Saturday, May 08, 2021

Government's target of 100 new airports is fast turning into a pipe dream

India started the 2021 summer schedule with 108 operational airports but the second coronavirus wave that has seen daily infections soar to record highs has pushed down the number even as efforts are on get more airports going.

In her budget speech of 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman set aside money for 100 additional airports by 2024. While there are 495 airstrips in the country, adding another 100 is now looking increasingly difficult.

But The target of 100 new airports looks like a pipe dream.  See why >>

Indian businessman splurges $55,000 to fly newly-wed daughter, husband from Kerala to UAE in private jet

In the manifestation of ultra high-end living, an Indian businessman spent around $55,000 (Dh202,290) to fly with his family, including his newly married daughter and her husband, from India to the UAE on a private jet, as the coronavirus fears led the government to suspend passenger flights from India.

The 13 passengers, including four employees of P.D. Syamalan, managing director of Sharjah-headquartered Al Ras Group, flew in from Cochin International Airport in Kochi, Kerala, to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai on Friday.

According to reports published in sections of the media, Syamalan, a UAE resident for more than four decades, had flown down to his hometown for the marriage of his daughter, Anju Syam, along with his family members and some employees. Anju’s wedding with Siva Prasad, a Keralite residing in France, took place on April 25, just hours after the suspension of travel came into effect for passengers from India to the UAE.

Though he did not fall in the category of businessmen with the golden residency visa, Syamalan found comfort in the fact that the UAE government had also announced travel exemption for those on flights chartered by businessmen.

08/05/21 Gulf Today

No RT-PCR test for passengers from other states at airport

Bengaluru: Karnataka State Health Department has made it mandatory for passengers arriving from Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab and Chandigarh to possess RT-PCR negative reports (not older than 72 hrs) have now stopped the process of verification of the same at the airport.

The concerned airways were made responsible to ensure that those who came had a negative report and those who arrived without the report were tested at the airport to prevent further spread.

08/05/21 UNI

‘Colonial era’ code in aircraft: Businessman moves Bombay High Court

Mumbai: Why should aircraft in India continue to use ‘VT’ (Victorian or Viceroy Territory) as their nationality or country code even after seven decades of the end of the colonial rule?

With this question in mind, Vijaypat Singhania, former chairman emeritus of Raymond Group and a registered pilot, along with Pune-based businessman Vijay Sethi, recently moved the Bombay High Court seeking directions to the Aviation Ministry to approach the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to get a new code or registration alphabets for all aircraft in the country.

The petition seeking new registration code ‘BH’ (short form for Bharat) or ‘MG’ (initials of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation) be used instead of ‘VT’ is expected to be heard after the summer vacation as the court is currently only hearing urgent matters due to Covid-19.

The code is generally seen right next to the rear exit door and above the windows of the aircraft.

According to ICAO rules, each aircraft has to be have a registration number, which has one or two letters as the country code, followed by three or four letters of the owner’s or the carrier’s choice.

The plea by Singhania, 82, claimed, “VT is a sign of colonial repression by the British, which remains on the Indian aircraft…even today.”

08/05/21  Omkar Gokhale/Indian Express

Indian airlines risk consolidation, plane repossessions amid COVID-19 surge

India’s airlines are under renewed pressure to raise cash or face the risk of having to downsize, consolidate or have their planes repossessed by lessors as a surge of COVID-19 infections roils travel.

Read the analysis by Aditi Shah and Jamie Freed >>

3 injured as plane with remdesivir load crash-lands at Gwalior airport

 Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh government’s aircraft, Beech Craft King Air B-250 GT, carrying 71 boxes of Remdesivir from Ahmedabad to be dropped off at Gwalior, crash landed at the Gwalior runway at 8:30 pm on Thursday. Three people including pilot Majid Akhtar and co-pilot Shiv Jaiswal escaped with minor injuries.

The incident while the plane was trying to land at the Gwalior airport when it hit the arrestor barrier that was placed at the end of the runway. The aircraft after picking the drugs from Ahmedabad was dropping off a few to Gwalior while the remaining were to be sent to Jabalpur.

Speaking to Express, SP Gwalior, Amit Sanghi said, “The pilot unaware of the arrestor barrier collided with the barrier and crash landed.” The two pilots along with injured tehsildar were rushed to IAF hospital inside Maharajapur air case. On Friday, a CT scan was held to ascertain any internal injuries but none were found.

The Gwalior airport which is under the control of the Airforce and the arrestor barrier was placed at the end of the runway, which is a standard practise for training of pilots using fighter jets.

The state craft suffered considerable damage after the crash and is expected to remain out of use for a long period of time. The aircraft was pushed to pick up and deliver anti-viral drugs like Remdesivir to different parts of the state as various districts, cutting down travel time considerably.

08/05/21 Iram Siddique/Indian Express

Israel sends 2nd planeload of medical aid to virus-wracked India

Tons of medical equipment donated by Israel arrived on Friday in India where the health system is collapsing under a wave of resurgent coronavirus infections.

The Indian Air Force plane that took off from Ben Gurion Airport was the second transport of the week, with further shipments to be sent in the coming days.

“The operation to bring medical aid to India is in full swing,” tweeted Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. “We stand by India in these difficult times just as India stood by us in the first weeks of the coronavirus crisis when they facilitated the arrival of vital medical equipment to Israel.”

The Foreign Ministry said Monday the shipments will include hundreds of oxygen generators and ventilators, as well as other medical equipment urgently needed by India.

Several ministries and other government bodies, including the Israeli and Indian embassies in each country, were involved in setting up the operation, the ministry said.

Last week the Kan public broadcaster reported that an unofficial request for medical equipment, including oxygen supplies and various drugs, was made to the Israeli embassy in India.

Israel and India have cooperated in the past on the coronavirus and last April, the New Delhi government reportedly sent Israel five tons of the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which are used to treat malaria. At the time, the drugs were being reviewed in various countries as a possible treatment for the coronavirus.

08/05/21 Times of Israel

Nine boxes of Covishield arrive from Mumbai at Goa International Airport

Panaji: The state received a fresh consignment of Covishield vaccines on Friday from Mumbai as part of fresh supply from the Centre to vaccinate those in the above 45 years age group. Nine boxes of Covishield arrived at Goa International Airport on a domestic flight and were promptly handed over to the directorate of health services.

The Union ministry of health and family welfare states that Goa has received 5.14 lakh doses with another 1 lakh doses in the pipeline. Of the 5.14 lakh doses received, Goa has administered 3.78 lakh doses and currently has 1.35 lakh doses in stock to continue vaccinating individuals.

“The Airports Authority of India continues to serve. Nine boxes of Covishield for Goa were received from Mumbai in the afternoon. Team Goa facilitated its quick movement and handed over to the health authorities swiftly,” said Goa airport director Gagan Malik.

Prior to this, 13 boxes of Covid vaccine were received from Chennai on April 18 and nine boxes from Mumbai on April 30.

08/05/21 Times of India

Indian-American physicians sending 5,000 oxygen concentrators to India

Washington: An Indian-American group of physicians is shipping 5,000 oxygen concentrators to India to save the lives of the people infected with the coronavirus.

The recently-created Federation of Indian Physicians Association (FIPA) said on Friday that the 5,000 oxygen concentrators have already been purchased. Of these, 450 units have already reached Ahmedabad, 325 are on their way to Delhi and 300 others to Mumbai.

"These units are to be received by local Indian partners, hospitals, makeshift isolation centers, newly created mobile hospitals and charities so that local partners in the remote parts of India can use these units to provide oxygen to covid patients as needed,” said DR Raj Bhayani, president FIPA.

About 3,500 units are still waiting to be shipped, he said, adding that FIPA has reached out to the Indian embassy, and the ministry of aviation and Air India to help transport these units immediately.

With a record of 4,14,188 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India''s total tally of COVID-19 cases climbed to 2,14,91,598, while the death toll increased to 2,34,083 with 3,915 fatalities reported in 24 hours on Friday, according to the Union Health Ministry data.

Iowa-based Sehgal Foundation, the non-profit body which works in the rural areas of India, in a separate statement said that it is sending 200 oxygen concentrators to India.

08/05/21 Lalit K Jha/Outlook

Air India to deliver oxygen generators to Uttar Pradesh hospitals

Lucknow: In order to augment supply of oxygen in the state, the excise and sugar industry and sugarcane development departments are set to start installation of oxygen generators. The machines will be airlifted by Air India flights and delivered to the hospitals.

The departments have identified hospitals in all 75 districts where the work is to start immediately. A senior official said that the installation has already begun in 27 districts. “About 30 units of the excise department and 45 sugar mills will ensure that in every district, there is at least one community health centre or district hospital with 35-45 beds which will have full-time oxygen supply through oxygen generators. The hospitals are being identified by the district magistrate and chief medical officer of a district. We have written to Air India to airlift these machines and deliver to the hospitals at the earliest,” said the official.

08/05/21 Times of India

Ex-Zambian Armyman held with 4 kg of heroin at Mumbai airport

Mumbai: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has arrested an ex-serviceman of the Zambian Army for alleged possession of 4 kg of heroin at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport here, an official said on Saturday.

Based on a tip-off, the zonal team of the NCB intercepted Zambian national Kenith Mulowa at airport on Friday, the official said.

Mulowa, who had booked a room in the hotel near the airport, had come to retrieve his mishandled trolley bag when the NCB nabbed him, he said, adding the accused had been under surveillance for the last two days.

NCB officials had also dressed up as Air India staff to keep a vigil on the accused, he said.

A search revealed three cavities in the bag, where packets of heroin, weighing 4 kg in all, had been concealed, the official said.

08/05/21 PTI/Outlook

Gold worth Rs 1.28 crore seized at Hyderabad airport

Hyderabad: The customs officials on Saturday seized 2.60 kilograms of gold from a passenger here at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) of Hyderabad. The officials said that the passenger who arrived from Dubai concealed the gold biscuits in his luggage bag and was screened at the security check. According to the officials, the seized gold is said to be of Rs 1.28 crore worth. The officials registered a case and are investigating.

08/05/21 Roja Mayabrahma/Hans India

Friday, May 07, 2021

Rupsi Airport in Assam to start operations from Saturday

Rupsi Airport in the district of Dhubri, Assam, is poised to be operational from Saturday. A trial flight was conducted by Flybig Airlines on the Guwahati-Rupsi-Guwahati route. An Airports Authority of India (AAI) official was quoted in a PTI report saying that the trial run of the flight was completed safely and timely on Wednesday with extended support from the state government as well as concerned agencies. The Rupsi airport has been developed under the Regional Connectivity Scheme-UDAN and flight operations by Flybig Airlines are scheduled to start between Guwahati-Rupsi-Kolkata route from Saturday. According to the official, the flight is scheduled to operate on the route on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Flybig airline has opened bookings for the route, he added.

Meanwhile, Flybig issued a release saying that it has forayed into the country’s Northeast region to provide air connectivity under UDAN to remote areas amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and at a time when India is facing challenges due to novel coronavirus. Safer transport modes during the COVID-19 crisis have become critical to ensure the aspirations of the emerging region as well as its economy. Following its successful launch in the central part of India, Flybig is set to embark on its operations in the Northeast region starting from May’s second week, connecting Guwahati, Rupsi, and Kolkata initially. In due course of time, other routes like Agartala in Tripura, Tezu and Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh, Dibrugarh in Assam, will be connected with Shillong and Guwahati.

Partnering with the Centre as well as state governments to leverage initiatives like the Regional Connectivity Scheme under the Modi government’s UDAN, the airline endeavours to be the platform of development for the area in which it operates. Flybig operates aircraft of ATR 72 type as the product proposition is ideal for the target customer segments providing air connectivity to all emerging cities within the specific region, exceptional hospitality as well as convenient flight timings. Flybig started flight operations in the month of January this year and the airline is focused on connecting tier-2 and tier-3 cities within the country.

07/05/21 Devanjana Nag/Financial Express

Andhra Pradesh approves viability gap funding for TruJet

Regional carrier TruJet has secured Andhra Pradesh Government nod for viability gap funding (VGF) to continue its Chennai- Kadapa-Vijayawada and Vijayawada-Kadapa-Chennai routes for one more year starting from May 1, 2021, reports Hindu BusinessLine.

The State Cabinet approved a move to provide about INR 20 crore per year as VGF by the State government.

An MoU was signed between Government of Andhra Pradesh, Airports Authority of India and the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 2016 for implementation of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS). Following this, Trujet Airlines is operating at Kadapa Airport.

The operations of Chennai-Kadapa-Vijayawada and Vijayawada-Kadapa -Chennai sector closed from May 1, 2021, due to withdrawal of VGF from the Central government. About INR 19.89 crore is required as VGF for 144 RCS seat per flight for the proposed sector. Therefore, the Government decided to extend VGF of INR 20 crore per year. 


Indian airlines risk consolidation, plane repossessions amid Covid-19 surge

New Delhi: India's airlines are under renewed pressure to raise cash or face the risk of having to downsize, consolidate or have their planes repossessed by lessors as a surge of Covid-19 infections roils travel.

Passenger traffic fell nearly 30 per cent in April from a month before and has halved again so far in May, forcing even the country's biggest and most cashed-up carrier, IndiGo, to gear up for the storm.

IndiGo's parent, Interglobe Aviation, will meet on Friday to consider an equity raising, just months after it abandoned plans to raise up to 40 billion rupees ($543 million) in January due to a speedy recovery in travel.

With traffic plummeting, according to aviation ministry data, IndiGo's cash burn is expected to rise to $3.4 million a day - a level last seen in September - from $2 million a day at the end of 2020, said an analyst who tracks the company.

This means IndiGo, which has more than a 50 per cent share of the market, may look to raise $543 million to $679 million amounting to at least two quarters of cash burn, said the analyst, who declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak publicly.

While IndiGo is seen as a survivor, the situation is far worse for a suite of smaller carriers, particularly those without large backers, some of which were already struggling before the coronavirus hit, say analysts.

"India hasn't provided much government assistance or support so the private airlines will need to turn to the private sector," said independent aviation analyst Brendan Sobie.

The cash call comes as Indian carriers are expected to report total losses of $4-$4.5 billion in the fiscal year that ended on March 31 and will lose a similar amount this year, aviation consultancy CAPA India said in a note this week.

With more people losing loved ones and the outlook on the economy, jobs and incomes turning down, a recovery in domestic travel, which had been expected by the end of 2021, may not come until at least the first quarter of 2022, analysts estimate.

07/05/21 Reuters/Deccan Herald

Strictly abide by DGCA order on breath analyser tests of pilots, cabin crew: HC to airlines

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has directed all airlines in India to "strictly abide" by the percentage of breath analyser (BA) testing mentioned in the April 27 order of aviation regulator DGCA and that no carrier should go beyond it for the safety of their pilots and cabin crew in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The high court issued the direction after it was informed by the DGCA that some airlines were testing more pilots and cabin crew than the 10 per cent limit set by the regulator.

Justice Prathiba M Singh also said that the court will not substitute its view with that of the medical committee, created by DGMS (Air) to examine whether BA tests could be substituted by blood tests to detect alcohol levels, which has said that blood alcohol testing was not feasible.

The committee also said it was satisfied by the UV sanitation method used by DGCA for the BA test machines.

While declining to interfere with the committee's findings, the court, however, called for an additional report from it on whether the BA test can be conducted in an open area so that spread of COVID-19 through the suspended particles or aerosols in a confined room can be avoided.

This query was posed by the court as the ATC Guild had expressed an apprehension that since the BA test is conducted in an enclosed space and the air blown into the equipment is released out from the other end of the machine, the droplets or aerosols of COVID may remain suspended in the air and could infect others who enter that room.

06/05/21 PTI/New Indian Express

Airfares skyrocket amid travel curbs on India

Hyderabad: International airlines have initiated tweaking of pricing mechanism on global routes as several countries banned travelling to and from India due to rising number of Covid-19 cases. Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Kuwait, New Zealand, Oman, Singapore and UAE have already banned travel from India. However, airlines are operating dedicated cargo flights, flights under the bilateral air bubble pacts to select countries. Travel agencies in the city attributed the reasons such as travel restrictions on India and low occupancy rate to steep rise in air fares.

"Domestic airlines have increased fares by five to 10 per cent in the last six months within government caps. For international airlines, it has been more than three months that fares touched Rs 80,000 for one-way journey to US, but after April 24 as countries banned travel from India, the fares are moving above Rs 1,50,000 for one way travel.

People mostly travel to US via Dubai, but now as Dubai government has imposed restrictions on people travelling from India, they have to take direct flights. Also, there are no regular flights or air bubble flights. Only charted flights are operating. Vistara, Spice Jet, Indigo, True jet, Air India are currently working as far I know. Business are travelers occupying 20 per cent, while students and residents are also getting back to India. People coming to Hyderabad accounted for almost 70 per cent occupancy until second week of April. Indian residents flying from Middle East have 80-90 per cent occupancy in flights," Venkatesh, founder, T6 Travel agency, told Bizz Buzz.

06/05/21 Deepika Pasham/Hans India

COVID-19 resurgence in India: Those who can afford are leaving on commercial flights, private jets

As the number of COVID cases go up, many are leaving the country. And it is not just the ultra rich and stars from Bollywood who are making a beeline to the airports in the country. JetSetGo, a private jet charter firm, has seen a 90 percent surge in bookings in recent weeks with around 80 percent comprising of people from the upper classes. Majority of them are headed to Maldives or Dubai, Kanika Tekriwal, co founder and CEO was quoted as saying in CNBC.

On Friday, India recorded 414,188 cases and 3,918 deaths, according to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. India now has 3.65 million active cases. The five most affected states by total cases are Maharashtra (4,942,736), Kerala (1,743,932), Karnataka (1,741,046), Uttar Pradesh (1,425,919), and Tamil Nadu (1,297,500).

Flights on private jets don't come cheap. An eight-seater jet to Maldives cost between $18,000 to $20,000 or $31,000 for a six seater jet to Dubai. Tekriwal told CNBC that the price of a private jet flight is less than hospitalisation fees for COIVD which can cost about $2500 a night.

A recent report in Times of India said around eight private jets, costing around Rs 72 lakh each, arrived from India to the London airport, 24 hours before United Kingdom announced a travel ban on India.

Airfares soared and demand for private jets surged as many tried to book flights to the United Arab Emirates, said an AFP report on April 24. The UAE had imposed a ban for 10 days which it announced on April 22 and subsequently extended the ban on entry from travellers coming from India, the foreign ministry in Abu Dhabi said in a statement on its website Tuesday, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Reuters reported.

07/05/21 Free Press Journal

Vaccine drive at airport for employees in 18-44 age group

Kolkata: The vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group got underway at the Kolkata airport on Thursday with young employees of air traffic services (ATS), communication, navigation & surveillance (CNS) team, fire fighting personnel and ground operations staff receiving their first jab.

“Around 200 persons from the four departments, including around 120 ATCOs, received the jab on Thursday. Given the limited number of vaccines available for the 18-44 age group, all 500-odd that are eligible could not be inoculated in a single session. Another session will be organised for the 300 people that are left,” said an Airports Authority of India (AAI) official.

A 28-year-old ATCO, who was among the youngest lot to get the jab along with a few 27-year-old new joinees, said he was extremely relieved to now have some sort of protection against the virus.

“We have all been working right through the pandemic and are frontline workers. But unlike healthcare staff, policemen, civic workers and even those who were deputed for election duty, we did not get the frontline staff status. The Air Traffic Controllers’ Guild, the umbrella organisation of ATCOs, made the appeal to AAI that organised the session,” the ATCO recounted.

07/05/21 Subhro Niyogi/Times of India

India domestic travel collapses amid Covid-19 crisis

India’s coronavirus crisis has seen daily departures drop below 100,000, with numerous countries suspending virtually all travel from the South Asian country.

According to the most recent statistics from India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation, daily departing passengers fell to just 80,596 on 4 May, a fraction of the 400,000 daily passengers that India would typically see before the coronavirus pandemic.

In a research note, brokerage firm ICICI Securities observed that daily average fliers fell to 126,000 in the week ended 1 May, a 17% decline from the previous week. In addition, the number of passengers per departure fell from 81 to 84.

The weak numbers represent a sharp reversal for India’s airlines, which ICICI says saw an average of 280,000 departing passengers daily between 21 February and 21 March, when the country’s domestic air travel market appeared to be riding a strong recovery.

Separately, concerns about a new strain of the virus in India have seen several countries bar arrivals from the country, apart from citizens and permanent residents who will be subject to Covid-19 tests and quarantines.

Key air travel markets that have stopped passenger services from India include Bangladesh, Singapore, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates, and several other countries. In most cases, however, cargo services are still allowed.

06/05/21 Greg Waldron/Flight Global

Lufthansa's Germany-India-Germany flights to now stop over in Dubai for crew change

New Delhi: Lufthansa’s flights between India and Germany will now take a stopover in Dubai both ways for a crew change. The German major has taken this step to ensure its pilots and cabin crew operating the 10 weekly return flights to India do not require a layover in the Covid-ravaged metros here. One set of crew will operate from Frankfurt to Dubai; another set from Dubai to Delhi/Mumbai/Bengaluru and back to Dubai and then a third set will operate the aircraft — a Boeing 747-8 these days — back to Germany, say sources.

As a result, the about 7-hour journey between Frankfurt and Delhi/Mumbai will now take over 9 hours. And the 11-hour flight between Frankfurt and Bengaluru will take about 13 hours now. Passengers will remain seated inside the aircraft during crew change. For this duration flight, a B-747 has 2-3 pilots and over 15 cabin crew.

07/06/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Drones set to deliver your orders for food, medicine

New Delhi: Restaurant, medicine and grocery delivery aggregators, including Swiggy and Dunzo, will soon be able to deliver through drones during the pandemic. Test runs in controlled environments have already started.

The government has allowed 20 entities, including Swiggy, Dunzo and SpiceJet, to carry out experimental flights of drones "beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS)". Once this protocol is established after successful experimental flights, drones could be used for various purposes like delivering Covid jabs, medicines and meals, while ensuring safety and security issues.

"This could be a hub-and-spoke model that will help cut down delivery times drastically," said a senior executive at a food delivery company. "For instance, if the route is long, drones could be used to ferry the medicines or food to a central location from where delivery executives can collect them."

Last-mile delivery through drones is difficult in India because rooftops do not have clear landing zones and are often obstructed with power lines, he added.

"The drone ecosystem has quickly established itself as a fundamental component of industry 4.0, having been successfully adopted in a vast spectrum of sectors such as medicine, logistics, defence, entertainment, film production & heavy industry," said Arjun Aggarwal, MD, Arc Ventures, one of India's leading investors in the drone space.

06/05/21 Saurabh Sinha & John Sarkar/Times of India

ED chargesheet names GVK, MIAL for laundering Rs 500 crore

Mumbai: Enforcement Directorate (ED) last week submitted its first chargesheet in the special court against GVK group of companies, Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) and its managing director Sanjay Reddy along with others for laundering Rs 500 crore through fictitious transactions to carry out further development of Mumbai’s international airport terminus (T-2).

ED alleged that the group controlled-MIAL had awarded a fake contract of civil work to companies with forged documents. The contacts were never executed but MIAL released the agreed payment. ED alleged that the contractors then transferred the money to GVK group companies or firms associated with its promoters and they laundered the money.

ED named over 21 accused in the case, including MIAL, GVK Airport Development Authority and GVK Energy along with other office-bearers of the firm involved in money-laundering. ED sources stated they will continue their investigation. GVK group declined to comment.

07/05/21 Vijay V Singh/Times of India

Domestic aviation passenger number falls by 29% in April

India is currently ravaged by one of the deadliest COVID waves ever since the pandemic started last year, and is one of the worst-hit countries in the world. As an effect, the tourism industry too has been struggling, especially the aviation section. It has been hit again by the new wave, as April saw a steep decline of 29% compared to March in the number of domestic air passengers. The number of domestic passengers in March was 78.2 lakh, which came plummeting to 57 lakhs in April.

The steep decline has been attributed to the second wave of COVID-19 that hit India towards the end of March. As per ICRA, the decline has been led by passengers' unwillingness to take flights to avoid exposure to the highly infectious virus. It is reported that there is a sequential decline of 15% between March and April.

Reportedly, the number of departures also came down to 60,300 in April from 71,300 in March, 2021. The number of flights has also been seeing a decline since February this year, with only 2000 daily departures in April as compared to 2300 in February and March, 2021. It has also been noted that the average number of passengers in a flight in April was 93; the same was pegged at 109 passengers in a flight in March.

07/05/21 Times of India

TaxiBots come to the rescue of Indian aviation sector

Indian aviation and Delhi airport created history on May 6 when the 1,000th TaxiBot (taxiing robot) mission was completed. Touted as a 'green solution' for the global aviation industry, a TaxiBot is a semi-robotic towbarless aircraft movement equipment developed by the Israel Aerospace Industries.
The 800-hp hybrid-electric engine, controlled by the pilot from the cockpit using regular pilot controls, can move an aircraft from the terminal gate to the take-off point (taxi-out phase) and return it to the gate after landing (taxi-in phase). Delhi Airport estimates that since 2019, when the first TaxiBot was used, approximately 214,000 litres of Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) have been saved and 532 tonnes of Co2 emissions prevented. 
Among the airlines using TaxiBots are SpiceJet, Air India Express and Air India, and trials have been successfully carried out for Air Asia, Go Air and IndiGo. TaxiBots are slated to debut at Bengaluru Airport, the second busiest airport in the country, soon with one Taxibot already stationed at the airport. What a TaxiBot does is simple. 
The robot helps push the aircraft to a point short of the runway where the pilot can start the engines for take-off. Normally an aircraft is tugged by a ground vehicle to the Tug Detach Point (TDP), which is usually reached within 1.5 to 2 minutes. Following this, the aircraft has to switch on its engines and taxi to the runway. 
Starting the engine early means that the aircraft not only has to use ATF but this also leads to both noise and air pollution as carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Given that a Boeing 737 or an Airbus A-320 aircraft, on average, takes about 11 to 13 minutes to taxi, it is likely to burn over 200 litres of ATF. So, using a TaxiBot can translate into a huge saving for the environment as also the airlines. The largest cost component for airlines is ATF which accounts for over 40 per cent of their operating expenses. 
 There are other benefits of using TaxiBots. Starting the aircraft engine late ensures that there is less wear and tear of the engine. This decreases the operating costs for airlines. In addition, starting engines later also helps prevent Foreign Object Damage or something from the ground getting sucked into the engine and damaging it. 
 Nripendra Singh, Industry Principal, Aerospace & Defense Practice, Frost & Sullivan, says using TaxiBots makes sense in India since it helps reduce operational costs of airlines, which are among the highest in the world here. "During taxi, average fuel burn for a narrow-body aircraft is ~0.1 kg/second while it is ~1-2 kg/second for a wide-body aircraft. In India, fuel is one of the biggest contributors to the cost of operations for Indian carriers, which makes this concept more attractive as it hits the core requirement of the airlines, airports, and ground handlers," he says. 
 07/05/21 Ashwini Phadnis/Deccan Herald

Flybig forays into northeast India

Flybig is launching its services across northeast India, starting from the second week of May 2021.

Flights will connect Guwahati, Rupsi, and Kolkata initially. Subsequently, services will also be launched on routes connecting Agartala, Dibrugarh, Tezu, and Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh with Guwahati and Shillong.

Below are the new routes that will be launched in phases:

Guwahati (GAU)-Rupsi (RUP)

Rupsi (RUP)-Kolkata (CCU)

Kolkata (CCU)-Rupsi (RUP)

Agartala (IXA)-Dibrugarh (DIB)

Dibrugarh (DIB)-Agartala (IXA


Pasighat (IXT)- Guwahati (GAU)

Pasighat (IXT)- Shillong (SHL)

Shillong (SHL)- Pasighat (IXT)

Flybig operates ATR72 type of aircraft across its sectors.

Captain Srinivas Rao, CEO, Flybig said:

“We are extremely happy that Flybig is taking its vision one step ahead by commencing the operations in northeast India and providing regional connectivity to remote areas like Rupsi, Pasighat, and Tezu.

“We are determined to provide essential and safe travel to everyone at this crucial time our country is going through. I am grateful to the government for the Regional Connectivity Scheme which has made travel affordable for the common man. In years to come, we will boost connectivity in more regional spaces.”

Tickets for the new routes are now available. Passengers can make the bookings directly through Flybig website, online travel agencies, and regional travel partners.

06/05/21 Business Traveller

US urges citizens to return home from India through available flights

The US, which has urged its citizens not to travel to India due to an unprecedented surge in the COVID-19 cases there, on Friday encouraged those in the country to book their tickets to return home through currently available flights.

The United Airlines and Air India are continuing to operate numerous direct flights weekly from India to the US, a State Department health alert said.

Additional flight options remain available on Air France, Lufthansa, and Qatar Airways via transfers in Paris, Frankfurt, and Doha.

US citizens who wish to depart India are encouraged to book tickets through the airlines, the health alert said.

It is mandatory for anyone travelling to the US (2 years and older) to take a COVID-19 test no more than 3 days before travel and show a negative result to the airline before boarding the flight, it said.

The passengers should be prepared to show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from a healthcare provider or a public health official stating clearance for travel).

Travellers are encouraged to follow post-travel guidance once in the US, it said.

The US this week reissued its travel advisory on India, urging its citizens not to travel to the country due to an unprecedented surge in the COVID-19 cases there.

07/05/21 PTI/Economic Times

Air India To Operate Flights From London To Mumbai Starting May 17

New Delhi: Air India on Friday informed that it will operate flights from London Heathrow to Mumbai from May 17, keeping in view of the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

"#FlyAI: Air India will operate flights from London Heathrow to Mumbai from 17th May to 31st May''21. (Except 18th, 23rd,25th and 30th May). Passengers who are already booked on these dates and wish to travel, will be required to revalidate their bookings", tweeted Air India.

Passengers before travelling are advised to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines.

"Booking open through Air India Website, Mobile App, booking offices, Call centre and Authorised Travel agents", tweeted Air India.

"With reference to recent guidelines announced by UK Government, passengers before planning their travel are requested to read the guidelines carefully.", the tweet read.

Further, the airlines informed in a tweet that it will be the sole responsibility of the passengers to ensure his/her eligibility to enter the destination country. Air India will accept no liability in this regard.

Earlier today, Air India informed that it will operate flights on Bengaluru-London Heathrow- Bengaluru sector.

"Air India will operate following flights on Bengaluru-London Heathrow-Bengaluru sector: BLR- LHR -17/19/24/26 and 31 May 21. LHR-BLR -16/18/23/25 and 30 May 21. Passengers already booked on these dates and wish to travel, will be required to revalidate their bookings", informed Air India.

07/05/21 ANI/NDTV

Air Passengers Number Sees Drastic Fall In Mysuru

Mysore/Mysuru: With the enforcement of COVID curfew following the sudden surge in COVID-19 cases, the number of air passengers flying into and out of the city has witnessed a sharp dip over the past few days.

Air Transport operators such as TruJet and Air Alliance used to record a good 70 percent occupancy  regularly in their flights to various destinations such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Belagavi, Hyderabad etc., just two months ago. But the second wave of COVID attack has dealt a big blow to flight operators, who continue to see an occupancy of just about 25 to 30 percent in flights, according to Mysuru Airport Director R. Manjunath.

07/05/21 Star of Mysore

Airlines get crew, families vaccinated

After pilots of Air India recently threatened to stop flying if the airline failed to set up vaccination centres for the crew, the national carrier said that it would vaccinate all its employees by the end of May. Private airlines too have started vaccination drives for their crew and families.
 AirAsia India has said that it has already conducted three vaccination drives in Bengaluru and the NCR area for its staff and family members. “In line with AirAsia India’s core values of People First and Safety Always, we recently conducted three vaccination drives for AirAsia Allstars (AirAsia India employees) and family members in Bengaluru, New Delhi and Gurgaon as part of Phase 2 of the Covid vaccination drive,” said an AirAsia India Spokesperson. He added that the airline is now looking forward to covering all our employees in the Phase 3 of the vaccination drive under which all people above the 18 years would be eligible to get themselves vaccinated. “The turnout for the drive was very promising and we have started the vaccination process for all and we are looking forward to covering all our employees in the Phase 3 of the vaccination drive,” the spokesperson said. 
Similarly, Vistara also said that it has begun the vaccination drive to get its employees vaccinated at the earliest. “We are leveraging the vaccination drives in different cities across our network and our staff is getting vaccinated progressively. We are also tying up with various hospitals and government agencies to set-up exclusive vaccination camps at our premises for our employees. We are following all guidelines issued by DGCA in this regard including giving time off to the crew post vaccination,” said a Vistara spokesperson. 
 Another Bengaluru-headquartered airline Star Air said that while it is yet to start vaccinating its pilots and cabin crew, the airline would be making a representation to the Karnataka Government for the same.
07/05/21 Hemanth CS/Bangalore Mirror

10 flights, 2 trains cancelled to and from Indore airport

Indore: Ten flights scheduled to operate to and from Indore airport on Thursday were cancelled for the third consecutive day owing to declining passengers count. This included Vistara’s morning flight to Delhi, and IndiGo’s afternoon flights to Delhi and Hyderabad.

FlyBig’s Ahmedabad and Raipur flights were also cancelled both ways. “Declining passengers count due to the ongoing Covid-19 has been a reason behind frequent cancellations of flights to and from Indore,” airport officials said. They said that daily movement of flights has gone down to 24, reducing connectivity to different cities.

At present, a few flights operate on routes like from Indore to Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kishangarh, Ahmedabad etc. “We are still having a number of regular flights to different sectors and routes, and operating them while keeping all safety and precautionary measures in place to mitigate the risk of spread of Covid-19,” said airport director Aryama Sanyal.

2 trains cancelled: Two long distance trains operating to and from Indore railway station were cancelled on Thursday. Indore-Daund special trains will remain cancelled from May 7 and Indore-Kochuveli special will be cancelled from May 11.

07/05/21 Times of India

Air India to operate flights connecting London to Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru from May 16

Air India on May 7 announced that it will operate flights between London Heathrow airport to Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru from May 16 to May end.

The national airliner has issued a list of days on which the flights won't operate and have advised passengers to revalidate their bookings accordingly.

For instance, though Air India flights connecting Mumbai to London Heathrow will operate from May 16 to May 30, flights on this route will not be available on May 17, 19, 24, and 26.

Similarly, Air India flights from London Heathrow to Mumbai will operate from May 17 to May 31, except on May 18, 23, 25, and 30.

07/05/21 Moneycontrol

AI adds more flights; IndiGo temporarliy suspends ATRs

Dimapur: In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the timings for the scheduled flights to Dimapur have been revised, while IndiGo airlines has temporarily suspended its ATR operations for the Kolkata-Dimapur-Dibrugrah-Kolkata sector till May 31, 2021.

Informing this to Nagaland Post, Dimapur airport director, Mughavi Yeptho also said that the Guwahati-Dimapur-Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati sector, operated by Alliance Air (ATR) on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, will operate as daily flight from May 11. 

He further informed Air India (Airbus 319) will be operating the Kolkata-Dimapur-Kolkata sector six days a week except Saturdays from May 23, in place of the existing two flights a week (Tuesday & Thursday).

07/05/21 Nagaland Post

Karnataka Nursing Team Flying to Delhi to Fight Covid-19 Get Applause from Airline Staff

There’s no denying the fact that the efforts of doctors, nurses and other medical support staff is giving us the hope needed to get over the second wave of COVID-19 in the country. They have worked long hours in difficult conditions and infection risks, saving the lives of thousands of patients. In a bid to laud their services for the control of this deadly pandemic, an airlines company decided to pay a special tribute to the members of the nursing team who were flying from Mangalore and Manipal to Delhi, to help in different hospitals.

The team at Indigo Airlines stood and received this team of nursing staff with applause as they walked towards their flight. Many Twitter user including PayTM chief, Vijay Shekhar Sharma shared a video of this gesture by airline staff on his timeline. The video has gone viral garnering over 2 lakh views and evoked many reactions from the Twitterati’s.

Many users appreciated this gesture and the work of medical staff in this difficult time. Reacting to the video, a user wrote, “Felt emotional. lump in the throat. no less than our soldiers leaving their homes to go to the war front. These are young men and women. "


FedEx transporting over 25,000 oxygen concentrators & converters to India

New Delhi: Air freight major FedEx on Thursday said it is supporting the transportation of more than 25,000 oxygen concentrators and converters through an initiative with the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum and other MNCs.

An initial shipment of 1,000 critical oxygen concentrators was delivered by FedEx to Delhi on April 30, by the world’s largest express transportation company.

“On May 8, FedEx is sending its Boeing 777F charter flight to move more than 3,400 oxygen concentrators, converters and nearly 265,000 KN95 masks from Newark to Mumbai. The supplies will ultimately be delivered to healthcare facilities in Mumbai. In addition, FedEx is working with customers and non-profit organisations to deliver hundreds of tonnes of medical supplies and aid into India in the days and weeks ahead,” FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp, said in a statement.

FedEx President and COO Raj Subramaniam said, “The devastating humanitarian crisis in India requires relief from around the world, and it is our mission to deliver critical aid needed to help alleviate suffering. We have been on the frontlines delivering relief since the start of the pandemic, and are responding to the urgent situation in India now. FedEx will continue to deliver lifesaving medicine, personal protective equipment, and other critical supplies until this pandemic is over.”

06/05/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of Indiaer MNCs.

An initial shipment of 1,000 critical oxygen concentrators was delivered by FedEx to Delhi on April 30, by the world’s largest express transportation company.

“On May 8, FedEx is sending its Boeing 777F charter flight to move more than 3,400 oxygen concentrators, converters and nearly 265,000 KN95 masks from Newark to Mumbai. The supplies will ultimately be delivered to healthcare facilities in Mumbai. In addition, FedEx is working with customers and non-profit organisations to deliver hundreds of tonnes of medical supplies and aid into India in the days and weeks ahead,” FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp, said in a statement.

FedEx President and COO Raj Subramaniam said, “The devastating humanitarian crisis in India requires relief from around the world, and it is our mission to deliver critical aid needed to help alleviate suffering. We have been on the frontlines delivering relief since the start of the pandemic, and are responding to the urgent situation in India now. FedEx will continue to deliver lifesaving medicine, personal protective equipment, and other critical supplies until this pandemic is over.”

06/05/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

SpiceJet airlifts 2,900 oxygen concentrators from Hong Kong to Delhi

New Delhi: SpiceJet on Friday said it airlifted 2,900 oxygen concentrators from Hong Kong to Delhi using its A340 wide-body aircraft. The flight landed at the Delhi airport early on Friday morning, it said.

India has been badly hit by the second wave of coronavirus infections and hospitals in several states are reeling under a severe shortage of vaccines, oxygen, drugs, equipment, and beds.

"The airline has airlifted more than 13,950 oxygen concentrators from the USA, Hong Kong, Singapore and China so far," the press release said.

With a record of 4,14,188 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India's total tally of Covid-19 cases climbed to 2,14,91,598, while the active cases crossed the 36-lakh mark, according to the union health ministry data updated on Friday.

The death toll has increased to 2,34,083 with 3,915 fatalities being reported in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8am showed.

07/05/21 PTI/Times of India

SpiceJet SpiceXpress Airlifting 1,100 oxygen concentrators

New Delhi: SpiceJet's air cargo arm SpiceXpress on Thursday airlifted 1,100 oxygen concentrators and other COVID-related medical equipment from Nanjing, China, to New Delhi. The airline used its A330 wide-body aircraft to airlift the concentrators from Nanjing. "The airline has airlifted more than 11,050 oxygen concentrators from the US, Hong Kong, Singapore and China so far," the airline said in a statement. "These oxygen concentrators have been ordered by SpiceHealth and other organisations. SpiceHealth, a healthcare company launched by the promoters of SpiceJet, has been working actively with the state governments and hospitals across the country to address the issue of acute shortage of oxygen," it added. 

07/05/21 Sentinel 

Cathay Pacific airlifts over 100 tonnes of humanitarian, medical supplies for India

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific on Friday said it has airlifted more than 100 tonnes of humanitarian and medical supplies for India as the country battles against the deadly second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to an acute shortage of medical oxygen, among others. These include shipments of specialised oxygen generators, oxygen concentrators and ventilators to Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad, Cathay Pacific said in a statement.

In addition, there has been a sharp increase in volumes for shipments of oxygen, surgical masks, sanitisers, personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals and vaccines over the past few weeks, it said.

Even as the passenger flights between Hong Kong and India remain suspended, in the past few weeks Cathay Pacific Cargo has been operating freighters and cargo-only passenger flights, delivering to date more than 100 tonnes of much-needed humanitarian and medical supplies to some of India's major cities, the company said in a statement.

"The Cathay Pacific Group has a long-standing relationship with India. We are pained to see the current impact of the pandemic in the country and understand the criticality of shipping essential medical supplies" said Mark Sutch, Regional General Manager for South Asia, Middle East and Africa at Cathay Pacific Airways.

With its dedicated Boeing 747 freighter fleet, Cathay Pacific Cargo stands ready to support relief efforts with its capacity to deliver large humanitarian cargo shipments where they are needed and whenever they are required, it said.

07/05/21 PTI/Economic Times

Covid-19: Cargo plane leaves NI with medical aid for India

A cargo plane carrying oxygen generators from Northern Ireland to India left Belfast International Airport on Friday afternoon.

Hospitals in the country are struggling to cope with a second surge of Covid-19 cases.

India's official death toll has surpassed 200,000 but experts believe the actual number may be higher.

The shipment, expected to arrive in Delhi over the weekend, also contains 1,000 ventilators from across the UK.

The three generators, built in Northern Ireland, are capable of producing 500 litres of oxygen a minute.

They are among eight oxygen units built as back-up for local hospitals at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Northern Ireland is the latest in a list of countries to send aid to India, as the situation there worsens.

The medical equipment is travelling on an Antonov An-124, a Russian plane originally designed in the 1980s to carry Soviet tanks.

Now, the plane is normally used to move outsize freight - things like airplane wings from Bombardier - but has been drafted in to fly medical equipment to India.

07/05/21 Sara Neill/BBC

3.6cr Covishield doses sent from Pune airport last month

Pune: As many as 3.6 crore doses of the Covishield vaccine, manufactured by the city-based Serum Institute of India, were dispatched from the Pune airport in April — the highest so far and nearly three times the number dispatched in January.

As per figures provided by the Pune airport authorities, 1.26 crore doses were transported in January, 1.39 crore in February and 2.03 crore doses in March. Officials said large consignments were being transported this month too.

Further, officials said, 2.16 lakh doses were sent from the Pune airport to other countries in February; a chartered flight had carried 18 boxes of the vaccine to Suriname, St Kitts, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua, Barbuda, and St Lucia.

“It is a continuous process and we are providing all the help to the airlines and the cargo logistics company under the Airports Authority of India. Ninety-seven boxes containing 9.87 lakh doses were transported on two flights to Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad on May 5. On May 4, as many as 37 boxes containing 4.20 lakh doses were sent to Delhi, for onward delivery to cities like Karnal, Dehradun, Jammu, and Srinagar. On May 3 too, 127 boxes containing 15.04 lakh doses were sent to Jaipur, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru. Two lakh doses were sent to Jaipur on May 1,” an official said.

07/05/21 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Japan sends oxygen concentrators to India

A plane carrying 100 oxygen concentrators to India departs from Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Saturday morning to help the country deal with a surge in coronavirus cases.

The shipment is part of an aid package announced by the Japanese government that includes an emergency grant of up to 50 million dollars, in addition to 300 ventilators and 300 oxygen concentrators.

India's daily tally of new coronavirus cases has frequently topped 300,000 recently. The country is facing a critical shortage of hospital beds and oxygen for medical use.

The Japanese government is procuring the equipment from domestic makers.

07/05/21 NHK

UN agencies delivered nearly 10,000 oxygen concentrators, 10 million medical masks to India

United Nations: Several United Nations agencies have delivered nearly 10,000 oxygen concentrators and about 10 million medical masks to India to support national and local governments to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the spokesman for the UN chief.

In India, the UN team on the ground “continues to support the authorities — both nationally and locally — to tackle the pandemic,” Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said at the daily press briefing on Thursday.

He said UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) have delivered nearly 10,000 oxygen concentrators, nearly 10 million medical masks and more than 1.5 million face shields. The UN team has also purchased ventilators and oxygen-generating plants.

UNICEF is also providing cold chain equipment for COVID-19 vaccines.

“Our team has also delivered testing machines and kits, as well as airport thermal scanners,” he said adding that WHO is also providing tents and beds for temporary health facilities and the agency has deployed thousands of public health specialists to help address the pandemic.

UNICEF and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) are also helping to monitor more than 175,000 vaccination centres across India.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore had earlier cautioned that the “tragic" COVID-19 situation in India should “raise alarm bells for all of us. Unless the world steps up and helps India now, there will be reverberations across the region and the world in terms of virus-related deaths, virus mutations and supply delays.”

07/05/21 Yoshita Singh/PTI/Outlook

World's largest cargo plane leaves UK with relief supplies to India

The world’s largest cargo plane, the massive Antonov 124 aircraft of Volga Dnepr, has left Belfast flying three 18-tonne oxygen generators and 1,000 ventilators as part of the United Kingdom’s latest response to India’s Covid-19 crisis.

Staff at Belfast International Airport worked through the night to load 60 tonnes of life-saving kit, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Each of the three oxygen generation units –housed in 40ft freight containers – are able to produce 500 litres of oxygen per minute, enough to treat 50 people at a time on ventilators. Northern Ireland health minister, Robin Swann, was at Belfast International Airport to see the generators dispatched.

07/05/21 ITLN

Chartered emergency flights with Covid relief supplies flow to India

Emergency relief supplies continued their flow to India on Wednesday (May 5). Several Indian and International cargo carriers joined the operations along with multinational corporations announcing aid and transport to many Indian airports.

Recently the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) of India instructed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to prioritise the foreign ad hoc flights carrying Covid-19 pandemic relief materials to India, has lifted the restrictions and allowed such flights to operate to any Indian airport with customs and immigration facilities.

IAG Cargo, the cargo division of International Airlines Group (IAG), and its sister company British Airways operated a chartered B777-200 relief flight on Wednesday (May 5) from London Heathrow to Delhi transporting 27 tonnes of medical aid as the humanitarian crisis in the country worsens.

The load includes hundreds of urgent life-saving oxygen cylinders and shipments of oxygen concentrators, respirators and blood oxygen saturation monitors. British Airways is also donating care packages for families in need.

John Cheetham, chief commercial officer at IAG Cargo said, “We have all seen the terrible scenes in India of the deepening humanitarian crisis that has impacted the lives of many of our people and our customers. Thank you to the team at IAG Cargo, British Airways and all the charities involved in this project – without their support, this special mission providing essential relief to communities in India would not have been possible.

Meanwhile, Microsoft became a founding member of the Global Task Force on Pandemic Response, a public-private partnership to provide India with critical medical supplies, oxygen and other life-saving assistance.

“We’ve already taken two steps to help address the severe shortage of oxygen for patients in India. As part of the task force, we have joined with other companies to purchase 1,000 much-needed ventilators for hospitals in India. Second, we’re working with the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum and other companies to provide 25,000 oxygen concentration devices to health care facilities in India,” reads a Microsoft release.

J M Baxi announced that it has purchased 600 oxygen cylinders for Delhi, 250 for Andhra Pradesh and 250 for Maharashtra from Singapore, totalling 7200 cubic meters of oxygen-carrying capacity. It was transported to India on Wednesday by the Indian Navy and Airforce.

06/05/21 ITLN

95 million COVID vaccines doses handled by AAI-managed airports

Around 95 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been handled by the airports managed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) till now, according to an official statement issued on Thursday.

The AAI, which works under the Civil Aviation Ministry, owns and manages over 100 airports across India.

India has been badly hit by the second wave of coronavirus infections even as hospitals in several states are reeling under a severe shortage of vaccines, oxygen, drugs, equipment and beds.

The AAI's statement said its airports are jointly working with airlines, various state administrations and other stakeholders so that there is no time wasted in unloading of vaccine consignments and they are handed over to state health department in the shortest possible time to maintain the cold chain.

"The average delivery time is between 3 to 20 minutes and all arrangements are in place for immediate clearance on priority and delivery to the respective department," it added.

The airports in major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad are managed by private companies and not by the AAI.

"Approximately 95 million doses of vaccines have been handled till now while taking utmost precautions through AAI airports," the statement read.

06/05/21 PTI/India TV

Delmos Aviation transports 100 oxygen concentrators from Russia for Rajasthan govt

Mumbai: Delmos Aviation, which acts as the general sales agent (GSA) for the Russian carrier Aeroflot, has transported 100 oxygen concentrators to New Delhi from Russia for the Rajasthan government.

Delmos, as part of the tie-up with the Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation Limited (RMSCL), has the mandate to procure, transport and deliver, among others, a total of 1,250 oxygen concentrators for the state from Russia, the company said.

The first consignment, comprising 100 concentrators, was airlifted in an Aeroflot Airbus A333 with the flight SU 232 landing in New Delhi at 08:53 am Friday, Delmos Aviation said.

From the airport, the consignment will be transported by road and delivered to RMSCL headquarters, in Jaipur.

The remaining three lots of the 1,250 oxygen concentrators comprising 300, 450 and 400 units each will be arriving in New Delhi on May 9, 14 and 16, respectively, it said.

The consignment includes Oxygen Concentrator Single Flowmeter (0.5-10LPM adjustable) as well as Dual Flowmeter (0-5LPM Adjustable).

As part of its efforts to augment the medical oxygen in the state, the government planned to import 1,250 oxygen concentrators from Russia, in collaboration with Delmos Aviation Pvt Ltd, said a Rajasthan government spokesperson.

07/05/21 PTI/Outlook

Two Tanzanian nationals arrested at Chennai airport with heroin worth Rs 100 crore

Chennai: In one of the biggest seizure of narcotics at Chennai International Airport, 15.6 kg of Heroin has been seized from two Tanzanians Nationals on Friday.

A Tanzanian man and woman arrived in Chennai on Qatar Airways flight 528 from Johannesburg via Doha, as they did not find a direct flight to Bengaluru.  The woman was travelling to India for treatment in Bengaluru and was accompanied by her male attendant, on a visa that was granted based on communication from the Bengaluru hospital. 

Air Customs officials at the Chennai International Airport who maintained a high vigil, based on Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) information regarding narcotics smuggling from African countries, intercepted the duo.

Senior officials said that the duo appeared nervous and gave evasive replies on being questioned, following which their baggage was examined. 

According to officials, even when the clothes and personal belongings were emptied, the empty suitcases were noticed to be very heavy. That's when the suitcases were examined thoroughly and plastic packets were found concealed beneath the trolley rods, pasted neatly to the shell of the suitcase. In this case, they had smeared some spicy powders to also hoodwink the dog squads and make it all the more difficult to detect.

Five plastic packets were recovered from each trolley suitcase. On testing, 15.6 kg of white coarse powder suspected to be Heroin valued at Rs. 100 crores was recovered and seized under The NDPS Act 1985, read with Customs Act.

07/05/21 Sidharth MP/DNA