Tuesday, June 25, 2019

UAE to revisit air services agreement with India in next 2 months

New Delhi: After nearly a year of demanding India revise its decade-old air services pact with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the country’s Ambassador to India Ahmed Abdul Rahman AlBanna on Monday said he expected talks to start within the next two months.

This will allow an increase in the number of flights between the two countries, which stand at 1,068 a week, with around 400 flights by UAE carriers and rest by Indian ones.

Emirates and Etihad Airways have over the past year continued to lobby India to allow them more flight slots, which won’t be possible until the 2007 pact is revised.

Back in October last year, the government had decided not to allow this after domestic carriers objected, saying their international plans would be hit. But with the sudden grounding of Jet Airways, India’s second-largest carrier, airlines from UAE, along with those from Singapore, Qatar, and China, have restarted lobbying for more fight slots.
“I’ve met Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and communicated the serious demand of UAE-based carriers to expand the pact, as we have spare capacity and are willing to grow. Both sides will meet very soon and revisit the agreement as well as the four sectoral agreements that are part of the main pact,” said AlBanna.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a roadshow showcasing Dubai Startup Hub. Emirati airlines have significant capacities in cargo, and lack of a revised pact hampers growth in cargo shipments as well, he hinted.
Currently, under the main pact, four sectoral agreements covering flights to and from the four major cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Ras al Khaimah in the Emirates, also remain active. Currently, 168,000 seats are shared by airlines from both nations in a week. But sources in the know said Emirati airlines would not settle for anything less than an additional 50,000 seats on the Dubai route and 15,000 seats on the Sharjah route.
25/06/19 Subhayan Chakraborty/Business Standard

IndiGo looking at 30% capacity growth; will take a cautious approach for international expansion plan: CEO Ronojoy Dutta

India's largest airline IndiGo is looking at a 30 percent capacity growth and half of it will cater to the international market, said the carrier's top official.
Besides this, IndiGo is exploring wide-bodied aircraft for international expansion while admitting that despite being dangerous they are inevitable, said a report in the CNBC TV18 quoting Ronojoy Dutta, the CEO of the no-frills carrier.
Saying that the country's domestic aviation market would continue to grow at around 14 percent, Dutta believes that IndiGo will not commit the mistakes that led to the decline of Jet Airways and said the budget carrier would take a cautious approach for its overseas expansion plan, the report said.

In May this year, the founders of the budget carrier — Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal — had locked horns over strategies and ambitions for IndiGo, the largest airline in the country by passengers carried and fleet size, with a 49.9 percent domestic market share.
Promoters hold about 75 percent stake in InterGlobe Aviation as per March quarter shareholding pattern on the BSE.
The reports of the spat between IndiGo's major promoters threw the employees of the airline into disarray besides pulling down the shares.
Later, Dutta had clarified that one of the co-founders of IndiGo had no plan to take control of the carrier.
25/06/19 First Post

We are learning from Jet Airways’ mistakes: IndiGo CEO’s take on Jet’s fatal move

Naresh Goyal-founded Jet Airways was too quick to jump in to acquire wide-bodied aircraft which “are inevitable but dangerous to implement at the present,” IndiGo’s Chief Executive Officer Ronojoy Dutta told CNBC TV18 in an interview. Speaking about the now-grounded airline and the aviation industry in general, Ronojoy Dutta said: “The airline is a very unforgiving industry and there are many paths to failure, only a few paths to success,” he said, adding that the Jet Airways is a good case study in that issue. While Jet was doing great when they focused on the narrow-bodied planes, its next step of deploying wide-bodied aircraft with a fragmented fleet was probably a mistake, Ronojoy Dutta told the news channel. Lots of money is lost very quickly when wide-bodied fleet is employed per trip, he added.

The CEO said that IndiGo is learning from the mistakes made by Jet Airways. The airline which eyes international skies for expansion will deploy narrow-bodied aircraft and the international plans do not include the wide-bodied aircraft, for now, IndiGo CEO told the news channel. “We will expand internationally but carefully, cautiously and will not make the same mistakes,” he added.

The recently-appointed top executive at IndiGo — India’s largest domestic carrier — also said that the airline has plans to go to neighbouring countries China, Myanmar and Vietnam. “We want to be a global player,” he said. Also commenting upon the aircraft pricing, Ronojoy Dutta said that in the aviation industry, buying aircraft at the right price is very important. Getting stuck with high-cost aircraft is an issue, Dutta said.

While Air India was expected to become the national airline and cater to international destinations as well, it has not shown promising results. “India does not carry its traffic. The international traffic is gobbled by Thai, Lufthansa etc. What Air India was supposed to do in being the national airline of India and carrying the international traffic, it has not worked,” Ronojoy Dutta said. IndiGo hence looks to step into that and expand its market share internationally, he added.
25/06/19 Financial Express

Mid-air scare on Hyderabad-Guwahati flight as man tries to pen door of aircraft

A Guwahati-bound Indigo flight (6E-462) that left from Hyderabad was forced to make an emergency landing in Bhubaneswar on Sunday after a passenger tried to open the main door of the plane while it was airborne. The incident took place early Monday morning and the passenger has been identified as 20-year-old Irshad Ali.

Following the ruckus, the flight, which had taken off from Hyderabad airport at 4.50 am, was diverted to Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneshwar and the passenger was handed over to police, according to ANI. According to reports, Irshad has mental health issues.

“Ali attempted to open the aircraft door during the flight, creating a mid-air scare. With the help of a few passengers and his co-passenger Abdul Karim, he was somehow restrained. The flight was then diverted to Bhubaneswar, where it landed at 6:10 am,” airport director SC Hota told Hindustan Times.

Abdul Karim, who accompanying Irshad, also got off the plane voluntarily in Bhubaneswar. Irshad works at an ice-cream parlour in Hyderabad. He was going to Guwahati after his mother had passed away on Saturday.

Police did not file an FIR against Irshad as he did not misbehave with any of the cabin crew.

“We verified his history and also interrogated him as to why he resorted to unruly behaviour onboard. He didn't misbehave with any cabin crew members. He was only impatient and was showing anxiety. He broke flight's safety rule for which he was punished as he was deplaned. So, no FIR has been registered against him,” inspector-in-charge (airport police station) Umakanta Pradhan told Times of India.

Irshad was taken to Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar as he showed signs of depression.
24/06/19 The News Minute

Now fly from Mumbai to Durgapur

New Delhi: In a boost to Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)-UDAN, SpiceJet on Tuesday launched a daily direct flight service between Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM) in Mumbai and Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport (RDP) in Durgapur, West Bengal. This was SpiceJet’s 13th UDAN destination. The airline operates 45 daily flights under UDAN scheme. This is for the first time Durgapur is connected by flights to the financial capital of India.

“Enhancing air connectivity to Durgapur and Asansol was a promise that we had made to the people and I am delighted to announce the commencement of daily non-stop flights connecting Durgapur (Andal) to Mumbai from June 25, 2019. The UDAN scheme, an excellent initiative of our Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has helped provide air connectivity to the remotest parts of the country and I am elated that people from Asansol/Durgapur and the region around will have direct connectivity to the country’s financial capital and easy onward connections to the rest of the country and abroad. It will enhance the ‘Ease of Living’ Doctrine of our Government by saving both time and money. I would like to congratulate and thank SpiceJet for honouring my request and making this flight possible,” Union Minister and MP from Asansol Babul Supriyo said.

“We are extremely delighted to launch our daily Durgapur-Mumbai flight. Known for its steel industries, Durgapur is an important destination for us in terms of enhancing connectivity for the state of West Bengal. The new flights will serve both the industrial cities of Durgapur and Asansol, hence, we see tremendous potential in this sector,” Debashis Saha, Associate Vice President – Regulatory and Government Affairs, SpiceJet said.

SpiceJet flight schedule: SpiceJet flight number SG 6354 will depart from Mumbai at 7.50 am and will arrive at 10.05 am. SG 6355 will leave Durgapur at 10.45 am and reach Mumbai at 1.05 pm.
25/06/19 Debjit Sinha/Financial Express

How Indigo, SpiceJet, GoAir benefitted from Jet Airways shutdown; latest data reveals all

The latest May 2019 domestic passenger data shows that, private carriers SpiceJet, Indigo and GoAir have benefited from the shutdown of Jet Airways operations. In May month, the domestic PAX rose by 3%, while market leader  IndiGo grew 23.2%, whereas SpiceJet (SJet) grew 23.6% and Go Air (GO) grew 31%. Interestingly, Ansuman Deb, Research Analyst at ICICI Securities said, “The impact would be even higher in the international segment.” According to Deb,  IndiGo would have higher total growth considering the several new routes it had launched in the international segment. Aggregate passenger load factor (PLF) improved significantly, with IndiGo, SJet and GO reporting 90.9%, 93.3% and 93.9% PLF, respectively, during May.

At present, the market share of Indigo stands at ~49%; while SpiceJet and Go Air witnessed market share increase to ~14.8%/ 11.1%, respectively.

“Jet market share redistribution to best benefit IndiGo and SJet,” said Deb.

What can we expect ahead?

Now that first quarter of FY20 is right around the corner, Deb says, “The effect of Jet shut down amidst seasonal strong demand should lead to strong earnings growth for IndiGo (combined effect of 30% capacity growth and 5% organic yield growth and additional systemic fare growth). The fare growth of Q4FY17 was 17% for IndiGo. With April and May being better than March, the fare momentum is expected to continue. SJet had limited window to sell the capacity received through Jet planes which should lead to limited fare growth.”

While overall FY20 outlook is still in favor of Jet Airways rivals, but the challenge would be in airfares which has spiked since past few months.
24/06/19 ZeeBiz

IndiGo says continue to eye international operations of Air India at right fleet, right price

IndiGo continues to be interested in international operations of Air India at the right price and with right fleet size, chief executive officer Ronojoy Dutta told CNBC-TV18 in an exclusive interview.

"At Air India, there are huge risks but also huge rewards. I believe the preliminary information memorandum will come in July. Hypothetically, if someone would be taking the domestic operations, then we would be interested in the international segment at the right fleet and the right price," Dutta told CNBC-TV18.

After failing to divest its 76 percent stake in national carrier Air India last year, the government is looking at another attempt to sell Air India in order to meet its divestment receipts.

"The history of mergers in the airline industry is not very great. Kingfisher Airlines bought Air Deccan, Jet Airways bought Sahara Airlines, neither of those turned out to be good investments. So, we're not going to rush into this, frankly. There's a lot of things that give us pause. There's the huge debt, thousands of crores sitting there. Buying aircraft at the right price is very important. Did they buy all the fleet at the right price? Or will we be stuck with high-cost aircraft, is an issue. So, these are all things to look at," Dutta said.

"But at the same time, is it attractive to say they fly to Heathrow, they have slots there. You get more slots in Delhi and Mumbai. You get traffic rights to many cities including the Middle-East, that's all very attractive. So, I think there are some rewards but a huge amount of risk," he added.

IndiGo had shown interest in buying Air India last year as well but it had clearly stated that it is only eyeing the international operations and was not keen to take over the domestic part.
25/06/19 Anu Sharma/CNBC TV18

Did not let tensions with Pakistan dictate our civil aviation: Air Chief

Gwalior: Civil aviation has a major role in the country’s economy and the Indian Air Force (IAF) did not allow tensions with Pakistan to dictate it, Air Chief Marshal (ACM) B.S. Dhanoa said on Monday.

“They have closed their airspace, that is their problem. Our economy is vibrant and air traffic is a very important part. You must have noticed that the Air Force did not stop civil air traffic.” Only on February 27, the Srinagar airspace was closed for 2-3 hours. “We did not allow tensions with Pakistan to dictate our civil aviation… ”

Following the IAF’s air strike on Balakot on February 26, Pakistan closed its airspace for civil traffic. In March, it was partially opened but flights to India are still forced to take longer routes.
24/06/19 Dinakar Peri/The Hindu

No replacement, AN-32 aircraft will fly in mountainous areas: IAF chief

New Delhi: Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa on Monday said the Indian Air Force (IAF) will continue to use transport aircraft Antonov AN-32 aircraft as there is no replacement at the moment.

"AN-32 aircraft will continue to fly in mountainous areas, we don't have any replacement," Dhanoa said while addressing a press conference in Gwalior.

He, however, added that the IAF has expedited the process to acquire new equipment including advanced line of aircraft, following which they will not be used in a critical role. It would then become just a routine aircraft that would be used for training.

Dhanoa's statement comes after an AN-32 aircraft crashed in a remote location in Arunachal Pradesh earlier this month with 13 personnel onboard. The bodies were recovered 17 days after the aircraft went missing from the radar.

The exact cause of the accident may remain a mystery as the Black Box, which stores vital flight data, was damaged in the crash. However, many have raised questions over the use of the old Russian-made turboprop twin-engine military transport plane.

Dhanoa, who was the chief guest at the event to commemorate 20 years of Kargil War, also recalled how integration of targeting pod, laser-guided bomb system for the iconic Mirage 2000 was done before the crucial Tiger Hill strike.

"Purpose of our attack has always been to show our resolve and capability, and the message has been given to the person who is being hit, on 2 Aug, 2002 the message was given to the person who was being hit as that person never returned," he said.
24/06/19 India Today

HAL has concrete orders to build Su30, LCA, Tejas and Chetak helicopters: Rajnath Singh

The HAL has concrete orders to manufacture Su30 MKI, Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Dornier, Advanced Light Helicopter, Chetak, Cheetal helicopters among others and defence services have paid the aerospace major Rs 8,140 crore in the last six months, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said June 24. Arrears of Rs 868.14 crore are outstanding with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for its contractors, he said.

"The present capacity available in HAL is adequate to fulfil the existing orders, projects in hand. Currently, HAL has firm orders to manufacture platforms like Su-30 MKI, LCA, DO-228 (Dornier), ALH, Chetak and Cheetal helicopters," Singh in a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

He said that as and when required the HAL borrows from banks to meet its working capital requirements.

Just before the polls, the Congress had launched an offensive against the government alleging that Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale fighter jet, overlooked the PSU and gave the offset contract to another private company.
24/06/19 Moneycontrol.com

SpiceJet Announces International Flights

SpiceJet has announced the launch of new flights on international routes. The carrier announced eight direct daily overseas flights from Mumbai and Delhi, according to a press release shared by the private carrier. The new flights will be operational on Mumbai-Riyadh-Mumbai, Mumbai-Dhaka-Mumbai, Delhi-Dhaka-Delhi and Delhi-Jeddah-Delhi routes. The private airline has announced an introductory all-inclusive fare starting at Rs. 14,227 on Mumbai-Riyadh, Rs. 12,263 on Riyadh-Mumbai, Rs. 10,677 on Mumbai-Dhaka, Rs. 10,732 on Dhaka-Mumbai, Rs. 9,276 on Delhi-Dhaka, Rs. 10,432 on Dhaka-Delhi, Rs. 16,290 on Delhi-Jeddah and Rs. 15,263 on Jeddah-Delhi routes.
The flights to Dhaka and Jeddah are effective from the last week of July while the flight to Riyadh will commence on August 15, 2019, noted SpiceJet.
"We are delighted to add Riyadh as our tenth international destination and add more flights to Jeddah and Dhaka thus providing our passengers with multiple flight options," said Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director, SpiceJet.
25/06/19 NDTV

Iran airspace restriction won’t add to flying time, fare for flights from Mumbai

Mumbai: Flight Movement to and from Mumbai are not expected to witness substantial delays or major increase in fares after all Indian airlines decided to avoid the Iran air space following geopolitical tensions between the US and Iran.

According to Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer (B2C) of yatra.com, “Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) announcement, made after consultation with all Indian carriers, to avoid the affected part of Iranian air space is likely to have only a slight impact on both schedules and prices.” Dhall said Air India and Indigo flights to locations like Saudi Arabia, Europe and US, will have to take a slightly longer route. “However, this impact is limited and alternate routes are being decided,” he said.

William Boulter, chief operating officer of Indigo Airlines, told The Indian Express that no diversion for any flight to and from Mumbai will be needed. “The only flight to be affected is the Istanbul-Delhi sector, so the impact on Indigo’s operation is very manageable,” he said. He added fuel consumption will only increase if diversion is required. Air India’s Jeddah-Mumbai flight is expected to be delayed by 30 minutes, while SpiceJet will see no impact on its flights.
25/06/19 Indian Express

14 travellers miss GoAir flight to Delhi because of traffic jam

Pune: Fourteen passengers missed a Delhi-bound GoAir flight on Monday because of heavy traffic congestion near the airport.
Punt Dhaneja, his wife and child were three among them. Dhaneja said, “We had to board the flight (G8 174) scheduled to depart at 11.30am and left from Baner way in advance. But there was heavy traffic jam all the way. Our car got stuck at the Weikfield Chowk. The roundabout was clogged and there were no traffic police in sight.”
Dhaneja got out of the car and requested a two-wheeler driver to drop him to the airport, while his wife and child remained in the car. “I pleaded with the airline officials to consider our case and my family reached the airport around 10.58am. But the airline refused to let us board the aircraft.”
25/06/19 Times of India

Pantnagar-Delhi air service to run four days a week

Rudrapur: Barely three weeks after the Airport Authority of India (AAI) announced a daily flight service on the Delhi-Pantnagar-Dehradun route, the air service has been made a four-day per week service. The decision was taken due to the 'shorter than required' runway in Pantnagar, officials said.

After the departure of the scheduled flight on Sunday, the air service returned to its old course of being operational on four weekdays including Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Shubham Tandon, Pantnagar station manager of Air India, told TOI, "We do not have the required runway length in Pantnagar. It is only 2,250 metres, much less than the stretch required for a big passenger flight. Further, the 72-seater plane operational here was getting a daily booking of only 50 passengers on an average. The company was facing economic losses and hence the management decided to cut-off the trips.” Air India, the air service provider on this route had on June 1 announced that the flights will operate all seven days of the week. It was inaugurated by Ajay Bhatt, MP from Nainital, amidst much fanfare. Simultaneously, it was also announced that an Aviation Turbine Fuel System (ATFS) will be installed at the airport to enable the aircrafts to be fueled at Pantnagar.
25/06/19 Aakash Ahuja/Times of India

Kochi airport to remain shut for four months during the daytime

Travellers flying to Kerala have some important news waiting for them. The Kochi airport is going to shut down from November 20, 2019, to March 28, 2020, for eight hours every day during the day. The flight operations will hence be regulated at the Kochi airport from 10 AM to 6 AM, and this is happening due to the mandatory runway re-carpeting work that takes place every 10 years.
About 35 domestic flights would get rescheduled; however, it has been reported that this move will not affect international flights.
It is expected that the Kochi airport shutdown during tourist season is going to cause a lot of trouble for flyers, as flight prices could now go up.
There is now a proposal that the affected flights could get diverted to the Calicut and Kannur airports. Last year in August, the Calicut airport handled additional flights due to the Kerala floods, for both domestic and international flights.
24/06/19 Times Travel

Man smuggling Rs 38.5 lakh forex in customs net

Pune: The customs officials arrested a man attempting to smuggle foreign currency valued at Rs38.5 lakh to Dubai on Sunday.
The passenger — Vishal Vittal Gaikwad — was to fly on an Air India Express flight, when he was caught with the currency during the customs inspection.
“The currency is in the form of Kuwaiti dinars, Omani riyals, UAE dirhams and Bahrain dinars,” a customs officer said.
“The currency was seized under the provisions of the Customs Act of 1962 and the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 2000,” the officer said.
“In a statement, the passenger admitted to the possession, carriage, concealment and recovery of the said currencies. If required, he will be further questioned,” Amjad Shaikh, the investigating officer, said.
In August 2017, two passengers, attempted to smuggle foreign currency — 1.73 lakh US dollars and 30,000 euros — by concealing it in hot cases containing food. The two men were en route to Dubai. The authorities had intercepted the man and inspected their luggage before seizing the currency.
25/06/19 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Foreign currency worth Rs 99.5 lakh seized at Anna International Airport

Chennai: Customs officials on Tuesday seized foreign currency worth Rs 99.5 lakh from a Sri Lankan transit passenger at Anna International terminal on Monday. According to a press release from office of the Commissioner of Customs, Air Intelligence Unit (AIU), the passenger, on route to Dubai was intercepted at departure before security checks by AIU officials and was subjected to questioning.
"As he was giving evasive replies his (the passenger) personal search and as well as search of his hand baggage-one black coloured backpack was carried out. On examination of his backpack, assorted foreign currencies comprising of Euros, Kuwaiti Dinars, and UAE Dirhams in various denominations, totally valued at Rs 99.5 lakhs packed in plastic covers were found concealed in his personal effects", said AIU official at Anna international terminal said.
AIU also revealed that the passenger informed them that he had received the currency from an unknown person in the aerobridge area.
25/06/19 Hans India

Trio held at KIA with fake visas

Bengaluru: The Kempegowda International Airport police nabbed three persons who flew down from Kuala Lumpur with fake visas.
Yaseen Mohammed (26) from Hyderabad, Patel Keyulkumar (29) from Ahmedabad and Gurpreet Singh (29) from Amritsar were arrested.
The trio left India for Malaysia on tourist visas. Later, they approached touts in Malaysia and Indonesia to get the tourist visas converted to employment visas, which failed, the police said.
Thereafter, they search for jobs and overstayed in Malaysia for some time before returning to India. Once again the three contacted a tout who managed to stamp their passports with Malaysian/Indonesian immigration seals.
At KIA immigration, officials checked their passports and found the fake visa stamps. They were booked under the Passports Act. 
25/06/19 Bellie Thomas/Deccan Herald

Sex toys worth Rs 8 crore confiscated in two years in Mumbai

In the world's second populous nation, the obsession with sex toys shouldn't come as a surprise. What, however, does is the massive quantity of it being illegally brought into the country. The toys are regularly detained by the Customs Department. A Right To Information query filed by activist Prithviraj Maske revealed that from 2017 to January 2019, the Airport Special Courier Cell of the Mumbai Customs Department had seized sex toys worth Rs 8 crore.

In the world's second populous nation, the obsession with sex toys shouldn't come as a surprise. What, however, does is the massive quantity of it being illegally brought into the country. The toys are regularly detained by the Customs Department. A Right To Information query filed by activist Prithviraj Maske revealed that from 2017 to January 2019, the Airport Special Courier Cell of the Mumbai Customs Department had seized sex toys worth Rs 8 crore.

The RTI filed by activist Prithviraj Maske revealed how consignees have been importing sex toys in the disguise of Diwali gifts, electronic devices, unbreakable plastics tubes, air pumps, fans, footwear soles and uppers, hair cleaning liquid and plastic toys, etc. Maske had read newspaper reports about Mumbai airport turning into a smuggling hub and hence decided to file an RTI to know what was the contraband coming into the county. "The information surprised me when I found details of sex toys being smuggled. Markets in south Mumbai have such toys on display. This means that the customs department fails to detain all consignments," he said.
25/06/19 Suraj Ojha and Faizan Khan/Mid Day

Canadian national held at Delhi's IGI airport for carrying live bullet

New Delhi: A Canadian national was held at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi on Sunday for allegedly carrying a live round in his baggage to Terminal-3, police said.

A Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel deputed at the Pre-Embarkation Security Checks (PESCs) to clear people's luggage detected a live bullet round of 9 mm calibre at Security Hold Area of Terminal-3 through the X-BIS machine from hand baggage, officials said.

The baggage belonged to Fantu Baljit who was travelling to Bahrain on a Gulf Air flight scheduled to take off at 10:05 pm.
24/06/19 Jitender Sharma/ZeeNews

Gold worth Rs 34 lakh seized from a toilet at Delhi airport

Customs officials have seized gold worth Rs 34 lakh from a toilet at Delhi international airport, an official statement issued on Monday said. A cleaner found a packet wrapped with white colour doctor tape while cleaning a toilet near the arrival gate on Thursday, the statement issued by the customs department said.

On unwrapping the packet, three pieces of gold bars weighing one kg and having a market value of around Rs 34 lakh, were seized, it added.
24/06/19 PTI/Financial Express

Vizag airport preferred destination for gold smugglers

Visakhapatnam: In June 2015, sleuths from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in Chennai and customs officials at Visakhapatnam airport seized around 62 kg gold bars valued over Rs 20 crore and detained 55 passengers coming from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Till date, it’s the largest seizure of gold at the city airport since it started operating international flights. All the smugglers were from Tamil Nadu.
In April last year, the air intelligence unit of customs at Visakhapatnam airport seized gold pieces weighing 410 grams and worth around Rs 13 lakh from a female Indian-origin passenger, who landed in the city from Bangkok via Kuala Lumpur.

In recent years, there have been many such cases.

The city’s proximity to South East Asian countries and direct connectivity with cities like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore has made Vizag airport vulnerable to gold smuggling, say officials. As most of these countries have good diplomatic relations with other nations, including India, security checks on flights originating from these countries are lenient, due to which gold smugglers are now targeting smaller airports like Visakhapatnam, they say. “The level of security checks for international flights often depends on the diplomatic relationship of that country to the one the flight is flying to. There are other factors too. For example, security checks are high for flights flying from Dubai to Indian cities.

“But the checks are comparatively lenient for flights from South East Asian cities to Indian cities, and also for flights between Dubai and South East Asian cities. For gold smugglers, travelling from Dubai via South East Asia to India looks to be the safest option,” said an DRI official.

In the last few years, acting on tip-offs and intelligence reports, customs and DRI officials have seized a huge amount of smuggled gold at the city airport. In 2018-19, customs seized 3.32 kg of gold valued at Rs 1.24 crore. “Gold smuggling at Vizag airport is on the rise. The smuggled gold mostly comes from Dubai via South East Asian countries, and most of these smugglers hail from Tamil Nadu,” said a customs officer.
25/06/19 Arpit Basu/Times of India

Monday, June 24, 2019

Aviation sector: Turbulence in wake of Jet Airways closure

The suspension of operations by Jet Airways, the country’s second-largest domestic airline, cast a shadow on the aviation sector’s performance in the last fiscal, with passenger traffic growth falling to a five-year low of 11.6% y-o-y in FY19. Passenger traffic had grown by 12.5-16.5% y-o-y in the 2014-18 period.

Full-service carrier Jet, which had 119 aircraft in its fleet in December, 2018, suspended all operations on April 17 owing to a financial crisis. This has had a ripple effect on passenger footfall and shipment of cargo at airports—domestic air traffic fell by 4.5% y-o-y in April, breaking a growth streak of over 55 months.

The top two airports—in Delhi and Mumbai—are the hardest hit by Jet’s closure as the airline had sizeable capacity deployed on tier-I routes. The two airports handle more than one-third of the total footfall at airports—of the 344.6 m passengers that used India’s 102 airports in FY19, over 118 m flew through the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi and the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai in FY19.
While passenger traffic at the Delhi airport declined by 3% y-o-y in February, the Mumbai airport, the hub of Jet’s operations, has been reporting de-growth in passenger footfall since October last year. Traffic at airports in Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata has also been impacted. Apart from the Metro routes, Jet had won rights to operate on regional routes under the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme, for which the Airports Authority of India has been developing airports across the country.
The void created by Jet’s exit can be gauged from the fact that the carrier flew more than 50,000 passengers every day during calendar year 2018, operating 650 flights daily. It was also the largest Indian carrier flying international routes. According to ratings agency ICRA, Jet’s grounding has brought down industry capacity by 14%. Analysing the impact of Jet’s shutdown, Kinjal Shah, the agency’s vice-president and co-head, Corporate Sector Ratings, says, “overall, the moderation in capacity starting February, 2019 has resulted in higher air fares—a 30-40% increase between September, 2018 and March, 2019 – and inconvenience to passengers. India being a highly price-sensitive market, it has also affected passenger traffic growth from October, 2018 onwards.”
24/06/19 Arun Nayal/Financial Express

It’s time for Jet Airways lenders to accept the airlines is dead

Two months after India’s oldest private-sector airline grounded its last plane, and with even a water-bottling firm threatening to drag the carrier into bankruptcy, a consortium of lenders led by State Bank of India can finally stop pretending that a white knight is coming.
With the insolvency tribunal taking Jet Airways India Ltd. under its wing on Thursday, there may be one more abortive attempt to sell it whole. But now that lessors have taken most of the fleet, employees have all but given up on back wages, and the country’s aviation market has moved on, liquidation is the most practical solution. Little will be recovered from financial and operational creditors’ claims, which may add up to more than 140 billion rupees ($2 billion), according to local media reports.
Jet, as Monty Python might have observed, isn’t exactly a Norwegian blue, pining for the fjords. It’s a dead parrot. Banks killed it with kindness. If only they had seen that founder Naresh Goyal wasn’t able to cover costs, and was using borrowed money to keep the full-service airline afloat amid intense competition with low-cost rivals.
One refusal from them to lend more without fresh equity from 51% owner Goyal, his 24% partner Etihad Airways PJSC, or the public, would have hastened the default that finally occurred in January. Even then, creditors could have produced a new controlling shareholder in an out-of-court process if they’d wrested control of the board from Goyal rather than waiting until late March. The airline could still have survived even if that had failed, with banks supplying working capital through an in-court bankruptcy process.
A new owner wouldn’t have made creditors whole, but any offer would have been better than the chump change they will get from liquidation of a grounded carrier. So why didn’t SBI and other creditors act earlier? They probably never believed Goyal, a survivor of several tight corners in the last 25 years, was going to crash land this time. After they did wake up to that possibility, they still dithered. Banks are already swamped by $200 billion-plus of soured corporate debt.
Every exposure taken to the bankruptcy tribunal means more money to be set aside from profit, which has been in short supply at Indian lenders lately. Also, the 2016 law has already been so badly abused by owners trying to stall the sale of prized assets that banks are starting to treat in-court insolvency more like a mortuary than a hospital. However, if only basket cases come to the tribunal, or lenders start using the process as a cover for deals with people hiding from the law, they won’t have a tool left to deal with the next downturn in the credit cycle. Prime Minister Narendra Modi can count the insolvency regime as among the more significant achievements of his first term, before the draconian cash ban of November 2016 derailed the economy. His government even empowered the central bank to resolve some of the most egregious cases of bad debt. That reform momentum has faded, though.
When the Reserve Bank of India, on its own initiative, tried to get more soured loans more speedily into in-court insolvency, the judiciary said it was acting beyond its powers. Modi’s second five-year term has just begun. He would send an encouraging signal to global investors by once again pushing taxpayer-funded banks to use the bankruptcy law, and well before errant borrowers start pushing up the daisies.
24/06/19 Deal Street Asia

Resolution Professional invites claims from creditors of Jet Airways

Mumbai: The Resolution Professional (RP) for Jet Airways has invited claims from all creditors of the grounded airlines. Last week, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) admitted Jet Airways for bankruptcy.

The airline owes over ₹8,500 crore to a consortium of 26 banks led by State Bank of India; over ₹13,000 crore to the tens of hundreds of vendors, and around 23,000 employees.

“The creditors of Jet Airways are hereby called upon to submit their claims with proof on or before July 4, to the interim resolution professional. Financial creditors shall submit their claims with proof by electronic means only,” resolution professional Ashish Chhawchharia of Grant Thornton said in a public notice.

All other creditors shall submit their claims with proof in person, by post or by electronic means, it added.

The lenders had been owning the airline since March 25 with 51% stake. On June 17, they decided to take the airline, which stopped flying on April 17, to the NCLT as they could not find a buyer.

Even the only preliminary bid from the Etihad-Hinduja consortium reportedly wanted the banks to take 90-95% haircut and also exemptions from open offer norms, which would not have been possible for the lenders to commit.
24/06/19 PTI/The Hindu

Kannur airport yet to go full steam

Thiruvananthapuram: Kannur International Airport Ltd. (KIAL), the fourth international airport of the State, has been able to use only 20% of the inbuilt facilities since commencing commercial flight operations from the ₹2,292-crore airport six months ago.

The problem is due to the inability to throw open the fourth international gateway of the State and north Malabar to the foreign carriers and rope in more domestic carriers.
“Opening the doors to foreign carriers would have resulted in 40% use of the state-of-the-art facilities. One flight of a foreign airline would make the difference,” says managing director of KIAL V. Thulasidas.

In addition to the national carrier Air India and its low-cost arm, Air India Express (AIE), the aviation needs of Kannur are catered by IndiGo and GoAir. AIE has only been granted slots to operate to and from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Doha in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in the UAE to the Kannur airport.

The grounding of Jet Airways due to financial crisis and ban of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Boeing 737 Max 8 on Indian airspace had come as setbacks.

“The first six months of fight operations had gone beyond our expectations. Going by the current rate, we will surpass the targeted 1.8 million travellers in the first year ,” he told The Hindu.
The KIAL authorities are surprised by the demand for domestic flights from Kannur in the initial months. The air connectivity to Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Goa, Hubli, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram and the passengers from Mysuru and Kodagu depending on Kannur have resulted in the surge.
The Karnataka government has planned to commence more services to Kannur to cater to the needs of flyers from Mysuru and Kodagu. But, this needs the Kerala government’s nod.
23/06/19 S Anil Radhakrishnan/The Hindu

India’s best on-time-performance airline with lowest cancellation rate is…

New Delhi: Fliers in India and tourists and travellers from abroad to the country often seek opinions on which airline to trust. Before booking flight tickets, fliers look into key aspects such as quality of services offered by that airline and ticket fares. On-Time-Performance (OTP) is considered as pivotal for any airline when it comes to attracting fliers by assuring punctuality and convenience. GoAir has recorded the best OTP for the ninth consecutive month. GoAir recorded 91.8 per cent OTP and had the lowest cancellation rate of 0.33 per cent. Rankings were released by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for May 2019.

GoAir said that it is pleased to offer a reliable travel service wherein travellers get to their destination in a timely manner. GoAir added that factors that are not necessarily in its control like airport congestion, taxi times from the runways, gate availability etc., they have tried to provide best services. Besides, the DGCA report also stated that GoAir had the second highest load factor of 93.3 % indicating the number of seats filled, the company said in a statement. “GoAir is India’s fastest growing airline and we will continue to step up our performance and invest in Operational Excellence across the board. We thank our customers as this milestone would not have been possible without their punctuality, loyalty and support of millions of guests who have flown with us,” a spokesperson said.
On-Time Performance is a comparison between the actual off-block time of an aircraft of an airline against the schedule time for that particular departing flight. This internationally accepted standard practice and comply with standard benchmark set by IATA (International Airlines Transport Association).
24/06/19 Debjit Sinha/Financial Express

Mizoram CM seeks check on airfares

Aizawl: Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga has written to Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri over the hike in flight fares to and from the state, an official said on Sunday.

Mizoram has only one air link, a direct flight to Calcutta operated by Air India, after Jet Airways withdrew its service from the state on February 10.

Principal consultant for civil aviation, Wing Commander Joe Lalhmingliana, told The Telegraph that the chief minister had complaint about the exorbitant increase in airfares on the Aizawl-Calcutta and Aizawl-Imphal routes.

Puri is likely to receive the letter on Monday.

Lalhmingliana said they have appealed to the resident commissioner of Mizoram House in New Delhi to submit the letter to the minister on Monday.

He said the chief minister, apart from complaining about the exorbitant hike, also sought reduction in the airfares, citing it was a breach of the principle of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution.

According to Lalhmingliana, Air India fares on Aizawl-Calcutta and Aizawl-Imphal routes were exceedingly high compared to other sectors.
24/06/19 Henry L. Khojol/Telegraph

IndiGo gains from Jet’s loss of foreign flyers

New Delhi: IndiGo, which now accounts for one of every two domestic flyers, is also increasing its international capacity rapidly. The rise in its foreign flyers in the January-March quarter (5.2 lakh) was almost the same as the decline seen in the number of Jet Airways’ foreign flyers (5.1 lakh). Air India Express also chipped in with a 19% rise in international flyers.

Jet, which stopped flying on April 17, was having its aircraft repossessed by unpaid lessors since late last year, leading to reduction of flights. While it did have a few flights to Europe and Canada, the majority of its international operations were on single aisle Boeing 737s to neighbouring countries — mainly the Gulf.

IndiGo, AI Express and others added large number of flights to their single aislerange destinations. To be sure, Jet’s disappearance from the skies will be felt in international numbers in April-June and perhaps in July-September quarters. Expansion plans of other Indian airlines like SpiceJet, Vistara and GoAir could fill Jet’s void by the year-end.
IndiGo chief commercial officer Willy Boulter said: “We now offer connectivity to over 1,300 city pairs… While we remain focused on building our domestic network, we will also continue to connect international destinations to additional cities in India and also open up new international destinations.”
24/06/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Iran airspace restriction to add flying time by up to an hour

The restriction over Iran airspace will add to the flying time of flights from India to the US and Europe, and will make tickets a tad more expensive.

Air India, which is the only Indian airline now with substantial international service after Jet Airways suspended operations, will be the most impacted. One of IndiGo's flights, to Istanbul, will also see a change.
On June 22, industry regulator DGCA had asked Indian airlines to avoid the Iranian airspace.

"All Indian operators in consultation with DGCA have decided to avoid the affected part of Iranian Airspace to ensure safe travel for the passengers. They will re-route flights suitably," said the regulator.
The advisory followed rising tensions between Iran and the US after the latter's drone was shot down for allegedly violating Iranian airspace.

Noting that the DGCA's announcement has been made keeping in mind passenger safety, Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C),  Yatra.com, said this will have a "slight impact" on schedules and prices.

"Carriers like Air India and IndiGo returning back from places like Saudi Arabia, Europe and the US, will have to take a slightly longer route. However, this impact is limited and alternate routes are being decided," he added.

Another senior executive talking to Moneycontrol added: "Depending on the destination, the flying time could increase by up to 60 minutes. The impact will be a little more crucial for flights to the US."
24/06/19 Prince Mathews Thomas/Moneycontrol.com

Victims of Air India bombing remembered in ceremony at Stanley Park memorial

Renee Saklikar got up Sunday and ran her first five kilometre race in honour of her aunt Zeb and uncle Umar Jethwa — both doctors who died 34 years earlier in the Air India bombing.

And before she went to the starting line, she visited the Air India memorial in Stanley Park before returning Sunday evening to the same spot to meet dozens of others at a memorial service for the victims of Canada’s worst terrorist attack.

“I dedicated that run to my auntie and uncle and to my cousin Irfan who was left behind when his mom and dad were murdered,” Saklikar said. “This day really invites a lot of us who have lost loved ones in this terrorist attack to ask ourselves how do I want to live my life… It forces us to be better people and say hey, I want to make a life that is for the good, not for the bad.”
Her husband and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix organized the annual memorial event at the wall bearing the names of all the 331 victims of the June 23, 1985 attack.

Dix reminded the mourners gathered that the perpetrators not only killed all 329 aboard Air India Flight 182, but they tried to bomb a second Air India plane. The bomb-laden suitcase instead exploded at Narita airport, killing two Japanese baggage handlers.

“Those who perpetrated this violence wanted more violence, wanted there to be more victims and we should reflect on that today,” Dix said.

“We shouldn’t use exulted terms to describe people who are cowards, who murdered children, who left children orphans. We shouldn’t treat them as anything more than criminal murderers not worthy of our thought or our consideration.”

He noted that flags flew at half-mast across Canada, including at the B.C. legislature Sunday to commemorate all Canadian victims of terrorism.

Gurdial Sidhu, who lost her sister-in-law Sukhwinder, niece Parminder, 10, and nephew Kuldip, 9, said the tragedy is made more painful by the fact the terrorists behind the bombings are free.
“Thirty-four years have passed and we didn’t get any justice — victims left behind their loved ones, their brothers, sisters, children, parents are still suffering,” Sidhu said. “They didn’t get the justice and the criminals did not get punished yet.”

A B.C. Supreme Court judge and a public inquiry determined the bombings were carried out by the B.C. Babbar Khalsa, headed by former Burnaby mill worker Talwinder Singh Parmar. Parmar was killed by Indian police in 1992 before being charged in Canada.
Three of his associates, Ripudaman Singh Malik, Ajaib Singh Bagri and Inderjit Singh Reyat were charged in the bombing plot. Malik and Bagri were acquitted and Reyat pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the Air India bombing. He was earlier convicted in the Narita bombing.

Former Liberal MLA Dave Hayer said Sunday that he still hopes people with information about the Air India bombing come forward and help police.
23/06/19 Kim Bolan/Vancouver Sun

Iranian airspace closure: Air India’s Jeddah-Mumbai flight to be delayed by 30 minutes

Mumbai: A day after the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), in consultation with Indian carriers, announced that flights will not be flying over Iranian airspace, government-run Air India said only one flight to Mumbai will be affected by the diversion in the city. Other private airlines are in process of chalking out their diversions.
“The Jeddah-Mumbai flight will be delayed by half-an-hour due to the diversion. No other flight from Mumbai will be affected. We faced more problems when Pakistan air space was shut, almost all our flights to the west had to be diverted,” said Ashwani Lohani, Air India Chairman and managing director.
Air India, he added, flies to over 40 global destinations from Mumbai everyday. While no substantial effect will be noticed on flights to and from Mumbai, in Delhi a few inbound flights from Europe and USA will be delayed by 15-20 minutes.
On June 22, DGCA had announced that Indian carriers will avoid the Iranian airspace for passenger safety reasons after an RQ-4 Global Hawk drone, a US surveillance aircraft, was downed near Strait of Hormuz last week.
On June 20, the US Federation Aviation Administration released an emergency order barring American carriers to fly over Iran air space, including Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.
24/06/19 Indian Express

New smart system to prevent baggage theft at airports

New Delhi:  Researchers claim to have developed a smart system that can help prevent baggage theft and facilitate hassle free collection of luggage at airports by providing estimated time of arrival (ETA) at the conveyor belt for pickup.
The novel solution developed by a team at Lovely Professional University (LPU) in Punjab restricts a person from taking away someone else's baggage at the exit gate of the airport.

The system also assists the passengers by reminding them in case they have forgotten to collect their baggage, researchers said.

They noted that despite having a tight security system at most of the airports, baggage loss or theft is a common issue among travellers.

While there is a strict process in place for luggage collection on departure, very little emphasis has been given to baggage collection and theft prevention process on arrival, they said.

Also, airports have not come up with any system to locate or track baggage, which forces the passengers to stand in queue and wait for several minutes for their luggage to arrive.

"During our research, we could not find any existing systems providing services similar to us. Our solution is helpful to resolve these problems that have not been addressed so far," Gurjot Singh Gaba, Assistant Professor at LPU, told PTI.

"Passengers who pay a huge amount as airfare would benefit from this technology. Their baggage loss would be prevented and also they would easily collect their luggage at the airports," Gaba said.

According to a report by the aviation IT specialist, SITA, every minute 40 bags get mishandled worldwide.

In 2018, that amounted to more than 24.8 million mishandled bags, costing the air transport industry $2.4 billion, researchers said.
"Airport authorities receive baggage loss cases of million dollars every year which tarnishes their reputation. With our system, they could prevent losses of this kind. Hence, it will be beneficial for airport authorities as well," Gaba said.

Travellers face long queues at crowded airports, and have to spend a lot of time in queues for collecting the baggage.

The passengers have to stand around the conveyor belt until their respective baggage arrives.

The entrance of airport has high security but during exit there is no one to verify that the luggage is taken away only by the rightful owner.

The proposed system provides the solution to overcome both of these issues.
24/06/19 PTI/Times of India

IndiGo plane makes emergency landing in Bhubaneswar as passenger tries to open the door

Bhubaneswar: Guwahati-bound flight from Hyderabad made an emergency landing at the Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar on Sunday after a passenger allegedly indulged in unruly behaviour on board.

The IndiGo flight from Hyderabad to Guwahati landed in Bhubaneswar after it was diverted under emergency protocol.

The 20-year-old passenger was deplaned and handed over to the airport police, officials at the airport said.

The passengers on board were scared after the man created a ruckus and even tried to open a door of the aircraft, a police officer said, adding, the man had violated safety norms despite repeated warnings.

The man was taken to the Capital Hospital here after he was deplaned, the police officer said.

The flight took off for Guwahati after offloading the passenger, an official at the airport said.
23/06/19 India Today

Airport expansion: Land owners allege foul play in fixing compensation

Coimbatore: Owners of lands coming under block one, one of the 24 blocks identified for the acquisition of 627.89 acres for the expansion of the Coimbatore International Airport, recently petitioned District Collector alleging foul play in fixing compensation for the land under the two categories – agricultural and residential.

The petition said that lands used by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) from 1947 are currently categorised as agricultural land though they were used for non-agricultural purposes.

The compensation fixed by the government was ₹ 1,500 per sq.ft. for residential areas and ₹ 900 per sq.ft. for agricultural plots.

“AAI is using the land since 1947 and they constructed compound wall around the area. The land is being used for the wireless station and other arrangements. While surveying the land for acquisition, we were assured that ₹ 1,500 per sqft will be given as compensation. Now officials say that the land is categorised as agricultural for the acquisition,” said a land owner. Block two has 18.11 acres of land.
According to petitioners, the wireless station of AAI alone is spread over 10,000 sq.ft.
23/06/19 The Hindu

Bidding for Thiruvananthapuram Airport: Crash Landing?

Thiruvananthapuram: The decision of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to hand over the management, operation and development of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to the Adani group has not gone down well with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He has vehemently opposed the move, saying that no private player can manage the airport without the state government’s support. He seems to have made this a prestige issue and has started building resistance against the move.
Private investment is not a matter of anathema for the communist chief minister as the communists have already changed their mindset towards it. Moreover, he is rolling out the red carpet for investors from across the globe, though not many have shown much interest yet. “No authority can take the airport and hand it over to a private party ignoring the opinion and demand of the state government. No private player can manage or develop the airport without the cooperation and support of the state government. We have raised the issue several times and I would personally apprise the issue and clarify the state government’s stand to Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he told the state legislature. He took up the issue with Modi when he arrived in Delhi to attend a NITI Aayog meeting recently.
There is no reason to believe that the state government has developed a xenophobic attitude towards the Adani group; the latter already has operations in the state after winning the prestigious Vizhinjam International Sea Port project in Thiruvananthapuram. And in its effort to meet the target of completing the project in the stipulated timeframe, it is working hand in hand with the state government.
However, the chief minister’s warning that no force can operate or manage the airport without the cooperation of the state government has to be taken seriously. The communists have a track record of defeating entrepreneurs and warding off investors in the past several decades, causing the negative growth of industries in the state.
23/06/19 NV Ravindranathan Nair/India Legal

Deepika Padukone hailed for her response at Mumbai airport after being asked to produce her ID proof

A video of Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone being asked by a member of the airport security team to produce the identity proof has gone viral. With that, the Padmaavat star has also earned plenty of plaudits from her fans for the way she handled the situation.
Dress in all black, Deepika was spotted with her father, a badminton legend, at the Mumbai airport. As expected, also waiting to catch a glimpse of her were a group of Mumbai’s paparazzi.
No sooner did Deepika walk inside the airport, a CISF personnel shouted, “ID, ID?” By then Deepika had entered the airport with her father, who was about the get inside the airport buggy to go towards the security check-in. But Deepika turned and asked, “chahiye kya? (You want it?).” She then pulled her identity document out of her bag. Deepika returned to join her father only after the security staff was satisfied with the document.
The video was shared by photographer Viral Bhayani. The video has evoked an overwhelmingly positive reaction from internet users, who are applauding her for her gesture. One fan wrote, “She is really down to earth….tht’y people love her….she is amazing…love ya.” Another user commented, “How can some1 be so humble?” “Well done to both the security personnel and Ms Padukone,” commented another user.
23/06/19 Janta Ka Reporter

Kerala govt willing to operate Thiruvananthapuram airport: CPI-M MP

New Delhi: The planned privatisation of five airports in the country with the Adani Group as their operator was opposed in the Rajya Sabha Monday, with a CPI(M) MP saying the Kerala government is willing to operate the Thiruvananthapuram airport.

Raising the issue through a Zero Hour mention, K K Ragesh (CPI-M) said the Adani Group has emerged as the winner in privatisation bid of five airports at Lucknow, Jaipur, Thiruvananthapuram, Mangaluru and Ahmedabad.

The Kerala government, he said, had expressed willingness to take over the Thiruvananthapuram airport but the Centre advised it to take part in the auction bid process. “It is regrettable that the state government is being considered on the same footing as the Adani Group,” he said.

The airport was built on land given by the state government and as such has a say in the operations of it, he said.
24/06/19 PTI/Indian Express

Madras Flying Club building pulled down

Chennai: Another slice of the city’s history has been reduced to rubble. The 89-year-old building that housed the Madras Flying Club at the airport that groomed hundreds of pilots in the city was demolished by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) a few days ago.

AAI officials said the demolition was to give way for airport’s airside expansion work. Though the building (housing the club) was handed over for expansion work, the hangar (used by the club) with a few aircraft is yet to be pulled down, they said.

The AAI officials insist that they required the space for carrying out straightening of a taxi track in the airport.
“The straightening work has been on for many months now but will be completed soon. This work will improve efficiency, like saving aircraft fuel, as time taken to taxi to the main runway will be reduced and flight delays too are likely to come down,” an official said.
Jacob Selvaraj, honorary secretary, Madras Flying Club, had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami requesting the government to stop the demolition activity till alternate arrangements are made for shifting the hangar to the Tiruchi airport.
In the letter, he said: “We, the Madras Flying Club agreed to shift the flying club to Tiruchi airport, with the negotiation made by the government of Tamil Nadu, Transport Secretary. An MoU was signed between the Government of Tamil Nadu, Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Madras Flying Club in this regard, and the AAI has to provide accommodation at the Tiruchi airport. Though we are ready to shift operations to the Tiruchi airport, our appeal is that the building of nearly 90 years may be preserved by both governments.”
24/06/19 The Hindu

Pakistan never crossed LoC after Balakot airstrike, failed in its mission: IAF chief BS Dhanoa

Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa on Monday said that Pakistan closing its airspace was a problem of the neighbouring country and did not affect India. Addressing mediapersons, the Air Chief Marshal said that the Indian Air Force made it a point that despite tensions with Pakistan, the civil aviation in the country remained unaffected.

Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa also talked about the Balakot airstrike, and the retaliation by Pakistan. He said that while the Indian Air Force was able to achieve its military objective, Pakistan failed to achieve the same, confirming that no Pakistani jet crossed over the Line of Control (LoC).
“They did not come into our airspace. The main thing that you should look at is what the objective of the military operation was. Our objective was to strike in Balakot and we achieved it. Their objective was to strike our army bases but they could not do it,” said the Air Chief Marshal.
He added, “That is the bottom line. How you did it? How many (jets) came? What kind of combat took place? But what matters is whether you fulfilled your military objective. We achieved our military objective, they did not achieve their objective. And let me tell you, none of them crossed the Line of Control.”
Referring to the 20 years of Kargil War, the IAF chief said that purpose of all attacks by India has always been to show “our resolve and capability”.
24/06/19 ZeeNews

Indian suppliers integral part of our global supply chain: Boeing

New Delhi: Indian suppliers are an integral part of Boeing’s global supply chain, a top official of the aerospace major said as Boeing and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited marked an important milestone in their collaboration.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) celebrated a milestone with Boeing with the delivery of the 150th gun bay door for the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet is a twin-engine supersonic all-weather, carrier-capable multi-role combat jet delivering cutting-edge, next-generation multi-role strike fighter capability.

HAL has been Boeing’s long-term supplier in India for over 25 years. Boeing awarded HAL the contract to manufacture gun bay doors for the Super Hornet in 2007.
“We are proud of our partnership with HAL. This delivery of the 150th gun bay door for the Super Hornet demonstrates that Indian suppliers are an integral part of Boeing’s global supply chain,” Salil Gupte, president, Boeing India, was quoted as saying in a statement.
“This milestone is yet another endorsement of our commitment to India, which is well recognised today, because we’ve been investing and making in India for several years now,” he said.
24/06/19 PTI/Indian Express

Bird Academy Introduces 'Safety Management System (Sms) Course For Airlines' In India, As Iata's Regional Training Partner

On the 21st year celebration of Bird Academy, the education vertical of Bird Group reaffirms its position as a regional aviation-learning hub by becoming the first ever IATA Regional Training Partner. The first RTP course IATA’s ‘Safety Management System Course for Airlines’ received overwhelming response and has participants from all across the globe. Regarded as a benchmark in the aviation industry, this training course is being conducted for the first time in India by Bird Academy. A five-day classroom course will be held in New Delhi from June 24th-June 28th, 2019 and will be imparted by an IATA instructor and will cover the full spectrum of Aviation Safety and Security.

This course is highly recommended for Airline Operations Managers, Corporate and Operational Safety Managers, Analysts, Coordinators, Postholders and Quality Managers. The course will help in developing, managing and monitoring the Safety Management System (SMS) that fits within the scope of an airline’s operations. It will help make improvement in the operations that will prevent costly accidents, incidents and injuries to the staff. The training will further benefit in understanding how to use the Safety Management System (SMS) as an effective management tool for safety performance and productivity along with understanding risk management tools to continually improve the safety performance.

Speaking on the same, Mrs. Radha Bhatia, Chairperson, Bird Group said, “Today the aviation sector supports 7.5 million jobs in India and we see huge potential for growth. We, at Bird Academy, have dedicated over 21 years to nurture highly skilled professionals and it is a testament to our hard work and commitment, that we have been chosen as IATA’s Regional Training Partner (RTP). We are elated to introduce the RTP course on Safety Management System Course for Airlines’ in the country, which is well-sought out by the aviation professionals, across the world. We will continue in our endeavor to support and build the aviation industry by nurturing the young minds with excellent educational trainings and courses.“
24/06/19 Silicon India

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Resolution Professional meets Jet Airways management, fast tracks process

Mumbai: The insolvency resolution professional appointed by India’s bankruptcy court for Jet Airways has put the grounded airline’s resolution process on fast track, said two people in the know, following the court’s tight deadline.
Ashish Chhawchharia, partner at Grant Thornton, took charge as RP and met the airline’s management on Saturday to apprise them of the plan ahead.
All power of Jet’s board (currently bereft of any member) and signing powers of all authorized signatories of the airline have been suspended. All communications will be under the RP’s signature or someone delegated by him.
Chhawchharia also implemented a complete moratorium of all claims, proceedings, cases and notices to Jet.
No properties or assets of Jet either in custody or with the airline can be attached by any entity. There was an eviction notice from its office in Siroya Towers. That too has been stopped.
The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) Thursday admitted an insolvency plea by Jet’s top lender State Bank of India. In their order, the judges halved the deadline for the resolution process to 90 days from the usual 180 days, saying this was a matter of “national importance”. Jet stopped operations on April 17 running out of money to stay afloat. SBI took it to bankruptcy court over defaults on loan repayments after failing to find the airline a new investor through a bidding process.
23/06/19 Aniorban Chowdhury/Maulik Vyas/Economic Times

Insolvency proceedings initiated against Jet Airways

Insolvency proceedings have been initiated against debt-ridden Jet Airways, which formally stopped flying on April 17 and saw lenders voting for bankruptcy earlier this month.
The cash-strapped company became the first domestic airliner to go into bankruptcy after the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) admitted an insolvency petition filed by SBI on behalf of 26 lenders on June 20.
“Pursuant to an order dated June 20, 2019 of NCLT Mumbai Bench, Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) has been initiated for Jet Airways (India) as per the provisions of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016,” Jet Airways said in a regulatory filing Sunday.
It further said that upon initiation of CIRP, the powers of the Board of Directors of the company have been suspended and shall be exercised by the Interim Resolution Professional.
Jet Airways owes more than ₹ 8,000 crore to banks, and thousands of crores more in arrears to vendors, lessors and employees.
The airline formally stopped flying on April 17 and banks voted for bankruptcy on June 17.
23/06/19 PTI/Business Line

How will Jet’s insolvency process play out?

Jet Airways, the troubled private airline that has failed to meet its huge debt obligations, was admitted to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on Thursday. This happened after a consortium of lenders led by State Bank of India (SBI) that had lent money to the airline over the years approached the NCLT to begin insolvency proceedings. Shares of the airline soared more than 120% on Thursday after news broke that the airline has been admitted by the NCLT for bankruptcy proceedings.

Will potential buyers be interested in capitalising on the airline’s brand value and try to relaunch the carrier? How the insolvency process will play out?
See the answers here >>

Jet Airways succumbs to race to bottom in India's skies

Mumbai: Jet Airways has officially entered bankruptcy proceedings after years of failing to beat low-cost rivals on price or to offer enough added value in its services to justify higher fares.

But the Mumbai-based carrier's fall from grace is a sign of bigger problems in India's air travel industry, where cutthroat competition is squeezing airlines tighter despite a surge in passenger numbers.

India's National Company Law Tribunal on Thursday admitted an insolvency petition filed by Jet Airways' creditors. It told the carrier to submit a rehabilitation plan within 90 days.

"I feel sad and deeply distressed mainly for our loyal employees who have waited months, and were anxiously and hopefully awaiting a positive outcome to the Bank-Led Resolution Plan," said Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal, who stepped down as chairman in March.

The airline is believed to face 84 billion rupees ($1.21 billion) in debt. While companies are usually given 180 days to come up with a rehabilitation plan, the court pushed for a quicker timeline, calling the case a matter of "national importance."

The creditors, which took control of Jet Airways in March, had previously hoped to find a sponsor for the airline's turnaround. But no good candidates arose. They decided not to extend further lending when cash ran out, grounding all flights in mid-April.

They now plan to sell either the company or its assets in order to recoup their losses. But there is not much left for them to unload, with thousands of pilots defecting to rivals and the majority of the 120-plane fleet having been repossessed.

India is one of the world's fastest-growing markets for air travel. The number of passengers on domestic flights jumped 19% to 139 million in 2018, double what it was four years earlier. Yet Jet Airways still failed, due to an overambitious expansion plan and competition from low-cost carriers.

Jet Airways launched in 1993 as India's first private-sector airline. It wrestled market share away from state-run players with its relatively new planes and on-time flights. It flew nearly 20% of all domestic passengers in 2015, becoming India's second-largest carrier over Air India.

But the company only booked a net profit twice in the 10 years through March 2018 as it invested heavily in new routes and more frequent service.
22/06/19 Nikkei Asian Review

India Gets "World-Class" Command Centre For Air Traffic Control

New Delhi: Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday inaugurated the Central Command Centre for Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) in Delhi and said it is an "absolute necessity" to ensure higher standards of safety.
As major airports are facing capacity constraints, the central ATFM system is primarily meant to balance the "capacity against the demand to achieve optimum utilization" of "airport, airspace and aircraft", Airport Authority of India (AAI) said in a statement.

Post inauguration, the minister said, "This is a world class system where on one large screen you can see all the civil aviation infrastructure in the country. The planes on the ground, the planes which are in the air, those planes you are in touch with - all of it is integrated with the ATC (air traffic control)."

"It is an absolute necessity. It was a requirement. I am glad that this state of the art facility is now operational...But more than that, it will also help in ensuring higher standards of safety. That is most crucial," Mr Puri said.

The minister said the defense forces will also use this system. "All platforms in the air, whether they are fixed wing or rotor craft, etc., are all part of this safety and integrated airflow management system," he added.

The central ATFM system integrates flight data from various subsystems like ATC Automation System, flight updates and flight update messages.
"The system also displays weather information along with static information about airports, airspaces and air routes. The system processes the demand and capacity information and provides decision-making tools to the ATFM Flow Manager for collaborative decision making and to ensure regulated flow of traffic at each airport in India," the AAI statement said.
22/06/19 PTI/NDTV

AAI begins year-long study to improve slot allotment at six major airports

The Airport Authority of India (AAI) has started a year-long study to analyse air traffic, slot distribution and infrastructure at six major airports – Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata – in order to improve the mechanism of slot allotment, said its senior officials. A slot is a specific date and time at which an airline can arrive or depart at an airport.
It is allocated by a committee that comprises officials from the respective airport, aviation ministry, AAI, airlines, aviation regular DGCA, etc. “After one year, the results of this year-long study will be presented back to the DGCA and the ministry to take a call on how to improve slot allotment in the next year…We will take help of the central ATFM (air traffic flow management) in this year-long study,” a senior AAI official told PTI.
The AAI owns and manages more than 100 airports across the country. Recently, when Jet Airways temporarily shut down its operations on April 17, a tussle had erupted among the other airline companies in India to corner most of the Jet’s vacated slots, especially the ones at congested airports of Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai.
The fight for slots had erupted as there is no written mechanism in India to allocate slots if an airline – in this case it was Jet Airways – temporarily shuts down its operations. Another senior AAI official told PTI, “Six major airports – Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai – have been identified where the analysis needs to take place. This exercise has been started in the month of May this year, and it will continue till March 2020.”
23/06/19 PTI/Financial Express

Don’t fly over Iran’s troubled waters, India tells airlines

New Delhi: India on Saturday asked its airlines to avoid flying in the over-water area of Tehran (Iran) airspace with the Strait of Hormuz that connects Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman at its heart. Iran’s territorial boundary extends up to 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) from its coastline to over-water and the shooting of a US military drone near the Strait of Hormuz has dramatically escalated tensions here.
While the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) advisory does not bar Indian airlines from transiting Iran over-land, the latter are seeing if that also can be avoided. The impact on Indian carriers will be limited to some of Air India’s flights on way back from the West (including Saudi Arabia, Europe and the US) to India and IndiGo’s Doha-Istanbul-Doha. AI’s west-bound flights will not be impacted.
"On the way back, they will need to reroute over Muscat, adding to flying time by 20-25 minutes. Similarly, Doha-Istanbul-Doha sector of IndiGo will be affected," said a source. Airlines have indicated to the regulator fares of affected flights could see a rise by Rs 500. The new detour comes on top of the already longer routes flights between the west and south Asia, with Delhi at its heart, are taking after Pakistan closed its airspace since February 27. While they may add to travel time, better safe than anything else.
23/06/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Amid tension in Gulf, carriers find new routes

India on Saturday asked its airlines to avoid flying in the over-water area of Tehran (Iran) airspace with the Strait of Hormuz that connects Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman at its heart. Iran’s territorial boundary extends up to 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) from its coastline to over-water and the shooting of a US military drone near the Strait of Hormuz has dramatically escalated tensions here.
23/06/19 Times of India

HP seeks 1000 Cr for expansion of Kullu & Kangra airports

Shimla: Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj while participating as representative of Chief Minister of HP, in the meetings of State Finance Ministers as well as GST Council held at New Delhi yesterday late evening, demanded Rs. 500 crore each for expansion and upgradation of Kullu and Kangra airports besides Rs. 426 crore for Shimla airport.
He said that an investment of Rs. 2500 crore was required for construction of new green field airport fit for landing wide bodied aircrafts in Mandi district. This would lead to a better connectivity within the state as well as for tourist destinations, he added.
22/06/19 UNI

Govt seeks Rs 1,426 cr to upgrade three airports

Shimla: The state government has demanded Rs 1,426 crore for upgrading three airports and asserted that Rs 2,500 crore would be required for the construction of a new greenfield airport, fit for landing of a wide-bodied aircraft in Mandi district.
The state required Rs 500 crore each for the upgrade of Kullu and Kangra airports and Rs 426 crore for Shimla airport, said Education Minister Suresh Bharadwaj, who represented the Chief Minister at state Finance Ministers and GST Council meeting in New Delhi today.
Referring to the proposed international airport in Mandi, Bharadwaj said this would lead to better connectivity within the state.
He also pleaded that the GST on components and materials used in construction of hydropower projects should be reduced and brought on a par with wind and solar power projects as hydel projects had also been classified as renewable energy.
Urging the Centre to expedite the proposed Bhanupali-Bilaspur-Manali-Leh rail line project and convert the Pathankot-Jogindernagar rail line to broad gauge, he said the Centre should bear 100 per cent cost of the projects, which were strategic from the defence point of view.
22/06/19 Tribune

Rising fare on India-Oman sector hit travellers hard

Muscat: Sky-high airfares on the India-Oman sector have hit travellers hard in the peak summer season. Fares usually go up this time of the year as Indian schools close for summer vacation.

This year, however, travellers have also been hit the hardest due to the suspension of flight operations by some airlines on the India-Oman sector. Jet Airways, one of the leading private airlines of India is grounded as it has gone bankrupt.

Indigo has stopped flying on the Muscat-Kochi route since April 1 and Calicut-Muscat route from 2017. It has also stopped flying on the Muscat-Ahmedabad sector from March.

Oman Air has suspended its operations to many cities in the world including Mumbai in India as part of the Public Authority for Civil Aviation directives to halt operations of Boeing 737 Max aircraft. Rising airfares saw many venting their anger on social media platforms. A tweet read, “Sir...please address the high airfare issues facing NRIs in Oman and the UAE on the Kerala sector. After Indigo and Jet Airways stopped flying on these routes we have to pay exorbitant rates to travel home...flying to the USA is cheaper. High time you take up this issue.”

A senior official from United Travel said, “This year airfares are higher in comparison to last year. The reason is only one - the demand is high. And the demand is high because certain airlines have withdrawn services to certain cities this year.
23/06/19 Swapna Tarafdar/Muscat Daily.com

As tensions mount in gulf, Indian carriers expect turbulence

New Delhi: After an American drone was pulled down and the US strikes on Iranian targets were aborted, tensions have escalated in the Middle East which could be dangerous to civilian air traffic, Hindustan Times reported. Indian airlines are closely observing things to unfold.

India’s Director General of Civil Aviation has not taken any call on the matter whereas various airlines’ regulators have banned their airlines to fly over Iran. If India amends its stand, it would be difficult for Indian airlines to serve some routes.
An Air India spokesperson said so far, “Air India’s services are still normal”. An IndiGo spokesperson too said operations were on schedule.

Global carriers like British Airways, Quantas and Singapore Airlines on Friday suspended flights over the Strait of Homuz. US President Donald Trump confirmed that he backed off at the last moment from launching airstrikes on targets in Iran.

Areas under conflict pose grave threats to civilian air traffic. In 2014, MH-17 of Malaysian Airlines was blown up by a missile fired by Russia backed rebel forces based in Ukraine mistaking it for a Ukranian military aircraft.
22/06/19 Asian Age

Air India to reroute flights away from Iranian airspace: official

New Delhi: Air India will reroute flights to avoid Iranian air space, an official said Saturday, as tensions ratchet up following Tehran's downing of a US drone.

A spokesman for the country's biggest state-run carrier said it was told to alter its flight paths by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) -- the aviation regulator.

"Air India has received the DGCA notice regarding operations in the Iranian airspace and we are monitoring the situation," Dhananjay Kumar told AFP.

"We will take appropriate actions whenever necessary to prevent inconvenience to passengers."

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States issued a notice Friday, prohibiting US-registered aircraft from operating over the Gulf and Gulf of Oman, following Thursday's strike on a reconnaissance drone near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Saturday's decision means Indian commercial and cargo flights towards middle-eastern and European countries, as well as the US, will have to take lengthy and costly detours.
22/06/19 Peninsula

Air India Flight Bombing Anniversary: 34 Years Later, Does Canada Remember?

On June 23, 1985, Air India Flight 182 departed Toronto via Montreal for Delhi with 329 passengers and crew, mostly Canadians of Indian ancestry. They included 82 children under the age of 13.

The end of the school year in Canada had brought the promise of visiting places and people in India, the country from which their families had immigrated.

Deep in the bowels of the plane, hidden among the checked-in luggage, were two suitcase bombs that would detonate in midair off the coast of Ireland. Those children along with all their fellow passengers were lost forever.

The children – dearly loved daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends — were innocents whose lives ended by an act of terror. But their tragic fate did not embed itself deeply in the consciousness of their fellow Canadians.

The Air India bombing has been described as the largest mass murder in Canadian history and an act of aviation terror without precedent. But the catastrophe remains unknown, or at most little-known to most Canadians.
23/06/19 Chandrima Chakraborty/Wire

Dainik Bhaskar publishes exaggerated amounts as extra cost to air travellers due to closure of Pakistani airspace

Today the Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar published an article regarding increased cost the airlines are having to bear due to the continued closure of international airspace over Pakistan. In the headline, the article says that daily 70000 travellers are paying upto 5 times more airfare due to this. Although it is correct that Airlines are having to spend more due to the longer route they are having to take bypassing Pakistan, the numbers mentioned in the report are highly exaggerated and defy logic.
The report by Dainik Bhaskar mentions that daily around 233 flights to and from India are affected due to the closure of Pakistani airspace, which carries around 70 thousand passengers. According to the report, passengers travelling to Europe and the US are paying 4 to 5 times more in ticket price due to this. But this is clearly an exaggeration, as airfare has not gone up by that much. A simple search on online ticketing portals show that the cost of flight tickets to European and American destinations remain the same as usual price, they have not gone up by any significant amount.
Moreover, the flight time has gone up by 1-2 hours for most airlines due to avoiding Pakistani airspace, which would be around 20% increase for a 10-hour flight. So, there is no reason why the ticket price will go up by 5 times for that increase.
The article also mentions that Air India is spending Rs 6 crore extra for its flights to Europe and the US due to the change in route. The flight time has increased, and the non-stop flights to New York are having to halt for refuelling. This has added extra fuel and airport ground handling charges for the already loss-making airlines. But an earlier article in Business Standard has mentioned that Air India was losing Rs 3 crore daily due to this reason. So, this means the amount has doubled to Rs 6 crore in the Dainik Bhaskar report.
23/06/19 OpIndia

More direct flights from Delhi to Bali soon, says Indonesian Minister

Nia Niscaya, Indonesia's Deputy Minister for Tourism, said direct flights will be operational from October this year from Delhi to Bali via Chennai, in a bid to spur the influx of tourists.
Speaking to ANI, the Minister acknowledged that improving connectivity between the two countries will give tourism a much-needed impetus.
"Highest growth in tourist numbers is from China, second from India. This year, the target we are given is a challenge due to the lack of connectivity. In October this year, a flight from Delhi to Bali via Chennai will be operational.
This will help tourism flourish. While we wait for this to happen, we are using Singapore as a hub. We are giving out deals (on flights) to encourage people coming to Singapore to extend their stay to Indonesia. Many Indians come to Singapore, and we want to tap this."
She went on to say that the focus is now on increasing connectivity to Bali, given its popularity among tourists. However, operations will be expanded to other destinations in the future, she added.
Echoing similar sentiments, India's Ambassador to Indonesia, Pradeep Kumar Rawat said talks are being held between civil aviation authorities in both countries regarding a boost to direct connectivity.
23/06/19 ANI/DNA

Ural Airlines aims to start daily Mumbai-Moscow flight

Mumbai:  Ural Airlines, the fourth largest airline of Russia, aims to start a daily flight between Mumbai and Moscow. The Yekaterinburg-based airline recently conducted its inaugural Mumbai-Moscow flight. "India being the most (fastest) developing country in the world, we are trying to open up the route with an aim of having four weekly flights between Mumbai and Moscow, (later) increasing it to daily flights," said Marianna Galagura, head of its international relations and charter sales department.

"This is a long procedure to get all the permissions. It started in March last year. This is very important project for us because we consider India as most (fastest) developing country in the world," she said when asked for a timeline. "In future, we would like to have connecting flights between Sochi and New Delhi as well as between St Petersburg and Mumbai. It is a plan we are working on now," she said.

Asked if it has any plans of seat-sharing with Indian airlines, she said, "We are in the process of that because we consider cooperation is better than competing. We are in process of co-sharing and inter-lining with Indian airlines."

Ural Airlines currently flies to over 300 destinations. "We plan to increase it. We are also adding some Chinese routes and increasing Europe operations," Galagura said. The airline has 47 aircraft and would add four more by the end of this year, she said, adding that the company is aiming to increase the size of its fleet to 100 by next year- end. "Our main fleet is going to be from Airbus," she added.
22/06/19 PTI/New Indian Express

Gold, foreign currency seized

Trichy: The air intelligence unit (AIU) of customs has seized foreign currencies and gold worth Rs 18 lakh in two different incidents at the Trichy International Airport in the early hours of Saturday.
According to officials, they were engaged in routine checking process, when they grew suspicious over the activities of a passenger who arrived by an Air India Express flight from Sharjah flight at around 4.30am on Saturday.
During frisking, they found that he concealed the gold in his rectum in the form of a rubbery substance. The passenger was identified as Mohammed Ibrahim, 36, of Chennai. Customs officials recovered 522g of gold worth Rs 14.11 lakh from his body.
In another incident, customs officials seized foreign currency from a passenger who has been identified as Samsudeen, 47, of Karaikudi. He had concealed 23,000 Saudi Riyals which were equivalent to Rs 4.13 lakh.
23/06/19 Times of India

Senior Air India pilot accused of stealing wallet in Sydney, suspended

New Delhi: Air India has suspended a senior pilot for allegedly stealing a wallet from a duty free shop at Sydney airport, officials said Sunday.

Rohit Bhasin, the airline’s regional director for East, was rostered as one of the commanders (pilots) of a flight that was set to depart at 10.45 am (local time) on June 22 from Sydney for Delhi.

"There is an initial report of one of its captains Mr Rohit Bhasin, who is also working as a regional director, picking up a wallet from a duty free shop in Sydney. Air India has instituted an enquiry into this incident and has placed the captain under suspension," said a spokesperson for Air India.

The suspension order issued by the airline on Saturday said: "It has been reported by regional manager Australasia that you allegedly committed an act of shoplifting from a duty free shop at Sydney airport before the departure of flight AI301 of 22nd June, 2019, from Sydney airport for which you were rostered as one of the Commander."

"Without prejudice to any disciplinary action to be initiated against you and pending enquiry, you are hereby placed under suspension with immediate effect," the order stated.
23/06/19 PTI/Business Standard

Air India suspends regional director Rohit Bashin for alleged shoplifting at Sydney airport

Mumbai: Air India has suspended its regional director (eastern region) allegedly for shoplifting a wallet at the duty-free area of Sydney airport on June 22.
The decision to suspend Captain Rohit Bhasin was taken following a report by the regional manager, Australasia. A senior commander, Capt. Rohit Bhasin was to fly AI 301 from Sydney to Delhi, a little after he allegedly committed the shoplifting.
The order signed by Air India’s director (personnel) Amrita Sharan said that without prejudice to any disciplinary action initiated against him and pending enquiry, Capt. Bhasin was being placed under suspension.
The senior pilot was also told not to enter the premises of Air India Ltd. or leave Kolkata, his station, without the permission of the airline management. He was also told to handover all his company identity cards.
On his part, officials said that Capt. Bhasin told officials that he had just learnt of becoming a grandfather and that he was too overwhelmed when he visited the outlet of TUMI, a bags and accessories brand to buy a gift for his daughter-in-law.
Air India spokesperson said, the airline lays the highest stress on proper conduct of its staff and has a zero tolerance policy towards acts of impropriety.
23/06/19 The Hindu

Mumbai: Former Air India staffer duped of Rs 60 lakh

Mumbai: A 60-year-old retired supervisor of Air India has registered an FIR against three people, including the director of a construction firm, for allegedly duping him to the tune of Rs 60 lakh.

The accused, identified as E Murlidharan Iyer is an AI employee, Shailesh Joshi is a property dealer, and Dharmendra Thakur is the director of Gopi Estate and Infra Private Limited.

Complainant Pramod Kaluwala has alleged that the accused lured him to invest money on some plots for a fake construction project promising him better returns.
According to the police, before retirement in 2014 Kaluwala's colleague Iyer told him that he knows a builder in Aarey Colony who can help Kaluwala to earn good money. Later, along with Joshi, Kaluwala and Iyer visited Thakur's office in Goregaon's Royal Palms area. "Thakur showed him Kaluwala an open plot and claimed that he plans to build a commercial building on it. He also showed the floor plan of the building and asked Kaluwala to select offices in which he would like to invest. After selection of two, Kaluwala was assured that the construction shall be completed in 18 months and possession shall be given immediately. Kaluawala deposited Rs 43 lakh in Thakur's account," said a police officer.
23/06/19 Dhananjay Khatri/DNA

Indigo flight diverted to Bhubaneswar after passenger turns unruly

Bhubaneswar: Hyderabad-Guwahati Indigo flight 6E462 was on Sunday diverted to Bhubaneswar after a passenger turned unruly, airline sources said.
Irshad Ali, breached flight safety procedures by trying to open the door of the plane, they said. The passenger was deboarded after the aircraft landed at Bhubaneswar airport at 6.10 am and handed over to police.
23/06/19 Asian Age

2 Chinese nationals arrested at Delhi IGI airport for allegedly using fake ticket to see off friend

New Delhi: Two Chinese nationals were arrested at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi for allegedly using fake tickets to enter Terminal 3 in order to see off their female friend on Friday night, police said.
The incident occurred around 11 pm when Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) duty personnel noticed two passengers roaming around suspiciously in the check-in area of Terminal 3 of the airport.
On enquiry, the accused - Zhang Peng and  Zuo Wei, revealed that they got access to the terminal by showing an edited itinerary of China Southern airline, whose flight was scheduled to take off at 11:30 pm. They informed that they were there to see off their female friend who was also travelling by the same flight bound to  Guangzhou in China, police said.
Both the accused possessed Chinese passports and were later handed over to the Delhi police to initiate an inquiry. An FIR has been registered against the men and the investigation is underway.
23/06/19 Zee News

Gold, foreign currency seized

Trichy: The air intelligence unit (AIU) of customs has seized foreign currencies and gold worth Rs 18 lakh in two different incidents at the Trichy International Airport in the early hours of Saturday.
According to officials, they were engaged in routine checking process, when they grew suspicious over the activities of a passenger who arrived by an Air India Express flight from Sharjah flight at around 4.30am on Saturday.
During frisking, they found that he concealed the gold in his rectum in the form of a rubbery substance. The passenger was identified as Mohammed Ibrahim, 36, of Chennai. Customs officials recovered 522g of gold worth Rs 14.11 lakh from his body.
In another incident, customs officials seized foreign currency from a passenger who has been identified as Samsudeen, 47, of Karaikudi. He had concealed 23,000 Saudi Riyals which were equivalent to Rs 4.13 lakh.
He was caught by the officials when he was about to board a Dubai-bound Air India Express flight at around 12.10am on Saturday. He had concealed the currency notes in his hand luggage. Further investigations are on, airport authorities.
23/06/19 Times of India

Six Indians arrested for smuggling gold in Sri Lanka

Colombo: Six Indians have been arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities for allegedly attempting to smuggle gold worth Rs 30 lakhs to India, a media report said on Sunday.
The accused were arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport here and had concealed the gold biscuits in their luggages, pockets of the trousers they were wearing and also their rectum, the Daily Mirror reported.
"All the accused are aged between 36 and 53. They were trying to smuggle the gold to Chennai and now have been arrested,"Customs Spokesman Deputy Director Sunil Jayaratne was quoted as saying in the report.
23/06/19 PTI/Times of India