Friday, July 12, 2019

Despite the boardroom tussle, IndiGo may hold on to its top spot in Indian aviation

A high-pitched boardroom tussle is unravelling at India’s largest airline, IndiGo.
Investors have been spooked by concerns that the company’s management is losing focus and rivals may dent the airline’s market share, which stood at 49% in May. While IndiGo’s formidable lead in the market and fleet size may help it fend off competition, some slowdown is a given, say experts.
“This has the makings of a situation that can spin out of control. It’s to be seen now whether the airline will continue to grow and expand at a pace it has been growing in the past or not—as funding will be a challenge,” said Amit Tandon, co-founder and managing director of Mumbai-based Institutional Investor Advisory Services.
The feud between IndiGo’s promoters Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia became public on July 9.  Gangwal had levelled serious charges of a lapse in governance.  He said IndiGo had entered into various related-party transactions (RPT) with the IGE Group, an “affiliate” of Bhatia, without seeking audit committee approvals or competitive bids and sought intervention (pdf) from the market watchdog, securities and exchange board of India (Sebi).
“If Sebi and other regulatory agencies start an investigation then this will be a distraction for the management and will slow down the airline’s growth,” said Tandon.
Given Gangwal’s role in the airline, the issues may create an environment of insecurity. “IndiGo has grown because of what Gangwal brought to the table. His backing helped the airline procure 100 aircraft from Airbus (in 2014). He holds a strong influence in the airline,” Harsh Vardhan, chairman of the Delhi-based aviation consultancy firm, Starair Consulting, told Quartz. “The lessors, third-party suppliers, and other stakeholders involved with IndiGo may rethink their ties to the carrier.”
12/07/19 Niharika Sharma/Quartz

Pakistan won't open airspace until India de-escalates

Islamabad: Pakistan has told India that it will not open its airspace for commercial flights until New Delhi removes its fighter jets from forward IAF airbases, Pakistan's Aviation Secretary Shahrukh Nusrat has informed a parliamentary committee.
Pakistan fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot following the Pulwama terror attack in Kashmir.
Aviation Secretary Nusrat, who is also the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), on Thursday informed the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation that his department has intimated Indian officials that Pakistani airspace would remain unavailable for use by India until the country withdraws its fighter jets from forward positions, Dawn News reported.
"The Indian government approached asking us to open the airspace. We conveyed our concerns that first India must withdraw its fighter planes placed forward," Nusrat told the committee.
He further apprised the committee that Indian officials have contacted Pakistan requesting it to lift the airspace restrictions.
"However, Indian officials have been told that Indian airbases are still laden with fighter jets and Pakistan will not allow resumption of flight operations from India until their removal,” said Nusrat.
After the restrictions, all the passenger flights are being diverted to alternative routes by India, The Express Tribune reported.
The CAA official also contested India's claim that Delhi had opened its airspace for Pakistan, the report said.
`12/07/19 PTI/Economic Times

Air India looks to sell out of trouble, identifies 30 plots in metros for sale

Air India has plans to sell 30 unutilised tracts of land in cities like Mumbai and Delhi to retire the debt transferred to special purpose vehicle Air India Asset Holding, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri told Parliament on Thursday.

These land parcels include 1.7 lakh sq m and 14,326 sq m plots in Mumbai and New Delhi, respectively. Other cities where the national carrier holds unused land are Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai and Ahmedabad.

The government transferred Air India’s debt worth Rs 29,464 crore, along with its non-core assets including land into AIAHL, to reduce the interest burden of the airline and improve its balance sheet before the disinvestment. The carrier had a total debt of Rs 58,351 crore at the end of March 31, 2019.

Puri said Air India has earned Rs 535 crore through sale of its non-core assets at various cities in India and abroad.

It has also received a rental income of Rs 314 crore from its assets, he told Lok Sabha.

The monetisation of assets is part of the turnaround plan of Air India devised in 2012. A lot of properties have been entangled in legal issues which has slowed down the sale process. The plan was to garner Rs 500 crore annually for a period of 10 years, starting 2013.
12/07/19 Financial Express

Avoiding Iranian airspace costs three Indian airlines Rs 37 lakh more daily

New Delhi: Three airlines — Air India, Air India Express and IndiGo — are incurring a combined Rs 37 lakh every day in additional operational expenditure due to rerouting that avoids part of Iranian airspace, Minister of State for Civil Aviation (Independent Charge) Hardeep Singh Puri informed Parliament on Thursday. The rerouting primarily affects flights to destinations in West Asia, Europe, US, Turkey, etc.
Following an advisory by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on June 20 prohibiting US-registered planes from flying over part of Iranian airspace, Indian carriers in consultation with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had decided to avoid flying in the affected portions of the airspace. On June 19, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard had shot down a US surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz that added to the tension between the two countries.
Responding to a question in the Lok Sabha, Puri said nine flights a day each of Air India and Air India Express were rerouted as a result of the decision, adding Rs 13 lakh and Rs 22 lakh every day, respectively to their operational expenditure. India’s largest domestic carrier IndiGo has rerouted two flights a day adding Rs 2 lakh per day to its expenses.
Various global airlines that overfly the gulf region to fly either eastward or westward had also said they would reroute to avoid the tensed region. These include Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, KLM, British Airways, Qantas. Gulf-based carriers such as Abu Dhabi-based Etihad and Dubai-based Emirates also decided to reroute their flights to avoid possible areas of conflict.
12/07/19 Pranav Mukul/Indian Express

A suitor for the maharaja: Updates on the Air India disinvestment

Air India’s disinvestment is an old and tedious tale. India’s national airline was first referred for divestment back in 1998! Governments and coalitions have come and gone but Air India continues to persist despite all of them.

Harish Puppala & Rakesh Sharma (Moneycontrol) revisiting the Air India disinvestment saga and looking at what the Modi government has in store for what had become an intractable problem for previous administrations >>

Regulator asks major airports to acquire aircraft recovery kits

New Delhi: Perturbed by the partial closure of Mumbai airport for about four days after a SpiceJet aircraft overshot the runway into the mud, leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights, the aviation regulator has asked airport operators to buy additional equipment to retrieve stuck aircraft.
“We cannot be the world’s third largest aviation market and not have the capability to retrieve an aircraft for 90 hours,” said a senior Directorate General of Civil Aviation official who did not want to be identified. “We will soon have such equipment at six airports to avoid a repeat of long closures.”
The decision was taken on Tuesday at a meeting chaired by DGCA director general Arun Kumar and attended by airport operators and other stakeholders.
Currently, the country has only one Disabled Aircraft Recovery Kit, or DARK, which is owned by national carrier Air India and is also used at airports in neighbouring countries.
The aviation regulator has asked the airport operators of Bengaluru, New Delhi and Mumbai to buy one each and the Airports Authority of India to buy three of them and station them at key airports.
“This will ensure that no airport is shut due to unavailability of equipment to take out the aircraft,” said the official. The official added that the cost of the equipment is ?6-8 crore and will have to be borne by the airport operators.
12/07/19 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Air India introduces direct non-stop flights from Dubai to Kolkata and Indore

Dubai: India’s national carrier Air India has introduced two new flight services (direct, non-stop) from Dubai to Kolkata and Indore.

A quick scan for ticket prices revealed a round trip fare from Dubai to Kolkata and return to be around Dh1,215 per person. “Of course this is subject to travel dates but this is the price overall to Kolkata,” said Vivek Vasanth of Hala Travels.
Somabha Bagchi, a Dubai resident living in The Lakes welcomed the new flight service to Kolkata. “My husband and I have always been travelling on Emirates. The flight timings are great with Emirates. But we will consider flying Air India too. The important thing is that we have an added option to fly home now,” she said.

Prices for a round trip fare from Dubai to Indore and return hover around Dh1,059. “It is one of the lowest prices at the moment for Indore and considering it is a direct flight makes it more attractive,” said Vasanth.
12/07/19 Anjana Kumar/Gulf News

Dutch bankruptcy administrator moves NCLAT on Jet Airways matter

Dutch bankruptcy administrator on Friday moved the National company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on the Jet Airways matter, which has agreed to hear the case here.
A three-member NCLAT bench headed by Chairman Justice S J Mukhopadhaya also asked the Dutch bankruptcy administrator to assist in the insolvency proceedings of Jet Airways going in India. Dutch insolvency court administrator has agreed before the NCLAT not to sell the confiscated assets of debt-ridden Jet Airways. NCLAT has also issued notice to the consortium of Jet Airways lenders directing them to file their reply within two weeks. It has directed to list the matter on August 21, for next hearing.
Earlier, National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) Mumbai, had rejected Dutch insolvency administrator’s appeal to recognise their proceedings. Jet Airways is facing Insolvency proceedings in the Netherlands and was declared bankrupt in response to a complaint filed by two European creditors. In April, H Esser Finance Company and Wallenborn Transport had filed a petition citing unpaid claims worth around Rs 280 crore.
12/07/19 PTI/Business Line

Kozhikode and Chennai airports pulled up by DGCA for several safety lapses

The Calicut International Airport in Karipur, one of the four international airports in Kerala, as well as the Chennai International Airport have been pulled up by the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA) over safety concerns. Following an audit from July 2 to 5, both the airports received a show cause notice from the DGCA over unsafe airport maintenance. The Airports Authority of India, which runs both airports have been given 15 days to respond to the notice.

Among the significant safety concerns highlighted by the DGCA in Kozhikode airport are excessive rubber deposits on the runway, which can reduce friction and lead to unsafe landings for aircrafts especially during the heavy rains that Kerala is witnessing now. The directorate also pointed to cracks and water stagnation of upto 1.5 m on parts of runway.

On the notice, an AAI spokesperson from the Calicut airport told media that they were looking into the findings of the DGCA and taking corrective measures. According to the AAI spokesperson, runway friction at Calicut International Airport was maintained at a higher rate as per DGCA instructions. Exclusive rubber deposit removal vehicles costing Rs 5.5 crore too have been procured by Calicut AAI to correct the issue. Runway slopes are maintained as per standards and drainage is cleared during pre-monsoon preparedness, the spokesperson added.

The AAI is currently looking for the rains to let up to correct the erosion and rain water stagnation on the runway.

Some of the other findings of the DGCA include cracks found at aircraft stand number 5. A portion of the apron surface measuring 111 m was also found damaged. A downwards slope of 5 m depth was found after the apron behind airport stand number 1 which had to be levelled and graded.
12/07/19 News Minute

Trujet to double fleet, takes it to 10 ATRs; adds 10 more destinations by end of 2019

Hyderabad: Turbo Megha Airways, which operates budget airline Trujet, plans to double its fleet to 10 ATR-72 aircraft and add 10 more destinations to its network of 20 destinations by the end of 2019.

Starting with two ATR-72 aircraft in July 2015, Trujet now operates 5 ATR-72 aircraft in its fleet and connects 20 destinations in India.

Celebrating its fourth anniversary on Friday, Trujet, currently, has the largest share of its capacity (73 per cent) deployed on UDAN (Ude Deshka Aam Naagrik) routes.

The UDAN scheme is the Prime Minister’s initiative to stoke socio-economic development in rural India by providing air connectivity to the economic centres of the country.

K V Pradeep, Director on Board Megha Engineering & Infrastructure Limited, said, “Over the past four years, Trujet has been able to create its own niche in the regional connectivity space. We are the only successful standing airline amongst the regional airlines who started operations around the same time as us. This has led to an upsurge in traffic and we are looking at connecting these points with incremental flight as well as with more cities in our fast-growing network.”

"The past 12 months have been an eventful and busy year for Trujet and its 700 odd employees as it set up its second base at Ahmedabad, and now with a 5 aircraft fleet, has spread its network to 20 cities. We are looking to have our third base in the country at Guwahati," KG Vishwanath, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Trujet said.
"The network and financial growth of the airline are being achieved with long term strategic network selection, financial discipline and creating a conducive environment for people to excel," Vishwanath added.

Trujet is backed by its parent infrastructure major Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited.

The airliner, which had closed the financial year 2017-18 with revenues of Rs 165 crore and a loss of Rs 84 crore, expects to close on a profitable note during the second half of 2018-19.
12/07/19 V Rishi Kumar/Business Line

TruJet mulls IPO after 3 years; expects Rs 600 Cr topline by

Hyderabad: TruJet mulls IPO after 3 years; expects Rs 600 Cr topline by FY22 Hyderabad, Jul 12 (PTI): Trujet, a regional airline may go in for an Initial Public Offer (IPO) after three years as it expects to consolidate its position as a strong player in niche segment connecting tier-II and III cities by then, a senior official of the city-based carrier said Friday. The startup airlines which commenced operations in 2015 is all set to double the fleet size to 10 in the next six to eight months and plans to add five to eight in the next fiscal taking the total number of aircraft to 18 by FY21.

"It (IPO proposal) is still premature. In the coming to three years, once we get settled and once we are consolidated then we will go for IPO," Turbo Megha Airways, Director, KV Pradeep said at a press conference. Currently infra major MEIL holds 90 per cent stake and rest is with former union minister Chiranjeevi's son actor Ram Charan and others.

"Once we reach reasonable size, definitely (we will consider IPO). For any airlines, the exit path is that only," he added. Trujet, chief financial officer, KG Vishwanath said the airlines is expected to book net profit during the current fiscal and with the addition of new aircraft, the topline is expected to touch Rs 600 crore by FY 22.
12/07/19 PTI/Devdiscourse

AAI not looking at re-bidding for Jaipur, Trivandrum, Guwahati airports

The Airports Authority of India is not looking at the re-bidding of three state-run airports of Jaipur, Trivandrum and Guwahati, sources close to the development told CNBC-TV18, adding that the Cabinet may take a decision on the airports after some issue are resolved.

On July 3, the Union Cabinet approved the proposals for leasing out three major airports of Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru for a period of 50 years but did not take up the remaining three airports, leading to confusion whether they will be put up for re-bidding again.

"There is no question of re-bidding as of now. There are some court cases with regard to Trivandrum and Guwahati and in the case of Jaipur, the state government has asked for some minor clarification. We are hopeful that these issues will be resolved within the next one month and then it can be taken up by the Cabinet," a person aware of the development told CNBC-TV18 on condition of anonymity.

While the validity of the bids is currently till July 31, it can be extended by a maximum period of three months if the need arises, sources added.

The state of Kerala and the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) had filed a case in the High court early this year to prevent the airport being handed over to Adani Enterprises.

A Public Interest Litigation was also filed by some people in Gauhati High Court opposing the Centre's decision to privatise the state airport.

KSIDC, Adani Group and GMR airports had bid for Trivandrum airport. However, Adani Group’s bid at Rs 168 per passenger was higher than that of KSIDC’s Rs 135 and GMR’s Rs 63.

The Airports Authority of India is likely to award the three airports of Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Mangalore airports to Adani Group soon, possibly in the next 5-7 days, sources added.

Early July, CNBC-TV18 exclusively reported that the civil aviation ministry has moved a revised Cabinet note on the privatisation of six state-run airports of Jaipur, Lucknow, Trivandrum, Mangalore, Guwahati and Ahmedabad.

Under a two-stage tender process, which concluded late February, Adani Group emerged as the highest bidder for all six airports, quoting the highest per passenger fee to be paid to AAI on a monthly basis.
12/07/19 Anu Sharma/CNBC TV18

Air India cancels fligsts to Vizag, Hyd, Tirupati

Vijayawada: Air India suspended flight services to Vishakapatnam, Hyderabad, and Tirupati from Vijayawada airport on Tuesday.
Last month, Air India had cancelled the Vijayawada-Hyderabad-Delhi evening flight. Officials of Air India said that the decision came in to force as a cost-cutting measure considering the financial crisis faced by the airlines. Earlier the city had also lost its direct flight service to Singapore.
The city will now have only one direct flight service to Vishakapatnam in the evening hours, as Air India cancelled the morning service. Business circles were unhappy with the decision taken by the airlines and requested the state government to take necessary measures.
12/07/19 Times of India

Unauthorised agents, airlines’ nexus on airfares: J&K Police

Srinagar: The Jammu & Kashmir Police’s Crime Branch, which has been conducting an investigation into sudden surge in airfares, particularly in the Delhi-J&K sector, has found out a “nexus between airlines and unauthorised ticketing agents”. This, the police claims, creates “an artificial demand by blocking a large chunk of seats in a flight and thus ensuring a surge in price of the tickets for air travel”.
Senior Superintendent of Police Crime Branch, Kashmir, Javaid Koul told The Indian Express that the probe was initiated after the J&K government took a serious note of the “illogical surge in the price of tickets in our (Srinagar-Delhi/Srinagar-Jammu) sector” earlier this year and sought a probe. “The airlines aren’t cooperating despite several reminders. They are avoiding to hand over their records to us,’’ he said.
“The modus operandi is simple: these unauthorised ticketing agents book a large chunk of tickets without identifying the passengers. And as there is lesser number of tickets available in open market, especially online, the prices surge phenomenally. Subsequently, the ticketing agents sell these group tickets to individuals at higher price. The airlines allow the ticketing agents to identify the passengers at the last minute,” Koul explained.
Koul said they apprehend that this illegal practice is going on across the country and needs to be thoroughly probed. “It seems to be a secret agreement between two or more parties to limit open competition and gain an unfair market advantage,” he said, adding that the ticketing agents have to follow a procedure to identify passengers in a group ticket seven days or three days in advance. “They don’t do that. The ticketing agents sell their tickets after an artificial surge in price. It is only possible because the airlines accept it … ‘’ he explained.
12/07/19 Muzamil Jaleel/Indian Express

Thursday, July 11, 2019

InterGlobe Aviation counters Rakesh Gangwal’s claim

New Delhi: This was one of the main accusations that Rakesh Gangwal, co-founder, IndiGo Airlines, had made in his submission to SEBI late on Tuesday.
“Post the IPO, many of the RPTs have ceased to exist while others have been renewed on an arm’s length basis as part of the normal course of business,” the airline said in a media statement.
The statement adds that InterGlobe Enterprises and its Group Entities (IGE) Group has ensured that no entity of the group takes advantage under the RPTs. “Without exception, IGAL has received more favourable treatment from the IGE Group entities as compared to their other customers,” the statement said. It added that the materiality of the transactions for IGAL is not significant, as it was only 0.53 per cent of its consolidated turnover for fiscal 2018-19.
IGE and its founders (Rahul Bhatia and family) are one of the two promoters of IGAL, which owns and operates IndiGo.
Ronojoy Dutta, CEO, IndiGo Airlines, has told employees that the mission, direction and growth strategy of IndiGo Airlines remain “unchanged and firmly in place.”
His message came less than 24 hours after the war of words between Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia about corporate governance norms not being properly followed in the airline came out in the open.
11/07/19 Business Line

Lessons from the Indigo feud

The simmering conflict between the two promoters of IndiGo Airlines is out in the open.
Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal, two successful entrepreneurs who drew a dream script in 2006 to build India’s largest airline, are today at each other’s throats. Gangwal, who has a slightly smaller shareholding of 36.7% compared to Bhatia’s 38.3%, and does not have management control, has complained to market regulator SEBI that Bhatia and his InterGlobe Enterprises (IGE) have given governance norms the go-by and participated in shady transactions. Bhatia, on the other hand, has alleged that Gangwal’s charges are directed to shake off management control of InterGlobe, which was part of the terms of incorporation of the company.
It is sad to see that two promoters who did many things right in a tough, competitive industry, are now on the verge of throwing away what they built assiduously. From nothing in 2006, IndiGo today is the largest carrier in India with nearly 50% of market share. IndiGo got many things right - high ‘on-time’ efficiency, sensible logistics by opting for aircraft from only one manufacturer: Airbus; and early large fleet bookings, which it used to cash in through sales and lease back of aircraft.
Unfortunately, the promoters seem to have lost the plot of how to stick together when riding success. Feuds in families born with a silver spoon in their mouths are common. They’ve not had to work hard, and it is always easier to destroy inherited wealth. In this case, it’s been hard work; and so, the road map on how to protect the company from personal vagaries of the promoters should have been built in too.
11/07/19 New Indian Express

IndiGo can't fly high with fights in the cockpit

The co-founders of India’s No. 1 airline are engaged in a bitter feud. Their quarrel couldn’t have come at a worse time for minority shareholders of InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., the company that owns IndiGo.

Investors were just starting to enjoy the fruits of a frenetic expansion that saw the no-frills carrier, Asia’s largest, double its capacity in the three years through March. Full-cost rival Jet Airways India Ltd. tried to keep up until it was forced to ground its last plane in April under a truckload of debt. Meanwhile, InterGlobe has put together a cash war chest - net of debt - of nearly USD 2 billion.

This is the time for IndiGo to be rewarding shareholders by consolidating its leadership position and filling the gap left by Jet, especially on overseas routes. Instead, the founders are busy picking fights.
Rakesh Gangwal, a former CEO of US Airways Group Inc., has dashed off a letter to the Indian stock-market regulator alleging corporate-governance lapses. He says partner Rahul Bhatia, who owns 1 percentage point more than U.S.-based Gangwal’s 37 per cent stake, is dragging IndiGo into transactions with his other businesses, which are mostly housed under InterGlobe Enterprises Ltd. (IGE Group), without adequate auditing. The airline pays rent to IGE’s real-estate unit; the crew stays at hotels operated by Bhatia’s joint venture with Accor SA; pilots are trained at IGE’s flight simulator, a collaboration with Canada’s CAE Inc.; a Bhatia firm has also acted as a sales agent for IndiGo.
What amounted to USD 22 million of related-party transactions, for a carrier that took in USD 4 billion in annual revenue, doesn’t exactly smack of a governance scandal. Not at an airline that thrives on keeping its costs under control. Bhatia, for his part, wants to know why Gangwal is questioning the arrangements now when he “did not raise for 13 years a whisper.” The India-based partner says he took most of the economic risk when setting up the airline. Besides, Gangwal isn’t denying entering into a shareholders’ agreement that gives Bhatia control, including the power to nominate half of the six-member board and most of the top managers.
11/07/19 Andy Mukherjee/Bloomberg

IndiGo Shareholder Pact to Be Checked by Govt for Violations

The government will scrutinise a disputed shareholder pact between Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia, the founders of InterGlobe Aviation Ltd that runs India’s largest airline IndiGo, even as it will let the markets regulator look into Gangwal’s allegations of governance failure in the company.

If the government’s scrutiny leads to the conclusion that the shareholder agreement was in violation of the Companies Act, the agreement which gives certain special rights to a company controlled by Bhatia could get annulled, a person privy to discussions in the government said on condition of anonymity. Gangwal had in the recent past met senior officials in the government.
11/07/19 Quint

Air pockets ahead - IndiGo is walking in footsteps of Jet and Kingfisher

 India’s current number 1, IndiGo, is in the news for the wrong reasons. The rift in the airlines’ top management is out in the open and it is a no-holds-barred battle going on there. What started out as a tiff between two IndiGo promoters, has devolved into a full-blown public brawl.


India's IndiGo airline row makes case for clipping founders' wings

India’s favourite airline is flying into governance trouble. InterGlobe Aviation , or IndiGo, has grown into the country’s largest, most profitable carrier, accounting for about half the market. It has soared at a time when others, like practically defunct Jet Airways and loss-making Air India, have been dragged down by rock-bottom ticket prices. But the $9 billion outfit is now under a cloud of its own, as its founders spar over an old shareholder agreement handing one of them outsize control. It looks like a relic of bad governance past.

IndiGo shares lost as much as a fifth of their value on Wednesday, after the publication of lengthy bitter, conflicting letters from top owners Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia. Alongside affiliates, they hold 36% and 38% of the carrier, respectively. However, a pact, in place in various forms since the company’s inception, gives Bhatia’s bloc the right to appoint half the directors, the CEO, and to nominate the chairman, radically skewing the balance of power.

That’s causing friction as IndiGo expands at a blistering pace, flying abroad and placing multibillion-dollar aircraft orders. Gangwal wants the securities regulator to step in over related party transactions. He says the board backed by his co-founder has also refused an extraordinary general meeting, and is flouting market rules by designating a chairman nominated by a top shareholder as independent. Bhatia has previously denied wrongdoing and claims his partner is trying to force through changes to their original deal.
Perhaps so. Either way, a wider overhaul is overdue. The IndiGo pact is an egregious example of the type of agreements that the regulator should purge from listed companies, says IiAS, one of India’s top proxy advisers. Disgraced tycoons like beer baron Vijay Mallya have used similar deals to hold onto the top job for much longer than is in the interests of shareholders.
A clean-up now would be timely, given the market watchdog has just approved strict new rules to allow companies with differential voting rights to list, making such contracts outdated. Although dual-class options are currently aimed at technology companies, the regulator requires shares with superior voting rights to convert into ordinary ones within five years. That suggests any corporate agreements that indefinitely give one shareholder more rights over another require a rethink.
10/07/19 Zawya

Who are Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal? Here's all about the IndiGo promoters

Budget carrier IndiGo's promoters Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia have come into the limelight after a feud on issues related to violation of government regulations. Gangwal, a billionaire airline veteran, has blamed Bhatia for corporate governance lapses at the company through a letter to Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
Gangwal, a US citizen, started his career in the aviation industry by joining United Airlines in 1984. He then resigned as the senior vice-president to join Air France. He later joined US Airways as the chairman and CEO in 1996 and was there till 2001.
The 66-year-old has about 30 years of experience in the aviation industry. He was born in Kolkata in 1953 and went to the Don Bosco School. He received his engineering degree from IIT Kanpur and then moved to Wharton for his masters in business administration.
Gangwal met Bhatia while they were working for United Airlines in 1985. According to reports, the idea of starting an airline was discussed over dinner at Bhatia's house. As per an Economic Times report in 2016, Gangwal was not initially interested, he agreed at a later stage saying, "Look, you guys decide how much money you want to lose. I will work with you. I don't want any part of this business. I will give you all my knowledge or whatever experience I have. But once you have lost that money, shake hands and remain friends."
Bhatia had taken charge as IndiGo's interim boss after its CEO resigned in April 2018. The 59-year-old also has a presence in the hospitality industry, aircraft maintenance engineering, real estate, and the advanced pilot training industry. Born in 1960, Bhatia had received his Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Waterloo. He had then gained corporate exposure through IBM.
11/07/19 Chetan Priyadarshan/IBTimes

Deal with OEMs without Gangwal at helm hurt his ego: IndiGo co-promoter

New Delhi: A day after the dispute between IndiGo promoters came out in the open, an internal letter of co-founder Rahul Bhatia has claimed that Rakesh Gangwal's ego got hurt after the airline managed to negotiate large purchase order without the latter being at the helm. Upon his refusal to join in the company's ongoing negotiations with Original Equipment Manufacturers {OEMs), the company had proceeded to make alternate arrangements for the purpose. Bhatia said that this hurt Gangwal's ego.
"In hindsight however, the company will remain eternally grateful to Mr Gangwal for having attempted to hold the company's business to ransom (by purposely delaying the ongoing negotiations with OEMs), as this paved the way for the company to institutionalise an area of operations which Mr. Gangwal had kept as his exclusive preserve (to serve his far-sighted motive which has now become abundantly evident)," Bhatia wrote on June 12 to the Board of Directors.
Preferring CFM over Pratt & Whitney engines, IndiGo had last month placed order worth $20 billion for LEAP-1A engines to power 280 Airbus A320neo and A321neo aircraft. The airline's shift to CFM followed numerous technical glitches with Pratt & Whitney engines that led to frequent grounding of its aircraft.
Gangwal, a former US Airways CEO and an aviation veteran, is considered man behind the larger aircraft orders IndiGo has been placing since its incorporation.
IndiGo had in 2005 surprised the world by placing a mega order with Airbus. It committed to buy 100 A320 airplanes worth $6 billion at list prices. For a new airline, it was considered too big to believe.
11/07/19 IANS/Sify

Choosing CFM engines for A320 Neo over Pratt & Whitney may have been breaking point between Bhatia, Gangwal

New Delhi: IndiGo dumping Pratt & Whitney’s (PW) snag-prone engines for the Airbus A320 Neo aircraft (they are snag-prone only for A320/21 Neos and not other planes they are used on) may have been the breaking point for the airline’s feuding co-promoters Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal. From its inception in 2005, IndiGo has been mainly using PW engines and things were fine till the A320/21 new engine option (Neo) planes started arriving about three to four years back with PW’s new engines for this plane. After that like all airlines globally using this combo, including GoAir in India, IndiGo also faced constant troubles with PW engines on the Neo.

On June 17, 2019, IndiGo — the world’s largest customer for Airbus 320/21 Neo — announced it is opting for CFM engines over PW engines for this plane. The low cost carrier placed an order worth $20 billion for CFM’s LEAP-1A engines for 280 A320 and A321 Neo planes, making it the largest ever single engine order ever. CFM International is a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.

Five days before the order was placed, on June 12, Rahul Bhatia wrote to IndiGo’s board saying: “I have highlighted in previous correspondence that the genesis of Gangwal’s angst lies elsewhere — the refusal of the IGE Group to succumb to his unreasonable demands to dilute the IGE Group's controlling rights; and the hurt ego of Gangwal on realizing that upon his refusal to lend his hand in the company’s ongoing negotiations with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the company had proceeded to make alternate arrangements for the purpose.”

The OEM being referred to, say sources, is PW. Right from IndiGo's inception in 2005, Rakesh Gangwal was the man with expertise for placing aircraft and engine orders to build airline fleet given his over three decade experience in several US carriers. Bhatia was the partner that brought in travel knowledge of India and funds.
10/07/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Air India to be sold off, but will it stay in Indian hands? Check what Union minister said

The Modi 2.0 Government announced on Thursday that 'unsustainable debt burden' was the major reason for national air carrier Air India's downfall and the central government was fully committed to disinvestment of the national aviation company. Speaking on the matter Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said that as soon as the government has the provisional figures and the alternate mechanism for the disinvestment of Air India in substantive motion, the process of strategic disinvestment will be started.

"We believe the government`s scarce resources should be utilized in the other development scheme. And this is area privatization and disinvestment will work," said Hardeep Puri while replying to supplementaries in the Lok Sabha during the question hour. The Union Minister further said that privatisation of Air India was for the benefit of people and the government will do its best to ensure that the company is purchased by an Indian entity.

"It is not the government which has failed to attract passengers. Air India, in fact, is a first class asset. It has 125 planes. Half of them are flying in 40 international directions and 80 in domestic destinations. It is doing extremely well. The problem is that it has taken an unsustainable debt burden. It is servicing of that debt burden which is a problem," said Puri. The minister said the government was committed to the strategic disinvestment of Air India as NITI Aayog in its recommendations had given the rationale for the disinvestment of Air India and has referred to the fragile finances of the company, among various other reasons.

"It is for the benefit of the Indian citizens that the government has decided to privatise it," he said.
11/07/19 Asit Manohar/ZeeBiz

Government committed on Air India disinvestment but wants it to remain in India's hands

The government is committed to disinvestment of Air India but wants the national carrier to remain in Indian hands, Lok Sabha was informed on Thursday.

Responding to a series of supplementaries during Question Hour, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri also said though Air India is doing "extremely well", the debt burden on the carrier is "unsustainable".

Referring to the airline sector in the country, he said except in April when Jet Airways ceased functioning, the market growth has been on an average at 17 per cent per annum.

When Jet ended its operations, there were 540 aircraft with Indian carriers and the number now stands at 570-580 and new planes are being introduced every month.

Manish Tewari (Cong) wanted to know why the government was disinvesting Air India when it was dong well. Puri said the debt burden of the airline was a major reason the Centre wanted to disinvest it.

He said the previous attempt to disinvest the carrier could not succeed. But now the government has learnt lessons and mechanism will ensure the move this time.

He also said the government wants the airline to remain in Indian hands and the disinvestment mechanism will take care of the details.
11/7/19 PTI/Business Today

Air India suffers over 400 crore loss due to Pakistan airspace closure

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri on Thursday told Parliament that the closure of Pakistani airspace, in response to the Balakot airstrike by the Indian Air Force in February this year, has cost Air India approximately 430 crores.

In a written response, Hardeep Puri elaborated, Rerouting of Air India flights has resulted in an operating cost of approx 13 lakh per day as the flying time has increased by approximately 15 minutes.

The minister, however, assured Parliament that the burden of this increased operating cost has not been passed on to the passenger and there has been no fare increase, as a result.

Similarly, in response to the question asked by Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar and TMC MP Prof Saugata Roy, the government has informed Lok Sabha that while it has issued no advisory to Indian airlines to avoid flying over Iranian airspace after the recent US-Iran stand-off, in view of the advisory issued by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on 20.06.2019, all airlines in consultation with the Directorate General of Aviation (DGCA) have decided to avoid overflying areas of Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and Strait of Hormuz within Iranian airspace to ensure safety. 
11/07/19 Poulomi Saha/India Today

Vistara goes international as original global carriers Jet Airways, Air India run into turbulence

Amid Jet Airways grounding and talks of Air India divestment, the Tata-Singapore Airlines joint venture Vistara has gone international with its first flight bound to Singapore, Vistara announced in a statement. On the other hand, the original largest international players from India, Jet Airways and Air India, have been facing rough weather. Naresh Goyal-founded Jet Airways is now grounded following failure to pay dues, while Air India’s mounting debt takes a toll on regular operations. Domestic players IndiGo, SpiceJet and Vistara have gained ground, benefitting from the void created by Jet Airways and Air India. In fact, post Jet Airways grounding, SpiceJet, IndiGo and others have launched a multitude of international flights; Vistara is following the suit. It has also announced that the airline will expand its international destinations further.
Vistara sees Singapore as a crucial market, “given the opportunities it presents for corporate, business as well as leisure travel,” Leslie Thng, Chief Executive Officer, Vistara, said in a statement. Vistara also said that the airline views Singapore as a key addition to its network, as demand for travel to and from the country soars, complementing the rising trade, business and tourism.

Meanwhile, domestic carriers IndiGo and Air India also offer flights to Singapore from Delhi. In international airlines, the options are plenty — Air China, All Nippon Airways ANA, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Srilankan Airlines, China Eastern, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

For its foray in the international landscape, Vistara will fly its Boeing 737-800NG aircraft and is offering two-class cabin configuration (Business and Economy) to Singapore. The Singapore to and fro flights will be available from Delhi and Mumbai.
11/07/19 Prachi Gupta/Financial Express

Industrialists demand direct flight to Dubai

For the past five years, industrialists in the district have been demanding direct connectivity to Dubai or Kuala Lumpur, hubs for international flights, from where they can fly anywhere in the world. In 2014, they held a meeting with former aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju to request for the same. “We don’t mind any airline, including Air India, flying us directly to Dubai. Or we don’t mind a short stop in Chennai if we can complete immigration in Coimbatore and don’t have to collect our luggage and re-check it in,” president of Residents Awareness Associations of Coimbatore R Raveendran said. “But if Air India does not find it viable to operate a direct flight and neither does any other Indian private airline, what is the harm in allowing a foreign airline to do so? We just want connectivity,” another engineering product exporter A Karthik said.

Industrialists point out that none of the Kerala airports have such restrictions of allowing foreign carriers to operate routes that domestic carriers have already begun operations on. “All airports in Kerala, including Trivandrum, Kochi, Kannur and Calicut, have international carriers operating to UAE destinations,” said Raveendran. “The lack of a direct flight to Dubai and an early morning flight to New Delhi, makes us have to flyout from Kochi, Bangalore or Chennai to get a flight to Europe,” a garment exporter from Tirupur P Praveen said.
11/07/19 Times of India

Vistara to start international operations from August 6, to use ex-Jet Airways aircraft

Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, is all set to fly international from August, with the first flight to operate on the Delhi-Singapore route.

The full-service carrier will use ex-Jet Airways aircraft on its maiden international flight.

The youngest domestic airline will launch Singapore flights from Delhi starting August 6 and flights from Mumbai will commence from August 7. The bookings have already opened.
The airline will be using ex-Jet Airways Boeing 737-800 with two-class cabin configuration (business and economy) for the route. Introductory economy fares on Mumbai-Singapore route start at Rs 20,778 and those on Delhi-Singapore commence at Rs 21,877.

"Customers can also take convenient one-stop connections to and from several other Indian cities beyond Delhi and Mumbai, including but not limited to Amritsar, Chandigarh, Jammu, Lucknow, Ranchi, Raipur, Srinagar and Varanasi. The airline will soon expand its international network further to other destinations," Vistara said in a statement.
11/07/19 CNBC TV18

Etihad wants to participate in Jet Airways’ insolvency process

Etihad Airways has approached lenders on revival of Jet Airways, weeks after the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) approved the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) against the now-defunct airline.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline is learnt to have expressed its intent to participate in Jet’s resolution process, a source aware of the development said.

Meanwhile, lenders asked Etihad to look for a majority Indian partner and make a formal bid that will be finally vetted and approved by the NCLT.

The Hinduja Group is understood to be in talks with Etihad to prepare a formal bid for Jet Airways.

Sources aware of the developments further denied lenders have received any offer from the Tatas yet on purchasing assets of Jet after the airline went to NCLT.

Media reports have suggested that the Tata Group has plans to bid for some assets after the grounded airline was admitted for bankruptcy resolution.

NCLT on 20 June admitted State Bank of India’s plea to initiate insolvency proceedings against Jet, and sources suggest the committee of creditors (CoC) is expected to be constituted by July 16.
11/07/19  Mitali Salian/Financial Express

209 slots vacated by Jet Airways are lying unused at 31 airports: Government

A total of 209 slots vacated by the Jet Airways are lying unused at 31 airports across the country, according to the data shared by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

A slot is a date and time at which an airline's aircraft are permitted to depart or arrive at an airport.

The airports in Chennai have 34 unused slots, Indore 18, Guwahati 12 and Ahmedabad have 8 slots, the minister said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.

While Lucknow airport has 12 such slots, the airports in Jodhpur, Pune and Vadodara, have 10 slots each that are lying unused after being vacated by Jet Airways. At the airport in Kolkata, eight slots vacated by the beleaguered airline are currently lying unused, according to the data.

After the airline ran out of funds, it had shut down its operations on April 17 this year which led to a sudden rise in domestic and international airfares.
11/07/19 PTI/India Today

Fund-Raising An Internal Matter Of Jet Airways, Government Has No Role: Aviation Minister

The Central government on Thursday ruled out raising funds for the beleaguered Jet Airways and asserted that its revival was now possible only under Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

"Each airline prepares its business plan on the basis of its own market assessment and liabilities. Mobilizing financial resources and ensuring efficient operations as per business plans are the responsibilities of the airline," Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri informed the Lok Sabha.

"The government has no role in raising funds for Jet Airways (India) Limited, as it is an internal matter of the airline," he added.

In a written reply, the Minister said that the State Bank of India has filed an application under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, which has been admitted by National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Mumbai, to work out a resolution plan under the said code.
"Revival of the airline is now possible only under IBC," he said.
Responding to supplementaries in the lower house on the issue, Mr Puri said that providing facilities to the public was a concern for the government, but it does not make the "business model" for private airline operators.
"They conduct their own business. They have agreements. They take loans. It is not for the government to step in," he said adding that the government had no intention of stepping into private airline operators.
He said Jet Airways reported aggregated losses during the last few quarters which eroded its liquidity and jeopardised its ability to sustain its operations.
11/07/19 ANI/NDTV

Suspension Of Jet Airways' Operations Led To Marginal Hike In Airfare: Government

The government on Thursday said that the suspension of Jet Airways operations led to reduction in capacity in the domestic sectors, which resulted in a marginal hike in airfares, reported new agency Asian News International (ANI). "Meetings were held to sensitize the airlines in this regard," Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri was quoted as saying in the ANI report. "Monitoring of airfare was started by DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) on certain routes, selected on a random basis to ensure that the airlines do not charge airfares outside the range declared by the," he said.
"During monitoring it was observed that airfares remained within the fare bracket established. Subsequently, due to induction of more aircraft by the domestic airlines and resultant capacity increase in the domestic sectors, fares have been observed as normalized," he said.
Mr Puri further said that as per the prevailing regulations, airfares are neither established nor regulated by the government. "All scheduled domestic airlines are required to display route-wise and category-wise fares on their respective websites in compliance to the regulations," he said.
Domestic air passenger traffic in May increased by 2.96 per cent after a slump in April, according to the data released by aviation regulator DGCA in June. In April, domestic air passenger traffic had dropped by 4.5 per cent over the same period last year. Suspension of operations by Jet Airways on April 17 due to lack of funds was considered to be one of the primary reasons why domestic air traffic saw a fall in that month.
11/07/19 NDTV

Travel to Chennai gets convenient with introduction of base flight

Coimbatore: After a gap of five months, a base flight has returned to the Coimbatore International Airport.
Earlier this month, Indigo Airlines decided to base one of its flights in Coimbatore, from where it will fly to Chennai in the morning and back from the metro the same night. It will be parked in the airport for nearly 12 hours.
Besides providing another morning flight option for many frequent fliers from the city, the base flight helps in creating job opportunities in mechanical and aeronautical sectors in the long term.
For a little over a week, Indigo Airlines has been operating a flight to Chennai that departs at 8.55am from Coimbatore and lands at 10.30am. They have also introduced a return flight which departs from Chennai at 8pm and lands in Coimbatore at 9.10pm.
An airport official said, “We will get to charge the airline a parking fee because parking for more than three hours is chargeable.”
“However, they are unlikely to benefit from the VAT concession because their flight leaves after 7am and returns well before 11pm, other criteria for the concession,” he said. “It may get tweaked later,” he added.
Despite the technicalities, Coimbatorians are delighted to get a new flight that departs in the morning and returns in the night at a comfortable hour.
Tanvi Shah, a home baker caterer, said, “With a departure at 8.55 am, it is adequate to leave from your home or hotel at around 7-7.15am. When you land at 9pm, we get to reach home by 10pm, making it easier for us to find affordable cabs. You get to reach just as business hour starts and return after finishing your workday.”
11/07/19 Pratiksha Ramkumar/Times of India

DGCA suspends two AirAsia India pilots for violations

New Delhi: Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has suspended flying licences of two pilots of AirAsia India for violating procedures that caused damage to the wing sharklet of an aircraft, according to a senior official.

The left hand wing sharklet of an A320 aircraft that was to fly to Bengaluru was damaged while negotiating a turn from the runway at Bagdogra airport on February 15.

A sharklet is a wing-tip device that helps improve aerodynamics of an aircraft as well as reduce fuel burn.

The official told PTI that two pilots of AirAsia India -- M Indra Gandhi and Vishal Agarwal -- have been suspended for violating laid down procedures.

The six-month suspension for the two pilots would be effective from February 15, the date of the incident, the official added.
11/07/19 PTI/India Today

Delhi HC dismisses Subramanian Swamy's plea to stay grant of international flying permit to AirAsia India

The Delhi High Court today dismissed an application filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking a stay on granting AirAsia India permission to fly internationally.

The Court, however, directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to file its status report in the ongoing probe into the allegations of  irregular Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance granted by the Centre to AirAsia (India) Pvt. Limited in a sealed cover.

The application is part of his petition challenging the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted by the Centre to AirAsia (India) Pvt. Limited.

After hearing Swamy and AirAsia India, a Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar refused to allow the application.

"...we are not inclined to grant the stay prayed for...the application is dismissed", the Court said as it listed the writ petition for final disposal.

"We want to understand the modus operandi of the investment", Justice Patel remarked before adjourning the matter.

The Court also took note of an interim order passed by the Court on February 11, 2014, declining a similar relief to Swamy on the ground that the Court did not have the power to judge an economic policy of the government.

Swamy had sought a stay on the consideration of AirAsia India's application for international operation on the ground that since the challenge to the legality and validity of the principal licence to operate domestic flights in India is sub-judice, the licence to fly internationally should not be granted.
11/07/19 Aditi Singh/Bar & Bench

Calicut Airport gets DGCA notice for 'safety concerns'

New Delhi: Continuing its recently-ordered crackdown on shortcomings at airports and airlines, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday issued a show-cause notice to Calicut airport after an audit last week revealed some “significant safety concerns”. These include “excessive rubber deposits” — something that can be dangerous for safe landings in the heavy rains that Kerala is witnessing by reducing friction — apart from finding cracks and stagnating water on parts of the runway. The regulator has given given 15 days to Airports Authority of India (AAI) to reply to this notice.
An AAI spokesman said: "It's true that DGCA has served a show cause notice based on their findings in the recent inspection. At Calicut airport, runway friction is being maintained at a higher value as per DGCA requirement. We have procured exclusive rubber deposit removal vehicles costing 5.5 crores. The vehicle is being deployed regularly. "

"However we respect the DGCA observation and will correct those small patches where the rubber deposits have been reported. Runway slopes are as per standards and drainage are cleared during pre-monsoon preparedness. However, due to extensive monsoon, there were some erosion and shallow water stagnation on the side strip. It's not on the runway. Corrective actions are planned and we are looking for a dry spell to act. It is assured that the safety aspects are given utmost importance and we recently got our license renewed after ensuring the standard requirements of the regulator."

The notice is learnt to have pointed out more than permitted slope in certain parts of the operational areas and the regulatory team also found cracks at aircraft stand (number 11) apart from a 111-metre-long damaged portion of apron surface. “The digital met display DIWE (distant indication wind equipment) installed for runway (10) is found unserviceable and is under Notam (notice to airmen) for several days which is not in compliance with mitigation measures,” the notice is learnt to point out.
11/07/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

What will happen to my JPMiles?

Recently, the Indian international airline, Jet Airways, has been a frequent in the news after it halted all flight operations indefinitely on April 17, 2019. The news was an upset for many, especially JetPrivilege (JPPL) members - the airlines' frequent-flyer program (FFP) that provides JPMiles (reward points).

The recent print campaign by JPPL, however, does not seem to answer the frequently asked question of how safe the JPMiles that the members collected are.
A JetPrivilege member earned JPMiles whenever they flew with Jet Airways (till it was in business), Etihad Airways or any of the 25+ airline partners. They can also earn the virtual currency by transacting with any of the 150+ program partners across categories like banking, hotels, retail, and dining.

JetPrivilege was introduced by Jet Airways in 1994. It was hived off as an independent entity in 2014 after Etihad Airways PJSC bought its 50.1 per cent stake. Etihad owns a 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways.

As per reports, after Jet Airways announced that it would suspend all operations, JPPL issued a statement saying that the value of their members' JPMiles are secure and remain intact.

"With our air reward offering, 'Select Flights', members have the choice to redeem their JPMiles to fly free across more airlines, any destinations, any flights and any seats in India and globally, starting with the same JPMiles requirement as before which was applicable on Jet Airways and its partner airlines," JPPL said.
11/07/19 Ananya Pathak/afaqs!

HC asks CBI to file report on alleging lobbying by AirAsia to get international flying rights

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Thursday asked the CBI to file a report relating to alleged lobbying by AirAsia India while trying to get international flying rights in violation of foreign investment norms and dismissed a plea by BJP leader Subramanium Swamy seeking interim stay on the airline's application.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar directed the agency to file the report in a sealed cover and listed the matter for final disposal on September 26.

The court said: "We are not inclined to grant the stay prayed for..." and dismissed Swamy's application in which he has sought a stay on the AirAsia India's plea for an international permission/licence to fly internationally.

The application was filed in a pending petition challenging the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted by the Centre to AirAsia (India) Pvt Ltd.

The court noted that an interim order was passed in February 2014, declining a similar relief to Swamy on the ground that the court did not have the power to judge an economic policy of the government.

In the other application seeking to know the status of the investigation in the criminal case, Swamy has said he had sent a complaint and letters to the CBI in March and July, last year regarding the investigation against AirAsia for alleged criminal breach of trust and misappropriation.

The plea said as per media reports, the CBI has been probing AirAsia India Pvt Ltd in connection with the alleged corruption in attempts to get an international operation clearance from the government.

Besides CBI, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has lodged a money laundering case against some of the officials of AirAsia in the matter.

The application said the investigation conducted by the CBI was very relevant and crucial for adjudication of this petition since it has raised questions on the decisions and issues which are being probed by the agency.
11/07/19 PTI/Times of India

Koloane “name dropped” to speed up Gupta’s AFB Waterkloof flight clearance

The final day of submissions into the Gupta touchdown at Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof six years ago at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry produced a surprising turnaround with a former head of state protocol admitting he “name dropped” to speed up flight clearance requests to the base.
Bruce Koloane, currently South Africa’s ambassador to The Netherlands, continued testimony to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, having been on the stand the previous day. After listening to recordings of telephone conservations ahead of the Jet Airways flight, carrying a Gupta wedding party, he made what media have termed a ”startling turnaround”.
He testified that “having listened also to the recording, I would like to admit that indeed I did what has now become popularly known as name-dropping and used those sentences merely to push officials, who were supposed to process the flight clearance, to do their job and do the processing”.
City Press reports him admitting it was abuse of his portfolio (at the Department of International Relations and Co-operation [DIRCO]) to allow the Guptas to land at the military air base in Centurion.
When Koloane was asked by the Commission chairman to respond to allegations set out by the DIRCO disciplinary committee he faced a month after the April 2013 landing, he pleaded guilty to charges relating to abuse of power in helping to facilitate the landing.
10/07/19 defenceWeb

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Japan in race to make India aviation hub

New Delhi: Japan, rather than the US, is in the race to be the first country to take advantage of the Union Budget’s thrust into making India an aviation hub, said sources.

Japan’s aviation investment intentions in India centre around an amphibious aircraft US-2 produced by ShinMaywa company. Its appeal lies in its pitch for bagging the order — complete manufacturing of the aircraft in India, training of Indian aviation engineers and shifting of some of the company’s production for Boeing and Airbus to India.

There will be clarity to the eight-year-old deal by the time President Ram Nath Kovind visits Japan in October to attend the coronation ceremony for the new Emperor. A summit meeting between PMs Narendra Modi and Abe Shinzo two months later could take the project closer to fruition.
The nub is India will have to invest close to Rs 15,000 crore in the manufacturing facility, but the Japanese have assured that exports to other countries should make up for the initial investment.

Japan is keen on stepping up its military ties and export of defence hardware to friendly countries to increase its independent security profile in view of the lack of confidence in the US security umbrella. It has already sold offshore petrol vessels to the Philippines and Indonesia and offered submarines to Australia. For India, the offer of US-2 goes beyond a simple military sale of equipment. Of the 15 US-2 aircraft, three will be wholly manufactured in Japan but the next five will be made in India with Indians as apprentices. The next six aircraft will be wholly made in India by Indian engineers.
09/07/19 Sandeep Dikshit/Tribune

Giving wings to aviation sector

The usually-ignored aviation sector found considerable mention in the Budget speech. Air India will be put on the block again, FDI in aviation could be opened up further, and the government will take steps to catalyse the growth of aircraft financing and leasing, and the MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) industry in India. These are welcome announcements and if implemented well, could give a boost to the struggling sector.
-Budget promises Air India sale and other reforms, but specifics are awaited, says Business Line editorial >>

Not Just Air India, Govt is Unable to Sell its Attractive and Profitable Ground Handling Arm Too

New Delhi: The government is preparing to initiate strategic disinvestment of Air India (AI) once again, after an earlier attempt at a sale had bombed. At that time, not a single bid was received for the airline.

The biggest roadblocks to AI sale include the remaining debt on its books, even after roughly half the debt has been transferred to a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). Its accumulated losses exceeding Rs 50,000 crore and nervousness among potential investors about the government wanting to again hold on to a minority stake in the airline are other irritants. But after the first attempt at AI sale had bombed, the government had gone ahead and initiated the sale of AI’s profit-making, ground handling subsidiary in February this year. A preliminary information memorandum (PIM) for the sale of Air India Air Transport Management Ltd (AIATSL) had been issued then.
However, the process for AIATSL remains stuck. An official close to developments said potential investors asked a number of queries as part of the sale process and these were yet to be answered. The PIM has seen five corrigenda, the last one being issued last month. This one pushes the date of completion of the process to the end of August versus April initially.

The official quoted above said concerns over the status of AIATSL remained even as the government had not moved to initiate a similar sale of AISATS, the separate ground-handling joint venture of AI with SATS of Singapore.
“First of all, why did the government want to offload a profit-making arm of Air India, when the airline itself remains unsold? This question begs an answer. Second, what will be the status of AIATSL? It is currently a subsidiary of AI. Will it remain a subsidiary after its own disinvestment? What will be its status if the airline (AI) is divested first? These fundamental questions remain,” the official said.

10/07/19 Sindhu Bhattacharya/News18

‘Crumbling’ airport colony to get seven new buildings, move

Mumbai: Following a series of possibly life-threatening incidents that involved portions of their flats collapsing in them, residents of New Airport Colony in Vile Parle that houses senior officers and staff of the Mumbai airport can now breathe a sigh of relief.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) on Wednesday
launched a Rs 105-crore project to construct seven new buildings.
AAI Chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra and MIAL Planning Director Charudatta Deshmukh laid the
foundation stone for the first phase that will involve the construction of two blocks comprising 161flats. To be built at a cost of Rs 42 crore, work will commence immediately after the monsoon and will be completed in 18 months.
In total, the seven buildings will make available 488 housing units and will be developed by MIAL.
The new constructions have come as a huge relief to AAI officers who reside in the almost 60-yearold colony. Despite complaints of ceiling and portions of walls collapsing or developing major cracks, AAI could not opt for redevelopment or new construction due to issues over land demarcation with the MIAL ever since the airport was privatised.
“We will continue to handle the air navigation services not only for Mumbai airport but also for upcoming Navi Mumbai international airport. So, we will require a lot of people to be posted in Mumbai. Currently, around 500 people are working in air navigation systems, and (with the new airport) another 600-650 will work in Mumbai region in two years’ time,” Mohapatra said.
10/07/19 Satish Nandagaonkar/Mumbai Mirror

Tourists Snapped Sleeping on Airport Floor in India Irks Netizens

New Delhi (Sputnik): Twitterati were left flabbergasted to see the state of affairs prevailing at an airport in the Indian state of Goa, thronged by thousands of tourists from across the world.

A large number of tourists from all over the world come to Goa, India via Dabolim International Airport, but some might be coming for the wrong reasons.

People took to social media to express their shock and dismay after snapshots of travellers sleeping on the floor or enjoying a nap near the airport’s departure zone, went viral online.
A section of the netizens felt the sight was reminiscent of a railway station, with footwear scattered all around the airport and luggage piled up in heaps.

The outrage prompted the airport authorities to issue instructions and promise this would not happen again.

A journalist Tweeted to share the embarrassment and said, it’s time to take tourism more seriously in the coastal State of Goa, the favourite Indian getaway for westerners.

​“We share your concern. This is a one of a kind incident and was noted with due concern. The instructions to the concerned departments have been issued; to be more watchful and we ensure it will not reoccur,” said Gagan Malik, Goa airport director.

​Others came to the support of the people sleeping on the floor, saying it was an issue of poor infrastructure and lack of public transport in the state.
09/07/19 Sputnik

Will Indian airlines rise up to the Third Quarter challenge?

The capacity crisis in Indian skies was short lived. From overcapacity is killing airlines due to undercutting of fares to there is under capacity in India and airlines have hiked fares was very quick.

The argument was aided by an unfortunate event — the suspension of Jet Airways. While there is no evidence to prove that Jet Airways fall was a result of capacity, the principle of survival of the fittest played a huge role in the fall of the airline, amidst capacity addition (dumping?) by low-cost carriers.

The fall of Jet Airways had started in third quarter of last financial year, exactly this quarter last year when the airline reported a loss of Rs 1,297 crore. It was also the quarter when IndiGo posted a loss of Rs 652 crore.

World over, airlines adjust capacity to demand. A very popular way of planning for airlines, especially in Europe and North America. Unfortunately, the same is yet to take roots in India.

Indian airlines have gone full cylinders on when it comes to induction and data released by Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for the last four years shows that there has been a fall in passenger numbers in the July – September quarter and rarely has this been matched by airlines with a dip in capacity, leading to emptier seats and pressure on yields culminating in lower profitability or losses, as was the case last year.
Airlines tend to get into a vicious cycle, going by the trend. An airline or airlines put together to add capacity in the market, in a quarter which is traditionally week and seen a dip in passenger numbers.

To fill up the additional seats, there is discounting. While this attracts passengers, they are the lowest yielding passengers who may not help recover the cost of operations. Going by the data, it is clear that even discounting would not have helped since there has been a dip in numbers which is far worse than remaining steady at best.
10/07/19 Ameya Joshi/CNBC TV18

Jewar airport: Authorities to resolve queries of bidders on July 15

Noida: A pre-bid conference would be held on July 15 in Greater Noida to address queries of bidders interested in an upcoming international airport at Jewar in Uttar Pradesh, officials said Wednesday.
A global tender was floated by the Noida International Airport Limited (NIAL), an agency formed by the UP government for managing the mega project in Gautam Buddh Nagar district, on May 30 to hire a developer for the proposed airport.
"14 concessionaires have been selected for the bid including Indian as well as foreign companies who have expressed interest to join as developer for the airport. "The pre-bid conference would be held on July 15 wherein their queries related to the bid document, terms and conditions would be clarified," said Shailendra Bhatia, officer on special duty of the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA).
The pre-bid conference would be held at India Exposition Mart in Greater Noida on July 15 at 12 pm, he added.
10/07/19 PTI/Economic Times

Shirdi airport's prospects soar as Maharashtra govt okays development plans

With the Shirdi airport witnessing more number of flights and footfalls, the state government has cleared the decks for the extension of the runway, construction of a new terminal building and operationalisation of night-landing facilities. The airport, which connects Maharashtra's temple town of Shirdi and famous for the shrine of spiritual guru Sai Baba, has seen 5,744 flight operations and 4.10 lakh passengers since it was operationalised on October 1, 2017, to June 30 this year.

Senior state government officials said the over 350-hectare facility at Kakdi in Kopargaon near Shirdi has elbowed out older airports like Aurangabad, Nanded, Kolhapur and Nashik to emerge as the fourth busiest in the state after Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. On an average, the airport caters to 22 flights a day, including 11 takeoffs and 11 landings from cities like Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

"We will float a tender in a month for the construction of a new terminal building at Shirdi. The work is expected to be completed in a year-and-a-half. This will increase the capacity of the facility to handle passengers to 1,000 per hour, from the present 300 (150 arrivals and departures each)," said Suresh Kakani, managing director of the state-owned Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation (MADC). On Wednesday, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis held a board meeting of the corporation.
Kakani said night-landing facilities would be launched at the Shirdi airport in around two months. This will allow the airport to cater up to 40 flights daily, he noted. The MADC will also extend the runway length to 3,200 metres from the present 2,500 metres.
10/07/19 Dhaval Kulkarni/DNA

Two more CH-47F (I) Chinook helicopters join Indian Air Force

Two new CH-47F (I) Chinook helicopters joined the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Monday. India has bought 15 Chinook and 22 AH-64E Apache helicopters from the United States of America's defence and aviation major Boeing. India is also purchasing six AH-64 Apaches for the Army.
The first four CH-47F (I) Chinooks had landed at Gujarat's Mundra airport on February 10, 2019. IAF will receive a massive boost in its strategic airlift capability with the advanced multi-mission Chinooks joining its fleet. Chinooks will be based at IAF's Chandigarh air base to take care of the supply line to Siachen glacier and the Line of Actual Control with China in Ladakh.
After India signed the deal with the US for Chinooks, four IAF helicopter pilots and a similar number of flight engineers sent to Delaware, USA for training by Boeing for operating them. The first Chinook was officially handed over to India on February 2, 2019, during the 'India-Chinook Transfer Ceremony' at Boeing's facility in Philadelphia.
According to Boeing, the CH-47F (I) Chinook will give the IAF "unmatched strategic airlift capability across the full spectrum of combat and humanitarian missions". "The Chinook has unsurpassed ability to deliver heavy payloads to high altitudes and is eminently suitable for operations in the high Himalayas. The aircraft has been battle-tested in diverse, extreme conditions throughout the world, and has proven capability to operate in the wide range of conditions that typify the Indian subcontinent," Boeing said after the helicopter was handed over to India early in 2019.
09/07/19 Tanweer Azam/ZeeNews

Arun Kumar appointed as head of Directorate General of Civil Aviation

Arun Kumar, additional secretary in the Ministry of Civil Aviation, was on Tuesday appointed the Director General of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Kumar was leading the DGCA as an additional charge between May 31 and July 9 but an order issued by the ministry on Tuesday means that he will now serve as full-time head of aviation regulator DGCA.

According to an official order, Kumar's appointment as Director General in DGCA in the rank and pay of Additional Secretary has been approved by the  Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. Kumar is an IAS officer of 1989 batch of Haryana cadre. He will succeed B S Bhullar as the new chief of DGCA.
Bhullar is an IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre and in December 2016, he was appointed the full-time DGCA chief. Bhullar was leading the DGCA as additional charge in between June 2016 and December 2016. His main role in the same period was to discharge his duties as additional secretary in the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
09/07/19 ZeeNews

Measures being taken to counter threat of drones: Government

New Delhi: There have been a few instances abroad of drones being used target the public and some official establishments, the government said on Tuesday, asserting that it is taking necessary action to counter the threat of these aerial vehicles.
Union minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy informed the Lok Sabha that in order to counter the threat of drones in the country, necessary measures are being taken by the Centre and state governments in consultation with security agencies.
"A few instances have come to notice of use of drones to target government establishments and public in other countries," he said in a written reply.
09/07/19 PTI/Times of India

Passenger dies as ‘overbooked’ AI refuses him boarding pass

Family waiting with an ambulance at Mangalore to take him to hospital will receive his coffin today. A wheelchair-bound 49-year-old, on his way to Mangalore to see a doctor for a spinal cord injury, died at the Mumbai airport on Tuesday morning after Air India did not allow him to board a flight the previous day saying it was “overbooked” and checked him into a hotel overnight.
 William Fernandes, a father of two, who worked as a nurse in Tel Aviv, had flown down especially to seek treatment for the injury as it had begun to impact his leg. His family was waiting with an ambulance at the Mangalore airport to take him to a hospital. According to Arun Fernandes, who was William’s room-mate in Tel Aviv and travelled with him, he did not complain of any discomfort when they were leaving the hotel in the morning for the airport.
 “I went looking for a wheelchair at the airport for him. But by the time I came back, he had collapsed in the car,” said Arun, who also works as a nurse in Tel Aviv. Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) doctors checked William and found no pulse. A post-mortem carried out at Cooper hospital could not conclusively state the cause of the death and the hospital has sent some samples to a lab at JJ Hospital for histopathological tests.
 The family on Tuesday tried to lodge a complaint of negligence against the airline, but the formalities could not be completed till late evening because of some documents they did not have. The body will be flown to Mangalore on an Air India flight on Wednesday morning. William, who was part of five Indian men taking care of old and infirm in Tel Aviv for the past 11 years, met with an accident sometime last year that injured his back.
In the past few weeks, he began experiencing excruciating back pain and complained of partial loss of mobility in his legs. Tests revealed he had damaged his 6th, 7th, and 8th vertebrae and would have to undergo surgery. Since the surgery was turning out to be an expensive proposition in Tel Aviv, the family decided to have it carried out in Mangalore. Since the pain was debilitating, the family decided to take him directly to a hospital from the airport in Mangalore.
 According to Arun, they landed in Mumbai at 7.30 am on Monday and their connecting Air India flight to Mangalore was at 10.25 am. “We reached the counter at 8.30 am. They checked in our bags, but kept us waiting for boarding passes,” he said. The airline later told them that the flight was overbooked and offered to fly them to Goa, from where, it was suggested, they could take a car to Mangalore. “Given William’s condition, it was a ridiculous offer,” said Arun. Incidentally, many flights were affected on Tuesday morning as operations were suspended for 19 minutes at Mumbai airport between 9.12 am and 9.31 am due to heavy rains. Air India on Tuesday said their records do not reflect any intimation from the passenger about a medical emergency.
A spokesman said overbooking is an accepted aviation industry practice to cover for no-shows. “Only those arriving at the last moment are not allowed to board,” said a spokesman. Arun, however, said William was in a wheelchair and that should have been reason enough for the airline to prioritise his boarding. He also said that the airline did not, at any point, ask for medical documents. Arun denied that they reached the counter late.
“We landed at 7.30 am and we were at the Air India counter at 8.30 am. Our flight was at 10.25 am. How is that late?” he asked. Kevin Rekhy, a family friend of William, said there was a clear lapse on the part of the airline. “When someone is in a wheelchair and pleading that he needs to go for a medical check up on landing, what more proof is required. Also, they reached the counter well in time. We will ask for CCTV footage. The airline has a lot to answer,” he said. 10/07/19 Satish Nandgaonkar/Mumbai Mirror

ATC averts aircraft collision on runway at SVPI airport; 250 were on board

Ahmedabad: A possible collision between two aircraft on the runway at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) Airport here was averted on Tuesday evening due to prompt action of the air traffic controller (ATC). More than 250 passengers were on board the two flights, said a source at the city airport.
A well-placed source confirmed that when a certain flight was given clearance for take-off and began to roll on the runway, another Jaipur-bound SpiceJet flight, SG-2988, crossed the holding point of the runway from the other end. The flight which was already rolling for take-off was instructed to stop immediately by the air traffic controller. The incident has also been reported to the aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Narrating the sequence of events, a source said, “A certain flight was given take-off clearance and it had already begun rolling on the runway. Meanwhile, an aircraft operated by SpiceJet, was given instructions by the air traffic controller to go up to the holding point (on the other end of the runway towards which the other flight was rolling).”
10/07/19 Times of India

Trivandrum airport may stay under Kerala’s wings

Thiruvananthapuram: The state is most likely to get the operational rights of the Trivandrum International Airport, which the Central Government had decided to privatise along with five others in the country.

Sources told Express that a formal understanding in this regard has been reached at the secretary level. The state government has suggested the formation of a committee headed by the chief secretary to work out the modalities.

Trivandrum International Airport Limited (TIAL), the special purpose vehicle formed to bid for the airport, is likely to be entrusted with the task of running it. The new committee is likely to take a call on the company’s shareholding while the state government is likely to have stakes only in proportion to the investment it had made in the airport development over the years.

A consortium of companies to be included in TIAL will have crucial stakes. The number of companies is not known yet, but Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) which won the bid for the airport operation and the NRI businessman who had exerted pressure to keep the airport in state custody may have significant stakes.

Adani Enterprises cannot opt out of the race unilaterally as it was the winning bidder for the airport as withdrawal would invite forfeiting of its properties. Moreover, Adani Enterprises has interest to be part of the airport as it is currently developing the international multipurpose deepwater seaport at Vizhinjam, Thiruvananthapuram.
Meanwhile, the asset estimation conducted by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) as part of leasing out six airports to the winning bidder has come to light. The winner was told to make one-time upfront pay to AAI as reimbursement of the cost of existing capital assets.
10/07/19 Dhinesh Kallungal/New Indian Express

IndiGo flies into turbulence, investors must brace for a bumpy ride

The recent allegations of the Gangwal faction (RG group) against the Bhatia faction (IGE group), both promoters of InterGlobe Aviation Limited (IndiGo) with almost equal shareholding, revolved around three broad issues: (a) the Articles of Association (AoA) give the IGE group superordinate powers, (b) related-party transactions between IndiGo and the IGE group were not conducted in a transparent manner, (c) the board decided not to convene an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) at the behest of the RG group, even though they have the legal right to it. The mere suggestions of these—independent of which faction is correct—raises concerns over corporate governance standards at the board level.
Read Hetal Dalal's article in full >>

IndiGo co-founder turns to SEBI over alleged corporate governance violation

New Delhi: One of the co-founders of India`s largest airline IndiGo has alleged violation of corporate governance rules at parent company Interglobe Aviation Ltd and asked the securities regulator to intervene.

The move appears to indicate that a boardroom dispute is escalating after a report in May that the co-founders and two largest shareholders of India`s largest airline were at odds over its expansion.

In a letter to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), co-founder Rakesh Gangwal alleged the company`s board decisions were in defiance of governance protocols and laws.
SEBI, in its role as a stock market regulator, is empowered to protect the rights of investors in listed companies.

Co-founders Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia, along with their respective families, each control stakes of slightly less than 40 percent in the airline`s holding company, giving them both a major say in its strategy and plans.

"I have vigorously attempted for almost a year to persuade the company to shore up its governance standards, and all my attempts have been thwarted by the IGE Group," Gangwal said in his letter to SEBI, published on the Bombay Stock Exchange website.
10/07/19 Reema Sharma/ZeeNews

Slippery runway, debris make Chennai airport unsafe

Ongoing construction work that spills dirt and debris dangerously close to the runways and a common touchdown point at the intersection of the two runways gathering rubber from aircraft tyres have made the city airport unsafe.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), on Tuesday served a show-cause notice to the airport for inefficient upkeep of "critical parts". In spite of inspections by Airports Authority of India, drains are left open near the runways, stones and sand from construction work lie in piles, posing a risk to planes.

A recent DGCA inspection following a series of incidents at other airports found that runway friction was poor at the touchdown point where the main runway intersects the second runway. "This means planes can skid off the runway. It is dangerous if a plane veers off the runway like it has happened at many airports," said air safety expert Mohan Ranganathan. "Stones near runways mean inspections are tardy. There cannot be open drains."

A pilot said debris can be dangerous in other ways too. "They can get blown onto the runway and get ingested into engines while planes make the take-off run," he said. An airport source said work contractors who leave debris are never pulled up.

The main cause for poor runway friction is rubber deposits from aircraft tyres not being removed regularly. This problem is more likely at the area where planes touch down. The airport regularly issues a ‘notam’ (notice to airman) about poor friction at the Guindy-end of the main runway.

As the second runway is short (only 7,000ft of the 9,000ft is usable), the 12,000ft main runway is used more, even by smaller planes. The main runway, however, goes under maintenance twice a week, forcing planes on to the shorter runway.

Construction work has been happening at the airport and on the airfield for two years to straighten a taxiway and build new ones. After pulling down an old passenger terminal and an old airport building, digging is on for laying the foundation for a new building. Drains at the airport were recently desilted and deepened as part of flood prevention measures.
10/07/19 V Ayyappan/Times of India

New Air Routes Opened As Pakistan Airspace Remains Closed

The Independent Civil Aviation Authority has opened two new air routes for the flights between east and west Asia using Afghanistan’s airspace.

The first air route is newly-designed which crosses through China. The direction of the second air route has changed from Pakistan to Iran’s airspace and it has been approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization, head of the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority, Mohammad Qasim Wafaeezada, said.

The decision has been made as Pakistan’s airspace remains closed to commercial flights since February.

“First, the new air routes will provide the context for further regional connectivity. And second, it is a very short route for airlines such as Fly Dubai, Qatar Airways, Emirate Airways,” he said. “Considering the limitations and problems which we experienced with the closure of Pakistan’s airspace, the new routes will be alternative airways for flights crossing over Afghanistan space and will increase the civil aviation revenues.”

Statistics by the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority show that the number of flights crossing Afghanistan’s airspace has decreased by 95 percent following the closure of Pakistan’s airspace.

The statistics also indicate that Afghanistan has lost $27 million in civil aviation revenues since February. 

At least 300 to 500 airplanes were crossing Afghanistan’s airspace when Pakistan’s airspace was open but the number has reduced to 20 flights, according to statistics by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Afghanistan receives $700 from every flight which crosses its airspace, officials said. 

But the Kabul-New Delhi flights still need more time and charges if compared to the flights which crossed Pakistan’s airspace to reach India.
10/07/19 Haidarshah Omid/Tolo News

"Would You Blame Ratan Tata?" BJP Lawmaker Sneers At Karnataka Allegation

New Delhi: Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the BJP parliamentarian today scoffed at allegations that he had organized the special flight to Mumbai for rebel Karnataka lawmakers soon after they resigned on Saturday, plunging the Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition into a crisis. "Would you blame Ratan Tata if the MLAs (lawmakers) went on a Vistara flight," the Rajya Sabha member questioned on Wednesday.
"If travelling by a plane can bring down a government then everyone will use a plane, right? This was a chartered plane which has earlier been used by Congress leaders too. So instead of blaming the plane, they should blame instability of their coalition," Rajeev Chandrasekhar told NDTV.
"This is desperately grasping at straws. Somehow the Congress and the JDS want to lay the blame at the BJP's door. But the issue will now be resolved by the Supreme Court," he said.
Eleven lawmakers of the Congress and JDS were taken from Bengaluru to Mumbai in batches on the special plane. The lawmakers are currently at a five-star hotel in the financial capital and have refused to see Congress leader DK Shivakumar, who has been blocked by the Mumbai police from entering their hotel.
10/07/19 Deepshikha Ghosh/NDTV

‘LOOK, I’m losing weight’

It is not only human beings who are becoming weight-conscious. Global airlines too are concerned about shedding extra weight, albeit for different reasons — they want to fly longer; the less the weight on the aircraft, the longer the distances that they can cover in a single flight.

Airlines are looking to cut flab by reducing the weight of add-ons on a flight. Ashwini Phadnis reports >>

Despite cut in budgetary support, Air India can lap up space ceded by Jet Airways

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget for FY19-20 has drastically cut support for Air India (AI) to Rs 434 crore.

A report in Business Standard noted that this is the lowest in years, given that the NDA government invested Rs 24,306 crore in the national carrier from FY14-15 till FY18-19.

As per the Budget documents, the Centre gave the national carrier Rs 6,427 crore in FY17-18, the highest direct infusion. In FY18-19, Rs 7,000 crore was allocated to an incorporated special purpose vehicle (SPV) - Air India Asset Holding Company - for servicing loans.

The paper found that while Air India showed operational improvement in FY17-18 compared to FY14-15, the financial losses continued to be within the Rs 5,000 crore range for the main service and Rs 260 crore for sister service Alliance Air. Air India Express, which runs the Gulf route was the lone profit maker, from FY14-15 on to FY17-18, showing Rs 260 crore in the green, it added.

First CoC meet for Jet Airways insolvency next week

The first meeting of the committee of creditors (CoC) regarding the insolvency proceedings of Jet Airways is likely to take place early next week, sources told FE.

The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had on June 20 passed an order to initiate insolvency proceedings against the grounded airline following a plea filed by State Bank of India.

The first fortnightly report by the court-appointed interim resolution professional (RP) was submitted to NCLT on July 5.

The RP’s team will also publish the total claims accumulated against Jet this week, a person aware of the proceedings said. Creditors had to file their claims by July 4, but employees have been given time till July 24.

The CoC will likely include representatives from SBI, Punjab National Bank, IDBI Bank, ICICI Bank and Indian Overseas Bank, among others.

SBI dragged the airline to the insolvency court after lenders failed to find a buyer for a majority shareholding in the airline.
10/07/19 Anwesha Ganguly/Financial Express

SpiceJet technician dies in freak accident at Kolkata airport

Kolkata: A SpiceJet technician was killed after he got stuck between the hydraulic door flaps of the main landing gear of an aircraft during maintenance at Kolkata airport early on Wednesday, the airline said.

The hydraulic doors “inadvertently” got closed leaving Rohit Pandey trapped there, SpiceJet said in a statement. The landing-gear doors of the Bombardier Q400 aircraft had to be broken to rescue Pandey but he was declared dead, it said.

The accident happened at 1.45 am, according to an airport official. “Pandey was doing maintenance work in right hand main landing gear wheel well area of a Q400 aircraft which was parked in Bay No 32 at Kolkata airport on July 10. “Inadvertently, the main landing gear hydraulic door closed and he got stuck in between the hydraulic door flaps,” SpiceJet said. “The hydraulic doors were broken to rescue Pandey but he was declared dead,” it added.

A complaint on “unnatural death” was filed at Airport police station, a senior police officer said. A police team visited the spot where the accident happened, the officer said, adding forensic experts will now collect evidence. “Our officers have reached the spot. We are talking to other staffers of the airline who were present there. We are trying to understand whether it was a technical glitch or the result of someone’s callousness,” the officer said.
10/07/19 PTI/Business Line