Friday, May 26, 2017

Airfares soar as Indians pack bags for foreign holidays

New Delhi: Making last-minute plans for an international holiday this summer will leave you sweating.
Spot ticket prices to popular destinations have gone up by as much as 30% from last summer with London witnessing the fastest jump in airfares.
But even these high spot fares are not deterring last-minute holidayers.
Indiver Rastogi, president of corporate travel at Thomas Cook (India) Limited, says airline bookings are witnessing a "surge of over 40%" as compared with that in last year.
However, leaving on a jet plane this summer break is proving tough as visa processing at the consulates of the most popular destinations is taking a lot of time due to the rush.
Sample this: Tourism Australia recently sent a mail to travel agents about increased waiting periods to get visas due to increase in applications.
Advising them to file applications at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi four to six weeks before departure dates, its mail said: "Visitor visa applications received in New Delhi during the first quarter of 2017 have increased by 32%, when compared with last year, and the trend appears to be continuing...." VFS, which handles visa processing for most countries, says its application centres are seeing huge rush this summer due to increase in outbound travel from India.
26/05/17 Times of India

Aviation ministry to thrash out new bi-laterals policy not to clear any more requests from other countries, airlines

 New Delhi: The ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) is in the process of devising a comprehensive, long term policy, which would guide the country’s bilateral agreements with other countries. No request from any country or airline for an increase in seats would be entertained till such a policy is in place, official sources told FE. The government’s civil aviation policy had skipped bilaterals in the absence of a wider consensus on the subject. This stand of the aviation ministry is significant since in recent times some of the Gulf states like Dubai and Qatar have sought increase in the existing number of seats by revising the existing bilateral agreements.
“Bilaterals are an important tool for the growth of civil aviation sector in India and we are going to use it wisely to ensure the growth for the sector in the country. We are trying to take a long term approach in the bilateral related issues and have to talk to the domestic airlines to formulate a long term policy on bilaterals,” a senior official in MoCA told FE. Going by the agreement with Qatar currently airlines on both sides have 24,292 seats and airlines from Qatar have utilised 80% of the deployed seats while the the Indian airlines haven’t.
26/05/17 Malyaban Ghosh/Financial Express

Wreckage of IAF’s missing Sukhoi-30 jet found; no information on pilots

New Delhi: The wreckage of the missing Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi-30 fighter jet has been found close to the last known position of the aircraft, news agency ANI reported. The development comes after search operations continued for three consecutive days. However, there was no information on the missing two pilots. According to reports, debris was found in dense forest area near the China border. “Wreckage found. Close to the last known position of aircraft. As of now weather is bad and the place has dense foliage. Further update follows,” said the IAF in an official statement.
The Sukhoi jet had gone missing after taking off from the Tezpur Salonibari air force station in Assam on Tuesday on a routine training sortie. The aircraft had lost radar and radio contact near the China border within less than an hour of its take-off.
As part of the massive search operation, Su-30 and C-130 aircraft with electro-optical payload and ALH helicopters had been pressed into service. In addition, more personnel were also deployed to the existing four ground parties of IAF personnel, nine teams of the Indian Army and two teams of the state administration.
26/05/17 Indian Express

Indian carriers are against Qatar Airways' India plans and their points are valid; govt should take heed

New Delhi: India has removed or relaxed foreign investment caps in several sectors since last year and one such sector is domestic airlines. So as of today, a foreign airline can pick up 49 percent equity in an Indian carrier and then also collaborate with an investment firm from parent country to pick up the remaining 51 percent, effectively owning 100 percent of an airline in India. This proposal has been opposed tooth and nail by incumbent Indian airlines SpiceJet, IndiGo, Jet Airways and Go Air under the aegis of the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA).
This airline lobby group was also similarly opposed to the entry of Singapore Airlines and AirAsia BhD in India earlier – both forged separate partnerships with Tata Sons to set up two new airlines from scratch, when the FDI caps were relaxed in the first round in 2012. At that time, the FIA had used every available means to thwart the Tatas’ plans and though both airlines did eventually get established, the matter is still pending resolution in the courts.
Now, when Qatar Airways has been hinting at starting an airline from scratch in India by using the newly opened 100 percent FDI route (along with Qatar Investment Authority), the FIA has upped the ante again. This time, the FIA has raised some valid points and the government would do well to listen to what it has to say. Why allow a powerful global airline, with deep pockets and a vast network, to come to India and provide unnecessary competition to local airlines when the latter are already suffering in a high-cost and hostile operating environment?
Besides, there has been growing rivalry between the powerful Gulf airlines and those from Europe and the USA on global routes, with non-Gulf airlines closing ranks against the rapidly advancing Gulf carriers. Why should India open its arms to airlines from the Gulf?
In a fresh letter to the government, the FIA has raised some valid points against allowing 100 percent foreign investment in airlines.
25/05/17 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post

Foreign players owning airlines in India can have security issues: FIA

Mumbai: Continuing its opposition to the government allowing foreign players to own an airline in India, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) has said the move could have serious "security" implications besides other issues.

In a letter to the government recently, the FIA also said that the decision to allow foreign carriers owning an airline in the country will create a very inequitable competitive environment for them.

The letter comes against the backdrop of Qatar Airways announcing its plans to set up an airline in India with the Gulf nation's sovereign wealth fund, and the government recently saying that it is looking at bringing the rules and regulations regarding ownership and control of an airline in conformity with the new FDI norms. "By India permitting 100 per cent FDI in scheduled airlines, the Indian government will have no visibility on where control lies. Such a move could also have serious repercussions on India’s national security," the FIA said in the letter.

The FIA has four private airlines --IndiGo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways and GoAir as its members. The four airlines together command around 75 per cent share of the total domestic air travel market. "Such foreign-owned and controlled Indian airlines will also gain unhindered access to defence airfields in India.
25/05/17 PTI/New Indian Express

SpiceJet, IndiGo and Jet Airways offer cheap airline tickets

Mumbai: India's aviation sector is seeing a competition of a whole new level- ruthless slashing of prices. Days after SpiceJet offered domestic as well as international flight tickets for Rs 12 (only base fare, excluding taxes and fees), other airlines like IndiGo and Jet Airways also offered discounts on airfare.

The sale period for the Spicejet offer is from 23rd – 28th May, 2017, while the travel period is from 26th June, 2017 – 24th March, 2018.

Starting May 23, IndiGo is offering a six-day sale till May 28 on select routes for a base rate of Rs 11 and an all-inclusive rate on select routes starting at Rs 899. This rate is applicable on one-way, non-stop flights that are booked at least 20 days before the trip. The time for travel should be between 26 June 2017 and 24 March 2018.

The special fares are available on first come-first serve basis and are not refundable. The offer is applicable from select locations such as Agartala, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Dehradun, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jammu, Kochi, Kolkata, Madurai, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Patna, Port Blair, Pune, Srinagar, Varanasi, Vadodara and Visakhapatnam.

The details of this offer can be viewed on official website of IndiGo and other travel portals like ClearTrip and Yatra. Also, these special fares are not applicable on mass-bookings. Passengers can change the itinerary but after paying a stipulated change fees and fare difference.

With all the major airlines competing with each other, Jet Airways also announced special fares for select routes. The booking period is between May 24 to May 26 for travel between June 15, 2017 to September 20, 2017. The fare for the same is Rs 1,079 inclusive of all taxes.
25/05/17 DNA

Jet Airways Monsoon Sale: Now buy flight tickets starting at Rs 1079, offer valid till May 26

Mumbai: If you are planning for a monsoon getaway, here’s a chance!  Jet Airways, India’s full-service, the premier international airline has come up with a three-day sale from May 24 to May 26 2017. The sale provides guests with an opportunity to plan their monsoon gateways, in advance and avail attractive savings. Under the monsoon sale, Jet Airways has announced special all-inclusive Economy class fares on select domestic sectors under its three-day sale with starting price as low as Rs 1079 for selected domestic sectors.
As per details on the Jet Airways website, the limited period sale will allow guests to book tickets for as low as INR 1,079/- (all inclusive) on certain sectors. The special fares are applicable on tickets booked between May 24th to 26th, 2017, for select domestic routes, and valid for Economy class travel between June 15 and 20 September.
The special fare tickets, available on a first-come-first-served basis, will be valid for travel on direct flights for both one-way and return journeys. The booking under the sale started from Wednesday with a three-day window period. The passenger can avail of these special fares through the airline’s website, mobile app, the airline contact centre (city code) 39893333, as also through their nearest travel agent.
25/05/17 Sandhya Dangwal/

UDAN Indian aviation's biggest achievement in the past year: Jayant Sinha

New Delhi: Indian aviation has witnessed one of the fastest phases of its growth in the last three years. With the government’s policy reviving the regional aviation market,India has become the third-largest market globally in terms of domestic traffic. However, the market continues to face a massive infrastructure crunch. Jayant Sinha, minister of state for civil aviation, speaks to Arindam Majumder on a wide range of issues -- from regional aviation to infrastructure and bilateral rights. Edited excerpts of the interview:

I would begin with an anecdote. Close to your media address announcing the guidelines for the UDAN scheme, which aims to boost regional air connectivity, a regional airline was grounded. It is yet to get off the ground. Isn't there a dichotomy here?

This is about the airline business as a whole. I thought you wanted to know what we have done through Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme to make regional aviation successful, even as people had not succeeded in the past.

We have done four things to reduce the cost but make regional aviation profitable and attractive. One is through a cut in taxes on aviation turbine fuel from over 20 per cent to 3 per cent.

Two, we have eliminated all airport navigation and landing charges for Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) flights from both the origin and destination airports.

Three, we have given exclusivity for three years. For instance, Alliance Air won the bid for Delhi-Shimla. They will be the only one to operate on that route for three years.

And four, we have put in place a number of steps for lessors that makes it easier for them to repossess a plane if an airline defaults. As a result, leasing cost has come down. Lessors are now charging you less because their risks have come down.

Additionally, we are giving viability gap funding (VGF). The first three things are themselves so attractive that we have many routes awarded at zero VGF.

In the first round of bidding, we have put 1. 3 million seats into the regional aviation with a total subsidy of Rs 205 crore. That’s how well designed the scheme is, as this money will be recovered from passengers flying in national markets.
26/05/17 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard

More regional centres on aviation map on the cards

New Delhi: Putting more regional centres on the aviation map and dealing with Air India stands high on the agenda of the Narendra Modi government, which is entering its fourth year.

The government will also come up with new regulations to deal with unruly passengers and improve infrastructure facilities for the ever-growing aviation market in the country.

After coming out with the first-ever national civil aviation policy last year and the launch of the regional connectivity scheme, the industry is waiting to see how the government takes the programmes forward.

The ministry of civil aviation has already showed its intent to expand the Udan scheme to unserved routes.

The first round of bidding for regional routes had resulted in adding 33 unserved and 12 underserved airports, besides 128 routes, to the aviation map of the country.
26/05/17 Shemin Joy/Deccan Herald

Tweak in UDAN to woo more airlines

New Delhi: The government is planning to allow relaxations under its Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme to boost air connectivity to underserved routes. It   hopes to attract more airlines to the loss-making regional aviation sector.
The Union ministry is likely to now allow an underserved route between two regular airports. For instance, Lucknow and Varanasi: these have regular connectivity to other centres but not between themselves.
Earlier, operators were allowed to bid for services only between two underserved airports.
“A number of stakeholders and airline operators have evinced interest in undertaking operations under the scheme,” said a ministry statement on Wednesday. “Learning from the experience of first round of bidding… (the ministry) is… taking stock of regional connectivity… [to make rules] simpler and attractive.”
The ministry is also thinking of allowing operators to bid for routes between two places separated by less than 150 km, such as Ahmedabad and Vadodara (114 km).
It is looking at a number of other proposals, such as tweaking the current norm of allowing a three-year exclusivity to an airline on a route; whether the number of seats on subsidy per flight can be increased; and more flexibility for the operation of helicopters, given the limited interest by airlines in the first round of bidding.
Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said in the first round of UDAN, 72 airports had been included. Of these, 27 were classified as ‘served’, 12 as ‘underserved’ and 33 as ‘completely underserved’.
25/05/17 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard

MAHB gets nod to go international, eyes more airports in India

Sepang: Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), which is the third largest airport operator in the world by passenger size, plans to expand its presence abroad and may acquire some airports in India to ride on strong air travel demand in Asia.

Its managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said the board has approved its fourth pillar strategic plan to expand internationally by acquiring new airports as well as getting more services-related business.

"The strategy is to tap intra-Asia air travel market which currently generated the highest passenger traffic in the world.

"We are looking at a few opportunities. Sometimes it is not just about one-to-one airport but basket of airports... And acquiring airports is not going to be through the normal tendering process.

"It is about making representation of capabilities, synergies and value creation as well as whether we can work hand in hand with local partners," he told reporters here at the company's annual general meeting.

Badlisham said India's airport market is opening up and currently enticing investors to look at it.

"Last year, India announced 50 secondary airports to be put into the market. So now they are soliciting whether we should do a basket of airports. They are not sure and really asking how they should go about this.
25/05/17 Amir Hisyam Rasid/New Straits Times

Fadnavis chopper crash: Bought in 2011, was used for official trips of CM, Governor

Mumbai: The Sikorsky S76 C++, the helicopter that crash-landed in Nilanga, Latur, on Thursday undertook nearly 60 hours of flight every month, said senior officials from the operational team of the chopper at Juhu airport. The Sikorsky six-seater chopper, bought for Rs 52 crore by the state in December 2011, was exclusively used for official trips of the chief minster and Governor of Maharashtra.
The pilot of the twin-engine chopper took a call to make an “emergency landing” minutes after take-off on Thursday when he sensed a “loss of control”. “As the chopper had not attained much height, nobody received serious injuries. The chopper suffered substantial damage,” said a senior DGCA official.
The chopper was being used to its full capacity since the past six years, officials said. “It would do 60 hours of flying every month. It was next planned for use in the CM’s Gadchiroli tour on drought-relief measures,” said an official involved with its upkeep.
The chopper would be stationed at the government’s hangar in Juhu aerodrome. “So popular was it that even other cabinet ministers would covet to use it for their trips. They would require the prior permission of the CM, however,” the official said.
26/05/17 Neha Kulkarni/Indian Express

Aviation experts express concern post CM Fadnavis mishap

Mumbai: Questions are being raised about the safety of VIP flyers after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had a narrow escape from a helicopter accident on Thursday. Despite having a clearance certificate, the government owned Sikorsky (VT-CMM) helicopter met with an accident in Latur. Aviation experts feel the accident may have been caused due to variable wind direction and have called for the need of proper infrastructure.

Sources in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have termed the accident as ‘serious’. An official said that the chopper had DGCA clearance before flying and was very much in use by the state VIPs and the Chief Minister.

Hailing the pilot’s presence of mind in the situation, Mandar Bharde, MD of MAB Aviation, said, “The pilot showed exceptional skills and saved the travellers on board. There was a possibility of the rotor catching fire, which could have toppled the entire helicopter but the pilot avoided the situation. The Maharashtra Government should ensure proper infrastructure like helipads, for safe landing and take-offs.”

Mr Bharde shared that around 15 choppers take off and land in Maharashtra everyday but most of the accidents involve politicians, who are not provided proper logistic support. “The helipads are usually made overnight. Maharashtra should invest in proper infrastructure as the use of aircraft and choppers is increasing,” he said.
26/05/17 Shruti Ganapatye/Asian Age

Maharashtra CM's helicopter was well-maintained, claim officials

The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) will investigate the crash-landing of the chopper that was carrying chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at Nilanga on Thursday. But an official at the directorate of aviation has claimed that the chopper had no maintenance issues and all the parameters were followed.
Madhav Godbole, deputy director with the directorate, said, "The chopper is only meant to fly VVIPs, that is, the CM and governor. With the DGCA watching our backs, a strict maintenance schedule is followed. Though details of the schedule cannot be given, we can say for sure that all parameters to ensure safety of the chopper were followed religiously."
According to preliminary reports, when the chopper took off, a huge dust cloud was formed and the pilots, while trying to avoid it, few into cable wires.
However, aviation experts believe that the state needs to do much more to ensure proper maintenance of its existing fleet of aircraft and choppers.
Aviation expert and analyst Dhairyashil Vandekar said the state's aviation department's record of aircraft and helicopter maintenance leaves a lot to be desired. "Almost half of the state's fleet of helicopters and aircraft is grounded. Out of the two helicopters it has, a Dauphin chopper is grounded since almost five years and now, the other VT-CMM Sikorsky S76C helicopter has crash-landed," he said.
26/05/17 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Indian national charged as man behind LaGuardia Airport security breach

A hapless rookie security guard watched an equally clueless Indian national wander into an off-limits area in LaGuardia Airport, a video obtained by the Daily News showed.

Phani Kumar Varanasi, 41, was arrested Thursday, two days after the Tuesday security breach on a charge of criminal trespass after surrendering to Port Authority cops at the Queens airport, police said.

“He didn’t do anything wrong,” a relative told the Daily News. “It was a mistake. He was just going on vacation. We are in a deep soup.”

Varanasi told police he was confused about where to go after exiting the plane, after flying in from Detroit, and he strayed into a “sterile area” of the terminal through a guarded exit.

The video captured him entering the forbidden zone through its exit as the Transportation Security Administration employee sits at a desk inside Terminal B.

The incident led to a partial evacuation of the terminal while causing travel problems for hundreds of passengers as authorities conducted a security sweep.

Varanasi spent five minutes wandering around the restricted area around before returning to the public space through the same exit and walking away, according to the TSA.

Port Authority cops were finally called, but Varanasi was already gone by then.

The bungling worker was “within the one-year probation period, and appropriate action will be taken,” the TSA said in a statement on Thursday.
25/05/17 Mary McDonnel/Thomas Tracy/Larry McShane/New York Daily News

NID to revamp the Ahmedabad airport, add ‘glocal’ touch

Ahmedabad: The National Institute of Design(NID)- Ahmedabad is all set to rejig Ahmedabad’s domestic and international terminals with state-of-art design intervention on visual ergonomics and aesthetic experiential appeal using its design competency to improve overall passenger experience. With the endeavour NID is going to empower the overall appeal of the domestic and international terminals of Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) Airport.
NID Director Pradyumna Vyas along with faculty colleagues met Manoj Gangal, Director – SVPI and his team recently. NID and SVPI team visited both domestic and international terminal to workout a comprehensive ‘action plan’ and would be submitting it before the SVPI authorities in 10 working days.
The main objective of the project would be to add the traditional local flavour while enhancing and improving the segment of passenger amenities and overall experience of SVPI Airport. This will include enhancing of physical and visual components of comfort and overall ambience of the existing terminals in areas linked to parking, dropping, passenger corridors, arrival and departure enclosures, entry & exit enclosures, security, checking and hold areas, baggage dispose and claim areas, washrooms, refreshment, lobby and lounges, etc.
25/05/17 Indian Express

Aging chopper, airplane put Gujarat VIPs at risk

Aging aircraft - both helicopters and planes — used by chief ministers, ministers and senior officials in different states pose a risk to these VIPs. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had a narrow escape on Thursday when the chopper carrying him crash-landed at Latur.
On January 26 this year, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and Governor O P Kohli were luckier still when the helicopter carrying them failed to take off from Anand. Rupani and Kohli were returning to the state capital after Republic Day celebrations. They had to travel to Gandhinagar by road.
After the Anand incident, Rupani had to use private helicopters for a month as the state chopper was being repaired.
Officials say the Gujarat government helicopter is 10 years old (it was bought in 2007) while the fixed-wing plane, bought in 1999, is 18 years old.
26/05/17 Kapil Dave/Times of India

More international flights from Lohegaon airport in the offing

Pune: Doors to the Middle East are all set to widen for Pune-based travellers as at least two flights are expected from here to the United Arab Emirates soon.
The new flights will also give a boost to passenger traffic, besides attracting foreign tourists, airport sources told TOI.
"A private airline is set to start flight operations to Dubai from the Pune airport in three months. Air India will also start an international flight to Sharjah, the final plans are being chalked out," the official said.
At present, four international flights — two to Dubai (Air India and SpiceJet), one to Abu Dhabi (Jet Airways) and one to Frankfurt (Lufthansa) — operate from the Pune airport.
26/05/17 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Behavior of Man Who Tried to Break Into American Airlines Cockpit Should've Raised 'Red Flags'

Los Angeles:  A man acted strangely long before he caused a disturbance on a plane that prompted fighter jets to accompany it to Hawaii, but a lack of communication and an airline's hesitancy to be caught on video booting a passenger could have played a role in allowing him to fly, experts say.
Anil Uskanli, 25, of Turkey, had purchased a ticket at an airline counter in the middle of the night with no luggage and had been arrested after opening a door to a restricted airfield at Los Angeles International Airport. Airport police did not notify the airline, but they said it isn't common practice.
After bizarre behavior on board Friday, including trying to get to the front of the jet, he was arrested by FBI agents and charged with interfering with a flight crew.
A federal judge on Monday ordered him to undergo a mental competency evaluation, which Uskanli's attorney said he requested based on conversations with his client that he would not detail.
The first alarm should have been Uskanli buying his ticket around midnight with no bags other than a laptop, a phone and items in his pocket, said Doron Pely, a director at TAL Global, an international security consulting firm focusing on aviation security.
"Right there, that's enough red flags to really look into this guy with curiosity," Pely said. "He had trouble written all over him."
25/05/17  Michael Balsamo/AP/Time

American Airlines’ Passenger, Anil Uskanli, Disrupts Hawaii Flight Under The Influence Of Alcohol Or Drugs

A man who disrupted a flight taking off from Los Angeles to Honolulu only had a laptop and didn’t have any luggage.  A wheelchair was needed for the man to get into the plane as he was either drunk or on drugs.

Anil Uskanli, who also has the Turkish nationally, didn’t check in or carry any luggage, a criminal filed complaint in federal court said.
Flying on Friday, It was an American Airlines flight. Uskanli, 25, boarded the plane only with laptop, phone as well as laptop charger and several unimportant items in his pockets.

The flight’s staff immediately thought that the Turkish man’s laptop may contain an explosive.

As well as his arrest in Honolulu, Uskanli was also charged with intervening with a flight attendant.

On Monday, the judge decided that Uskanli has to pass a mental evaluation. The Bureau of Prisons will decide where he will go for the examination.

Around midnight, Uskanli purchased his ticket.

At 2.45 a.m., he was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport because he opened a door leading to an airfield ramp. Spokesperson Rob Pedregon said that Uskanli was only looking for food.

Uskanli smelled like alcohol but he was drunk enough to be held for public drunkenness so the police released him. Hence, his ticket was confiscated after taking him a public space in the airport.

Shortly after that, Uskanli got himself another boarding pass and passed by security screening again.

Police is obliged to let an airline know if someone opens a gate to a restricted area.

“If he was a danger, we would not have ever let him go,” he said.

He then entered the restricted area and insisted that he is on drugs or alcohol. Therefore, flight crew brought him a wheelchair to help him board the plane.

American Airlines’ spokesperson said that Uskanli specifically asked for the wheelchair at the ticket counter before going through security and then to the gate for the flight.
25/05/17 Selena Arias/Essentail Retailer

DC hands over land papers to AAI for passenger terminal at Adampur airport

Jalandhar: In a leap towards starting work on civil air terminal at Adampur airport near here, Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma on Thursday handed over papers for transfer of land to the officers of Airport Authority of India (AAI). The Deputy Commissioner handed over papers for transfer of more than 36 acres of land to Simardeep Singh, manager (engineering) at AAI. The land was recently acquired by the state government at the rate of Rs 37 lakh per acre. Compensation to the tune of Rs 16 crore has already been disbursed to the owners of the land.
At present, the Adampur airport, which is used by the Indian Air Force, does not have any terminal for passenger airlines.
The DC said this project would act as a major catalyst for development of the Doaba region, besides helping NRIs stay connected with their roots. He said the Public Works Department (PWD) had also submitted a detailed proposal for widening and strengthening of the already existing dedicated approach road to the airport at a cost of Rs 33.85 lakh.
26/05/17 Financial Express

Mumbai airport refuses slot for flight linking Mumbai, Surat, Bhavnagar

Surat: In what has come as an upset for the Surti fliers, the Alliance Air, airline partner of Air India (AI), has been refused slot for its Mumbai-Surat-Bhavnagar daily flight services by the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL).
Sources said that the Alliance Air had submitted a proposal for providing slot at the Mumbai airport for operating its proposed daily flight between Mumbai-Surat-Bhavnagar. The MIAL vehemently denied the proposal, citing reasons about the heavy traffic and the unavailability of the slot at Mumbai airport.
This has upset the Surti fliers and the airport association is preparing to write a letter to the Prime Minister and Union minister of civil aviation against the MIAL ignoring air connectivity to Surat.
Social groups crusading for increased air connectivity have alleged that the MIAL is ignoring Surat airport, sensing its huge potential and the future threat.
26/05/17 Times of India

Karnataka’s UAV Test Zone Set for Take-Off

The country’s first of its kind Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) with a mega multi-agency complex for integrating and testing various Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) will be unveiled by Defence minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday.The ATR built at a cost of `1,300 crore in Varavoo Kaval near Challakere in Chitradurga district will have technical infrastructure on 4,090 acres and transit and residential facilities on 200 acres. The facility will be housing multiple agencies .

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of the Ministry of Defence has developed the ATR, whch has been partially operating since December 2010.

With the ATR’s inauguration, DRDO can start testing some of the indigenous products being developed, including the naval and trainer versions of the Light  Combat  Aircraft,  unmanned air vehicles Rustom 1 and 2; and the Airborne Early Warning & Control Systems meant for surveillance.
25/05/17  Kiran Parashar K M/New Indian Express

Telugu at Andhra Pradesh airports

Visakhapatnam: Civil Aviation minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju promised that henceforth the public announcements would be made in Telugu language besides English and Hindi in all flights, operated by various airlines and also at five airports across Andhra Pradesh.

Responding to the letter of Andhra Pradesh Assembly deputy speaker  Mandali Buddha Prasad on February 16, 2017, the Civil Aviation minister released an official letter on Thursday announcing that the request would come into force soon.

Though it is very difficult to train the crew in making announcements in all regional languages (18 languages are recognised in the Constitution) in India, he promised that the announcement would be made in Telugu language in all airports of the state.
26/05/17 New Indian Express

Night parking facility at Visakhapatnam International Airport soon

Visakhapatnam: The Visakhapatnam International Airport will soon have night parking facility for the aircrafts arriving in the evening. The works at the airport for creation of six more parking bays is in full swing and the project will be completed in the last week of June.

The night parking facility will increase the number of early morning flights to several parts of the country from the city and also increase the night landing of flights in the airport.The Airport Authority of India officials said that the four airports in Andhra Pradesh have registered a robust growth in air passenger traffic during 2016-17 fiscal with Vizag Airport leading by handling an all-time high of 23.58 lakh passengers as against 18.04 lakh in 2015-16 by registering a growth of over 30 per cent.
26/05/17 Hans India

Customs official Sanjeev Kumar arrested for stealing 90 kg gold from Indira Gandhi International Airport

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested a customs official who was posted at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi for alleged pilferage of gold. Reports say that Sanjeev Kumar, a superintendent of customs department, allegedly stole around 90 kgs of gold from the customs store room at the IGI airport 14 years ago.
According to the CBI, Kumar was posted at the IGI Airport between 2002 and 2003 as custodian of the store room where the seized gold items were kept. It has been alleged that he replaced the gold items with duplicate metal. It is alleged that Kumar stole 90 kg gold and replaced it with duplicate metal.
Kumar is posted with Sonepat customs office as a superintendent at present. He has now been remanded to seven days’ police custody after the CBI told the court that he was required for the further interrogation.

10 kg narcotic drug haul at Bengaluru airport, one held

Bengaluru: A man was arrested after about 10 kg of narcotic drug valued at Rs 2 crore in the international market was seized from him at the city airport, an official said on Thursday.
“The contraband was found in 35 schoolbags of Mujibur Rahman, who tried to smuggle it to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia onboard a Malaysian Airlines aircraft,” Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) Zonal Director Sunil Kumar Sinha said in a statement here.
The airport police arrested Rahman, who flew into Bengaluru from Chennai on Wednesday night. He was booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
“We intercepted the bags after Rahman checked them in with the airline,” Sinha said.
He said the accused confessed during preliminary questioning that he had been smuggling such narcotics to other countries, including Malaysia and Sri Lanka, for a hefty commission.
25/05/17 IANS/Mid Day

Air India brings 22 bodies, five injured to Indore

Indore: National carrier Air India on Thursday operated a special charter flight to ferry the bodies of 22 pilgrims, who died in a bus accident in Uttarakhand, to Indore. The special Air India flight, carrying 22 bodies and five injured persons, landed at Indore airport at 3.7 pm, an Air India official said. Under the supervision of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan the injured people were sent to MY Hospital and while bodies were dispatched to their native villages

For the first time, a chartered plane is used to ferry bodies of ordinary people to the city. Air India’s special flight Air Bus-319 took-off from Dehradun airport at around 1.27 pm with 22 bodies in coffins and five injured (two on stretcher), three doctors, five officials of district administration including SDM Sandeep Soni and Home Guard Commandant Saiyad Javed and nine officials and crew of Air India. It landed at the city airport at 3.07pm. The five injured were brought out of the flight first. Chouhan met them and inquired about their health before they were rushed to MY Hospital in an ambulance at 3.33 pm.
26/05/17 Free Press Journal

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Impoverished part of Air India has to go: Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju

New Delhi: Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju today expressed his concern over ‘poor’ financial condition of the airline and said that the government is mulling all options to revive India’s premiere airline, and that even privatisation is not exactly ruled out, an ANI report said. “Air India’s finances are very bad, impoverished part of Air India has to go, but we are looking at all alternatives to revive it,” the minister was quoted as saying by the agency.
When asked about the possibility of privatisation of the airline, the minister said that nothing can be ruled out, but the first priority is to improve the financial condition of the airline. “Nothing can be ruled out, want AI to survive, priority will be that; don’t want it to become history”, ANI quoted him as saying further.
Last month, Air India’s chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani had admitted in a social media post saying the airline’s massive debt “appears insurmountable,” which was the root of all the problems” for the airline, an Indian Express report said.
25/05/17 Financial Express

Fadnavis’ helicopter crash-lands in Latur, CM escapes unhurt

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had a narrow escape today when his helicopter got entangled in overhead wires and crash-landed in Latur district after the pilot tried to descend due to bad weather, soon after take-off.
The state government’s six-year-old Sikorsky chopper was damaged beyond repair, an official of civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) told PTI.
The accident occurred when the helicopter, which had six persons on board including two crew members, was landing at Nilanga town of the district where the CM had held a programme.
The incident will be investigated by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), which comes under the civil aviation ministry, the official said. The AIB probes all accidents and serious incidents involving Indian aircraft.
“Our helicopter did meet with an accident in Latur but me and my team is (sic) absolutely safe and ok. Nothing to worry,” Fadnavis tweeted after the accident.
The chief minister later proceeded by road to Latur city, which is about 40 kms from the crash site, and boarded a specially arranged aircraft to fly to Mumbai.
The DGCA official said the six-seater helicopter suffered substantial damage and would have to be “written off”.
After taking-off at around 12 noon, the pilot observed a variable wind pattern and decided to land. In the process, the helicopter got entangled in wires, the official said, adding that all on board are safe and escaped without any serious injury.
25/05/17 PTI/

Jet Airways celebrates Ramadan with special fares on flights

Dubai: Jet Airways, India's full-service premier international airline, today, announced a three-day attractive fare sale to commemorate Ramadan.

Available for sale from May 26-28, 2017, this special offer is available for both economy and premiere travel on all Jet Airways’ flights operating from the Gulf to India and beyond to leading international destinations such as Bangkok, Colombo, Dhaka, Hong Kong, Kathmandu and Singapore in the ASEAN and SAARC region.

Travel for bookings made during the offer period will be valid effective July 22 onwards until November 30, 2017. During the period, guests booking Premiere or Economy tickets on or the Jet Airways mobile app, on flights originating from the Gulf will be able to enjoy discounts of 12 per cent on base fare and fuel surcharge. The three-day sale will be yet another opportunity for guests to experience the airline’s globally renowned business product at attractive, unbeatable fares.
25/05/17 daijiworld

Man detained for unruly behaviour, family misses flight

Dabolim: A family of five, which included a cancer patient, her son recovering from surgery and her 83-year-old mother, was detained at the Dabolim international airport on Sunday by a CISF personnel after a ruckus broke out over an unclear e-boarding pass on the passenger's phone.
On Monday, Patricia Afonso, the passenger and an employee of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in Mumbai, lodged a complaint with the airport police against the CISF, alleging harassment. On the same day, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) also lodged a complaint with the airport police saying that their assistant sub inspector was ill treated by a passenger on Sunday night.
However, the airport director B C H Negi informed that the Afosnso family apologised after they were shown CCTV footage of them behaving badly with the official. They were also shown written witness statements accounting their bad behaviour. He added that they later realised their mistake and apologised to the CISF.
25/05/17 Times of India

Paying close attention to missing Sukhoi jet: China

Beijing: On Thursday, Chinese military said that it was paying "close attention" to the incident in which an Indian Air Force fighter jet with two pilots on board went missing along the Sino-India border two days ago.

Chinese defence spokesman Col Ren Guochang said they were paying close attention to it, when asked at a briefing about whether the Chinese military would help trace the missing Sukhoi fighter jet.

However, he declined to give any details and said that the foreign ministry has reacted on the issue yesterday.

Ren's remarks appeared slightly positive compared to the comments of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang who had said that he has no information on the missing plane and warned India that it should avoid disrupting peace and stability in Arunachal Pradesh, which China refers to as 'South Tibet'.

"For the situation you mentioned, I have no relevant information to offer at the moment," Lu had told the media when asked about the missing Indian Air Force plane along the India-China border.

At the same time, he referred to the border dispute between India and China, saying that "first of all on the eastern section of the India-China border, China's position is consistent and clear."
25/05/17 Press Trust of India/Business Standard

Jet Airways announces 3rd non-stop Mumbai-London Heathrow flight from October

Mumbai: Private carrier Jet Airways today announced the introduction of its third daily non-stop service to London Heathrow from the city, starting October. The new flight will boost Jet’s passenger and cargo capacity between India and the United Kingdom by almost 33 per cent, the airline said in release here.
The service enhances onward connectivity over London Heathrow to North America with partners Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic, it said. The airline said it will now offer improved connection time and 13 destinations over London to North America including Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Washington (Virginia).
“Jet Airways is delighted to offer a third non-stop service between Mumbai and London Heathrow. The new frequency will enable us to offer our guests seamless connectivity with partners Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic over London with a single baggage drop and through check-in,” Jet Airways Chief Commercial Officer Jayaraj Shanmugam said.
24/05/17 PTI/Financial Express

DGCA rules on no-fly list: Regulations need to balance passenger rights too

New Delhi: The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s aviation watchdog, recently issued a Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) regarding the handling of unruly and disruptive passengers. Issued under the Aircraft Rules, 1937, and framed in pursuance of the Indian Aircraft Act, 1934, the CAR acknowledges that unruly behaviour of any sort, on board an aircraft or during embarkation and disembarkation, interferes with the performance of crew members’ duties. It also notes that such disruptive behaviour jeopardises the safety of the aircraft, the persons on board and, most importantly, affects good order and discipline on a plane. Recognising the potential harm, any kind of disruptive behaviour is now likely to invite penal action in accordance with these proposed requirements.
The definition of a disruptive passenger under the CAR is very wide and also somewhat vague to include any passenger who disturbs “good order” and “discipline”. These terms haven’t been defined in the proposed requirements but include inter-alia individuals who illegally consume narcotics or cigarettes while on board, individuals who refuse to comply with safety instructions, any passenger who verbally or physically confronts a crew members or other passengers or threatens them which could affect the safety of the crew, other passengers and aircraft or any individual who sexually abuses or harasses a member of the crew or another passenger.
The proposed requirements contain three levels of interference – level 1 (light), level 2 (moderate), and level 3 (serious/flight decks) – making the CAR in consonance with international industry recommendations.
The above-noted CAR applies to all Indian operators engaged in scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services, both in the domestic and international sector. They also apply to foreign carriers engaged in scheduled air transport operating to and from India, all airport operators within Indian territory, and all passengers during their air travel in and over India.
The CAR also stipulates that conditions of carriage shall include statutory warnings specifying the acts which have been declared as unlawful or disruptive. Airlines are now also expected to establish standard operating procedures to deal with unruly or disruptive passengers while at the airport or on board an aircraft.
25/05/17 Satvik Varma & Vikrant Pachnanda/Business Standard

President forwards GAF memo on Greenfield Airport

Itanagar: President of India Pranab Mukherjee has forwarded the memorandum submitted by the Green Arunachal Foundation (GAF) to the offices of the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary for further action regarding the Greenfield Airport and other issues.
Through the representation, the GAF pleaded to the President to intervene and take necessary steps for early construction of the proposed Greenfield Airport in Itanagar; solve the issue of staple visa with China; bring an amicable solution to the boundary problem with neighbouring Assam and for establishment of Arunachal Pradesh Regiment.
“It is first of its kind that the President of India responded positively to a representation put forth by a state based NGO. He has endorsed the representation put forth thereof and has forwarded letters to the office of the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Secretary of Arunachal Pradesh to look into the matters”, said GAF Chairman Takam Tatung.
25/05/17 Arunachal Times

Jammu Airport to get makeover: From childcare, coupons for Vaishno Devi to expansion of area, here’s all you need to know

New facilities are being added at Jammu Airport with an aim to cater to the growing traffic, ANI reported on Thursday. The report said that the area of the airport itself will be expanded as a measure to cater to the growing requirement of the region for aviation. The setting up of new facilities by the airport authorities is already getting positive feedback from passengers.
“One of the greatest facilities that are being provided is that we can now purchase coupons for Vaishno Devi darshan. It has saved us from stranding in long queues and saved a lot of time for us,” a passenger was quoted as saying by ANI.
Besides these, the authorities are now mulling to expand the total area of the airport from 6745 square meters to 14500 square meters. “In 2001, Jammu Airport was constructed. However, its operation of flights was less. Since the area was less, the airport’s capacity was 180 arrivals and 180 departures,” Director of Jammu Airport, DK Gautam was quoted as saying ANI.
25/05/17 Financial Express

3 Bangalore bound flights diverted to RGIA

Hyderabad: Three flights bound to Bengaluru from Bhubaneswar, Mumbai, and Hyderabad were diverted to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) in Shamshabad on Tuesday due to inclement weather conditions.
The three Indigo flights landed at RGIA after the Air Traffic Control (ATC) in Bengaluru airport did not give permission to the crew to land due to bad weather after which the aircraft were diverted to the RGIA. After reaching RGIA, the airline staff made alternative arrangements to send passengers to their respective destinations, officials said.
25/06/17 Telengana Today

Afghan national held at Delhi airport for using fake ticket

New Delhi: An Afghan national has been apprehended at the airport here for allegedly entering the international terminal using a fake e-ticket.
Officials said the incident was reported at about 6 am when a man identified as Mohabbat Allah was intercepted by CISF officials while he was seeing off a woman and a child near the immigration area of the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).
Mohabbat, an Afghanistan citizen, told the sleuths that he entered the area using a “fake” e-ticket to see off his wife and son who were flying to Kuwait.
He added that the three had just landed at IGIA from Bangalore but instead of leaving the terminal, he accompanied his wife and son to the international departure area and immigration, allegedly using the fake e-ticket.
25/05/17 PTI/

Vistara receives first A320neo aircraft

Full service carrier Vistara today received its first A320neo aircraft which is expected to join the Tata-SIA run airlines fleet of 13 Airbus A320 planes as of now.
Vistara received the new aircraft, which is fitted with CFM Internationals advanced LEAP-1A engine, at the European aviation major Airbus Toulouse (France) headquarters.
Commenting on the delivery of the first A320 New engine option (Neo), Vistara Chief Executive Officer Phee Teik Yeoh, said, "The A320neo ensures operational enhancement as well as cost leadership for us, with extra payload capacity, greater fuel efficiency, and improved range, perfectly aligning with our growth strategy.
Vistara had in 2014 announced leasing of 20 Airbus A320 planes ? 13 A320ceo (current engine option) and seven A320neo (new engine option) ? from Singaporean leasing firm BOC Aviation.
It completed the deliveries of 13 A320ceo planes in October last year.
Vistara is the fourth domestic carrier to have this latest fuel efficient aircraft from Airbus. Budget carriers IndiGo and GoAir apart from national airline Air India are the other operators of A320neo planes.
Vistara?s A320neo features mood lighting which is a first in India for an Airbus A320 operator. It has comfortable seating with a new seat bottom and seat back design, softer cushion, and a refreshing new look across all three cabin classes, the airline said in a release.
24/05/17 PTI/India Today

Changes to aviation plan on anvil

The government is considering a string of amendments with prospective effect on fresh forthcoming second round of bidding for its ambitious aviation Regional Connectivity Scheme, which may lead to more economic viability and boost in connectivity.

This will also move the focus towards “unserved routes” apart from “unserved” airports. According to suggested amendments, neither of the two destinations linked as part of the RCS may be either unserved airports although other conditions to be part of the scheme have to be met.

If the amendments go through, RCS air-traffic on routes such as the one from Lucknow to Varanasi (which happens to be PM Narendra Modi’s constituency) may receive a boost. Also, the rule stipulation that at least 50 per cent of the seats on the RCS flights have to be RCS (subsidised) seats may be removed and the percentage of such seats may fall.

“Before the launch of the second round of bidding, a stakeholder consultation meet will be held on June 7 to discuss the proposed amendments on certain key aspects,” the civil aviation ministry said on Wednesday. On the routes awarded during the first round of bidding, any amendments will not apply as these will be prospective and not restrospective.

“The civil aviation ministry)/AAI (Airports Authority of India) is in the process of taking stock of the RCS documents for making it more simpler so that more airline operators could participate for wider implementation of the scheme (RCS) across the country,” the ministry said.  
25/05/17 The Asian Age

Air India still on a wing and prayer. Is it time to privatise it?

Air India could finally be getting on the nerves of the government. In an interview with Financial Express, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, the Civil Aviation Minister, said the Rs 30,000-crore bailout plan charted out in 2012 to save Air India has not solved problems. “TAP [Turn Around Plan] or the financial reconstruction plan were good intentions and money has been infused from the government’s kitty, but it has not solved any problems,” said the minister.

On the operational front, there are signs of a turnaround with improvement in passenger load factor, on-time performance and utilisation of aircraft. However, the company is facing a legacy issue which is pulling the national carrier down.

And so it begs the question: is it time to privatize the national carrier?

Its high operating costs do not leave room for the airline to take advantage of low aviation fuel prices the way other aviation companies do. As a result, the company barely makes any operating profit. In fact, it did turn profitable at the operating level in FY16 after a decade of losses.

Air India has over the years managed to pile up Rs 51,367.07 crore of debt. It managed to reduce it by Rs 5,000 crore by opting for a sale-and-lease-back of its wide-bodied Dreamliners. One would think that a similar arrangement can take care of the remaining debt, but the company has a debt of only Rs 15,900 crore on account of aircraft acquisition. There is a working capital component of Rs 7,500 crore, but it’s the remaining debt which cannot just be wished away.

Reports say that banks have refused to convert their debt to equity, learning from the Kingfisher experience that by converting it they lose all recourse to recovery. Also, Air India being an unlisted company, would first have to be listed for the banks to be able to sell their holding and recover money.There are a few alternatives available to the airline and divestment is not one of them. Many observers had spoken of divesting government’s stake in the company but the question is who in their right mind would want to pick up a company that is barely making operating profits, is on the verge of defaulting and carries a mountain of debt.
24/05/17 Shishir Asthana/Money Control

India's SpiceJet to lease in B787s for longhaul debut

SpiceJet has confirmed previous speculative reports pointing to its anticipated venture into the longhaul low-cost market.

The Indian budget carrier's chairman Ajay Singh told The Times of India in an interview last week that SpiceJet would lease two B787s, said to be B787-8s, for use in serving cities in Europe among other destinations.

"We are looking at starting the service by this winter," he said. "Two Boeing 787 Dreamliners will be leased and we may fly to cities in the UK, like Birmingham Int'l or London, where we can look beyond London Heathrow. A return fare of INR25,000-30,000 (USD385-462) for these sectors will have great demand."
25/05/17 ch-aviation

Will Airlines Cut Air Fares After GST Rollout? Don't Count On It

The Goods and Service Tax (GST) for most products and services have been finalised by the GST Council headed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Srinagar last week. As the Ministry of Civil Aviation tries to make flying affordable for the masses, GST on the economy class air travel has been lowered to 5 per cent, down 100 basis points from the existing service tax rate. Meanwhile, GST on business class air travel has been raised 3 per cent to 12 per cent. However airlines may not transfer the benefits of a lower tax on economy class tickets to passengers, said credit rating agency ICRA Ltd, adding that the GST tax reforms will not have any material impact on air passenger growth either.

"With airlines generating a major portion of their revenues from economy class, disallowance of input tax credit on inputs (excluding services) for economy class would result in an additional cost to the airlines. In the current scenario of pressure on yields due to increasing capacities and competitive intensity, the ability of the airlines to pass on the increased cost to the customers too will be restricted," Ms. Kinjal Shah, AVP and Co Head, Corporate Sector Ratings, ICRA Limited, said.

Breaking down the numbers, ICRA said while airlines can claim input tax credit on inputs such as spare parts, food items etc. but not on fuel charge on business class, for economy class they can only claim input tax credit on input services. In the current tax regime airlines can claim Cenvat (Central Value Added Tax) credit on all inputs (goods and services) excluding aviation fuel.
25/05/17 NDTV Profit

IndiGo offers flight tickets at Rs 11, sale valid till May 28

IndiGo airlines has recently announced that it will be offering flight tickets across its network at Rs 11. The surprise move comes just as other low-cost airlines such as Spicejet and GoAir launched similar offers to attract passengers during the monsoon season.
The offer announced by IndiGo will last for six days and tickets for the same can be booked on the airline’s website from May 23 until May 28. The scheme is valid for a travel period from June 26, 2017, to March 24, 2018. However, any booking that is done under the offer will be non-refundable.
Flights under the scheme are non-stop and  can be availed  from Agartala, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Dehradun, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Jammu, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Lucknow, Madurai, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Patna, Port Blair, Pune, Raipur, Ranchi, Srinagar, Thiruvananthapuram, Udaipur, Vadodara, Varanasi and Visakhapatnam airports.
24/05/17 Srividhya Iyer/

Central Govt. likely to allow Wi-Fi on flights by August-end

As per the TNN report, Central Government of India is likely to approve Internet on flights by the end of August this year. Lalit Gupta, Joint DG, Directorate General of Civil Aviation said, "We're awaiting clearance from the Department of Telecommunications.”

Gupta said, "International airlines are in talks with the aviation ministry. Currently, they have to switch off Wi-Fi in the Indian airspace (where inflight internet is banned on security grounds)." He also said that Indian carriers like Jet Airways and SpiceJet are slated to take deliveries of the Wi-Fi-fitted Boeing 737 MAX by mid-2018.
24/05/17 Travel Biz Monitor

Civil aviation dept’s letter blasts off from future, lands in present

We all know bureaucracy moves at snail’s pace. But sometimes it can still amaze you with its ‘post-dated’ communication. And you thought there were only post-dated cheques? Mirror correspondent filed an RTI application with Director of Civil Aviation, which dispatched a reply on ‘May 26’. The reply reached Mirror on May 24, with request to remain present for a meeting with a civil aviation official on May 25.

And the letter was unsigned by the director though the letter showed him to be the undersigned. Director of Civil Aviation Captain Ajay Chauhan served as a helicopter pilot and has over 25 years of experience in the aviation industry. In addition, he is also an MBA from one of the prestigious management institutes in the country. An RTI application was filed by Mirror correspondent on February 20 asking for several public documents pertaining to developments in the aviation sector.
25/05/17 Ahmedabad Mirror

100% FDI in Airlines Poses Threat To National Security

Allowing 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in scheduled Indian carriers could poses a serious “security threat” to the country’s “national security”, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) has told the government.

FIA has termed the government’s decision to relax the foreign investment norm to 100% as “unprecedented” in its latest salvo against the move. The decision on FDI has not only left the aviation industry bewildered but even many in the government have questioned the move.

FIA consists of IndiGo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways and Go Air, which have a combined domestic market share of around 80%.

“By India permitting 100% FDI in scheduled airlines, the Indian government will have no visibility on where control lies. Such a move could also have serious repercussions on India’s national security,” FIA said in a letter earlier this month.

“Such foreign owned and controlled ‘’Indian’’ airlines will also gain unhindered access to defence airfields in India. In this connection, it is also pertinent to note that countries, whose diplomatic relations with India are strained, may also use this window (of opportunity) to gain access to India,” it pointed out.

The FIA has argued that “no substantive country” allowed 100% FDI in airlines. “While the purported objective appears to be to bring in substantial investment into India, in fact, little or no investment will result from this, In addition, this decision will result in permanent damage to the domestic aviation industry and to India’s aim of building global international hub airports and global airlines in India. This decision has the potential to create permanent foreign monopolies on key routes into and out of India to the detriment of the Indian consumers.”
25/05/17 Defence Aviation Post

After SpiceJet, IndiGo offers flight tickets for as low as Rs 899

Days after budget-carrier SpiceJet announced fares for as low as Rs 12 (excluding taxes and fees), India's biggest airline by market share Indigo announced that it's offering flight tickets for less than Rs 900 on select routes.
The all-inclusive fare of Rs 899 on select one-way flights is applicable on bookings made at least 20 days prior to the travel date, the sirline said in a tweet.
To avail the offer, booking period is between 23 May 2017 and 28 May 2017 for travel between 26 June 2017 and 24 March 2018.
24/05/17 Business Today

China says no information on Sukhoi fighter jet, asks New Delhi to stick to arrangements

China said today it has no information on the missing Indian Air Force Sukhoi fighter jet with two pilots on board and asked India to stick to the arrangements reached between the two sides to maintain peace. “For the situation you mentioned, I have no relevant information to offer at the moment,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters when asked about the missing Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jet and whether China would assist India in finding the plane that took off from the Tezpur base in Assam for a routine training sortie nearly 24 hours ago.
The fighter plane has since been untraceable. “We have been following the situation in South Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh) very closely,” he said, apparently referring to reports that the jet was flying over the area before it was reported missing.
At the same time, he referred to the border dispute between India and China, saying that “first of all on the eastern section of the India-China border, China’s position is consistent and clear.” “We hope India can stick to the arrangements reached between the two sides and avoid disrupting peace and stability at the border areas,” Lu said.
24/05/17 PTI/Financial Express

Airports Authority of India plans to integrate terminals at airport

CHENNAI: The Airports Authority of India is moving closer to building new terminals proposed as part of phase II expansion of Chennai airport. A detailed project report has been submitted and a tender will soon be floated to find a contractor.
The proposal to build two buildings after demolishing the old ones and integrate them with the steel and glass terminals currently being used was announced when the new terminals were inaugurated in 2013.
Airport director G Chandramouli said, "We will be holding meeting with stakeholders [airlines and terminal users] to finalise details." The buildings, AAI hopes, will help push the aiport's passenger capacity to 30 million from the existing 23 million.
The old domestic building is lying unused while the old international building has been integrated with the new building and is being used as an international arrival. As the phase II expansion was taking time, the authorities demolished a wall, expanded the arrival area and installed more baggage conveyors for international passengers a year ago.
Sources said that the design of the new building would be in sync with the steel and glass buildings that were opened in 2013.
25/05/17 The Times Of India

American arrested with live bullets at Amritsar airport

An American national was arrested today for allegedly carrying five live cartridges when he was about to board a Delhi bound flight from the airport here.
SHO Parmdeep Kaur said that during the preliminary investigations George David Gilbert, resident of New York, told the police that he was shooter and had inadvertently carried the .38 bore cartridges.
She said the bullets were found during the screening of Gilbert’s luggage at the airport.
24/05/17 PTI/

‘Dummy aircraft on fire’ at Mumbai airport bags CII top award

‘Dummy aircraft on fire’ at Mumbai airport bags CII top award
 A reusable dummy aircraft made from scrap, which was set on fire during a mock drill, has earned Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd. (MIAL) the top prize at the 30th Renovative Kaizen Conference & Competition conducted by the CII, an official said here on Thursday.
The MIAL’s Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) team hit upon the idea of creating an in-house dummy aircraft using scrap material instead of the regular scrap bus, to conduct the mandatory biannual emergency drill in March at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.
“After the immense appreciation that we received from across the world following the mock drill at the airport when ‘the dummy aircraft on fire’ caught everyone’s attention, we decided to apply for the award,” the spokesperson added.
The MIAL team took two months to create the dummy aircraft that was first used for a realistic simulation of an aircraft crash for an airport emergency drill.
25/05/17 India

30 Kg Gold Missing from IGI Customs Vault, CBI Arrests Senior Official

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested a senior customs official on charges of pilferage of gold from the department's warehouse at Delhi's international airport.
The suspect, who was presently posted in Sonipat, was produced before a Delhi court and remanded to probe agency custody till 28th May.
It is being suspected that around 30 kilogrammes of gold, in the form of bullion and jewellery, had gone missing from the customs warehouse. The value of stolen gold was estimated at Rs 25 crore.
The theft of gold surfaced during an inspection of vaults by Stock Taking Committee between January 9 to February 21 this year.
25/05/17 News18

Airport project: Land acquisition to begin soon

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the Assembly on Wednesday that the government would go ahead with land acquisition for the development of Thiruvananthapuram Airport.

“Though the local people stand firm in their stance against land acquisition, the government is for going ahead with the development of the airport,” he said during the question hour.

He also called upon the people’s representatives to take initiative to make the local people aware about the importance of the airport development project. Instead of taking part in the protest against land acquisition, they should discuss with the people about the need for development, he said.
25/05/17 The New Indian Express

Man detained for unruly behaviour, family misses flight

DABOLIM: A family of five, which included a cancer patient, her son recovering from surgery and her 83-year-old mother, was detained at the Dabolim international airport on Sunday by a CISF personnel after a ruckus broke out over an unclear e-boarding pass on the passenger's phone.
On Monday, Patricia Afonso, the passenger and an employee of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in Mumbai, lodged a complaint with the airport police against the CISF, alleging harassment. On the same day, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) also lodged a complaint with the airport police saying that their assistant sub inspector was ill treated by a passenger on Sunday night.
However, the airport director B C H Negi informed that the Afosnso family apologised after they were shown CCTV footage of them behaving badly with the official. They were also shown written witness statements accounting their bad behaviour. He added that they later realised their mistake and apologised to the CISF.
25/05/17 The Times Of India

No going back on land acquisition for airports

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that his government is committed to acquire the land sought by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for the further development of Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode international airports.

‘There is opposition against the move to acquire the land and the government is determined to go ahead with the land acquisition for the further development of the airports,” the Chief Minister said in reply to a question by K. Muraleedharan.

The AAI is putting pressure on the government to expedite the land acquisition and hand over the land to them. The facilities in the two airports had not gone up commensurate to the increase in traffic and air traffic movements, he said.

The Chief Minister said people’s representatives should create awareness among the local people to part with the land for the development of the airport.
24/05/17 The Hindu