran Bedi has been camping in Delhi since Monday seeking speedy approval and clearance of various developmental projects for Puducherry by the Centre.
She also met the Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani in Delhi today who assured the Lt Governor that she would visit Puducherry in September to galvanize handloom coir and handicraft sectors in Puducherry. The release also said the Union Minister for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Kalraj Mishra had informed her during a meeting with him in Delhi that the Steering Committee of the Ministry had approved of the Detailed Project Report of Rs 121.25 crore for a 'state of the art' tool room and technology development centre for Puducherry.
27/07/16 PTI/Times of India

India orders four spy planes from Boeing

India signed a contract on Wednesday to buy four maritime spy planes from Boeing Co for about $1 billion, defence and industry sources said, aiming to bolster the navy as it tries to check China's presence in the Indian Ocean .
India has already deployed eight of the long-range P-8I aircraft to track submarine movements in the Indian Ocean and on Wednesday exercised an option for four more, two defence ministry officials and an industry source told Reuters.
"It's a follow-on order, it was signed today," a defence ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to make announcements on procurements.
A second defence official confirmed the value of the contract at about $1 billion and said the aircraft were expected to enter service over the next three years.
Amrita Dhindsa, a spokeswoman for Boeing defence, space, and security in India, said she was not in a position to say anything on the contract and referred all questions to the defence ministry.
But she said the P81 was an aircraft used for not only for long-range patrol but was also equipped with Harpoon missiles for anti-submarine warfare.
27/07/16 Reuters/Business Today

Tech Glitch: Third Air India Dreamliner Aircraft Grounded

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A snag-hit Air India aircraft that failed take-off from the Heathrow airport on Tuesday is among at least three grounded Dreamliner planes in the airline's newest fleet of 21.
With no spare planes available, some passengers were put on other India-bound flights and others were sent to a hotel. An Air India spokesperson confirmed its London-Mumbai-Ahmedabad flight on Tuesday was cancelled owing to a "technical glitch".

"Some passengers were accommodated on alternate AI flights to Delhi onward to Ahmedabad and for others hotel accommodation was provided," said the spokesperson.

Ashwani Lohani, Air India, chairman and managing director, said, "Problems with Dreamliners have reduced now though not completely stopped. Boeing has been helping us."
27/07/16 Soubhik Mitra/Mcclatchy/AviationPros

AI gets more dreamliners but who's going to fly them?

Mumbai: Even as Air India is seeking a Rs 1,500 crore loan from financial institutions to fund the purchase of two more Boeing 787 Dreamliners, it has emerged that the national carrier may not be able to ensure that the aircraft remains airborne, especially given the dearth in the number of pilots in their service. The airline is short of about 30 pilots trained to fly the Dreamliner.

"Even though there was a recruitment freeze till some time ago, there are certain other flaws in the policy followed by the carrier which prevents a pilot's career progression and thereby affects the recruitment process as a whole," said a pilot in the carrier's employ.

Each Boeing aircraft requires about eight to nine sets of pilots per aircraft to ensure smooth everyday operation. But with a fleet strength of 21 (including the two to be delivered) Boeings, Air India is able to manage an average flying time of only 11 to 12 hours per day as against the Boeing recommended average of 14 to 16 hours.

A pilot set comprises of a commander and a first officer or co-pilot. The national carrier currently employs close to 140 trained commanders and around 150 trained first officers.

For now, however, Air India is focussed on the immediate problem, which is to secure a loan for part funding the induction of the two aircrafts scheduled for deliver in November and December.
28/07/16  Aditya Anand/Mumbai Mirror

Bombay HC disposes of PIL on ‘overworked’ Air India crew

Mumbai: The HC Wednesday disposed of a PIL filed against Air India (AI) for allegedly overworking its pilots and crew.
The PIL, filed by Mumbai resident Atul Vora, wanted the HC to ask the Director-General of Civil Aviation to verify whether mandatory work and rest hours were followed by the national carrier and to ensure safety of passengers, crew and craft.
The court disposed of the petition in view of the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, which stated there was no merit to its claims, based largely on newspaper reports. The affidavit further stated that the petitioner had failed to establish the case as to how safety of passengers was being jeopardised.
28/07/16 Indian Express

Air traffic controllers refuse to shift to Juhu hangar

Mumbai: Turning down an Airports Authority of India (AAI) proposal to house them in a run-down hangar at Juhu airport, about 30 air traffic controllers and 20 AAI officers have stayed put in their residential staff quarters.
The AAI sent them notices last week to vacate their quarters in 10 days, failing which they would be liable for action. It also sent notices to 30 controllers, the junior-most of the lot, and ordered them to vacate their quarters and move to that hangar.
Given that the controllers carry out critical job functions and that they do extra shifts to cover up for manpower shortage at the Mumbai air traffic control, experts said the tension over accommodation should be defused amicably if the AAI intends to keep the airspace over the city safe.
The AAI, faced with a shortage of staff quarters, sent notices to over 50 staff, ordering them to move to the Shobha Singh hangar, a dilapidated structure from June 22 onwards. TOI had reported on June 28 about the pathetic conditions in the hangar, where the AAI had rigged up cubicles for accommodation. Under the plan, two controllers will share a 100 sq ft cubicle. The hangar, which gets inundated during rains, is 10 metres from the Indamar hangar, where there is a deafening noise day and night from aircraft engine repair and maintenance work. Since AAI's officers refused to shift, it has now told the juniors to do so.
27/07/16 Manju V/Times of India

International cargo facility at Madurai airport inspected

Madurai: A team of officials from the Department of Customs inspected the building and other facilities set up for international cargo facility at the old terminal building of Madurai airport last week.

“The inspection was to review the facilities provided at the building before giving its custodianship to Airports Authority of India, so that export and import of international cargo can be taken up from Madurai airport,” Madurai Airport Director V.V. Rao said.

The facility had come up with x-ray machines, weighing machines and security arrangement. The Customs officials had sought minor modifications in the building plan so as to clearly separate the goods meant for domestic cargo and international cargo.

“Once the custodianship is granted, manpower required for loading/ unloading and ground handling will be provided in three to four months,” the Airport Director said.

Three international flights – two to Colombo and one to Dubai – were being operated daily from Madurai.

The potential for export of goods from Madurai, especially perishable goods, was high.
28/07/16 The Hindu

Chennai bound Oman Airlines flight makes emergency landing in Goa

A Chennai-bound Oman Airlines flight from Muscat made an medical emergency landing at Dabolim international airport in south Goa on Thursday morning as an elderly female passenger died due to cardiac arrest.

According to Dabolim airport police, the flight landed at Dabolim airport at round 7 am and the woman was rushed to Chicalim government hospital. However doctors declared her brought dead. She was accompanied by her relatives
28/07/16 The Hindu

Wiser by hindsight, less glass to be used at Chennai Airport

Chennai: Glasses have been breaking at the newly-built terminal in Chennai Airport and when it broke for the 65th time, the airport director Deepak Shastri could not take it anymore! “We are planning to use less number of glasses in the airport terminal in near future. In our modernisation programme, I will ensure glass is used minimally,” said Shastri who has plans to make Chennai Airport one of the best in the world.

Shastri has been furious over one-sided reports over the repeated falling of glass ceiling at the new terminal. “Yes, the glass broke for 65th time but it was due to an error on passenger’s part,” says Shastri. “We saw the CCTV image and found the glass door near the aero-bridge from ramp was damaged due to a roller bag being carried by a passenger,” he said. “We’re planning to replace the glass with something sturdy so that it could not be damaged so easily.”

The falling of glasses regularly in the city airport has even made the National Human Rights Commission intervene and pull up Airport Authority of India and Civil Aviation Ministry. This has made Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju order an inspection to be carried at the Chennai Airport.
28/07/16 New Indian Express

LG calls on Civil Aviation Minister

Port Blair/New Delhi: Lt Governor, Lt Gen A K Singh (Retd), met the  Minister of Civil Aviation today and thanked him for the outstanding support the Islands have received from the Ministry to improve the connectivity to the Islands and between the Islands.

The Lt Governor made a request to the  Minister to include Shibpur and Campbell Bay (being unserved airports) in the Regional Connectivity Scheme. He also requested that the centre should provide VGF support to the tune of 90 % as is being done for North-eastern States instead of the proposed 80 %. He emphasized the geographical remoteness and the concomitant security imperative attached to these islands for enhanced support. The Minister was informed of the development works being carried out at Shibpur, Car Nicobar and Campbell Bay airports.

During the meeting the held up work at the Port Blair terminal was brought up and Chairman, Airport Authority of India informed that they are seized of the matter and fresh work order could be issued shortly. The LG brought out that in the meantime the present terminal building should be given a facelift before the oncoming tourist season.
27/07/16 Echo of India

M&M incorporates Mahindra Airways as wholly-owned subsidiary

New Delhi: Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) today said it has incorporated Mahindra Airways as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
"Mahindra Airways is incorporated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mahindra Holdings Ltd (MHL). The initial subscription by MHL into Mahindra Airways is Rs 5 lakh," the company said in a regulatory filing.
MHL in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.
The company said that Mahindra Airways Ltd has been incorporated as a wholly-owned subsidiary "to carry on, engage in or provide services of all kinds related to or involved in the smooth operations and management of Aircraft and machines of all kinds related to or capable of being flown in the air." The company has been set up to operate the internal aircraft owned by Mahindra, it added.
27/07/16 PTI/India Today

Special flights to Mysuru during Dasara likely

Mysuru: Dasara visitors can look forward to take special flights to Mysuru. Nine months after commercial flights ceased operations to the tourist hub, the Dasara season has brought good tidings.
Given that grandeur of Dasara festivities is returning this edition after a simple-but-traditional celebration in 2015, the stakeholders are hoping that visitors will troop in to the city starting from September.
The authorities have requested the operation of special flights daily to Mysuru Airport to assist the Dasara visitors, sources told The Times of India. "A proposal has been sent to the Union civil aviation ministry and there are positive indications," they stated. The plan is to start to special flights from September when the number of visitors to the city will increase. Dasara will start from October 2.
28/07/16 HM Aravind/Times of India

Post the airport incident, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan takes stern action for her security

New Delhi: This is what happened with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan lately, while she walked out of the airport with her mother and daughter Aradhya. All of them got surrounded by the media such that it became difficult for Aish to walk towards the car.

Amidst this chaos, Aish’s mother somehow lost her balance and fall on the ground. Ironically, Aradhya too got hurt in the incident.

If media reports are to be believed, Aishwarya is way too pissed off with the shutterbugs post this incident and has decided to take stringent steps, as far as her security is concerned.
Reportedly, the ‘Jazbaa’ actress has now raised her security. Now as many as eight bodyguards will be seen protecting the beauty queen.
27/07/16 IndiaTVNews

'Just two flights in a city of 50 lakh shocking'

Surat: The Airport Authority of India (AAI) officials expressed shock at the poor air connectivity in Surat.
"It is shocking that the city of 50 lakh population has only two flights per day," said AAI's regional executive director, K Hemlata who was in the city on Tuesday to discuss the airport issues with the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI). and joint general manager Rajiv Mehta were in the city.
The SGCCI's aviation committee had invited the travel agents and representatives of two private airlines including Vistara and Jet Airways for discussing the air connectivity issues.
"The AAI has taken up the expansion of runway from 2,250 m to 2,905 m and the work is going on a full swing. After the expansion, Surat will be able to cater to wide-bodied aircrafts. We are hoping that the expansion will be completed before January 2017," she said. She was accompanied by AAI joint general manager Rajiv Mehta.
28/07/16 Times of India

Delhi Airport to get high-tech control tower

New Delhi: As part of the initiative to improve air traffic services in the country, the Indira Gandhi International (IGI)Airport in the national capital will very soon have a high-tech airtraffic control tower fitted with the latest communication andnavigational equipment, which will allow a 360 degree view of thethree runaways, apron area and taxiway.
The 102 m high-tech air traffic control tower, which is being built ata cost of Rs. 350 crore, will have 21 controller positions in its visual control room and 12 ground controller positions at operational level.
Training hard to cope-up with the growing challenges in the sky, theAirports Authority of India (AAI) officials are undergoing a training on Integrated Air Traffic Simulators to provide better air traffic service.
The challenge for the AAI officials, however, is to manage the air traffic while shifting from old to new facility.
"That is a first phase. After that, we call it shadow operation. That system will be run for three days or so. Our team will be working hard almost 12 to 18 hours a day," said A.K. Bhardwaj, GM, ATM, IGI Airport.
28/07/16 Times of India

Making Thiruvananthapuram disabled-friendly

Thiruvananthapuram: The Union Government initiates  an audit in the city to check whether the guidelines formulated by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities functioning under the Union Ministry of Social Justice as part of Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) is being adhered to. The Trivandrum International Airport (TIA) is the first institution in the city which has been selected by the Union Government for the auditing process.
The centre has already directed the authorities of Trivandrum International Airport(TIA) to conduct a detailed study on installing facilities for disabled persons. The study is said to be the first one of its kind being carried out in the country. The access audit will be conducted to study the hurdles that make travel difficult for the the disabled.  In the survey, the  access auditors will evaluate the airports based on different parameters, including width of doorways, ramps, tactile flooring, adaptation of toilets  for wheel-chair users, braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators. It is said that an airport is considered accessible only if people with disabilities face no barrier in entry and are able to use all facilities, including boarding and alighting from the flights.  “We have been directed by the Union Government to conduct a study on this. At present, we have ramp and lift facilities for the disabled and differently-abled persons at the International airport. However, Domestic terminal has some shortcomings. The lift for the disabled is yet to be constructed here.

We will make arrangements for that at the earliest,” said George G Tharakan, TIA, director.  After the audit, the report will be sent to the Airports Authority of India. According to sources, the domestic terminals will be considered for the audit in the second phase.
28/07/16 K Krishnachand/New Indian Express

SriLankan Airlines hosts TAAI's North India Chapter

SriLankan Airlines recently hosted the visiting delegates of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) in Colombo when the latter attended the annual conference of its North India chapter.

The grand evening, which witnessed a number of dance performances and unique cultural activities, was graced by a host of distinguished guests, including H. E. Y. K. Sinha – High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, Arindam Bagchi – Deputy High Commissioner, Esha Srivastava – First Secretary (Press, Information & Culture), Siva Ramachandran, Chief Commercial Officer of SriLankan Airlines, Saminda Perera, General Manager Marketing of SriLankan Airlines, Dimuthu Tennakoon, General Manager Commercial Operations of SriLankan Airlines, Lalith De Silva, Regional Manager Indian Sub-Continent of SriLankan Airlines, Rajan Sehgal –Chairman TAAI and Members of TAAI Northern India chapter.

SriLankan Airlines’ Manager- North India, Chinthaka Weerasinghe said, “We were delighted when the Northern India Chapter of TAAI chose Sri Lanka to host their annual conference at a time when Sri Lanka is fast becoming one of the most sought-after destinations among the Indian tourists.
27/07/16 Voyage World

SpiceJet sets up unit for consumer merchandise business

New Delhi: No-frills airline SpiceJet today said it has incorporated a subsidiary that will focus on consumer merchandise and goods business.

The move is expected to help the carrier in diversifying its revenue streams.

The wholly-owned subsidiary 'SpiceJet Merchandise Private Limited' would engage in business of various goods including readymade apparels, through various channels.

In a regulatory filing, SpiceJet said the arm would "engage in the business of consumer merchandise and goods that will include electronic items, readymade apparels, accessories etc."

27/07/16 PTI/Economic Times

Air India Sets Up Check-In Counters At New Delhi Metro Station

Delhi:  National passenger carrier Air India on Wednesday said that it has set up two specialised check-in counters at the New Delhi Metro station of Airport Express line.

"We are pleased to extend the facility of city check-in on both the domestic and international flights operated by Air India. Earlier, city check-in was available only for domestic sector flights and on a few Gulf countries," Ashwani Lohani, Air India Chairman and Managing Director, was quoted as saying in a company statement.

"To supplement the efforts, we have set up this Air India flight information cum excess baggage cum ticketing counter at the station," Ashwani Lohani said at the inauguration ceremony of the new counters which became functional from Wednesday.

According to the airline, the newly introduced counters shall allow Air India passengers flying on international and domestic routes to book tickets, get desired flight information and also check-in the extra luggage.
28/07/16 Indo-Asian News Service/NDTV

Elevated taxiway for quick flights

New Delhi: IGI Airport will get the country's first elevated taxiway that will help the Airport operator to cut down on the time taken by an aircraft to reach a runway and lead to fewer delays.
Airport officials said the 2.5km Eastern Cross Taxiway, which will connect Runway 10-28 lying on the side of domestic terminal 1-D with Runway 11-29 at T3, will pass over the central spinal road connecting the two terminals and is likely to be operational by 2020. A taxiway connects runways with aprons, hangars, terminals and other facilities in an airport. "It will allow flexibility in the use of runways and assist in balancing the flight traffic on them, particularly during the busy hours," said a DIAL spokesperson.
The airport operator DIAL said the construction would be part of Phase 3A (2016-20) Development Programme of Master Plan 2016. "Preparatory works have been initiated and the construction schedule will be finalised in the next few months," said DIAL.
The taxiway, which will accommodate aircraft as big as Airbus A380, will help the airlines save fuel as the planes now have to travel a long distance to reach their take-off points. Runway 11-29, preferred by international flights due to its proximity to the international terminal, and Runway 10-28 are now connected through Western Link lying on the airside near Dwarka. "An aircraft now has to crawl for about 20-25 minutes before preparing for the take-off. To save fuel, the airlines prefer the runway closer to the terminal to avoid covering Western Link," said an airport official.
28/07/16 Times of India

'Govt promoting use of khadi by Air India, Railways'

New Delhi: To revive the khadi industry, Indian Railways and Air India are being encouraged to use products made up of the fabrics in trains and aeroplanes even as the KVIC's sales grew 24 per cent in 2015-16, Parliament was today informed.

"Yes Sir. Indian Railways and Air India are being encouraged to use khadi fabrics in order to promote Khadi industries," Minister of State in the MSME Ministry Giriraj Singh said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha to a query on whether the government is taking any steps to promote khadi in these two entities.
The Minister informed that orders worth Rs 77.67 crore were received from Indian Railways in 2015-16 whereas those received from Air India were of Rs 8.29 lakh.
27/07/16 PTI/Business Standard

FabHotels announces exclusive partnership with GoAir

Mumbai: As per a release, FabHotels, a chain of budget hotels in India, launched an exclusive partnership with GoAir, an Indian airline. The partnership will bring the exclusive inventory of 80+ FabHotels at prime locations in top 15 Indian cities to GoAir’s flights-plus-hotels platform, with special discounts and deals only for GoAir customers.

According to Google India Travel Trends 2016 report, searches for flights plus hotels were up 2x between 2013-2014 and again between 2014-2015, and are expected to grow even faster in 2016. Through this partnership, both FabHotels and GoAir aim to provide a seamless travel experience to their customers.

To promote this collaboration further, GoAir and FabHotels have also partnered for the GoAir Surprises campaign wherein 10 lucky GoAir flyers will be chosen through a lucky draw for a complimentary two night three day stay in Goa at a FabHotels of their choice. These 10 lucky guests can choose from four premium locations on Ashwem Beach, Anjuna Beachfront, Vagator Beach and Candolim Beach, including two premium beachfront resorts at Ashwem Beach & Anjuna Beach.
28/07/16 HospitalityBizIndia

Foreign currency seized at RGI Airport

Hyderabad: DRI sleuths arrested a smuggler from the city at RGI Airport on Tuesday night and seized 1.25 lakh Saudi Riyals worth Rs 22 lakh from his possession.
Acting on specific alert, DRI sleuths intercepted the smuggler from Hyderabad when he was about to board Dubai-bound Spicejet flight on Tuesday night. The offender had already cleared his immigration check and before he could board the flight, DRI officials stopped him. "We found the money in the checked-in baggage of the offender," DRI additional director general, Hyderabad, MK Singh said.
The smuggler was arrested and booked under the Customs Act, 1962 r/w FEMA, 1999. Officials are working on the leads to carry out some more arrests in the case.
28/07/16 Times of India

Unaccounted Indian currency seized

Chennai: Unaccounted Indian currency worth Rs 39.97 lakh has been seized from a passenger bound for Sri Lanka at Chennai airport, customs officials said today.
Acting on a tip-off, customs officials intercepted the passenger bound for Colombo late last night and seized the currency from his baggage, they said.
The passenger, hailing from Ramanathapuram, was detained for questioning.
28/07/16 Business Standard

Absconding accused held at airport

Tiruchi: An accused against whom a lookout circular had been issued for his involvement in a case was held at Tiruchi airport moments after he arrived from Singapore on Wednesday.

The immigration authorities at the airport detained the accused T. Kumaresan (47) of Pillukurichi in Perambalur district and handed him over to the Airport police, who, in turn, handed him over to the Irumbulikurichi police in Ariyalur district where the case against him had been booked.
28/07/16 R. Rajaram/The Hindu

Bangladeshi national arrested in Lanka for smuggling gold

A Bangladeshi national, who attempted to smuggle eleven pieces of gold worth Rs. 5.7 million out of the country, has been arrested by the Sri Lankan Customs officials.

Acting on a tip, the Customs officials yesterday arrested the 42-year-old man with over one kilogram of gold at the Bandaranaike International Airport, reports the Colombo Page.
27/07/16 ANI/Colombo