Tuesday, June 27, 2017

SpiceJet’s turnaround story: From forced grounding to world's top airline stock in 2 years

Two and a half years after SpiceJet Ltd. was forced to ground its entire fleet on its inability to pay a mere $2.2 million in fuel bills, the budget airline has become the world’s best-performing airline stock -- with $26 billion in plane orders to boot.

The company’s co-founder and Chairman Ajay Singh has played the white knight, injecting capital, cutting loss-making routes and aggressively adding capacity in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. To top it all off, crude prices are staying low.

For investors, that’s been a winning formula: SpiceJet shares are the best performers on a Bloomberg Intelligence index of airline stocks this year. The stock is up 124 per cent in 2017 and has gained more than 800 per cent since the company’s near-demise in December 2014, giving SpiceJet a market value of $1.2 billion.

The outlook for aviation stocks looks good “as long as oil prices are under control,” said Mahesh Patil, co-chief investment officer of Birla Sun Life Asset Management Co., which has $30 billion in assets. Birla held a stake of about 1.2 per cent in SpiceJet as of May 31, according to Bloomberg data.

More people will prefer to travel by plane as ticket prices fall, Patil said, declining to comment specifically on the carrier.
27/06/17 Anurag Kotoky/Santanu Chakraborty /Bloomberg/Economic Times

Best budget airlines in world: AirAsia tops, Indigo 10th in new Skytrax list

Best budget airlines in world: Aviation rating agency Skytrax has said AirAsia is the best budget airline in the world. Air Asia has bagged this position consecutively for the ninth time. The airline was one of many presented the award at a ceremony during the 2017 Paris Airshow. According to BusinessInsider, AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said in a statement, “We take the world champion title seriously and we will strive to continue to improve for both our guests and shareholders. Over the last 15 years we have created a great brand and over the next 15, we want to move towards One AirAsia, a truly (Southeast Asian) airline.”
This was result of the Skytrax survey which was formed from impressions of 19.87 million travelers from 105 different countries. It covers more than 325 airlines, based on 49 parameters ranging from boarding procedures to comfort of the seats and service quality. Fernandes and his team have worked hard for 15 years to turn a small, failed, state-owned airline in one a multi-national aviation juggernaut, according to BusinessInsider. A responsive customer service, friendly cabin crew, and efficient operation was what got Air Asia the spot.
The other nine airlines are Norwegian, Virgin America, Jetstar Airways, AirAsia X, Azul Brazilian Airlines, Southwest Airlines and IndiGo Airlines
27/06/16 Financial Express

Air passengers give thumbs up to biometrics

New Delhi: An iris scan, a facial recognition, hand wave or fingerprint could help air travellers avail a seamless experience as a recent study has determined that more than half of the passengers surveyed would prefer biometrics for identification purposes at airports.

However, nearly a third of the respondents have expressed concerns over privacy of their personal information.

More than 7,000 passengers from 17 countries, including India, were part of the 12th edition of Passenger IT Trends Survey conducted by air transport IT provider SITA and Air Transport World.

In all, 37 per cent of travellers surveyed used automated ID control on their last flight. Of these, 55 per cent said they had used biometrics at departure, 33 per cent for boarding and 12 for international arrivals.

Fifty-seven per cent of the respondents said they would prefer biometrics to a boarding pass or a passport for their next trip.

"Passengers who use biometrics are highly satisfied. In fact, (out of 10) they rated the experience 8.4, well above the ratings for face-to-face transactions at passport check (8) and boarding (8.2), demonstrating passengers' acceptance of this secure technology to deliver a seamless journey," the report says.
27/06/17 PTI

Bloomberg crowns SpiceJet world's top performing aviation stock

SpiceJet, which has risen by 124% in 2017, has been ranked the world's top performing stock by Bloomberg. The news agency reported - "None of the analysts covering SpiceJet recommends selling the stock, according to Bloomberg data. HDFC Securities Ltd., the only firm recommending the equivalent of a hold rating, still predicts profitability will increase "sharply" on a stronger rupee and weak oil prices".
SpiceJet had recently placed orders with Bombardier Commercial Aircraft for purchase of up to 50 Q400 turboprop planes, valued at up to $1.7 billion. The Q400 turboprop planes can seat 86 passengers.
SpiceJet's current fleet includes 35 Boeing 737s and 20 Bombardier Q400s in the 78-seat configuration. The company has also committed to buy 40 new 737 MAX 10 planes from Boeing, a deal valued at $4.7 billion. At the beginning of 2017, they had ordered 100 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, valued at $11 billion. In all, SpiceJet has placed orders for new planes worth $26 billion.
27/06/17 Sify

Need to make commercial planes in India, says SpiceJet chief

Washington: India should come out with policy initiatives for local manufacturing of commercial planes as its aviation market is poised to become the third largest in the world, spicejet chief Ajay Singh said today.

SpiceJet got a shout-out from US President Donald Trump, as he stood along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the White House Rose Garden, for orders placed with US aircraft maker boeing.

"I was pleased to learn about an Indian Airlines' recent order of 100 new American planes, one of the largest orders of its kind, which will support thousands and thousands of American jobs," Trump said, without naming SpiceJet which has placed the USD 22 billion order.

Singh, who has piloted the no-frills airline out of troubled times, said the Indian government should come out with policy initiatives for manufacturing commercial planes inside the country.

"It (making commercial planes in India) has not been given a thought to, at the moment," Singh told PTI in an interview.

When the government can talk to companies like APPLE about assembly of phones, why not the plane manufacturers, he wondered and stressed that the government needs to start discussions with aircraft makers to understand what they need.
27/06/17 Lalit K Jha/Outlook

SpiceJet’s order to buy planes from Boeing will support many American jobs: Trump

Washington: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said a recent order for 100 new aircraft placed by an Indian airline will create thousands of American jobs, referring to SpiceJet’s decision to buy planes from Boeing.

SpiceJet had announced an order worth $22 billion with the US aircraft maker in January. The order is expected to create 1.32 lakh high-skilled jobs in America.

“I was pleased to learn about an Indian airlines’ recent order of 100 new American planes, one of the largest orders of its kind, which will support thousands and thousands of American jobs,” Mr.Trump said alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House Rose Garden.

During their maiden meeting, Mr.Modi and Mr.Trump discussed a range of issues.

Mr.Trump’s remarks come at a time when there are concerns in certain quarters that jobs are moving out of the US.

SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said the planes under the $22 billion order would be manufactured in the US.
“As per the US Department of Commerce, it creates 1,32,000 high-skilled, high-paid American jobs within the US,” Mr.Singh said in a statement.

“We have placed a large order for the Boeing 737 MAX, in fact, the biggest ever placed by an Indian airline with Boeing. The new planes start to join the fleet in the middle of 2018 and with that our operating cost will further go down,” he noted.
27/06/17 PTI/The Hindu

Vistara Airlines introduces augmented reality for its in-flight magazine

Augmented Reality (AR) has taken a leap forward particularly with the smartphone game Pokémon GO, and India is slowly embracing the augmented reality scene. The latest to join is Vistara Airlines, owned by the group Tata Sons, which has introduced AR for its in-flight magazine, Vistara Magazine.
The cover of the Vistara Magazine turned into life courtesy of AR, The Indian Express reports. To enable this feature, one has to download the official Vistara Magazine mobile app, which is available on both iOS and Android. Passengers will then have to open the mobile app and move it over the cover of the magazine. They can also use AR on photos within the magazine itself. Doing so will give an AR experience showing the scene behind the making of the Airbus A320neo. Although this initiative by Vistara Airlines comes as a small offering, it still marks itself as the first Indian Airlines to introduce such a feature.

This initiative also comes days after Emirates Airlines kicked things up a notch by using AR glasses to enhance its service towards its passengers. The airlines is exploring different ways on how AR glasses will display a passenger’s details and habits so that their staff can help provide them a more comfortable experience. More exciting is Gatwick Airport in London, which uses AR to help people navigate within the airport.
27/06/17 Marcia Sekhose/BGR

Why Donald Trump thanked SpiceJet

New Delhi: US President Donald Trump on Monday thanked Gurgaon-based budget carrier SpiceJet for placing a large order for aircraft from American multinational Boeing. The order would create thousands of jobs in the US, Trump said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the White House in Washington DC on Monday, where the US President praised PM Modi+ for his efforts back home, saying he's doing a "great job". "Economically, India is doing very well," Trump said.
SpiceJet has placed a $22 billion order with Boeing+ for up to 205 planes to be manufactured in the US. This would create 1,32,000 high-skilled, high-paid American jobs within the US, according to the US Department of Commerce.
Interestingly, Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's private equity firm Wilbur Ross and Co. had invested $86 million in SpiceJet in 2008. However, in 2010, Ross sold his 30 per cent stake in SpiceJet for $127 million.
On how SpiceJet plans to finance the aircraft order, the company's chairman and managing director Ajay Singh said, "Funding arrangements for those are coming very quickly in place. We have already funded significant number of those aircraft through a sale and leaseback mechanism. And we have several offers."
27/06/17 Times of India

Changi Airport sees strong traffic to and from India and China; 5m passengers handled in May

Singapore: Changi Airport handled 5 million passengers in May, 4.6 per cent more than the same month a year ago.

Aircraft movements rose 3.2 per cent to 31,200 landings and takeoffs, while cargo shipments saw strong growth of 12.6 per cent to reach 177,340 tonnes.

The increase in passenger traffic was boosted by a strong 17 per cent growth in South Asia traffic, Changi Airport Group said.
Among the airport's top 10 country markets, India led the gainers with a 21 per cent year-on-year growth, with traffic to and from Mumbai and Chennai rising by more than 20 per cent.
Another major market, China, also registered double-digit growth of 11 per cent, with more than half a million passengers in May, or about one in ten passengers at Changi during the month.

Cargo shipments also increased with improvements across exports, imports and transhipments. With stable recovery of industrial activity in the United States, Germany and Japan, airfreight to and from these markets saw particularly strong growth.
27/06/17 Karamjit Kaur/Straits Times

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aircraft is basically a flying fortress

It’s safe to say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been bitten by the travel bug. Ever since he took office, he’s taken 64 international trips, visiting six continents and 47 countries. Considering the amount of time he spends being airborne, it’s safe to assume that he isn’t hot air balloon-ing it across the globe. The leader of the world’s largest democracy ought to be hooked up with a state-of-the-art sky-chariot.

 Air India’s government issue Boeing 747-400 (call sign Air India One), isn’t all-that state-of-the-art, but it is quite the flying fortress. A symbol of yesteryear luxury, the original Jumbo Jet is about as stately as they came. By today’s standards, it’s a pretty old bird, which is why the PM will soon be upgrading to a 777. But more on that in a bit.

 At present the PM has access to two aircrafts. A 747-400 which he uses for long-distance international trips (such as the one to the US) and a modified Indian Air Force Boeing 737-800 BBJ for short-distance international and domestic trips. While the 747-400 isn’t specially configured for the PM (VIP3), it has a separate enclosure with an office and a bedroom that are available only to him and the President (VIP1), who along with the Vice-President (VIP2) is the only other dignitary allowed to use Air India One. When not being used by VVIPs however, Air India uses the aircrafts for commercial use.
27/06/17 Parth Charan/GQ

MADC pronounces Shirdi airport fit to do business

Pune: The officials of the Maharashtra Airport Development Company Limited (MADC) have said that the Shirdi Airport is 100% operational ready and an inspection this week by officials of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will pave the way for the facility to be operational.
"The airport is 100% ready and construction work has been completed. All aspects related to security, comfort and safety of passengers have been taken into consideration. The much awaited inspection by BCAS and DGCA is set to take place this week. We are sure that everything will go well as expected," an official said.
Located at Kakri village, some 15 km from Shirdi town, the airport is fully designed and managed by MADC.
27/06/17 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Bad weather disrupts landing of flights at Udaipur airport

The weather on Monday was a most welcome one causing happiness all around. But this is not so when it comes to flights. This kind of weather causes landing trouble for the flights. Flights coming in from New Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur could not land at Maharana Pratap Airport on Monday evening.
Indigo Airline flight departing to New Delhi and Jet Airways flight that comes from Mumbai and also another flight that comes from Jaipur could not land at Udaipur airport because of wind and heavy rain. These flights were diverted as a result the passengers suffered. Jet airways flight which leaves for Mumbai was diverted to Ahmedabad. Passengers for the Mumbai flight were sent to Ahmedabad via road route. Jaipur flight was also diverted back to Jaipur. Indigo flight Mumbai-Udaipur-Delhi was also diverted. Since the weather was troublesome, all flights from and to Mumbai were diverted to Ahmedabad. Passengers coming to Udaipur from Mumbai had to deboard at Ahmedabad. All passengers were highly irritated due to lack of arrangements for their onward journeys. Almost 180 passengers going to Delhi from Udaipur through Indigo airline were later sent to Ahmedabad through road route by the authorities.
27/06/17 Monika S/Udaipur Times

This artist has built the most intricate paper plane you'll ever see

When we were kids, a paper plane was a page torn out of an exercise book folded up a few times.

But for artist Luca Iaconi-Stewart, the term has a whole different meaning.

The paper artist has spent years painstakingly designing and building a model of a jet using manilla folders.
The model has seats, engines, moving landing gear and more - and it's taken him nine years (so far) to create.
The San Francisco, US-based artist even laid out the cabin according to the real layout of an Air India Boeing 777 aircraft.
He devoted an entire summer just to the seats - spending 20 minutes on each for an economy seat, several hours for business and first class - complete with tray tables and entertainment systems.

He's now finishing off the wings.

Iaconi-Stewart, who studied architecture in high school, said he decided to build the plane after seeing pictures of it and admiring the design. He designs the parts on a computer, prints onto manilla folders and cuts them out with a knife, then glues them together.
27/06/17 Stuff.co.nz

Alliance Air goes Greek for inspiration, and for better days

Even as big brother Air India is looking for a buyer to turn around its fortunes, regional arm Alliance Air is taking help from Greek mythology. Well, almost.

The airline, with a mandate to connect tier-II and tier-III cities, has come up with a new logo – the Greek mythological creature, the Centaur. Incidentally Centaur was earlier the logo of the Air India Group.

The tails of Alliance Air aircraft are being painted with the new logo. While three of its 11 aircraft already sport the Centaur logo, the part-horse, part-man will also appear on the new planes that will arrive from Toulouse, the headquarters of manufacturer Airbus.

“Branding should signify the reason for our operations. What better logo than a Centaur which was the legacy of the Tatas? We are not printing JRD Tata’s photo on the aircraft but we want to put his ideals on the aircraft,” says CS Subbiah, Chief Executive Officer, Alliance Air. Air India, which was founded by Tata in 1932, sported the Centaur logo till 2007.

He adds that Centaur signifies precision and speed which is what the airline needs -- speed for regional connectivity and to be in a position to go to places where people want to go.

The airline is looking at cashing in on the government’s new UDAN scheme. The airline recently inaugurated its maiden flight under the scheme, to Shimla from Delhi, and plans to add more destinations, including Pathankot, Ludhiana and Bikaner, which are off the aviation map.
27/06/17 Ashwini Phadnis/Business Line

India & America must work together to create jobs: SpiceJet Chairman

In an interview to CNBC-TV18's Shereen Bhan, Ajay Singh, Chairman of SpiceJet spoke about the potential of the aviation sector in India.

Below is the verbatim transcript of the interview.

Q: Aviation clearly is a big focus area of opportunity and collaboration. In fact the Prime Minister mentioning the aviation sector and the possibilities this morning.

A: India is the fastest growing aviation market in the world today. We are growing at 20-25 percent and despite that growth, just about 3 percent of Indians fly. So, there is obviously great potential and therefore there is great potential to buy planes.

SpiceJet has bought up to 205 aircrafts from Boeing. They are worth USD 22 billion. As per the United States Department of Commerce, that creates 1,32,000 American jobs, high paid, high skilled American jobs right here in the United States. So, I think that is great leverage that we have on the Americans to say to them that as India grows, and as India prospers there will be more and more jobs created for Americans in the United States.

Q: Is that how you believe India should pitch the Make in India and Make America Great Again story, it isn't an either or but it has to be jointly sold.

A: It has to be both because as India builds smart cities, as we build our roads, airports, and ports, there will be huge numbers of American jobs created here in India. However, if India is to provide this massive market to the Americans, then the Americans must also try and work along with India to give a fillip to India’s Make in India program. It is only fair that we should have aircraft, for example, built in India for Indians and so as we create jobs for them here, they must create jobs for Indians in India.
27/06/17 CNBC-TV18/moneycontrol.com

Alliance Air announces launch of flights connecting Lucknow with Bhopal, Jaipur, Dehradun

New Delhi: Air India’s subsidiary Alliance Air today announced the launch of new flights connecting Lucknow with the capitals of Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The move is aimed at developing Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, as a regional hub of Alliance Air, an airline official said. With effect from July 5, Alliance Air will be operating new flights on Lucknow-Dehradun, Lucknow-Bhopal and Lucknow- Jaipur routes. “Alliance Air will be the first carrier to provide connectivity on these routes,” the airline said in a statement. These flights will be operated by the regional airline’s 70-seater ATR 72 aircraft.
“We are offering attractive air fares on all these flights,” the statement added. The airline recently launched services on Delhi-Shimla- Delhi and Delhi-Gwalior-Indore-Mumbai sectors. These flights were part of the government’s regional connectivity scheme (RCS) under which the airline is entitled to a government subsidy in order to keep fares low for passengers. Alliance Air was awarded 15 RCS routes out of the total 128, but the airline plans to offer additional flights on short sectors. The three new flights announced today are part of that initiative. The RCS, also known as UDAN ( Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik), aims at connecting tier-2 and tier-3 cities apart from making flying affordable with fares capped at Rs 2,500 per hour for which airlines receive a viability gap funding from the Centre as well as the state government concerned.
27/06/17 PTI/Financial Express

Aviation school conducts admission tour

Hyderabad: Carver Aviation, a Pune-based flight school, organised an admission tour in the city. The academy’s trainers told students that the sector was expectedto have a high growth in the future. India would be the third biggest aviation market in the world by 2020 with 1,174 aircraft and 285 helicopters, Carver’s trainers told the students.

Pilot-training and aircraft maintenance would be covered as part of the course. Training would be given on single-engine and multi-engine aircraft. A total of 200 hours of pilot-training is mandatory for any candidate to apply for the post of commercial pilot. The aviation school charges Rs. 26 lakh for single-engine flight-training and Rs. 28.5 lakh for multi-engine training. The college had produced 12 commercial pilot trainees in the past six months.
27/06/17 The Hindu

Air India museum plan at Nariman Point shelved after government announces to divest stake

Mumbai: Air India's plan to house a unique museum in its iconic Nariman Point tower has been shelved, at least for now, due to the cloud of uncertainty created following the government's announcement that it wanted to divest its stake in the national carrier.

Two years ago, AI had decided to throw open for public viewing the wealth of paintings and artefacts it had collected over the past six decades in its offices in India and across the world.

Earlier this year, Air India chairman and managing director (CMD) Ashwani Lohani had said that the museum was likely to be inaugurated on Independence Day 2017 and that it would be dedicated to the nation.

On May 16, AI had floated a Rs 3.5 crore tender, with an earnest money deposit of Rs 7 lakh, for development of the Air India Museum of Arts and Crafts. The project was to be completed in three months.

"The airline was looking for a firm that had completed at least one interior work worth Rs 2.8 crore or more in the past five years for a museum or an art gallery or a showroom related to a government, a semi=government or a reputed private organization during the past five years," said an Air India official.
27/06/17 Manju Vayalar/Economic Times

Airport bus needs more wind beneath its wings

Ahmedabad:  The civic body's latest tango with popularizing bus services in the city — the Route 1000, airport shuttle — is taking baby steps. On Monday, the service with a bus fleet of five, saw 86 passengers on board, while on Tuesday till 6pm some 74 passengers had boarded the bus.
The bus service has elicited mixed responses from frequent flyers. Many passengers TOI spoke to wanted that the bus service should be prompt at arriving at each of the 29 bus stands marked on the route. They also required an active help desk at Karnavati club and Airport stand that can help passengers plan their onward journeys within and outside the city — links with BRTS, AMTS and GSRTC services or depots or even auto rickshaw services.

Senior AMTS officials said that the shuttle services witnessed heavy passenger traffic during early morning hours and late evening as maximum flights were scheduled during these hours.
"The bus gets anywhere between 43 to 56 passengers between 4 am and 7 am and then between 9 pm and 10.15 pm," says a senior AMTS official. The passenger traffic thins to 3 to 8 passengers during the rest of the day. A passenger, Amit Katoch, suggested, "The service should ideally begin at 3am and end at 12.30am the following day to tap maximum passengers."
27/06/17 Times of India

Food court for Cial's domestic passengers

Kochi: As part of Cial's plans to convert its old international terminal (Terminal 1) into the new domestic terminal, renovation work has started and they plan to have a full-fledged food court to cater to the increasing domestic passenger movement.
The decision to start work on converting the Terminal 1 to domestic airport was taken soon after the airport opened the new Terminal 3 to international passengers.
Cial this week issued a tender seeking a single concessionaire for the implementation and the running of the two food facilities at the terminal, which will include three snack bars at level 2 and a food court at level 3. At the moment there are limited food options for domestic passengers.
As per Cial's requirements, the concessionaire must facilitate the terminal with one popular international fastfood joint such as KFC, McDonald's or Burger King at the food court. They must also ensure a South Indian eatery at either the snack bar or the food court.
27/06/17 Vikram Vinod/Times of India

Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi airport to have new Radar system

Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport here will have a state-of-the-art surveillance air traffic control (ATC) Radar system covering almost the entire North Eastern sky, according to the Airports Authority of India.

The upcoming Radar system is part of the Airports Authority of India undertaking a project for replacing 20-year old Radar systems with the new state-of-the-art technology, said an AAI press release.

It is part of AAI's continuing endeavour for modernising Air Navigation Services (ANS) with new Radars, ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcasting) equipment and ATS (Automation Tooling Systems) at various locations in the country, the release said.

The data from the new radar will be integrated with the INDRA ATS Automation system of the local Approach Control and Area Control Centers in Guwahati.

The same data will also be provided and integrated with other automation systems for providing satisfactory Radar coverage at the required redundancy levels over the North Eastern air space, it said.
27/06/17 PTI/DNA

Kabul-Delhi air cargo corridor new round of Great Game

Seven years after Pakistan refused to allow Afghan trucks carrying Indian goods to return home from the Wagah border, in spite of the July 2010 Afghanistan Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement (APTTA), Kabul and Delhi have established an air freight corridor that will facilitate the movement of goods to each others’ markets.
The landmark Ariana flight, carrying 60 tonnes of asafoetida or heeng, was flagged off by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani from Kabul airport on June 19, and received in Delhi three hours later by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Afghan heeng has especially been valued by the north Indian palate since time immemorial, but it certainly wasn’t food that both leaderships have had on their minds these past several years. Make no mistake, the air freight corridor is a political message to Pakistan and the rest of the international community, that Delhi will not abandon Kabul despite the deteriorating security situation in the country.
27/06/17 Jyoti Malhotra/Indian Express

Bangladeshi arrested with ‘fake’ passport from airport

Kolkata: Airport Police on Monday arrested a Bangladeshi national for allegedly carrying a fake passport. The accused, Haditulla, was heading to Bangladesh from Mumbai via Kolkata, as per sources. During immigration checking, officials doubted Haditulla’s documents and found them to be fake, sources said. He was then handed over to the local police station and his documents were seized, they added.
Officials are trying to find out the background of the accused and if he had any links with a fake passport racket that came to light in January this year. Police had arrested four persons, including a Bangladeshi, in connection with the racket. Seven fake passports were also seized from their possession.
In April, Airport Police had arrested another man identified as Sharif Hassan with a fake passport. He, too, was a Bangladeshi.
27/06/17 Indian Express

Monday, June 26, 2017

Domestic airlines eye bigger share of foreign traffic

Unlike many countries, international air traffic to and from India continues to be dominated by foreign airlines, primarily from West Asia. But Indian carriers have been growing their share of the pie steadily.

From about 30 per cent in FY14, the share of domestic airlines in India’s international traffic rose to 34 per cent in FY16 and further to 35 per cent in FY17, says a report by rating agency ICRA. This is a result of Indian carriers outperforming their international counterparts in traffic growth.

For instance, in FY17, while overall traffic growth to and from India was 8.4 per cent, the domestic carriers grew their international traffic at a faster 11.8 per cent.

While this is much slower than the about 22 per cent growth in domestic air traffic in FY17, the foreign traffic opportunity is also getting much attention from Indian carriers. More flights by both established players (Air India and Jet Airways) and relatively new entrants (IndiGo Airlines and SpiceJet) have aided the trend of growing market share on foreign routes.

The Jet Airways and Air India groups have, over the years, built up significant share on the international routes (13.5-15.5 per cent), while IndiGo and SpiceJet are gradually building up their presence (about 3 per cent share each).
25/06/17 Anand Kalyanaraman/Business Line

Announcement of airport in Jewar dashes Meerut residents’ hope

Meerut: After Union civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Saturday announced setting up of an international airport at Jewar, 100 km from here, the long-standing hope of Meerut residents dashed.
This is the second set back to the city residents in just two days, as on Friday, Meerut failed to make it to the smart city list.
The minister said the project had been cleared by the central government, and once completed the airport would cater to 30-35 million passengers per year.
The government's decision came despite the fact that an airport in Meerut would have served the population of not only western Uttar Pradesh, but also neighbouring Uttarakhand, who have to travel 100 km by road — an unpleasant drive — to board a flight in Delhi.
An official of the Meerut Development Authority, who did not wish to be identified, said, "It is be a setback to years of planning, because it is now virtually impossible for Meerut to get an airport since Jewar is very close to Meerut. I don't see two airports coming up within 100 kilometres of Delhi. So, the possibility of Meerut getting an airport is pretty much gone."
25/06/17 Kabir Agarwal/Times of India

Centre’s approval for Jewar airport will reduce Agra to 'two-hour tourist stopover', say tourism organisations

Agra: Two days after the Centre's approval for an airport at Jewar in the National Capital Region, more than 10 tourism and civil society organisations of Agra has decided to launch a signature campaign against the government's decision saying the move will reduce the district to a "two-hour tourist stopover".
Agra, situated at a distance of around 135 kilometre from Jewar, houses three Unesco world heritage sites and welcomes nearly 60 lakh tourists every year, including several lakh foreigners who come to see the Taj Mahal. The organisations have also decided to stage a protest outside the office of the civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju in Delhi. A city-wide bandh of hospitality and tourism-related establishments will also take place on June 30.
Rajiv Tiwari, president of Paryatan Mitra, an organisation working for the welfare of tourists here, said, "We have been fighting for an airport in Agra city for the past three decades. Several promises were made by numerous politicians but nothing was done. When RLD chief Ajit Singh became the civil aviation minister in the UPA government, an airport was promised at Baldev in Mathura. Later, we were also told that an airport is likely to be set up at Firozabad in Saifai but none of these turned into reality."
26/06/17 Times of India

Better for govt to spend on health, education than on Air India: Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant

The government has taken some bold, positive and progressive measures that have attracted foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as global companies to conduct business in India, says Amitabh Kant, CEO of The National Institution for Transforming India, popularly known as Niti Aayog. In an interview to Forbes India, the 61-year-old talks about issues such as demonetisation, farm loan waivers and Niti Aayog’s recommendation to consider the strategic disinvestment of Air India. Edited excerpts:

What do you think are some of the significant achievements of the government in the last three years?

Firstly, the attempt at [implementing] the Goods and Services Tax, a Bankruptcy Law and a National Company Law Tribunal, [and the] scrapping of almost 1,200 laws are major steps forward. Reducing the number of forms for import and export, the fact that we can register a company in a day, and the competitive ranking of states on the ease of doing business are some of the pathbreaking work that the government has done.

Secondly, there has been an attempt to attract the best global companies to India. We have seen our FDI grow at about 61 percent in the last three years at a time when FDI across the globe has fallen by 16 percent. We have had some outstanding companies come to India and that, over a period of time, should make a huge amount of difference.

Third, there has been a whole shift from input and output to outcome monitoring. And we, at Niti Aayog, do an outcome-based presentation to the prime minister across sectors such as infrastructure, health care and education. Outcome targets have been spelt out and there has been an outcome budget that was tabled in Parliament along with the main budget. We believe the focus on outcomes will yield a lot of results over a period of time.

Fourthly, there is a huge thrust to make India more innovative and dynamic by creating the right ecosystem for startups, and with the right action plan that is benchmarked against the best in the world. We have an Atal Tinkering Lab that is supporting tinkering labs in schools and supporting incubators.

Then, the focus on creating good infrastructure on ground is giving a push to the country. We have seen growth in the number of roads being constructed. We have also seen a big rise in railway projects being executed. We have laid emphasis on improving the health of discoms [electricity distribution companies], which is critical for India.
26/06/17  Paramita Chatterjee/Forbes India/moneycontrol

Task force formed on aviation

New Delhi: The U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) on Monday set up a task force for identifying opportunities in India’s civil aviation sector.
The panel will be chaired by Pratt and Whitney’s Managing Director-India Palash Roy Chowdhury and co-chaired by global consultancy KPMG’s partner and India head of aerospace and defence Amber Dubey.
“The U.S.-India Business Council today launched its India-Task Force on Civil Aviation that will focus on identifying opportunities for implementation based on the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP),” the business lobby group said in a statement here. The task force would engage with various stakeholders to promote international best practices and address potential hurdles, USIBC said in the statement. The panel would also work towards giving a boost to the Centre’s regional connectivity scheme UDAN, airport infrastructure and security, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and skill development.
India has witnessed annual growth exceeding 20% in its domestic air passenger traffic with total passenger throughput estimated to reach 270 million passengers by the end of this year.
The task force will aim at promoting bilateral dialogue between industry and government, partnering with governments to organise trade missions and advocating regulatory changes on behalf of its members.
26/06/17 The Hindu

Tata Can't Carry Air India's Excess Baggage

The Tata Group should quell speculation it wants a debt-laden national carrier to land in its lap.
The $103 billion conglomerate has shown preliminary interest in Air India Ltd., according to multiple reports in local media. Other Indian businessmen, such as Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel Ltd., have suggested that Bombay House, Tata's headquarters, would be the ideal rehab for the ailing, state-run carrier. The Indian government will soon make a call on privatizing the airline.
A firm "no" from the Tata Group would be helpful. The salt-to-software empire is still trying to live down one dangerously overpriced acquisition made a decade ago: the $12.9 billion purchase of Corus Group Plc's steel assets.
Air India was forcibly taken away from the group and nationalized more than 60 years ago, but that should make no difference now. This isn't the time to think emotionally about opportunities. Nor is there any point in revisiting the botched privatization attempt 16 years ago when the group -- together with Singapore Airlines Ltd. -- came close to acquiring control.
In theory, it's possible Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata, an aviation aficionado, could salvage Air India and merge it with his joint venture with Singapore Airlines, giving the latter a firm foothold in what was the world's fastest-growing major aviation market last year. Airbus SE projects India's air traffic will expand more than fivefold between 2015 and 2035.
26/06/17 Andy Mukherjee/Bloomberg

Upgrading of Srinagar airport delayed due to land unavailability

Srinagar: The upgrading of Srinagar International Airport is reporting no headway as the Airport Authority of India is struggling to identify land required to install the Approach Lighting System .
Officials at the SIA said that they don’t have adequate land for installing the Approach Lighting System (ALS) to make the runway fit to allow landing and takeoff in poor visibility.
“The ALS is an integral part of Instrumental Landing System. The entire process is halted due to the delay in acquiring around 900 meters of land required for the purpose. We only have 300 meters available,” an official said.
In the winter, the SIA witnessed repeated cancellation of flights due to its poor infrastructure.
As per the records, the airport saw cancellation of about 200 flights during a fortnight in January, when smog had engulfed the valley for several weeks.
The existing ILS at the airport allows landing and takeoff only in 200 or 300-meter visibility.
Meanwhile sources said that the AAI has asked the Deputy Commissioner Budgam to file a report about land acquisition in the High Court, which is hearing the case.
“Currently, the case is in the court,” he said.
24/06/17 Bright Kashmir

Airfare sale: AirAsia flight tickets to New Delhi, Bengaluru, Goa, Hyderabad and other cities available starting at just Rs 950

AirAsia, the low-cost airline, has rolled out a ‘Browse Book Board’ offer, and it is offering travel to several Indian cities with fares starting from Rs 950. The AirAsia offer is available for selected Indian cities namely, New Delhi, Goa, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata and some more. The offer can be availed from today (June 26) to July 2. The travel period under the offer starts from today as well but goes until November 23, 2017. However, AirAisa has not disclosed the number of seats to be sold under the sale.
A search on the AirAsia India’s website showed that the Rs 950 fare for many flights in routes like Kochi-Bengaluru, Goa-Bengaluru, Guwahati-Imphal, Hyderabad-Bengaluru, and the return journeys as well. Meanwhile, flights ticket fares have gone slightly up on many of the routes where the airline claims to be giving the discount. The tickets on other routes start from Rs 1250 and go on upto Rs 5073 in some areas. Notably, fares are not available during embargo period. Among other discounts available on the Air Asia website, there is an option to book return tickets to Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Manila, Singapore and other such places for Rs 7,599.
26/06/17 Financial Express

Increase in price of 11 routes may boost profits of SpiceJet, IndiGo in Q1

Increasing fares on just 11 domestic routes in India may have been enough for airlines like IndiGo and SpiceJet to post a more profitable first quarter of current fiscal year.

The first quarter of this financial year FY18 will end on June 30, which is just four days away and companies will start posting revenue and financial results after that.

“Our one-month forward fare tracker for 11 routes shows an upward trend in fares over a seasonally strong 1Q. We believe yields for airlines (IndiGo and SpiceJet) would improve QoQ in 1QFY18,” Motilal Oswal analysts - Swarnendu Bhushan and Abhinil Dahiwale said on June 21.
However, after a disappointing first quarter, SpiceJet and IndiGo had increased prices of flight tickets.

If you’re wondering what happened to all those summer sales by airlines that you read about, well they still applied on select routes. And if you read the fine print the charges were most likely base fares barring fuel and surcharges.

Also Read: How a three day flight ticket sale by Jet Airways, Spicejet, IndiGo help

Flight tickets have shown an uptick in prices from the period March to June on 11 routes, the report added.
26/06/17 ZeeBiz

Afghan air corridor shows India's stubbornness: Chinese daily

Beijing: The dedicated air corridor between India and Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan is an attempt by New Delhi to counterbalance China's ambitious economic corridor via PoK and shows its "stubborn geopolitical thinking", a leading Chinese daily commented today.
India and Afghanistan last week inaugurated a dedicated air freight corridor to give boost to bilateral trade and give the landlocked central Asian country greater access to Indian markets.
India has been closely working with Kabul to create alternate and reliable access routes. It is also working with Afghanistan and Iran for development of the Chabahar Port. A trilateral transport and transit agreement based on sea access through Chabahar was signed between the three countries in May 2016.
The article in the state-run Global Times said that the already launched and the proposed routes between India, Afghanistan and Iran "begs a question: Will India bypass Pakistan to develop trade with Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries?"
26/06/17 Times of India

Air Ambulance landmark achievement in trauma surgery: Indian Air Force Chief

Indian Air Force has recognized the need for speed for limiting mortality and morbidity while transporting the critically ill from the battlefield, Chief of IAF, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said today. He was speaking after inaugurating an Air Ambulance of the private Ganga Hospital here. “This is a landmark achievement in the field of trauma surgery. During the Kargil war in 1999 IAF Mi-17 and Mi-8 helicopters were sent to evacuate casualties from the icy Himalayan heights to airfields of Srinagar and Awantipur from where critical patients were transported to Command Hospital at Chandigarh and Research and Referral Army Hospital in New Delhi,” he said.
Subsequently, IAF formulated its own Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT) in 2007, using an indigenously designed Patient Transfer Unit), which could be retrofitted in either fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft, he said. As many as 17 transport aircraft of IAF can be converted into Air Ambulances, Dhanoa said.
25/06/16 PTI/Financial Express

Indore: State’s first overseas flight awaits MHA nod

Indore: Air India has completed the preparation for rolling out the state’s maiden international flight from the city under ‘hub-and-spoke’ policy to Sharjah via Mumbai. However, the national carrier is awaiting the approval from Union ministry of home affairs to start its operation, which was expected to be granted by October. Nevertheless, on domestic front, the PSU airliner is likely to roll-out three flights from city to Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Kolkata by September. Chairman and managing director (CMD) of Air India, Ashwani Lohani, here at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) on Saturday while interacting

Chairman and managing director (CMD) of Air India, Ashwani Lohani, here at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) on Saturday while interacting to selected media on the sidelines of Industry Meet 2017 informed that IA wants to start international flights from tire-II cities of the country, including Indore under ‘hub-and-spoke’ policy. “I have sent a request to MHA to connect Indore to Sharjah via Mumbai under the policy. On the day the proposal gets nod from MHA, Indore will connect with Sharjah. It is difficult to say the time the permission will take to arrive, but we are hoping for the best,” Lohani said.
26/06/17 FreePressJournal

Air India will be sold for a pittance: CPI(M)

Vijayawada: CPI(M) Central Committee Member and Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac on Sunday said public sector units were being handed over to private owners in a systematic way and cited the example of Air India.

Speaking at a seminar on Communalism and the Challenges here, he said Air India would be soon sold for a pittance. “Banks, owing to political pressure, are lending to private entrepreneurs who are defaulters, thus paving the way for an increase in non-performing assets. In the name of recapitalisation, these banks are handed over to corporates,” he alleged. Delving on the GST, he said the new tax policy would help the big players while the small entrepreneurs and general public would suffer. “The benefits the big players are getting are not passed on to the general public.”

He said the economic reforms were being implemented by mesmerising the population with populist slogans and communal slogans were added to divert the serious issues.

On the BJP’s tryst with Kerala, Mr. Isaac said the party was upset that it couldn’t enter the State. “The statement by BJP President Amit Shah that he would visit Kerala every month shows its frustration.”
26/06/17 The Hindu

Donakonda Aviation project remains a non-starter

Ongole: The sleepy Donakonda village in backward Prakasam district shot into the limelight when Titan Aviation zeroed in on the British-era airstrip for setting up a Rs. 22,000-crore Aviation Special Economic Zone and a greenfield airstrip in 5,500 acres of land.

But a year after the proposal was made by the private player, which has roped in leading firms such as Antonov, Motor Sich & FED, the project in the Donakonda Industrial Corridor remains a non-starter putting paid to the hopes of elite sections to see that the big ticket projects takes off.

It was at the partnership summit in Visakhapatnam in January that the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board, set up to facilitate industrial growth in the State.

Since then, no significant progress has been made despite delegations of Tata Aviation officials and their overseas partners making repeated visits to Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and officials concerned up to the district level, including the District Collector, to make power-point presentations.
26/06/17 S. Murali/The Hindu

Experts give aspirants insights on Aviation Industry

It was a great opportunity for students who wanted to make a career in the aviation industry. Experts from Carver Aviation Academy interacted with the participants and gave them insights about the industry and its growth.

Nikhil Jadhav of Carver Aviation said that the main objective of the seminar is to clear the doubts from the minds of students and provide correct guidance to them. During the Seminar the Aviation expert Dhruv Bhatiya addressed the students and explained in detail about the career in commercial pilot, private pilot and others.

Parents and students enthusiastically participated in the seminar. Carver Aviation is in the Industry for the last 21 years and trained hundreds of pilots till now. The pilots of Carver Aviation are providing services in different aviation companies.
25/06/17 Telangana Today  

Planning to travel after July 1? Everything you need to know about post-GST fares

Are you planning your holidays in July? Be ready to shell out more if you are travelling by train in an AC coach or by air in business class as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is set to roll out on July 1. Travel for aam aadmi, however, will not get expensive.
Economy-class air travel will be cheaper with the tax rate fixed at 5% against the present 6%. However, business class tickets will be costlier with a 12% tax against the present 9%. The new tax regime will also make direct flights to key international destinations more expensive than stopover flights as GST is to be charged on the first leg of the flight.
“The first leg of the flight may be Delhi-Dubai for a passenger flying to the US via Dubai, but an Indian airline like Air India that flies directly to the US has to charge GST for the full ticket until the US, making it expensive for the passenger booking a direct flight, thus, making it difficult for Indian carriers," an airline executive told ET.
There are other reasons which may lead to increase in the air fares. A senior airline executive told ET that import of spares and aircraft lease rentals would be taxed which could increase operational costs and might results in higher fares. "Any new tax on the aviation industry, which operates under thin margins, may drive fares higher,” he said.
Also, from July 1, sudden plans will become difficult due to limited availability of seats. Those who want to travel affordably by air will have to book their tickets well in advance. There is another reason for limited availability of seats: a number of travellers might not prefer to travel in business class due to higher fare.
26/06/17 Economic Times

New terminal to come up at Agra airport

Agra: The Uttar Pradesh government has sanctioned Rs 64.94 crore for a new international terminal building at the Agra airport, an official said on Monday.
Work on the airport, renamed Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, is expected to begin in the first week of July, Agra Divisional Commissioner K. Ram Mohan Rao told the media.
The money will be used to buy land from farmers. The state government is purchasing 23.3 hectares of land in Dhanauli village, he said.
Rao said the air terminal project will boost tourism in Agra.
Since the last two days, tourism industry leaders and civil society activists have been on the warpath after the Union Government cleared the international airport project for Jewar close to the Yamuna Expressway.
Two local MPs and nine MLAs of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Agra were also unhappy and pressed the Yogi Adityanath government to respond to Agra’s long-pending demand for an international airport.
26/06/17 IANS/India.com

Man uses another's passport to fly

Mumbai: A Dubai-based Indian businessman was arrested at the Mumbai international airport on Sunday for travelling on another person’s passport in his bid to escape the UAE, where is facing prosecution in a cheating case.

30-year-old Keralite Jiyas Kalliparambil, who owns a supermarket in Dubai and holds UAE resident visa, was caught after immigration officials noticed that his face did not match the photograph on the passport that he was carrying.

They immediately reported him to the Sahar police station.

According to the complaint filed by immigration official Deepak Shelar, Kalliparambil had taken an Air India flight (AI 986) from Muscat to Mumbai on the passport of Cheva Abdulla Mohammad Naseer, another Kerala resident.

He landed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 4.25 am and was supposed to take another flight to Kerala.

“Kalliparambil passport has been impounded in Dubai, where he is embroiled in a court case in connection with an alleged fraud. The accused, who runs a supermarket in Dubai, acquired an electronics firm in 2016, but defaulted on making the full payment. Fearing that he would have to face jail in the case, he decided to escape to Kerala,” said Rajashree Dudhale, sub-inspector of Sahar police station.

He then reportedly approached an Egyptian national called Majid, who put him in touch with an agent, Bawa, in Dubai. Bawa gave him the passport in the name of Naseer from Muscat. Kalliparambil made the journey from Dubai to Muscat by road.
26/06/17 Rahi Gaikwad/Mumbai Mirror

Gold powder smuggling rises at Mumbai’s airport

Mumbai: An old-fashioned crime of smuggling iridium powder, an expensive metal used for increasing the weight of gold, is experiencing a resurgence in India’s financial capital. The recent seizure of iridium powder, also known as gold powder, at Mumbai’s international airport has alerted the customs officials deployed at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA).

The deputy commissioner of customs, Air Intelligence Unit (AIU), Pradnyasheel Jumle said the smugglers had stopped smuggling of gold powder for one year.

“On the intervening night of June 10 and 11, we had intercepted a lady passenger Nasima Gafur Maniyar on her arrival from Hong Kong by Air India flight number AI 315. The lady was holding an Indian passport. When we searched her personally, we recovered Iridium powder weighing 300 grams and valued at Rs 7 lakh. She has concealed the gold powder in packet in her rectum,” said Jumle.

Maniyar is the resident of Dongri area of Mumbai and she was supposed to hand over the consignment to someone in a hotel in city’s Mohammad Ali Road area. Since their jurisdiction within airport, so the AIU officers have sought help from the Mumbai police to curb smuggling racket operating in the city.
26/06/17 Diwakar Sharma/Free Press Journal