Friday, February 12, 2016

Rot in AirAsia India runs deep; to survive it needs funds, focus

New Delhi: AirAsia India is again in the news, with reports now suggesting its CEO and MD Mittu Chandilya has resigned. Just a few days back, the airline made headlines for a different reason - when Tata Sons picked up additional equity stake to finally own about 41% share in the airline. Though both these developments are significant, what needs to be highlighted is the deeper rot within the airline.
APAP
AirAsia India needs renewed commitment from its shareholders, an urgent funds' infusion and a clear operational strategy to survive in a tough-as-nails Indian aviation market. India is unlike most other markets where airlines pile up losses but rarely folds up, making life quite tough for new entrants.
Vijay Mallya finally ended his airline dream after sinking millions of dollars in the business in Kingfisher Airlines, Air India continues on government dole despite massive accumulated losses, SpiceJet was very close to shutting down before former promoter Ajay Singh rescued it last January and Jet Airways is only now starting to make a turnaround.
What AirAsia India needs the most is commitment from its shareholders towards recapitalization and then a capable management team to steer it. Besides, the airline must be run from India, by a strong management team aware of market realities and clued into the dynamics here instead of being driven from the Malaysian parent's headquarters.
12/02/16 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post

AirAsia India chief Mittu Chandilya likely to quit in March

Mumbai: Mittu Chandilya, the model turned-headhunter picked by AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes to run its India joint venture, is likely to quit in March when his current two-year contract with the airline ends. Amar Abrol, chief of AirAsia Bhd's insurance arm Tune Money, is the frontrunner among three executives being considered to replace Chandilya as AirAsia India chief executive, people with knowledge of the development said.
The matter will likely come up for approval at the airline's next board meeting, expected by the end of this month. The airline has probably also selected a new chief financial officer, the people said. Chandilya's likely exit brings to a head a top-level exodus at the Indian airline, partly due to disagreements with the Malaysian parent and differences among the shareholders - AirAsia Bhd, Tata Sons and Telestra Tradeplace of Arun Bhatia.
Since it began operations less than two years ago, AirAsia India has lost or replaced about ten top executives. The list includes chief financial officer Vijay Gopalan and commercial director Gaurav Rathore, apart from the heads of flight operations, operations control, HR, cabin crew, security, group operations and corporate quality.
12/02/16 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

NHRC notice to Centre over no basic service by IndiGo

Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Centre for an action-taken report (ATR) within four weeks over denial of basic services and violation of United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights committed by IndiGo airlines.

Acting on a petition filed by Bhubaneswar-based rights campaigner Subash Mohapatra, the apex human rights watchdog called the Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation for action taken report within four weeks.

Mohapatra alleged, ‘Many passengers of Indigo Airline were denied basic services at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. The airlines did not comply with Civil Aviation guidelines; even no complaint book was available for the aggrieved passengers.’

He added, “Passengers are entitled to breakfast if the flight is more than two hours late in the morning or lunch or dinner as the case may be. Unfortunately, the airline doesn’t provide any service though there are frequent delays for than two hours.”
11/02/16 Prameya News7

Small cities to be linked with air services: Sharma

Jaisalmer: Small cities, including Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, will be linked with air services in the near future and the Centre is working on a policy to this effect, Union minister Mahesh Sharma has said.

In the first phase, operations will be started in Jaisalmer and Jodhpur airports in Rajasthan, the Union Minister of State for Tourism and Civil Aviation said here yesterday.

The new aviation policy to bring small cities on the aviation map will be announced soon, he said. The fare will not be very high and it can go up to Rs 2,500 and such a journey will take around one hour.

Noting that Jaisalmer has got a huge potential in tourism, art and culture, the minister said it would be developed as a tourism hub.
12/02/16 PTI/Business Standard

Jet Airways offers free tickets daily

Chennai: Jet Airways has announced an offer ‘Luck-E-Ticket’ giving its passengers an opportunity to win two free return tickets daily.

As part of the offer, passengers booking tickets in First Class, Premiere or Economy on jetairways.com or the Jet Airways mobile app stand a chance to win two free return tickets in Economy every day.

The offer is open to guests booking tickets up to 1 March, 2016.
12/02/16 News Today

Vistara launches Valentine's Day offer with base fares starting at Rs 999

New Delhi: In a first discount offering by Vistara, the airline has launched a Valentine's Day offer that offers base fares starting from Rs 999 but surcharges extra.

The airline announced it on Twitter and said that the discounts tickets can be booked on the airline's website between February 12, 2016 and February 14, 2016. The travel period for the discounted fares will be between February 15, 2016 and April 15, 2016.

This will be the first discount offering by Vistara - a Tata Group and Singapore International Airlines promoted airline. The premium airline, which claims to work with a motto of best-ever premium flying experience, has stayed away from any discounts till now.
12/02/16 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Dedicated terminal for private jets

New Delhi: Aviation services provider Bird Group which is setting up country's first dedicated terminal for private jets in collaboration with Swiss firm ExecuJet Aviation here is expected to invite bids soon for appointing a consultant to design terminal building.

The proposed facility would come up at an investment of USD 20 million and is expected to be up and will be functional in the next three years, sources close to development said.

The proposed terminal is part of the Zurich-headquartered global general aviation leader ExecuJet Aviation's plans to establish maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility and providing Fixed-Based Operation (FBO) services at Delhi airport along with its Indian partner Bird Group.

A fixed-base operator (FBO) is a commercial business granted the right by an airport to operate there and provide aeronautical services such as fuelling, hungering, parking, aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, among others. MRO refers to maintenance, repair and overhaul.
Sources said that as much as 3.30 acres of land has been acquired at the Delhi airport for the entire project including construction of the dedicated terminal.
12/02/16 PTI

Air India refancies Toronto flights

New Delhi: Government-owned Air India is mulling whether to resume non-stop flights between here and Toronto, Canada, a route it shut down in 2012 due to losses.

According to a senior AI official, it is considering the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner for the route.

“We are looking at new routes where Dreamliners can be inducted. Toronto is one destination we are considering seriously,” said the official. “It’s yet to be decided whether we will fly a Boeing 787 or 777-300 ER. Depending upon feasibility study, we will take a final call but with fuel consumption being lower in the Boeing 787 than other aircraft, induction of this on many of our routes has brought economic benefit.”

While a 787 Dreamliner has 18 business class and 238 economy seats, a 777-300 ER has 35 business class and 303 economy seats.

Air Canada operates four weekly non-stop flights between Delhi and Toronto. “Air Canada is operating a 787-9. So, we see good potential in operating the 787,” the official said.
11/02/16 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard

Technical snag delays departure of five flights from Mumbai's T2

A technical snag delayed the departure of five flights at Mumbai’s Terminal 2 (International terminal) in the wee hours of Thursday. These flights were three international and a domestic flight over System International Telecommunication Aeronautics network failure. The flights delayed included Emirates, Etihad, Ethopian, Air India and Qatar Airways. "The flights were delayed for around half an hour but there wasn’t a major impact on the operations as the system was then worked upon and was then rectified,” said a Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd. (MIAL) official.
International as well as domestic departures to Dubai, Addis Ababa, Abu Dhabi and Doha were affected for an average of 30 minutes. Emirate Airways EK 501 (Mumbai- Dubai) that was to depart at 4.15 am started taxing only after 5.25 am. Etihad Airway’s EY 205 (Mumbai- Abu Dhabi) scheduled departure at 4.20 am but could push back only by 4.55 am. Ethopian Airlines Addis Ababa bound ET 611 that was scheduled to depart at 5.15 am but due to SITA failure pushed back only by at 6.01 am. AI 083 (Mumbai- Goa) scheduled to depart at 5.20 am but departed after 5.45 am. Qatar Airways Doha bound QR 557 was also one of the flight that witnessed delay in departure as the aircraft could push back for taxing only by 5.39 am when it’s scheduled departure was at 4 am.
11/02/16 Neha LM Tripathi/Mid Day

CIAL moots new design for canal-top solar project

Kochi: After being the first fully solar energy-powered airport in the world, the airport company will soon roll out an innovative and cost-effective design for its proposed 3.5 km-long canal-top solar project. The design envisages construction of mounting racks with Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) instead of steel or aluminium, used elsewhere in the country.

“After due consultations with structural engineering experts, we have finalised this plan to mount these glittering panels on concrete structures. The cost details are yet to be worked out but initial assessments show that this will help us save around Rs.1 crore per megawatt on a year-on-year basis,” said V.J. Kurien, Managing Director, CIAL.

The project, to be launched here on a pilot basis, could be expanded to other parts of the State based on the rate of its success rate. “For instance, the Palakkad district alone boasts a canal network of around 1800 km and if found successful, we can replicate this model there,” said the official, who is also the Additional Chief Secretary of the Department of Water Resources.
19/02/16 Hiran Unnikrishnan/The Hindu

Runway Expansion: Major headway as Gaya DM offers possession of 100 acres land to Civil Aviation deptt

Gaya: The much delayed project to expand the Gaya airport runway from the existing 2286 metres to 2886 metres got a major boost as the Gaya DM Kumar Ravi, in an official communication addressed to the Director (Operations) Civil Aviation Deptt has offered 100 acres of land for the runway expansion and allied developmental plans. The DM has requested the Aviation Deptt Director to authorise some official to take possession of the land on the deptt's behalf.
As per the contents of the DM's letter, the 100 acres are spread over four different villages adjoining the airport boundary. As of now, Gaya airport is spread over 971 acres and with another 100 acres available on both the eastern and western sides of the runway, bigger planes with about 300 passenger capacity would land and take off from the airport.
As of now, planes bigger in size than Airbus 320 with an all economy class passenger capacity of 180 can not be handled by the airport. As the A320 fleet of Air India has grown old with most of the planes older than 25 years, the planes suffering from metal fatigue and other operational hazards,generally carry a lower than permissible load.
12/02/16 Abdul Qadir/Times of India

Vistara appoints new executives


Indian full-service carrier Vistara has replaced its previous chairman, Prasad Menon, with consumer goods executive Bhaskar Bhat. The move took place just over a year since the joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Tata Group began operations.

Vistara has also appointed Sanjiv Kapur as its chief strategy and commercial officer to replace previous COO Giam Ming Toh.  Kapur was previously COO at competing Indian carrier SpiceJet.

Retiring chairman Menon said Bhat would bring “an ideal blend of business building, marketing and sales expertise” to the venture. Bhat, who was a founder of Titan Watch Co., takes over from Menon as the airline is facing strong competition from Indian low-cost carriers (LCCs) and startups.

Vistara competes with LCCs such as IndiGo, GoAir, SpiceJet and AirAsia India. It has registered an average load factor of under 70%; IndiGo saw around 80% and SpiceJet over 90% in 2015.
11/02/16 Jeremy Torr/ATW

Renewed efforts for air connectivity to Mysuru

Mysuru: Stakeholders from the chamber of commerce, industry, hospitality and tourism sector will meet various players in the aviation sector in a renewed effort seeking restoration of air connectivity to Mysuru.

A “pressure group” has been constituted to influence policymakers and airline operators demanding flight operations based on data pertaining to air passenger traffic originating from Mysuru. This was decided at a stakeholders’ meet at Mysuru airport on Thursday in which nearly 50 representatives from the Mysore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, FKCCI, Builders Association of India, Mysore Industries Association, Hotel Owners Association, CREDAI, Granite Traders Association, representatives of industries from Kadakola, and KASSIA participated.

Though Mysuru airport was upgraded and inaugurated in 2010, connectivity was irregular with three operators terminating services during the last six years. At present, there are no commercial flights from Mysuru. The opinion aired by stakeholders was that the city’s growth was impeded due to lack of air connectivity and fresh investments were slow to come by as investors dreaded the 5-hour travel from Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, to Mysuru.
12/02/16 R. Krishna Kumar/The Hindu

A long wait - AAI upgrades tech to make flying easier, but airlines fail to catch up

Over the past few years, Airports Authority of India has been on a path to modernise its technology. But airlines have been posing a stumbling block to AAI's endeavour to install a state-of-the-art system. From installing technology to track flights and eliminate traffic decongestion near airports, the communication and navigation wing of AAI has modernised air traffic control systems and networked radar across the country. It has also introduced satellite-based tracking of cruising flights over the ocean, started trials on a satellite-based system to guide aircraft for landing and take-off in a bid to replace conventional instrument system. Apart from these, AAI is working on its prestigious project `Gagan' that aims to make air traffic control fully satellite based.Because of the unenthusiastic cooperation from airlines, passengers have been bearing the brunt. They get held up at airports, reach their destinations late, and miss connecting flights when air congestion throws flight schedules out of gear. Though Chennai has installed ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) system that allows satellite surveillance of planes that fly over the Bay of Bengal, many air Indian lines do not have quality receivers on their aircraft. This has affected implementation of the system. ADS-B also serves as a backup for radars.
11/02/16 V Ayyappan/Times of India

Boeing Gives More Work to India

Boeing and India’s Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) recently announced a joint venture that will manufacture aerostructures–initially for the AH-64 Apache helicopter. This followed a promise made by Boeing Chairman James McNerney when he visited India last summer. He spoke of partnerships and wanting to keep the initiative of manufacturing in India to continue, with Boeing as an involved partner. “I want to play,” he said.

In July, the two companies announced a strategic aerospace partnership to support the “Make in India” movement and collaborate on integrated systems-development opportunities, including unmanned aerial vehicles. The facility will be located at Hyderabad where TASL already has a components factory, and another facility where it manufactures cabins for Sikorsky’s S-92 helicopters. An industry official said that with 110 of the cabins delivered, Tier 1 supplier TASL is expected to draw on its experience as it works to supply materials for Boeing fuselages.

McNerney said Boeing was “much closer to having final assembly [of] Apache or Chinook helicopters [in India],” and AIN has found that India is likely to get some contracts for the Chinooks as well as Boeing’s MD helicopters division.
12/02/16 Neelam Mathews/AINonline

'Smart' Surat's not so smart air connectivity defies logic

Surat: Though Surat has made it to the list of 20 smart cities announced by the central government, it's lagging behind when it comes to number of aircrafts landings and take-offs from the airports in other cities. While other cities selected under the smart cities project are enjoying good air connectivity, Surat has just five take-offs and landings per day.
Even smaller cities like Coimbatore having population of just 10.61 lakh, Bhubaneshwar with 8.38 lakh have more than 40 landings and take-offs per days. Cities like Jaipur, Indore, Pune, Bhopal have around 25 to 111 flight landing and take-offs per day. Spread in over 326 square kilometers of area, Surat is the eighth largest city in India with population of approximately 50 lakh.
It has the highest per capita income of Rs 4.5 lakh per household. The GDP was $40 billion in 2010-11 and it is expected to cross $57 billion by 2020.
12/02/16 Melvyn Thomas/Times of India

Snowfall hampers flight operations at Srinagar Airport

The flight operations at the Srinagar Airport were hampered this morning due to fresh snowfall in the region.

Several flights, including one Indigo Airlines flight and one Jet Airways flight, were delayed leaving the passengers stranded at the airport.

Many areas in the higher reaches of Kashmir, including Gulmarg and Pahalgam, received fresh snowfall while the plains of the Valley experienced rains yesterday.
12/02/16 IBC World News

GoAir appoints Goldman Sachs, BofA-ML and Kotak Mahindra Bank to manage its $150 million IPO

Mumbai: Go Air is appointing Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Kotak Mahindra bank for managing its planned $150 million (Rs 1,026 crore) IPO, three people in the know said.

"Just the final agreement remains to be signed," said one of them, insisting anonymity.

Once they are on board, the bankers will work with the Go Air management in preparing the draft red herring prospectus, the pre-IPO document which will subsequently be submitted to the capital markets regulator SEBI.

If Go Air plans to offload 24% of its stake for that amount, its total valuation would come to over Rs 4,000 crore.
12/02/16 Anirban Chowdhury & Baiju Kalesh/Economic Times

GMR Infra net loss narrows to Rs 379 cr in Q3

New Delhi: GMR Infrastructure today reported narrowing of its consolidated net loss to Rs 379.38 crore for the December quarter on the back of resolution of regulatory bottlenecks and better operating margins from power plants.

The company's consolidated net loss after tax, minority interest and shares of loss of associates in the corresponding quarter in the previous fiscal was Rs 638.33 crore, it said in a BSE filing.

Consolidated total income from operations rose to Rs 3,564.25 crore during the quarter from Rs 2,761.30 crore in the year-ago period.

"Resolution of regulatory bottlenecks, better operating margins from power plants and robust traffic growth in airports have contributed to reduction in losses," the company said in a statement.
11/02/16 Business Standard

Mumbai to get 65 new ATCs in March

Mumbai: Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs), manning the 2.8-million sq nautical mile airspace, which extends from Kuala Lumpur and Yangon in the East to Pakistan and Muscat in the West, are going to be less-burdened with around 200 new personnel joining the rank from next month.

These 200 ATCs are in the final leg of their training and expected to join duties from March, a senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said. The induction of these ATC personnel is part of the AAI plans to induct 600 ATCs by this fiscal to meet the shortage of manpower in critical areas such as air traffic management, he said.

"As many as 200 ATCs have almost completed training and will be put on duty from March. Besides, 400 more personnel will be recruited shortly," the official said. "Mumbai, which has acute shortage of ATC personnel will get 65 traffic controllers out of the 200, while the remaining 135 will be deployed on other airports to meet the shortage," the official said.
12/02/16 Mumbai Mirror

Govt seeks views on skill development in acviation sector

The Civil Aviation Ministry has sought views from stakeholders on the recommendations of a detailed study that focused on skill development in the aviation sector, which is projected to create millions of jobs in the coming years.The study, instituted by the Ministry, also comes at a time when the government is in advanced stages of finalising the much-awaited civil aviation policy.

Last year, ICRA Management Consultancy Services Ltd (IMaCS) was asked to carry out a comprehensive study on skill gap analysis in the civil aviation sector and also formulate future road map in this regard.

IMaCS, which conducted the study during August–December 2015, has made a slew of recommendations to bolster skill development in various segments of the country’s fast growing aviation sector.

The study has identified possible skill requirements in various segments, including airport, airline, MRO, cargo and ground handling.
11/02/16 Awazedost.com

Why Is India Drugging Its Air Force Pilots?

The term “flying high” takes on a whole new meaning for the Indian Air Force pilots who reportedly regularly consume uppers and downers with the government’s blessing. Confused?
In tough times, when the enemy rears its head, our Air Force pilots turn to a potent weapon: a little orange pill. The enemy is fatigue and insomnia, a nemesis which claims more lives than combat duty. So that’s where Dexedrine or Modafinil, or the ‘go pill’ (an ‘upper’), comes in to spike adrenaline levels, slay fatigue, enhance alertness and let the pilots stay awake in long, wartime sorties. This sudden rise rush of adrenaline in pilots is countered by the ‘no-go’ pill, (a ‘downer’) which has a calming, sedating effect.
Performance-enhancing drugs in military aviation are used extensively in the United States and the United Kingdom but we are only beginning to fully understand their effects and questioning the safety of these elixirs in the cockpit.
11/02/16 Nikita Mishra/The Quint

AI employee stuck in airport wash room rescued

Trichy: An Air India staff member got stuck in the wash room of the Trichy International Airport until she was rescued by the ground staff.
According to sources at the airport, the woman had gone to the wash room in the terminal around 11 am on Thursday. Finding the lock on the door twisted and stuck, and she is said to have banged the door several times. A passenger who was to board the Air India Express flight in the afternoon heard the banging and alerted the security.
12/02/16 Times of India

Airports Advisory Committee meeting held under the chairmanship of MP PK Patasani

Bhubaneswar: Airports Advisory Committee (AAC) meeting was held under the chairmanship of Dr. Prasanna Kumar Patasani, Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Sh Ashok Chandra Panda, Minister of Tourism, Govt of Odisha on 12.02.2016, in the conference hall of New Domestic Terminal Building (T1) at B.P.I.Airport, Bhubaneswar.  The meeting is attended by the ex-officio members comprising the representatives from various departments like Odisha Tourism, IPICOL,  CISF, Air India, Indigo, Go Air, Vistara, Dist Collectorate,  HRAO,  Utkal Chamber of Commerce  and the prominent citizens from social/ cultural/ welfare group. Sh. Sharad Kumar Airport Director welcomed the Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Hon’ble Minister and other members of the Airport Advisory Committee with flower bouquets. Airport Director made a presentation regarding the present Airport Traffic, Passenger facilitations, various development works and passenger facilities under planning.
12/02/16 Pravu Prasad/Orrisadiary.com

TV Screens in Airport Vanish as AAI Conducts Probe

Chennai: Passengers visiting Chennai Airport will now be deprived of information about flight details and status as Airport Authority of India has removed all the TV screens as a precautionary measure.
AAI director Deepak Shahstri said this was done after one of the screens collapsed in the terminal. No one was injured in the incident but AAI is leaving no stone unturned to ensure safety of passengers.
“We have ordered an enquiry into the incident. We wanted to ascertain whether it is a freak incident or not,” Shastri said.
He said the TV screen fell down in the terminal because the plastic became brittle due to the heat.
Airport sources told Express that a total of 16 TV screens were removed inside the terminal and four on the entrance gates.
11/02/16 New Indian Express

One arrested at Mumbai airport for smuggling gold

Based on specific information, a domestic air passenger was caught by the Mumbai airport customs for smuggling gold on the Delhi-Mumbai sector.

Wasim Lakadawala who was travelling by Air India flight AI 865, to Mumbai on Thursday was intercepted and his personal search resulted in the recovery of cut pieces of gold bars with foreign markings totally weighing 3.116 kg valued at Rs 75.2 lakhs concealed inside his shoes.

Lakadawala in his confessional statement admitted that he had retrieved the gold from the lifejacket located underneath the
12/02/16 Aditya Anand/Mumbai Mirror

Two held for trying to fly to China on fake tickets

Kolkata: Two persons were arrested at the city airport today for allegedly trying to board a China-bound flight on fake tickets, while customs officials seized 500 gm gold from a passenger from Bangkok.
Airport officials said two persons, residents of Iqbalpur area in the city, sought to board a flight for Kunming in China but their tickets raised suspicion in the mind of CISF personnel in-charge of security at the NSCBI Airport.
Following checking and questioning of the two passengers - Md Ishan and Mustaq Alam - the security men were sure that their tickets were fake.
The two were then arrested, the officials said.
12/02/16 PTI/IBN Live

Rs 1 cr. worth banned narcotic substance seized at Chennai airport

Airport security personnel seized as many as 11,200 tablets of thebanned narcotic substance Alprazolam,valued at Rs 1 crore, from a passenger from Sivaganga District in Tamil Nadu when he was about to board an Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia early this morning. The passenger, Liyakhat Ali, aged 35, hailed from Illayankudi village in the aforesaid districtand was acting as a courier taking the narcotic substance to some unidentified smgulers in the Malaysian capital, airport police said. T The security staff, while checking Liyakhat Ali's hand baggage, found it unusual that he was carrying so many tablets. When quetioned, he informed them that they were ordinary tablets to treat fever and headache.
12/02/16 Web India123

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Direct Flight Services Between UP Cities To Be Launched Soon

Lucknow:  Uttar Pradesh government today announced that direct flight services between cities of the state would be launched within a year.

"Direct flight service from Lucknow to Varanasi, Agra, Gorakhpur and Allahabad will start from 2016-17," Principal Secretary Tourism Navneet Sehgal told reporters here.

Asked about the proposal of Air India, he said, "Air India has proposed to start 70-seater flight between different cities, but initially filling this number of seats does not seem practical."

"There were some issues related to practicality which have been sorted out. We want that 20 seater service should be started between the cities and with increase in passenger traffic planes having higher capacity should be added," Mr Sehgal said.

He said in 2015-16, 20 crore tourists visited the state and added that in 2014-15 UP was in second position in terms of domestic tourists and third in terms of foreign tourists.

The Principal Secretary said to increase the income of Tourism Corporation, 37 properties, which were not in use, would be given on lease.
11/02/16 PTI/NDTV

Will bilateral reforms help Indian carriers?

Except for the US, India doesn't have an open skies arrangement with any major economy. Open skies would allow airlines to manage capacity with no restrictions. Viewed from that prism, bilaterals are as ancient as they are restrictive.

"They (bilaterals) have gone the way of steam engines, slide rulers, and smoking cigarettes in restaurants," says Craig Jenks, president of Airline/Aircraft Projects Inc, a New York-based air transport consultancy.

Amber Dubey, head-aerospace and defence at KPMG, a consultancy, says by limiting the seat quota of foreign carriers, India has created an artificial supply constraint. "It is time we junk it." Indian carriers, in stark contrast, are not even making full use of these agreements.
They use only a third of the capacity allotted to them under bilaterals. A report in the Business Standard said during 2014-15, Indian carriers used seat entitlements only in 29 out of the 109 countries. Through the proposed auctions of unutilised seats, the ministry is also attempting to tilt the balance in their favour.
11/02/16 Binoy Prabhakar/Economic Times

Standoff ends, Sikh-American actor flies home wearing his turban

Ending his two-day standoff with Aeromexico, Sikh-American actor Waris Ahluwalia has returned home on board Mexico’s flag carrier after he was barred by it from boarding a flight as he refused to remove his turban.
Ahluwalia, 41, landed in New York yesterday, after being allowed to board a new Aeromexico flight without removing his turban for a check.
“I was asked to rub it with my hand, then present my hand for swabbing, which I did. That had been the past security practice,” the actor, model and designer was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
Before takeoff from Mexico City, he posted a photograph online of himself inside an aircraft with his arms around the shoulders of what appeared to be two Aeromexico pilots.
“He told us that the check was smooth,” said Harsimran Kaur, the legal director for the Sikh Coalition, a civil-rights group that worked to resolve the impasse while Ahluwalia spent two days at the airport.
Yesterday, Aeromexico apologised to Ahluwalia, saying it “recognises and is proud of the diversity of its passengers”.
11/02/16 Tribune

Jet Airways entives couples with valentine day's offers

Here is a deal that not only promises to take your love high, but also far and wide! As a Valentine Day's promotion, Jet Airways introduces discounted international travel fares and customized domestic packages for two for immediate travel.
The international travel fare starts from Rs. 8,773 (all inclusive) and includes destinations such as Paris, Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Colombo and Kathmandu. The offer is available for return travel for two or more people travelling together and booked on the same PNR in business and economy class.
The sale is available from February 13 to 15 and the travel valid from February 13 onwards.
10/02/16 Sakhsi Post

Jet Airways is looking at exciting opportunities: Cramer Ball

Mumbai: India's rapidly growing air traffic has attracted a lot of investors into the sector, while falling oil prices have given a boost to profitability. After having given up its leadership position in the domestic market a few years ago, Jet Airways is charting a growth path yet again, as its financial performance has improved. In an interview with Aneesh Phadnis and Malini Bhupta, the airline's outgoing CEO Cramer Ball gives a sense of Jet Airways strategy.

There has been a renewed focus by Jet Airways on domestic market. Can you tell us what your plans are?

I think there was a certainly a view when I joined (Jet Airways) we had lost focus on domestic (market). And that has certainly turned around. We are very focused on the domestic market. We have increased our daily flying, our metro to metro flying. We are intensely focused on domestic as much as we are on international routes.

Jet Airways fleet has more or less remained constant at 115 aircraft. Is there a possibility of incremental fleet addition with dry leases?

Our focus has been on better utilisation of aircraft and that has a direct impact to bottomline. We are not averse to looking at more narrow body options. Our order book is for 75 Boeing 737 Max aircraft and we have an option of another 50 planes. We took an aircraft on dry lease in December and that was incremental addition. So there is a always possibility of dry leases.
11/02/16 Aneesh Phadnis & Malini Bhupta/Business Standard

Cidco may invite RFP for Navi Mumbai airport by March

Mumbai: City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), the nodal agency responsible for the development of the Navi Mumbai International Airport, plans to call for Request for Proposal (RFP) from the three qualified consortia by March 2016, according to a senior official.
A joint committee which had representation from the state government and the ministry of civil aviation, received nine requests for qualifications (RFQ) of which GVK, GMR, Hiranandani Developers with Zurich airport and Tata Realty with MIA infrastructure of France were selected. However, the consortium led by Hiranandani Developers was disqualified last month as the home ministry rejected its RFQ on security grounds. Thus, now three consortia are left in the race to bid for the development of the R16,000 crore airport project.
Sanjay Bhatia, vice-chairman and managing director, Cidco, said the RFQ process was over and the project has reached request for proposal (RFP) stage. “We will be going to the PMIC (project monitoring and implementation committee) and to the Cabinet in 10 days and will be giving the RFP documents to the three qualified bidders. They will get about five months to make their bid,” Bhatia said on the sidelines of 3rd Smart Cities Council summit, in Mumbai. The one who will give the largest share of the gross revenue earned from the airport to Cidco will ultimately emerge the partner for the airport project.
11/02/16 Financial Express

AI invites offers to manage Nagpur MRO ops

New Delhi: A file photo of a Boeing 787 aircraft, operated by Air India, parked on the apron of an Indian airport.
Air India has invited Expression of Interest (EOI) from private parties to operate and manage its airframe Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at Nagpur.

Companies that can maintain and overhaul Airbus and Boeing aircraft and components are interested to operate maintain and manage airframe MRO business on revenue sharing basis or similar models can submit EOI, officials said.

With around 400 aircraft of different models of Airbus and Boeing family, operated by Indian operators in the country, and by other airlines of neighbouring countries, Air India believes that it provides enormous business potential for airframe MRO.

Air India owns the MRO facility in Nagpur plot measuring 50 acres and with two hangers. Air India will remain owner of the MRO facility. The interested party has to carry out airframe MRO work and generate revenue with its own manpower, the EOI document said. The last date for submitting EOI documents is February 24.
11/02/16 Shemin Joy/Deccan Herald

Private airport operators seek tax relief

Mumbai: Private airport operators have sough tax relief in the forthcoming budget on the grounds that airports help in easy connectivity apart from boosting tourism.
In a memorandum to the Finance Ministry, the Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO) urged the government to allow private airports to raise funds through tax-free bonds and sought a host of exemptions, besides a reduction in service tax. It asked the government to provide fiscal incentives to upgraded airports on the lines of those granted to greenfield airports.
It also asked for extension of tax holiday for airport support/ ancillary services such as fuel facility, parking, cargo and ground handling, essential for smooth functioning.
Though all companies are mandated to pay minimum alternate tax, the association sought exemption for airport projects as these have a long gestation period and are capital-intensive.
“Alternatively, if outright exemption is not granted, infrastructure projects like airports should at least have a concessional MAT rate of 5 per cent of book profits instead of the merit rate of 21.34 per cent,” said Satyan Nayar, secretary general, APAO.
11/02/16 Lalatendu Mishra/The Hindu

Cambodia looking at direct air connectivity with India

Manila: Cambodia is looking at improving air connectivity with India through direct flights. Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld at the ongoing ATF 2016 in the SMX Convention Centre in Manila, Prak Vuthy, deputy director, marketing and promotion department. ministry of tourism, Cambodia said, “The airport authority of Cambodia is talking to airlines in India to open up this sector for direct connectivity. Though no names can be revealed we hope the talks will come through.”
10/02/16 Steena Joy/Financial Express

Bird Group, ExecuJet to set up FBO, MRO facilities at Delhi

Aviation services provider Bird Group today said Swiss general aviation firm ExecuJet Aviation has taken it on board for setting up the country's first fixed-based operation (FBO) and MRO facilities at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here.

Together with Bird Group, ExecuJet Aviation will develop and construct the facilities following a successful tender bid, a release said.

This would also mark the entry of the Zurich-headquartered global general aviation leader into the fast-growing Indian aviation market, it said.

A fixed-base operator (FBO) is a commercial business granted the right by an airport to operate there and provide aeronautical services such as fuelling, hangaring, parking, aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, among others. MRO refers to maintenance, repair and overhaul.
"This is a significant win for ExecuJet as we have had India on our radar for many years. It will provide us with the platform to expand our geographic footprint and service proposition, in line with our growth strategy," ExecuJet Vice President Mike Berry said.
10/02/16 PTI/Business

200 new recruited ATCOs to join next month

New Delhi: Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs), manning the vast 2.8-million sq nautical mile airspace, which extends from Kuala Lumpur and Yangon in the east to Pakistan and Muscat in the west, are going to be less-burdened with some 200 new personnel joining the rank from next month.

These 200 ATCOs are in the final leg of their training and expected to join duties from March, a senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said today.

The induction of these ATC personnel is part of the AAI plans to induct 600 ATCOs by this fiscal to meet the shortage of manpower in critical areas such as air traffic management, he said.
11/02/16 PTI/Economic Times

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s visit puts focus on aviation and energy deals with India

The aviation sector is expected to drive trade between India and the UAE as the pair seek to boost commercial ties.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, arrived in India yesterday on his first official visit to the country. Billions of dollars in investment deals are expected to be finalised this week with aerospace and energy likely to be key areas of focus.

Etihad has invested heavily in increasing passenger traffic to and from the UAE with India becoming the busiest destination from Abu Dhabi last year, according to airport data.

That helped Abu Dhabi International Airport to achieve record traffic figures of more than 23 million passengers.

“India is a key market for Etihad Airways and, with our equity partner Jet Airways, we have significantly grown our business. Together, we are the market leader with 21 per cent share of total passenger traffic carried to and from India,” said Hareb Al Muhairy, the senior vice president of corporate and international affairs.
10/02/16 The National

Tony Fernandes optimistic on India despite bad press

Kuala Lumpur: AirAsia supremo Tony Fernandes has dismissed media reports that all is not well in his paradise in India. “All publicity is good, even bad publicity.”
Fernandes implied that The Economic Times of India (ET), in particular, was trying to pummel him into the ground and pitting him against shareholders in India. “It is really an Indian shareholder thing because we cannot increase our shareholding,” he told ET in a Q&A interview. “We can’t increase our shareholdings in India. If one of the shareholders wants to opt out, they can sell to the existing Indian shareholders.
“The Economic Times newspaper has been hammering us all the time. All I know is that things are going to be resolved very soon.”
He was referring to reports that Bhatia, an Indian shareholder, wanted to opt out of AirAsia India and that Tata wants to increase its stake in the airline. “That you have to ask the Tatas. We had a recent board meeting in Kuala Lumpur. All I can say is that you can ask the Tatas themselves. I think they are very happy with how AirAsia India was going.”
Fernandes added that he was not deterred by India’s 5/20 rule. According to the “5/20 rule”, all airlines in India are permitted to fly abroad only if they have five years of domestic flying experience and at least 20 aircraft in their fleet.
11/02/16 Free Malaysia Today

Bhubaneswar airport on Zika alert

Bhubaneswar: To prevent the Zika virus from spreading in the state, the authorities of Biju Patnaik International Airport have sounded an alert at the airport. The ministry of health and family welfare has given precautionary advisory to the airport as international feeder flights operate from here.
According to official sources, signs have been put up in the arrival lounge of the international terminal asking passengers with symptoms of fever to report at the immigration cell. "We have activated the immigration cell and people coming from Africa and America will have to be monitored by the immigration cell. A list of dos and don'ts have been mentioned on a template near the immigration cell," said airport director Sharad Kumar. "The name of affected countries has also been written on the template," he added.
11/02/16 Times of India

Directorate of Public Health officials inspect Coimbatore airport

Coimbatore: A team from the Directorate of Public Health conducted an inspection at the Coimbatore International Airport on Thursday as part of an initiative to try to prevent spread of the Zika virus.
A five-member team of public health officers, including deputy director Dr S Somasundaram, joint director (vector borne disease control) Dr S Saravanan and city health officer Santosh Kumar, inspected the airport to check if there were mosquito breeding grounds.
The team inspected the airport's international arrival and departure terminal in accordance with the health ministry's guidelines on the disease.
They also checked if pointers on the virus and its symptoms had been displayed on a prominent notice board at the airport and circulars on the virus are present for distribution among passengers in the arrival terminal.
11/02/16 Pratiksha Ramkumar/Times of India

Chennai airport puts in place checks to keep out zika virus

Chennai: In a bid to monitor and check if any infected passenger is arriving at the international terminus of the city airport and eliminate any chances of a bite from the dreaded Aedes mosquito (carrier of the zika virus), a number of measures are being taken at the Chennai airport.

Vector surveillances are one of the main measures being taken around the airport. “Vector surveillance has been conducted to eliminate the breeding grounds of these mosquitoes,” the airport health officer (ATHO) said. The surveillance is being conducted in coordination with the state government within the area of 400 meters around the city airport. Different stakeholders including immigration officials have been sensitized.
“Also, signages have been put in arrival and departure areas to inform passengers,” he said. An in-flight spraying operation inside flights is also being conducted, with immigration officials are also being asked to check on anyone having any symptoms,” he added.
11/02/16 Deccan Chronicle

Four member NCDC team visits airport, adjoining areas

Amritsar: A four member team of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) visited Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport and its adjoining areas, including Rajasansi, here today to conduct a survey in view of the recent Zika virus threat.
The team visited the residential accommodation located inside the airport. The team comprising, Dr Mohammad Majid, Dr Abhay Kumar Sharma and Dr Subhash Chander Sharma, advised the people to take precautionary measures to stop breading of mosquitoes and remove stagnant water. They asked the people to immediately visit a doctor if they had fever and other symptoms of Zika virus.
11/02/16 Tribune

Haveus Aerotech India signs MoU with Air India

Mumbai: Haveus Aerotech India, chosen by Dubai World Central (DWC) to build the first and most advanced maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) at Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport, has signed a MoU with Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL), a subsidiary of Air India, to set up engine MRO facility to cater to the burgeoning demand for engine maintenance, repair and overhauling services in the Gulf region.

H R Jagannathan, CEO, AIESL, said, “AIESL has vast aviation and engine experience which we will deploy to provide Haveus Aerotech India with all necessary support in terms of provision of skilled manpower and quality certification related to the facility.”

As per the MoU, AIESL will provide experienced engineers, skilled manpower and technical personnel to Haveus Aerotech India to build and operate MRO facility at Dubai. AIESL will provide the required support to Haveus Aerotech India in procuring 145 certifications to establish an engine MRO at Dubai. Haveus Aerotech India can use the AIESL facilities and manpower for engine overhaul of CFM56/CF6 series and any other engine or APU in India till Haveus Aerotech India facility is operational in Dubai. AIESL will also work in unison with Haveus Aerotech India and will provide any surplus work generated to the latter.
10/02/16 Financial Express

Flying high

Madurai: A small two feet aircraft streaked across the sky as the gathering watched in awe at the Aeroplus 2016, an exhibition of aircrafts organised by the Nehru Group of Institutions.

“It is a controlled-line aircraft,” says R. Moses Daniel, convener of the exhibition and Principal of Nehru Institute of Information Technology and Management. “The aircraft is connected to the control system through a high tensile tungsten wire. It was created by our boys and the effort was well appreciated by former president Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam when he visited our institution,” he informs.

Inspired by Dr.Kalam’s visit, the Nehru Group of Institutions created APJ Vision 2020 Club to organise exhibitions and awareness programmes on aeronautical sciences across the State. “We have now extended our activities to Kanyakumari, Nagercoil, Dharapuram, Tirunelveli, Valliyoor and Marthandam,” says Sanoj P. Suresh, one of the coordinators of the club.

There was also a breathtaking display by small three feet helicopter that runs on Nitro Methanol fuel. “A 320 ml temporary fuel tank is attached to the copter and it can also be fitted with a one litre fuel tank which will enable it to to fly from Coimbatore to Udhagamandalam in one go. But getting permission from the aviation department is tough. Hence we don’t fly this copter above 40 feet altitude,” says P. Maniarasan, Principal, Nehru Institute of Engineering and Technology. According to the manufacturers, the copter can also be fitted with the GPRS system for long flying purpose and it can travel at an average speed of 70-80 kms per hour.
11/02/16 T. Saravanan/The Hindu

Passenger stopped by airport staff after attempting to bring cow pat into New Zealand

A passenger who carried cow faeces on an 11 hour flight found himself in a sticky situation when it was seized by security.
The man, who had just arrived at Auckland Airport in New Zealand following a lengthy flight from Malaysia, attempted to bring the dung into the country.
Heading to the 'something to declare' desk, the traveller told Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) that he had 'commercially packaged dung' in his luggage.
The faeces was flown over to the country for a ritual burning ceremony at a Hindu temple in Otahuhu.
Cow pats, which contain gas that is rich in methane, have been used in rural areas of India and Pakistan to light fires for centuries.
New Zealand's MPI said the discovery was one of the 'more unusual biosecurity finds so far this year'.
Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Dave Sims, MPI's Auckland Airport manager, said: 'Cows pats are now a commercial product. There's even a website selling them and some customers want gift wrapping.
'In this case, the passenger did the right thing by declaring the cow pat.'
10/02/16 Georgia Diebelius/Mail Online

AAI to redesign layouts of retail, food outlets in airports

Faced with the task of maximising the commercial revenue at airports, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has decided to appoint a consultant for seven international airports, including Tiruchi, to review and re-design the layout of its existing general retail and food and beverage outlets inside the terminal buildings.

The object was to make optimum use of airport space for passengers’ facilitation and realise the full commercial revenue potential.

Apart from Tiruchi, the other airports under this scheme are Thiruvananthapuram, Lucknow, Guwahati, Goa, Amritsar, and Srinagar.

The Commercial Department of the AAI corporate headquarters has invited quotation from the prospective consultants.

The applicant should have had experience in providing consultancy services in similar work at least in one Indian or foreign airports having passenger movement of two million annually or more.

The consultant would be given four months to carry out the work which would be split into two phases.
11/02/16 R. Rajaram/The Hindu

Spurt in gold smuggling by airline crew

New Delhi: A spurt in the involvement of airline staffers in cross-border smuggling of gold has the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence concerned.

The agency has asked all stakeholders at airports across the country to exercise due diligence in checking such practices.

The latest arrest was of a Jet Airways steward, who allegedly tried to smuggle out U.S. dollars worth Rs.2.6 crore to Hong Kong on board a flight from Mumbai, to buy gold for sale in India. According to sources, gold purchased abroad could fetch a minimum profit of Rs.2 lakh per kg, even when travel expenses are taken into account.

In May last year, the agency had arrested two flight crew members of Virgin Atlantic at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi for allegedly carrying 6 kg of gold. Last July, a Jet Airways flight attendant was arrested with 3 kg of gold at the same airport.

Similar cases have been reported at the international airports in Chennai, Tuticorin and Bangalore, where ground staff of airlines such as Spice Jet and Air India were allegedly found involved.
11/02/16 Devesh K. Pandey/The Hindu

Duo held for bid to smuggle in gold worth Rs74 lakh

Mumbai: Days after a Jet Airways crew member was held at the city airport for allegedly being involved in foreign currency smuggling syndiate, the Air Intelligence unit (AIU) of the airport customs on Wednesday arrested two women ground staffers of a maintenance agency attached with MIAL for their role in smuggling of gold worth Rs74 lakh. The duo was held following the arrest of one passenger and his accomplice, who reportedly revealed during interrogation their plan to hand over the smuggled gold to these women on reaching the airport.

According to AIU deputy commissioner Kiran Kumar, based on profiling, a passenger named Shaikh Mohammed Ajmal was followed after his arrival from Dubai via Jet Airways 9W 537. He was intercepted after his clearance through the green channel. "His search resulted in the recovery of 24 gold bars of ten tola each, having a total weight of 2,784gm valued at Rs73.93 lakh," said Kumar.

AIU officials said Ajmal's interrogation led them to another accused Raghib Shaikh, who was waiting outside the airport terminal to receive him. He was also caught and interrogated.

"Analysis of their phones revealed the details of two LiveWell ground staffers named Kianat Khan and Kiran Yadav," added Kumar.
11/02/16 Daily News & Analysis

Two gold smugglers arrested

New Delhi: Two passengers were apprehended by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at Indira Gandhi International Airport for allegedly smuggling gold worth Rs 64 lakh and one of them had carried it in an ingenious way by concealing gold bars inside a torch.
In the first instance, at 5 pm on Tuesday, the CISF intercepted a passenger named Nasim Ahmed, who had arrived at the airport from Mumbai by an Air India flight.
"When we checked his baggage, six gold bars weighing about 700 grams were concealed in a torch wrapped with the battery," said Hemendra Singh, Deputy Commandant, Public Relations Officer, CISF.
11/02/16 Tribune India

Man held at IGI Airport with foreign currency

New Delhi: The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has arrested a passenger here at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) with foreign currency worth over Rs.1 crore, said an official on Thursday.

Aakash Nagpal, a resident of New Govindpuri in south Delhi, was arrested on Wednesday night at the airport.

"Nagpal was supposed to travel to Mumbai by flight number AI-317. He was selected for thorough checking of his belongings and his luggage was passed through X-Ray baggage inspection system at international security hold area of Terminal-3, IGI Airport," CISF spokesperson Hemendra Singh said.
11/02/16 IANS/Business Standard