Sunday, November 19, 2017

Anti-hijacking law: MoCA may delegate some powers to Home Minister

New Delhi: As the NIA probes the first case under the amended Anti-Hijacking Act, the civil aviation ministry plans to delegate certain powers under the stringent law to the home ministry, according to a government official.
Once the powers are delegated, the home ministry would not have to refer every case with respect to issuing notification for designating an investigation officer under the Act, the official at the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said.
The incident of a Mumbai-Delhi Jet Airways flight making an emergency landing at Ahmedabad airport on October 30 following a hijack threat is the first case to be taken up under the amended act.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), that comes under the home ministry, is probing the case of an individual who has been detained for allegedly planting a note about hijackers and a bomb in the toilet of the Jet Airways flight.
The official said there are plans to delegate certain powers under the Act to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
This law comes under the civil aviation ministry and only it can issue notifications pertaining to the Act. Through an executive order, the ministry can delegate powers under the Act to the home ministry, the official noted. On November 7, the civil aviation ministry issued a notification authorising the NIA to carry out probe in the Jet Airways incident.
19/11/17 PTI/Indian Express

A blowback in India's booming aviation industry: Surge in consumer complaints

Richa Malhotra is still aghast at the “insensitivity” of the airline she flew with. The tech consultant in Delhi booked a flight to Patna on October 29 to attend her best friend’s wedding. Much to her horror, the evening flight of one of the low-cost airlines got cancelled. Malhotra, 31, was not kept in the loop. “There was no prior information.

They just did it arbitrarily,” she fumes, alleging that no alternative arrangement was made by the airline. “I missed my friend’s wedding. Flyers are being taken for a ride,” she rues.

Malhotra is not the only one nursing a gripe. Sonali Khatta, an HR recruiter in Delhi, alleges that she was denied boarding because the flight was overbooked. “They just want to fill the plane. What airlines forget is that we are not cattle. Show some heart.”

A sea of disgruntled flyers, unfortunately, threatens to expose the ugly underbelly of Indian aviation. Ironically, a boom in the sector may have much to do with consumer distress. For the second time this year, air travel volume breached the one crore monthly mark, with 1.04 crore passengers flying domestic airlines in October. Passengers carried by domestic airlines during the first 10 months of this year totalled 9.54 crore as against 8.14 crore during the previous year’s corresponding period, a jump of 17.30% according to data released by regulator DGCA (director general of civil aviation) on Friday.
A recent report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) tipped India to overtake the UK to become the third largest air passenger market by 2025. China, according to the report released last month, and the US will occupy the top two slots, respectively. By 2036, India will have 478 million airline passengers, more than those of Japan and Germany combined, it added.
Unfortunately, a boom in flying is having an unanticipated blowback: a surge in consumer complaints. From 606 lodged against the erring airlines in September this year, the number shot up to 656 in October, according to DGCA data. While 30.5% of the flyers blamed customer service, 16% pointed fingers at flight problems like sudden cancellation and delay, 22% had issues with their baggage and 7.5% didn’t like staff behaviour.
19/11/17 Rajiv Singh/Economic Times

Most consumer complaints against 'Air India', Indigo at top in OTP

New Delhi: The performance of government air carrier 'Air India' was once again the most poor in October in terms of people's complaints registered whereas on OTP scale ie timely flight take off , the nation's biggest airline Indigo stood at numero uno position.

According to figures of Directorate General of Civil Aviation, some 656 complaints were received against Airline companies.
The November so far saw the passenger rush cross the one crore four lakh mark.
19/11/17 UNI

More flight services from Hubballi on cards

Hubballi: MP Pralhad Joshi has stated that discussion is on with a major airlines company which has shown interest to introduce air service from Hubballi to Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
"Meanwhile, the much-awaited Hubballi-Mumbai flight service by the Air India will be launched most probably on December 1, as a slot for Hubballi-Mumbai air service has been allotted for three days a week, at Mumbai airport," he said.
He told media persons here on Sunday that attempts would be made to get upgraded Hubballi Airport inaugurated and lay the foundation stone for IIT-Dharwad building construction, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after Gujarat Assembly elections.
Hubballi-Haveri Road (NH 4) six-laning work, inauguration of KIMS super-speciality hospital, and upgradation of Tadas-Kalghatagi-Dharwad-Hebsur-Annigeri Road into a national highway would also be clubbed with that function, which is likely to be organised next month, after December 18. If the prime minister cannot come, a Union minister would be invited, he said.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, around 23,000 LPG kits have been distributed so far in the district, he said.
When asked about Union minister Anantkumar Hegde's controversial statement about Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, he stated that all should maintain decency, irrespective of their political affiliation.
On behalf of the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Mr Joshi handed over Rs 12.82 compensation cheque to daughters of Prabhu Betadur and Ratna Betadur who were killed in LPG cylinder blast at Kamadolli in Kudgol taluk last year.
19/11/17 Deccan Herald

DGCA to take views of all affected parties in IndiGo probe

New Delhi: Aviation regulator DGCA will gather point of views of all affected parties during the probe into the recent incident of IndiGo staff assaulting a passenger at the airport in the national capital, a senior government official said.

The incident, that happened on October 15, was condemned by the civil aviation ministry, which has sought a detailed probe by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

On November 7, a video clip of the incident went viral following which the ministry swung into action. The airline has already apologised.

While IndiGo has already submitted its report about the incident, the ministry would take a final decision on further action only after taking into consideration the report from the DGCA.

A senior ministry official said the DGCA would gather the point of views of all affected parties from both sides.
19/11/17 PTI/Economic Times

IndiGo still market leader, says DGCA data

New Delhi: Despite all the negative publicity that IndiGo has been receiving of alleged rude behaviour by its crew, the airline’s popularity appears to be intact. A traffic report prepared by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) shows that IndiGo is still the market leader in domestic aviation. IndiGo captured 39.5 per cent share of the domestic aviation market in October.

While the DGCA traffic report has analysed statistical data till October 2017, the incidents of maltreatment by IndiGo staff began in November. One was that of an elderly man being beaten up at Delhi airport and another of Olympian P V Sindhu being harassed. A third incident involved an elderly woman falling from her wheelchair on the tarmac of Lucknow airport due to the alleged negligence of IndiGo staff.

A whopping 41.33 lakh passengers travelled by IndiGo in October. This is about three times that of SpiceJet during the same month and four times that of GoAir. Air India captured 13.1 per cent of market share with 13.66 lakh passengers flying by it in October.

Going by the traffic report data, it seems passengers have fixed choices about the airlines that they choose to travel in. Around 13 per cent of fliers chose SpiceJet and two per cent chose JetLite since January this year. Over 38 per cent passengers chose IndiGo. Air Asia, according to the data, is the fourth largest low cost carrier after IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir with a market share of 4.3 per cent., a travel portal, said the booking and airfare trends of IndiGo have been fairly steady in the past one month. Notwithstanding IndiGo’s credentials of on-time-performance, very few flight cancellations and denied boardings, the travel industry is speculating a downfall in the market share of the airline after incidents of passenger maltreatment. President of Travel Agents Association of India, Iqbal Mulla said, “In the long run it is going to affect IndiGo. If incidents of passenger manhandling happen in daylight then people will have to think twice before booking on an IndiGo flight.”
19/11/17 Abhjeet Anand/Statesman

Flight service from Salem airport to commence next month

Salem: In all probability flight service from Salem airport under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) of the Ministry of Civil Aviation is likely to commence by next month.

G.K. Chaukiyal, Executive Director (RCS) at Airports Authority of India (AAI), in an e-mail message to K. Mariappan, president of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Salem, has said that the Hyderabad-based Turbo Megha Airways Private Limited has intimated the AAI of commencing the flight service from Salem airport in the first week of December. Air Odisha is likely to commence its operation from Salem airport by the middle of February next year.

It may be recalled that the AAI has already signed MoUs with these flight operators.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation only a few days ago had changed the status of Salem Airport to “served airport” from “underserved and unserved” status, to enable the introduction of flight service.
19/11/17 The Hindu

Taking fright: emergency landings ground 23 flights at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, thanks to bird strikes, technical glitches, brake problems and leaking oil

Delhi's airport, which is the country's busiest, not only operates the maximum number of flights a day in India, but also tops an unflattering list.
Data provided by the Airports Authority of India in response to an RTI request from Mail Today shows that, up until August 31 this year, as many as 48 emergency landings took place across the country, of which 23 were in the capital.
Three other metro cities, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata, reported six, three and one emergency landings, respectively.

As recently as Saturday morning, a Delhi-Patna GoAir flight carrying 174 passengers had a close shave following a bird hit, soon after taking off from IGI airport.
An official said the Airbus A320neo plane suffered the mishap while climbing, forcing the pilot to discontinue the journey and return to the capital for an inspection of the plane.
Airlines sources said the front part of the aircraft was damaged.
Technical glitches were the reason behind the vast majority of emergency landings, with other issues including engine malfunctioning, problems with brakes, leakage of oil, smoke in the aircraft and windshield damage.
But several flights were also forced to land abruptly because of rumours and mischief, including nine due to hoax threats.
This month, the crew of a GoAir Delhi-Kolkata flight discovered a note that claimed there was a bomb on board.
The pilot alerted the ATC at Kolkata, which arranged its priority landing. In another dramatic case, a hijack scare was perpetrated by a businessman that led to a Mumbai-Delhi Jet Airways flight being diverted to Ahmedabad.
The suspect, identified as Birju Kishore Salla, who was on the flight, allegedly left a note in the lavatory warning that there would be a 'blast' if the aircraft landed in Delhi.
He did this to win the love of a Jet Airways employee. The case in now being probed by NIA.
According to the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, which falls under MoCA, over the last four years, 30 accidents involving aircraft took place in India.
Three years ago a total 39 emergency landings were reported throughout the country. This figure shot up to 51 in 2015 and reached 50 in 2016.
Back in 2014, Mumbai reported 15 emergency landings, higher than Delhi's 12. But figures for the financial capital dipped to six in 2015 and seven in 2016, while Delhi's numbers remained consistent with 19 cases in 2015 and 18 in 2016.
19/11/17 Shashank Shekhar & Debbie White/Mail Online India

When under pressure, airline employees need to react with grace: Ajay Singh of SpiceJet

Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director of low-cost carrier SpiceJet, could not have dreamt of a more spectacular comeback — from the brink of closure in 2014. SpiceJetBSE -0.99 % recorded a 79% rise in net profit to Rs 105.28 crore during the July-September quarter over the same period a year ago, making it the eleventh consecutive profitable quarter for the airline. “Restoring credibility and trust among flyers did the trick,” says Singh, who bats for stringent punishment for unruly aviation employees along the lines of rules framed for flyers. Quality of manpower, he reckons, is at the heart of any operation. “SpiceJet never compromised on manpower training,” he says in an interview to Rajiv Singh. Excerpts:

From being on the verge of a shutdown in 2014 to posting 11 consecutive quarters of profits, including the latest, how has the journey been for SpiceJet?

It has been a good ride so far. I had no doubt whatsoever that SpiceJet could be brought back from the brink. It was critical for us to succeed, as another KingfisherBSE 3.03 % would have been disastrous for the industry as well as the country. The biggest compliment for us is winning back the trust and credibility of the consumers. The people who thought that they would never ever fly SpiceJet again after the episodes in 2014 (the cash-strapped airlines was on the verge of closure) are back. The fact that for 31 months in a row the load factor of Spice-Jet has been in excess of 90% speaks volumes about our remarkable comeback. Services have improved, on-time performance was the best in the country for two consecutive years starting 2015, and we still want to do much more and raise the benchmark.

How was the turnaround achieved?
Restoring the credibility of the airline was the biggest thing. From a position of losing trust — nobody trusted the brand, be it consumers, partners or employees — to winning hearts, it has not been easy to anchor the transformation. We focused on carrying out operations more efficiently, the financials of the company were looked into thoroughly, all leaks were plugged to ensure that revenues were optimised and costs were brought down. A fall in global crude prices also played a role. But one thing we never did, even during the period of cutting corners, was to scale down manpower training.

Has the focus on training held you in good stead, given that some airlines have been in the news for wrong reasons, especially for manhandling of flyers?
Quality of manpower is at the heart of any operation. SpiceJet never ever compromised on it, even during the dark days of 2014. Training is at the core of any brand. It’s one of the reasons that people came back to SpiceJet. Our employees behaved honourably and professionally.
19/11/17 Rajiv Singh/Economic Times

‘Air Canada has great confidence in Indian market’

New Delhi: In the backdrop of the annual national convention of the Indo-Canadian Business Chamber (ICBC) held here earlier this week, The Sunday Guardian caught up with Margaret Skinner, Air Canada’s Director Sales, who spoke candidly about Air Canada’s vision, expansion plans and her confidence in the Indian aviation market. Excerpts:

Q. What is the vision for Air Canada in respect to India?

A. We are expanding quite rapidly at the moment globally and as a company, our goal is to be a global champion. In India, we have invested very heavily with the induction of the state-of-the-art Dreamliner aircraft. We are not only investing in the aircraft, but also in the product on board. We are the only four star North American Airlines voted by SkyTrax and our goal is to become a five-star service.

Q. The Indian aviation market is seeing an upward growth like never before. Do you have any plans to tap into this market?

A. We are seeing competition everywhere around the world, and we are spending billions of dollars in new aircraft. We have great confidence in our products and networks. Globally, we are expanding rapidly and 90% of our expansion is in the international market. Both the direct flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Toronto and Vancouver have been successful for us. We would expand further once we feel that these routes are well established. We would also like all our services to be daily.

Q. How confident do you feel about the Indian aviation market?

A. I think we were very naive about the Indian market and the opportunities here, but we are very happy with the investments that we have made here. We have got great confidence in the Indian market. The economy is growing and expanding rapidly with a growth of 6% and this gives us confidence about the Indian market. What is interesting is that we can invest in various segments in India, ranging from corporation to students’ travel to leisure and we get a really good mix of traffic from this market. We expect this to only grow in the coming days. We also work very closely with the trading sector in this market. Our team in India is working very hard and so far, the results have been great. If this continues, we would like to invest further into this market.

Q. In recent years, India and Canada have been engaging in trade as well as business partnerships both in the small scale and large scale industries. Have these led to a growth in air traffic to Canada and how do you plan to benefit out of this?

A. There has been over 20% growth in air traffic to Canada in the last five years and this time it is because of all factors, like business, education as well as leisure. We are also seeing a movement of business traffic increasing rapidly in the last five years.

There is a film co-production treaty that was signed about two years back between India and Canada and that has opened up opportunities for Indian filmmakers to go to Canada to make films. Canada is the partner country for the forthcoming international film festival in Goa and we are likely to have 60-70 top Canadian producers coming to Mumbai through our Mumbai-Toronto non-stop flight. We have Indian filmmakers who are already in talks with us to use our services to make films there in Canada. And we believe with such activities, it would also open up Canada towards the leisure market and increase tourist inflow into the country.

The CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) between India and Canada that is under currently under discussion would further reinforce the kind of engagement that is already there and it would be a game changer for trade between India and Canada.
18/11/17 Dibyendu Mondal/Sunday GuardianLive

Tourists lose Rs 15 lakh as airline fails to provide alternative Brussels flight

Mumbai: In the list of things that could go wrong on a holiday, a flight cancellation should be up there as you could end up buying last-minute tickets not just for the onward journey, but also for the return leg.
A group of 17 passengers from Mumbai lost Rs 14 lakh and three others from Pune lost Rs 1.30 lakh towards air tickets, hotel bookings and other expenses after Brussels Airlines cancelled a flight and failed to put them on an alternative flight within 48 hours.
A Brussels Airlines spokesperson said they had taken note of the complaint and will start an in-depth investigation.
On October 21, around 1am, Brussels Airlines cancelled flight SN602 as the aircraft developed a technical problem. "Brussels Airlines told us they don't have any alternative for next 48 hours and later too, they couldn't guarantee one for all the 17 people," said Pradeep Shanklesha Mutha, one of the flyers from the group. They have taken the grievance up with minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha. "Cancelling our pre-paid holiday would have cost us Rs 15 lakh," he said.
The group brought fresh tickets, arrived at their destination 15 hours late. The next day their agent informed them they should cancel the Zurich-Mumbai return tickets too and go for the entire ticket refund as with partial refund one can't be sure about the quantum of money the airline would return.
Here is where the difference between passengers who were provided accommodation by Brussels and those who weren't come into play. Those put on other carriers would have got their same return flights reissued by Brussels airline at no cost. But if you make your own arrangements, then the airline refunds part fare—Mumbai-Brussels-Zurich in this case. Since airfares aren't split down the middle, there was no knowing how much of the Rs 8.31 lakh they spent on the return ticket would be refunded.
19/11/17 Manju V/Times of India

India's badminton stars stuck at Hong Kong airport immigration for over eight hours

In an embarrassing and unacceptable turn of events, it appears that some of India's top badminton stars have been unnecessarily kept waiting and are seemingly stuck at the Hong Kong International Airport as of yesterday.

The news first became public after ace Indian shuttler Parupalli Kashyap tweeted out against the travesty via his official Twitter account. The badminton star highlighted the plight of the players who are in Hong Kong this week to train before the Hong Kong Open begins on 21st November.
A source close to the players told Sportskeeda, "The players have been waiting at the airport for a long time now but are expected to be allowed to pass by the authorities."

In case you didn't know...
The Hong Kong Open 2017 is one of the many landmark badminton tournaments organised by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and with India's shuttlers currently making up much of the top brass in both men's and women's categories, the incident is made even more embarrassing for all the authorities involved.
The heart of the matter
Luckily for the Indian contingent, Kashyap's tweet immediately caught fire on social media and prompted a response from the likes of the Consulate General of India in Hong Kong who requested for the contact details of the contingent in order to sort the issue out at the earliest.

Kashyap replied to the Consulate's tweet nearly eight hours after his first tweet, stating that he has sent his details to the authority and which means that the shuttlers are still there at the airport waiting for clearance.
19/11/17 Sarthak Sharma/Sportskeeda

In a first, domestic flight to park at night and take off in morning

Nagpur: Come December, one can fly to Bengaluru in the morning and return the same night. This has become possible after the city's Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar airport, which is slated for privatization, finally got a taker for its night parking slot.
GoAir, which has added new flights in its winter schedule, has slotted an early morning flight to Bengaluru from Nagpur and becomes the first domestic operator to start a base flight from the city.
Base flight means the plane will come to Nagpur in the night and will remained parked here and will take off the next day morning. The services are set to begin from December 8 with the flight from Bengaluru arriving here at 11.50pm and taking off the next day at 6.05am.
A statement issued by Go Air says, "Nagpur has been developing as an important business destination over the years and we are very optimistic about the prospects of operating flight out of here. Nagpur is poised to be a key station for GoAir's future expansion plans."
Mihan India Limited (MIL), the airport's operator, had been promoting the airport as an ideal location for night parking of aircraft on account of ample space available here. The MIL is also wooing other airlines to take up night-parking slots here. Talks are underway with Indigo Airlines. This would bring additional income for the airport which is now running in losses.
Go Air already operates one hopping flight from Nagpur to Bengaluru while Indigo runs two on this sector. However, all the flights are either scheduled in the evening or night.
"The timings would also provide easy connectivity to international flights towards the eastern part of the world," said Ravi Shinde, of MR Travels located at Jaffar Nagar.
19/11/17 Shishir Arya/Times of India

Hyderabad airport to begin work on second terminal from February

Hyderabad: The work on the second terminal at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here will begin in February-March next year, said the airport operator.

GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) plans to take up expansion at a cost of Rs 2,500 crore.

With the expansion, which is likely to be completed in two to two-and-half years, the airport will handle 25 million passengers per annum.

GHIAL CEO S.G.K. Kishore told reporters here on Friday that if the traffic grows, the overall capacity can be increased to 34-35 million and the expansion including second runway can extend to five years.

He said they were waiting for approval from the regulator to start the expansion, which will be funded in a debt-equity ratio of 70:30.

Kishore said there would be no fresh equity requirement from the promoters or the government as the company will raise the funds from its internal accruals and bonds.

It recently raised $350 million through a bond offer.

He was confident that the airport will continue to see a growth of 15 to 20 per cent. The passenger traffic during current financial year is expected to be about 18 million, against 16 million in the last fiscal.

One fourth of the passenger traffic is international, growing around 9 per cent while the domestic passenger traffic is growing around 20 per cent.
17/11/17 CanIndiaNews

You Cannot Miss This Flight: Essays on Emerging India review: Headwinds of change

He chose R.K. Laxman’s ‘Common Man’ as his airline’s brand ambassador (there’s a delightful essay on this), while the common man remembers him still as a pioneer in the no-frills airline business. Air Deccan, his dream come true, may now be a part of aviation history, but the low-cost aviation dream continues to live on in India.

“I was just twenty-eight years old after having served eight years in the Army. From the cocoon of the Army (huge defence scandals were still unheard of then), I plunged into civilian life and realised to my shock and disbelief that fighting the Pakistanis was easier than battling our bureaucracy and government,” says Captain G.R. Gopinath, the trailblazer who needs no introduction.

In this collection of essays, from 2011 to 2017, most of which have been published in the mainstream media, with a few appearing in media blogs, the ‘unstoppable Indian’ gives a form to his thoughts and life-changing experiences, in five illuminating parts: as an entrepreneur who has faced the headwinds of Indian aviation (‘The DGCA is happily enforcing aviation rules from 1937’), created an airline with a difference and then sold it to the now embattled business tycoon Vijay Mallya, only to regret it later; as a narrator of the hardships entrepreneurs have to face; as an Indian who worries about the bureaucracy and the government’s ability to solve our numerous problems (‘Is the Swachh Bharat campaign in real danger of remaining a mere slogan?’); as a ‘politician’ who tested his mettle, especially with the Aam Aadmi Party (‘Why I joined AAP’ and ‘Why I quit the Aam Aadmi Party’ form two brief essays); and, as an individual, who shares vignettes of his early life and his general views (‘The Vadhyar who wrote his own horoscope: a tribute to unknown entrepreneurs’ and ‘If I could be a godman!’ are two picks).
18/11/17 Murali N. Krishnaswamy/The Hindu

Rahul keeps Rafale pot boiling

New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi and the Congress are not letting the Rafale controversy dip under the political radar.

If Rahul kept the pressure up on the government by asking defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman specific questions, the Congress took a swipe at alleged " punjpati dost (capitalist friends)" of the government for threatening legal action.

The Congress vice-president claimed that Sitharaman was being prevented by her "boss" from revealing the truth about the Rafale fighter deal, targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi a second time in three days on the subject.

On Thursday, the Congress vice-president had accused Modi of recasting the deal to help a particular businessman. On Friday, Sitharaman had dismissed the charges as "shameful" without answering specific questions.

Rahul, keen to keep the controversy boiling in the run-up to the Gujarat polls, tweeted on Saturday: "Dear RM (Raksha Mantri, that is, defence minister), what is shameful is your boss silencing you."

He added: "Please tell us: 1. Final price of each Rafale jet? 2. Did PM take CCS (cabinet committee on security) permission before announcing purchase in Paris? 3. Why PM bypassed experienced HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) & gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience?"

Sitharaman, asked about the price of the French aircraft at Friday's news conference, had merely said: "The price we have obtained is far less (than that negotiated by the UPA)."

Pressed, she had said: "We will give you the figures that you want."

Soon afterwards, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had suggested that Sitharaman was "hiding the purchase price".
He had asked whether it was true that the UPA had negotiated a $80.95 million (Rs 526.1 crore) price per aircraft while the Modi government had agreed to a price of $241.66 million (Rs 1,570.8 crore).
19/11/17 Sanjay K. Jha/Telegraph

Domestic flights go cheap, cheaper this New Year season

Bengaluru: It’s that time of the year again. Airlines are offering special discounts to customers in a bid to increase their sales around the New Year. Malaysia-based airlines Air Asia might just have outdone all its competitors this year by offering flights cheaper than cab fares. The company has offered domestic flights at a base fare of Rs 99 and international flights at Rs 444.

In a release, Air Asia said the tickets under this offer can be booked until November 19, 2017, for travel between May 7, 2018 and January 31, 2019. The offer is being given on domestic destinations connected by Air Asia India (flight code i5), including Bengaluru, Kochi, Hyderabad, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, New Delhi, Goa among others.

Discount for international travel has been offered on travel to Kuala Lumpur from Tiruchirappalli, Kochi, Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Jaipur and to Bali from Mumbai and Kolkata, to Bangkok from Jaipur, Kolkata, Kochi, Chennai and Bengaluru connected by AirAsia Berhad (Flight code AK), AirAsia X Berhad (Flight code D7), Indonesia AirAsia X (Flight code XT), Indonesia AirAsia (Flight code QZ) and Thai AirAsia (Flight code FD).

Recently, Jet Airways too announced up to 30 per cent discount on travel from India to high-demand destinations served by the airline’s international network, for bookings between Nov 8, 2017 and Nov 14, 2017. The offer was for travel between January 1 and January 22, 2018, on both premier and economy classes.

Operating flights in an environment of stiff competition, airlines are resorting to offering heavy discounts during festival seasons in order to attract customers. While some are offering New Year discount fares, several cut prices around Diwali earlier this year. Airline companies are walking the tightrope in sustaining airfares even as operating costs are escalating.
19/11/17 New Indian Express

In a month, 5 extra takeoffs & landings at Kolkata airport per hour

Kolkata: The authorities at Kolkata airport are working on an ambitious project that would open up five additional slots each hour for landings and takeoffs. Expected to be in place by a month, this will mean more flights during rush hours.
At present, the airport can handle a maximum of 30 flight movements an hour or a flight every two minutes. The air traffic management (ATM) team though believes runway efficiency can be increased further to accommodate at least 15 more flights. But that would have to happen in two phases; first increase the number to 35 and then push for 45 or even 48.
Study on the first phase to reduce distance between incoming flights so that they can land in quick succession is nearing completion. At present, aircraft coming in to land maintain a separation of 7 nautical (13km) when there is no takeoff in between and 8 nautical miles (15km) when there is a takeoff. This will be reduced to 6 nautical miles (11km) when there is no takeoff and 7 nautical miles (13 km) when there is a takeoff.
Air traffic control officers are already undergoing training to handle flights with reduced separation and airlines will be briefed soon.
Also on the anvil is a meeting with pilots to ensure they don't spend an extra second on the runway. "Runway occupancy per flight must reduce from over 1 minute now to around 50 seconds. Planes that touch down have to exit at the earliest. While those that depart must start the takeoff run as soon as they enter the runway. It is all about precision," an ATM official said.
19/11/17 Times of India

Domestic traffic to help CIAL enter club 10 million

Kochi: The Cochin international airport is witnessing a spurt in domestic traffic keeping pace with the trend across the nation in the domestic sector with more budget airlines introducing services in different sectors. All over the nation, a total of 8.49 crore passengers have travelled in the nine months this year in the domestic sector, up from 7.26 crore in the same period last year. A total of 26.24 lakh of domestic passengers travelled in the first seven months of this financial year through the Cochin airport during the summer schedule period compared to 21.91 lakh passengers travelled in the domestic sector during the same period last year. This marks nearly 20 per cent growth this financial year.

A CIAL official said that CIAL is readying to touch the magic figure of 10 million passengers this financial year which is possible considering the traffic through the international sector as well. Last financial year in the seven months from April to October, a total of 29.71 lakh passengers travelled through the international terminal while this year it rose to 30.57 lakh. It shows the growth in international sector  grew marginally by 3 per cent when compared to the 20 per cent growth in domestic sector.
“In the 2016-17 financial year, the total traffic on the international and domestic sectors put together was 8.9 million. Half way during this financial year we have crossed the five million mark. Now a busy winter schedule is ahead with two international and one domestic flight added. The second half will be more hectic due to tourist season. We are confident of touching 10 million in this financial year,” said a CIAL official.
19/11/17 Deccan Chronicle

Mopa samiti slams govt for felling trees at airport site

Panjim: Mopa Vimantal Pidit Xetkari Samiti (MVPXS) on Saturday slammed the State government for continuing the tree felling despite orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to terminate the process.
Addressing the media, MVPXS Secretary Sandeep Kambli said, “Despite the orders of the NGT, the State government, along with the firm, has opted to continue with the tree felling, thereby displaying an act of antagonism. Also, Forest Department arrived on the scene where the tree felling had started after the order of NGT, they made a report of the incident, which is still undisclosed.”
He added, “It was anticipated that the tree cutting would halt after the visit by the forest officers. But the very next day, the construction firm returned to the site along with the police protection and began to dig out the roots of the trees which were cut previously, in an attempt to conceal the act of tree cutting that they had initiated which indicated that Forest Department assisted the firm in concealing of the evidence.”
He further said that the firm also demolished two houses within the area without issuing prior notice to the owners, who possess registration numbers and amenities such as electricity, water for their houses. He also said that the local MLA Manohar (Babu) Azgaonkar led the media into thinking that the government is working in an undisturbed order by stating that the demolished houses were illegal and that they were built after the acquisition process was said to have started.
19/11/17 Herald

Interview with HAL CMD: ‘No frozen standard of preparation of LCA… that’s where delays are coming’

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bengaluru-based fully government-owned defence aviation company, has recently been in the news because of the debate over the choice of single engine fighter for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas has been inducted into the IAF last year. But there are questions about HAL’s capacity to produce the requisite number of LCA fighters in specified time. Indian Express spoke with T Suvarna Raju, chairman and managing director of HAL.
HAL is blamed in some quarters for not having delivered the LCA Tejas on time. Is that criticism fair?
I don’t think the criticism is fair. That is why I am asking all the people who have such an opinion to visit the facilities which have been established. HAL can only make the product which is sellable or acceptable to the customer. As long as the development process is on, there is always a question about when is it going to stop and who is going to take this. There is always a mutual discussion and it goes step-by-step. There is not frozen standard of preparation of LCA except for the IOC. So, that’s where the delays are coming. But I know that is in the past, all the delays etc. Now, we are in the run to make these aircraft in numbers in the near future.
On the recent reports about the LCA Tejas and the foreign single-engine fighter, where does the HAL stand? Is everything fine with LCA?
There is not much controversy about the LCA. HAL stands very strongly behind the LCA. We have established the production line capacity of eight aircrafts, the first five of them are already flying and have done more than 600 sorties. They are doing up. and we have kept things in place to produce eight and we are investing Rs 1,331 crore to increase the capacity to 16 deliverable a year. We have also used another concept of contracting the main components of the aircraft such as the front fuselage, centre fuselage, rear fuselage to L&T, WhAM, DTL.
We have placed the orders. If these guys start giving me the required top-quality product, that adds to my deliverables. Now question comes, how much order I have. I have 20 IOC, of which I will provide 11 to IAF by the end of this financial year, and that would leave me with 4 fighters and 4 trainers, and trainers’ SOP we hope can be concluded so that the production run can be there.
As far as the FOC order is concerned, mid-2018 is when FOC is expected to come but we are asking the customer (IAF) to allow us to cut the material. Because if we start now, the aircraft will come after three years. By then, this AON of 83 LCA will be converted into a contract between the IAF and HAL. However, today the facilities are on and the rate at which jigs are created are available, and the purchase orders can be verified and checked.
What is the delay in getting the FOC now?
The aircraft are flying and the operational capacity enhancement requires a thorough verification. It is a developmental work and we are planning to fly 60 sorties a month. Now between IAF, ADA and HAL, we are ensuring that these many sorties happen.
While the promises are for getting the FOC by mid-2018, we will definitely get it by December 2018. We should then be able to supply these 20 FOC by 2022. And then on to the next 83… If capacities are put on depending on the configuration clearance, the numbers can be rolled out. This is not like an automobile that today you give me a number and automatically I will give you the aircraft immediately. There is a lag, we require all the material to be procured and we need to make 10,000 odd components and put them together, and some components need to be bought from outside.
19/11/17 Sushant Singh/Indian Express

Aeromodellers start online petition against rules on drones

New Delhi: Aeromodelling enthusiasts have initiated an online signature campaign against the government’s proposed rules on drones claiming it threatens to destroy recreational flying.
Earlier this month, the aviation regulatory body DGCA has released its draft rules making it mandatory for “unmanned aircraft system” to seek a unique identification number (UIN) as well as an operator permit.
Model aircraft weighing up to 2kg, and those operated by government security agencies are exempted from this requirement.
In a petition on online platform, aeromodellers say that these rules will “render their hobby and sport impossible and unsustainable”.
In a separate petition to the DGCA, submitted as part of the consultation procedure before the rules are finalised, they have submitted that a separate category must be carved out for “model aeroplanes” as these don’t pose any security concerns.
Aeromodellers explain that as model aeroplanes are flown in the line of sight unlike drones, which can be pre-programmed and can be remotely controlled, they should not be considered a security threat.
Hobbyists have also demanded that the weight limit of model planes exempt from registering for a UIN and a permit should be increased up to 25 kg from 2kg.
19/11/17 PTI/Indian Express

The Bombay Flying Club organises aeronautical project seminar in Mumbai

The Bombay Flying Club - the oldest flying club and school in India had organized the aeronautical project seminar at Juhu on Saturday.

Bombay Flying Club President Mihir Bhagvati said, "The idea is to get innovation in technology and come out with new ideas for better standards and safety in Aviation."
Air Vice Marshall (retired) Sunil Nanodkar who is an alumnus of BFC was the chief guest, while Keshava Sharma, the regional executive director of Airport Authority of India was the guest of honour. There were a total of 13 innovative ideas by students of Bombay Flying Club and Thakur College of Aviation.

The students of Bombay Flying Club who floated the concept of circular runways bagged the first prize. This concept has been used since the 1930s by defence forces and can be used in airports of busy towns.
18/11/17 Yogesh Naik/Mumbai Mirror

Man found loitering near Chennai airport runway, caught

Chennai: A man, who was found loitering near the runway at Chennai airport, was caught and handed over to police on Saturday night.
Ground staff alerted the apron control that an unidentified man was found near the runway. He was caught around 11pm and handed over to the CISF. After questioning him, the CISF handed him over to police.
The man, aged around 25, gave conflicting answers when questioned, said an airport official.
A senior airport official said, "The presence of mind of the ground handlers helped us detain the man. During questioning he told us that he had scaled the perimeter wall of the campus near the GST Road opposite to Trident Hotel. He seems to have managed to scale wall in spite of the barbed wire fencing and round-the-clock security monitoring."
"He could have passed by two security check points unnoticed," the official said.
The man is suspected to be mentally unstable. "If someone who is mentally unstable can do this, those in their senses can do much more," said another official hinting at the seriousness of the security lapse.
The Airports Authority of India and the CISF will investigate the lapses in the high security area.
Though round-the-clock perimeter monitoring is done by CISF personnel who sit inside elevated observation posts installed along the compound wall, small buildings abutting the compound wall may make it easy for one to scale the wall.
19/11/17 V Ayyappan/Times of India

Saturday, November 18, 2017

India’s aviation safety audit: ICAO satisfied with regulatory mechanism

New Delhi: The five-member team of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that was conducting an audit of the Indian aviation sector between November 6 and November 16 as part of its universal safety oversight audit programme has found the regulatory mechanism here “satisfied” according to its preliminary feedback, the government said in a statement on Friday. An e-mail query sent to ICAO did not elicit any response at the time of going to press.
The team, which apprised areas such as legislation, personnel licensing, airworthiness, operations, organisation, visiting Chennai, Mumbai and the Civil Aviation Training College in Allahabad to inspect implementation of safety procedures laid down by ICAO and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
“As per preliminary feedback, the audit team was satisfied with the safety system put in place by the safety regulator,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said. The audit involved verification of responses by the sector regulator to ICAO’s detailed questionnaire with over 600 questions about the systems put in place. Earlier this month, The Indian Express reported that the ICAO was expected to review the functioning of operators including GoAir, Air India Charters, Kestrel Aviation, among others.
To ensure that global aviation safety measures are complied with, the ICAO regularly carries out the universal safety oversight audit of its member states. The ICAO’s first audit mission to India was in 2012, while the last one was in 2015. According to the government statement, the audit team presents its report to the headquarter team and draft report is made available to the authorities in about 90 days, who will then be required to provide its comment and draw its action plan on various aspects of the report and make it available to ICAO within 45 days. Post that, the finalised report will be made available to the members states.
After an audit in 2012, the ICAO had placed India in its list of 13 worst-performing nations. Subsequently, a similar exercise carried out in 2014 by the US regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded India’s aviation safety ranking, bringing it below Pakistan and on par with countries such as Ghana, Barbados and Bangladesh. As a result, Indian airlines were not allowed to add new routes to the US or sign commercial agreements with US airlines during this period. The rating was restored to the top category in 2015, when India reportedly scored better than the global average in airworthiness, air navigation services, operations and licensing.
18/11/17 Indian Express

After back-to-back bird hits, Chennai airport seeks help from wildlife expert

Chennai: After two bird hits at Chennai Airport in the last two days, Airports Authority of India (AAI) is planning to hire a consultant from Anna University to study presence of habitual, migratory and nocturnal birds in and around the 10-km radius of the airport as well as the height of 5,000 feet to ensure aircraft safety.

During the last two days, two aircraft of Indigo Airlines suffered bird hits at an altitude of above 5,000 feet. On Thursday, a Doha-bound Indigo flight which departed at 1.47 am flew into a flock of birds and it was forced to land at Chennai airport again. Similarly, on Wednesday evening, Chennai-Ahmedabad flight suffered a bird hit at an altitude of 5,500 feet and the aircraft was forced to land in Chennai.

Interestingly, the move to study and provide measures for bird and animal hazard control management in operational area and surroundings up to 10-km radius was initiated a couple of years ago. However, the consultant Vanamitra could not take up the contract as difference of opinion cropped up between Vanamitra and AAI and the project could not be taken up. It is learnt that AAI is planning to rope in K Venkatraman, a former director of Zoological Survey of India, who is currently with Anna University, to help undertake the study.

Director G Chandramouli said the airport has enough infrastructure to stop bird menace in and around the facility, but it could do little at an altitude above 2,500 feet to 5,000 feet. He blamed the bird menace to the civic problem wherein sewer network from Pallavaram and Pozhichalur flow through the airport. The IIT has submitted a report of re-routing the sewers. But the water from the sewer and the canal that stagnate tend to attract the birds.
18/11/17 New Indian Express

GoAir flight suffers bird hit; returns to Delhi airport

Mumbai: A Patna-bound GoAir flight with 174 passengers on-board on Saturday returned to New Delhi following a bird strike soon after it took off from the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport, the airline said.
The Airbus A320 neo plane suffered the bird hit when it was on the climb, forcing the pilot to discontinue the journey and return to New Delhi for an inspection of the plane, GoAir said in a statement.
The incident took place at 10.30 am.
"GoAir Flight G8 140 from Delhi to Patna had a bird hit as the aircraft was climbing after take-off, " the private carrier said.As a precautionary measure, the pilot decided to return to the Delhi airport for an inspection of the aircraft, it said, adding there were 174 passengers on-board.
18/11/17 PTI/Times of India

Laser menace for pilots over Mumbai airport on the rise

Mumbai: Laser beam hazard has been on rise at Mumbai airport with pilots reporting a total of 24 cases till September this year, or about 3 cases per month. Laser beams that hit the cockpit could pose a serious flight safety hazard as it could temporarily blind the pilot during the low flying critical phases of landing or takeoff. Instances of pilots being lased are on rise the world over, which has led to introduction of new laws to check this menace in countries like the US, the UK, Australia.
"Pilots who spot a laser beam near or pointed at the aircraft inform the air traffic controller, who, in turn, informs airport officials, who then inform local police,'' said an airport official. Since India has not yet woken up to the dangers that lasers pose to aircraft —there is no gazette notification that identifies this as serious hazard and recommends punitive measures—the action taken on ground has hardly been a deterrent, the official added.
In recent years, the use of laser lights during festivals has gone up, he said. For instance, there have been complaints of laser activity from weddings/celebrations venue in Ghatkopar, which is close to the approach path of aircraft. "There isn't much awareness about the dangers of shining laser lights on aircraft,'' the airport official adding that India needs to have better laws place like some other countries where such an act could invite a jail term.
18/11/17 Times of India

Chhattisgarh puts off survey for new helipads

Raipur: The Chhattisgarh Government has put off plans for now to get ‘Obstruction Limitation Surveys’ (OLS) done for new helipads across the State.

The tender has been recalled due to some unavoidable reasons, officials informed.

Chhattisgarh is aggressively focussing on development of three regional airports mainly Jagdalpur, Ambikapur and Raigarh under the Regional Connectivity Scheme of the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation, officials informed.

The State has already spent more than Rs 34 crore in the development of the aforesaid three air strips.

The Union Home Ministry appears to be very keen to see Jagdalpur Airport in Bastar to be developed and fully operational at the earliest.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in his review meeting on May 8 this year in his address in New Delhi had stated that the Airport at Jagdalpur will be operational very soon.

Notably, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on January 27 this year had performed bhoomi pujan for construction of terminal building and for taking up expansion works for Jagdalpur Airport at a function held here on Thursday.

During the programme, the Chief Minister had  also inspected the construction site.

 The Chief Minister while addressing gathering said that with the construction of terminal building, flights would be started soon which will surely benefit the people of Bastar division.

The State government has inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Air India for launching flights whereas the monetary loss to the airline if any would be borne by the State government as per the MoU, Singh further said.
18/11/17 Pioneer

Scrap privatisation plans: Air India employees

Various employee unions of Air India have come together to demand that the airline’s privatisation plans be scrapped and that the government initiate a dialogue with them before taking a decision.

Earlier this week, union members handed over a joint petition to this effect to Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien at Mumbai airport.

Mr. O’Brien, who is the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee in charge of Civil Aviation, Transport and Tourism, called Air India “a national treasure” and said it cannot be privatised. “I have promised them that we will call a delegation to Delhi and set up a meeting with the parliamentary committee, and we will oppose the privatisation,” Mr. O’Brien said.

The union leaders recently also met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to seek support.

“Our main goal is to bring all Air India unions on a common platform to resist the airline’s privatisation,” said a representative of one of the unions. While the federation comprises three unions, he said talks are on with Indian Airlines unions, staff unions and pilots’ unions to join the platform.

The unions have said that workers should not be made to pay for faulty decisions made by the management and the government, such as the unplanned fleet acquisition.

“When the combined turnover of Air India and Indian Airlines was only around ₹14,000 crore, how could they buy a fleet worth ₹50,000 crore without taking into account the interest burden of the loan?” a leader of one of the major unions asked.

The unions said the airline is making operational profits and that it is in loss only due to the repayment of the loan.
18/11/17 Ajeet Mahale/The Hindu

Air India to launch new flights from Jan 1

Port Blair: Air India Limited will operate new flights in the New Delhi-Port Blair-Vizag-New Delhi and New Delhi-Vizag-Port Blair-Vizag sector from January 1 to March 24, 2018. As per the schedule, AI-485 will depart New Delhi at 5.30 am and  arrive Port Blair at 9.15 am, AI-486 will depart Port Blair at 9.55 am and arrive Vizag at 11.55 am and AI-486 will depart Vizag at 12.30 pm and land at New Delhi at 2.35 pm. The flights will operate on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 7th day of every week.
Similarly, AI-485 will depart New Delhi at 5.30 am and reach Vizag at 7.35 am, AI-485 will then depart from Vizag at 8.10 am and arrive Port Blair at 10.10 am. AI-486 will depart from Port Blair at 10.50 am and land at New Delhi at 2.35 pm. The flights will operate on the 1st, 4th and 6th day of every week.
17/11/17 Echo of India

Airlines are making a lot of money on these three industries

There’s some simple math when it comes to airfares: the higher the price, the bigger the profit. And the most expensive tickets tend to be those sold at the very last minute-specifically those picked up by business travelers with schedules dictated by sudden deals and unexpected client meetings. And not coincidentally, these fares are usually paid for by the company.

It also turns out there are some marked differences in buying habits among industries, according to data released Thursday by Concur Technologies Inc., which analyzed 25 million airline ticket sales last year across nine industries. Perhaps unsurprisingly, professional service fields, such as lawyers and consultants, bought more than a quarter of their air tickets within three days of a trip, the largest segment. That makes for some pretty pricey seats.

Media was next, at 20 percent-since news events often tend to erupt without warning. At the other end of the spectrum is higher education, with 68 percent of tickets in that field being sold 15 or more days before a trip. Industries such as energy, financial services, manufacturing, and technology fell in the middle of the spending pack.
17/11/17 Justin Bachman/Bloomberg/News India Times

Indigo agrees to settle lawyer family's baggage loss complaint

Mumbai: Four days after Mirror reported about a legal notice sent to Indigo Airlines by a city family trying to seek compensation for loss of a suitcase containing expensive goods, the airline on Friday agreed to a settlement on terms set by the complainants. In an email sent to the Bahl family, an Indigo executive said the airline would transfer Rs 35,000 to the account of Peppino Bahl whose baggage - containing foreign chocolates, clothes and perfumes to be given to her brother Zico - was lost after a Mumbai to Delhi flight on October 1.

"The email says that they wish to settle the matter, and after we sign the settlement agreement, they will transfer the money to my daughter's account. I have communicated that we will accept it," says Anil Bahl, Peppino's father.
Peppino realised her bag is missing after failing to find it at the check-in bag collection point. Suspecting that the suitcase was stolen by one of the baggage handlers, the family had demanded that the airline show the CCTV footage of the conveyor belt but the airline refused to do so citing security concerns. They later offered a compensation of Rs 4,550. With the airline refusing to budge further , Peppino's father Anil Bahl and also wrote to DGCA seeking grounding of the airline for three months in the wake of series of incidents of insensitivity towards passengers, including the assault on passenger Rajiv Katyal at Delhi airport.
18/11/17 Satish Nandgaonkar/Mumbai Mirror 

GoAir winter schedule: Airline to operate flights on 22 new routes

Chennai: GoAir has announced additional flights for the winter schedule effective from November 23. It will operate flights on 22 new routes.
GoAir will strengthen its presence in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolktata, Lucknow, Nagpur and Patna with the addition of these new flights. The induction of new A320 NEOs will see GoAir's fleet strength touch to 31 aircraft. Most of the routes connect tier II and Tier III cities to metros.
There will be three new daily flights between Chennai and Kochi. Eight additional frequencies on existing routes are also planned.

The airline has announced a special fare starting at Rs 1,212 plus taxes on all new sectors. The booking period will be from November 18 to 21 for the travel period from November 24, 2017 to October 28, 2018.
17/11/17 V Ayaappan/Times of India

GMR Hyderabad Airport wooing Lufthansa, other global carriers

Hyderabad: GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) is in parleys with European and other international carriers to woo them to connect to the ‘ Pearl City’.

The airport, which sees about 20 international carriers operating to about 20 destinations along with four domestic carriers that connect to overseas locations, is keen to attract some more international airlines.

SGK Kishore, Chief Executive Officer, GHIAL, said: “Currently only one European carrier, British Airways, operates direct flights to Hyderabad. Lufthansa and KLM are among two other European airliners who used to operate.

“We are in talks with them to connect to Hyderabad so that they can be part of the growing market.” Indian civil aviation is amongst the fastest growing markets and the third largest in the world and offers immense scope for connectivity, he said, adding: “As we take to expansion of our airport to handle 25 million passengers per annum (mppa), more airliners are expected to connect to Hyderabad.”

The Hyderabad airport handled 15.24 mppa in 2016-2017 and is expected to cross 18 mppa this fiscal. The domestic passenger segment has been growing at over 20 per cent.
17/11/17 Business Line

No More Airport Chaos, Bureau Of Immigration Tells Home Ministry

New Delhi: Chaotic scenes at the Delhi airport are soon going to be a thing of the past, the Bureau of Immigration has told the Home Ministry. Wait times have already cut down to 10 minutes from 22 minutes earlier it said.

In an hour-long meeting, the Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba reviewed plans which are being implemented to end inconvenience to passengers seeking immigration clearance at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.

"We had done some capacity additions at the airport the review was about that," Mr Gauba told NDTV. Earlier this month, NDTV had highlighted the chaos at the airport and how it was mismanaged. The Home Ministry had reacted to the report and increasing handling capacity at various levels.

The bureau conveyed in the meeting that 10 more immigration counters have become operational at the departure area since November 15. This was done after the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) provided additional space. Additional manpower and equipment such as passport reading machines, computers, and web cameras have also been provided to make the functioning of these counters smooth.

With the operationalisation of 10 additional counters, the number of such booths has gone up to 85, both at arrival and departure halls, including those for e-visa.

"The deployment of additional personnel will augment manpower strength at immigration counters to enable the staff to provide professional and courteous service to travellers", a senior official said.

There has been a 30 per cent increase in international passengers at the IGI airport in the last two years, with serpentine queues at immigration desks.
18/11/17 Neeta Sharma/NDTV

Hyderabad Airport to have a second terminal soon, work to begin from February

The work on the second terminal at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad will begin in February-March next year, said the airport operator.

GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) plans to take up expansion at a cost of Rs 2,500 crore.

With the expansion, which is likely to be completed in two to two-and-half years, the airport will handle 25 million passengers per annum.
GHIAL CEO SGK Kishore told reporters in Hyderabad on Friday that if the traffic grows, the overall capacity can be increased to 34-35 million and the expansion including second runway can extend to five years.

He said they were waiting for approval from the regulator to start the expansion, which will be funded in a debt-equity ratio of 70:30.

Kishore said there would be no fresh equity requirement from the promoters or the government as the company will raise the funds from its internal accruals and bonds.
18/11/17 IANS/News Minute

Airport fines: Rs 2,000 for littering, Rs 3,000 for no-halting violation

Pune: The Pune airport authorities have increased the fines for 15 different offences from Rs 300-500 to a stiff Rs 2,000-5,000. An official at the airport, who did not want to be named, told TOI that information boards regarding the fines have been put up all over the airport.
"People break simple civic rules, especially in the area in front of the terminal building. The boards mentioning the fines can act as a deterrent," he said. The penalty stands at Rs 5,000 for nine of the 15 offences. These offences include unauthorised entry into the terminal building or airside, driving or speeding in operational areas, being intoxicated within the airport premises, creating a nuisance in the public areas, organising or taking part in dharnas and rallies, among others.
Vehicles parked haphazardly or illegally in the area in front of the terminal building will attract a fine of Rs 3,000 as against the Rs 300-500 they are charged now. "These vehicles are mostly private cars which come to drop passengers to the airport.
We have repeatedly said that vehicles are forbidden from waiting in front of the terminal building for long," the official said. Earlier, vehicles waiting in this area for more than seven minutes had to pay Rs 85. "In the last airport advisory committee meeting, it was suggested that vehicle-owners pay Rs 30 for a half-an-hour wait and Rs 50 for an hour's wait. However, a long wait makes things chaotic in the area. Now, three exits have been created which should ease things out," the official said.

18/11/17 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Punjab fined Rs 5 lakh for wrongly deboarding NRI from London flight

Chandigarh: The Punjab government will have to pay Rs 5 lakh compensation to an NRI for wrongly identifying him as an accused in the Rs 1,000-crore irrigation scam and forcing him to disembark a flight to the UK.
Ludhiana resident Gurdev Singh's only crime was that one of the accused in the scam has the same name - Gurdev Singh Syan. When the case reached the Punjab and Haryana high court, it directed the chief secretary to tender an unconditional apology to the NRI, along with the demand draft of Rs 5 lakh and the air fare from Delhi to the UK. The court also directed the government to recover the amount from the vigilance bureau officials responsible for such a goof-up and to take action against them for "damaging the image of Punjab".
"The record clearly shows the cavalier manner in which the government servants have performed their work; namely lack of sincerity, casual attitude and having no regard for the image of the state of Punjab and also for the country," the judge observed.
The only interest such government servants have is to pocket huge salary every month and go on making demands for higher and higher salary and allowances", observed Justice A B Chaudhari, in his detailed order. Justice Chaudhari passed these orders while disposing of an application filed by Punjab government through Ashish Kapoor, AIG vigilance bureau, seeking an apology about the goof-up.
It was on November 2 that the Punjab advocate general (AG), Atul Nanda requested Justice Chaudhari at this residence to urgently give an order preventing Gurdev Singh from leaving the country. Immigration officials had detained him at the Delhi international airport on the basis of a lookout notice just before he was to board a Delhi-London flight, assuming that he was the scam accused.
18/11/17 Ajay Sura/Times of India

Air Astana Plans To Add Direct Mumbai-Kazakhstan Flights

Kazakhstan's flag carrier Air Astana plans to add Mumbai as its second destination in India by 2019, the airline's President and CEO Peter Foster said on Friday. The airline operates 10 flights between Kazakhstan and India every week, including a daily service between Almaty and New Delhi and three frequencies between Astana and New Delhi.

"Our first priority is to get our Delhi to Astana flight up to daily. Thereafter, we would like to add Mumbai by 2019," Foster said at a press briefing here. He said however that the lack of available slots at airports was a problem. "Airports are increasingly being privatised and slot allocation process has to be seen to be transparent and fair," he said. "The problem is, and this is throughout the world, that because of grand-fathered rights or slots held at major airports by national carriers, new slots are extremely hard to come by," Foster added.

Air Astana is celebrating 13 years of connecting India to Kazakhstan. It commenced operations in India in 2004 with flights between Almaty and New Delhi. Direct service from Astana to New Delhi was launched on July 2, 2017. Both services are operated using Airbus A320 and Embraer 190 aircraft. The total number of passengers carried between Kazakhstan and India during 2017 reached 43,459, representing an increase of 43 percent compared with 2016. The number of transit
passengers travelling from New Delhi via Almaty to other international destinations grew by 33 percent year-over-year in 2016, according to a statement by Air Astana.
17/11/17 PTI/Mid Day

Salt-loaded aircraft to create artificial rain to check pollution

Lucknow/Kanpur : Move over rain gods as UP government and IIT Kanpur woll come together to fly an aircraft into the skies of Lucknow and seed clouds for creating artificial rains to bring down pollution levels in the state capital any time soon.
Top sources in the department of UP civil aviation department confirmed to TOI that IIT-K has agreed to modify its six-seater Cessna aircraft to load it with salt for being dropped on the high altitude `supercooled' clouds. A proposal to this effect will be sent to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) next week,'' said a senior official in civil aviation department.
An approval from the DGCA is always required whenever something is dropped from the aircraft, said a senior official in the civil aviation department. Sources said that the state government has also agreed to back the proposed modification in the aircraft of IIT-K. The exercise, conducted perhaps for the first time in UP, will also require an approval of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) as it involves an atmospheric layer.
Acting Director, IITKanpur, Prof Manindra Agarwal told TOI, "We have developed technology for conducting artificial rain after UP government approached us a few months back for giving a solution for the same. We have also received permission from Envionment ministry for cloud seeding, the permission from Aviation ministry is awaited. Approval from Environment ministry came today only." He also confirmed that several trials and experiments had been going on using Cessna aircraft and the same would be used when asked to do cloud seeding by the government.
18/11/17 Pankaj Shah and Abhinav Malhotra/Times of India

Kerala to join regional air connectivity scheme soon

New Delhi: The government’s regional air connectivity scheme (RCS) is set to take wings in Kerala with the State government showing interest in signing an agreement with the Ministry of Civil Aviation to provide concessions required for the scheme to be implemented there.

“Officials from Kerala were here. (They said that) a decision has been taken and formal signing will take place any day,” a senior government official told BusinessLine.

The scheme stipulates that the States have to lower the value added tax (VAT) on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to 1 per cent or less, besides providing security and fire services free of cost and electricity, water and other utilities at substantially concessional rates.
17/11/17 Ashwini Phadnis/Business Line

Mehbooba Seeks flights’ operation to ASEAN region from Sgr airport

Jammu: To give fillip to the tourism industry in the State, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti Friday urged the Centre to include Srinagar Airport among the airports in the country from where flights to ASEAN countries are to be operated.
In a letter to Union Civil Aviation Minister, Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati, the Chief Minister said the operation of flights to and from ASEAN region to Srinagar airport would give the desired push to the tourism industry in the State, which it has been craving for. “The operation of flights from and to cities like Kaula-Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok, Singapore and other cities in the region would have a positive impact on the local tourism industry and bolster the State’s economy”, she said in her letter to the Union Minister.
It may be recalled here that several deputations from the Tourism industry had met the Chief Minister in last few months and requested for connectivity with ASEAN countries to tap the tourism market in the region.
In another communication to Union Agriculture Minister, Radha Mohan Singh, Mehbooba Mufti has sought continuation of Central assistance to the local poultry industry, extension of loan recovery period and waiving of interest in respect of unit holders to sustain their business which suffered heavily due to floods of 2014 besides the high cost of feed imported from neighbouring States.
18/11/17 Brighter Kashmir

Now fly direct between Udaipur and Rajkot

Starting November 28th, Udaipur and Rajkot will be connected via a direct chartered flight. The services will be provided by Rajkot based Poojara Telecom.

Poojara Telecom has received approval from Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for operating direct chartered flights between Rajkot and Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Bhuj, Bhavnagar, Diu and Udaipur.

The firm will provide a seven seater non-scheduled chartered service to these locations from Rajkot.
17/11/17 Udaipur Times

Anti-hijacking drill conducted at Hyderabad airport

Hyderabad: A full-scale anti-hijacking exercise was conducted by the Aviation Security Group at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) in Shamshabad here on Thursday.

Officials from the Police Department, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), National Security Guard (NSG), Airport Fire Wing, Apollo Medical Services, GMR Security, Airports Authority of India (AAI), State Fire Services Department, GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL), which operates RGIA, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) took part in the exercise.
18/11/17 Telangana Today

Sikkim's very own airport in Pakyong will be its road to development

In the absence of rail and air linkages, roads have been the lifeline for the people in Sikkim. However, with the state having to share 30 kilometres of NH10 with West Bengal, any unrest in the Darjeeling Hills has a fallout on trade and transport in the smaller state. As happened with the indefinite call for a bandh in June against the West Bengal government which brought life to a halt in Sikkim.
Come November 30, and some of that inconvenience could well become a thing of the past. On that day, Sikkim will get its first public air base, a greenfield airport at Pakyong in east Sikkim, 35 km from capital Gangtok. So far, the state had to rely on the airport at Bagdogra, 124 km away in Jalpaiguri district. The new airport has been built at a cost of Rs 300 crore and is situated at 4,700 feet.
18/11/17 Romita Datta/India Today

IndiGo offloads 4 Kashmiri youths

Patna: IndiGo airlines offloaded one mentally disturbed Kashmiri youth along with three of his co-passengers from a Patna- Delhi flight (6E-6325) on Thursday evening after some passengers complained about their erratic behaviour.
Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) after ascertaining their background. CISF officials confirmed the incident. CISF sources said the mentally disturbed youth, Mukhtar Ahmed Gani (21), had come to Patna to participate in the national integration camp of NCC hosted by 11, Bihar Battalion. The camp, which began on November 8, is scheduled to conclude on November 18.
Sources said the battalion's commanding officer found Mukhtar's behaviour erratic and declared him unfit for the camp on November 14. Mukhtar's elder brother Javed Ahmed Gani was immediately contacted in Jammu and asked to take him back. Later, Javed arrived with his two friends, Md Munib Wali and Haroon Rashid, who study in Punjab University, to take Mukhtar back.
Airlines sources said some passengers complained to the flight crew about suspicious activity of the youth, including that of Mukhtar, who was insisting on sitting in the cockpit. "The four youths were offloaded on the complaints of some passengers. One of the youths was mentally depressed. We released them after preliminary screening and their ticket fair was refunded by IndiGo. We also sent the youths back to the NCC training camp," said a CISF official.
18/11/17 Times of India

CISF at Kochi airport emerges top in survey

Kochi: Results of a passenger feedback survey at eight airports in the country have placed the services of Central Industrial Security Force personnel at the Kochi international airport at Nedumbassery at top position in terms of the feeling of security, thoroughness of security operations, waiting time for clearances, etc. The CISF at Mumbai and Bengaluru airports are placed in the second and third positions respectively. Delhi airport has been ranked four.

The CISF looks after the security of 59 airports in the country. The survey was conducted at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata and Guwahati.

Different variables were taken into consideration for the survey. These included courtesy and helping attitude, said a press release here. Comments from passengers on dispensing with stamping of hand baggage and suggestions for any improvement were also sought during the survey, which was conducted by the CISF.
18/11/17 The Hindu

INAS 312 best naval air squadron

Kochi: Commanding officers of all naval air squadrons attended the annual edition of the Naval Flight Safety Seminar hosted by the Southern Naval Command.

Vice Admiral A.R. Karve, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Command, inaugurated. He said it was fitting that the seminar was being held at the cradle of Indian naval aviation, which has now grown to be a force to reckon with.

The seminar discussed topics like the ‘Study of Best Practices of Civil and Advanced Foreign Military Aviation for Enhancing Flight Safety’ and ‘Imperatives of Airspace Management in a Rapidly Integrating and Dense Air Environment’.
A total of seven papers were presented on these themes. Various aviation accidents and incidents of the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and Indian Army were discussed in detail as case studies.
18/11/17 The Hindu

CBI books aviation consultant Deepak Talwar; conducts raids

New Delhi: The CBI has registered a case against aviation consultant Deepak Talwar, an NGO linked to him, and others for allegedly "misutilising" over Rs 90 crore in funds taken through the foreign funding route as part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The agency today carried out searches at eleven places and said it has recovered "a large number of incriminating documents."
"The complaint relates to the allegations of mis- utilisation of foreign contribution which were received under the CSR scheme for the purpose of carrying out educational and social activities in India.
"The funds were allegedly received mainly from a foreign based company to the tune of Rs 90.72 crore in the bank accounts of a Delhi based private firm/NGO registered under the foreign contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 for carrying out social welfare activities in the field of education," a CBI spokesperson said.
He said the agency has booked six entities - Delhi-based NGO Ms Advantage India, Ms Accordis Health Care Pvt Ltd, Talwar, Sunil Khandewal of Accordis Health, the MD of Accordis Health Raman Kapoor, another consultant T Kapoor and other unknown persons.
The agency alleged that Talwar and the NGO, in the name of purchasing ambulances and other articles, diverted the funds received from Europe's leading missile manufacturing company MBDA and the Airbus group. This, it claimed, was in alleged violation of the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act).
The agency said it registered an FIR against the accused based on a complaint of the Union Home Ministry.
18/11/17 PTI/Times of India