Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Domestic airlines fly 20% more passengers in June

New Delhi: Domestic airlines flew 95.86 lakh passengers in June this year registering a growth of almost 20 per cent over the 79.75 lakh passengers flown during the same period in the previous year.

IndiGo retained the number one spot having flown 38.26 lakh passengers followed by Jet Airways (14.58 lakhs) and SpiceJet (12.73 lakhs). Air India carried 12.49 lakhs while Go Air flew (8.05 lakhs), Vistara (3.44 lakhs) and AirAsia (3.51 lakhs).

SpiceJet, however, reported the highest passenger load factor of 94.5 per cent during June this year among all the domestic airline. Passenger load factor shows how many of the total seats on offer by each airline are getting filled.

AirAsia reported a PLF of 89.6 per cent, followed by GoAir (89.4 per cent), IndiGo (87.8 per cent) and Vistara (86.4 per cent).

IndiGo reported the best on-time performance among all the airlines at 86.1 per cent at the four metro airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. Vistara took the second spot reporting an OTP of 80.8 per cent followed by SpiceJet (79.8 per cent) and Go Air (75.9 per cent).
19/07/17 Business Line

Air India Express' 10-year plan: To expand fleet, fly to more foreign destinations

New Delhi: Profit-making Air India Express is preparing a 10-year vision document as it looks at expanding its fleet and flying to more foreign destinations, a senior airline official said.

The plan is being prepared amid the government working on a road map for disinvestment in Air India, the debt laden parent of the low-cost carrier which remains bullish on growth prospects.

While the national carrier has been in the red for long, AI Express remained in the black for second consecutive year, posting Rs 296.7 crore net profit in 2016-17. "It is business as usual" and the the airline would keep growing, Air India Express CEO K Shyam Sundar said in response to queries on whether there are business uncertainties in the wake of Air India disinvestment decision.

On future plans, he said the carrier would expand its aircraft fleet and fly to more overseas destinations.
17/07/17 PTI/First Post

Air India sell-off: Not offering voluntary retirement to staffers, says CMD

National passenger carrier Air India's Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani on Tuesday said that the airline has no plans to offer a VRS (voluntary retirement scheme) to its employees.

"There is no such proposal for VRS," Lohani said.

New Delhi: Earlier, some reports had mentioned that before the airline's divestment, its management has been asked by the government to draw up a proposal to offer voluntary buyouts to its employees.

"Air India and its subsidiaries have nearly 20,000 employees. Among them, Air India has only 11,500 employees. Air India management has not offered their employees voluntary buyouts," said Dhananjay Kumar, Spokesperson, Air India.

The development comes after the June 28 decision of the Union cabinet which gave its in-principle approval for divestment of AI, whose debt has mounted to Rs 50,000 crore besides huge losses.
The Union cabinet's decision on Air India came after NITI Aayog in a recent report to the Civil Aviation Ministry recommended strategic disinvestment in the loss-making Air India.

At present, the national passenger carrier has a debt burden of more than Rs 50,000 crore.
19/07/17 IANS/Business Standard

No 'firm plan' for biometric flight boarding system: Jayant

There is "no firm plan" to introduce a biometric system for boarding planes, Union minister Jayant Sinha said in the Rajya Sabha today.

The statement comes a month after the Ministry of Civil Aviation said within three to four months, it would be mandatory for air travellers in the country to provide unique identification (UID) like Aadhaar card, passport or PAN, at the time of booking tickets.

The plan mooted last month emphasised that those who opt for biometric identification through Aadhaar would be able to zip through the airport faster through iris and finger scans, compared to passengers who use other forms of digital identification.

"There is no firm proposal for introduction of biometric system for boarding flights in the country," Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said in response to a question.
18/07/17 PTI/DNA

Atlanta to Pitch Air India on a Direct Route

Atlanta leaders are looking to persuade Air India that the Southeast’s economic hub should be its next U.S. destination.

Driven by the Consulate General of India in Atlanta, the Indian community is gathering support for a petition that will make a business case to the country’s flag carrier as it expands U.S. service.

Air India has five U.S. gateways and should begin new service to Los Angeles and Dallas later this year. It launched nonstop service between Delhi and Washington on July 7, linking the two nations’ capitals just after President Donald Trump hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House in late June.

The Washington flight started out as an extension of Air India’s New York-Delhi route, but eventually blossomed into a three-days-a-week nonstop as the benefits of the link became clear.
18/07/17 Trevor Williams/Global Atlanta

Air India recorded maximum safety violation cases: Union Minister Jayant Sinha

National carrier Air India recorded the maximum cases of safety violations in the last three years, followed by Jet Airways and SpiceJet, Union Minister Jayant Sinha said in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Air India, along with its subsidiaries Air India Express and Alliance Air, registered 185 cases of violations where punitive measures were taken against the crew in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

These measures included a warning to personnel, de-rostering, corrective training and suspension of licences, he said in response to a question.

During the same period, Jet Airways recorded 154 instances where penalties were imposed on their crew and SpiceJet saw such 142 cases.

Market leader IndiGo recorded three cases during this period.

But over the years there has been a decline in such instances, the government said.
18/07/17 PTI/

Air India privatisation: Why it will be a culture shock to babudom more than the employees

The privatisation of Air India is set to bring about a major change in the work life of its employees, many of whom have been with the public sector unit (PSU) for a considerable period of time. Chairman Ashwani Lohani reportedly wrote a letter to the staff detailing how the move could result in a work culture change in a bid to prepare them for the likely sale.

"Ownership changes that we expect at Air India would also lead to a change in the working environment and the work culture. The complexities of working in a PSU (public sector unit) environment would get replaced by a corporate culture, a culture in which merit would get a better deal," Lohani wrote in the letter, according to a report in the Mint.

Working for a PSU is largely perceived to be cushy. Job security is guaranteed and one cannot be sacked unless one commits a fraud or treason. You also have more ways to hide your incompetence, than in the private sector, to hold on to your job or even get promotions. Once privatised, all this will likely change for Air India employees.
19/07/17 Sulekha Nair/First Post

Jet introduces more domestic flights for monsoon

New Delhi:  Jet Airways announced on Tuesday that it has expanded its domestic network this monsoon by introducing 14 new direct, non-stop flights to emerging cities. An airline spokesperson said the new flights have started operations.

Among the flight introduced are direct, return and non-stop flights from Indore to Ahmedabad and Jaipur. In addition, the airline has also commenced new, direct non-stop flights between Delhi and Indore, Lucknow and Jaipur as well as connecting Jaipur with Udaipur and Lucknow.

The airline has also introduced 11 direct, one-stop flights between Delhi and Silchar, Dehradun and Jaipur, Chandigarh and Dehradun, Chandigarh and Lucknow, and Indore and Lucknow, the statement said.
18/07/17 Business Line

Air India chief Ashwani Lohani writes to staff to allay layoff fears

Air India (AI) chief Ashwani Lohani on Tuesday assured employees their interests would be “safeguarded” as he sought to allay concerns over possible layoffs following the government’s decision to sell its stake in the national carrier.

“I would like to reassure all my employees that during the process of disinvestment, the government and the airline management would like to safeguard your genuine and valid interests and ensure that suitable measures to this effect are put in place,” Mr. Lohani, Air India’s chairman and managing director, said in a letter to the staff. It was the first formal communication from the debt-laden airline’s top management since the decision to privatise it was taken. Mr. Lohani also wrote that an ownership change will usher in a corporate culture where merit would be better rewarded.

The Air India boss’ missive to the employees came on a day when a section of the staff held a protest against its proposed privatisation over fear of large scale job losses.

Noting that the government’s decision to pull out of Air India was in the airline’s best interest, Mr. Lohani wrote,”It is the firm conviction of the government that the process of disinvestment is only meant to make Air India a much stronger world class airline capable of competing with others successfully.”
18/07/17 PTI/The Hindu

Air India Employees Stage Protest Against Privatisation

New Delhi:  A section of Air India employees today staged protest against the government's decision to privatise the national carrier, saying they were always ready for turnaround of the airline.

Around 300 employees, associated with the Air Corporation's Employees Union (ACEU), gathered outside the Air India office near the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi.

They chanted slogans opposing the decision taken by the Union Cabinet last month approving disinvestment of Air India.

The ACEU is the biggest union of Air India employees and represents nearly 8,000 of the total 24,000 staff members. It is a grouping of non-technical staff of the airline.

"We appeal to the government of India not to go for privatisation and disinvestment of Air India. We are always ready to turnaround Air India," the ACEU said in its statement.
19/07/17 PTI/NDTV

Making you pay for seat selection is now serious money for airlines

British airline Ryanair was once proposing charging customers to use the washrooms on airplanes. The plan, however, did not take off (pun intended).

However, something similar is happening in India's fast growing aviation market.

In July of 2015, a notice from the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) read, “Sub-rule (1) of rule 135 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 states that every air transport undertaking engaged in scheduled air services shall establish tariff having regard to all relevant factors, including the cost of operation, characteristics of service, reasonable profit and the generally prevailing tariff.”

In simpler terms, the government 'delinked' the price of your airline ticket from services that you get on board a plane like meals, airport lounge charges, web check-in, carry-on baggage and even charging for a seat, as it was felt unnecessary to all.
“On the basis of various feedback received, it is felt that many a times these services provided by the airlines may not be required by the passengers while travelling,” the government’s notice read.
These add-on services are demarcated under ‘ancillary revenues,’ in the airline financial reports. The simple idea behind the move was to see if flyers could be charged for only those services that they use. For example, an airline could reduce its ticket price if a flyer isn't checking-in her baggage.

The move was seen as one that could 'unbundle' services of an airline in a way that passengers could reduce the price they paid. However, two years later, airlines have managed to create a revenue stream from these ancillary service that can now cost a flyer more than the base fare for their ticket.
19/07/17 Yoshita Rao/Zee Business

Jet Airways likely to operate a new service

Tiruchi: Jet Airways has reportedly expressed keenness in launching a service in the Tiruchi – Mumbai sector.

Sources said that the private carrier is reported to have submitted its proposed to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for plan approval. The DGCA has asked comments from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) regarding the proposal before according clearance. The AAI has in turn sought comments from the authorities at the Tiruchi airport.

Sources said the local airport authorities appear to be equally keen on offering positive comments to the plan. The Tiruchi airport has domestic connectivity to Chennai with the Jet Airways operating four flights a day in this sector. The authorities were keen on giving appropriate slots to the private carrier’s plan to operate a new service. Once the clearance from the DGCA is obtained, the airline was expected to operate a Boeing 737 type aircraft which could accommodate nearly 150 passengers in the afternoon.

The service is expected in the winter schedule. This development comes at a time when both international and domestic passenger traffic growth at Tiruchi airport has been on the upswing steadily. The domestic passenger traffic is expected to rise if the new plan were to take off. There has been tremendous demand from the travel sector and passengers to augment domestic connectivity to key cities such as Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi.
19/07/17 R Rajaram/The Hindu

Air India, IndiGo, Spicejet lift flying ban on Diwakar Reddy even as TDP MP offered no apology for ‘manhandling incident’

New Delhi: Budget carrier IndiGo on Wednesday lifted the flying ban on Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP Diwakar Reddy. The TDP MP, had allegedly shown unruly behaviour and had manhandled ground staff at Vizag Airport on June 15, after which he was banned from flying. Later, extending support to the airliner, all other leading Indian airlines banned Reddy from flying. However, now IndiGo and SpiceJet have lifted the ban on Reddy, PTI has reported. “Senior IndiGo officials on Wednesday met Diwakar Reddy, at a lunch hosted by senior MP YS Chaudhary, to resolve the issue of Diwakar Reddy’s ban on IndiGo flights. The issue is amicably resolved between the two and IndiGo has decided to lift the said ban with immediate effect and Reddy is withdrawing the case he has filed,” IndiGo was quoted as saying by the PTI.
“The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) has also been informed about the decision. IndiGo appreciate and thanks the member airlines for their continued support,” IndiGo added. Reddy, who is Lok Sabha MP from Anantapur, had approached Hyderabad High Court protesting the ban. The High Court, in turn, issued “urgent notices” to respondents on a petition filed by Reddy. In what came as a shock for Reddy, a number of airlines, including Jet Airways, Vistara Airlines, IndiGo, GoAir, AirAsia, SpiceJet and Turbo Megha Airways had reportedly banned him from flying.
19/07/17 Fiancial Express

Indigo flight from Mumbai to Delhi makes emergency landing at Ahmedabad airport

An Indigo Airlines flight 6E 3612 from Mumbai to New Delhi on early morning of July 19, 2017 made an emergency landing at Ahmedabad airport.

The airline, in a statement on social networking website Twitter said that that technical reasons led to this emergency grounding of the flight. "All passengers and crew on board are safe. Passenger and crew safety is of utmost importance to us. Our team is currently looking into the technical issue and is working on fixing the same."

A flyer who is on the flight posted a tweet. He said, "IndiGo flight number 3612 from Mum to Del has made an emergency landing into Ahd. Am onboard. Good piece of flying by the pilots."
19/07/17 Zee Business

Who Arranged Special Flight for JC?

Anantapur MP JC Diwakar Reddy flew to Delhi on a Special Flight to cast his ballot in the Presidential Elections. JC was in the no-fly list of the major domestic airlines and so has to make this costly arrangement to reach Delhi.
It was JC’s son, Pavan Kumar Reddy who arranged the eight-seater jet for his father. Pavan refused to identify the company but said he has several friends who have private jets and one of them immediately arranged one when he asked.
Pavan Kumar Reddy also traveled to Delhi with his father in the Private Jet. On 15th of June, Diwakar Reddy created hulchul at Vishakapatnam Airport after he was refused boarding pass by IndiGo Airlines.

Private airport at Karaikal to be ready by next June

Kraikal: Work on India’s ‘first private greenfield airport’ here will be completed before June next and the airport will become operational soon after, a senior Karaikal Airport Pvt Ltd official said on Wednesday.

About 350 acres of land out of the proposed 526 acres for the airport project has already been procured, KAPL Chairman JV Chowdhary told reporters here. “Of the 60 acres of land required for runway construction, we have procured 45 acres and the remaining 15 acres will be procured within a month,” he said.

Runway construction works will begin immediately thereafter and the construction works will be completed before June 2018, he said. The company has obtained all necessary clearances from regulatory agencies, including permission from the Civil Aviation Ministry and no-objection certificate from the Puducherry government.
19/07/17 PTI/Business Line

Green panel okays Vijayawada airport runway extension

Hyderabad: A committee under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has accorded permission for the extension of runway at the Vijayawada airport in Andhra Pradesh to meet the current demand and facilitate landing and take off of bigger aircrafts.
A proposal submitted by the Airport Authority of India said, the existing airport is currently handling about 40 operations per day (20 landings and 20 take-offs) and operating capacity of the airport is about 300 passengers.
In annualised capacity, the airport capacity is 3.60 lakh passengers per annum.
After expansion, the airport capacity will be 7.50 lakh. The additional facilities such as passenger terminal building will be developed within the existing airport complex.
"The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), on being satisfied with the submissions of the project proponent in response to its observations, recommended the project for grant of environmental clearance and stipulated the following specific conditions along with other environmental conditions while considering for accord of environmental clearance," the EAC said in the minutes of the meeting.
The total cost of the expansion would nearly be Rs 145 crore.
19/07/17 PTI/Times of India

Kerala identifies land for Sabarimala airport

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod for construction of an airport at Cheruvally rubber estate, about 48 km from the famed Sabarimala temple.
The estate in Kottayam district belongs to the Thiruvalla-headquartered Believers Church, but the state government has staked claim to it. The issue is currently pending in the Kerala High Court.
The site for the much-talked about and long-delayed Sabarimala airport was identified by a state government committee.
The cabinet accepted the proposal of the committee, led by Revenue Secretary P.H. Kurian, which has zeroed in on the 2,263 acre estate, a statement from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office said.
Last year, the Vijayan government got the informal sanction from Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju to build an airport near Sabarimala temple. The Minister assured Vijayan that a preliminary no-objection certificate for the airport would be given once the land for the project was identified.

Intra-air services soon on 6 routes

Jaipur: Soon, the intra-air services will be extended on six new routes including direct connectivity to New Delhi and Ahmedabad. The state government gave consent to this proposal on principle and forwarded the same to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry for necessary formalities.

As per the letter shot to the civil aviation by chief secretary Ashok Jain, it has been decided to expand the intra-air services on six more routes which are Jaipur-Kota, Delhi-Sawai Madhopur,

Delhi-Kisahangarh, Delhi-Shri Ganganagar, Jodhpur-Ahmedabad and Jaipur- Jodhpur- Jaisalmer.

So far the service are available on three routes from Jaipur to Jodhpur, Bikaner and Udaipur. The air service was launched by chief minister Vasundhara Raje in October last year and Supreme Airlines was commissioned for operation of flights on a regular basis on these routes.

In the previous Budget the CM had announced to expand intra-air services to other cities and the letter written by the CS comes in its continuance.

In the letter, the CS has recommended for the same air operator to run the operations on new routes.
19/07/17 DNA

SriLankan now flies to 41 cities including 14 destinations in India

SriLankan Airlines recorded an exciting milestone last Sunday as it launched a new four-times-a-week service to Coimbatore. This took SriLankan’s online destination count to 41, the highest ever in Sri Lanka’s aviation history.

With the recently launched routes to Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam, as well as the seasonal flights to Gaya and Varanasi which will resume in August, SriLankan will soon be operating 126 scheduled flights a week to 14 destinations in India – serving more Indian points than any other international airline, according to a SriLankan media release.

“This regains SriLankan the title of the foreign airline with the largest reach into India – a solid and distinct advantage that will help SriLankan’s commercial efforts and its quest to become a regional carrier of note,” it said.

In addition to opening these new routes, SriLankan has also implemented several other network changes from 15th July in line with its strategy of adapting its route network to align with the current market realities.
19/07/17 Times Online

36 years on, Sikh hijackers face trial for sedition

Jalandhar: Thirty-six years after they hijacked an Indian Airlines Boeing-737 to Lahore, their arrest and imprisonment in Pakistan, two of the five Dal Khalsa hijackers are being tried for sedition.
They hijacked Flight IC-423 on September 29, 1981, after it took off from Delhi for Srinagar via Amritsar and made the pilot land at Lahore. Their demand was the release of then Damdami Taksal head Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was arrested nine days before in connection with murder of a Hindi daily editor.
He was released after nothing came out against him. They were also demanding the release of other Sikh prisoners and seeking compensation for the family of Sikhs who were killed in police firing on September 20, 1981, during a protest before Bhindranwale's arrest.Accompanied by their lawyers Mohit Mathur and Manisha Bhandari, the two hijackers, Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib, who headed the Dal Khalsa, and Tejinder Pal Singh, appeared before the court of additional chief metropolitan magistrate Jyoti Kler on Tuesday and were granted two-day interim bail.While Tejinder Pal Singh lives in Jalandhar, Satnam Singh resides in Chandigarh.
The court has sought the investigating officer's report and fixed the matter for July 20. Both the lawyers argued before the court that the petitioners had already spent 35 years of their life in litigation and had already served one life sentence in Pakistan.
19/07/17 IP Singh/Times of India

Boeing 747 trial flight lands at Srinagar

Srinagar: The first Boeing 747 Air India trial flight landed at the Srinagar international airport on Wednesday. "The trial flight was operated for the first time by Air India," an airport official said. Air India will operate Boeing 747 flights from Srinagar to Saudi Arabia from July 25 to ferry Hajj pilgrims. A total of 8,100 Hajj pilgrims will be performing the pilgrimage this year from Jammu and Kashmir. Some 840 pilgrims will fly each day from Srinagar to Saudi Arabia.
19/07/17 IANS/

Groundwork starts on new airport terminal

Pune: Taking a leap forward in the new Pune airport terminal works, Agis India, a France-based company, has begun a topography survey of the site, senior airport officials said.
Pune airport director Ajay Kumar told TOI that the survey was expected to be completed within 10 days, following which other technical works would be taken up.
"Agis India has been appointed as consultants for the new terminal building. They will collect the required data and study it thoroughly," the official said.
The Pune airport has been in the expansion mode since earlier this year. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) officials have refrained from commenting on the proposed airport at Purandar and have maintained that they were doing their job. The new terminal building will be a major part of the airport expansion project. Around Rs 400 crore having been sanctioned for the project.
"Before the construction begins, the basic ground work needs to be taken care of. As of now, we are expecting the actual construction to start in the next 7-8 months which would take at least three years to complete," the director said.
18/07/17 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

When Indian MiG-29Ks 'Clashed' With US Super Hornets Over Bay Of Bengal

New Delhi: When Russia deployed its sole aircraft carrier, the Kuznetsov off the coast of Syria earlier this year, a newly-developed fighter jet onboard the ship had many Western powers operating in the region intrigued, if not concerned.

The jet in question was the MiG-29K, a brand new Navalised variant of one of the most successful Russian fighters ever built, the MiG-29, a jet that's been in service with the Indian Air Force since the mid-eighties.

But the MiG-29K is a very different beast. Equipped with a host of new weapons and sensors, the jet is considered among the most capable of its generation, a fighter that could potentially threaten several contemporary Western fighters including newer variants of the F-15 or F-16.
As it turns out, Russia was not the first Navy to deploy the MiG-29K. That honour had come to the Indian Navy a few years ago. Along with the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya, the Indian Navy had received the MiG-29K as part of a package deal. Which is why, the US would hardly give up any opportunity to exercise with the MiG-29K.
18/07/17 Vishnu Som/NDTV

DGCA braces for ICAO safety audit

New Delhi: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is bracing for a safety oversight audit by the U.N. body, International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), in November this year. The aviation regulator is taking a series of steps to save it from the embarrassment of the 2012 audit in which the ICAO had raised safety concerns about India’s aviation system.
The measures include hiring flight operation inspectors, aligning its rules with ICAO norms, certifying flight examiners, among others.

The DGCA will be furnishing its response to the detailed protocol questionnaire posed by ICAO for its Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) by August first week, officials said. This will be followed by a visit by ICAO officials to India from November 1-16 this year. “We have hired 67 flight operation inspectors and we plan to fill the remaining eight posts soon,” a senior DGCA official said, requesting anonymity.
To make the posts of flight operation inspectors attractive for experienced pilots, the DGCA offered them market-linked salary. “We managed to get the approval of the Finance Ministry within three days,” the official added.
18/07/17 Somesh Jha/The Hindu

India sought time to evaluate Russia's Su-30 upgrade offer: Rostec State Corporation

Moscow: India has sought time to "evaluate" Russia's offer of upgrading its Sukhoi-30 fleet to a near fifth-generation aircraft level, a top official of Russia's Rostec State Corporation has said.

Victor Nikolayevich Kladov, the head of the Department of International Cooperation and Regional Policy, Rostec State Corporation, said it was upto India whether it wants to pick up the entire upgrade package or opt for selective modernisation.

He said the pricing of the upgrade would also depend on that.

Talking to a select group of reporters ahead of Russia's MAKS air show, he said India was evaluating the offer for the upgrade of Sukhoi Su-30MKI.

"This question, as far as I know, was raised in St Petersburg between President (Vladimir) Putin and esteemed Prime Minister(Narendra) Modi (last month). The Indian Prime minister once again reiterated that the Indian side needs time to evaluate it's strategy of of development and how to spend money," Kladov said.
18/07/17 Economic Times

Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa Flies Rafale Jet In France

New Delhi: Chief of Air Staff BS Dhanoa on Tuesday flew a sortie in a Rafale fighter jet from a French airbase to gain first-hand experience of the aircraft, 36 of which are being procured for the Indian Air Force.

Mr Dhanoa is a on a four-day visit to France to ramp up cooperation between the air forces of the two countries in a range of areas.

He flew the fighter at the Saint-Dizier airbase -- a prominent installation of the French air force, an IAF official said.

India is procuring the Rafale multi-role fighter jets from French aviation major Dassault under a Euro 7.87 billion (approx Rs. 59,000 crore) deal inked in September last year Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa will also take stock of progress in their supply.

The fighter jets are capable of carrying nuclear weapons and will be equipped with the latest missiles that will give the IAF greater "potency" over arch-rival Pakistan.

The Rafale combat aircraft will come with various India- specific modifications including Israeli helmet mounted displays, radar warning receivers and low band jammers, among others.
19/07/17 PTI/NDTV

Indo-Russian JV for Kamov choppers registered in India: Official

Moscow: An Indo-Russian joint venture to produce the Kamov military helicopters under a USD 1 billion deal has been registered in India and efforts are on to co- produce them, a senior official of the Russian defence major Rostec has said.

The joint venture was registered in May, said Victor Nikolayevich Kladov, the head of the Department of International Cooperation and Regional Policy, Rostec State Corp, Russia's umbrella organisation for 700 hi-tech civilian and military firms which was established in 2007.

In October last year, India and Russia finalised a broad agreement for the JV between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and two Russian defence majors.
India is procuring Kamov choppers to replace its ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.

Sixty Kamov-226T helicopters will be supplied to India in fly-away condition, while 140 will be manufactured in India under a USD 1 billion deal inked in 2015.
18/07/17 PTI/Economic Times

IndiGo to dilute promoter stake to comply with regulatory norms

New Delhi: Low cost carrier IndiGo will dilute promoter stake to comply with regulatory norms. InterGlobe Aviation, IndiGo's parent company, said in a BSE filing on Wednesday that its board will meet on July 31.
Among other things, the LCC board will "consider the means of achieving the minimum public shareholding in the company in accordance with the applicable laws including through a follow on public offer and/ or an institutional placement programme which may comprise of a fresh issue and / or an offer for sale and recommend the same for the approval of shareholders of the company, if required."
Promoted by Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal, IndiGo was listed in 2015. As per norms, it has three years to reduce public shareholding to 75 per cent from the current 85 per cent level. The airline seems to have preponed this. The further equity sale to public could raise anywhere up to Rs 6,000 crore.
19/07/17 Times of India

Avian Media bags PR mandate for Pratt & Whitney

Pratt & Whitney, a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines and auxiliary power units, has awarded its public relations mandate to Avian Media following a competitive multi-agency pitch.

Avian Media will be responsible for developing and managing strategic communications to amplify key messages and deliver successful campaigns for Pratt & Whitney (P&W) in India. The mandate includes reiterating P&W’s strengths and commitment to India, promoting technology leadership and innovation as well as building advocacy among relevant stakeholders.

Subir Moitra, head of Marketing and Communications for Pratt & Whitney in India, said: “We look forward to working with Avian Media in successfully driving the Pratt & Whitney story in India. We are especially focused on India as it is the world’s center of excellence for Pratt & Whitney’s revolutionary new propulsion system, the Geared TurboFan (GTF). Avian has a deep understanding of the aviation sector and will help us meet our business goals.”  Moitra recently re-joined Pratt & Whitney after serving as vice-president of Marketing and Communications for KPMG in India.
19/07/17 exchange4media

Now, KIA can handle more flights at peak hours

Bengaluru: he peak-hour flight handling capacity of the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) here just got a hyper-boost. The Airport has completed work on two new Rapid Exit Taxiways (RETs), allowing 44 flights to either take off or land every hour, up from 34 air traffic movements.

Easing peak congestion drastically at India’s third busiest airport, the new RETs (named A6 and A7) will be formally operationalised on August 17, BIAL’s President, Airport Operations, Hari Marar told DH.

KIA will then be equipped to handle about 700 flight take offs and landings a day, a major upgrade from the current 520.

The RETs will allow aircraft to vacate the runway at higher speeds, permitting another flight to land or take off in a shorter interval of time. Work on the RETs was completed on July 6, according to airport sources. The new facility was approved for testing and trials on Tuesday.

The airport already has three RETs. It is learnt that two more taxiways are to be built in the near future.

KIA’s flight handling capacity is severely stretched during the peak hours between 6 am and 8.30 am and from 7 pm to 10 pm. To facilitate speedy construction of the RETs and runway upgrade, flight operations at the airport had been suspended from February 17 to April 30, between 10.30 am and 5 pm.
19/07/17 Rasheed Kappan/Deccan Herald

Para athlete slams IndiGo

Para athlete and disabled activist Suvarna Raj had to miss her IndiGo flight to Udaipur on Tuesday morning allegedly as the security men at the Delhi's IGI airport failed to scan her wheelchair due to lack of equipment. The airline, however, said that Raj had reported late because of which she missed her flight.

A few weeks ago, Raj had come into the limelight after she was allotted an upper birth in a train while revelling from New Delhi railway station. Talking to DNA, Raj said that she had reached airport well in advance to ensure security checks are done in time.

"The security men did not have proper equipment. They kept me waiting. After a while, we learned that the flight had already taken off. I have travelled many times but such callousness is rare. This isn't the first time I am travelling in my wheelchair, " Raj said.

She said that the airport authority must be well equipped so that inconvenience to those disabled can be avoided.

"When is our society going to be sensitive towards disabilities or the so called Divyangs by our Honourable Prime Minister. I was supposed to take off from Delhi to Udaipur by Indigo Airline at 1.35 pm, but when I headed for Check-in, I was denied boarding as they said they will take time to scan the wheelchair. Why do wheelchair bound people face such problems at airports? They always force the disabled to change wheelchair. Why don't they use current technologies which are being used at all international airports?" She asked.
19/07/17 DNA

Adityanath govt renames Kanpur airport after Congress icon Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi

Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday renamed Kanpur Airport as Ganesh Shanker Vidhyarthi, an Indian National Congress icon, a renowned freedom fighter and a journalist.

Vidhyarthi was born in Kanpur in 1890. He was Founder-Editor of revolutionary weekly Pratap. Impressed with Mahatma Gandhi and his fight against injustice he had joined INC in 1916. A was also closely associated with famous freedom fighters Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad. He had translated Victor Hugo epic novel Ninety Three.

A decision to rename Kanpur Airport after him was taken on Saturday at Yogi Cabinet meeting. Bareilly Airport was also re-christened as Nath Nagari Airport. The Yogi Cabinet also approved new policy for re-opening old cinema halls across state. There are about 724 cinema halls which closed down in the last few years.
18/07/17 Srawan Shukla/DNA

ILS for Srinagar airport

Instrument of Landing System (ILS) is one of the crucial mechanical equipments needed for an airport particularly the one that has to operate in long foggy and snow bound winters. At present this equipment has been set up by the Airport Authority of India along the runway which, according to technical advice should be removed and separate space should be acquired for installing it. It is the visibility and the length to which visibility can work which are of importance.
The Division Bench of the State High Court has taken up a suo moto case and had called the representatives of the AAI and the IAF to appraise it of the difficulties and requirements for installation of ILS. The Bench is convinced that space should be provided to the AAI for installing the system and thus improving visibility for the aircrafts to land and take off in foggy weather when visibility is short.  The Court has been informed that the minimum visibility required at present is 1300 meter and if approach lighting system is installed on runway, then the minimum required visibility would be 800 meters. The court has ordered the Deputy Commissioner of Budgam to examine the feasibility of providing the identified space to the AAI and take steps to hand it over to the concerned.
19/07/17 Daily Excelsior

Master aviation minister, driver director of airline industry firm

Is it a proverbial rags to riches story, or a link in an elaborate benami operation? Times Now is in possession of documents which prove that the driver of UPA minister Praful Patel was the director of a company which was extending manpower and cargo handling services to airlines. All this while his boss was the Union civil aviation minister. GVG Services Pvt Ltd was established in 2010 and, as per returns filed in 2013, had a share capital of Rs 5 crore and only two directors — Vinod Singh and Ravi Singh.
As per sworn affidavits accessed by Times Now, both the directors have listed their official address as 26, Gurudwara Rakabganj Road, New Delhi. But, here is a twist in the tale: the address is the official residence of Praful Patel, former aviation minister and senior NCP member.
A visit to the company's headquarters in Mahipalpur — a suburb near the international airport in Delhi —revealed that the officials of the company were reluctant to name the proprietors.
At the end of a long conversation with general manager, GV Services, Karan Raina, Times Now got a confirmation on camera. When shown the picture of Vinod Singh, Patel's driver, the top company executive said, "This is Vinod Singh, the managing director of our company. He doesn't come here often, though." The company, which services several national airports and a leading national airline, continued to have its registered address as 26, Gurudwara Rakabganj Road, New Delhi, the official residence of Union civil aviation minister, even after Patel had demitted office in 2011.
Times Now confronted Patel about the possibility of a conflict of interest. He didn't deny that Vinod Singh was his driver for decades, but said he wasn't aware that he had floated a company and bagged contracts running into lakhs of rupees at various airports across the country.
19/07/17 Times of India

Aviation Ministry grants in-principle nod for 18 greenfield airports

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has granted 'in-principle' approval for setting up of 18 greenfield airports and 'site clearance' approval for setting up of seven greenfield airports across the country, said the Ministry of Civil Aviation in a release.

Out of these, Mopa Airport in Goa, Navi Mumbai and Shirdi Airport in Maharashtra, Kannur Airport in Kerala, Kushinagar Airport and Jewar Airport in Uttar Pradesh, Dholera Airport in Gujarat, Bhogapuram Airport in Andhra Pradesh, Machiwara Airport in Ludhiana, Alwar Airport in Rajasthan and Rajkot Airport in Gujarat are international greenfield airports. The airport project at Kannur has been completed.

Upgradation of existing airports is a continuous process depending on the traffic demand, availability of land and resources, environmental clearance approval from regulatory authorities, clearance from obstruction etc, it said.
19/07/17 India Infoline

Taxiways at KIA to be commissioned on Aug. 17

There is good news for passengers who regularly use the Kempegowda International Airport. Work on building two rapid exit taxiways, which had shut down the airport partially between February and April, is completed and the taxiways will be commissioned on August 17. This will pave the way for increase in KIA’s capacity to 44 aircraft movements per hour, 10 more than the current capacity of 34.

Rapid exit taxiways allow aircraft to leave the runway at higher speeds. As the aircraft vacate the runway quicker, more flights can be accommodated in a shorter interval of time. This is useful for KIA which is now the country’s third busiest airport. With the upgrade, around 700 flights per day can be handled. Between February and April this year, the runway had to be closed for certain intervals till the time that critical work on the taxiways was completed.

Already work on the second runway is on and according to BIAL, it will be operational by September 2019. In 2016, KIA received 22.18 million passengers, earning it the tag of busiest airport in South India. Around 60,000 passengers used the airport daily in 2016. The maximum flight movement is during the morning and evening peak hours and the runways’ flight handling capacity increase is expected to ease the pressure on the airport. “The work is completed and it will be commissioned on August 17,” confirmed Hari Marar, president, Airport Operations, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL).
19/07/17 The Hindu

Airfares in India projected to increase by 8.7% in 2018

Domestic demand is increasing, particularly in China and India, putting additional pricing pressure on key markets in both, according to the 2018 Global Travel Forecast report released by travel management company Carlson Wagonlit Travel and GBTA Foundation, the research arm of Global Business Travel Association. Asia Pacific is expected to see a 2.8% rise in airfares 2018, while airfares in India are projected to increase by 8.7% in 2018 (the biggest increase across all key markets in the APAC region).

According to the report, airlines in the region broadly are partnering with GDSs to display basic economy airfares and grow ancillary fee revenue, also resulting in a move away from manual bookings and toward consistency in fare displays. As the fastest-growing aviation market in the world, Beijing Capital and Hong Kong Airport have reached terminal capacity while Mumbai and New Delhi are expected to do the same in 2018 and 2021, respectively.
19/07/17 Economic Times

YEIDA to seek Rs 200 crore from UP govt for Jewar airport project

Greater Noida: Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) chairman Dr Prabhat Kumar who also holds charge of divisional commissioner Meerut on Tuesday said that he would write to the Uttar Pradesh government to expedite the land acquisition process for the Noida international airport at Jewar. Kumar said that he would request the state government to part with about Rs 200 crore for the same from the budgetary provision of Rs 400 crore allotted by UP during the budget 2017-18 announced on June 11, for giving a facelift to airstrips in the state.
Kumar said that he would soon write to the state government for the disbursement of the funds at the earliest. "During the budget, it was also announced that the said funds would be used for land acquisition for the Jewar Airport in Gautam Budha Nagar," he explained. "Once we have the funds, we will be able to start the land acquisition process, which is a lengthy procedure," he said. "We have to acquire 3000 hectares of land for the first phase of the aviation project. We have already started the process of changing the land use in the Master Plan-2031," he said.
18/07/17 Vandana Keelor/Times of India

AAI to bear capex for two airports

New Delhi: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) will bear the capital expenditure at Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports even as private developers will only need to concentrate on operations and maintenance (O&M) of the two airports whose terminal buildings are set to be privatised.

“The AAI has re-examined the issue related to the project financials of the O&M project for Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports. The concept of project cost will be different in case of these two airports as against the model adopted for privatisation of other airports, including Delhi and Mumbai airports,” said a senior civil aviation ministry official, requesting anonymity.

“The successful bidder for the airport projects will not be required to make capital investments into the airport as AAI will bear such cost,” the official added.

The decision was taken after a meeting among the AAI, Civil Aviation Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office recently in a bid to make the airport deal lucrative for both domestic and international players.

“The private operators who had shown interest in running the terminal building of the two airports had opined that the scope of revenue generation was limited in the O&M model so they may not find it viable to incur capital expenditure,” another civil aviation ministry official said.
19/07/17 Somesh Jha/The Hindu

Raj govt wants VVIP terminal at Jaipur airport,AAI offers land

Rajasthan government has requested for construction of a VVIP terminal at the Jaipur airport and the Airports Authority of India has offered land for the purpose, according to the civil aviation ministry.

AAI manages 125 airports and 25 civil enclaves at defence airfields, as per its website.

In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha said the AAI has received a request from Rajasthan government for construction of a VVIP terminal at the Jaipur airport.

"AAI has already offered 2.5 acres of land to the government of Rajasthan for this purpose," the minister said.

According to Sinha, state aircraft carrying state VIPs, including the chief minister and the governor, are operated from the state hangar.

"Other aircraft carrying VIPs and other passengers are being operated from terminal-2 at Jaipur airport," he added.
19/07/17 PTI/DNA

Adityanath govt renames Kanpur airport after Congress icon Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi

Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday renamed Kanpur Airport as Ganesh Shanker Vidhyarthi, an Indian National Congress icon, a renowned freedom fighter and a journalist.

Vidhyarthi was born in Kanpur in 1890. He was Founder-Editor of revolutionary weekly Pratap. Impressed with Mahatma Gandhi and his fight against injustice he had joined INC in 1916. A was also closely associated with famous freedom fighters Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad. He had translated Victor Hugo epic novel Ninety Three.

A decision to rename Kanpur Airport after him was taken on Saturday at Yogi Cabinet meeting. Bareilly Airport was also re-christened as Nath Nagari Airport.
18/07/17 DNA

Para athlete slams IndiGo

Para athlete and disabled activist Suvarna Raj had to miss her IndiGo flight to Udaipur on Tuesday morning allegedly as the security men at the Delhi's IGI airport failed to scan her wheelchair due to lack of equipment. The airline, however, said that Raj had reported late because of which she missed her flight.
A few weeks ago, Raj had come into the limelight after she was allotted an upper birth in a train while revelling from New Delhi railway station. Talking to DNA, Raj said that she had reached airport well in advance to ensure security checks are done in time.

"The security men did not have proper equipment. They kept me waiting. After a while, we learned that the flight had already taken off. I have travelled many times but such callousness is rare. This isn't the first time I am travelling in my wheelchair, " Raj said.

She said that the airport authority must be well equipped so that inconvenience to those disabled can be avoided.
19/07/17 DNA

Now, KIA can handle more flights at peak hours

Bengaluru: The peak-hour flight handling capacity of the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) here just got a hyper-boost. The Airport has completed work on two new Rapid Exit Taxiways (RETs), allowing 44 flights to either take off or land every hour, up from 34 air traffic movements.

Easing peak congestion drastically at India’s third busiest airport, the new RETs (named A6 and A7) will be formally operationalised on August 17, BIAL’s President, Airport Operations, Hari Marar told DH.

KIA will then be equipped to handle about 700 flight take offs and landings a day, a major upgrade from the current 520.

The RETs will allow aircraft to vacate the runway at higher speeds, permitting another flight to land or take off in a shorter interval of time. Work on the RETs was completed on July 6, according to airport sources. The new facility was approved for testing and trials on Tuesday.

The airport already has three RETs. It is learnt that two more taxiways are to be built in the near future.

KIA’s flight handling capacity is severely stretched during the peak hours between 6 am and 8.30 am and from 7 pm to 10 pm. To facilitate speedy construction of the RETs and runway upgrade, flight operations at the airport had been suspended from February 17 to April 30, between 10.30 am and 5 pm.

While the runway upgrade was completed by April 30, work on the RETs progressed for another 2.5 months.
19/07/17 Rasheed Kappan/Deccan Herald

Illegally smuggled gold worth Rs 50 Lakhs sized from Chhatrapati airport

Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) has held four passengers at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in a smuggling case and Gold worth Rs 50 lakhs was seized from their possession.Based on the intelligence report, the AIU officers at wee hours today intercepted Hussain Shah Kukkangai (24), Indian passport holder, who arrived from Dubai by the Emirates Airways flight number EK 508. During an enquiry at the immigration counter and later at the customs check, one solid cylindrical shaped gold piece weighing 1,165 gms, valuing Rs 34,28,697, was recovered from his possession.The gold piece was cleverly concealed in a shaft cavity of a water pump used for household purposes. Hussain works as a salesman in a mobile shop in Sharjah and is a native of Kasaragod, Kerala. He was supposed to hand over the seized consignment to a person in Bombay Hotel in Dongri, South Mumbai.Another passenger Abdulla Althaf, holding an Indian passport who arrived from Dubai by Air India Express flight number IX248, was caught with three ring shaped gold pieces collectively weighing 245 gms valued Rs 7,50,000. The gold was cleverly concealed inside the motor of the car washer.
19/07/17 UNI/WebIndia123

Two including 59-year-old man held for smuggling gold at IGIA

A 59-year-old man is among two persons arrested today by the customs for allegedly trying to smuggle into the country gold worth over Rs 66 lakh at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here in separate cases.
In the first case, the accused was intercepted after his arrival from Muscat.

"A detailed personal search of the passenger resulted in recovery of two gold wires total weighing 1.17 kg. The gold wires were coated with silver colour and were concealed beneath the inside metal frame of the check-in baggage," a press release issued by the customs said.

The market value of the seized gold wires works out to be Rs 33.05 lakh, it said, adding the 59-year-old passenger has been arrested.

The customs officials have registered two more cases involving similar modus operandi.
19/07/17 PTI/DNA

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ahead of privatization, Air India eyes bumper staff buyout

New Delhi: Air India is drawing up a proposal to offer voluntary buyouts to just over a third of its 40,000 employees, two government officials said, in what would be one of the largest such offers in India's state sector, as the airline slashes costs ahead of a 2018 sale.

The state-owned airline has also put fleet expansion on hold, scrapping a proposal to lease eight Boeing (BA.N) 787 wide-body aircraft, said one of the officials, a senior Air India employee who requested anonymity as the plans are not public. Air India's board approved that proposal in April but nothing further had been done.

"Nothing has been finalised but our aim is to make the strategic sale as simple as we can," the company official said, adding that any fresh investment would also be put on hold.

Air India spokesman Dhananjay Kumar said the company had not offered employees voluntary buyouts.

India's flag carrier is on the block after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet last month approved plans to privatize the loss-making airline by selling part or all of the company and ending decades of state support.

Founded in the 1930s and known to generations of Indians for its Maharajah mascot, Air India has a complex fleet, too many staff relative to rivals and $8.5 billion in debt. Since 2012, New Delhi has injected $3.6 billion to keep it afloat.
18/07/17 Rupam Jain/Reuters

Air India's net loss reduces to Rs 3,643 crore; operating profit rises in 2016-17

New Delhi: Air India's net loss after tax narrowed to Rs 3,643 crore and operating profit rose to Rs 300 crore in the last financial year, the government said today.

The airline saw its total revenue, including exceptional and extraordinary items, increase to Rs 22,146 crore in 2016 -17 period, as per provisional numbers provided by Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha to the Rajya Sabha.

The total revenue stood at Rs 20,524.56 crore in the year-ago period.

The financial position seems to have improved for the airline as it had posted a net loss after tax of Rs 3,836.77 crore and an operating profit of Rs 105 crore in 2015-16 fiscal.

However, the airline's expenditure went up to Rs 25,789 crore in the last financial year, as per the provisional numbers. In 2015-16, the same was lower at Rs 24,361.33 crore.
18/07/17 PTI/Economic Times

Air India chief tells staff their interests will be safeguarded

New Delhi: Air India CMD (Chairman and Managing Director) Ashwani Lohani on Tuesday assured its employees their interests would be "safeguarded", seeking to allay their concerns over possible layoff following the government's decision to sell its stake in the national carrier.
In the first formal communication from the debt-laden airline's top management since the decision to privatise it was taken, Lohani told the staff,"I would like to reassure all my employees that during the process of disinvestment, the government and the airline management would like to safeguard your genuine and valid interests and ensure that suitable measures to this effect are put in place."
In a letter addressed to the employees, Lohani also wrote that ownership change will usher in a corporate culture where merit would be better rewarded.
The Air India boss' missive to its employees came on a day a section of the staff held a protest against its proposed privatisation over fear of job loss on a large scale.
Noting that the government's decision to pull out of Air India was in the airline's best interest, Lohani wrote,"It is the firm conviction of the government that the process of disinvestment is only meant to make Air India a much stronger world class airline capable of competing with others successfully."
18/07/17 PTI/Times of India

Air India's debt pile: At Rs 6,000 cr interest outgo, balance sheet cleanup crucial for co's sale

New Delhi: Almost Rs 10 crore daily net loss and Rs 16.5 crore in daily debt servicing. This is what Air India’s balance sheet looked like as of March this year, according to data presented by Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha in Rajya Sabha today. The airline has about Rs 6,000 crore debt servicing obligation on its books which is 50 percent more than previously thought. And despite historic low fuel prices in FY17 helping it significantly improve its margins, Air India’s balance sheet continues to be splashed in red. It has reported a three-fold jump in operational profit for FY17, largely on the back of benign fuel prices, with other costs remaining nearly the same.

In the last few weeks, a lot of chatter and public discourse around Air India has been about its potential disinvestment and who are the interested private players likely to board the Maharaja. The biggest hurdle for any potential buyer of Air India continues to be its debt pile – in fact, it is the inability of the government to lighten Air India’s debt burden which is pushing it to consider divestment in the first place. So what does Air India have to pay each year to service this debt? As per Sinha’s reply, this figure is about Rs 6,000 crore. This means Air India has to pay about Rs 500 crore each month in interest or about Rs 16.5 crore each day of the year as interest outgo. The total debt on the airline’s books as of March this year is Rs 48,876.81 crore. No wonder then that IndiGo, which has already expressed interest in bidding for the overseas operations of the airline, has clearly said it does not plan to take on the airline’s debt.

When three Rajya Sabha MPs wanted to know the reasons for Air India facing financial pressure and earning less profit despite having more resources compared to private airlines, MoS Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said in the reply today “Air India is facing financial pressure and earning less profit due to high debt burden as an offshoot of past accumulated losses. The debt servicing is at around Rs 6,000 crore per annum.”
18/07/17 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post

The Assets Air India Can Sell To Raise Rs 20,000 Crore

Air India could generate Rs 20,000 crore ($3.1 billion) if it decides to sell five of its assets, helping the state-run airline reduce its debt by more than a third, two senior government officials aware of the national carrier’s operations and finances told BloombergQuint.
The five assets are its short-haul international arm Air India Express, regional carrier Alliance Air, Hotel Corporation of India, Air India Engineering Services Ltd., and Air India Transport Services Ltd., the officials said. “Sale of Air India Express alone could generate over Rs 10,000 crore,” said one of the officials quoted above. Air India has a debt of Rs 52,000 crore on its books.
An inter-ministerial group set up to find ways to help the government divest its stake in the carrier is scheduled to meet on Tuesday. The two officials couldn’t say if such an asset sale is among the proposals to be considered by the group. BloombergQuint’s emailed queries to Air India remained unanswered.
India’s largest airline IndiGo has expressed interest to buy Air India, especially the carrier’s long-haul international operations. Its co-founder Rahul Bhatia had said it would not be interested in any joint venture with the government to run Air India.
Some foreign carriers also showed interest informally, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha had said without revealing names.
The government started exploring divestment plans after its think tank NITI Aayog recommended a 100 percent stake sale in Air India, which is surviving on a Rs 30,000-crore bailout announced in 2012. The Cabinet then set up the inter-ministerial group to explore ways to either stem its losses or to invite private equity participation.
18/07/17 Krishanu Mukherji/Bloomberg Quint

Abu Dhabi 'in talks to buy 49% stake in Indian airport'

Abu Dhabi is reportedly close to finalising the purchase of a 49 percent stake in one of India’s busiest airports.

The sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is competing against Paris Aeroport to acquire the minority shareholding in Hyderabad International Airport, India’s The Economic Times reported. ADIA’s talks were more advanced than those of the Paris airport authority, the newspaper said.

ADIA declined to comment when contacted by Arabian Business, however it has previously said it was interested in greater investment in emerging markets.

One of the biggest sovereign wealth funds in the world, ADIA already has direct and indirect investments in India and shares in airports globally, including Gatwick in the UK and Rome.

The highly indebted Bengaluru-based infrastructure developer GMR Group is selling the stake in the airport to help rebalance its books, The Economic Times said.
18/07/17 Arabian Business

IndiGo's regional flights may take off by November: Report

Passengers can look forward to cheaper air travel from November this year in the southern parts of the country, thanks to plans by low-cost carrier IndiGo. The services could commence as early as November this year and are likely expand to other regions when the carrier also joins its rivals to fly under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS, also known as UDAN, which stands for Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik).

"By November, the operations should start, I think we will be flying in south India first," the Mint quoted an IndiGo executive as saying. The company had placed an order for 50 ATR 72-600 aircraft for the purpose, as confirmed while announcing the Q4 and FY2017 results in May.
The company's current fleet comprises 170 A320 aircraft that are deployed to operate about 930 flights daily; the ATR 72-600 aircraft would enable the carrier to take advantage of the lucrative RCS scheme when bids are likely to open for the second round of route allotment shortly, the daily said.
18/07/17 International Business Times

SpiceJet to operate daily direct flight on Hyderabad-Pondicherry-Hyderabad UDAN route

Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik or UDAN is a scheme mooted by the BJP government at the Centre to help the common man fly cheap to small towns.

The new route is the third one from Spicejet under the scheme

With this new flight, Pondicherry will be connected with Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Tirupati, Ahemdabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Vijaywada and Varanasi with convenient onward connections, the airlines said.

SpiceJet has been awarded six proposals and 11 routes under the first phase of the Centre's UDAN Regional Connectivity Scheme.

Out of the six finalised proposals, four will cater to unserved markets of Adampur, Kandla, Pondicherry and Jaisalmer whereas two will be for underserved markets of Porbandar and Kanpur, media reported

Flight operations have already commenced on Mumbai-Porbandar-Mumbai and Mumbai-Kandla-Mumbai routes from July 10.
18/07/17 India Blooms

RCS Pushes Growing Demand for ATR

The rising demand of airplane seats from Tier-II and Tier-III cities in India has pushed the airlines flying the Indian skies to think of ATR aircraft – the government’s regional air connectivity scheme seems to be hitting the right notes.
ATR, the leading turboprop manufacturer of below 90-seat aircraft was present at the 52nd edition of the Paris Air Show, from June 19 to June 25. The company greeted visitors on board an ATR 72-600 in the colours of the Indian carrier IndiGo. While IndiGo, one of the premium airlines in India looks at the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) of the present government as a major test of character, the latest order of 50 ATR 72-600 aims to address the ambitious regional market in India. Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) is the name given to India’s RCS. It aims to boost economic development, employment and tourism by connecting small and remote cities.
IndiGo was currently only operating Airbus A-320 aircraft; however, a statement made by the airline revealed that it had signed a term sheet with French-Italian aircraft maker ATR for purchase of 50 ATR 72-600s, with the flexibility to reduce the number of aircraft based on certain terms. While a term sheet means that the airline has now identified the aircraft that it plans to buy, IndiGo and ATR will firm up issues such as final delivery dates and the number of seats that the airline requires in the aircraft.
18/07/17 Sudipto Roy/Media India Group

Spicejet, Indigo, others sale offers coming soon? Know what is expected

New Delhi: Q1FY18 is expected to be a strong quarter for Indian airlines. Sequentially, ATF prices were down by 5%, rupee was stronger by 4% and Q1 is a seasonally strong quarter. These tailwinds should create a solid base for Q1 earnings. Our ground checks indicate improvement in fares, especially during April and May. A slower aggregate domestic traffic growth of ~15% compared to the erstwhile run rate of 20% also creates an enabling environment of improving yields.
Higher international capacity share of IndiGo (13% in Q1FY18 compared to 9% in Q1FY17) is a distinct trend in this quarter, which should benefit its yields. However, in line with the capacity growth, highest PAT growth is expected for IndiGo (26%), followed by SpiceJet (14%). Jet is expected to report 47% decline in PAT following lower rental income and lowest increase in capacity, further exacerbated by continued weakness in the middle east traffic. As recent developments remain dominated by corporate actions with IndiGo’s expression of interest in Air India, possible news of stake sale in Jet and overhang of court case on SpiceJet, the earnings in Q1FY18 will give a reality check on valuations.
IndiGo to continue on strong volumes/improving yields. Bulk of the domestic passenger growth has been captured by IndiGo which is expected to register a passenger growth of 29% based on 21% increase in capacity in Q1FY18 on a Y-Y basis. This is also aided by stronger PLFs of IndiGo at 87%/91% during April/May. We factor Y-Y decline of 5% in average fares for IndiGo during Q1FY18, compared to 6%/16%/14%/11% Y-Y decline in Q4/Q3/Q2/Q1FY17. Sequentially, relatively lower growth in capacity, lower domestic traffic growth and higher international share of Available Seat Kilometre (ASK) should aid the aggregate yields of IndiGo. Other income should improve Q-Q with currency benefits.
18/07/17 Financial Express

Chennai’s Air Cargo Complex Success Story

Chennai Airport has been managing their cargo department with efficiency and consistency. Here is a look at their Air Cargo Complex, its infrastructure and management techniques.
The Air Cargo Complex at the Chennai airport was established in 1978, when all regulatory and facilitating agencies were brought under one roof for faster processing/clearance of international cargo, to cater for air cargo movement in the southern region. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) functions as ground handling agency for airlines for handling or processing their cargo on ground and acts as custodian on behalf of customs import/export cargo under the Customs Act of 1962 at the cargo terminal.
The cargo complex spreads out over 20 acres consists of four divisions, namely, export, import, air courier and domestic cargo facilities. The complex has an exclusive cargo apron that can accommodate three widebodied aircraft with Unit Load Device (ULD) parking area and hydrant re-fuelling facility at the bay. The customs department has appointed AAI as the custodian at the cargo complex. The international import/export cargo of all the airlines under AAI’s custodianship is solely handled by AAI appointed GHA-M/s Bhadra International India Ltd (BIIL), however, M/s Air India handles the export cargo separately for the airlines handled by it.
At Chennai Airport, almost 34 major airlines are operating to various domestic and international destinations catering to the requirements of both passengers and cargo. There are almost 10 airlines that operate cargo freighters to various international destinations. On an average, Chennai Airport facilitates the operations of over 12,500 flights per month. This includes 3,200 international and 9,300 domestic flights. Apart from this, a number of business jets are also operated from this airport. Chennai Airport handles traffic of over 15 million passengers and over 350,000 metric tonnes of cargo a year.
18/07/17 Media India Group

December near-miss at Delhi airport due to ATC lapse: Sinha

A near-miss between an IndiGo aircraft and a SpiceJet plane at Delhi airport last year was due to a lapse on part of the Air Traffic Controller (ATC), Union minister Jayant Sinha said in Parliament today.

Last year, on December 27, the two planes came face to face barely 40 metres away on the taxiway at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

"Due to incomplete instructions by air traffic controllers, two private scheduled airlines' aircraft came face to face while taxiing to the parking bay at Delhi airport," Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, said in the Rajya Sabha in response to a question.

He added, "Corrective action has been taken in case of involved air traffic controllers".

While the IndiGo plane arriving from Lucknow had over 176 passengers on board, the Hyderabad-bound SpiceJet aircraft was carrying 187 passengers when the incident took place, he said.
18/07/17 PTI/DNA

UDAN scheme: TruJet to add 10 destinations with 7 aircraft

Hyderabad-based TruJet, one of the private airlines, which has bagged travel routes under UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme is planning to add 10 destinations with seven aircraft.

The airline started operations in July 2015 and is currently catering to seven destinations with 16 flights.

Antara Dey, spokesperson of the airline said that over the next two years, the airline is planning to add 10 destinations with seven aircraft. Of this, five will be under UDAN scheme, including Mysore, Bidar, Hosur, Salem and Vidya Nagar.

Alliance Air, the regional arm of Air India, SpiceJet and TruJet have won rights to operate flights under the government's regional air connectivity scheme, which seeks to give people from Tier-II and Tier-III cities a chance to fly at a ticket price of Rs 2,500.
Airlines operating under the UDAN scheme have to ensure that the prices of at least 50 per cent of the seats on their flights are available at a price of Rs 2,500 each for an hour of flying.
18/07/17 TE Narasimhan/Business Standard

Owing to Airlines ban, TDP MP JC Diwakar Reddy books chartered flight to Delhi

TDP MP JC Diwakar Reddy issues with airlines seem to not have an end.
Following his tussle with Indigo airlines staff at the Visakha airport, the TDP MP was banned from all the airlines.
Due to the Airlines ban imposed on him, JC Diwakar Reddy had to book a chartered flight in order to go to Delhi to participate in Presidential elections and also attend the Parliamentary Sessions which in turn cost him Rs 7 lakhs.
18/07/17 Hans India

'Will Diwakar Travels allow unruly passengers?' HC refuses relief to TDP MP on flying ban

The Hyderabad High Court refused to grant relief to TDP MP JC Diwakar Reddy, on the issue of the flying ban issued against him by private airlines, after he created a ruckus at the Visakhapatnam Airport last month.

Reddy was caught on camera damaging a printer and pushing a senior official from Indigo airlines, after he arrived late for his flight, and was denied a boarding pass.

Reddy, in his petition, argued that imposing a ban on him without conducting an inquiry, was "unlawful and contrary to the rights accorded by the Constitution."

However, while dealing with his petition, the High Court reportedly asked him if he would allow unruly elements to travel in buses operated by Diwakar Travels.

Diwakar Travels is owned by the family of Diwakar Reddy.

“The petitioner also runs a travel agency. Will this agency allow passengers who violate safety rules to travel in his buses?” the judge was quoted as saying.
18/07/17 Tne News Minute

Diwakar Reddy airport row: Hyderabad HC issues notice to domestic airlines for banning TDP MP

Hyderabad: The Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday issued "urgent notices" to respondents on a petition filed by TDP MP J C Diwakar Reddy challenging the flying ban imposed on him by some of the domestic airlines.

Justice S V Bhatt directed the court registry to issue "urgent notices" by e-mail to the respondents and posted the matter to 21 July for further hearing.

Almost all domestic airlines have banned the TDP lawmaker from flying in their planes following his alleged unruly behaviour with IndiGo staff at the Visakhapatnam airport on 15 June.

In his petition, Reddy has made the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation, the DGCA, Air India, Jet Airways, Vistara Airlines, IndiGo, GoAir, AirAsia, SpiceJet and Turbo Megha Airways as respondents.

The Lok Sabha MP from Anantapur had allegedly created a ruckus at the airport after he was not allowed boarding by IndiGo for being late.
18/07/17 PTI/First Post

Jet Airways may lease out ATRs to TruJet

Mumbai/New Delhi: In order to raise funds, full-service carrier Jet Airways has decided to sublease out its fleet of ATR planes to regional carrier TrueJet.
The deal, which is taking a final shape, could be announced in two months, said people aware of the development. Jet has 15 ATR 72-500s and three ATR 72-600s which are leased from foreign lessors.
The deal may see Jet Airways leasing out the planes in a phased manner, starting with six planes in the first phase.

The move is likely to help the company earn money at a time when it is looking for funds for its fleet induction and expansion plans. The airline appointed J P Morgan to help raise funds. Jet's management has been in talks with Delta for a stake sale. Simultaneously, its founder chairman Naresh Goyal is talking to Etihad, too, for capital infusion. Etihad holds 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways. A Jet Airways spokesperson declined to comment.

TrueJet, which is registered as Turbo Megha Airways, aggressively participated in the first round of bidding of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) and won the right to operate nine routes. The airline has already started flying in three of these routes — Hyderabad-Kadapa, Hyderabad-Nanded and Nanded-Mumbai. A TrueJet executive confirmed that the airline is in discussion to lease the planes from Jet Airways.

"The talks are for dry leases of planes in a phased manner," he said.
18/07/17 Aneesh Phadnis & Arindam Majumder/Business Standard

Jet Airways in massive expansion mode; adds 96 new weekly flights

Mumbai: The second largest airline Jet Airways on Tuesday has announced 96 new flights on the domestic network during the Monsoon season, including 14 new direct, non-stop flights to small towns under the regional connectivity scheme.

Smaller rival Spicejet has already announced three new routes under the RCS in the past fortnight.

This augmentation of domestic services between smaller cities is a result of the rising demand for aviation services between these fast-growing cities, reflecting their economic progress, the airline has said in a statement.

Announcing the monsoon schedule, Jayaraj Shanmugam, chief commercial officer of the airline said, “our new non—stop flights, additional frequencies, as well as direct, one—stop flights are part of our continuing efforts to provide connectivity, and choice.”

“The new connections will enable guests from emerging cities to connect seamlessly on to metro cities throughout the country as well as onwards to our wide international network,” Shanmugam said.
18/07/17 PTI/The Hindu

Flyers to and from Delhi's IGIA to get refund of excess UDF paid

New Delhi: In a major relief to flyers, the government has decided passengers who paid the old and high user development fees (UDF) to fly in and out of Delhi's IGI Airport (IGIA) after July 7 — from when these charges have been slashed by up to 100 per cent — will get a refund of the excess UDF paid.
Domestic and international flyers — who booked before July 7 and have already travelled after that date — must seek a refund of UDF from airlines' within 45 and 60 days, respectively, after which the excess amount paid will go to Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd (DIAL). "In respect of passengers who booked the ticket on or before July 7, 2017, but are yet to commence travel, airlines shall refund the excess amount, if any, to passengers without waiting for such claim from the passenger," an order issued by DGCA chief B S Bhullar on Tuesday said.
Airlines collect various charges like user fee for airport operators and taxes for government at the time of booking ticket from flyers and then give this amount to those on whose behalf they collected the same.
18/07/17 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Facebook page relives the glory era of Air India

Mumbai: Once upon a time, Air India ruled the Indian skies. They had a stellar fleet, the Maharaj symbol was iconic and the airhostesses’ fashion worked wonders. Today, they are in the news for their decision to serve vegetarian meals on their flights, and the possibility of disinvestment. But, if you would like to relive the glory era, check out the Facebook page called, The Bygone Times of the Indian Skies.
It is filled with photos - a mix of black and white, and colour - sourced from magazines like Aeroplane Monthly, archives from old staff and even passengers. They showcase the beauty of the luxurious lounges, the embossed cutlery, boarding passes and tickets, the stamp released to commemorate the arrival of the Indian Airlines Airbus A300 in India in 1976 and even the crashes. There’s a lot of history on display and every photo comes with detail. The intricate artwork that used to grace the interiors of the planes in the glory days, the changes in the airhostesses’ uniforms, and specifications of the different planes on the fleet are all part of the page.
The standout images include those of JRD Tata personally checking the quality of service being offered to customers, the then Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, posing with crew on board Air India One, and Mother Teresa being escorted to an aircraft in Bangalore.
18/07/17 Joanna Lobo/Mid Day

Air India Express Diverted After Man Complains Of Stomach Ache

New Delhi: An Air India Express flight from Mangalore to Dammam was diverted to Mumbai on Monday evening when a 22-year-old male passenger complained of stomach ache, suspected to be due to a kidney ailment.

AI IX 885 with 72 passengers on board took off from Mangalore at 6.15 pm. Within an hour of the plane's departure the passenger complained of a stomach ache and the plane had to be re-routed.

"The passenger was rushed to a hospital in Mumbai. He told our crew members that he suffers from a kidney problem," said an airline spokesperson.
18/07/17 NDTV

Goa Airport To Continue To Cater To Civilian Traffic: Manohar Parrikar

Panaji: Goa's international airport at Dabolim, operating from a naval base, will continue to be used for civilian air traffic even after the commissioning of the one in Pernem, 45 km from Panaji, the state government told the assembly on Tuesday.

"The government has made it very clear in the tendering process of Mopa airport project that civilian enclave at the Dabolim airport will continue to function even after the commissioning of the airport in Pernem," Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said in a written reply tabled in the house.

Mr Parrikar said the government feels that both Dabolim and Mopa airports have to function simultaneously for civilian operations to promote tourism in the coastal state.
18/07/17 IANS/NDTV

Adani Group plans airport at Dhamra Port

Bhubaneswar: The Adani Group has proposed to set up an airport at its Dhamra Port in Odisha that would speed up air connectivity in a state where there is just one airport.

The airport coupled with the recent ground breaking for an LNG terminal and becoming part of the proposed coastal economic zone would make the port biggest in the country.

“The Adani group has given an offer to set up an airport at Dhamra and has sought land for it,” Sanjeev Chopra, principal secretary, state industries department, told DNA Money.

“This apart, Jharsuguda airport is expected to start commercial operations by April 2018. We are also planning to have an operational airport at Jeypore,” he said.

While the airport at Jharsuguda would be a bigger one capable of handling Airbus 320s, the ones at Dhamra and at Jeypore would be smaller ones.
18/07/17 Sumit Moitra/DNA

Tiger Shroff and Nidhhi get a sweet surprise on flight!

Viki Rajani's MUNNA MICHAEL, directed by Sabbir Khan, starring Tiger Shroff and Nidhhi Agrewal are busy promoting their film and leaving no city for tour.

MUNNA MICHAEL is the first film on dance, which also stars Nawaz dancing & matching steps with Tiger.

The film is a tribute to pop star Michael Jackson. The actors were seen travelling to Delhi after a hectic promotions schedule in Dubai.

Tiger Shroff and Nidhhi Agerwal were surprised by a sweet gesture literally. While in flight, the crew of Jet Airways prepared a special chocolate cake for the reel dance duo, wishing their film tremendous success.

Say goodbye in 10 minutes or pay Rs 85 for parking at airport

Ahmedabad: The next time you go to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport to see your near and dear ones off, keep your goodbyes short. For, things have changed here and parking your vehicles at the airport for more than 10 minutes comes at a higher price now. Earlier, if you paid Rs60 for the first two hours, now be ready to shell out Rs 85.

With a new contractor taking charge of operating the toll booth at the airport, parking charges have shot up. Interestingly, parking for a charter plane is free for two hours.

While the first 10 minutes (domestic) and 12 minutes (international) is free, any car parked for beyond the stipulated time will have to pay Rs 85 for the first two hours and Rs 20 thereafter for every hour until seven hours. using the parking space for more than seven hours will cost Rs 340.

SS Enterprise, which has bagged the contract to run the toll booth, is set to add two more booths counters. Jitendra Tiwari, Manager, SS Enterprises, said, “To ease traffic at the airport, we have decided to add two more booths, one each at the arrival and departure bays. It will become functional in two-three days. The charges have been decided by the AAI.”
18/07/17 DNA

Now, Rajasthan wants a 'VVIP terminal' at Jaipur airport

New Delhi: VIP lounges at Indian airports for our dignitaries are passe now. The Rajasthan government wants a "VVIP terminal" for its top authorities like the chief minister and governor at the Jaipur airport.
"The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has received a request from the state government of Rajasthan for construction of VVIP Terminal at Jaipur Airport. AAI has already offered 2.5 acres of land to the government of Rajasthan for this purpose," minster of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
A senior AAI official said: "The Rajasthan government has a combined fleet of three or four small aircraft and helicopter. The state administration wanted a separate apron and a small VIP terminal for use by the CM, governor and other dignitaries."
The cost of the VIP terminal, which is yet to be determined, will be borne by the state. "Initially we will give 2.5 acres at the Jaipur airport for the separate apron and VIP terminal. In exchange for this, we will get equal plot of land near the airport. There are huge tracts of land near and next to Jaipur AAirpor where we will expand our facilities. Land for airports is anyway given by states and we do not buy the same," the official said.
18/07/17 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Decks cleared for Pantnagar airport expansion

Rudrapur: A 10-member team of experts who visited the Pantnagar airport a couple of days ago has given its consent to the plan to expand the airport, the only one in the Kumaon region. Earlier, a team of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had also conducted a survey of the airport and given its okay. The Pantnagar airport project — to be executed by AAI on 571 acres of land — is expected to cost Rs 600 crore and is slated to be completed within six months, by December this year. The airport will also have an aviation base camp for the Indian armed forces in an area of around 60 acres.
Elaborating on the expansion plans, S K Singh, director, Pantnagar airport, told TOI, “Under AAI's new plan, land acquisition for expansion of the airport will be done in three phases. In the first phase, mutation — the transfer or change of title entry in revenue records of the local municipal corporation — for 252 acres of land in Pocket-B has been done in the name of AAI. The second phase will have mutation done for 303 acres of land in Pocket-C. Under the new plan whose consent was given by the team of experts, a total land area of 571 acres will be acquired from the forest Department, Terai Development Corporation (TDC) and GB Pant University.”
18/07/17 Aakash Ahuja/Times of India