Friday, May 29, 2020

Air India employee unions seek Rs 50,000 cr financial package for flag carrier

New Delhi: A large section of Air India employees has written to the Government to infuse Rs 50,000 crore into the national carrier, stating that the airline is a necessity for the country.Experts, however, feel that the plea won’t have much impact, since the government is in no position to infuse such a big amount at this point of time. “Whatever the government has to announce for the sector, it had announced in the Aatmanirbhar package. It is highly unlikely that they would infuse an amount this big now. They would be focused on keeping the airline alive, so that when normalcy returns, they are able to go ahead with the privatisation plan,” said an aviation analyst requesting anonymity.
In February, the government had initiated the process for divesting 100 per cent of its holding in Air India. The original date for submission of expressions of interest (EOI) was March 15, 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline has been extended to June 30, 2020. Aviation consultancy firm Capa India had, in a note earlier this month, said that the privatisation of Air India continues to be high on the government’s agenda despite getting delayed by several quarters due to the pandemic. It had said that the government may even seek to fast-track the process once it resumes, since it will otherwise need to commit several billion dollars of capital.
The Joint Forum of AI employees and staff unions, however, said that Air India is a “necessity” for the country, especially in times of crises, and a financial package will not only help the flag carrier but also the entire economy.“In view of this, we request you to kindly grant Air India a financial package of Rs 50,000 crore,” the Joint Forum said.
28/05/20 New Indian Express

Airlines manage to fill half of flights on average; demand to fall further

Mumbai: With homebound students, young professionals, small-time businessmen and workers accounting for most travellers, airlines have managed to operate flights at about 50% occupancy rates, although industry insiders say demand will plunge once the spate of essential travel is over.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri wrote on microblogging platform Twitter that airlines ferried 30,136 passengers on 367 flights till 5 pm on Thursday.
This means airlines are operating with only 82 passengers on average per flight. Most aircraft in India have 180 seats.
The number Puri cited for previous days also threw up similar occupancy numbers.
Load factors for low fare carrier IndiGo, which carries nearly half of India’s domestic passengers, was below 50%, said an IndiGo executive.
“Majority of the travel is from metros to non-metros, primarily cities in the east and northeast like Patna and Guwahati. Those routes are seeing 60% loads or slightly higher. Flights to metros are barely filling more than 40%,” said a senior airline executive on condition of anonymity.
29/05/20 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

In a first, 'smart' gate coming up at Kannur airport to screen passengers for COVID-19

Thiruvananthapuram: India’s first smart Artificial Intelligence-enabled temperature screening airport gate is coming up at Kannur. It will be implemented by next week by Parliamentarians with Innovators for India (PII), a social organisation working to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 70-member core team of PII got in touch with a UK-based innovative company ten days ago to procure various components for the AI-enabled temperature screening airport gate. Anil K Antony, who is the national coordinator of PII, told The New Indian Express that the capacity of the latest AI-enabled temperature screening airport gate is larger and its accuracy matchless.

“This is the first of its kind in India which is a good first-level scanning facility at the entry gate of the Kannur airport. It is a low-cost AI equipment coming up for Rs 13 lakh as our primary aim is to work with CSR partners who are attached to PII. Our overall focus is on cost-effective equipment,” said Antony who has already come up with a slew of projects to combat COVID-19 under the banner of PII across the country, including his home state.
Though Kannur MP K Sudhakaran is not a member of PII, he is also associated with the setting up of the AI-enabled temperature screening airport gate at the airport. V Thulasidas, managing director of KIAL, confirmed to The New Indian Express that all gates at Kannur airport will be having the temperature screening facilities from next week.
“Already three devices have arrived and two more are expected by Monday. Within the next week, all the gates of Kannur airport will have the temperature screening facilities. What we need when a flight arrives is to check the temperature of all the passengers without waiting for a long time,” said Thulasidas. He also informed that the latest facility will be used for checking the temperature of staff as well.
28/05/20 Cynthia Chandran/New Indian Express

Sonowal reviews arrangements at Airport

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Thursday reviewed the arrangements for registration and screening of inbound and outbound passengers at the Lokopriyo Gopinath International airport here which resumed operations on Monday following lockdown relaxations. The state government is taking steps to bring back people stranded in various parts of the country through different modes of travel, the chief minister told reporters here. He said that so far 3421 people have arrived in Assam by 38 flights against 1190 people who have flown out. The state government was taking all measures to ensure that the travelers do not face any difficulty, Sonowal added. He appreciated the role played by health, transport, police, tax, excise departments etc in close coordination with Airports Authority of India and CISF for facilitating smooth movement of people. He also praised the services rendered by drivers and staffs of Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) buses and thanked the people of the state for staying united in this fight against COVID-19. The chief minister also flagged off the cargo flight carrying pumpkins produced by states farmers to Dubai at the Cargo Terminal of the airport. He said that the produce of the farmers in the state had been exported to markets in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, London, Hong Kong and Singapore among others. The chief minister also informed that steps were being taken to export states agricultural produce by steamers from Pandu port here through the Brahmaputra at the initiative of Industries department. He expressed optimism that all these measures would help in achieving the target of doubling farmers income by 2022 set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi while providing access to a wider market to states farmers.
28/05/20 PTI/Outlook

Vindu Dara Singh flies from Chandigarh to Mumbai, shares airport video

Mumbai: Vindu Dara Singh flew from Chandigarh to Mumbai on Friday morning. The actor took to Twitter to share a video from Chandigarh airport where it was raining in the morning.
Sharing the video of a half empty Chandigarh airport, Vindu tweeted: "Taking my first flight since ages #Chandigarh to #Mumbai and the airport is immaculate with all precautions! It's a joke when they say a person landed and got positive on a 2 hour flight despite mask ect just 33 on board so airlines in loss but so is the world ! Life will go on."
Commenting on his tweet, a user asked him why is he travelling to Mumbai at a time when COVID 19 positive cases are spiking in the city. Replying to the comment, the actor offered an explanation.
He wrote: "Jahan testing zyada wahan cases zyada (where testing is being done in huge numbers, more cases are being detected) and mumbai has a lot of people living in close proximity so it will definitely have maximum tension with positive cases but it's a city that never stops and has a never say die spirit. We will rock again soon in aamchi. #Mumbai."
29/05/20 daijiworld

Flight service resumes at Rajkot airport

Rajkot: The flight service resumed at Rajkot airport after two months on Thursday.
The first flight from Mumbai landed at Rajkot airport with 77 passengers. In return, 36 passengers from Rajkot boarded the flight to Mumbai.

However, the airport authorities at Rajkot are yet to receive a proper schedule of flights. It is yet not clear when the next flight will land.

According to sources, the flight operation will resume based on the number of bookings. SpiceJet operated the 120-seater aircraft Airbus 319 between Mumbai and Ahmedabad via Rajkot.
Of the 77 passengers who arrived, 30 have been taken to quarantine facility of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC). The list of passengers going to other districts has been sent in their respective districts and talukas for health check ups.
29/05/20 Times of India

Flights continue to get cancelled

Panaji: Domestic flights continued to receive a poor response with just six scheduled flights operating on Thursday out of Goa International airport, said officials. Data provided by officials showed that 71 passengers arrived and 182 passengers took the flights out of Goa.
Along with the scheduled flights, a Rossiya repatriation flight to St Petersburg with 357 passengers, including eight children, took off from Goa International Airport.

“Till date, 8,042 adults and 89 infants have taken repatriation flights out of Goa,” said Goa Airport Director Gagan Malik.

Flights between Goa and Mysore continued to face poor demand, with just one passenger boarding the Alliance Air flight 9I 896 to Mysore. The flight arrived with just four passengers from Mysore, said airport officials.
IndiGo operated the other two domestic flights to Delhi and Bengaluru.
29/05/20 Times of India

Private aircraft expected to land at Mangaluru airport

Mangaluru: A private aircraft is expected to land at the international airport here from Dubai. The flight is awaiting permission from the directorate of civil aviation.
The flight will have 175 passengers. It had been booked last week. But for landing in India, the aircraft needs permission from the civil aviation directorate. The company operating the said aircraft has taken up the matter with the directorate and the flight will take off only after getting permission. This flight is expected to bring passengers here on May 29 or 30.
If this flight arrives, it will be the third flight from Dubai to land at Mangaluru after the lockdown was lifted, and the first private aircraft to do so.
29/05/20 daijiworld

All metros connected via flights, passenger numbers rise

New Delhi: The re-commencement of flight services to West Bengal on Thursday gave a boost to the overall domestic operations and passenger numbers in India.

Passenger flight services now connect all the major metro cities amongst other destinations in India.

Bengal had barred flight services till May 28.

Besides, connecting all the major metros, the addition of West Bengal also gave a boost to the overall flight and passenger numbers in India.

Till 5 p.m. on Thursday, airports across the country handled a total of 677 aircraft movements with 55,666 passenger footfalls.

On Twitter, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that 367 departures and 310 arrivals took place till 5 p.m. on Thursday.

The Centre has allowed limited passenger flights -- about one-third of the summer schedule -- to operate between metros and other destinations from May 25.

Passenger air services were suspended on March 25 due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19.

On Wednesday, till 5 p.m., 354 departures and 288 arrivals were reported, ferrying almost 48,000 people.

As per Thursday''s schedule, 147 scheduled departures and 145 arrivals were planned from Terminal 3 in the national capital.

Similarly, Mumbai''s CSMIA saw a total of 50 scheduled flights, which included 25 departures and the same number of arrivals.

"Passenger numbers continue to rise as a number of issues like confusion over quarantine norms and ticket refunds are being sorted out," Nishant Pitti, CEO and co-founder of EaseMyTrip.com, told IANS.

"Teething issues are sorting out, things are getting better with time, further change in refund policy of IndiGo and AirAsia India have built trust among customers again, so now 10-15 per cent customers are boking tickets of future travel as well."

In another development, some passengers on IndiGo flights have tested Covid-19 positive.

These passengers include three individuals, who traveled on ''6E 955'' from Delhi to Jammu on May 26, while six were ferried onboard ''6E 6992'' from Bengaluru to Coimbatore on May 27 and another two used the ''6E 908'' service from Delhi to Coimbatore on May 27 too.
28/05/20 IANS/Outlook

13 Special flights to bring home 2,000 Indian nationals stranded in Gulf countries today; Air India to fly back 150 Indians from Sri Lanka

13 flights from the gulf region to India are scheduled today as part of the Vande Bharat Mission. The flights will bring back stranded Indians to various parts of India.

AIR correspondent reports, Vande Bharat Mission continues to touch the lives of various distressed and stranded Indians abroad.

13 flights have been scheduled from the Gulf countries to India , more than half of which are from the UAE.

There are six flights from Dubai to Jaipur , Kochi, Kannur, Hyderabad , Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram.

Another two flights are scheduled from Abu Dhabi to Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram.

For Jaipur it is the first flight from UAE under the Vande Bharat Mission. From Saudi Arabia , there is a flight Srinagar and Kozhikode.  This is also the first flight to Srinagar from the Kingdom.

Kuwait has two flights to Ahmedabad and Kozhikode. Muscat has one flight to Kochi and Doha has one flight to Kannur.

As part of Vande Bharat Mission, an Air India flight will bring back around 150 Indian nationals from Colombo in Sri Lanka today. This is the first repatriation flight under the mission from the island nation.

AIR correspondent reports, Passengers have started reaching Colombo airport from where Air India flight will take off to Mumbai followed by Bhubaneswar and Kolkata.

All safety precautions are being taken at the  airport and medical screening will be carried out for passengers before their boarding.

More flights are expected from Colombo in next phase while INS Jalashwa of Indian navy will sail from Colombo port carrying around 700 Indian nationals to Tuticorin on Monday.

This will be the first voyage of navy ship from Sri Lanka, as part of its Samudrasetu mission. There are around 1700 Indian nationals registered with Indian high commission for evacuation due to COVID crisis and have been waiting for returning back home.
29/05/20 All India Radio

92 Air India flights cancelled between May 28 and 31

Seems like it will take some time for seamless airline operations in India. On May 25, air travel resumed for domestic passengers withing the country; on the very first day, a number of flights got cancelled, resulting in a lot of chaos and confusion. Reportedly, Air India has cancelled 92 flights that were scheduled between May 28 and 31. As per news reports, the reason behind these massive numbers is limited or unavailable slots at major airports, along with stringent quarantine rules.

The 92 flights that have been cancelled include some on busy routes including Mumbai-Delhi, Delhi-Hyderabad, Delhi-Kolkata, Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Hyderabad-Bengaluru and Chennai-Delhi. Several Air India flights have been cancelled on other routes as well including Chennai-Mumbai, Kolkata-Guwahati, Mumbai-Bhopal, Chennai-Bengaluru, Kolkata-Dibrugarh, Kolkata-Imphal, Imphal-Aizwal and Kolkata-Agartala.

In an important update, Air India reached out to people via social media, stating, “If you are holding AI confirmed tickets with travel dates during 23.03.2020 to 31.05. 2020 and have had their flight cancelled will be allowed to book in available flights for the period 25th May 2020 till 24 August 2020 at no extra charge.”
It further mentioned that in case a person requires change of routing, only the re-routing charges will be waived but the applicable difference of fare will be charged. These changes can be done through the Air India call centre, AI booking offices and Authorised AI Travel agents only.

In a relate news, after being hit by the disastrous Cyclone Amphan, Kolkata airport is now ready to resume operations from May 28. However, there will be a limited number of flights (only 10 arrivals and 10 departures everyday).
28/05/20 Times Travel

No advisory to pilots, airlines yet on flight ops in regions under locust attack

Mumbai: While parts of western and northern Indian have come under locusts invasion in the past few days, there is yet no circular from the Indian civil aviation regulator on the safety aspects of operating an aircraft in regions that are under attack by these flying mob of grasshoppers.
For an aircraft on approach to land or one on a climb post take off, flying into a swarm of locusts could be dangerous as these insects could get sucked, by thousands, into the aircraft engines damaging them, they could smash onto the cockpit windscreen blurring visibility, get sucked into the open probes like pitot or static tubes that should remain open if an aircraft has to gauge its airspeed accurately.
``Locusts swarms can be worst than volcanic ash. If they clog the pitot and static tubes, for instance, the cockpit instruments would give erroneous airspeed readings to pilots who are already impaired due to poor visibility from a locust-damaged windscreen,’’ said an air safety expert. An erroneous airspeed indication in the cockpit coupled with a carcass-mottled windscreen during an approach to land could be potentially hazardous to aircraft safety.
Early this year, a swarm forced an Ethiopian Airlines flight flying from Djibouti to Dire Dawa to divert to Addis Ababa after locusts crashed into the aircraft’s windshield affecting visibility. In December last year, a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft flew into a swarm while landing at Quetta, but the pilot managed to land the aircraft safely though the swarm of insects had smashed onto the windscreen and aircraft nose.
Said a senior Air India commander: ``No guidelines or advisory has been issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) yet on flight operations in regions under locusts attack. We haven’t received anything as of May 28, 11 pm.”
On Thursday, the Delhi government issued an advisory on preventive measures to be taken in case of a locust attack in the national capital territory (NCT) of Delhi. Said an A320 instructor: ``The DGCA too should have issued an advisory today. There are not many flight movements in the night as only a fraction of domestic flights are being operated but early on Friday morning, aircraft will take off and land in Gujarat, regions of Maharashtra and MP that are under locust attack,’’ he added. Air travel which was banned for the past two months in India, was restarted on May 25 with airlines currently flying less than one-third of their schedule. However even a single incident of an aircraft flying into a swarm during critical stages of take off or landing could lead to an emergency.
29/05/20 Manju V/Times of India

With Masks And Gloves, Delhi Airport Reassures Fliers With Strict Rules

New Delhi: Indira Gandhi International Airport that serves as the country's major international aviation hub has donned a new look to avoid any kind of commotion after domestic flights resumed on May 25.
Passengers queuing up for preliminary checking at Terminal 3 would require to stand on blue and red strips marked on the floor to help them follow social distancing.

At the entry-gate, security checks temperature by a thermal scanner after which passengers are required to show Aarogya Setu app that provides the latest status of the app holder.

After the luggage sanitisation process is completed, at the entry get inside the airport passengers would require to stand on a carpet soaked in sanitizer to get even their shoe soles sanitized.

Inside the airport, at the smoking zone, a passenger Ayush Kumar, 32, headed for Varanasi, said, "I am very confident to air travel now after experiencing all the latest regulations put forth by Airport Authority of India. Even in the smoking zone, not more than five persons are allowed and they also need to stand on the red and blue stripes."
Drinking water facilities that previously had to be operated by hand has now been fitted with mechanism that can be pushed with a leg to avoid any hand contacts.

A senior citizen Ramachandra, 65, travelling to Kochi said, "I am going to Kochi from Delhi after staying here at my daughter's place for two months. The arrangements are very substantial and well-watched. If one is wearing a mask and taking precautionary measures travelling will be worry-free."
29/05/20 ANI/NDTV

Shefali Jariwala on her flying experience amid pandemic

New Delhi: Actress Shefali Jariwala along with her husband Parag Tyagi flew to Delhi from Mumbai on May 26 after the demise of her father-in-law. "My father-in-law was unwell for sometime. He was in the hospital for dialysis as his kidneys were giving him a lot of trouble, and just before the dialysis began he had a massive heart attack. He was admitted to hospital last month," Shefali told IANS.

Domestic air travel resumed in India on Monday post two months of coronavirus lockdown, and Shefali considers herself fortunate that she could board the flight and be with her family in time.
"Fortunately, flight operations had just begun, so we managed to reach there on time. We took a flight to Delhi and luckily our flight did not get cancelled as a lot of cancellations were happening that day," she added.
Shefali also spoke about the safety precautions she followed while travelling from one state to the other via air.
"We were properly covered. We had a mask, face shield. We wore hoodies, socks and shoes while travelling. We did our web check-in before reaching to the airport as it was mandatory. Staff checked our temperature before allowing us to enter the airport. We even had to bring our own baggage tags. It was more like a self check-in. I have never seen Bombay airport like this in my life. It was deserted. People were wearing masks, PPE suits and maintaining social distancing. There were hand sanitisers at every corner of the airport. There was sadness in the air. It felt different. I guess it's the new normal," she said.
28/05/20 IANS/India TV

No visible swarm of locusts near airport area: Mumbai air traffic control

Mumbai: With reports of locusts-sighting in certain parts of the city, the Mumbai air traffic control has alerted its controllers to keep an eye for these grasshoppers. But currently, there are no reports of sightings large enough to impact flight operations.
"Currently, we don’t find any such visible group of locusts in our area," said Rajeev Mehta, general manager, Mumbai air traffic control. "We have alerted our controllers though to keep a watch for these swarms. In case if there is anything, we will take caution," he said. Responding to the unverified images and clips doing rounds on WhatsApp about locusts sightings in Mumbai, Mehta said that "it might be a small bunch of locusts which has entered Mumbai". He added: "If they come in aircraft path, when descending or take-off, they are too small to cause significant impact to engines, their mass is significantly smaller than that of birds. If it’s not a big swarm, it’s not likely to cause any significant impact on aircraft operations."
A senior commander said that huge swarm of locusts could cause a problem to aircraft flying at lower heights during a take-off or approach to land. "A few locusts might not cause any damage, even if ingested into aircraft engines. But a dense swarm of locusts might be worrisome, not only because they would get sucked into the engine by hundreds causing problems, but also because they would impair visibility from cockpit, which could affect an approach to land," he added.
28/05/20 Manju V/Times of India

Liquor baron hires 180-seater chartered plane for four family members to ‘avoid crowd’ at airport, flight

A Bhopal-based high net worth individual hired a 180-seater A320 plane of a private carrier to ferry four family members to New Delhi, in a bid to avoid crowd at the airport and in flight amid the COVID-19 outbreak, officials said on Thursday.

The person, who is a liquor baron, chartered the aircraft to send to Delhi his daughter, her two children and their maid, who were stuck in Bhopal since the last two months due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, sources said.

The plane arrived here from Delhi on Monday with crew only and flew back with just four passengers for whom it was specially hired, they said.

“The A320 180-seater plane arrived here on May 25 to carry four members of a family, probably due to the coronavirus scare. It was chartered by someone and there was no medical emergency, an airline official said, refusing to divulge any further details. Bhopals Rajabhoj Airport Director Anil Vikram could not be contacted for comments.
28/05/20 PTI/Financial Express

HC notices on plea over cancellation of airport project award

Nagpur: The Bombay High Court on Friday issued notices to the Maharashtra government and MIHAN India Ltd on a petition filed by GMR Airports Ltd challenging the cancellation of their award for upgradation and operation of the city-based Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport.

In its petition, GMR Airports Ltd challenged the "unjust, arbitrary and illegal action" of MIHAN India Ltd in annulling the bidding process for upgradation, modernisation, operation and management of the international airport at Nagpur despite the process having come to an end and the petitioner (GMR) already having been awarded the project by way of a letter of award on March 7, 2019.

As per the plea, Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN), a joint venture company between Maharashtra Airport Development Company and Airports Authority of India (AAI), is now planning on issuing fresh tenders for the project.

The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, comprising Justices S B Shukre and A S Kilor, on Friday issued notices to MIHAN and the government and posted the matter for further hearing on June 12.

"If any fresh tenders are invited, the same shall be subject to the result of this petition," the court said.
29/05/20 PTI/Outlook

Domestic flight service resumes in Arunachal Pradesh

Itanagar: Domestic flight service resumed at Pasighat airport in East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday after a gap of two months. Flight ATR-72 (Alliance Airlines) landed at Pasighat airport this morning at 0900 hours via Kolkata-Guwahati-Tezpur, boarding two airlines staff and two passengers.
 East Siang DC Kinny Singh and SP Rajiv Ranjan Singh were present at the airport to ensure that SOPs are maintained by the officers and security personnel on duty, an official release said. The DC informed that details of the passengers were duly recorded and screened on arrival and later they were sent for quarantine.
 No relative or friend of the passengers were allowed to visit the airport area, she added. While SP Singh informed that newly issued SOP by the Civil Aviation Ministry for security was followed strictly .
28/05/20 UNI

IndiGo and AirAsia start refunding money to passengers for cancelled flights

Aviation Industry’s leading airlines Indigo and AirAsia have started to refund money to passengers who don’t want credit shells for the tickets which airlines had to cancel due to some reasons. According to Airlines source, though the airlines have started the money refund process to passengers, they have not yet commented on money refund on credit shells issued earlier to them. The information regarding procedure or time-taken to redeem credit shells to passengers whose flights were cancelled due to lockdown guidelines has not been clarified yet.

Speaking on Airlines decision to refund money, CEO of easemytrip.com, Nishat Pitti said, “All passengers booked on AirAsia and IndiGo who want a refund instead of credit shell would be refunded and we have started refunding money to customers in their bank account, as these airlines have also started refunding us. According to me, it will boost the trust factor among customers to book future tickets which are generally lower priced”.

With leading airlines Indigo and AirAsia starting the refunding process, other airlines may follow the same thing soon. A Senior Airline Executive said that Airlines have started refunding but it will take some time to refund every agent. The passenger who bought through the agent will have to apply to an agent for the refund. The refunding process will depend on the date the passengers booked the Air tickets and circumstances they booked as all the airlines have issued a lot of credit shells and till those credit shells are redeemed, the process will take time to expedite.
29/05/20 Anjali Mahto/Indian Wire

The industry that has been massively hit by the pandemic will witness changes

Humans need to travel—it is a primal urge. At the same time, we are also a very resilient species. The impact of COVID-19 is unlike some of the crises that we have seen in the past like SARS and 9/11, in the sense that this pandemic is going to change the way we live, and not just the way we travel.
Read Sanjeeb Patel's full article >>

Six passengers who flew from Chennai to Salem test positive for coronavirus

Chennai: As many as six passengers on a TruJet flight from Chennai to Salem in Tamil Nadu that landed on Wednesday have tested for the novel coronavirus. There were a total of 56 passengers onboard the aircraft, six of whom have tested positive as of yet.

Officials said that all of the six passengers are asymptomatic. As a precautionary measure, all of the remaining passengers have been quarantined. TruJet is a Hyderabad-based private regional airline.

It has also come to light that a doctor, who works at the state-run Stanley medical college and hospital in Chennai, was one of the six individuals who tested positive for the infection. The doctor was also travelling to Salem.

Earlier on Thursday, a spokesperson for SpiceJet said that two passengers who travelled from Ahmedabad to Guwahati on May 25 have tested positive for Covid-19. The operating crew has been quarantined and other passengers are being notified, the spokesperson added.
28/05/20 Nagarjun Dwarakanath/India Today

Big TN surge in infection of air passengers

New Delhi/Bengaluru/Coimbatore: At least 22 air passengers have tested positive for Covid-19 since Monday when domestic flight operations resumed, 17 of them in Tamil Nadu alone on Thursday. There were nine cases at the Coimbatore airport, Salem had five and Madurai three.

With the case count going up, states like Goa and Karnataka have already taken countermeasures. While Goa decided to compulsorily test all arrivals unless they were able to produce a negative test certificate, Karnataka requested the Centre to reduce the number of flights from high viral load states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

Of the nine cases of infection at the Coimbatore International Airport, five hailed from Tiruchy, two from Namakkal and one each from Coimbatore and Erode. Since they had flown in from Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai on Wednesday, officials said the cases would be added to the originating city’s tally. All nine have been sent to their native districts for treatment.

The five found infected in Salem had arrived by the same TruJet flight from Chennai on Wednesday. Their positive swab test report came on Thursday.

Of the three cases reported at the Madurai airport, two had arrived from Delhi on separate flights and one from Bengaluru on Wednesday. They are now in institutional quarantine.
29/05/20 New Indian Express

494 domestic flights carrying 38,078 passengers operated in India on Thursday: Aviation minister

New Delhi: A total of 494 domestic flights, carrying 38,078 passengers, were operated on Thursday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Friday.

Domestic flight operations resumed in the country on Monday after a gap of two months. All scheduled passenger flights were suspended from March 25 to May 24 due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

International passenger flights continue to remain suspended.

A total of 428 domestic flights, carrying 30,550 passengers, and 445 domestic services, carrying 62,641 flyers, were operated on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

On Wednesday, 460 domestic flights, carrying 34,336 passengers, were operated.

In February this year, when the lockdown was not imposed, around 4.12 lakh passengers travelled daily through domestic flights in India, according to Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data.

During the pre-lockdown period, Indian airports handled around 3,000 daily domestic flights, aviation industry sources said.

Airports in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have been allowed to handle a restricted number of daily flights as these states do not want a huge influx of flyers amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

While domestic services resumed in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday, they restarted in West Bengal on Thursday.

Though domestic flight operations across the country began on May 25, they could not be restarted in Kolkata and Bagdogra as the state''s machinery was involved in relief and restoration work after cyclone Amphan''s devastation.

On Friday, Puri tweeted: "Figures for domestic flights for 28th May 2020 till 2359 hours: Day 4, Departures 494, 38,078 passengers handled, Arrivals 493, 38,389 passengers handled."
29/05/20 PTI/Outlook

Chennai airport to handle 47 flights including one to Bagdogra

Chennai: Chennai airport will handle 23 departures, including a flight to Bagdogra, and 24 arrivals on Friday. There will be four departures to Delhi and three departures to Bengaluru.
As per the schedule released on Thursday, an IndiGo flight to Delhi at 6.35am will be the first departure of the day. The last flight of the day will be an Air India flight to Delhi at 9.30pm. The Chennai-Bagdogra flight by SpiceJet will depart at 9.55am.
The first arrival for the day will be a SpiceJet flight from Bengaluru at 8.45am and the last arrival will be an IndiGo flight from Delhi at 10.15pm.
The destinations are Delhi, Coimbatore, Madurai, Bengaluru, Salem, Bagdogra, Kadapa, Port Blair, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, Rajahmundry, Visakhapatnam, Kochi and Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mangalore.
28/05/20 V Ayaappan/Times of India

With rooms, flights going empty, here’s how airlines and hotels are making money

Two of the worst hit sectors due to coronavirus — aviation and hotel industries — are eyeing alternate revenue streams as lockdown dries up revenues. India’s domestic carrier SpiceJet has taken to flying cargo and airlines have also issued credit shells to those whose flights were cancelled. On the other hand, hotels are now offering discounts on bookings made for the future and have also started to deliver food to tide over the issue of short-term working capital deficit. Aviation and hotel industries typically have a high fixed-cost and have made almost zero revenue in almost a quarter as coronavirus lockdown put restrictions on movement.

While the government put restrictions on flights, some airlines have now taken to flying cargo and SpiceJet recently called it an “opportunity in crisis” as it expanded its cargo operations by converting passenger planes. Hotels have taken to giving discounts via gift vouchers to get some respite from the cash crunch as the sector continues to employ staff. However, small and mid sized hotels are more likely to give higher discounting as compared to those which are luxury hotels. Further to these, “drastic cost control…preliminary reopening plans and a sharp reduction in future supply addition” are also on the anvil, The Indian Express reported. “Globally, airlines and hotels have acknowledged the depth of this decline with recovery stated two to three years from now,” Pavethra Ponniah, vice president and sector head, ICRA, said, the newspaper reported.
29/05/20 Financial Express

SpiceJet converts three of its flights into freighters

Pune: SpiceJet has converted three of its Bombardier Q400 passenger aircraft into freighters. With the addition of these three cargo planes, SpiceJet now has a dedicated fleet of eight freighter aircraft.

The three converted Q400 cargo planes will primarily be used for operations to smaller towns and cities.

Ajay Singh, chairman & managing director, SpiceJet, said, “Our cargo operations are doing extremely well and to address the increased demand we have converted three Q400 passenger aircraft into freighters. These are our old 78-seater Q400s and have a cargo capacity of 8.5 tons each. These smaller cargo planes are perfectly suited for operations to Tier II & III cities and to remote and hilly areas in the North East, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh.”

“There is an opportunity in every crisis and at SpiceJet, we have been constantly innovating and adapting to changing situations. Today, our cargo network spans over 25 international destinations most of which we added during the lockdown period. We see a tremendous potential in the cargo business and will continue to expand in the times to come,” he added.
28/05/20 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

GoAir to fly again from 1st July; bookings open for passengers stranded during lockdown

GoAir is ready to fly once again. The airline had to stop operations after the imposition of lockdown due to Coronavirus pandemic. GoAir has opened bookings for flyers from 1st of June 2020. Those who want to fly to their native place can now log onto the official website — goair.in — and book tickets now.

GoAir says, "As per the Government's recent announcement, we are resuming flights in a phased manner and looking forward to welcome you on board starting 1st June 2020. Stay tuned to our social media channels our visit our website for the latest update."
"Taking off soon! We just want to let you know that we are #ReadyToGoAgain starting June 1st, 2020. We look forward to having you on-board soon," GoAir stated on its official Twitter handle.

The GoAir website also announced some monetary benefits for the passengers booking tickets from the GoAir App. The GoAir website says that those who will book GoAir flight ticket from the GoAir app will get 10 per cent instant discount after applying the Promo Code "GOAPP10'. To address those passenger who fear that they might not be able to fly due to the lockdown restrictions the GoAir said,"Your booking stays protected for a year."
29/05/20 ZeeBiz

Could India Become A Booming Stopover Country For Connecting Flights?

As India’s aviation market continues growing, could we see the country become a major stopover destination? India is home to two full-service carriers, Air India and Vistara, and well-located between Europe and East Asia. So, will India be able to capitalize on the new wave of travel? Let’s find out.
One of the main criteria to become an effective stopover country is geographic location. Countries that have succeeded in becoming major stopover destinations are those located between key continents. Looking at other regions that have become booming stopover countries, we see two areas in the lead: the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
For India, its geographical location puts it squarely between Europe and East Asia. Most European destinations are between seven and nine hours away from cities such as Delhi and Mumbai. Major Asian hubs such as Singapore and Ho Chi Minh are five hours in the other direction. India would also attract traffic from the Middle East, however, this is a much smaller market.

The Middle East capitalized on its location between the East and the West, connecting passengers globally. The Southeast Asian cities found a market in connecting passengers to Australia and other booming Asian countries. Just like these regions, India offers a unique location too.

Another essential factor to be a major stopover hub is the presence of a robust and reliable airline. Carriers such as Emirates, Qatar, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines have been pivotal in attracting tourists to their respective countries. India has struggled to do the same with Air India, which has been beset with operational and service issues. However, all of this is set to change.

The entry of Vistara into long-haul operations with its 787 Dreamliner will allow it to fill in Jet Airways’ role and expand direct routes from India. Furthermore, Air India’s privatization could see a huge facelift for the airline, allowing it to rebrand itself and offer superior service.

However, it is not only full-service carriers that are incumbent in India. The country is home to large low-cost carriers such as IndiGo and Spicejet, which offer passengers a cheaper alternative to explore the rest of the continent. IndiGo, in particular, has expanded to several international destinations and codeshares with Qatar and Turkish Airlines, allowing easy connections for passengers.
28/05/20 Syd Sharma/Simple Flying

Vistara’s first 787-9 aircraft operates its maiden commercial flight on Delhi-Kolkata route

Vistara said its first 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, which was delivered to it by Boeing in February this year, operated its maiden commercial flight from Delhi to Kolkata on Thursday morning.
While domestic passenger flights resumed across India from Monday, they restarted in Andhra Pradesh from Tuesday and in West Bengal from Thursday.

In a press release, Vistara’s Chief Commercial Officer Vinod Kannan said, “We are seeing a reasonable demand on some of the routes and are happy to add more flights to fly people home and help them reunite with their loved ones. This also enabled us to deploy India’s first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on the Delhi-Kolkata route on 28 and 29 May 2020.”

The airports at Kolkata and Bagdogra have been permitted to handle 20 daily flights each from Thursday onwards.

The airline said its flight UK705, operated using Dreamliner plane, departed from Delhi at 7.05 am on Thursday and arrived at Kolkata at 8.55 am.
There are 30 seats, 21 seats and 248 seats in business class, premium economy class and economy class of this wide-body aircraft.
28/05/20 PTI/Financial Express

Leisure travel demand will take some time to pick up, says Vistara

It takes two to tango and hence both airlines and passengers will have an equal role to play in making flying safe again amid COVID-19 pandemic, Vistara Chief Commercial Officer (COO) Vinod Kannan told CNBC-TV18 in an exclusive interview.
CNBC-TV18's Anu Sharma speaks with Vistara COO Vinod Kannan on various issues facing the airline and the wider industry amid the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.
Here is the full interview >>

Vistara starts flight from Delhi to Kolkata

Pune: Vistara, has resumed flight service to Kolkata and operated India’s first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to the city due to high demand on the Delhi-Kolkata route.
The flight UK705 departed Delhi on Thursday at 0705 hours and arrived in Kolkata at 0855 hours and marked the Vistara Dreamliner’s first commercial flight to Kolkata. Vistara will operate on the route with the same aircraft on May 29 as well.
Vistara’s chief commercial officer, Vinod Kannan said, “To travel is an innate human need that cannot be avoided for too long. We are seeing reasonable demand on some of the routes and are happy to add more flights to fly people home and help them reunite with their loved ones. This also enabled us to deploy India’s first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on the Delhi-Kolkata route on 28 and 29 May 2020."
"For some time, we see people undertaking only essential travel, as leisure and business travel may still take a while to return. Meanwhile, flyers are also getting acquainted to the new SOPs and guidelines from the government and realising that flying remains the safest way to travel. We remain optimistic about the future of the aviation sector and will do everything possible to ensure that together with our customers, we make flying feel safe again,” he said.
28/05/20 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Jet Airways gets interest from a dozen little-known suitors: from ex-staff to a Canadian businessman

Grounded airline Jet Airways has received as many as 12 expressions of interest (EOIs) in the latest round of bidding, two people directly in the know told CNBC-TV18.

This is the fourth round of bidding for the airline, which was grounded over a year back and subsequently referred to the National Company Law Tribunal in June 2019 by its lenders.

“We have received 11-12 Expressions of Interest, but we are still examining them to see if they will make the eligibility cut,” said a person directly in the know, and involved in the process.

UK-based Kalrock Capital, Hyderabad-based Turbo Aviation, Alpha Airways, a Canadian citizen by the name of Siva Rasiah, Imperial Capital, an Indian entrepreneur named Sanjay Mandavia, UK-based Adi Group, Synergy Group, and a consortium of former Jet Airways employees are among those who submitted EOIs, as per the people quoted earlier. The deadline to submit EOIs expired not he midnight of May 28.

“Maybe 3 or 4 of these suitors are going to finally be shortlisted, some of these names are interesting, so we have to see. The shortlisted ones will be asked to submit bids by July 11,” said another person who is aware of the deliberations.

Synergy Group and Adi Group had both shown interest in previous rounds as well but did not submit any binding bids.
29/05/20 Ritu Singh/CNBC TV18

Reviving Jet Airways: Long list of suitors surprises. But the big question remains

In Jet Airways' long list of suitors, of nearly a dozen, are a few familiar names, a couple of surprising ones and some unknown. But all are dogged by the same question in this fourth attempt to revive the airline - will anyone reach the finishing line?

The airline's lenders too are in a wait-and-watch mode, before pinning their hopes on the latest suitors.

The airline had suspended operations in April 2019, after running out of money to run operations.

Some of the new names that Moneycontrol could verify till now include - Hyderabad's Turbo Aviation, which specialises in charter, ground handling and MRO services; and entrepreneur Sanjay Mandavia of FSTC, who had planned to start a new airline in India, this year.
And yes, there is an airline!
Alpha Airways, which advisory firm CAPA says is based in Kyrgyzstan. A Google search doesn't throw up any website.
Three suitors have made a comeback. One is AdiGro Aviation, the London-based group headed by Sanjay Viswanathan. After being in the race for a considerable amount of time, and teaming-up with another suitor - a consortium of Jet Airways employees - AdiGro had bowed out.
Confirming the re-interest, Viswanathan, who is the Chairman of AdiGro, told Moneycontrol: "AdiGro is happy to work collaboratively with Resolution Professional, Committee of Creditors and Ministry of Civil Aviation to revive it, if this happens. It's in this spirit that we submitted our Prelim Resolution Plan."
Interestingly, the consortium of Jet Airways employees has also made a comeback.
The third one is Atmosphere Intercontinental Airlines, led by Jason Unsworth, the British entrepreneur whose offer last year to take control of Jet Airways had evoked surprise.
South America's Synergy Group, which is probably to have come closest to the finishing line since Jet Airways insolvency process began last year, continues to be in the race.
More new suitors

One of them is KALROCK Capital, a UK-based financial services firm which, among other things, specialises in 'special situations'.

Its Board Member Manoj Narender Madnani confirmed that KALROCK has submitted an EoI for Jet Airways.

"Jet is a premium brand and we would like to be part of the solution, this will bring jobs back in an essential sector," he told Moneycontrol.

Explaining the rationale behind the firm's interest, Madnani added, "Our investment thesis is predicated on our ability to marry efficient and sustainable technologies to the aviation sector and improve efficiencies.

"With the global supply chains looking at India, we believe that the Indian aviation market is poised to grow exponentially once international skies open."
29/05/20 Prince Mathews Thomas/Dinesh Unnikrishnan/moneycontrol.com

Jharkhand Flies Back Migrants From Ladakh https://www.thehansindia.com/news/national/jharkhand-flies-back-migrants-from-ladakh-625121

In a first, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren announced that the state would fly back 60 migrant workers who were stranded in Batalik-Kargil area in Leh to Ranchi. Soren thanked officials responsible for the mission as also the teams Spice Jet and IndiGo Airlines for their support.
Jharkhand is the first state to have decided to fly back its migrant workers at a time when many of them have been abandoned by their employers as also home states. The crisis of migrant workers has assumed unprecedented dimensions over the past few weeks with the Supreme Court stepping in and taking cognizance of the issue on Thursday.
The Supreme Court stated that there had been lapses on part of both the Central and state governments. The apex court came out with a detailed interim order on the transportation of migrants.
The Supreme Court directed the Railways to provide trains when state governments seek them. Importantly, the apex court said that no train or bus fare will be charged from migrant workers and will instead be shared by the states.
29/05/20 S Narayan/Hans India

IndiGo asks customers to follow these steps if a flight is cancelled

IndiGo, the country’s largest airline, resumed domestic operations from May 25 after two months of being grounded due to the nationwide lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline, which used to operate around 1,500 daily flights pre-lockdown, is at present operating 200 flights to 51 cities. As a result of the prevailing pandemic, several states have announced mandatory COVID-19 tests, mandatory institutional quarantine and limited operations at airports.

The ever-changing guidelines have left passengers confused and airlines left with no option but cancel flights abruptly. Moreover, it is getting difficult for passengers to reach customer care centres of airlines due to constant updates and increased calls to customer care centres.

"Our incoming call volume has spiked sharply, but owing to the lockdown regulations in various cities we have been unable to deploy a full work force at our call centres. We are very aware that our service is not up to our usual high standards and we are all working hard to improve it," IndiGo said in statement.

Here is what the airlines has asked passengers to do in case their flights are cancelled or need to alter plans at the last moment due to a change in state quarantine norms.

1. All customers will be notified in advance in case of any change in flight schedule.

2. In case of a cancellation or change in schedule, passengers are encouraged to use the airline’s website if possible, where they can look for a 'Plan B' option and to rebook a flight.

3. If facing difficulty in finding the 'Plan B' option, customers can use the Dottie chat functionality or contact on the airline on social media.

4. Customers could also contact the airline's call center if possible.

5. In case, the airline is not able to offer an alternative, and the trip has to be cancelled, then the airline will place the amount paid (ticket fare) into a credit shell within 24 hours.
29/05/20 Anu Sharma/CNBC TV18

SpiceJet plans to use drones for delivering essentials & e-commerce in remote areas

New Delhi: SpiceJet plans to use drones for faster delivery of medical, essential and e-commerce supplies in remote areas of the country. The budget airline has got Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) nod to conduct drone trials. A consortium led by SpiceJet’s freighter arm, SpiceXpress, had submitted a proposal to the regulator for conducting experimental “beyond visual line of sight” (BVLOS) operations of remotely piloted aircraft in response to a DGCA expression of interest.

SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh said: “Testing of drone technology for last mile connectivity and cost-effective cargo deliveries are a big leap in the air transportation of essential and non-essential supplies in India. We are extremely optimistic about using this exciting new mode of delivery for products like perishables and medicines which have a smaller shelf-life and need urgent deliveries in the remotest parts of India.”

The consortium includes Throttle Aerospace, a drone manufacturing company, AeoLogic, an analytics and software solution firm and Involia, which is a provider of air traffic awareness and collision avoidance services.

“SpiceXpress will be looking at last-mile delivery from the warehouse and the prime focus will be on delivering medical emergency parcels and essential supplies in remote areas. Drones will ensure a faster delivery bringing down costs and would go a long way to augment our business to offer express delivery of medicines, perishable items and e-commerce shipments,” the airline said in a statement.
29/05/20 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Flyers cancelling tickets over quarantine worries

Air travel resumed after two months on May 25, but bookings are dicey, given the confusion over quarantining. Last-minute cancellation of flights is another major worry. The good news is that the fares haven’t spiked. But passengers are cancelling their tickets when they realise they may have to stay in quarantine for up to two weeks. A 14-day stay in a five-star quarantine hotel in Bengaluru adds up to Rs 49,700 (at Rs 3,550 a day), and passengers have to factor in the extra cost and time in when they plan their trips. At a budget hotel, two weeks comes to Rs 16,800.
Adding to their woes are last-moment flight cancellations. On the first day of flights resuming after two months, Delhi reported 80 flights were cancelled, with passengers coming to know of the cancellations only after reaching the airport. Air India has reportedly cancelled 92 flights between May 28 and June 1.
Many people are not willing to stay in quarantine and spend money on it, so they have cancelled their trips and decided to wait for the rules to change. Passengers must be informed about the quarantine rates for various categories before they start their journey, but it turns out the information isn’t shared in time for them to make informed decisions.
They have the liberty to choose their category of stay but can’t choose a particular hotel citing proximity to their living location, company policy or personal preference.  The passengers are given colour-coded coupons around the time of arrival to show where they stay: white for budget hotels, orange for three-star hotels and green for five-star hotels.
28/05/20 Anila Kurian/Deccan Herald

147 Indians flown to Jaipur from Kazakhstan

Jaipur: A third flight from Kazakhstan carrying 147 passengers on board arrived in Jaipur on Thursday under the Centre''s mega evacuation mission amid the coronavirus-forced lockdown, an official said.
As many as 618 Rajasthan natives have reached Jaipur in six flights so far under the Vande Bharat Mission, an official said Thursday.

So far three flights have arrived from Kazakhstan, Rajasthan Additional Chief Secretary Subodh Agarwal said.

He said, "158 expatriates are arriving in Rajasthan in a second Air India flight today, while 150 are coming from Kuwait and 143 passengers will be returning to Jaipur from Ukraine."

He said that the returnees will be kept in institutional quarantine for seven days followed by home quarantine for a week.
28/05/20 PTI/Outlook

Regular Flights From Mysuru To Kochi, Goa, Hyderabad Resume

Mysore/Mysuru: Flights from Mysuru to Bengaluru and Belagavi have commenced, signalling the gradual resumption of domestic air services that were suspended from Mar. 25 due to lockdown.

As per the schedule released by the Airports Authority of India at Mysuru, Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Air India, and TruJet Airlines are operating the services.

Flight No. 91898 will depart from Bengaluru at 4.30 pm to arrive at Mysuru at 5.30 pm. In the return direction, flight no. 91897 will depart from Mysuru at 6.15 pm to reach Bengaluru at 7.15 pm on all days except Tuesdays when it has a different time slot.

On Tuesdays, flight 919898 will depart from Bengaluru at 3.30 pm to reach Mysuru at 4 pm and flight 919897 will depart from Mysuru at 9.45 pm to reach Bengaluru at 10.45 pm.

TruJet flight 2T-543 will depart from Belagavi at 3 pm to reach Mysuru at 4.20 pm and in the return direction flight 2T-544 will depart from Mysuru at 4.55 pm to reach Belagavi at 6.15 pm.
28/05/20 Star of Mysore

Domestic travel: 252 in Mohali under home quarantine

Mohali: A total of 252 persons from the district, who landed at the Chandigarh International Airport Limited (CHIAL) since the beginning of domestic flights on May 25, have been put under home quarantine.
Deputy Commissioner Girish Dayalan said on May 25, 495 passengers arrived on seven flights and out of these, 223 belonged to Punjab, including 57 from Mohali. He said on May 26, six flights arrived with 419 passengers out of which 193 were from Punjab (69 from Mohali). On May 27, 530 passengers landed at the Chandigarh airport and out of these, 228 were from Punjab, including 63 from Mohali. Today, five flights arrived with 512 passengers of whom 208 were from Punjab, including 64 from Mohali.

Dayalan said the only international flight that landed at the Chandigarh airport was a connecting one from the USA which came via Delhi. The flight had 100 passengers with 61 from Punjab, including five from Mohali.

As per the Health Department protocol, all domestic travellers belonging to Mohali district have to be put under home quarantine. Those belonging to other states and districts were sent to their respective places. Meanwhile, all international passengers have been quarantined at institutions or hotels.
28/05/20 Tribune

Flight services in Agartala put on hold till May 31

Agartala: In Tripura, the flight services which were to resume at the MBB Airport Agartala from May 25 have been put on hold until May 31 next due to cancellation of flights.

Sources from the MBB Airport informed that there is no significant lead about the flight resumption at MBB Airport till May 31 next as  Air India and AirAsia is not likely to restart services till May 31.

While addressing a press conference here in the civil secretariat, the Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath  said that the “Air India” and “Air Asia” flights would not resume flights till May 31.
28/05/20 North East Today

18 flyers who flew in last 3 days test positive for Covid-19, say airlines

New Delhi: At least 18 flyers who flew on different domestic routes of two airlines in the last three days have tested positive for coronavirus, airlines confirmed on Thursday. All crew members of these airlines are currently in quarantine.
Of the 18, 12 passengers who tested positive for Covid-19 were on IndiGo flights that flew on May 26 and 27. The passengers were asymptomatic and the operating crew of three flights have now been quarantined for a period of 14 days, according to the airline. At least six passengers on a TruJet flight from Chennai to Salem in Tamil Nadu have also tested positive on Thursday, say officials.
At least five of these IndiGo cases were passengers who flew from the Delhi airport, flying to Jammu on May 26 and to Coimbatore on May 27, while six were those who flew on a flight from Coimbatore on May 27. “An asymptomatic passenger who travelled on IndiGo on 6E 7214 from Bangalore to Madurai on May 27, 2020 was discovered to be Covid-19 positive during the mandatory testing at the quarantine facility in Madurai on 27th May,” a release from the airline said.
“A few asymptomatic passengers who travelled on IndiGo flights were discovered to be Covid-19 positive on May 28, 2020. This included three passengers on 6E 955 from Delhi to Jammu on May 26, 2020, six passengers onboard 6E 6992 from Bengaluru to Coimbatore on May 27, 2020 and two passengers on 6E 908 from Delhi to Coimbatore on May 27, 2020,” said an IndiGo spokesperson, stating all passengers had observed precautionary measures, including face masks, face shield and gloves like other passengers on-board the aircraft.
“All our aircraft are regularly sanitised as a standard operating procedure and the aircraft operating these flights were immediately disinfected as per protocol. The operating crew has been home quarantined for 14 days and we are in the process of notifying other passengers as per the government guidelines, to ensure the safety of our passengers and staff,” said IndiGo in a statement on Thursday.
29/05/20 Jasjeev Gandhiok/Times of India

Flight operations to return to pre-COVID-19 levels by Diwali: Hardeep Singh Puri

By Diwali, flight operations in India will return to the levels seen before the COVID-19 outbreak, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.

"By Diwali (in November), we will have all our 650 aircraft operated by Indian carriers (flying)," Puri told The Economic Times.

"This may sound optimistic but what else are we going to do?" Puri added.

Domestic flight operations resumed in a staggered manner after a gap of two months on May 25. International flights to and from India remain suspended.
The industry is operating at 20 percent of the capacity seen before the COVID-19 outbreak, The Economic times reported.
In Puri's view, resuming economic activity is crucial since extending the lockdown could be "more devastating” than COVID-19.
"We will come out of the phase on top because we have a captive market unlike many other countries, which are aviation hubs," Puri told the publication.
29/05/20 moneycontrol.com

16 passengers on flights of IndiGo, 2 other airlines test positive for COVID-19; Karnataka seeks limited flights from 5 states

New Delhi/Bengaluru: A total of 16 asymptomatic passengers on seven different flights including 13 of them who travelled by IndiGo have tested positive for COVID-19 since the resumption of domestic air services on Monday, according to airlines data.

Two of the three asymptomatic passengers who tested positive for the infection had travelled by Spicejet while one took a flight of Air India subsidiary Alliance Air.

The Karnataka government, meanwhile, said on Thursday it has requested the Civil Aviation ministry to reduce the number of flights originating from five states--Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan--in the light of the high number of COVID-19 cases there, hours after a minister said it has "suspended" air travel from these states.

Seeking to clarify his statement, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy maintained that Karnataka has not sought imposing a ban on flights from the five states as reported in some sections of the media.

Karnataka has appealed to the Civil Aviation ministry to take steps to lessen the air traffic to the state, with the “sacred intention” that there may not be adequate quarantine facilities, if there is a huge turnout in a short span of time, he said in a press release issued by the state information department.

Earlier, Madhuswamy told reporters in Bengaluru that the decision to stop flights from these states, which have a high number of coronavirus cases, for the time being was taken at a Cabinet meeting.

"People are coming from other states to Karnataka.... we have decided to suspend air traffic from five states, as cases here (Karnataka) may further increase," he said.

As many as 115 new coronavirus cases were reported in Karnataka on Thursday taking the infection count to 2,533, state minister S Suresh said. The minister said among the new cases, 95 are inter-state rail and bus passengers.

West Bengal, which allowed resumption of domestic air services only from Thursday, and Maharashtra are among the states where airlines are having only limited operations following their requests to the Centre in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
28/05/20 PTI/Outlook

367 domestic flights operated till 5 pm on Thursday, airports in West Bengal resume services

New Delhi: A total of 367 domestic flights, carrying 30,136 passengers, operated throughout the country till 5 pm on Thursday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.

Airports in West Bengal also started operations on Thursday, three days after domestic air travel resumed in India after a gap of two months.

All scheduled domestic passenger services were suspended in India from March 25 to May 24 due to restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier in the day, Puri had said that 460 domestic flights carrying 34,336 passengers were operated on Wednesday.

In the case of West Bengal, the minister on Sunday had said that the state will handle domestic flights from Thursday.

"Figures for domestic flights for 28th May 2020 are in. Departures 367, 30,136 passengers handled. Arrivals 310, 25,530 passengers handled. Total movements 677 with 55,666 passenger footfalls at airports.

“Total number of flyers 30,136. These are numbers till 1700 hrs for Day 4," Puri said in a tweet.

A total of 428 domestic flights carrying 30,550 passengers and 445 domestic services carrying 62,641 flyers were operated in the country on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

In February this year, when the lockdown was not imposed, around 4.12 lakh passengers travelled daily through domestic flights in India, according to Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data.

During the pre-lockdown period, Indian airports handled around 3,000 daily domestic flights, aviation industry sources said. A total of 16 asymptomatic passengers on seven different flights including 13 of them who travelled by IndiGo have tested positive for COVID-19 since the resumption of domestic air services on Monday, according to airlines data.

Two of the three asymptomatic passengers who tested positive for the infection had travelled by Spicejet while one took a flight of Air India subsidiary Alliance Air.

The Karnataka government, meanwhile, said on Thursday it has requested the civil aviation ministry to reduce the number of flights originating from five states--Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan--in the light of the high number of COVID-19 cases there, hours after a minister said it has "suspended" air travel from these states.

Seeking to clarify his statement, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy maintained that Karnataka has not sought imposing a ban on flights from the five states as reported in some sections of the media. "India is flying high. Domestic operation figures for May 27, 2020 (till 23.59 hrs): Departures 460 with 34,336 passengers handled. Arrivals 464 with 33,525 passengers handled," Puri had said earlier in the day on Twitter.

If a flight takes off before midnight and lands in another airport after midnight, its departure and arrival are counted on different days, leading to a seeming mismatch in the figures of a particular day.
28/05/20 PTI/Outlook

Airlines manage to fill half of flights on average; demand to fall further

Mumbai: With homebound students, young professionals, small-time businessmen and workers accounting for most travellers, airlines have managed to operate flights at about 50% occupancy rates, although industry insiders say demand will plunge once the spate of essential travel is over.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri wrote on microblogging platform Twitter that airlines ferried 30,136 passengers on 367 flights till 5 pm on Thursday.
This means airlines are operating with only 82 passengers on average per flight. Most aircraft in India have 180 seats.
The number Puri cited for previous days also threw up similar occupancy numbers.
Load factors for low fare carrier IndiGo, which carries nearly half of India’s domestic passengers, was below 50%, said an IndiGo executive.
“Majority of the travel is from metros to non-metros, primarily cities in the east and northeast like Patna and Guwahati. Those routes are seeing 60% loads or slightly higher. Flights to metros are barely filling more than 40%,” said a senior airline executive on condition of anonymity.
29/05/20 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

Buzz back at Kolkata airport as flight operations start after 2 months

Kolkata: When the Alliance Air flight took off for Guwahati from Kolkata at 6.05am on Thursday, relief was palpable among passengers, airline staff and airport officials, all for different reasons.
People stranded away from home for over two months were finally glad to fly back to their families. Airlines employees in the city were glad to see operations resume after two months of uncertainty and tension when several colleagues and friends had either lost their jobs or were sent on leave without pay. Officials of the Airports Authority of India were relieved that Kolkata was back on the aviation map, albeit three days after rest of India.
Caught in the middle of an emergency following a monstrous cyclone that devastated the city, the state government had called for postponement of flight operations till Thursday and had asked the civil aviation ministry to schedule fewer flights initially so that it had time to prepare for issues like quarantine of suspects.

The fears weren’t unfounded. A passenger in his mid-40s travelling with his relatives to the city from Delhi was detected with fever and taken to the quarantine centre in New Town. If he or his family members test Covid-19 positive, those seated alongside as well as in the row in front and back will be alerted so that they can report at the onset of any Covid-like symptom. They have also been advised home quarantine for 14 days.

“One of the passengers who arrived from Delhi by an AirAsia flight had high temperature. He was asked to wait in an isolation chamber along with two relatives. They were given PPE kits and taken to the quarantine facility in an ambulance escorted by a police vehicle. After they exited, the isolation chamber was disinfected,” an airport official said.
On the first day of flight resumption, 1,745 passengers departed and 1,214 passengers arrived in the 11 flights that operated. In additional to the five IndiGo, two Spicejet and one Air India, AirAsia and Vistara flight, AI subsidiary Alliance Air also operated a flight to Dibrugarh on Thursday.
29/05/20 Tamaghna Banerjeee/Times of India

Tripura: First flight in 67 days with 167 passengers arrives at MBB Airport

The first flight in 67 days, carrying 167 passengers from Kolkata, landed at the MBB Airport in Agartala on Friday.

Agartala: MBB director VK Seth informed that an Indigo Flight from Kolkata reached Agartala on Friday morning, making it the first flight in 67 days to have landed in the state.
“Another flight will reach Tripura tomorrow as well,” he further said.

Meanwhile, Air India and Air Asia have suspended all its flights to Agartala till May 31.
Seth also informed that even though it was decided to begin the domestic flight service from MBB Airport from May 28, however, it had to be postponed till May 31 due to some reasons.

Even though the domestic flight service began in the country from May 25, however, no flight came to Agartala flight services from Kolkata were suspended till May 27.
The MBB airport authorities, meanwhile, have already beefed up arrangements to prevent any kind of spread of COVID-19.
29/05/20 NorthEast Now

NLS alumni charter flight to ferry migrants to Jharkhand

Mumbai: In an unprecedented gesture, the alumni of the National Law School (NLS), Bengaluru, raised funds within hours to send a group of 180 stranded migrants in Mumbai back to their home state Jharkhand, officials said here on Thursday.

A flight was chartered from AirAsia for the purpose, which left Mumbai at around 6 a.m. and reached Ranchi after a couple of hours, the airline said in a statement.

The NLS alumni association hired the 180-seater Airbus A-320 aircraft of the budget carrier for carrying out the humanitarian operation after domestic flight services were resumed in the country on Monday.

"AirAsia India is proud to be a part of this initiative that helped migrant workers, adversely impacted by the lockdown, reach their homes and families," said Anup Manjeshwar, Head (sale and distribution), AirAsia.

Before boarding, all the passengers were screened, provided safety kits comprising face mask, sanitiser and face shield, he added.

According to Manjeshwar, the airline has worked closely with the NLS alumni, which independently crowdfunded the efforts to help repatriate the migrants from Mumbai to Ranchi.

The unique initiative was described as a massive group effort with Priya Sharma of the Humanities and Social Sciences Department, IIT-Bombay, and the NLS alumni, according to lawyer Shyel Trehan, one of the organisers.

"NLS taught us the importance of the value of equality and dignity. We are happy to have made this very small contribution to address a massive travesty," Trehan said.
28/05/20 IANS/Outlook

Lockdown 4.0: Actor Sonu Sood flies 167 migrant workers from Kerala to Odisha via chartered flight

Kochi: After what was a long wait, 147 female and 20 male migrant workers from Odisha who were working at a textile factory and a plywood factory in the district left for their homes on a chartered flight on Friday. The women were in dire straits since they had left their jobs hoping to return home in the backdrop of the lockdown.

They had been desperate since the special Shramik trains were not immediately available and their money had got all used up. 'Umeed Ki Udaan' initiative might be the first to fly out migrant workers in a chartered flight in the country. According to Anup Manjeshwar, Head, Sales & Distribution, AirAsia India, Bollywood actor Sonu Sood arranged the chartered flight for the women after coming to know about their plight.
Commenting on the initiative, Sonu Sood said, “When I decided to come forward in support of these migrant workers who have been stranded, all I had in my mind was how I can help reunite them with their families and homes. I must thank AirAsia India for their immediate response and interest in supporting this endeavour. AirAsia India has been very appreciative that this 'Umeed Ki Udaan' may be the first flight for many of them. The Allstars of AirAsia who have been part of this journey are true COVID warriors and have done everything possible to make the guests on board comfortable.”
"The flight from Kochi Airport took off with the migrants at 8 am and landed at Bhubaneshwar at 10:30 am," said Anup. "The expenses of the flight were borne by the actor," he added. "AirAsia is happy to be a part of Sonu Sood's initiative and help people in need to get back to their loved ones. His compassion and empathy have been inspiring. We have always taken pride in connecting people and destinations. So to safely get these guests to their homes is another feather in our cap," said Anup.
He said, in reaching out to us, Sood has reinforced that especially in times like this, air travel remains the quickest, safest, most efficient and effective means of transport. Sood has been actively working to help the stranded migrant workers and had even launched a website. He had also made news for giving up rooms in his hotel for health professionals to stay.
29/05/20 New Indian Express

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Good news for fliers: IndiGo, AirAsia start refunds to passengers

New Delhi: In a great news for air passengers, India’s largest carrier in terms of market share IndiGo and AirAsia India have started refunding passengers for tickets that were booked on flights, which the airline had to cancel due to one reason or the other.
However, there is no clarity on the procedure or time to be taken to redeem credit shells issued to passengers, who were booked on fights that were cancelled during the lockdown announced by the government to contain the spread of virus.
“All passengers – booked on AirAsia and IndiGo - who want refund instead of credit shell would be refunded and we have started refunding money to customers in their bank account, as these airlines have also started refunding us,” said Nishat Pitti, CEO & co-founder at Easemytrip.com.
“According to me, it will boost trust factor among customers to book future tickets which are generally lower priced,” added Pitti.
Passengers of all other airlines, however, will have to wait till these airlines start refunding. But with market leader IndiGo starting the refund process, other airlines may follow soon.
Airline sources said that they have started refunding of tickets but dd not commit anything on the credit shells issued earlier.
28/05/20 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

As flyers test positive upon arrival, states look to tighten SOPs

Even as most states have strict quarantine and testing norms for passengers arriving by domestic flights, some like Delhi, Goa, etc had comparatively easier standard operating procedures (SOPs). But now with some passengers testing positive for coronavirus upon arrival, a further clampdown of stance by the states on free movement of air passengers could be on the cards. Goa has already moved to compulsorily test all arriving passengers, unless they were able to produce a negative test-certificate.

As of early Thursday, as many as four passengers, at least two of which were asymptomatic, had tested positive upon arrival. All four of these travelled on the first day of resumption of flight operations. Tuesday, India’s largest airline IndiGo reported a 24-year old person on its Monday flight from Chennai to Coimbatore tested positive. Another passenger, a 50-year old, on board an Alliance Air flight from Delhi to Ludhiana was also found positive on Tuesday. On Wednesday, two passengers who flew to Guwahati from Ahmedabad on SpiceJet flights also reported positive for the virus upon arrival.
In SpiceJet’s case, red-flags are also being raised at the fact that since one of the passengers was flying from Ahmedabad to Guwahati via Delhi, the passenger should have been tested at Delhi itself but wasn’t since there is no mandatory testing for those arriving at the Delhi airport.
Since it opened its airport to domestic passengers, the Goa government has changed its standard operating procedures twice. Earlier it had given three options — either get a Covid negative test certificate issued within 48 hours prior to the date of arrival by a lab authorised by ICMR or get test done at the airport for Rs 2000 and wait for results, or choose home quarantine. With the number of cases showing an increase, the Government has now removed the option of home quarantine with everyone having to undergo compulsory testing if they didn’t have a Covid-19 negative test certificate. Goa so far has 68 active cases of which 31 are active.
Even as the Centre announced the restarting of domestic flight operations with a two-day notice, it failed to extensively consult with the states. Hours before the recommencement of domestic flights, airlines were informed of the demands of certain states to operate curtailed schedules that led to cancellation of flights on the first day itself.
28/05/20 Pranav Mukul/Indian Express

Two passengers on SpiceJet’s Ahmedabad-Guwahati flight test Covid-19 positive

New Delhi: As coronavirus cases continue to mount in India, two passengers who flew from Ahmedabad to Guwahati via Delhi on a SpiceJet flight on Monday tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, the airline confirmed on Wednesday.

This comes at a time when the government of India resumed domestic passenger flights in the country on Monday after over two months since the first coronavirus lockdown began on March 25. International commercial flights, however, continue to remain suspended.

“Two passengers who had travelled with SpiceJet from Ahmedabad to Guwahati on May 25 have tested positive for Covid-19. The passengers had travelled on SG-8194 (Ahmedabad-Delhi) and SG-8152 (Delhi-Guwahati),” the spokesperson of the airline said.

Following the development, the operating crew of the airline has been quarantined and contact tracing is being done for other passengers on the flight.
28/05/20 TimesNowNews.com

IndiGo, AirAsia refunds passenger tickets in travel agents' accounts

IndiGo and AirAsia India have started crediting air ticket refunds into the accounts of travel agents instead of retaining money in credit shells, according to travel portal EaseMyTrip.com.
The move is likely to come as a relief for travel agents as they would now have the flexibility to return the refunds to customers. 
"All passengers who want refund instead of credit shell would be refunded. Currently, AirAsia has done specifically with EaseMyTrip.com and we have refunded money to customers in their bank account, even though we were getting money from AirAsia in our ticketing wallet. "... other companies are refunding money in their own wallet to customers.
Now, IndiGo has also started refunding in our agency wallet balance, which we can use for buying fresh tickets with IndiGo, so we are refunding money to customers in their bank account," EaseMyTrip.com CEO Nishant Pitti told .Domestic flight services remained suspended for two months starting from March 25 in the wake of the nationwide lockdown to curb spreading of coronavirus infections. The flights resumed on May 25.
 28/05/20 PTI/Business Insider

Explained: What we know of the largest electric powered flight expected today

In a breakthrough for electric flight technology, a 750-horsepower electric engine made by MagniX, an Australian electric motor manufacturer, will power a Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft to fly for an expected 20-30 minutes over Washington state. This will be the largest aircraft ever to fly on electric power.

In December last year, an engine from the same company powered a seaplane in Vancouver, Canada, in what was described as the “world’s first” 100 per cent electric flight.
The retrofitted Caravan plane, which can carry nine passengers, is expected to take off at 8 am Pacific time (8:30 pm in India) on May 28, and will fly at a speed of 183 kmph, as per a Guardian report. However, for its first journey, a test pilot will fly the plane alone.

The plane selected, a Cessna 208 Caravan, is a popular utility aircraft around the world since the 1980s, with over 2,600 currently being operated for commuter airlines, air cargo, VIP transport, flight training, and humanitarian missions. MagniX aims at commercial operations over a 100-mile range by 2021, and hopes retrofitting its engine to a Caravan would speed up regulatory approvals.

According to a CNBC report, such electric flights could require significantly less maintenance compared to fuel-based aircraft, and could lead to short-distance flights becoming cheaper, thus helping make it more viable for airlines to fly to remote locations.

Apart from MagniX, several companies are involved in making electric flights a reality. The ride-sharing company Uber has announced air taxis to fly as early as 2023. Major industry players such as Airbus and Rolls Royce, a number of startups, as well as the space agency NASA are involved in developing electric flight technologies.
28/05/20 Indian Express

180 to fly in from Mumbai

Ranchi/ Jamshedpur: If Jharkhand’s migrants we­re the first to be sent home by a special Shramik train on May 1 from Telangana to Ranchi, the state’s migrants will also be the first to be airlifted from Mumbai to Ranchi on Thursday.

The alumni network of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, has leased an AirAsia aircraft to shift 180 migrant workers who hail from various districts of Jharkhand and are stranded in Mumbai during the prolonged lockdown. This is the first instance when a group of private individuals have raised funds to lease a chartered plane and rescue stranded migrant workers during the lockdown. The flight from Mumbai airport is likely to take off on 6am and reach Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi at 8.50am.

On why such an initiative, NLSIU alumnus Suhaan Mukerji, a practising advocate in the Supreme Court and a core team member of this initiative, said they were all “appalled at the condition of migrant workers since the lockdown”.

“We have been doing our bit through our alumni network for them, but when got to know of several migrants in great distress in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, we arranged a scheduled passenger flight from Mumbai for them. That flight got cancelled. Then we decided to go for crowdfunding and collected from our alumni around Rs 11 lakh. Then, we held talks with the Tata Group and arrange a special chartered AirAsia flight of 180 capacity to airlift as many migrant workers,” Mukerji said.
Another core team member who spoke to The Telegraph without coming on quote said they had considered buses for these migrants but decided against that “given the paperwork and technicalities involved in the process”.

“Apart from processing the paperwork, cross-border and interstate permits, we considered the high bus fares and the threat perspective (road accidents). Above all, we would have had no control on whether the bus actually reaches the destinations,” the alumna based in Mumbai said. “Then, we planned to arrange a commercial passenger scheduled flight to take 40 workers. However, given the restrictions imposed on the number of flights a day (25 flights), we arranged a dedicated chartered flight.”

One of the alumni members working with the Tata Group put the core team in touch with the AirAsia (a subsidiary of the Tata Group) management which agreed to lease an aircraft.
28/05/20 Animesh Bisoee & Achintya Ganguly/Telegraph

Mumbai Police says only boarding pass is needed to reach airport

Mumbai: Since Sunday night, when the Maharashtra government allowed the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport to resume domestic air services, with a daily cap of 25 departures and arrivals each, several Mumbaikars have taken to social media or called police helplines, with the oft-repeated query -- "Do we need to get an e-pass for travel to or from the airport?" On Wednesday, the Mumbai Police clarified that air travellers moving to or from the Mumbai airport do not need to carry an e-pass, and a valid boarding pass for the journey would be sufficient.

The Mumbai Police tweeted, "All flight travellers moving to/from the Mumbai Airport can do so without an e-pass. Please carry a valid boarding pass for the journey and keep other details handy."

A senior Mumbai Police officer said, even if an e-pass is not required, passengers have to carry a valid boarding pass along with them during the journey, as well as valid identity proof which can be produced on demand during security checks on roads.

Pranaya Ashok, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), said that the same documents (soft copy) are to be carried by the person dropping or receiving the passenger to/from the airport. Even though the e-pass is not necessary, one should not exploit the situation and step out unnecessarily on the pretext of dropping a passenger, police officers said.

"While those providing travel assistance within the city to passengers should leave in good time, that does not mean they should leave as many as 5-6 hours prior to the departure of the flight. The travellers should anyway adhere to the social distancing norms and not break any rules. Apart from the driver, only two passengers will be allowed in a car," said the office.
28/05/20 Priyanka Navalkar/Free Press Journal

Family of 4 charters Airbus A320 from Bhopal to Delhi

New Delhi: Bhopal airport is named after a famous king, Raja Bhoj. On Monday, when domestic schedule and charter flights were allowed, it saw a high net worth family charter an Indian carrier’s Airbus A320 to fly just four people — wife, two children and a nanny — to Delhi.
A west India-based company had chartered this 180-seater aircraft. Industry insiders say it may have cost about Rs 10 lakh. The aircraft took off from Delhi at 9.05am as a ferry flight — meaning crew only — on Monday and reached Bhopal at 10.30am. It took off with the four on board at 11.30am and reached Delhi at 12.55pm.
“There are several high net worth individuals (HNI) and companies who are very concerned about flying in a crowd with scores of other passengers during a pandemic. Airlines and charter companies are getting lots of inquiries for chartering planes these days. Since the price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF), the single biggest operating cost for a flight in India, is very low at the moment, airlines and charter companies are able to offer decent rates which the germaphobe HNIs/corporates don’t mind paying for their selves or their loved ones,” an airline official said.
The cost of chartering an A320 is anywhere between Rs4 and Rs 5 lakh an hour (depending on ATF price). So a Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi charter would cost about Rs 16-18 lakh.
While this Bhopal-Delhi flight may have been chartered to ensure that the four fly safe, charter industry insiders say a family of three had hired a wide-body aircraft to fly from Europe to India on May 21 — the day before commercial international flights were stopped in India. That trip is learnt to have cost about Rs 80 lakh, according to industry insiders.
“The cost of chartering a plane depends on whether there is a separate entity hiring for the different legs. So if a company or individual A hires a plane from Delhi to Mumbai and a company or individual B hires the return leg, each will have to bear one leg of the journey. But if someone is hiring in a way that the charter firm/airline has to fly the plane empty one way for picking or after dropping passengers, then the cost of both legs will need to be borne by one person,” said an industry insider.
28/05/20 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Farmer puts workers on flight after long wait to catch train

New Delhi: They had only dreamt of travelling in a plane and couldn’t have imagined that it would happen in the midst of a nightmare.

They were stuck in a mushroom farm at Tigipur village in north Delhi since March when they couldn’t make the annual trip to their homes in Samastipur district of Bihar because of the sudden lockdown. On Wednesday night, these 10 migrant workers were preparing to catch a 6am Indigo flight to Patna on Thursday, thanks to the farm owner, Pappan Singh Gahlot.
After watching thousands of migrant workers across the country – who had lost their jobs due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown - struggling to return to their villages in the absence of public transport and even getting killed in the process, Gahlot decided he would not let his men suffer like that.

The workers first registered themselves on the government portal for a seat on a special Shramik Express but didn’t get a response. Even as migrant workers across the city were queuing up under the scorching sun to register for the special trains, the government decided to resume domestic flights. And Gahlot too made a decision with the support of his wife, daughter and brother – his workers would be flying to Patna.

“My workers are like my family. They are all very old employees and have been working at my farm for several years with their families away in the villages. The migrants in Delhi and other parts of the country have been returning to their villages in inhuman conditions. I did not want my workers to face the same challenges,” said Gahlot. “I read so many reports of accidents on the highway. It disturbed me. My workers deserve respect. I could not have allowed to let them go like this.”

He said 48 labourers work on his 2.5-acre farm between August and March when mushrooms are grown. Every year, they leave in March for their villages and come back in August. This year, too, except for these unlucky 10, everyone else had gone back when the lockdown was announced. They stayed on the farm, waiting, with Gahlot providing them food and all amenities.

Now, they will be the first ones from their village to fly. “We didn’t have any problem in the past two months. When the trains started, we registered our names but never got any response. This is when our employer told us he would send us back by air,” said Naveen Ram, whose son, Aditya, was just three months old when he came to Delhi last year. His father, Lakhinder, has been working for Gahlot for 27 years and he for a decade now. “Our families are overjoyed,” he said.
28/05/20 Atul Mathur/Times of India

Flight movement at airport increases

Pune: A total of 20 flight movements — inbound and outbound — were recorded at the city airport till 8.30pm on Wednesday — three more than that on entire Monday, the day the domestic plane services resumed after Covid-19 lockdown.
The number is expected to go up significantly because the city airport is known for heavy traffic of red-eye flights, which operate late in the night. On Tuesday, as many as 28 flight operations were recorded at the Lohegaon facility — almost double in comparison to Monday’s 17.
“There was no flight cancellation on Tuesday unlike Monday. Though the schedule isn’t final for Thursday, we are expecting an addition of some more flights,” an airport official said.

On Monday, a total of 1,657 flyers travelled to and from the airport and 2,153 on Tuesday. “Till 8.30pm on Wednesday, a total of 1,618 passengers have flown in and out of the airport. As many as 1,208 passengers flew out and 410 arrived,” the official added.

The city traffic police said over 60 private cab drivers had been given permission to ferry passengers from the airport.
“We have been running the ‘Dial an Autorickshaw’ service, which is concentrating on the airport rides. Around 60-70 cabs have been given permission to ply exclusively for passengers arriving at the airport. The passengers can book them on way home from the airport. These cabs are, however, not for passengers coming to the airport. Those coming to the airport can travel in their personal vehicles or autorickshaws,” Surendra Deshmukh, the assistant commissioner of police (traffic), told TOI.
28/05/20 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

How artificial intelligence can help aviation industry with contactless flying amid the crisis

Post the 60-day lockdown, as the Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri issued guidelines to commence domestic flight operation with 1/3rd capacity from May 25, 2020, Bangalore International Airport (BAIL) has also decided to resume their domestic travel operations with a contactless journey from pre-entry of the airport to security check to the boarding of the flight.

The BAIL press release has stated that “The technology will continue to enable a seamless airport journey, with greater emphasis on health and safety.” Starting from their pre-entry process, which includes e-boarding pass and thermal screening of people to facial recognition system at the check-in process and self-service kiosk, BAIL has been relying on new-age technologies to transform the whole process of travelling.

Alongside, Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport has also planned to resume its operations with contactless flying for their passengers. GHIAL has deployed thermal cameras for monitoring travellers along with Automatic Information Management System, a virtual help desk for guiding travellers with their problems, which in turn, omits any contact with travellers.
The COVID-19 created a halt for the aviation industry, with an 80% drop in the global flight activity at the end of April. Therefore, the aviation companies are strategizing differently to revamp their entire business process with digital technologies like AI, ML and RPA. In fact, from passenger identification and baggage screening to customer support and predictive maintenance, airports and airline companies can heavily rely on artificial intelligence to augment the industry work process.
28/05/20 Sejuti Das/Analytics India Magazine

Kolkata to rejoin national aviation map today with 10 flights

Kolkata: The city airport will take baby steps to join the domestic aviation map with 10 flights — four to Delhi, three to Mumbai and one each to Bengaluru, Chennai and Dibrugarh — on Thursday. The schedule though is valid only for Thursday with airlines proposing direct flights to other cities and towns on Friday.

Though Kolkata airport has operated 50 special flights and nearly 300 freighters since Cyclone Amphan last Wednesday, domestic operations has remained suspended since March 24. These will be the first set of commercial flights to and from the city in two months. Another 10 flights will operate from Bagdogra.

“Everyone — passengers, airlines and the airport operator — are looking forward to resumption of flights. We are starting with only 10 flights but we expect to soon ramp up and have a third of the pre-lockdown flights back in Kolkata,” said Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee.

While IndiGo, which used to operate 120 out of 240 flights from the city prior to the lockdown, will operate five flights on Thursday, SpiceJet will operate two flights and Air India, AirAsia India and Vistara will operate one each. The first arrival will be from Delhi at 6.50am and the first departure will also be to Delhi at 7.15am. The last arrival of the day is from Dibrugarh at 4.05pm and the final departure at 5.55pm for Mumbai. While Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai are obvious destinations that airlines would want to link, Dibrugarh is a surprise choice for a direct link with many expecting a connection to Guwahati, Hyderabad or even Bagdogra closer home.

With so few flights on offer, airlines are deploying the largest planes in their fleet to ensure they can carry the maximum number of passengers.

Vistara has deploeyed the Dreamliner Boeing B737 that has 299 seats while IndiGo and SpiceJet are deploying the Airbus A321 with 222 seats and Boeiong B 737-900 with 212 seats.
28/05/20 Subhro Niyogi/Times of India