Thursday, March 23, 2017

Surrender routes unused for 6 months: DGCA to airlines

Mumbai: The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked airlines to surrender routes that they haven’t operated flights in even after six months of being allocated. The move comes after the aviation regulator found some routes being underutilised, and realised that these could benefit domestic airlines like Go Air, Vistara and Air Asia, which are drawing up plans for flying international routes over the next two years.

“The traffic rights allocated to an airline for a particular schedule period shall be fully utilized by it during the same schedule period. Failure to do so shall result in the unutilized rights reverting back to the aviation ministry at the end of the schedule period,” DGCA said in a notification on Tuesday.

Till now, airlines were allowed to carry forward the route allocation meant to be used in the summer schedule to the following winter schedule. Airlines follow a summer and winter schedule in India and often effect major changes to their schedules due to climatic conditions like fog.

“The defaulter airline may also apply afresh, if it so wishes, but it will be given the lowest priority among applicants, during allocation of rights. So, if say a Mumbai-Bali route is opted for by one carrier, but not operated, another airline can stake claim to it on priority for the next season,” said DGCA officials.

The regulator has also done away with the need for airlines to seek approval on code share agreements (arrangement where two or more airlines share the same flight) from the civil aviation ministry.
23/03/17 Aditya Anand/Mumbai Mirror

50% of US-bound Indian flyers to be impacted by US govt curbs on e-devices

Mumbai: Washington DC’s decision to impose curbs on taking iPads and laptops as cabin baggage will impact nearly half of the passengers between India and the US.

Data compiled by aviation consultancy CAPA showed that in FY16, at least 1.3 million passengers flew to the US via airports in the Persian Gulf, and accounted for 49 per cent of the 2.69 million passengers between the two countries.
An overwhelming 82 per cent of passengers to the US travelled via the Gulf, Europe or East Asia. Gulf airlines, especially Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways, carried the bulk of the 49 per cent flown on the route, an indication of their dominance in the market. About 27 per cent of US-bound passengers flew via Europe and 6.2 per cent via airports in East Asia. The data are for one-way traffic to the US.

The proportion of flyers from Mumbai and Delhi who travel (one stop) via the Gulf is 30-40 per cent. In case of Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai, the share is 53-63 per cent.

Air India and United Airlines operate non-stop flights from Mumbai and Delhi to the US, which could explain the relatively lower share of one-stop traffic.

Of the 2.69 million passengers, only 468,000 flew non-stop to the US on Air India or United flights. The share of non-stop traffic was around 17.4 per cent of the traffic on the India-US routes.

The US’ decision could see a shift of traffic from Gulf airlines to Air India, Jet Airways and European airlines. Jet Airways does not have a non-stop flight to the US but has code-share partnerships with Air France, KLM and Delta, enabling passengers to travel via Europe. Air India is planning to launch a non-stop Delhi-Washington service from July, expanding its US network. Its share of traffic has increased in the past year with the launch of a Delhi-San Francisco flight.
23/03/17 Anurag Phadnis/Business Standard

Ban on laptops, iPads in US-bound flights: Here is how Indian travellers will be affected

In another few days, US-bound flights from 10 airports in the Middle East will start banning laptops and other big electronic devices from cabin baggage. Travellers boarding a flight at these airports, or even those who have a connecting flight passing through these airports, will be able to carry large electronic devices only in the check-in baggage.

There is no clarity on why the US government has decided to implement this rule but the said reason is that this is to prevent terrorist attacks. The UK has followed with its own directive although the airports from where it is banning laptops etc in check-in baggage are in some occasions different compared from the list that the US has. For example, the Dubai airport is part of the US list but not the UK one.

Although, the move -- despite its security overtones -- has baffled experts who hint that it might have been done to help US airlines, which are facing touch challenge from the ones in the Middle East. After he became the US president, Donald Trump reportedly spoke to representatives from US airlines and agreed that the market condition for the US carriers was unfair.
Although primarily the move will affect the travellers in Middle East, it is also going to impact the travellers from India in a big big way because a lot of Indian travellers use Middle East airlines like Emirates and Qatar Airways.
The US government says that there is an increase in the threat level at 10 airports and hence it needs to take some measures.  "The US government is concerned about terrorists' ongoing interest in targeting commercial aviation... The enhancement in security will require that all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone be placed in checked baggage. Approved medical devices may be brought into the cabin after additional screening."
The ban will come into effect in the next few days. "Airlines were notified on March 21st at 3:00 am. EDT. They have 96 hours within which to comply," the US government notes.

Which are the affected airports?
According to the US government, these airports are: Queen Alia International Airport, Cairo International Airport, Ataturk International Airport, King Abdul-Aziz International Airport, King Khalid International Airport, Kuwait International Airport, Mohammed V Airport, Hamad International Airport, Doha, Dubai International Airport, and Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Of these the airports in Dubai, Jordan and Abu Dhabi are of particular interest to Indian travellers.
What all has been banned?
According to the US government, carrying the following items in cabin baggage is now banned:
-- Laptops
-- Tablets
-- E-Readers
-- Cameras
-- Portable DVD players
-- Electronic game units larger than a smartphone
-- Travel printers and scanners
23/03/17 India Today

US ban on carry-on e-gadgets will hit Indian travellers hard

Mumbai: One out of every two passengers who fly from India to the US transit through airports in the Middle East like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and from Saturday they will need to check in all electronic devices sized larger than a smart phone like laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, electronic games, DVD players, etc. Apart from not having their personal device for work or entertainment at airport lounges and on board ultra-long haul flights, air travellers will have to worry about the possibility of their e-gadgets getting lost, misplaced or stolen from their checked-in bags.
On Friday, the US department of homeland security banned "all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone'' from the carry on bags (bags carried on board by the flyer) of passengers who board direct flights to the US from the airports in Amman (Jordan), Cairo (Egypt), Istanbul (Turkey), Jeddah and Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait, Doha (Qatar), Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Airlines were notified by the US government at 3am EDT (12.30pm IST, Friday) about the ban and have been given 96 hours within which to comply.
As for the passengers who transit from any of these airports, they will have to pack their electronic goods into their check-in bag at their airport of origin.
So a passenger booked on a Mumbai-Dubai-Dallas flight will have to check in the laptop at Mumbai itself. The new security measures don't apply to passengers booked on Air India. But those booked on Jet Airways will need to check if their flights will transit through any of the above listed airports.
23/03/17 Times of India

DGCA deregisters 2 aircraft of grounded carrier Air Costa

New Delhi: The aviation regulator DGCA has deregistered two aircraft left with the grounded airline Air Costa.
According to sources, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) wrote to the airline that its two Embraer aircraft have been removed from the Civil Aircraft Register.
The Vijaywada-based airline has not flown since February and had cancelled bookings till May because of cash crunch and financial issues with the aircraft lessors.
The latest action by the DGCA will effectively allow lessors to take back the aircraft from Air Costa, the sources said.
The airline has also not paid its 450 employees salaries since January resulting in an exodus of employees, including 40 pilots.
The employees are also planning a protest at the airline’s headquarters in Vijaywada demanding payment of their salary.

Ban on cabin gadgets to impact Hyderabad fliers too, many say work will suffer

Hyderabad: The city might not have any direct connectivity with the US, yet several passengers flying to the other end of the globe might now have to 'check-in' their electronic gadgets at the time of boarding their flight from here, much like those headed to the UK.

The reason being the US and UK governments' recent move to ban devices such as tablets, portable DVD players, laptops and cameras from being carried as cabin baggage.The rule, implemented for `security' reasons, applies to passengers booked on nine carriers -Emirates, Etihad, Kuwait Airways, Qatar and Saudi Airways being among them - and flying out of certain countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Morocco and Qatar.
"On the face of it, the move appears to be ridiculous. Travelling to these far away nations includes a lot of transit time that, professionals like me, spend getting work done. But if we aren't allowed to carry our laptops or i-pads then what are we going to do?" asked Anoop Shastry, a senior-level executive with a city advertising firm.
There is heavy traffic to the Gulf countries from Hyderabad, which has multiple services to destinations such as Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.From there people continue their onward journey either to Europe or the US. The most sought-after airlines are Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.
23/03/17 Times of India

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad beats Air India official with slipper over seating issue, remains defiant

In yet another instance of politicians abusing power, a Shiv Sena MP has thrashed an Air India official with his slipper over seating issues.
According to an Air India spokesperson, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad hit an Air India staffer with his slipper over the issue of seat of his choice.
Gaikwad has confessed to having hit the AI employee, alleging the latter misbehaved with him.
"I wanted a business class seat which he couldn't arrange for me. I hit him several times with my slipper", Gaikwad said.
Continuing to be unapologetic, the Shiv Sena MP added, "I was about to throw him down the flight, I won't leave him till he apologises."
This is not the first time Shiv Sena leaders have resorted to goondaism in dealing with commoners.
Meanwhile, a senior airline official said, "Air India will file an FIR against Gaikwad in an hour's time at a police station near T2 Terminal of Delhi airport. We have filed an internal committee to inquire into the incident."
The official added, "The committee's report is almost ready and is going to be tabled to the Aviation Ministry in the next few hours. Gaikwad beat a senior Air India official (almost 60) on his chest, tore his shirt and then hit him 10-15 times with a slipper.
23/03/17 Virendrasingh Ghunawat/India Today

Civil Aviation Minister condemns physical assault on Air India staff

New Delhi: Condemning the physical assault of the Air India staff who was beaten up by Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, Civil Aviation Minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Thursday said no political party will encourage such an act.

"It is a question of human behaviour. Any citizen hitting an Air Line staffer doesn't make any sense. If there is anything, it can always be taken up. No citizen will behave like this. No political party will encourage physical assault. It should never have happened. Any physical assault should always be condemned," Raju told ANI.

Gaikwad earlier in the day admitted that he hit an Air India staffer with slipper followed by a business class sitting issue.

"Yes, I had hit the staff. Do you expect me to hear their abuses quietly? What should have I done? He first misbehaved with me," Gaikwad told ANI.

He further said that he had filed a complaint regarding the sitting arrangement but nobody was there to answer the problem, adding that he had take such an action.

"I will complain about this misbehaviour in the Parliament. They can complaint whoever they want to I will give my answer," he said.
23/03/17 Deccan Chronicle

Air India flight grounded in London after bird hit

Ahmedabad/London: National carrier Air India on Thursday said its Ahmedabad-London-Newark flight was grounded in London after a bird hit the aircraft.

"AI-171 Ahmedabad-London-Newark flight was grounded due to bird hit incident yesterday (Wednesday). Due to this unfortunate incident, London Newark and Newark London flight is cancelled," Air India said in a statement.

"Due to the bird hit, the nose of the aircraft is damaged and also the radome. Flight is grounded in London and maintenance/repair work is going on," it added.

"Engineering department is hopeful that the aircraft will be ready for next schedule, that is, from London to Ahmedabad," it said.
23/03/17 IANS/Economic Times

Malaysia Airlines eyes cooperation to tap Indian market

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) anticipates more cooperation with Indian airline companies to increase the volume of tourists from India to Malaysia.
Its CEO Peter Bellew said the airline had flights between Malaysia and five Indian cities – Bangalore, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai.
“All our existing permissions to the main cities in India are currently filled but we look forward to future cooperation with Indian carriers to ensure additional tourists to Malaysia,” he said in a statement.
“The recent equalisation of passenger service charges for Asean customers had led to a 15% increase in customers on those routes.”
“We look forward to the further equalisation on Indian and other international routes which will assist the 51 airlines at KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) operate on an equal basis with the carriers at KLIA2 (Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2).”
Bellew said MAS was grateful for the continued assistance by Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz and Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai in helping all airlines in Malaysia gain additional seat rights to operate in India.
22/03/17 Free Malaysia Today

Immigration grouse at Pune airport

Pune: Fed up with the “irrelevant and annoying questions” asked by Maharashtra police at the Pune airport’s immigration counters, officials from private airlines have urged the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to depute trained people from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to handle immigrations instead.

Suhas Jadhaw, station manager of Air India, Pune, has sent a letter to the AAI, mentioning that the immigration process needs a step-up. “The airport will be expanding and, like in other airports, the immigration counters need to be handled by people who have the requisite training. The process in Pune is a bit slow and as the expansion process is on, the passenger traffic, including the influx of foreign travellers, will also increase. Hence, officials from the MHA, who are trained for the job, need to be deputed at the airport,” the letter stated.

Jadhaw reasoned that those currently deployed at the counters were doing a shoddy job, saying, “It is the duty of the personnel to question fliers to ensure safety. But, sometimes, questions that are totally unrelated to safety or security are asked, which annoys the passengers. Due to this, flights often get delayed. So, we need trained officials for immigration counters.” According to airlines’ officials, around six flights have been delayed due to the process in the past month.

Four international flights take off from the airport for Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Frankfurt, with around 10,000- 20,000 passengers flying out for these destinations every month. Airport director Ajay Kumar said, “The proposal will be taken up with the appropriate authorities. The AAI is putting up more number of counters for passenger convenience and to reduce the time taken during immigration procedures.”

But, staff from other airlines also claimed that the immigration process is slow and needs to improve. “They take too much time for the process. We know they are trained, but they need to handle it in a more professional manner. Sometimes, they ask silly questions to the fliers, which should be avoided,” said an officer from Jet Airways on condition of anonymity. In defence, a staff deputed at the Pune airport immigration department, who did not wish to be named, added, “We are doing what we have been asked to do so. We are trained officials. If something goes wrong during the process, who will take responsibility?”
23/03/17 Sushant Ranjan/Pune Mirror

A-G clears the air on Fiji-India codeshare

The Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service, Aviation and Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, cleared the air as to why a codeshare agreement was not signed with Air India.

Fiji currently has a code share agreement with India's Jet Airways, but according to Opposition parliamentarian Viliame Gavoka, Air India has a lot wider spread in particular within India itself.

"We have no problem with Air India and in fact we wanted to do codeshare with both of them, but Air India wanted exclusivity," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"They said you do a codeshare with us and don't do codeshare with any other airlines in India.

"We told this to the Prime Minister of India and the honourable minister and his officials were actually quite astounded at that."
23/03/17 Faria Begum/Fiji Times

Indians no longer need to pay RM370 to visit M'sia

Kuala Lumpur: A new visa scheme for Indian tourists, aimed at increasing their numbers, will be introduced on April 1.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the new scheme would see Indian tourists only paying US$20 (RM88.50) for a 15-day visit.

Approval, he said, would be within 48 hours.

Nazri said the announcement would be made during the Prime Minister's official trip to India next month.

Earlier, he blamed the fees charged for the e-visa application for Indian tourists as one of the factors leading to the drop in ­visitors.

He said the company managing the e-visa applications charged an additional RM270 per application apart from the RM108 payable to the Malaysian and Indian governments.

"Countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia are visa-free for Indian tourists.
23/03/17 Daily Express

Body of Indian woman stranded at Istanbul airport since 10 days, as officials can't read marking on coffin

New Delhi: Sushant Shahi is waiting for his mother. He knows she isn't alive, but wants to say a final goodbye. A Danish citizen of Indian origin, Rita Shahi had left the cosy hills of Dehradun in Uttarakhand years ago to settle in the Scandinavian country. However, she wished to be cremated according to Hindu rituals.
"My mother suffered a massive stroke on March 6," said Sushant. "It took around 10 days to complete the formalities and the medical examinations in Denmark itself before we could get her home." While Rita's body was put on a flight, Sushant and his wife boarded a different aircraft to fly to India.
"We were shocked to learn at Delhi airport that her coffin had not arrived," Sushant said. "We were told that the coffin was detained at the Istanbul airport, where it had to be loaded on to the flight bound for Delhi. I was told that Istanbul airport authorities had claimed that they were not able to read Danish and that new documents, translated in English, must be provided before they could release the body to be flown to Delhi."
Rita's husband Surya Bikram Shahi, a noted social activist from the Gorkha community in Dehradun, is still waiting to see her for the last time Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh asked this newspaper on Wednesday to assure the family that he would make sure that the Indian embassy takes care of the issue.
"I want to tell the bereaved family that all help possible will be coming to them from the Indian embassy. No problems should come their way from now on," Singh told Mail Today when apprised of the matter. Rita obtained Danish citizenship after she found employment in the country's medical sector. Sushant was with his mother, studied there and also found employment in the Nordic nation.
23/03/17 Siddhartha Rai/India Today

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

India business leaders plan to avoid Gulf carriers in flights to the US

Mumbai: Business leaders and companies in India say they are planning to avoid flying to the US on Gulf carriers so they can carry their laptops and tablets on board with them, even if it means paying more for tickets.

The US has imposed a ban on devices bigger than a smartphone in cabin baggage on flights from eight countries in the Middle East region including the UAE and Qatar.

"I won’t travel with those airlines via the Gulf anymore," said Asoke K Laha, the founder and chief executive of InterraIT in India, a California-based IT company, who flies to the US regularly via Abu Dhabi with Jet Airways and Etihad Airways in business class. "I need my laptop. I read books on the iPad."

He would opt to fly with United Airlines or with Lufthansa via Europe instead, he said.

In addition, he plans to ask his employees to avoid travelling via the Middle East, even if the fares are more expensive on alternative routes.

"All of them have laptops, iPads and they need to work on the plane," Mr Laha said.

India is a key market for Gulf airlines that they have been heavily focusing on in terms of expanding their capacity, as rising incomes are leading to Indians taking more trips abroad. With a population of more than 1.2 billion, India has enormous scope for growth in travel demand.

Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Airways all carry passengers from India to the US via their Gulf hubs.

These airlines are likely to experience a negative effect in terms of India bookings to the United States because of the move, while other airlines "will get the benefit", said Archit Gupta, the chief executive of Atom Aviation Services in India.

United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Air India and Lufthansa are among the airlines that offer alternative routes to the US from India, which would allow passengers to carry their laptops and other devices with them on flights. Jet Airways, in which Etihad owns a 24 per cent stake, also offers flights to the US via Europe.
22/03/17 Rebecca Bundhun/The National

Device ban opens US/UK skies for carriers of exempt countries

New Delhi: The Trump administration and the British government’s decision to not allow passengers flying from certain airports in West Asia and Africa to carry their personal electronic devices in cabin baggage could open an opportunity for Singapore Airlines, Air India and other carriers.

David Lim, General Manager India, Singapore Airlines, told BusinessLine, that “some Indian customers will switch (to Singapore Airlines for its non-stop service connecting Singapore and San Francisco),” but he was equally clear that the airline will not market the ban. “I do not think we will market it by saying fly Singapore Airlines and you can use your laptop or iPad. We will always focus on connectivity, convenience and service. This is how we will also market our flights to the American West Coast, irrespective of the ban.”

Vinod Hejmadi, Director (Finance) Air India, was of the opinion that the ban could help the airline increase the passengers it carries in business and first class.

Kapil Kaul, Chief Executive Officer, South Asia, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, feels the ban could result in a business-class shift in passenger traffic, but this is not expected to be anything significant except for serious passenger inconvenience. According to him, it is likely to be a short-term measure.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association’s calculations show the British ban will impact about 393 scheduled passenger flights per week, or about 2.7 per cent of the total international scheduled passenger flights to the UK, while the Trump administration’s move will impact about 350 scheduled flights a week, or about 2 per cent of total international flights to America.
22/03/17 Business Line

US, UK ban on electronics in cabin not to affect Air India services

New Delhi: Director-Finance of Air India Vinod Hejmadi on Wednesday said the recent ban imposed by the United States and United Kingdom on carriage of I-pads and Laptops will not affect the passengers of Air India who travel through four daily non-stop operations. Hejmadi said the rule will not be applied on the passengers travelling through the national carrier from here through the non-stop flight to the four cities in United States viz New York, Newark, Chicago and San Francisco.
Apart from this, the ban will also be not applicable on the one-stop operations from Ahmedabad to Newark via London.
“Air India is closely watching the developments and the impact of the ban on the U.S. Routes. It is felt that the recent development will have a positive impact on Air India,” said Hejmadi.
He also added that the ban may help Air India to improve their load factors in the premium segment i.e F and J class.
“The USP of the national carrier has been its non-stop operations to U.S. with the B777 aircraft and has been very popular with the Indian diaspora for its non-stop connectivity. The load factors of Air India on the U.S. routes have been consistently above 80%. Even the travel in F and J class has been very good,” he said.
This statement came after news surfaced that of an al-Qaeda affiliate is perfecting the techniques for hiding explosives in batteries and battery compartments of electronic devices.
The intelligence received has led the United States and United Kingdom to ban devices larger than a cellphone from certain flights.
22/03/17 ANI/Financial Express

Domestic aviation market grows 16% in February

The domestic aviation market grew 16 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in February with the domestic airlines carrying 8.7 million passengers, compared with 7.5 million a year ago during the same month. The number of passengers during April-February increased 22 per cent y-o-y, indicating a continuing structural upswing in demand, the latest monthly data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) showed.
The passenger-load factor (PLF) of the industry was constant at 83 per cent during the month and Indigo, Jet Airways and SpiceJet continued to hold around a 71 per cent market share. After reporting its highest ever load factor in December (93.7 per cent), SpiceJet again hit a similar high in February.
Indigo’s PLF was 88 per cent, down 230 bps m-o-m from 90 per cent a month ago. Including Jet-lite, Jet Airways’ PLF came at 86 per cent, down 20 bps m-o-m. Indigo maintained its leadership position by carrying 34.19 lakh passengers in February. As a result, the market share of the company during the month stood at 39.5 per cent, down 30 bps m-o-m. Jet Airways and Air India came distant second and third, by flying 13.67 lakh and 11.71 lakh passengers, respectively, within the country. The market share of the two carriers in February stood at 15.8 per cent and 13.5 per cent, respectively. The market share of SpiceJet stood at 13.1 per cent, the highest ever since April 2016.
22/03/17 Indian Express

Even as IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet keep stranglehold on 71% marketshare, domestic aviation grows 16% in February

Mumbai: The domestic aviation market grew 16% Y-o-Y in February with the domestic airlines carrying 8.7 million passengers, compared to 7.5 million a year ago during the same month. The number of passengers during April-February increased 22% Y-o-Y, indicating a continuing structural upswing in demand, the latest monthly data released by the director general of civil aviation (DGCA) showed.
The passenger-load factor (PLF) of the industry was constant at 83% during the month and Indigo, Jet Airways and SpiceJet continued to hold around a 71% market share. After reporting its highest ever load factor in December (93.7%), SpiceJet again hit a similar high in February.
Indigo’s PLF was 88%, down 230 bps M-o-M from 90% a month ago. Including Jet-lite, Jet Airways’ PLF came at 86%, down 20bps M-o-M.
Indigo maintained its leadership position by carrying 34.19 lakh passengers in February. As a result, the market share of the company during the month stood at 39.5 %, down 30 bps M-o-M. Jet Airways and Air India came distant second and third, by flying 13.67 lakh and 11.71 lakh passengers respectively within the country. The market share of the two carriers in February stood at 15.8% and 13.5% respectively. The market share of SpiceJet stood at 13.1%, the highest ever since April 2016.
Overall, the number of passengers carried by airlines in the January and February period, within the country stood at 182.34 lakh. In just the first two months of CY17 the total number of passengers carried by domestic airlines has already crossed that of during the first quarter of CY16 by over 20%.
With respect to the On Time Performance (OTP) of airlines in the domestic market computed from four airports of Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai, SpiceJet, Indigo, Vistara occupies the first three positions in the list with 81.1%, 79.7% and 72.6% flights operating on time, respectively.
22/03/17 Financial Express

Jet Airways, Air India to gain from US ban on flight gadgets

New Delhi: Jet Airways and Air India will benefit from the ban imposed by the US government on large electronic devices from cabin luggage on passenger flights from eight Muslim-majority countries, as business travellers prefer to work on laptops and iPads while on long-duration flights, industry executives told ET.
The ban will apply to non-stop flights to the US and the UK from 10 international airports serving the cities of Cairo in Egypt; Amman in Jordan; Kuwait City in Kuwait; Casablanca in Morocco; Doha in Qatar; Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Istanbul in Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Travel industry insiders say that business travellers prefer to work on board and taking away laptops would surely make them shift to Indian carriers.
“A large number of travellers flying on these routes are business travellers and they prefer to work on board for their meetings. Naturally, they would prefer an airline that allows them to carry their laptops in the flight as cabin baggage,” said Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer at, an online travel portal.
The three Middle Eastern carriers – Emirates, Etihad and Qatar – carry about 50% of the traffic going to the US out of India. Jet Airways did not comment on the issue. Air India, however, believes that such a move will surely benefit.
22/03/17 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Ban on laptops, tabs on flights set to hurt techies

Bengaluru: Directi CEO Bhavin Turakhia travels to Dubai, San Francisco and Los Angeles on work regularly. Emirates and Etihad are his preferred airlines. He says the US and UK ban on passengers carrying electronic devices -anything bigger than a cellphone -in their cabin baggage on flights originating in the Middle East will inconvenience him enormously and he may be forced to look at other airline options.
"It's a 14-hour flight to San Francisco or Los Angeles and I spend most of that time working on my laptop," said Turakhia, who travels first class. He, along with his brother Divyank, has business interests spanning the US, Dubai and India.
Last year, he sold one of their companies -to a Chinese consortium for $900 million. Turakhia said he may now look at British Airways, Lufthansa or Singapore Airlines "though none of them is as good as Etihad or Emirates."
The new US rule applies to ten airports in eight co untries in the Middle East, including the Dubai International Airport that has emerged as a major transit hub for Indians travelling to the US, including for many IT professionals from cities like Bengaluru. Hours after the Trump administration's an nouncement, the United Kingdom, too, made a similar decision. Passengers flying directly to Britain from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey will be banned from taking laptops and tablet computers into the plane cabin, the UK government announced.
While some IT professionals said they would be inconvenienced without a laptop or iPad, some said "work" was not their major concern. "We can at best respond to some pending emails, but we can't code midair. Any technical work requires us to collaborate with the teams on ground, hence it's not very productive working onboard," said an IT professional working with an Indian IT firm.
The bigger concern for many is about the possible theft and damage to their gadgets if those go into checkedin baggage.
22/03/17 Avik Das & Anand J/Times of India

In-flight restrictions: Connecting flights to US via Gulf not a great idea

New Delhi: Indian passengers headed to the US will be inconvenienced by the new Trump administration order regarding carriage of certain electronic devices on US-bound flights from West Asian (Middle East) and North African countries even though India does not feature on the restriction list.

Travellers headed to the US from eight Muslim-majority countries in West Asia and North Africa, including from major global hubs like Dubai, have been barred from carrying electronic devices larger than a cell phone, like cameras and laptops, as cabin baggage under a new flight restriction enacted on Tuesday by the Trump administration.

Since, under the new order, all US-bound passengers originating or transiting through airports like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Doha will have to carry any electronic devices larger than a smartphone in checked luggage only, this could mean that any Indian passengers, who have historically travelled to the US via these hubs, would have to look for direct flights.
While this might prove beneficial for certain airlines, like Air India which operates direct flights to the US and expects more passenger traffic to come its way as a result of the restrictions, it will mean that Indian passengers will have fewer options in terms of the airline they can take and ticket pricing.
The number of Indians who travel to the US via the Gulf is not small either. According to a Centre for Aviation report of 2015, passengers from India account for a third of all passengers on Gulf airlines' US routes. Further, of the two top carriers on the India-US routes, Air India and Emirates, the latter will be hit by the restrictions.
22/03/17 Business Today

Udan demand puts busy airport in a fix

The civil aviation ministry has sought over 20 slots at the severely congested Mumbai airport for the operation of flights under the government’s regional connectivity scheme.

This demand has, however, left the airport operator, Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL), in a spot, as there is a severe capacity crunch, amid increasing requests from existing operators for allotment of additional slots. Delhi airport, which has been asked to provide24 slots, is also facing a similar situation.

The connectivity scheme, known as UDAN or Udey Desh Ka Aam Nagrik, seeks to connect airports not in use and under-served airports as well as make flying more affordable with the ticket price being capped at Rs 2,500 for a onehour flight.

The state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) is the implementing agency for the scheme, and has received 43 initial proposals from 11 bidders covering 92 airports. Out of these aerodromes, 12 are under-served and 50 are not in use.
22/03/17 Aditya Anand/Mumbai Mirror

Metro VII may extend to domestic airport

Mumbai: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is likely to extend Metro VII (Dahisar-Andheri via Western Express Highway) till the domestic airport to ensure better ridership. Work on the project, which will cover 16.47km, is on in full swing and it is expected to decongest roads besides reducing overcrowding in Western Railway suburban trains.
Metropolitan commissioner U P S Madan said, "We will have to extend the corridor by 3km near Chhatrapati Shivaji airport (domestic) station, to be built as part of the Metro III corridor."
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is carrying out a feasibility study of the extension route after which a final call will be taken. Madan said, "The line will pass below the existing WEH station of Metro I (Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar) and move underground before terminating at the domestic airport." The extension is expected to cost between Rs 1,500 and 2,000 crore. Madan futher said that the extended route could see two or three stations.
22/03/17 Manthank Mehta/Times of India

Airfares in India among ‘lowest’ globally: Jayant Sinha

New Delhi: India has one of the lowest and “most competitive” airfares in the world despite high cost of planes and fuel, Union Minister Jayant Sinha said on Wednesday. “These are the two most important costs for an airline. Our taxes are also quite high,” said the Minister of State for Civil Aviation.
“But when you look at pricing in India, as far as Indian airlines are concerned, I can assure you that we are among the lowest and most competitive air fares in the world,” he added.
In efforts to make air travel more affordable as well as connect unserved and under-served airports, the government has come out with the regional connectivity scheme.
Under the scheme — UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) –fares are capped at Rs 2,500 for one-hour flights.
“Our effort is to provide air services at an affordable cost and the regional connectivity scheme UDAN is aimed at that only,” Sinha said.
At an event organised by All India Management Association (AIMA), Sinha said the country’s economy is delivering high quality products and services at very affordable prices for the consumers.
22/03/17 PTI/Indian Express

BIACL gets sweet deal for Kurnool airport; Re 1 per acre of govt land

Vijayawada: Government land for just Re 1 per acre has been given to Bhogapuram International Airport Corporation Limited (BIACL) for establishment of a greenfield airport at Orvakal in Kurnool district, though the market value of the said land is Rs 8 lakh per acre.  A total of 638.83 acres have been given for the purpose in such a manner.

The decision was taken by the government after Investment and Infrastructure department had made the proposal to the government, citing the importance of the project. Government is keen on developing greenfield airport at Orvakal, seeing a future potential in the district, which is second largest and economically well-balanced.

With plans afoot for the development of Kurnool district as a hub for mineral-based industries and food processing and with massive solar and wind power plants being set up in the district, needed for air connectivity was considered a necessity.

Determining the market price of the land, government on February 2 had issued a government order alienating the land to BIACL for Rs 8 lakh per acre. However on February 6, BIACL managing director M Venkateswarlu wrote a letter to the government stating that the market value of the land fixed is high, which is a heavy burden on BIACL for implementing the unviable airport project. He said the project has been taken up in public interest even though it is financially unviable.
22/03/17 New Indian Express

Ethiopian Airlines to Launch Cargo Services to Ahmedabad

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest cargo operator in Africa, announced the addition of Ahmedabad, a fifth cargo gateway to India, to its global cargo network as of March 28, 2017.

Ahmedabad, India’s second oldest stock exchange and largest producer of cotton, is an emerging economic and industrial hub of India, inhabiting a population of more than six million.

Group CEO Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, said:

“Ethiopian cargo service to India dates back to the early 90’s; launching our first cargo station in Mumbai. Complementing the booming economic relations between India and the African continent at large, we have made available dependable cargo services to Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and now to Ahmedabad; our fifth Cargo Gateway to India.

“While operating in the major trade lanes between Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia, our cargo network is efficiently linking the Indian sub-continent and Africa farther with China and Hong Kong; providing the Indian market with minimum weekly import capacity of 240 tons per week. I believe our new services to Ahmedabad will further strengthen the existing trade and commercial ties between the two fastest growing regions of the world.”
22/03/17 Aviation Tribune

Meet Sneha Sharma, The Fearless Female Pilot Who Is Also A Racecar Driver

For generations, women were taught to define their boundaries, stay inside the house, forget about their dreams and capabilities and follow the rules set by the patriarchal society.
But women these days are doing everything but follow those bigoted notions.
Mumbai-based Sneha Sharma is ruling two worlds that are highly governed by men- car racing and air pilot. The 25-year-old is completely unaffected by the fact that she's a rarity in the world she's dealing in.
Her father was in the merchant navy and she has sailed extensively with him. It was then when she realised her love for machines.
Sneha's first break came when she was invited to participate in the National Karting Championship. From there, her career skyrocketed. She even participated in the prestigious race at the Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida.
“The constant struggle to balance equally consuming passions is worth it,” she said, as reported by DNA.
At the age of 17, she decided to take up flying to fund her passion and the age of 20 she joined Indigo Airlines. Since then, all her time is divided between her life as a pilot and her passion as a racecar driver.
22/03/17 Shewali Tiwari/India Times

Growth in non-scheduled movement of charter planes at Belagavi airport

Bellagavi: Despite less than expected pace of growth in the domestic sector, Belagavi airport has witnessed commendable growth in flight movement of non-scheduled small-size charter planes.

A “B” category airport, it is maintained by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and is perhaps third only to Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport and Mangaluru International Airport to record highest number of such schedules in the State. The year 2016 (from January 1 to December 31) witnessed as many as 60 private airlines/operators landing/taking off from Belagavi airport. A total of 217 arrivals and 219 departures (totally 436) wherein a total of 648 passengers from different parts of the country and abroad, State and Central government services, defence, and political parties embarked and disembarked from these non-scheduled planes here during the same period.

These movements, essentially by smaller aircrafts owned by private airlines/operators, recorded a growth of at least 30% over the preceding year 2015.

However, a comparative analysis was yet to be made, Vinay Arora, Air Traffic Controller In-Charge with responsibilities of Chief Security Officer, Fire In-Charge, Public Grievance Officer and other duties as assigned by AAI told The Hindu here on Tuesday.
22/03/17 Vijaykumar Patil/The Hindu

Navi Mumbai Airport project: 844 families to be rehabilitated in a year, says CIDCO

Mumbai: As many as 844 families, being displaced by the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) project, could be rehabilitated within a year, officials from the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO ) said Tuesday. They said the development work on the two pockets identified for rehabilitation of project-affected persons (PAPs) was mostly complete, while the remaining work would be completed in a year.
CIDCO officials said pocket numbers 1 and 2 in Vadghar village had been redeveloped for the families. “Provision of basic facilities, including building roads for connectivity, water storage facilities, along with other requirements including building schools, hospitals, electricity, have been majorly completed.
22/03/17 Indian Express

Helicopter service to far flung areas, including Gurez, delayed

Srinagar: The JK Government is already facing sharp criticism for inordinate delay in finalizing bidding process for selecting the operator.
The roll out of much-hyped subsidized helicopter service to far flung areas of J&K including Gurez, Keran and Machil has faced further delay due to “failure” of Pawan Hans Limited - the Central Public Sector Enterprise providing helicopter services- in arranging pilots and “adequate number” of helicopters.
Sources in State Government told Greater Kashmir that there is delay on part of the Pawan Hans Limited to start the service to far-flung areas of the State. “We had communicated them to start the service in first week of March but they have not been able to do it so far,” Commissioner Civil Aviation, S. Katoch told Greater Kashmir. “They are facing problems of pilots. They have verbally told us that their pilots have proceeded on training.”
The JK Government is already facing sharp criticism for inordinate delay in finalizing bidding process for selecting the operator.
A senior bureaucrat, wishing anonymity, said the premier helicopter carrier is facing shortage of pilots and helicopters. “They have made only one helicopter available but we have asked them to arrange another helicopter,” he said. The Pawan Hans, however, attributed the delay to logistic issue.
22/03/17 Umer Maqbool/Greater Kashmir

India's Alliance Air considering int'l ops

Alliance Air (India) is planning to make its international debut in the coming months with flights to Sri Lanka.

The regional director of parent carrier Air India's southern region, Captain S Arulman, told The New Indian Express flights from Madurai to Colombo Int'l are currently in the planning process.

Alliance Air currently operates two ATR42-300s and eight ATR72-600s on scheduled passenger flights to thirty-four destinations across India.
22/03/17 ch-aviation

Ban on aeromodelling lifted, with conditions

Mumbai: Almost six months after a strict ban was imposed on sending up drones, aeromodels and other light flying objects, the Mumbai police has lifted it conditionally. Flying of modelled aircraft -not drones -with restrictions on the height and area of flight has been allowed. But the flyers have been asked to submit a video recording of their activities.
TOI had reported how the ban was affecting many engineering students who could not complete their projects at the end of their academic year. Their aeromodelling projects had been stalled since October 2016 when cops termed the objects as security threats.
In a letter dated March 16, the police laid down seven conditions allowing the Indian Academy of Model Aeronautics (IAMA) to carry out flying and training activities at Mahalaxmi racecourse. The flyers have been asked to restrict the height of flight to less than 100 metres, not go beyond the perimeter of the racecourse, to shoot the flying activities from the ground and sub mit a recording to the local police station, and not to install GPS system or camera in the flying objects. In addition to the technical restrictions, the police have asked that the institute should ensure the safety of its members and make sure their activities do not affect the people in the racecourse's vicinity .
22/03/17 Yogita Rao/Times of India

Airport rooftop solar array joins power grid

Ahmedabad: A rooftop solar plant at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport commissioned on Tuesday, a statement from airport officials said.
"As an initiative towards fulfilment of the government of India's target for installation of 40GW rooftop solar power plants by 2022, Airport Authority of India (AAI) has commissioned a grid-connected 700kWp rooftop solar plant at Ahmedabad airport. This will be the largest rooftop plant commissioned in Ahmedabad and is expected to give a big boost to renewable energy," the statement from the city airport director's office said.
The grid-connected rooftop solar system has been installed with a subsidy from the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE). The power from the solar plant will be used to meet the captive requirements of Terminal-1 buildings and the surplus power, if any, shall be fed to the grid under the net-metering arrangement with the distribution companies, the statement said.
22/03/17 Times of India

SFI members stage protest, want Chandigarh international airport to be named after Bhagat Singh

Chandigarh: Demanding that the name of the international airport be changed to Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Chandigarh, the Student Federation of India (SFI) today held a protest here. Police used water cannons on the protesters who were marching towards Haryana Vidhan Sabha, near Housing Board light point, leaving one of the agitators injured. One of the members of SFI, Naresh Kumar, was injured when the police personnel of Chandigarh and Haryana police used water cannons and mild lathi-charge for dispersing more than 250 members of SFI. The injured Naresh was rushed to the Civil Hospital, Sector 6.
More than 500 police personnel of the Chandigarh and Haryana police were deployed for preventing the entry of protesters. The protesters had assembled near the Sector 7 roundabout and were stopped at the road separating Sector 7 and Sector 18.
Meanwhile, former Union Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has also called upon the government of India to immediately name the Chandigarh International Airport as Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Chandigarh.
22/03/17 Indian Express

Man held at airport with fake travel documents

Ahmedabad: Ketan Patel (50), a native of Borivali in Mumbai, was nabbed at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International airport for travelling on a fake passport. He was handed over to Sardarnagar police for further investigation.
Patel was using a fake passport issued in the name of Abdul Razzak.
When Patel landed at the airport from Muscat, local immigration officials found something amiss.
A closer examination of documents revealed that Patel's passport was not genuine. Sardarnagar police officials said Patel confessed to the offence. He said he used to run a diamond business in Dubai but ran into a bad time financially.
"He said that he was suffering from a severe financial crisis as payments from his clients were delayed. In the meantime, he had issued a cheque of 36,000 dirhams which was dishonoured and his passport was seized," cops said.
Patel realized that he could not stay in Dubai any longer and got in touch with an agent called Aadil, who provided a fake passport for 10,000 dirhams.
22/03/17 Times of India

Puducherry all set to regain its place in the aviation map

Puducherry: Flight services are set to resume from the Puducherry Airport with two operators coming on board the Centre’s Regional Connectivity Scheme to connect the city with a handful of other destinations in the south.

SpiceJet and Air Odisha will be launching operations through the airport here under the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) scheme envisaged by the Union Government to boost air connectivity between smaller cities, make flying more affordable and lay the ground for balanced regional growth.

“The Civil Aviation Ministry is expected to make a formal announcement in this regard in a few days,” Chief Secretary Manoj Parida told The Hindu.
SpiceJet, which had been the first to launch flight services from here in 2013, re-enters air space over Puducherry with direct flights connecting Puducherry and Hyderabad. The airline operator is expected to press in a 60-seater ATR aircraft.

Air Odisha will operate flights on the Chennai-Puducherry-Salem-Bengaluru circuit with a 21-seater aircraft.

“We’re looking at restoration of air connectivity from the first week of April,” Mr. Parida said.

In October, 2016, the Government of Puducherry had signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under Regional Connectivity Scheme with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Airports Authority of India.
22/03/17 M. Dinesh Varma/The Hindu