Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Flight operations resume in Puducherry

Puducherry: Puducherry on Wednesday regained a spot in the aviation map with the resumption of flight services on the Puducherry-Hyderabad sector.

A 78-seater SpiceJet Bombardier, SEJ 1004, from Hyderabad landed at the airport with full capacity around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The return flight, SEJ 1005, with 76 passengers took off to Hyderabad around 12:00 p.m.

The entire Cabinet, led by Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, ruling party legislators, Chief Secretary Manoj Parida and senior officials were present at the airport to witness the resumption of flight operations.

The resumption of flight operations at the Puducherry airport, under the Centre’s flagship Regional Connectivity Scheme, ended about two years of hibernation, since Alliance Air had suspended its operation after six months following differences with the government over subsidy.
16/08/17 Rajesh B Nair/The Hindu

Malaysia Airlines sale: Get your flights to India from $573 return

Malaysia Airlines has some last-minute space on flights to Delhi in India with available flight dates from August to October 2017, going from Melbourne to Delhi for as little as $573 round trip. These are about as low as prices will ever drop to India, coming in a little bit cheaper than previous Malaysia Airlines Delhi flight sales which saw prices fall to $588 return.

They're still a bit more expensive than AirAsia flights are going at the same time, however. If you want to go budget and don't need the checked baggage and in-flight meals then AirAsia might be the one for you.

The reason there's space left to fill is probably because it's monsoon season in India from July to September, so you might want to aim for the later October travel dates for much better weather, while still getting practically identical prices.

The other catch is that certain dates might come with a fairly extensive stopover on the way back, so it might be worth tweaking your dates a bit to avoid this.
16/08/17 Finder

Teething trouble for air corridor

A new air corridor trade scheme between India and Afghanistan has got off to a turbulent start, according to a report from The Hindu.

Fresh produce consignments, including melons and apricots, were left to rot at Kabul airport earlier this month following the delay and cancellation of chartered services on the trade route.

Citing figures from the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Indian Embassy in Kabul, the report claimed only160 tonnes of cargo have been transported under the scheme.

Along with a lack of cargo planes, the report suggested a slow screening process and minimal cold storage facilities at Kabul airport have hampered trade.

Meanwhile, Indian traders have raised concerns about the length of time it takes to clear perishable goods through their customs department.

“We were told that all these procedural delays would be sorted out within a month of the corridor starting, but there are yet to be resolved,” Sayam Pasarlay, a spokesperson for ACCI, told The Hindu.
16/08/17 Asiafruit

Jammu airports modernised terminal building to open tomorrow

Jammu: Jammu airports upgraded and newly expanded state-of-the-art terminal building will open tomorrow, senior officials said.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Union Minister for Civil Aviation P Ashok Gajapathi Raju will inaugurate the new building in the presence of Union ministers of state Jitendra Singh and Jayant Sinha.
"The Jammu Airport is set to offer a world-class experience to passengers with an expanded and modernised terminal. The inauguration will be held tomorrow," Jammu Divisional Commissioner Mandeep Bhandari said.
Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh and state Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta will also be present at the opening.
Bhandari said all arrangements relating to security, traffic management, including alternative traffic routes, and other logistics have been taken care of.
Police and other administration officers have been directed to maintain the highest levels of coordination, he added.
Director Airports Authority of India (AAI) D K Gautam said the departure hall on the ground floor of the Rs 80-crore project was ready.
"It will be open to passengers from tomorrow," Gautam said.
16/08/17 India Today

Pilot says distracted by laser beam before landing at Delhi’s IGI Airport

New Delhi: Security agencies at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport faced some tense moments after the pilot of an Indigo flight called the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) and complained of being distracted by a laser beam while landing on Tuesday.
An FIR has been registered at IGI Airport police station and police have started investigation.
According to police, Subham Trivedi, the pilot of IndiGo flight no 6E198 — from Mumbai to Delhi — informed the ATC that the incident took place when he was five nautical miles from the airport and was about to land. “The incident was reported around 12.40 am Tuesday when the flight had been cleared to land on runway 29/11. But he suddenly complained of some distraction and informed the ATC, who informed the manager on the ground,” said a senior police officer, adding that the ATC later helped the pilot land the plane and informed the Delhi Police control room about the incident.
Soon after, Delhi Police officers and other security agencies rushed to the spot. “A laser light causing distraction to the vision of the pilot is not only a source of nuisance but may also cause danger to the safety of passengers and crew. It may also be dangerous for the aircraft,” the officer said.
16/08/17 Mahender Singh Manral/Indian Express

Air India Freedom Sale: Dubai flight tickets at Rs 6,000, Colombo at Rs 7,000

Indian travellers looking for a quick a getaway to an international destination must know national carrier Air India is offering cheap tickets as part of its Freedom Sale marking 70 years of Indian Independence. The sale began on 13th August and fliers can book tickets till 20th August to avail the discounted rates. The cheapest tickets among international flights are for Asian cities, some of which are also popular tourist destinations for Indians.
Tickets to Nepal's capital Kathmandu, Sri Lankan capital Colombo, Myanmar's Yangon are being offered for as low as Rs 7,000. The rates, however, can change, depending on ticket availability. The travel period during for to avail this offer is 16th September 2017 to 30th November 2017 and 25th January 2018 to 31st March 2018, as per the Air India website.
Tickets to Middle Eastern cities, most of which have a strong Indian population, are even cheaper. Tickets to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sarjah, Muscat, Bahrain, Kuwait, Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam are priced Rs 6,000.  But, fliers must note that the travel period at these rates are from 1st February 2018 to 20th April 2018. Tickets to other major international cities in the US, UK, Australia and Europe are also offered on lower rates than usual.
16/08/17 Business Today

As India increasingly takes to the skies, here is how Modi government looks to provide a big boost

New Delhi: The Indian air travel market has been witnessing 20 per cent annual growth in domestic passenger traffic. To sustain this double digit annual growth, country’s aviation infrastructure needs to grow. It has been learnt that over 800 new aircraft are likely to enter the market. At present, 500 aircraft are operated by country’s carriers, PTI reported on July 20. Now, front-end infrastructure such as airport terminals and runways are coming up in good numbers. However, it is the aircraft maintenance which is still lagging behind in terms of global standard.
Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL)’s, a subsidiary of national carrier Air India, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Nagpur is a vital cog in the wheel to address the above-mentioned issue. It has been learnt that the Nagpur MRO facility consists of two wide-body hangars, a support building and other miscellaneous buildings. The MRO unit is designed for undertaking maintenance of any type and size of aircraft, including A380. Each hangar can accommodate one wide body or three narrow body aircraft at a time, as per PTI report.
However, the growth and commercial viability of the facility will depend on a number of factors such as air traffic growth at Nagpur, having better commercial sense for private airlines, and fiscal incentives to the unit to make it competitive with other MRO companies in India and other key locations spread across Asia, according to Indian Express report.
16/08/17 Financial Express

Air India airhostess slips up, deploys evacuation chute upon landing

Air India on Tuesday grounded an airhostess for accidentally deploying the evacuation chute of a Boeing 777 after the plane landed and reached its parking bay in Mumbai. The incident happened when AI 102 operated on Delhi-Mumbai sector on Tuesday. The chute got deployed in a way that it went inflating inside a catering van that was near the aircraft with meals to be loaded for the next flight.
"We are investigating. A cabin crew member admitted to deploying the chute by mistake. Her statement will be recorded on Wednesday," said a senior AI official.
The official said it seems the B-777 had landed and reached its parking bay when the airhostess accidentally opened the "R2 door escape slide" in auto mode. "The aircraft had to operate another flight and we arranged for a replacement cabin crew for the personnel grounded," the official said. The return flight this aircraft as to operate to the US was delayed due to this.
Inflatable evacuation slides, used for evacuating an aircraft quickly in an emergency, are packed within the door structure. In new generation aircraft, these slides deploy automatically when a door is opened in 'armed' condition to reduce evacuation time. Inadvertent slide deployment leads to delays as the aircraft cannot take off for another flight till all doors have a packed chute.
16/08/17 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Air India’s MRO: Traffic, tax incentives imperative for Nagpur facility to take off

Nagpur: The Indian air travel market, which is currently witnessing a 20 per cent annual growth in domestic passenger traffic, is pegged to be one of the fastest growing markets in the world. However, to sustain this growth, it is also deemed essential for the country’s aviation infrastructure to grow. Although various parties are putting their weight behind the front-end infrastructure such as airport terminals and runways, the back-end infrastructure, a major part of which is aircraft maintenance, is still a laggard compared with its global peers.
Air India Engineering Services Ltd’s (AIESL) Nagpur maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility is a step in the direction to correct this issue. However, the growth and commercial viability of the facility depends on a number of factors such as air traffic growth at Nagpur, having better commercial sense for private airlines, and fiscal incentives to the unit to make it competitive with other MRO companies in India and other key locations spread across Asia.
16/08/17  Pranav Mukul/Indian Express

Glorious history of civil aviation in Hyderabad stuck in air pocket

Hyderabad: Hyderabad Does Not Have An Aviation Museum. Relics Of Yore Remain Only In Photographs And Books. Now, Heritage Activists Want A Portion Of The Begumpet Airport To Be Converted Into An Aviation Museum To Inspire The Younger Generation
The legacy of civil aviation in Hyderabad continues to inspire pilots and researchers in aviation even seven decades after the first commercial flight took off the Begumpet airport in July 1946.The Begumpet airport, which is now virtually defunct, has been a witness to the history of Hyderabad's civil and military aviation as it unfolded over the years. It was the first airport to watch a new chapter being drafted in the world of aviation when the world's first woman commercial pilot took off from its runway in 1948. However, the aviation history of Hyderabad traces back to a little over 100 years ago, 1911 to be precise.
In fact, Hyderabad's aviation heritage is intricately linked with the nobility and the ordinary citizens, and military and civil aircraft. It also cherishes several interesting episodes including the air phobia of the Nizam VII, Mir Osman Ali Khan, who founded the Begumpet airport, and the mysterious Sydney Cotton, who airdropped arms prior to the Operation Polo or the so-called Police Action in 1948 that led to the merger of Hyderabad state with the Indian Union. The runway and the air traffic control tower in Begumpet airport still echoes the daredevilry of the women aircrew. Sadly, Hyderabad with a glorious history and heritage of civil and military aviation does not boast of an aviation museum.
16/08/17 Syed Akbar/Times of India

The state of civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in India

The state of the Indian drone industry is a complicated one, given the harsh restrictions imposed upon UAS in the country. In October of 2014, the Director General of Civil Aviation in India issued a public notice (http://dgca.nic.in/public_notice/PN_UAS.pdf) that regulated Indian UAS use for the first time. The notice is clear: ‘Til such (future) regulations are issued, no individual no non-government agency, organization, or an individual will launch a UAS in Indian Civil Airspace for any purpose whatsoever.’

Despite the fairly obvious warning to any potential UAS user who’s not government-affiliated, there are no laws against the sale of drones in India-and the market for them is growing rapidly. Civil drones alone are estimated to have made over a billion Rupees in sales (roughly equivalent to fifteen million US Dollars), and the UAS market’s worth in India is expected to rise to $421 million by 2021.

The military market makes up the bulk of India’s drone expenditure, however. India imports more military drones than any other country, making up 22.5% of global UAS imports. A recent defence deal with Israel for the purchase of ten Heron drones shows that the interest in UAS from the Indian government is still very much alive.
15/08/17 Adam Mortimer/SUAS news

Etihad Airways partners with Indian designer Manish Arora at Lakmé Fashion Week

Etihad Airways and Lakmé Fashion Week today announced a collaboration with one of the most lauded and inspiring international contemporary designers, Paris-based Manish Arora, who returns to the prestigious Mumbai fashion event after more than five years.

The celebrated Indian couturier marks the 10th anniversary of his colorful Paris collection by presenting ‘CosmicLove’ at the Lakmé Fashion Week Winter Festive 2017 on August 19. His show, Etihad Airways Presents Manish Arora, will take the star-studded audience of Bollywood celebrities, lifestyle media and fashion lovers on a visual journey that spans the tribes of Africa and the outer reaches of the universe.

Known for his astute craftsmanship and unique play on colors – his trademark being pink and gold – Arora’s designs are inspired by Indian heritage but with a contemporary vibe.

Etihad Airways flew Manish Arora on its recently-launched Airbus A380 Paris – Abu Dhabi service and onwards to India, capturing his journey on film from the French capital to Delhi, during which he speaks candidly about his inspiration from the varied cultures and environment for his renowned creations.
15/081/17 eTN

Airports Authority of India directed to float new tender for appointing Master Concessionaire

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday directed the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to call for a fresh tender for Appointment of Master Concessionaire to design, build, finance, operate and maintain general retail outlets at the Chennai Airport. Justice M Duraiswamy set-aside the bid submitted by Bangalore-based Evolve Business Ventures (EBV) and declared it as contrary to the tender conditions of Request For Proposal (RFP) dated October 2016. The order was passed on a petition filed by Travel News Services (India), New Delhi. In October 2016, the AAI (Southern Region) floated a  tender for which EBV was declared the highest bidder.

However, according to the petitioner, two firms that were placing bids – Bhawar Lifestyle and EBV – were related and under the same management team. “The relationship between two bidders need not necessarily be corporate relationship, but a close relationship of two bidders that puts either or both of them in a position to have access to each other information about or to influence the proposal of either or each other, shall be deemed to have conflict of interest,” said Justice Duraiswamy. The petitioner had written to the AAI authorities highlighting the violation of RFP conditions and requested them to disqualify the bids submitted by the two firms. However, the AAI  did not pay heed to this and opened the financial bids on December 22, 2016.
16/08/17 New Indian Express

New airports may be named after cities not personalities

New Delhi: The government is considering naming future airports after cities and not personalities because it feels that names of cities are easier to remember for passengers especially foreign tourists. The civil aviation ministry is, however, yet to finalise its decision. Regarding renaming of existing airports after personalities, the government is yet to make up its mind.  The government, however, is likely to allow naming of airport terminals after eminent personalities.

Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha clarified the government’s stand while giving a written reply in the matter to the Lok Sabha recently. He said the proposal of naming and renaming airports after cities is being examined by the government and that the government is also working on a policy on naming / re-naming of airports.

“Due to lack of any firm and explicit instructions/guidelines for naming/renaming of airports in the country and considering the convenience of passengers in general and especially foreign tourists who are not familiar with the local history of the area, a view has emerged to name the airports by the name of the city in which they are located/served and the terminals of the airports after eminent personalities in honour of their memory.

There will be no changes to existing airport names,” Sinha said.

Sinha also confirmed that the ministry has received proposals from Andhra Pradesh regarding renaming of the Vijayawada Airport and the Tirupati Airport. On this, he said, “Since a policy on naming /re-naming of airports is presently under deliberation in this ministry, it has emerged that all proposals for naming / re-naming of airports may await the finalization of the above policy.”
15/08/17 New Indian Express

Parallel taxiway to reduce delays at Dabolim airport

Vasco: To decrease flight delays at Goa international airport, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has awarded the contract to build the parallel taxiway at the Dabolim airport to Dilip Buildcon Limited and the work for the same would commence soon after the monsoons, said AAI Goa Airport Director BCH Negi.
He was speaking on the occasion of 71st Independence Day celebration held at Dabolim airport on Tuesday.
“We have been taking several initiatives to increase passenger facilities and to reduce flight delays at the Goa Airport. Recently, AAI has finalized Dilip Buildcon as the contractor for construction of 3.7 kilometer-long parallel taxi-track which will improve aircraft turnaround time at the Dabolim airport. The Rs 125 crore project works would start soon after the monsoon season gets over,” Negi said.
“Other works to increase passenger facilities have already started at the airport. We have given more focus to cleanliness and thus have appointed a new cleaning contractor for the airport. Similarly, since passenger growth at Goa airport has increased substantially, we have already initiated plans to develop many areas under the terminal building to avoid any congestion at the terminal building,” he informed.
16/08/17 Herald

HC orders fresh tender for retail outlets in Chennai airport

The Madras High Court has directed the Airports Authority of India to call for fresh tender for operation of general retail outlets at the airport here.

Justice M Duraiswamy issued the order while setting aside the bid submitted by Bengaluru-based Evolve Business Ventures on the ground that it was contrary to the tender conditions listed in the October, 2016 Request For Proposal (RFP).

In a recent order, he held that co-bidder Bhawar Lifestyle and Evolve Business Ventures were closely linked to each other, which violated clause 2.2.1 (c) (vi) of RFP.

According to the clause, proposals of such companies shall be deemed to have conflict of interest affecting the bidding process, the judge noted.

The two companies had engaged a common consultant who had 'mistakenly' mentioned the account ID of Evolve Business Ventures in Bhawar Lifestyle's earnest money deposit challan.

The judge directed the AAI (Southern Region) represented by its Regional Executive Director, Chairman of AAI, New Delhi, and the Airport Director of International Airport here to call for a fresh tender for appointment of master concessionaire to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the outlets.
15/08/17 PTI/DNA

Irish tourist degtained with satellite phne at IGIA

New Delhi: Security personnel at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport went into a tizzy when a 28-year-old Irish national was detained at the Airport on August 14, a day before the Independence Day with a satellite phone, a device which is prohibited in India and can be used by terrorists, police said on Tuesday.

"Since satellite phones are prohibited in India, we took action against the accused identified as Pattrick O Connor  He had come to India to visit Leh Ladakh," Deputy Commissioner of Police, IGI, Airport Sanjay Bhatia told The Pioneer.

The accused was produced  before a Delhi court to pay fine as is the norm in such cases. A Kalandra under section 6 of the Indian Wireless Act was registered as a diary entry in the IGI Domestic Airport Police station against the accused.

The official said the accused was not aware that satellite phones are not allowed, except on special permission, in India.
16/08/17 Sauvik Mitra/Daily Pioneer

Air hostess found dead outside Kolkata apartment, two detained

Kolkata: An air hostess working with a private airlines was found dead on Wednesday after allegedly falling from the third floor of a building in Kolkata. Police have detained two persons for questioning in the case.
“The deceased has been identified as Khongsit Clara Bansha Rai. Preliminary investigations have revealed that she was the lead cabin attendant of Indigo airlines. It is too early to ascertain how the incident took place,” said a police official. Rai was a resident of Shillong.
Sources said Rai had gone to attend the birthday party of a friend in an apartment at Prafulla Kanan area in Kestopur under Baguihati police. Her body was found near the apartment with serious head and body injuries. Passersby noticed Rai’s body lying in a pool of blood early morning and informed the police.
“Two people, one male and one female, who were at the party have been detained. We are digging for more information in the case to find the exact sequence of events,” an official at Bidhannagar police station said. Rai’s body has been sent for the post-mortem examination.
16/08/17 Sweety Kumari/Indian Express

Jet Airways extends freedom sale till Aug 21

Dubai: Continuing its endeavour of offering exceptional value, Jet Airways, India’s leading full-service, premier international airline, on Tuesday August 15 announced a seven-day extension to the freedom sale due to high demand.

The special offer will allow guests to avail discounted fares to the tune of up to 30 percent on base fares on flights originating from Dubai and Sharjah to select destinations in India and onwards to Bangkok, Colombo, Dhaka, Hong Kong, Kathmandu and Singapore. The promotional fares will continue be applicable on tickets booked up until August 21, 2017 and valid for travel starting from March 31, 2018.

This is yet another guest-delight initiative from Jet Airways, already acclaimed for delivering exceptional value to travelers, aside from its attractive promotions and innovative product offerings.

Shakir Kantawala, vice president Gulf, Middle East & Africa, Jet Airways, said, “Jet Airways uses every opportunity to create memorable experiences for its guests and India’s Independence Day is another such occasion for us to give wings to the aspirations of the increasingly globalized Indian, helping them to explore new destinations using our attractive, limited period fares.”
15/08/17 daijiworld

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

'Crawl to seat, we dont care': SpiceJet crew allegedly insult India's first wheelchair tennis player

In an incident reeking of insensitivity, para athlete Madhu Bagri was allegedly illtreated by the crew of Spice Jet at Tirupati airport on Monday.
India’s first wheelchair tennis player, Madhu Bagri was traveling on a Spice Jet flight from Tirupati to Ahmedabad via Hyderabad. Narrating her ordeal, Madhu alleged that the crew had asked her to “walk, crawl or do anything to reach” her seat. This as the aisle on the aircraft was too narrow to accommodate her wheel-chair.
Madhu says that despite her appeals to give her another seat, the crew tried pushing and pulling the wheelchair, without showing any sensitivity. When she refused to comply with their instructions, she says, “They picked up the aisle wheelchair, wherein my head was almost touching the roof and I was on the verge of falling down, as I lost balance.” Madhu alleges that the crew on-board the aircraft refused to understand her situation, and alleges misbehaviour on the part of officials. The tennis player then says that along with her luggage, she was thrown out of the aircraft and left unattended at the airport.
42-year-old Madhu Bagri is India’s first wheelchair tennis player, and has reached a career high world ranking of 113.
14/08/17 The News Minute

Gulf flag-carriers see manifold jump in entitlements in 2017

Mumbai: As domestic carriers fail to utilise their bi-laterals, especially to the Gulf airlines eating away 54 per cent volume, foreign flag-carriers have seen manifold jump in their entitlements in 2017, with UAE, Qatar, Oman and Singapore leading the pack.
While domestic carriers’ ownership of international passenger market originating to and fro from the country is a very low 38 per cent, for countries like the Netherlands it’s a high 61 per cent, for China and Britain it is 49 per cent each, says a report by brokerage ICICI Securities.
“The share of the Gulf carriers to and fro from here has jumped from 27 per cent in 2008 to 33 per cent in 2015, while the same for the Southeast Asian airlines jumped over two times from 5.9 per cent in 2008 to 12.3 per cent in 2015,” says the report.
This has, says the report, “domestic airlines enjoy only 38 per cent of the total international segment capacity as measured by available seat kilometres. This is very low compared to other countries like the Netherlands (61 per cent), China and Britain (49 per cent each).” One of the reasons for this lopsided market is the round-tripping of passengers via international hubs of Dubai and Singapore, notes the report, which has been made through utilisation of the sixth freedom of the air and increase in capacity entitlements under bilateral air service agreements.
Gulf carriers enjoy almost 54 per cent of total global air travel destination for the country.
But these countries are not the end-destinations for most passengers but are being used as stop-over hubs to carry passengers for onward destinations in the US, Canada, Europe etc.
“The sixth freedom of the air has to a large extent been responsible for reducing the share of direct long haul flights for domestic carriers from 25 per cent in 2011-12 to 20.5 per cent in 2015-16,” the report says.
The sixth freedom of the air means the right to fly from a foreign country to another while stopping in one’s own country for non-technical reasons.
The sixth freedom of the air means the right to fly from a foreign country to another while stopping in one’s own country for non-technical reasons.
Fifth freedom means the right to fly between two foreign countries on a flight originating or ending in one’s own country, while the fourth freedom means flying from another country to one’s own.
What is more, the percentage of sixth freedom traffic for most Gulf and Southeast Asian airlines is over 50 with Qatar and the UAE having greater than 60 of the total traffic.
“Between 2003 and 2017, the capacity entitlements between Dubai and India have increased manifold. The same for Oman and Qatar jumped 9 and 12 fold, respectively,” notes the report.
While the UAE saw its weekly seats or bi-laterals jumping from 10,400 in 2003 to 66,500 in 2017, for Oman, it soared to 27,400 from 3,800; Qatar to 24,800 from 2,900 and Singapore’s to 26,300 from 1,650, says the report.
15/08/17 India.com

Air India gets Rs. 927 crore breather, banks shy away

The center has pumped in another Rs. 927 crore in Air India this month, keeping its promise of fund infusion made almost a decade ago.

It'll continue to do so until Air India goes through disinvestment process.

It is a life saver for Maharaja, as it had to delay salaries of some of its employees due to a severe cash crunch.

Here's more.

State-owned banks have shied away from extending loans to the embattled state-run airlines, as it's on its way to be privatized.

Air India has urged its parent ministry i.e. the Ministry of Civil Aviation to speak to the finance ministry for assistance in the matter of loans.

An Air India official told Mint that this infusion will help with Air India's liquidity.

The Maharaja has received Rs. 25,000 crore as equity from the government since 2012. It's to be noted that out of the Rs. 2,587 crore that AI was promised during this financial year, it has already received Rs. 1,633 crore.

Currently, AI has a monthly shortfall of Rs. 400 crore and banks are unwilling to lend a helping hand due to its privatization plans.
15/08/17 Anish Chakraborthy/News Bytes

A steady flight despite frequent turbulence

Bengaluru: The wheel has almost turned a full circle.

In 1947, Tata Airlines, launched by JRD Tata, changed its name to Air India and soon after launched its international operations.

Seventy years later, the Tatas are learnt to be keen on picking up a stake in Air India, which is set to be privatised soon.

The nation’s civil aviation industry has witnessed several policy changes over the past seven decades — from privatisation to nationalisation and again to privatisation.

According to Wolfgang Will, Senior Director, South Asia, Lufthansa Group, the new civil aviation policy is one of the most competitive in the world and will be replicated by other countries. “I tell my peers and the others, ‘look at what is happening in India. Sooner or later, it will happen in other markets too.’ There is a lot to learn and it is rewarding too,” Will told BusinessLine in an interview.

The new civil aviation policy, called the National Civil Aviation Policy, unveiled in 2016, caps air fare at ₹2,500 per passenger for one-hour flights. It also plans to revive airstrips/airports as no-frill airports with an investment of ₹50-100 crore. There were several other incentives thrown in, like concessions to various stakeholders including airlines. The policy also allows 100 per cent FDI in the sector and automatic approval of foreign ownership up to 49 per cent.

The Tatas started international operations in 1947 with a capital of ₹2 crore and a fleet of three Lockheed aircraft. The first ever international flight by the airline was between Mumbai and London via Cairo and Geneva. If the Tatas were to buy Air India today, they will have access to 140 aircraft, several hangars and huge real estate, and 41 international and 72 domestic destinations. The airline also has a domestic and international market share of 14 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

But along with it comes a whopping debt of nearly ₹49,000 crore even though the government has come out with a ₹30,000-crore bailout package. It goes to show that nationalisation of private airlines in 1953 has turned out to be its biggest failure as well.

When Air India was privatised in 1953, eight independent domestic carriers were merged. The airline itself was split into two: Air India for international routes and Indian Airlines for domestic ones.
14/08/17 Business Line

Still Seeking Freedom From High Operational Cost

It’s ‘freedom to fly’ sale time for all airlines in India now. Although this freedom to passengers is a sign of a typical competitive market, the fact remains that the industry is still struggling for freedom from the country’s highest operational cost structure.

A recent quote of Singapore Airline’s India head David Lim explains it all. “With fares falling rapidly, yields are falling for airlines and all airlines are suffering,” he said in a recent media interview adding that the industry is prepared for competition and for yields to continue to be under pressure.

Even as India emerging as one of the largest and fastest growing aviation markets in the world, the industry is still concerned about the heavy operational cost as taxes on fuel, taxes and other charges still the highest in India.

But the market competition forces the players in the crowding Indian skies to keep the fares low for survival. Singapore Airlines’ India joint venture Vistara too has announced the ‘freedom to fly’ low fare offer in August along with its rivals.

But, that doesn’t stop the industry expressing their deep concerns about the cost structure in the market and its key demand at the seventieth year of India’s freedom remained a relief from the high-cost structure.

“While Government concessions in the form of reduced taxes on fuel and other services can provide the sector with a much-needed relief in order to ensure and sustain profitability, lots still needs to be done,” said Amit Agarwal, chief financial officer and acting CEO, Jet Airways, the country’s largest full service airline, responding to a BW Businessworld query.
15/08/17 CH Unnikrishnan/Business World

India To Sri Lanka: Forget China, We Want Your Empty Airport

An Indian company has emerged with a bold plan for taking over Sri Lanka's struggling Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA). The proposal, which would see India pumping $205 million into the airport for a 70% share for 40 years, was approved by Sri Lanka's Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva and sent on to the country's cabinet for review. While Sri Lanka has received a total of eight proposals from various other parties -- including China -- to take over the airport, the Indian plan is reportedly being reviewed separately.

For many years, there was a very strong demand for Sri Lanka to add additional international aviation capacity. Air traffic through Colombo was getting too heavy, and the country either had to add an additional runway there or build or expand another airport elsewhere. At a cost of $209 million —  most of which coming from China — Sri Lanka chose the later option, building Mattala International far out in southern Hambantota district, a 250 kilometer drive from Colombo.

This airport started out as a key part of an ambitious plan by Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to transform his extremely rural hometown region into Sri Lanka’s number two metropolis. In addition to the airport, there would be a $1.4 billion deep sea port, a large industrial and export processing zone, an exhibition center, a large cricket stadium, and a hotel and leisure area that would be connected together by some of the country’s best highways. The idea was that all of these large projects would rise up together and support each other. It was an all or nothing wager placed on creating an entirely new economy out in the middle of the jungle.

However, this great scheme has yet to come to fruition. Being located in a remote area in an under-developed part of the country, Mattala airport has struggled to attract both passengers and airlines. Only one or two flights per day This squalid state of affairs has led to the airport suffering major financial losses, with the government claiming that MRIA had hemorrhaged $112.9 million by the end of last year. It has become abundantly clear that Mattala International cannot provide the financial sustenance necessary for Sri Lanka to pay back the $190 million of loans that the Exim Bank of China provided to build it anytime soon.

currently stop there, and, according to the Sri Lankan government, the 3,000 flights that touched down at the airport in 2014 served just 21,000 passengers -- averaging a mere seven passengers per plane. This has led to MRIA being dubbed the "world's emptiest international airport," with its vacant corridors, gates, and tarmac serving as more of an attraction for curious journalists than actual passengers.
14/08/17 Wade Shepard/Forbes

AirAsia India Offers Rs. 1,399 Tickets In Limited-Period Scheme.

Amid airlines announcing fare discounts on the occasion of Independence Day, AirAsia India has announced all-inclusive tickets priced at Rs. 1,399 on select routes in a limited-period offer. Tickets under AirAsia India's new scheme, called "Dare to Dream" offer, can be booked till August 20, 2017, according to the airline's website. AirAsia India's special scheme requires flyers to make advanced bookings, it noted on its website. The AirAsia India offer is applicable on bookings made for travel till February 8, 2018, it added.

Under the AirAsia scheme, the lowest all-inclusive fare of Rs. 1,399 was being offered for one-way flights on the routes of Hyderabad-Bengaluru, Kochi-Bengaluru and Goa-Bengaluru. On the Bagdogra-Kolkata route, the tickets started at Rs. 1,499, according to AirAsia's website.
Starting fares offered on other routes included Rs. 1,599 on the Bhubaneswar-Kolkata and Ranchi-Kolkata routes, and Rs. 1,699 on the Guwahati-Imphal route. Tickets for flights between Kochi and Hyderabad, Hyderabad and Goa, Pune and Bengaluru, Visakhapatnam and Bengaluru, and between Srinagar and Delhi were being offered from Rs. 1,999, it showed.
15/08/17 NDTV

Independence Day: Jet Airways adds Tiranga Biriyani to menu

Mumbai: Aviation major Jet Airways added Independence Day flavour to its menu with a delectable Tiranga Biriyani.

This all-time popular dish will be served only on Aug 15 on select lunch and dinner flights across the airline’s domestic network including key routes such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata.

Provided in vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, the fragrant Tiranga Biriyani - rice cooked with unique exotic spices and freshness of mint prepared on ‘dum’, (cooked with steam) will be offered to guests in Economy.
14/08/17 India Blooms

Army's planned aviation base in north Bengal, stuck in land price negotiation

New Delhi: Indian Army's plan to open up an aviation base in the northern parts of West Bengal has hit a roadblock with the state government jacking up the land price by almost 15 times from the base value.

The stalled negotiations that began nearly five years ago adversely impacted Army's preparedness against China on the eastern front.

The Eastern Command and Siliguri-based 33 Corps of the Indian Army was in talk with the West Bengal government to acquire large tracts of land to set up a composite aviation base that will be crucial for the surveillance of Siliguri corridor – the chicken neck area in the northern parts of West Bengal that connects the north east India with the mainland. The base was also to house the Army's unmanned aerial vehicles.

“However, over the years the negotiators from the state government increased the price by nearly 15 times because of which the Army couldn't acquire the land in Shaugaon till now,” a source told DH. The central government initially allocated nearly Rs 10.5 crore for the aviation base.

Out of the 228 acres of land identified by the Army, nearly 97 acres of land are in active possession of the Army and the state government's support was required for the rest of the land, which belongs to an abandoned tea estate.

The stalemate in West Bengal comes at a time when India is beefing up its military presence in the east in order to match China's military assertiveness.
14/08/17 Kalyan Ray/Deccan Herald

C'garh to hire aircraft or helicopter for VIP use soon

Raipur: Chhattisgarh Directorate of Aviation (DoA), will be hiring Air Services Providers for providing services of twin engine  Aeroplane/ Helicopter for use by VIPs, 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 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.
15/08/17 Pioneer

Going offline: Air India stops online sale of discounted tickets for armed forces

In a move that has irked Army personnel, national carrier Air India has discontinued provision of giving them online concession, forcing them to physically visit the booking office. The reason shown behind withdrawing the services is fraud allegedly committed by some travel agents to book cheaper tickets.
Air India has been giving online concession to employees of armed forces for several years where the user is required to upload official ID card and the dependent cards issued of one's family members to avail 50 per cent discount travel across India in economy class.
However, fraudulent booking done by some agents have come to the notice of the airlines which discontinued this facility from August 1. However, all the beneficiaries can book discounted tickets physically from the booking counters.
"Yes, we have stopped the online concession scheme for the army. Earlier army personnel used to avail this facility at AI booking centres only," said an Air India spokesperson.
A senior official told Mail Today that they had noticed some dubious booking of discounted tickets. "Some travel agents, in order to book tickets at a cheaper rate, had made fake certificates and other documents. Many such fraudulent activities have come to light. The decision was made in order to end the foul game," he said.
15/08/17 Shashank Shekhar/India Today

From This Independence Day, Air India To Allow Members Of Armed Forces To Board First On Flight

Any effort made towards recognizing our Armed Forces, and the sacrifices they make to safeguard the nation, should be welcomed.
To that end, India's national carrier, Air India has decided to salute the Indian Soldiers by inviting them to board first on all their flights, before any other passengers. Even before First Class and Business Class passengers
In a mail to top officials, Air India executive director Sarabjot Singh Uberoi wrote that the carrier has decided that the serving members of the armed forces from Army, Air Force and Navy would be invited to board flights first.
Uberoi wrote that the order has to be implemented from August 15 onwards on all Air India flights.
"Serving soldiers will be invited to board all Air India flights even before First Class and Business class travellers. The country is grateful to them for their services and this is our way of honouring the soldiers for their contribution," Uberoi was quoted as saying.
15/08/17 India Times

Air India Independence Day offers: Domestic tickets at Rs 425, International from Rs 7000

Air India is celebrating Independence Day by offering one-way fares at Rs 425 in some domestic flights, and international flights as low as Rs 7000 for a limited period from August 13 to August 20, 2017. The discounts will be available to passengers for travel from September 16 to November 30, 2017 and January 25 to March 31, 2018.
The offer is valid for the major South Asian Cities like Kathmandu, Dhaka, Colombo, Yangon and Kabul, and the ticket prices to cities in the Gulf like Dubai and Bahrain are even cheaper at Rs 6,000. The economy class tickets of Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong are available at Rs 15,000 while tickets to European cities- London, Milan priced at Rs 38,000 and US cities, New York, Washington available at Rs 65,000. Air India’s website currently showing the fare from Jammu to Srinagar on February 6 available from Rs 425.
Passengers can book the tickets from Air India’s official website, http://www.airindia.in, mobile app- Air India, and other authorised travel agents. The low fares will be available on first come, first serve basis, however, it may subject to change without notice.
15/08/17 Indian Express

Airlines tragedies and disasters

Bengaluru: The sector has had its share of air disasters and hijackings over the years.

Among the biggest was a Japanese Airlines flight crashing at Delhi’s Palam Airport in 1972, killing 82 of 87 on board. Another was Kanishka, an Air India flight flying from Toronto to Delhi in June 1985, which was destroyed by a bomb at an altitude of 31,000 feet. It crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 329 aboard, most of whom were Canadian citizens.

In April 1993, an Indian Airlines flight crashed into a truck while taking off from Aurangabad, killing 55 persons. In 1996, in one of the deadliest air disasters, a Saudi Arabian flight collided mid-air with a Kazakhstan Airlines flight in November 1996, killing 349 persons on board. In May 2010, an Air India Express flight overshot the runway at Mangaluru, killing 158 passengers on board.

An Indian Airlines flight was hijacked in 1999 and flown to Kandahar in Afghanistan. One person was killed while 192 others survived the hijacking. In 1993, another Indian Airlines was hijacked to Amritsar. The lone hijacker was killed after security forces stormed the aircraft.

In another hijacking case in September 1996, a PanAm flight which took off from Mumbai was hijacked during a stopover at Karachi.
14/08/17 K Giriprakash/Business Line

Flight suffers snag, returns

Chennai: A SpiceJet flight from Chennai to Kochi returned to the Chennai airport on Monday night, 30 minutes after take-off, due to a technical snag, according to a passenger.

SpiceJet flight SG 605 was scheduled to depart at 8.50 p.m. “There was a delay and the flight took off only by 9.15 p.m. After 30 minutes, there was an announcement that there was low cabin pressure and the oxygen masks came off,” George, a passenger, said. Later, there was a follow-up announcement about the flight’s return due to a technical snag. He said the passengers were shifted to another aircraft.
15/08/17 The Hindu

Mount Zion society to build airstrip

Pathanamthitta: The Mount Zion Educational and Charitable Society will construct an airstrip at Aranmula in the next six months, society chairman Abraham Kalamannil has said.

He told the media here on Monday that the Kerala High Court stayed an order of the Kozhencherry Taluk Land Board (TLB) declaring 393 acres in possession of the society as excess land. He said he had moved the High Court against the TLB order.

He said the society had 232 acres at Aranmula which was sold to the Chennai-based KGS Group for ₹6 crore for constructing an international airport. The land deal with the KGS Group was a wrong decision, he said, adding that he would not support the Aranmula airport project any more. He said the Director of Civil Aviation had given permission for setting up an airstrip at Aranmula as part of the aeronautical engineering course at the society’s engineering college at Kadammanitta. He said the society had approached the Civil Aviation Department for reviving the proposal.

He said only a 1,500-ft long runway was required for the airstrip, adding that an air taxi service could be started, which could be a promising air travel facility in the region.
14/08/17 The Hindu

Now, choppers to ferry tourists to Butter Festival in Dyara Bugyal

Dehradun: In a first, chopper services have been introduced by the state government for tourists wishing to go to the annual Dayara Bugyal festival, held in a beautiful meadow located in Uttarkashi district of Garhwal. The festival known as Butter festival or in local parlance as Andhuri Utsav will be celebrated on August 17. During the festival, villagers play 'butter holi' with each other in the meadow at the elevation of 3048 meter which is reached after a trek of almost 5 km. Chopper services would be available for this 5-km stretch between Raithal and Dayara.
Satpal Maharaj, state tourism minister welcomed the chopper services at Dyara Bugyal and , said that the butter festival of Dyara Bugyal is as unique and interesting as the tomato festival, 'La Tomatina' which is also held in the month of August in Spain and, thus has all the potential to be world famous. In Dyara, people throw and smear each other with milk , curd and butter.
District magistrate of Uttarkashi Ashish Shrivastava said, "The chopper service has added one more milestone in promotion and facilitation of the amenities for the beautiful Dyara Bugyal."
The service provider Rohit Mathur, owner of Heritage Aviation said that that those people who considered the tough trek of five km as deterrant to reach the bugyal , be it due to their old age or for any other reason, will be able to do so easily with the availability of flights which will within five to seven minutes will drop them to Dyara from Raithal at Rs 2500 and for return at Rs 1500. The flights would start from 6 in the morning till 6 in the evening.
14/08/17 Seema Sharma/Times of India

Flyers at Lohegaon airport set to get cheaper options to munch on

Pune: Officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in Pune have planned to open some eateries inside the terminal building and on the airport premises where quality food will be served at affordable rates.
According to a senior AAI official, tenders for the eateries have been floated and they are expected to start business very soon.
"There has been a common and constant complaint from many passengers about the food sold by the eateries in the airport being expensive. Thus, we plan to introduce quality and economical food options. The eateries can be food stalls or restaurants. Tenders have been floated and we hope that they start functioning soon without much delay. Additional details will be shared at a later stage," said.
In the recent meeting of the Pune airport advisory committee, authorities had decided to add some local dishes to the menu of the eateries at the airport. Committee chairman and Pune MP Anil Shirole had asked the airport authorities to work actively in this regard. Sources said some of the eateries were expected to come up within a couple of months.
Another official said, "At present, there are two large eateries outside the terminal building. In addition to these, there are a few small ones inside the terminal building. Right now, we can only say that the new outlets will sell food at pocket-friendly rates. Whether there will be a cap on the cost has not been decided yet. The plan goes along with the idea of introducing some local food at the airport to make passengers experience the 'feel Pune' factor. A couple of tenders to open fast food outlets outside the terminal area and one inside the terminal building have been floated already."
15/08/17 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Separate lanes for traffic to contain chaos at airport


Traffic chaos at the Pune airport has been a frequent complaint for fliers for many years. However, passengers will soon see improvements in arrangements as the Airports Authority of India (AAI) intends to renovate the city-side premises of the existing structure in order to decongest the traffic flow both for departures and arrivals. Officials have already commenced work on the plan and the changes are expected to be visible within six months.
Giving details of the remodel, AAI’s Pune director, Ajay Kumar, told Mirror, “As the number of flights has increased over the last few years, the number of passengers travelling from Pune has also gone up. We conducted various experiments and changes to monitor the incoming and outgoing vehicle flow smoothly, but now there is daily congestion during peak hours and a permanent solution is needed. So, we have decided to remodel the entire exterior premises of the airport from where passengers arrive and depart.”
“We are going to segregate lanes for departure and arrival vehicles by creating separate lanes on the inside road after the entry gate. For departures, there are always friends and family who come to drop passengers off and they often halt or park their vehicles till the passenger has checked in. The remodel will be done for 150 metres from the existing departure and arrival gates. There will be separate lanes for vehicles coming to drop and to pick up passengers and once they have done so, they will immediately be directed to the exit,” added Kumar.
Pune airport sees a daily footfall of around 15,000 passengers, with approximately 5,000 four-wheelers coming for pick-ups and drops. At present, there is a parking lot in front of the airport which has the capacity for around 150-odd cars. To avoid parking fees, passengers halt inside the airport premises as do app-based cabs. AAI had even appointed wardens to monitor the traffic inside the airport.
15/08/17 Dheeraj Bengrut/Pune Mirror

Abu Dhabi airport celebrates India, Pakistan Independence Days

Abu Dhabi: Passengers travelling to or coming from Pakistan or India this week were treated to festivities at Abu Dhabi International Airport, marking the Pakistan Independence Day on August 14, and the Indian Independence Day on August 15.

The celebrations included a flash mob that surprised passengers arriving from various destinations in both countries, as it suddenly appeared in the baggage claim halls, leaving the passengers in total amazement. Passengers also had the opportunity to take photos in front of the famous "Wagah Border", which is a tradition that reflects the close relations between the two communities.

Both Terminal 1 and 3 were carrying the flags and colours of both countries in a tribute to those nations. Abu Dhabi Duty Free and several of its concessionaires also joined in with many offers and discounts over the two days, including Sharaf DG, Pure Gold, and the airport' lounges operated by Plaza Premium. In addition, the VIP terminal chose 50 lucky passengers and gave them the opportunity to experiment the luxury travel experience they have on offer.
15/08/17 Khaleej Times

Bagdogra-Kolkata air fare up 17 times

Kolkata: Air fares from Bagdogra to Kolkata has hit the stratosphere with airlines making the most of a sudden spurt in demand due to the disruption in road and rail owing to floods in north Bengal. Between Friday and Sunday, the one-way fare has increased 17 times from Rs 1,200 to a whopping Rs 20,000. That is a new off-season record on the sector. The last time fares hit such a high was in the height of peak summer holidays before the Darjeeling agitation began on June 8.
Though the downpour in north Bengal ceased, fares continue to remain sky-high with Tuesday's tickets available for Rs 17,960 on Jet Airways; Rs 14,195 on SpiceJet; and Rs 11,920 on IndiGo. On Wednesday, a SpiceJet ticket is retailing at Rs 14,195 while GoAir is selling at Rs 12,918.
Bagdogra airport director Rakesh Sahay said the spike in passengers had initially been on Bagdogra-bound flights on Friday and Saturday with travellers keen on making most of the extended weekend with a trip to the Dooars and Sikkim.
"With Darjeeling out of bounds, the average passenger count has been 1,800-1,900. But it shot up on Saturday to 2,200. But with heavy rain inundating north Bengal, departures increased to 2,200 on Saturday; 2,781 on Sunday and 3,070 on Monday," he said.
15/08/17 Times of India

Mumbai cops bust fake job racket in Delhi, five arrested

Mumbai: The Vile Parle Police have arrested five youth from New Delhi and busted job racket on Monday. The youth were running a call centre to trap job aspirants. Mumbai police swung into action after a GVK employee Dhaval Patel (24) registered a complaint at Vile Parle police station on July 17 after he was duped by over Rs. 3 lakh by the gang on eight instalments.

The gang members used to retrieve the resume from a job portal called www.shine.com and call the job aspirants. “Impersonating as a member of job placement agency, one of the gang members called Patel and asked him to pay Rs. 1,900 for getting him a job in Jet Airways. The caller had given him bank account number,” said Prakash Gawane, divisional Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP).

After disconnecting the call, Patel went to bank and deposited Rs. 1,900. Few days down the line, Patel got the call from the same number and asked him to deposit money in the same bank account. “The caller asked Patel to pay for securing his job in the new company, for fixing meeting with the executive of Jet Airways, for clearing documents, and other reasons. Like this Patel made total eight payments on different occasions amounting to the loss of over Rs. 3 lakh,” said an officer. After registering the case, the senior officers from Mumbai police including Deven Bharti sent one team to Delhi after the investigators learnt that few money from the bank account has been withdrawn from one of the ATM booths in Delhi’s Kirti Nagar area.
15/08/17 Free Press Journal