Monday, February 19, 2018

Aviation Industry Reports Its Slowest Start In Four Years

Airline passenger traffic in the world’s fastest-growing market rose at 20 percent in January as 11 million Indians flew in domestic carriers. Yet, that was the slowest pace of growth in the first month since 2014, according to data compiled by BloombergQuint.
The passenger growth for Interglobe Aviation Ltd., the parent of IndiGo, rebounded after six subdued months. For the second half of 2017, IndiGo reported below-industry growth due to a delay in capacity addition.

The company continued to lose market share, albeit at a slower rate in January, for the seventh straight month. Its share was still the highest at 39.7 percent, while the passenger load factor or capacity utilisation stood at 89.7 percent for the month.

IndiGo’s domestic flight cancellation rate spiked due to engine problems. This is expected to persist in February as the company grounded three aircraft, resulting in cancelled flights. In June 2017, cancellations had spiked due to engine problems in its Airbus A320 Neo planes.
While passenger traffic for other bigger carriers like—Air India Ltd., Jet Airways Ltd. and Spicejet Ltd.—rose below the industry average, it was higher for smaller airlines like GoAir, Air Asia and Vistara.

Passenger load factor, a measure of capacity utilisation, grew for only four carrier among the top seven—Air India, Jet Group, SpiceJet and Vistara. It fell for IndiGo, GoAir and Air Asia over a year ago. SpiceJet has clocked a 90 percent-plus passenger load since May 2015.
19/02/18 Soumeet Sarkar/Bloomberg Quint

Domestic airlines carry 1.14 crore passengers in January

New Delhi: Domestic airlines flew 1.14 crore passengers in January registering a growth of close to 20 per cent over the 95.97-lakh passengers flown during the same period in the previous year.

The latest data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation show that IndiGo remained the market leader having flown 45.57 lakh passengers in January, while Jet Airways took the second spot with 16.37 lakh passengers.

Air India managed to edge out SpiceJet, with the state-owned airline having flown 15.29 lakh passengers compared with 14.48 lakh passengers flown by the Gurugram-headquartered low-cost airline, the data showed. GoAir carried 10.95 lakh passengers, AirAsia (4.89 lakh) and Vistara (4.10 lakh).

SpiceJet, however, reported the highest Passenger Load Factor of 95 per cent among all the domestic airlines followed by IndiGo and JetLite (both 89.7 per cent). Jet Airways recorded 88.7 per cent.

The Passenger Load Factor shows how many of the total seats on offer by each airline are getting filled.

IndiGo reported the best on-time performance among all the airlines at 75.4 per cent at the four metro airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. SpiceJet took the second spot reporting an OTP of 74.4 per cent followed by GoAir (67.4 per cent) and Air India (domestic) 66.9 per cent .
18/02/18 Business Line

900 Aircraft Orders Show Aviation Sector Set To Take Off, Says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that the orders for over 900 aircraft, posted by airlines over the last one year, showed the aviation sector in the country is poised for huge growth. Currently, there are around 450 aircraft operating in the country, but that will more than triple, once the new planes are brought in over the next few years, he said at an event near Mumbai today.

Though India led global markets in a domestic air traffic growth in 2017, clogged airports and rising fuel prices could slow it down in the coming years despite several policy decisions, analysts say. A report by the research arm of rating agency Crisil in December said the growth could decelerate to "13-15 per cent annually in the five fiscals through 2022, compared with a blistering 22 per cent seen in FY16 and FY17." In the current financial year, the growth would be 17-19 per cent, lower than that in the last two years.

The Prime Minister took a dig at the Congress, saying, "Aviation sector worldwide is moving very fast... we cannot afford to lag. For 70 years, there was no aviation policy in India."


He was speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Rs. 16,000-crore Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) and inauguration of the country's largest container terminal at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), built at a cost of Rs. 4,719 crore.
18/02/19 Saurabh Gupta/NDTV

Air India may not attract bid in current form: Ashok Gajapathi Raju

Air India is a good airline but its finances are bad, making it unattractive to bidders in its current form, says union civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju. The government is working on various options and expects to complete divestment of the flag carrier by the end of 2018, Raju tells ET. Edited excerpts:

You have said Air India’s debt is much more than predicted. Can you explain?

The airline has debt and dues to be paid to vendors. The airline owes money to (vendors) like oil marketing companies, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and many more. Now, when you add the dues with debt, total liabilities would be much more. Fact is that the finances of Air India are bad. It is a good airline otherwise. In this existing form, it is highly unlikely that anyone will pick it up. If you try and bid out Air India in the same way as it is today … I do not think it will make economic proposition for anyone. I also do not think that it will attract anyone as it is, to my mind, as it is in a debt trap. You have to make it fairly attractive, workable before you put it out for bids. An alternative mechanism has been formed to guide on Air India privatisation and consultants are working out the details of the bid (process).

What issues has the alternative mechanism finalised?
Broadly, the debt and non-aviation assets will move into a separate company and Air India will be sold with aviationrelated assets. There are a lot of suggestions on amount of debt to be shifted and the number of companies to be bid out together, but the final decision will come soon. We expect to complete privatisation by (end of) this year.

How will you rate the budget from an aviation perspective? How would AAI invest its outlay?
First time, we are getting so much attention in the Budget. Anyway, aviation coming for the right reasons in the Budget is a positive. On the AAI bit, the company will have to leverage institutional finance to fund the airport project. It has a programme. Also, you cannot confine investments in the airport sector only to AAI. A lot of private sector investment will also come in the sector.
18/02/18 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Divestment in air : India, Pakistan clear flagships for sell-off

New Delhi: The Maharaja has company as it will not be the only airline that is being privatised this year.

The ownership of two other state-owned airlines — Pakistan and Vietnam — is also expected to change hands, if everything goes as planned.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), whose fate more or less mirrors Air India’s, and Vietnam Airlines are to be sold in 2018. Of course, the Italian carrier Alitalia has been unsuccessful in finding a suitor for a few years now and, hence, is also technically available for sale.

There is a lot in common between Air India and PIA. Both came into being before India achieved independence from the British and before Pakistan was formed. Founded in October 1946 as Orient Airways, the airline was nationalised in 1955 and renamed Pakistan International Airlines.

Both PIA and AI are state-owned and the governments of the two countries want to sell them by June.

The divestment process, however, is different. The Fiscal Policy Statement 2017-18 in Pakistan that the Finance Ministry tabled in the lower house of Pakistan’s Parliament said that the restructuring plan (of PIA) will be followed by divestment of 26 per cent government of Pakistan equity stake to a strategic partner.
18/02/18 Business Line

Poor training of pilots, crew led to Jet mishap in Dhaka: DGCA

Inadequate training of pilots and other crew members had led to the fuel tank of a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai hitting the runway on landing at Dhaka International Airport last year, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has said.

There was a serious damage to the aircraft, and as many as 168 passengers on board had a narrow escape in the accident that took place in January 2017. The aviation regulator has made the observation in its investigation report submitted to the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Flight 9W-276 had bounced with its nose-up higher than the normal on initial touchdown. The pilot in command then took over the controls in a second attempt, and the aircraft finally taxied, exiting the runway.

An inspection showed rubbing marks on the tail and damaged underbelly of the aircraft. The plane had to be grounded, and its return to Mumbai was cancelled.

DGCA noted that during the "shutdown procedure", the crew did not pull the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR CB) out as required for the aircraft not equipped with the CVR 'Auto switch.' The relevant CVR recording was over written and was unavailable for investigation, the report reads.

"Processes and procedures followed by the training department to assess crew proficiency do not have the system of addressing specific deficiency", the report said, adding that an absence of documented training profiles to remove deficiencies was observed during the assessment.

In its recommendations to the airline, DGCA said, "Review the flight crew training processes and procedures to address the flight crew proficiency which should include specific training profiles."
19/02/18 Anvit Srivastava/DNA

Jet Airways to withdraw Port Blair, Bagdogra flights from Kolkata


Kolkata: Jet Airways is set to pull out daily direct services on the Kolkata-Port Blair and Kolkata-Bagdogra routes from March-end, a top Airports Authority of India (AAI) official today said.

"Jet Airways has informed us that with effect from March 25, they are withdrawing Bagdogra and Port Blair flights from Kolkata," the official, who did not wish to be named, told PTI.

Travel industry sources said that profitability was the key reason behind the move.

Jet Airways has been operating flights on the routes for around five years.

An e-mailed query sent to the carrier did not elicit any response.

"It is bad news for Kolkata. I dont know why this decision despite all operators having 70-80 per cent occupancy," Travel Agents Association of India Treasurer C P Poddar said.

Jet Airways has connectivity to Port Blair with two stop-over flights that take between 19 and 47 hours against a maximum of a little over two hours for a direct flight.
18/02/18 PTI/India Today

Jet Airways reports passenger load factor of 88.7% in January

Jet Airways has reported the Passenger Load Factor (PLF) of 88.7% during the month of January 2018. The company had reported the Passenger Load Factor (PLF) of 88.5% during the month of December 2017.

The PLF is a key indicator of the company’s performance, as it measures the average percentage of seats filled on airline’s aircraft fleet.

Jet Airways is India’s premier international airline, which operates flights to India and overseas. The company’s robust domestic India network spans the length and breadth of the country covering metro cities, state capitals and emerging destinations.
19/02/18 Udaipur Kiran

Four cities in Cgarh to get airports under UDAN: Jayant Sinha

Raipur: Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha today said four places in the state would get airports as part of the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) scheme.

"Work on airports (airstrips) in Ambikapur, Bilaspur, Jagdalpur and Raigarh is currently on under the UDAN scheme and is expected to get completed in the next 6-8 months possibly," Sinha said while speaking at an function here.

He informed that, as soon as the work was completed, Air Deccan and Air Odisha had consented to deploy 19-seater aircrafts on these routes.

"These cities will be connected to Raipur, Ranchi (Jhakhand), Jharsuguda and Rourkela (Odisha) and will ensure better air connectivity in the eastern zone with Jharkhand, Odisha and Raipur getting connected by small planes," the minister said.
18/02/18 India Today

Flyer at Delhi airport claims pilot threatened to crash plane

New Delhi: There was high drama at Delhi airport when passengers of a delayed Bengaluru-bound GoAir flight shot videos of the pilots walking towards the plane long after the scheduled departure time.
The flyers were waiting in the aerobridge after getting tired of sitting in the plane.
When the pilots objected to being clicked in the aerobridge, angry passengers told them that they would put the videos on social media. “One passenger went inside Airbus A-320 and told other flyers that the pilot had threatened to crash the plane if the videos were put on social media. This led to scare in the plane and demands for the crew to be changed,” a source said. When it was made clear that the pilots won’t be replaced, three passengers chose to walk off the plane.
GoAir denied that its pilots had made the crash remark. “GoAir strongly refutes any such allegation. After conducting due diligence and inquiry into the matter, (we) have ascertained that no such statement has been made by the Captain and this has been corroborated by ground and on-board staff. Of the checked-in 185 (passengers) and two infants, the flight finally departed with 182 and two infants,” a GoAir spokesman said.
Asked why its pilots were late, the airline attributed it to “administrative reasons”, without elaborating.
GoAir’s G8 113 had a scheduled departure time of 5.50am. “Boarding began at 5.10am and was soon completed. Till 7am, we kept waiting in the aircraft for it to take off. There was no announcement and many co-passengers got angry and started shouting,” said a passenger who didn’t want to be named.
Since it was waiting for pilots, the Airbus A-320 was connected to the aerobridge at IGI. “Some passengers walked out of the plane to the aerobridge after 7.15 or 7.30am. They saw the pilots walking to the plane on the aerobridge. They shot his video on their mobiles,” said the flyer.
After the alleged crash threat, some flyers said they did not want to fly with such a pilot. The crew told them that replacing the pilots will not be possible and then three passengers walked off the plane.
19/02/18 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Four cities in Chhattisgarh to get airports under UDAN, says Jayant Sinha

Raipur: Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha today said four places in the state would get airports as part of the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) scheme. “Work on airports (airstrips) in Ambikapur, Bilaspur, Jagdalpur and Raigarh is currently on under the UDAN scheme and is expected to get completed in the next 6-8 months possibly,” Sinha said while speaking at an function here. He informed that, as soon as the work was completed, Air Deccan and Air Odisha had consented to deploy 19-seater aircrafts on these routes. “These cities will be connected to Raipur, Ranchi (Jhakhand), Jharsuguda and Rourkela (Odisha) and will ensure better air connectivity in the eastern zone with Jharkhand, Odisha and Raipur getting connected by small planes,” the minister said.

Stating that the aviation scenario was set to change in the next 15-20 years, he said that passenger trips, currently at 20 crore, would rise to 100 crores during this period. “Right now airlines fly 500 airplanes, which will increase to 1500-2000 planes as airlines operators have already placed firm orders for 950 planes. Presently there are 200 helicopters in the country which is expected increase to 400-500,” Sinha said.

Stating that airspace management required focus, Sinha said, “In the past 70 years (before BJP led NDA government), only 75 airports were built in the country. The current government is building 56 airports and 31 helipads over the past two years and the number of airports will soon reach 131.”.

Briefing about various schemes of his department, he said, the turnover of airlines had reached around Rs 1.8 lakh crore which is almost equal to that of the Indian Railways and the telecom sector in the country. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir were also present at the programme.
19/02/18 PTI/Financial Express

Airports Authority of India to boost aviation security with computed tomography technology

Smiths Detection, a company specializing in threat detection and screening technologies for aviation, ports and borders, urban security and military markets, announced on 7 February 2018 that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has placed an order for multiple CTX 9800 DSi systems at a combined value of over USD50 million.

Through a global competitive tender process conducted by AAI, Smiths Detection won the bid to install and integrate high-speed explosives detection systems (EDS) for hold-baggage screening at 11 sites across nine airports in India, including Chennai International Airport and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata.

“The Indian market is forecast to be the third-largest aviation market in the world by 2026, so security is a mission-critical factor in enabling India’s airports to be future-ready. Smiths Detection is honored to partner with AAI - supporting airports to stay ahead of the evolving threat landscape with a technological solution that is fully compliant with regulatory requirements,” said Jerome de Chassey, General Manager of Smiths Detection in India.

AAI manages a total of 125 airports in India and is responsible for creating, upgrading, maintaining and managing civil aviation infrastructure both on the ground and in the air. The organization is also responsible for building new terminals for the many new small airports under development by the Government of India. Working in partnership with Smiths Detection, AAI will implement ECAC Standard 3 screening of hold baggage at Level 1 for inline systems across the country. This complies with regulations set by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), the regulatory authority for civil aviation security in India.
10/02/18 Enterprise Innovation

GoAir, Indigo plane delays irk passengers over weekend

Go Air’s flight G8465 to Delhi, schedule for departure at 12.05 pm, was delayed by nearly three hours, leaving many passengers frustrated. “Passengers were waiting at the airport since 10.30 am and the boarding call was supposed to be at 11.25 am. We could see the aircraft attached to the aerobridge, but we were kept waiting till 2 pm with no news about the take off. The flight finally left at 2.34 pm,” said former MLA Krishna Hegde.

“All Go Air flights were delayed by hours.”

Indigo’s flight 6E 168 to Delhi, scheduled for a 12.40 pm departure, too was delayed and eventually took off only at 3.25 pm

According to sources, passengers of an Indigo flight to Lucknow, flight 6E 6446, created a ruckus at the airport on Saturday night after their flight was delayed by around five hours.

Though the flight was scheduled for departure at 7.35 pm, it only left after midnight. Agitated passengers later alleged that the ground staff misbehaved with them and complained that the staff did not communicate properly.
19/02/18 Mumbai Mirror

Bird hit forces flight’s emergency landing

Bhubaneswar: A bird hit Indigo’s Bhubaneswar-Delhi flight on Sunday evening while taking off from Biju Patnaik International Airport here.

All 191 passengers safely landed back in the airport minutes after the bird hit at 6.30 pm.Airport sources said the flight engineers checked the aircraft and didn’t find any damage.

“An owl was found on the runway and the pilots asked for emergency landing at the airport here.

With 191 passengers, the flight took again for Delhi after nearly two hours,” said airport director Suresh Chandra Hota.The director said bird hazard control measures will be intensified.
18/02/18 Times of India

Commission provides relief to airline

New Delhi: Delhi state consumer disputes redressal commission has set aside an order passed by a district forum directing a domestic airline to pay compensation to a flyer for being deficient in service.
The flyer had booked two SpiceJet tickets for a Banglore-New Delhi flight on April 21, 2010 for Rs 12,399 but alleged that when he reached the airport for boarding the flight one hour before departure, airport officials did not attend to him and the flight took off, leaving him behind.
The state commission members, O P Gupta (judicial) and Anil Srivastava, however, noted a statement from the passenger which stated, “While returning from Bangalore on April 26, 2010 I missed my flight due to the reason that I reached the check-in counter 25 minutes before flight time. Although I agree it is my mistake and the check-in time is 30 minutes before flight and I reached a little late, but the flight was still there till that time.”
The bench observed that that statement led to an “inevitable and inescapable” conclusion that the complainant was unable to adhere to the deadline. “If that be the case, he cannot take the advantage of his own wrong,” the commission said.
19/02/18 Times of India

Pakistan charges Rs 2.86 lakh for route navigation charges on PM Narendra Modi flights

New Delhi: Pakistan has billed India Rs 2.86 lakh as route navigation charges for Indian Air Force aircraft used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a stopover in Lahore and visits to Russia, Afghanistan, Iran and Qatar, an RTI response shows. The data gathered by activist Commodore (Retd) Lokesh Batra. through his RTI application, show that till June 2016, Indian Air Force aircraft were used for the Prime Minister’s visits to 11 countries–Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Qatar, Australia, Pakistan, Russia, Iran, Fiji and Singapore. Batra gave a copy of the RTI responses, received from August last year to January 30 2018, to PTI.

During one such visit on December 25, 2015, Modi had a brief stopover in Lahore at the request of then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The stopover took place when Modi was returning from Russia and Afghanistan. For this, a bill of Rs 1.49 lakh has been issued as route navigation charges, records accessed under the RTI Act from the Indian High Commission in Pakistan show.

Modi was received by Sharif with a warm hug at the tarmac of the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, when he made the unexpected stopover on his way back home following a day-long trip to Afghanistan after concluding a two-day visit to Russia. Modi was accorded a red carpet welcome as the PM’s special Indian Air Force Boeing 737 plane touched down at 4.50 pm. He then took a helicopter to Sharif’s Raiwind palatial residence on the outskirts of Lahore to attend Sharif’s birthday celebrations.

A bill of Rs 77,215 was imposed as route navigation charges by Pakistani authorities when Modi used an IAF aircraft to visit Iran on May 22-23, 2016, and Rs 59,215 when he visited Qatar on June 4-6, 2016, the RTI response shows. For both visits he flew over Pakistan.
18/02/18 PTI/Financial Express

Land survey to begin for airport devpt

Thiruvananthapuram: The land survey for acquisition of 18 acres for the development of Trivandrum International Airport will begin soon as the affected locals have consented for the same.
As the social impact assessment (SIA) study in the 18 acres in Vallakadavu and Vayyamoola areas was completed, district collector K Vasuki visited the area and requested the residents in person on Sunday to permit the land survey.
The acquisition of 18 acres will fast pedal the development of existing airport with facilities for more flights to operate.
The land survey was started on November, 2017 along with the SIA study, but the residents demanded to conduct the survey only after the completion of SIA study. Hence, the survey was stopped. “We have completed the SIA study and included all the demands put forward by the affected people in the land acquisition process. It is an official record now, which will be submitted to the government, following the review by expert committee. The residents need to cooperate with the land survey to form a rehabilitation package for the evictees. There need to be a record on the type of land, number of residents with and without title deeds and people who own land but, do not live here. We need to complete the land survey to compile the data. We hope to begin the land survey soon,” said K Vasuki, during her meeting with the residents.
In the two-hour-long meeting held at Vallakadavu, the residents expressed their apprehension on compensation and loss of livelihood due to the eviction for land acquisition. Many among the residents also spoke about the lack of title deed in the land, where they had been staying for past 15 years.
Clearing all apprehensions on compensation and rehabilitation, district collector said that the compensation will be based on market price of the land and other demands such as house and job at the airport will be considered.
19/02/18 Times of India

Hefty fine in the offing for wrong parking at airport

In an attempt to curb the menace of cars parked in a no-parking areas at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (SVPI), the airport officials are likely to slap a hefty fine on the offender. The airport authorities have also joined hands with DG Resettlement, which functions directly under the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (Ministry of Defense), to help deal with parking offenders.

Confirming the same, Manoj Gangal, Airport Director, said, “Since the runway recarpeting work has begun at city airport, passengers will be affected from March 1 to April 15 as the runway will be non-operational from 10.00 am to 7.00 pm. While we have made several arrangements inside the terminal to ensure quicker entry to the security hold as well as increased seating capacity, we had to also look at the traffic movement in the arrival and departure bay. We have joined hands with DG Resettlement, whose officials will approach the car parked in a no-parking area with a heavy glue and stick the fine on the windshield. The driver may also attract a fine up to Rs 3,000.”
19/02/18 DNA

Waterways connectivity for Navi Mumbai airport: Gadkari

Mumbai: Union Minister of Water Resources, Road, Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Sunday said his ministry will connect Navi Mumbai International airport with Mumbai city through waterways.

The minister at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the airport assured Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Civil Aviation Minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who were also present at the event; his ministry would “work towards connecting the airport with many places of Mumbai through waterways”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday laid the foundation stone of the airport which was overdue from the past 21-years.
18/02/18 ANI/India.com

Bagdogra airport to install sanitary napkin vending machines

Kolkata: The Bagdogra airport in Darjeeling district will soon have sanitary napkin dispensing machines at its terminal, a senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said on Monday. The facility would be available at ladies toilets in the airport at the end of this month and the cost of each napkin will be Rs 5, Director of Bagdogra Airport Rakish R Sahay said.

“The availability of sanitary napkins inside the terminal building will ensure comfort to women passengers and promote hygienic practices. It will also help address the deep rooted stigma attached to menstruation,” the Director of Bagdogra Airport, Rakish R Sahay, told PTI. The AAI first installed sanitary napkin vending machines at Indore airport in 2017 and then in various other airports, Sahay said adding that the initiative was widely appreciated by women passengers.
19/02/18 Indian Express

Bhopal: IndiGo flights to Delhi, Mumbai & Nagpur from city by March end

Bhopal: In view of the significant rise in the domestic flyers from the city airport, IndiGo and other airline will start flights from Bhopal to Delhi, Mumbai and Nagpur by March end.

Anuj Agrawal, Member (HR) of Airports Authority of India (AAI), said the more flights to Delhi, Mumbai and Nagpur from here will start soon and once number of flights increase, fare will also come down. Agrawal was in the city to address officials of AAI in two days HR conclave which concluded on Sunday.

“AAI prime job is to provide infrastructure and modern facilities to create world class Airports. In Bhopal, we have terminal building of international standard with all modern amenities to cater 700 passengers per hour. Aviation is expanding fast. Nearly 30 per cent increase in domestic passengers has been registered,” he said.

Bhopal Airport director Akashdeep Mathur said that many facilities have been upgraded at Bhopal Airport for the convenience of the passengers and to make their journeys more comfortable. “We will continue to ensure better facilities to air passengers in the days to come. We have many food and beverage service outlets and retail outlets at the Airport,” he added.
19/02/18 Free Press Journal

Overbooking: Are Airlines Biting More Than They Can Chew?

In a video which went viral April last year, the world watched with horror the plight of an innocent passenger who was forcefully dragged out of a United Airlines aircraft on account of being ‘denied boarding’ by the airline. The incident brought into focus the policy of overbooking followed by airlines. Overbooking is the (mal)practice of airlines to book confirmed seats, more than the number of seats available on an aircraft. In such a case, although a passenger holdinga confirmed ticket has presented himself/herself for boarding within the time specified by the airline, he/she may be refused boarding on account of overbooking of confirmed seats....
In the 7-month period between August 2016 and February 2017, 12,957 passengers on domestic Indian flights were not allowed to board their flights – a 65.75% increase compared to the same period a year earlier.[1] This figure stood at 2,879 passengers, who were denied boarding in December 2017 alone.[2] Often airlines even close their check-in counters early in order to avoid reporting incidents of ‘denied boarding’. In the absence of regulation, airlines continue to overbook flights while the authorities turn a blind eye to the (mal)practice. Recently, the Delhi High Court in the matter of Pallav Mongia v. Union of India was called upon to consider whether the policy of ‘overbooking’ being followed by Airlines was legally permissible. The Government argued that that overbooking was a practice being followed by airlines internationally. It was also contended that the Government had issued its regulations under the Aircraft Act, 1934 and the Convention on International Civil Aviation, 1944 (‘Chicago Convention’).
18/02/18 Ashish Virmani/Live Law.in

Thai low-cost carrier Nok Air pins turnaround on more China, India flights

Bangkok: Nok Airlines Pcl, the struggling low-cost subsidiary of Thai Airway International Pcl, aims to turn around operations by growing international revenue with more flights to China and India, a top executive said on Monday.

The carrier, which posted a loss of 1.85 billion baht ($58.95 million) last year, aims to increase revenue by 3 billion baht this year from 20.4 billion baht in 2017, by carrying 9 million passengers, 4 percent more than a year prior, Chief Executive Piya Yodmani told reporters at an earnings review.

He also said the carrier aims to increase revenue from international operations to 40 percent of its total from 20 percent a year earlier.
Piya, who took over as CEO in September after the resignation of Patee Sarasin, said Nok targets aircraft utilization of 12 hours, up from 10.4 hours in 2017, with more red-eye flights and routes in China to boost earnings as Chinese tourist arrivals surge in Thailand.

“We are waiting for approval to fly into three cities in India with the possibility of increasing routes there,” Piya said.

Hotel and retail groups are among the main beneficiaries of a Thai tourism boom, while Thai airlines struggle with competition and fuel costs.
19/02/18 Reuters

New international hall at airport may take 3 years to open

Chennai: The arrival hall of the international terminal may not be commissioned for three years till a new integrated terminal is constructed at Chennai airport. The building, lying unused for the past five years, has only two baggage conveyors and one ramp to the basement baggage area which means that the hall will have to be used simultaneously with the existing old building to handle the passenger flow. But this is not working out as customs, immigration and airlines have refused to split their staff between two arrival buildings.
An official said the terminal could be used only after the integrated facility proposed is completed. “When that building is ready, we are thinking of moving domestic operations here and push international arrival in the integrated terminal. As it will have facilities to handle domestic and international passengers, we will shift flights based on the need for space,” said an official.
The integrated terminal could take three years to get complete. Tender has been awarded to pull down the old domestic terminal so that an integrated one could be built. Work is expected to start in three months.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) has been trying to encourage airlines to use the building. But repeated attempts failed as airlines fear that there will be delays and congestion as the terminal does not have space to handle bags, customs and immigration checks if 1,000 passengers arrive at the same time.
An airline official said: “Airlines use wide-body aircraft that can accommodate 250 to 300 people on international routes. Flights land back-to-back during peak hours at night. It will be impossible to handle the crowd at the new arrival terminal. This was the main reason for objecting to the opening of the terminal.”
19/02/18 Times of India

Radar calibration at Kannur airport successful

Kannur: Kannur airport, which is in the final stage of commissioning, crossed a milestone on Sunday, with the successful completion of the test flight for calibration of the Doppler Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Range (DVOR) by Airports Authority of India. With this the authorities are expecting to operationalize the airport ahead of the earlier schedule, most probably with the inaugural flight to Dubai in June-July.
If everything goes as planned and once the airport gets the licences from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security of India and Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), it will be commissioned in June or July, and the plan is to have the inaugural flight of the Air India to Dubai, said an official with the Kannur International Airport Ltd (Kial). The final decision will be taken by the KIAL director board, chaired by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The officials said the calibration was successful and with this the airport has found place in the world aviation map, where the location code of the airport will be visible as ‘KNR’. The airport has already got the three-letter location code ‘CNN’ from the IATA (International Air Transport Association).
“Our plan is to make sure the substantial completion of the works this month itself so that the infrastructure will be ready for commissioning in March,” said Kial managing director P Bala Kiran. He said the licensing process is fast progressing and the calibration of the DVOR is a major step in that direction.
19/02/18 P Sudhakaran/Times of India

Jets Set for New Home in Mumbai Airport After Two-Decade Wait

Mumbai finally started work on a new airport more than two decades after first proposing it, as jets ran out of space to operate in one of the busiest aerodromes using a single runway.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Navi Mumbai International Airport, to be built on about 1,160 hectares (2,866 acres) of land about 35 kilometers (22 miles) southeast of the existing facility. The new airport, expected to handle 60 million passengers annually when fully complete, is running behind schedule with problems ranging from approvals to delays in the bidding process.
“We are trailing behind in infrastructure given the pace at which the aviation sector is growing,” Modi said at the event. “We are trying to press ahead with the speed of execution.”

India has been lagging behind China, Singapore and Dubai among regional hubs in upgrading airports. In 2019, Beijing is due to open a $12.9 billion facility that will become the city’s second mega airport and capable of accommodating more than 75 million passengers with as many as seven runways. In the past two decades, Singapore and Dubai have boosted their capacity, building new terminals and becoming the eastern and western hubs for Indian air travelers.

“There are no more slots in Mumbai,” said Sanjiv Kapoor, chief operating officer at Vistara, the Indian affiliate of Singapore Airlines Ltd. “All the airlines have a hit a wall. It is not good when the commercial capital is not able to add flights. We certainly want to fly more to Mumbai”
19/02/18 Anurag Kotoky/Bllomberg Quint

IndiGo moves to Supreme Court as IGI's T1 expansion stuck

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indigo ap

As budget airline IndiGo approaches Supreme Court with a special leave petition against the order of a division bench of the Delhi High Court last week directing it to move one third of its operations from Terminal 1 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport to Terminal 2, the expansion plans for the domestic terminals continues to hang fire.

The Delhi International Airport (Private) Limited (DIAL) has been in talks with three low-cost carriers - Indigo, GoAir and SpiceJet - over the past year to shift a third of their operations out of T1 so that the domestic terminal's capacity can be increased.

Presently, T1 handles 21 million passengers per year whereas according to the original plan its capacity is 20 million a year.

"Expansion work should always begin before an infrastructure project reaches saturation point. That makes the transition smoother and it is also easier to carry out the renovation or construction work. Work on T1 should ideally have begun last year and had the three carriers moved out by now, the project would have kept its timeline," said a senior civil aviation ministry official.

As part of the first phase of the Master Plan, Terminal 1D and 1C will be expanded and merged into a single terminal, Elevated Eastern Cross Taxiways will come up to enhance airside capacity and a new runway is set to come up parallel to Runway 11/29.

Delhi Airport is the largest and the busiest airport in the country and in 2016-17 it handled 57.7 million passengers and over 8,57,000 tonnes of cargo. It has been ranked the 21st busiest airport in the world by Airports Council International in 2016.

While GoAir has completely shifted its operations to Terminal 2, which was so far being operated as the Haj Terminal, IndiGo and SpiceJet had approached the Delhi High Court opposing DIAL's proposal to move out of T1.

On February 13, a division bench of the Delhi High Court upheld its single-judge bench order and directed IndiGo to move out and to approach DIAL within a week with its decision on the sectors it decides to operate from the assigned terminal.
19/02/18 Mail Today/India Today

GoAir Mumbai-Delhi flight delayed

Mumbai: GoAir morning flight to Delhi was delayed by over two hours on Sunday leaving passengers stranded at the Mumbai airport.
"The airline didn't inform us about the flight delay. It's only when the flight didn't depart on time that we realised it will be delayed," said a passenger booked on Mumbai-Delhi flight. G8 465. The flight arrived in Delhi two hours behind schedule at 2.15 pm.
A GoAir spokesperson said that flight departure from base Bangalore got delayed and diverted due to bad weather.
"Post clearance routing resulted in delay of G8 465. Further delay was due to air traffic conference which led to a cascading effect. We regret inconvenience caused to passengers," the official said.
18/02/18 Manju V/Times of India

Govt. in talks with CIAL to build Karaikal airport

Puducherry: The government was in talks with Cochin International Airport to build a greenfield airport at Karaikal. The administration had given land to a private player 12 years ago to build an airport. However, the entity had failed to start work. The government was in talks with Cochin International Airport to revive the airport project, he said.

Expressing optimism about increasing the flight services from Puducherry, he said Air Odisha would start flight service from here after the successful launch by SpiceJet to Hyderabad and Bengaluru routes.
19/02/18 The Hindu

AirAsia India's New Offer: Avail 20% Discount On Flight Tickets

AirAsia India is offering 20 per cent discount on domestic flight tickets under a special promotional scheme. AirAsia India's parent AirAsia is also offering 20 per cent discount on international flight tickets. AirAsia's discount offer on base fares of domestic and international flight tickets is valid till February 25, 2018. AirAsia is offering discounts on flights flying to Bengaluru, New Delhi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, among others on domestic routes. On international routes, the airline is offering discounts on flights flying to Kuala Lumpur, Auckland, Bangkok and many more, said AirAsia on it's official website-airasia.com. The travel period for AirAsia's offer starts on February 26, 2018 and ends on July 31, 2018, except on a few routes.

For flights flying between Bangkok to Chengdu, the travel period starts on February 26, 2018 and ends on March 25, 2018, AirAsia said. For flights flying between Bangkok and Tiruchirappalli, the travel period starts on February 25, 2018 and ends on February 28, 2018. For flights flying between Kuala Lumpur to Wuhan, the travel period starts on March 25, 2018 and ends on July 31, 2018. Also, the travel period for availing this discount offer starts on March 25, 2018 and ends on July 31, 2018 for flights between Bangkok to Chumphon.
19/02/18 NDTV

MADC eyeing Changi’s expertise for Purandar

Pune: The Maharashtra Airport Development Company Limited (MADC) is exploring the possibility of using the technical expertise of the Singapore-based Changi Airports International (CAI) to develop three MADC-managed airports, including the proposed new airport for Pune at Purandar.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between MADC and CAI — focused on collaboration — has been in place since September last year.
See Ngee Muoy, the spokesperson for Changi Airports International told TOI that talks between both the parties on this matter have been on.
“Changi Airports International and the Maharashtra Airport Development Company signed an MoU on September 29 to promote mutual collaboration in the area of civil aviation. Discussions to extend technical advisory services by Changi Airports International to Maharashtra Airport Development Company are still in progress,” Ngee Muoy said in a written response to a TOI query.
MADC officials, meanwhile, said assistance and guidance from CAI were expected to be sought in matters related to the proposed Purandar airport project.
19/02/18 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Woman arrested with gold worth Rs 33 lakh at Mumbai airport

Mumbai: Air Intelligence Unit of Customs has arrested a woman along with a man while they were trying to smuggle 1200 gram gold worth Rs 33 lakh after avoiding duty at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport on early Sunday.
The woman had concealed six gold bars in her bra and rectum. The man was coming from Tokyo from a flight had handed over the gold to the woman who had boarded the flight at airport in Delhi. It was Tokyo- Mumbai flight via Delhi.
Customs officials stated that they had specific input that a person, Vicky Dodeja, coming from Tokyo along with the gold. They followed his movement after he landed at the airport in Mumbai. Afterwards they intercepted him for questioning. They searched him personally and examined his bag but didn’t find any valuable.
Officials suspected someone in the flight helped him to transfer the gold outside the airport. First they decided to keep close eye of domestic passengers who boarded the flight at Delhi. On suspicion they intercepted once of the domestic passenger Neetu Rohra. They examined her on metal detector which indicated that she was carrying gold.
Initially she denied of any wrong doing, but afterwards she confessed that he had concealed gold bars in her bra and rectum.
18/02/18 Vijay V Singh/Times of India

Delhi youth held in Imphal with smuggled gold

New Delhi: An 18-year-old Delhi youth was caught at Imphal Airport on Sunday while trying to smuggle three gold bars weighing 500 grammes in a body cavity on to a flight, a CISF official said.

Mohit Kishan was held during pre embarkation security check for a Delhi-bound Indigo flight at around 9 p.m.

"We noticed presence of metal in a body cavity of the passenger.

He was taken to a separate place for thorough checking. On enquiry, he revealed he was carrying gold concealed inside his rectum," said Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) Assistant Inspector General Hemendra Singh.
18/02/18 IANS/Business Standard

Delhi youth held in Imphal with smuggled gold

Imphal/New Delhi: An 18-year-old Delhi youth was caught at Imphal Airport on Sunday while trying to smuggle three gold bars weighing 500 grammes in a body cavity on to a flight, a CISF official said.

Mohit Kishan was held during pre embarkation security check for a Delhi-bound Indigo flight at around 9 p.m.

“We noticed presence of metal in a body cavity of the passenger. He was taken to a separate place for thorough checking. On enquiry, he revealed he was carrying gold concealed inside his rectum,” said Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) Assistant Inspector General Hemendra Singh.
18/02/18  CanIndia.com

5.2 kg of party drug worth Rs 30 crore seized

Kochi: Claimed to be the biggest ever drug haul in the state, the enforcement and anti-narcotic special squad of the excise department on Saturday seized 5.2 kg of methylenedioxy methamphetamine (MDMA) worth around `30 crore in the international market from Athani near Nedumbassery International Airport.
Palakkad natives Abdul Salam, 34, and Faizal, 35, were arrested while they were en route to hand over the drugs to a person who was waiting at the airport to board a flight to Kuwait.

The special squad arrested the duo after intercepting their car and seizing the drugs concealed in two trolley bags. The drugs had been wrapped using two layers of carbon paper in a bid to evade scanning. “The duo were working as couriers,” said joint excise commissioner P K Manoharan.

“A Keralite by the name of ‘Bhai’ was operating the drug network from Kuwait through WhatsApp and Facebook.

The duo are part of the network. They reached Kochi after collecting the drug from Palakkad railway station as per Bhai’s information. “Though we got information about the Kuwait person, the details will be revealed after collecting crucial evidence.”According to him, the special squad had been tracking the movement of the gang for the past three-four months.“Recently, the Kuwaiti police had arrested a person named Clement of Vypeen. We started tracking his friends and contacts. The information collected helped us to nab the duo,” said assistant excise inspector Sudeep Kumar N P.
19/02/18 New Indian Express

Rafale Jet Deal: Mother of all defence scams

The Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) glorious feats in wars since 1947 have been in consonance with the force’s motto of “Touch the sky with glory.” However, the process of its latest acquisition, Rafale, a 4.5 generation omnirole combat aircraft manufactured by Dassault Aviation, France, is so opaque, nepotistic and shrouded in secrecy, that it may turn out to be the mother of all defence scams in the history of India.
It was in September 2016 that the deal for 36 aircraft for ?58,000 crore was finalised with the signing of the Inter- Governmental Agreement (IGA) by then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves le Drian in New Delhi. It had been announced a year earlier by PM Modi in Paris. Basically, India would pay a whopping ?1,611 crore for each of the planes, the same planes for which the UPA government was paying ?526 crore per unit. The UPA government had floated a tender to purchase 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft and the Rafale was chosen over five other competitors.
The irony is that while inflation plus weapons package cannot justify this huge difference in per aircraft cost, the UPA’s price included transfer of technology (ToT), under which 108 aircraft would have been built by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Under this current deal, there is no ToT as all 36 planes have been ordered on a fly-away basis. So, several questions arise. Why were orders for seven squadrons cut down to two? Why is there such a massive price escalation in spite of no transfer of technology? Where is this money going? Why is Dassault partnering with Reliance Aerospace in India and, in the absence of ToT, what are the offset obligations of Dassault? And there are many more such questions. Till date, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government has not answered any of them.
Incumbent Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s written reply to Parliament on February 5 this year that the government is not aware of the Indian partner of Dassault Aviation has taken what was murky into the realm of the unreal. When the joint venture company of Dassault and the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Aerospace laid down the foundation stone of its facility in Nagpur in October, 2017, BJP leaders like Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari were present. The JV was formed 13 months before the deal was announced and it’s in the public domain. So why this denial?
What is perhaps most crucial is the betrayal of national interest on part of the Modi Sarkar by superseding the public sector HAL, which has extensive experience in the aer¬ospace industry in favour of the Anil Ambani-led company, which has zero experience in the defence sector. Under the deal mooted by the erstwhile UPA government, HAL was to get a ?30,000-crore business share in the project, which would have kept its production lines alive. It had signed an agreement to this effect with Dassault on March 13, 2014.
Pallam Raju, former MoS of Defence, told National Herald, “By deleting HAL from the deal, the Modi government has destroyed the whole ecosystem which we had created through the UPA’s offset policy. Thousands of jobs and working hours would have been added if the government had gone forward with the older deal. The deal exposes the sham of Modi’s ‘Make in India.’ Otherwise, he would not have deprived HAL of the chance of producing 108 of these planes.”
18/02/18 Bhasha Singh/National Herald

1,200gms of gold valued at Rs.33 lkah seized at airport

Mumbai: Customs officials recovered six gold bars valued at Rs 33.46 lakh from a male and afemale passenger travelling on an Air India Tokyo-Delhi-Mumbai flight at Mumbai airport early morning on Sunday.

Based on specific intelligence, officers of the Air Intelligence Unit of the Customs intercepted an Indian passenger identified as Vicky Shamlal Dodeja, who alighted from Air India flight AI 191 from Tokyo to Mumbai via Delhi. A search of his baggage revealed nothing incriminating. However, another passenger identified as Neetu Rohra, who travelled on the same flight from Delhi to Mumbai, was intercepted after she crossed the green channel.

“A search of her person led to the recovery of three heavy packets wrapped in black adhesive tape. Six cut pieces of gold with foreign markings were seized. They collectively weighed 1,200 grams and are valued at Rs 33.46 lakh,” said a senior official.
When Rohra was questioned, she admitted that while boarding AI 191 at Delhi airport, Dodeja had handed over the packet to her. She admitted to possession, carriage, concealment and recovery of the gold being smuggled into India in violation of the Customs Act, 1962. Both passengers were arrested.
19/02/18 Mumbai Mirror

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Modi lays foundation stone for Navi Mumbai airport

Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the foundation plaque at the ground breaking ceremony for Navi Mumbai International airport in Mumbai on Sunday. He also inaugurated the fourth container terminal at Jawaharlal Nehru Port.

“A day before the Jayanti of the great Shivaji Maharaj, I got the opportunity to come to Maharashtra. Globalisation is a reality of our times and to keep pace with it, we need top quality infrastructure. The Sagarmala project is ushering development of ports. The government is devoting significant efforts towards the development of waterways,” Mr. Modi said.

"Issue of Navi Mumbai airport has been pending for years. This is not the only project that is pending. When I assumed office, I realised there were several such projects. That is why, we began a Pragati initiative and gave priority to completion of projects."

"In our country, nearly 450 planes are operational. 900 new planes will be bought this year. Aviation sector is moving ahead," he said.

The JNPT's fourth container terminal's phase I has been completed in a record time at a cost of ₹4,719 crore.

On January 8, 2018, GVK Power and Infrastructure Limited (GVKPIL) had announced the signing of the concession agreement for this airport project. The agreement was signed through the creation of a special purpose vehicle (SPV), i.e. Navi Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (NMIAL) with CIDCO, which is the nodal authority of Maharashtra government for implementation of this project.
18/02/18 The Hindu

Civil aviation in India: Flying high despite glitches

The civil aviation sector in India, in 2017, came on primetime news for all the wrong reasons. There were two main issues that were highlighted in the print and electronic media. One was the strategic disinvestment of Air India while the other was on the incidents of clashes between the passengers (some high profile ones) and the airlines crew.

But the good news which is yet to capture the public eye is the rapidly increasing size and growth of the sector. According to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the first 11 months of 2017, recorded 10.6 crore people who flew within the country compared to 9.9 crore during the whole of 2016, improving further when the December 2017 value gets added. In fact, there could be a better rise, in view of the fact that the November 2017 passenger count of domestic travelers recorded a phenomenal growth of 17 per cent over its  corresponding  figure for November 2016.

While these statistics can be considered healthy, there are skeptics who suspect base effect as the reason for such a growth in November 2017 because of November 2016 being the famous ‘demonetisation month’. But such skepticism is unwarranted as the Government of India’s official figures, released at the end of December 2016 did specify that demonetisation had very little, if at all any, effect on air travel.

One thing that is clear is that passengers travelling by air, in India, are definitely on the rise and the year-on-year growth for individual months is also showing a visible increase, notwithstanding the small fluctuations here and there. The civil aviation industry in India has thus emerged as one of the fastest growing industries since 2013 and India is currently considered the third largest domestic civil aviation market in the world. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is predicting a rapid growth for this sector in India in the coming years too.

Rise in personal disposable incomes is definitely one of the reasons for this growth in this sector. Apart from this, there is an interesting scheme called UDAN-Ude Desh ki Aam Nagrik (let the common citizen of the country fly) which can have a potential impact on future ridership. This is a Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) of Government of India aimed at making air travel affordable. The scheme also seeks to boost air transport infrastructure development of all regions and states of India. Under this initiative, the airlines will have to sell a required number of seats by capping the price at Rs 2,500 per hour of flight journey to regionally underserved airports. The Government will compensate them for this.
As a part of this scheme, several underserved regional airports are developed and their operational readiness is enhanced. The Government compensation to the airline operators is   through a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) model with contributions from the Union Government, State Governments and Airport Operators. Five  airlines were awarded 128 fixed wing flight routes to 70 airports in the UDAN-RCS Round-I bidding held in April 2017. Recent data tells us that around 13 regional airports have commenced RCS UDAN operations.
18/02/18 Srinath Rangarajan/Pioneer

Bagdogra Airport set to clear visibility hurdle

Bagdogra: The Bagdogra Airport in North Bengal is set to get a major boost with the commissioning of Category II Instrumental Landing System (CAT II ILS) from March 29, a top Airports Authority of India official said.

Once the new system is in place, the airport will be able to operate flights even when the visibility is as low as 350 metres, the official said.

Flight landings at the airport get affected round the year, especially in the mornings. At present, a minimum visibility of 1,200 metres is required for an aircraft to land at the airport, he added.

The notification on the commissioning of CAT II ILS at Bagdogra Airport was issued by AAI headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday.

"The morning slot at our airport is not utilized at present as the airlines are reluctant to operate flights between 6 am and 11 am due to poor visibility," Director of Bagdogra Airport Rakesh R Sahay told PTI.

The visibility at the airport generally drops below 500 metres in the morning.
"Be it fog, shallow fog or heavy rain, the new system will now allow flights to land even when the visibility ranges between 500 metres and 350 metres," Sahay said.

18/02/18 PTI/India Today

The Indian female pilots ruling skies across the globe

Teacher and flying instructor, Audrey Deepika Maben, 42, has never ventured out of India before. Yet she seems like the perfect candidate to undertake an epic journey that will make her an instant member of that small club of women who have circumnavigated the globe in single-engine planes. This month, Audrey will take off from Delhi in the dinky motor glider Pipistrel Sinus 912 that weighs less than a family of four and whose wings hover just slightly over her 5ft3in frame.

Between teaching and flying and bringing up her children, Audrey never really had any time or money left for international travel. “Yet mummy always said the day she steps out, she’ll see the world,” says her 18-year-old daughter Amy, the eldest of three siblings, who will join her mother as they fly 50,000km through 21 countries in 54 sorties on a historic 80-day flight on a microlight plane. So far, the longest Audrey’s own is 2,500km in five days in 2003, the centenary year of man’s first flight. It was a record for an Indian woman.

Amy was named after Amy Johnson, the first female pilot to fly alone from Britain to Australia. She started flying when she was in her mother’s womb, and has often been her mother’s co-pilot on cross-country flights. Now she’s planning the playlist for this journey. Should she introduce her mother to British rock bank Arctic Monkeys and 1990s cult rapper Tupac Shakur? How many ABBA songs is too much? Pink Floyd will definitely make the cut.

The two women won’t be able to carry much more than music and some chocolate. They’ll have to depend on the ground team tracking their flight for a fresh set of clothes at every stop. They will fly not more than six hours every day, with one pitstop. Flying even for a couple of hours in an unpressurised microlight can get tiring. “Imagine throwing a paper plane on a windy day and see the way it gets tossed around,” says Audrey about flying this plane.

Flying first entered Audrey’s consciousness when fighter planes from Ozar Airport flew over her school in Nashik. That was her cue to start running wildly in the direction of the aircraft, eyes glued to the sky. By 15, she was an NCC cadet, a wisp of a girl, going on training sorties in open-cockpit, two-seater planes such as the Sedbergh, her pockets weighed down with coins to increase her weight and balance the plane better.
We meet at Bengaluru’s Jakkur Aerodrome, where Audrey flew her first microlight shortly after Amy was born. Back then, Audrey had a routine. After parking the baby under the shade of a peepal tree, she’d feed Amy, fly, come back to feed, fly again. The ground staff would raise a flag if the baby cried while her mother was in the air.
18/02/18 Priya Ramani/Vogue

Travellers on red-eye flights to face delays at airport

Chennai: Travellers reaching Chennai on red-eye flights late at night may have to wait longer to get their bags at the domestic terminal as the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has started work near the main runway to straighten a taxiway. Since the work will be taken up at night and the main runway will be closed at the time, a few domestic flights will be taxiing to the remote parking bays near the second runway.
This means passengers will be ferried from the remote parking bays to the domestic terminal in shuttle buses that will have to cover around 5km. Though the buses may reach the terminals quickly, the bags may not because slow-moving battery-operated vehicles bring the trolleys to the terminal.
“We are trying to rope in trucks to shift the bags to the terminal. Passengers may experience delays in reaching the terminal and receiving bags on the conveyor belt for nine months because the work to straighten the taxiway is entering a crucial phase. The runway closure is also being done under the condition that it has to be released for flights in less than an hour in case of an emergency,” said a senior AAI official.
Domestic airlines operate around five to six red-eye flights from other cities and park the planes in the remote bay overnight so that they can be operated as early morning services from Chennai. The work and the runway closure will affect only those flights. “The number of passengers who take red-eye flights is increasing because they are cheaper. Some flyers may also want to connect to an international flight. These passengers are likely to face delays because of the work,” he added.
18/02/18 Times of India

TTAG urges AAI to waive off penalty for charter arrival delays

Panaji: In a bid to boost charter flights to Goa, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has urged Airports Authority of India (AAI) to waive off penalty in case of delayed arrivals and refund the deposit.
AAI is charging a slot fee/penalty of Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 from charter operators for delays caused by weather and operating conditions in its place of origin. TTAG feels that this deposit for slot charging fee/penalty needs to be withdrawn.
“We have no issue in keeping a slot deposit to safeguard against the possibility of operators blocking slots and not utilising them. However, in other countries there is no such rule. On the contrary, charter operators are given subsidy/incentives as they bring huge groups of tourists whereas we don’t offer any schemes. At least charter airlines should not be imposed a fine for any delay in arrival,” TTAG President Savio Messias told Herald after the association’s meeting with AAI Chairman Guruprasad Mahapatra at Benaulim on Friday.
TTAG also urged AAI that slots be finalised and allocated before the commencement of the charter season. “Historically we used to operate from 8.30 am to 1pm, but last season, this facility was withdrawn by AAI and we faced difficulties. We request that the 8.30-1pm slot be reinstated for smooth operation of charter flights and domestic slots should start from 1pm. This would go a long way to avoid mixing up of passengers,” the association president said.
The tourism stakeholder also suggested that AAI and Indian Navy give sufficient notice to airline operators about plans to carry out major works related to the runaway, apron or airport building.
18/02/18 Herald

AAI terminates licences for ground handling services at airports

New Delhi: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has decided to terminate the licences for ground handling services at various aerodromes as part of implementing the new rules for such activities, according to a senior official.

Less than two months after the civil aviation ministry came out with the new ground handling services regulations, the AAI has decided to cancel the existing licenses given to such service providers and go for fresh tendering process. Under the new norms, domestic scheduled airline operators and helicopters can carry out ground handling on their own.
Confirming the move to terminate the existing licenses for ground handling services, AAI Chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra told that it has been done to "ensure a level playing field" for the ground handling agencies. AAI manages around 125 airports, including 78 domestic aerodromes and 26 civil enclaves.
"In order to implement the Ground Handling Services Regulations 2017 in letter and spirit, the AAI has taken a policy decision to terminate all existing licenses awarded for ground handling services at its airports and for inducting ground handling agencies through fresh tenders," as per a communication.
This is one of the communications sent out by the AAI to a ground handling agency. Ground handling services include aircraft cleaning and servicing, loading and unloading of food and beverages, besides cargo and luggage handling at the airports.
18/02/18 PTI/Economic Times

Welcome To The Worst Airport In India

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose would definitely not have approved. A strict disciplinarian and a stickler for order and efficiency, the founder of the Indian National Army (INA) would have been horrified by the prevailing state of affairs at the sprawling swanky airport in Kolkata named after him.

The present integrated terminal (T2) of the airport was inaugurated by former president Pranab Mukherjee on 20 January 2013. The massive steel and glass structure even won accolades and the new terminal was adjudged by the Airport Council International as 'Best Improved Terminal' (for Asia-Pacific region) award for the two consecutive years of 2014 and 2015. It's another matter that the old terminal (T1) was so bad that even repainting its walls – leave apart constructing a glitzy new one – --would have been considered a vast improvement.

But the new terminal always suffered from an intrinsic organic malaise: it's management lay not with a private operator but the Airports Authority of India (AAI). The heavily unionised and wayward AAI employees are singularly responsible for the present sorry state of the airport that was built at a cost of Rs 2,300 crore. The AAI Employees Union had consistently and successfully resisted moves by the Union Civil Aviation Ministry and the AAI management (which knows the nature of its lower level employees very well) to privatise operations at the airport.

The result (of AAI handling airport operations) is there for all to see. The Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport is a living testimony to the truth of the adage of not judging a book by its cover. The airport structure looks good and the architecture is distinctive. But many things are rotten inside. The washrooms are in a state of perpetual mess and emanate a foul odour. Leaking faucets, stained walls and overflowing bins are the result of callous staff who know that no matter what they do (or don't do), their jobs are secure.
18/02/18 Jaideep Mazumdar/Swarajya

Indigo Airlines Mumbai-Lucknow flight delayed, passengers create ruckus at Mumbai airport

Mumbai: Agitated passengers of the Indigo Airlines Mumbai-Lucknow created a ruckus at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport after the flight got delayed for nearly five hours on Saturday evening.

The Lucknow-bound flight was scheduled to depart at 7:35 PM. The agitated passengers alleged that the ground staff misbehaved with them.

"Indigo people have misbehaved with us they did not allow us to board the flight and made us wait for more than an hour. They don't have provisions, it is very inconvenient," said a passenger in a selfie video.

Another passenger accused the flight authorities of not communicating with them in a proper way.

18/02/18 ANI/Times Now

GoAir, JetAirways, AirAsia Offer Discount On Domestic Fares On Select Routes

Gone are the days when passengers had to pay hefty amount of money for booking flight tickets. Amid high competition, now airlines are coming up with discounted offers on domestic flight tickets. GoAir is currently offering domestic flight tickets starting at a price of Rs. 991. AirAsia India is offering domestic flight tickets at a starting price of Rs. 1,699. Jet Airways is also offering 20 per cent discount on domestic flight tickets on select routes. These discounted flight tickets can be easily booked from particular airline's website.

GoAir's discount on domestic flight tickets

GoAir airline is offering domestic flight tickets starting at an all-inclusive price of Rs. 991 on select routes. According to GoAir's website-goair.in, the discounted fares are part of GoAir's special 'Holi long weekend' scheme. Customers can also avail an extra 10 per cent off on domestic flight tickets by booking through HDFC Bank debit and credit cards, GoAir added on its website. The promo code for the same is 'GOHDFC10'. Airlines special fares are valid across selective fare types, added GoAir on the website. (Read more)

AirAsia's discount on domestic flight tickets


AirAsia is offering domestic flight tickets at a starting all-inclusive price of Rs. 1,699 and on select routes under 'BeatTheBudget' promotional sale. AirAsia's discounted flight tickets offer is valid on travel till July 31, 2018 and bookings are open till February 18, 2018, according to the airline's website (airasia.com). Under this promotional sale, AirAsia is offering discounted tickets on domestic flights flying to Bengaluru, New Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, among others.
18/02/18 NDTV

Birmingham flight starts tomorrow

Amritsar: The maiden direct flight between Amritsar and Birmingham will take off on February 20. MP Rajya Sabha Shwait Malik and Union Minister of State and BJP state president Vijay Sampla will inaugurate the flight at Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport, Amritsar.
The flight was announced by Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha in November 2016.
The Air India’s direct non-stop flight between Amritsar and Birmingham will fly twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday and return from Birmingham on Wednesday and Friday.
This flight will take off from the city at 13:55 IST and land at Birmingham Airport by 17:15 BST and will depart from Birmingham Airport at 18:45 BST and land at SGRD Amritsar Airport by 07:45 IST.
18/02/18 Tribune