Sunday, February 17, 2019

Privatisation: GMR, Adani bid for all 6 AAI airports

New Delhi: India's biggest private sector airport operator, GMR Group, and infrastructure major Adani have bid for the six airports- Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Mangaluru and Thiruvananthapuram- that the government plans to run public-private way like the mega hubs at Delhi and Mumbai.
Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports have got seven bids each. Lucknow and Guwahati have got six bids each. Mangalore and Thiruvananthapuram have got three bids each.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) had in mid-December issued request for proposal (RFP) for these airports. The technical bids were opened on Saturday that showed GMR - which runs Delhi and Hyderabad airports - and Adani Group have submitted bids for all the six airports. The Cochin International Airport Pvt Ltd (CIAL) has bid for one airport, Mangalore. In all, AAI has got 32 bids for the six airports from 10 bidders. Apart from GMR, Adani and CIAL, the other bidders are: AMP Capital Investors (UK) Ltd and PNC Infra (bid for four airports each); Autostrade, NIIF and I Investments Ltd (three airports each) and KSIDC and Sanna Enterprise (one airport each).

"The technical bids have been opened as of now. The financial bids will be opened on February 25," said a senior AAI official. Since every airport has elicited good response, AAI is hopeful that it may be able to hand over operations, management and development of these six growing airports to private players for 50 years as planned. According to the RFP, the letter of award has to be issued to the winning bidder on February 28 and the validity of the bids is till July 31, 2019.

This is the second big round of privatising airports after Delhi and Mumbai were handed out to private players, GMR and GVK, over a decade back. But the revenue share model is different this time.

AAI has had several disagreements with the private airport operators in Delhi and Mumbai over the amount of revenue to be shared. There have been allegations in the past that the private airport operators formed subsidiaries to hive off certain non-aero operations at these airports in a bid to avoid revenue share with AAI as per the privatisation pact.

To avoid such disputes, the authority has now opted for a new model of revenue generation from these six airports' prospective bidders. "The concessionaire shall pay to the Authority, on a monthly-basis, a fee (the 'per-passenger fee') in respect of each passenger (both domestic and international) handled at the airport in accordance with the concession agreement… the concessionaire shall be entitled to collect charges from users of the airport in accordance with the concession agreement," the RFP document says.
17/02/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

GMR, Adani among 10 bidders for six non-metro airports

A total of 10 entities have submitted bids for six AAI-owned airports for privatisation. Among the bidders, GMR Airports and Adani Enterprise are offering to operate all the six aerodromes.

Others bidders are Autostrade from Italy, AMP Capital Investors (UK), Mauritius-based I Investments, Cochin International Airport (CIAL), Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), PNC Infrastructure and Sanna Enterprises.

Six airports — Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangalore, Guwahati and Trivandrum — were put on the block by state-owned Airports Authority of India on December 14, 2018. The bidder quoting the highest per-passenger fee for domestic travellers will be awarded the rights to operate, manage and develop the six non-metro airports.

The winning bids will be announced on February 28.

Experts believe that liberal bid conditions have generated this interest.

“This is a positive response from bidders considering what happened in Mopa (Goa) and Navi Mumbai airports where there was not much interest,” Satyan Nayar, secretary general, Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO) said while adding that more bidders would have applied if the tender schedule was relaxed.

While the GMR operates Delhi and Hyderabad airports, Adani Enterprise has been vying to enter the airport sector for some time now.
Fairfax India, which operates Bengaluru airport, and GVK, which handles Mumbai, did not sumbit a bid. All these airports are profit making facilities for the AAI and handle between 2.27 to 9.17 million passengers annually.
17/02/19 Arun Nayal/Financial Express

AAI receives 32 technical bids from 10 companies for privatisation of six airports

A total of 32 technical bids have been received from 10 companies to operate six airports that are currently under AAI's management, senior officials said Saturday.

As part of an open international competitive bidding process, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had sought bidders for carrying out operations, management and development of the six airports -- Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Ahmedabad and Jaipur.

"AAI has received 32 technical bids from total 10 companies for six airports," senior government officials said.

"Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports have received seven bids each. Lucknow and Guwahati have received six bids each. And Mangaluru and Thiruvananthapuram have received three bids each," they added.

The last date to submit technical bids was February 14.

AAI will open the financial bids on February 25. The winning bids will be announced on February 28.
17/02/19 PTI/Business Today

KSIDC bids for Thiruvananthapuram airport

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation Ltd (KSIDC), the State-owned agency for industrial and investment promotion, and two private players have submitted bids for operating, managing and developing the Thiruvananthapuram international airport for 50 years.

GMR Group, the leading airport developer and operator, and Adani Group, which is behind the upcoming Vizhinjam International Deepwater seaport project in the State capital, are the two private players in the race.

The GMR Group and the Adani Group are also among the bidders for five more airports in the country now managed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and identified for privatisation by the Centre. The airports are Mangaluru, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, and Guwahati. For Mangaluru, Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL), the operator of the Cochin international airport at Nedumbaserry, is one of the bidders.

The bids for all the airports were opened in New Delhi on Saturday evening as per the tender schedule fixed by the AAI. The bidders will now be short-listed based on the Technical Capacity and Financial Capacity.

The scrutiny of the bids has commenced and the financial bid of those who qualify the technical norms will be opened on February 25, sources in the AAI say. The Letter of Award (LOA) will be issued on February 28 to the selected concessionaire.
16/02/19 S Anil Radhakrishnan/The Hindu

Jet Airways likely to get over Rs 3,000 crore funds

New Delhi: Loss-making Jet Airways is likely to receive fund infusion worth over Rs 3,000 crore post debt-rejig and investments by Etihad Airways as well as National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) while founder Naresh Goyal might remain the promoter with less than half of the existing majority stake of 51 per cent, according to sources.
While the final contours of debt-restructuring and consequent changes are being worked out, an analyst said that Etihad Airways should come as the main driver for Jet Airways as lenders and shareholders would not be able to bring in much value addition.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, which currently owns 24 per cent in the full service carrier, is a strategic partner and is expected to pump in around Rs 1,400 crore, sources said.
On February 14, Jet Airways' board approved a Bank-Led Provisional Resolution Plan (BLPRP), whereby lenders would become the largest shareholders in the airline.
After receiving approval from shareholders, during their meeting scheduled for February 21, part of debt would be converted into 11.4 crore shares at a consideration of Re 1 apiece as per RBI norms.
Later, appropriate interim credit facilities by domestic lenders would be sanctioned to the airline, as per a regulatory filing made on February 14.
17/02/19 PTI/Economic Times

Jet Airways rights issue will target raising Rs 2,500 crore

Cash-strapped private airline Jet Airways will raise about Rs 2,500 crore through a rights issue, media reports say. Lenders to the company that has defaulted on debt repayment will also look at a debt-to-equity conversion. While the Naresh Goyal-founded company's creditors may convert Rs 1,000 crore of debt into equity, they will also bring in more equity through a rights issue as part of a deal the airline had with the lenders. Goyal and foreign partner Etihad Airways, which has a 24 per cent stake in the airline, will infuse approximately Rs 2,000 crore into the airline, a report quoting an unidentified source said.
The government-owned National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) is likely to buy up to 20 per cent stake amounting to Rs 1,500 crore, a report on the Business Standard website said. NIIF and banks will together come to own a 51 per cent stake in the company.
The lenders approached NIIF after Etihad Airways refused to increase its stake beyond 25 per cent in the absence of an exemption from the open offer requirement. Etihad failed to secure such an exemption from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).
Etihad Airways plans to infuse Rs 1,450 crore more to maintain its stake at 24 per cent while Goyal would bring in Rs 550 crore to keep his stake at around 21 per cent, according to the report. Goyal has already infused Rs 250 crore into the airline.
"At the first stage of the resolution plan, lenders have agreed to convert around Rs 1,000 crore of debt into equity. In the second stage, there will be a rights issue of around Rs 2,500 crore in which banks will participate. This process is subject to approval from the promoter, lenders and Etihad Airways. It may take around two months to close," the report said quoting an official with a lender. There are also reports that the SBI-led consortium of banks would release around Rs 550 crore in 15 days to bridge the immediate funding gap.
16/02/19 Prathapan Bhaskaran/IBTimes

Modified Route Dispersal Policy takes a toll on NE air services

With the number of flights to and from the northeastern States witnessing a sharp decline over the past several months, passengers from the region are facing severe difficulties travelling to other parts of the country.
The drop in flight numbers to the mountainous States of Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya is mainly attributed to modification in the Civil Aviation Ministry’s 25-year-old Route Dispersal Policy (RDP), which made it mandatory for all airlines to operate 10 per cent of their flights in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.

While ticket prices for flights to Kolkata, Delhi and other cities from all the northeastern states have shot up three to five times after Jet Airways, SpiceJet and IndiGo carriers suspended operations or reduced their frequency, the situation is most critical in Mizoram, from where no air tickets are available throughout February.

“Some people from Mizoram wanted to go to neighbouring Silchar (in southern Assam) to catch Kolkata or Guwahati-bound flights, but there are no tickets available until the first week of March,” said a travel agent in Aizawl.
16/02/19 Sujit Chakraborty/Sentinel Assam

Tharoor for better air links

Thiruvananthapuram: Shashi Tharoor, MP, has urged the Centre to respond sensitively to demands from the people of the State capital for enhanced air connectivity and to work with the airlines who have stopped service to resolve the matter.

Expressing concern over the cancellation of domestic and international flights operating to and from Thiruvananthapuram international airport, Mr. Tharoor said the capital city was poised for a surge in demand for air connectivity and needed more flights, not less.
The airport had witnessed growth in footfall over the years and was handling nearly five million passengers annually. “That Thiruvananthapuram airport consistently makes profit is a testimony to its demand. It is among the 15 AAI-owned airports in the country to do so,” he said. The city’s demand for greater air connectivity would jump manifold in the very near future with the commencement of operations at the Vizhinjam port and the establishment of multi-national IT giants like Nissan at Technopark.

The recent flight cancellations could not have come at a more inopportune moment. National and international carriers were curtailing operations in Thiruvananthapuram. Mr. Tharoor said he had made repeated entreaties to private operators to start operations or increase the frequency of flights to the State capital.

Till a solution was found to meet the demand, it was important that Air India, the national carrier, stepped in to offer its services in the discontinued sectors, the MP said.
16/02/19 The Hindu

Fighter jets, helicopters swarm skies after IAF carries out mega exercise at Pokhran

Pokhran: The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday (Febraury 16) carried out a mega exercise in Pokhran, Rajasthan, involving almost all variants of its fighter jets and attack helicopters, in a fire power demonstration near the border with Pakistan.

The exercise came two days after 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a suicide attack in Kashmir's Pulwama by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday (February 15) said security forces have been given full freedom to retaliate against the attack.

In the Vayu Shakti exercise, the IAF showcased fire power capability of indigenously-developed platforms like Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and efficacy of the Akash surface-to-air missile and Astra air-to-air missile.
Fighter jets and helicopters hit targets during day and night. It was for the first time, the ALH and the Akash were deployed in a military exercise.

The IAF also deployed the upgraded MiG-29 fighter jet in an air-to-ground role during the exercise.
16/02/19 PTI/India Today

Air India Express to change Kannur-Doha schedule from April

Doha: Indian budget airlines Air India Express will shift its Monday flight to the newly-opened Kannur International Airport in Kerala, India, to Friday.

In an earlier report about Air India Express starting flights on Friday from Doha to Kannur, we erroneously reported that it will be an additional service. It will not be an additional service but they are discontinuing their flight on Monday and rescheduling it to Friday from April.

“We are not adding an additional service, we are stopping the Monday flight and starting a Friday flight,” an Air India Express official clarified to The Peninsula.

Starting April first week, the four flights from Doha to Kannur and return will operate on Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. 

Another Indian low-cost carrier Indigo had also announced that it will be starting daily non-stop flights to and fro on the Doha-Kannur route from March 15.
16/02/19 The Peninsula

‘Good leader remains in touch with his workers’

Indore: Workers are true driving forces in any organisation and if they are happy, the organisation can scale great heights, newly appointed second time chairman and managing director of Air India Ashwani Lohani said on Saturday.
Lohani was invited at the World Business and Economy Congress being hosted by Sage University. It was his first public appearance after taking charge as Air India CMD for second time . He said a good leader is one who remains in touch with all his workers and works alongside them.

“People are scared to speak up on topic of corruption. But, it is extremely necessary to address this issue, which I did through seminars and conferences. It is only through these measures that I feel corruption in the field of hospitality and tourism has come down to a great extent,” Lohani said.
He shared success story of his brainchild- a flight operation from New Delhi to San Francisco- which was one of the longest flights of Air India. It was successful despite criticism and doubts.
17/02/19 Times of India

Air India Express Launches International Operations From Surat

Surat:  Gujarat's 'diamond city' Surat has made it to the international aviation map with the first Air India Express flight arriving in Surat carrying 75 passengers from Sharjah, the airline said on Sunday.
The maiden Air India Express flight IX 172 from Sharjah touched down at the Surat airport at 11.30 pm on Saturday with 75 passengers on board the Boeing 737-800 aircraft, the airline said in a statement.

The passengers were received by the airline's chief executive officer K Shyam Sundar and other dignitaries, it said.

With this, Surat has become the 20th destination in the country for the international budget arm of the flag carrier Air India, the airline said.

The return flight IX 171 carrying 180 passengers for Sharjah departed from the Surat International Airport past midnight at 12.47 am on Sunday, it said.

Air India Express will fly four times a week on the new route, it said.

Surat-Sharjah is the 47th non-stop direct connection of Air India Express between destinations in India and the Gulf region, the release said.
17/02/19 PTI/NDTV

Indian Airlines defined flying for three generations post-Independence

At a time when corporate India is still struggling to increase women’s participation at the workplace and looking at ways to break the glass ceiling, a public sector enterprise was one of the early pioneers.

Indian Airlines, the erstwhile prestigious national carrier, recruited Durba Banerjee as its pilot within few years of its inception in 1953.

Eight domestic airlines that flew before and right after Independence were merged to form the new domestic national airline – the Indian Airlines Corporation. This is how Indian Airlines got its wings. As Indian Airlines flew domestic, Air India operated on international routes.
For many Indians – especially those born before the 1990s – Indian Airlines with its orange-coloured logo was the only option to fly. It was synonymous to flying for at least three generations of post-Independence Indians.

This was a time when there were no choices for an air traveller in India. The airports looked dull and uneventful, and the Indian Airlines was the only way to reach far-flung corners. And, the connections weren’t always convenient, not to mention chronic delays and unexciting food. But it was a brand Indians were close to because it was regarded as a national asset.
“It was a brand that connected India, and in pre-liberalisation days, much of the travelling was domestic with very little overseas travel. Therefore, Indian Airlines was the only option,” brand historian Santosh Desai said.

The Indian Airlines had a successful run till the skies were opened up for the private sector. After other players entered the fray, Indian Airlines lost its monopoly and market share. However, unlike many other government-owned enterprises, it continued to be profitable.

“Indian Airlines ruled the hearts and minds of Indians. It was absolutely the gold standard,” brand guru Harish Bijoor said. “For executives and families, it was a premium way to travel, especially in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s,” he added.
17/02/19 Mahua Venkatesh/The Print

Meghalaya HC pulls up airline operators for ‘misleading’ it on Umroi airport operations

Guwahati: The Meghalaya high court has sought an explanation from several airline operators for trying to mislead the court with “false” reasons to stay away from operating flights to and from Umroi airport in Meghalaya, which would have increased direct connectivity between Shillong and metro cities of the country.
The court took up a suo motu case in 2015 on the basis of the report about undue hardship and inconvenience to the populace of Meghalaya, which, the court said, “till date in 21st century are still deprived of regular airport services for want of proper functioning of Umroi airport established in the year 1960 despite expansion having been done in the year 2009.”

In an order in May, 2016 the court observed that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) “was not keen to complete the project (expansion and upgrading) at the earliest” and it said that that “if AAI continues with its avoidance, the option of handing over the project of expansion of airport at Umroi to a responsible authority/agency/department shall have to be examined.” In 2018, AAI and the state government submitted before the court that it has reached a point for asking the airline companies to start their operation.

In December last year, Go Airlines, Jet Airways, Vistara and Indigo submitted before court that they have to do their own survey and that they would take a decision on operating their flights thereafter. The court, at this point, had observed, “It appears that they have taken the matter very lightly and not bothered to advance the public cause.”

The two-member bench of chief justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and justice SR Sen on Friday noted that Inter Globe Aviation Limited, who operate the airline Indigo, has highlighted that Indigo has AIR 72-600 aircraft whereas, Umroi Airport, Shillong has only two parking stand which are compatible only for ATR 42 aircrafts and not for AIR 72-600 aircraft.

“The second objection is that visibility at the airport is 5000 metres or more, landing and taking-off could take place only at day time. The third objection is that even though Instrument Landing Procedure has been published with higher minima of 5000 meters and not less, which is designed for visual circling and could not be used by airline for landing,” the court noted.
17/02/19 Prabin Kalita/Times of India

Cancellations, grounding of aircraft leads to spike in Indian airfares

Airfares for travel within India are currently witnessing a sudden spike, more than doubling in price to many cities, following a spate of flight cancellations and grounding of aircraft by Indian carriers IndiGo and Jet Airways.

Travel industry sources said one-way airfares on the Delhi-Bangalore sector or Mumbai-Chennai sector have shot up to $250-$350 range for travel on the same day or the next 2-3 days. Return tickets on these routes were available for $100-$125 till few days ago.

“The ticket for Delhi-Bangalore for travel within 2-3 days will come for about $340 and for Mumbai-Chennai for about $280 if a passenger books it today,” said Deepak Sajwani, a manager with Delhi-based GS Travels.

He said these tickets were available for about $80 to $130 till some days ago, he said.

Senior executives at Air India and SpiceJet said their airlines have not increased fares on account of large scale flight cancellations by IndiGo and Jet.

“Our fares buckets are fixed much in advance,” the Air India spokesman said.
17/02/19 James Mathew/Arabian Business

Air fares soar as IndiGo cancels flights

Chennai: Air fares to most domestic destinations from Chennai remain high as Indi-Go is cancelling flights daily. Though the number of flights cancelled is fewer in Chennai, some of the cancelled schedules include red eye flights and peak hour services to small towns. The airline is expected to cancel flights daily at least till the end of next month.

Travel and tour operators say that air fares have increased by as much as 30% on most of the routes, especially on morning peak hour flights to small towns. The airline had cancelled its flights from Chennai to Thiruvananthapuram and Coimbatore last week.

Seats for Chennai-Mumbai flights for the upcoming week is selling at Rs 7,900 on Tuesday while the tickets are priced between Rs 4,200 to Rs 5,900. The last-minute fare on Chennai–Thiruvananthapuram route was between Rs 5,300 and Rs Rs6,500.

The fares have increased because the airline has the most number of slots during peak hours and also connecting small towns as part of its push to have more flights on regional routes.

Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder, Ixigo, said, “Several factors like the runway repairs at Mumbai airport and cancellation of flights by Indigo airlines have had a ripple impact on the last-minute airfares. Flight fares for major domestic sectors have seen an average increase of 20-25%. Our ‘fare intelligence’ feature shows that prices for routes like Kolkata–Bangalore, Kolkata–Chennai and Hyderabad–Kolkata are likely to increase further by 12–15% over the next 15 days. On the other hand, fares for routes like Kolkata–Delhi and Ahmedabad–Bangalore are likely to fall by the same rate if booked after 10 days.”
17/02/19 Times of India

AirAsia India offers 20 per cent discount on fares across flights

Mumbai: Low-cost carrier AirAsia India on Friday announced an up to 20 percent discount on its ticket prices for travel across its flights as well as AirAsia network for a limited period sale offer.

The seven day offer commences from February 18 for travel between February 25 and July 31, AirAsia India said in a statement.
The discounted tickets are applicable to all bookings made through the airline's website and Mobile app, it said.

This offer is also applicable on AirAsia international routes, it added.

"With this discounted scheme, flyers can now travel around the world to many destinations on a shoestring budget and still have a great time during their holidays," airline chief executive officer Sunil Bhaskaran said.
16/02/19 PTI/Asian Age

Lack of daytime slots delays UDAN take-off at Lohegaon

Pune: The Centre’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), popularly called UDAN, has failed to take off from the city airport.

Officially launched in 2016, the scheme has established air connectivity to many unserved and underserved airports across the country. But the scenario in Pune is not promising.

“The airlines that are supposed to start flights as part of the scheme from Pune are yet to file for slots. Air Deccan had started its Pune-Nashik flight in 2017. But it stopped its operations late last year. No other flight has become operational till now,” an airport official said.

“One of the main reasons for this is lack of slots. The preferred slot for an UDAN flight is during the day. But a daytime slot at the Pune airport is difficult for the time being,” the official said.

Pune got five flights in the three rounds of UDAN. In the final bid of the scheme’s third phase, called UDAN 3.0, Alliance Air and SpiceJet had won the routes from Pune to Belagavi and Bhavnagar, respectively.

In the first two rounds, the airport got three flights — one each to Nashik (Air Deccan), Hubli (Star Airlines) and Allahabad (IndiGo). The Pune-Sindhudurg sector would be up for the interested airlines as part of UDAN 3.1 to be finalized soon, the official said. “The Pune-Nashik route is also part of the programme,” he added.

Airport director Ajay Kumar had said earlier this month that the schedule for all the flights was yet to be finalized. On the suspended Pune-Nashik flight, he had said that the route was “still alive” and some other airline was expected to pick it up.
17/02/19 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Udan 3: Belagavi flights to 13 cities will take off next week

Bengaluru: Air carriers Spicejet, Alliance Air and Star Air will begin operations from the Belagavi airport from February 25, announced Belagavi MP Suresh Angadi in a tweet on Thursday.
“Spicejet, Alliance air and StarAir will start operations from 25th February from Belagavi airport. I request @MyNWKRTC MD to arrange exclusive city buses for departure and arrival time to facilitate the citizens with easy movement. An official letter will also be sent to MD,” Angadi tweeted.
While SpiceJet will operate daily non-stop flights between Belagavi and Hyderabad, Alliance Air will operate on the Belagavi-Pune route and Bengaluru-based Star Air on the Belagavi-Bengaluru route.
Under the Centre’s regional connectivity scheme, Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (Udan) 3, 13 routes have been approved for the Belagavi airport. These include Mysuru, Hyderabad, Tirupati, Kadapa, Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur, Surat, Ahmedabad, Indore, Jaipur and Jodhpur. A majority of these routes have been bagged by the city-based Star Air.
While Star Air will operate flights to Tirupati, Mumbai, Indore, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Nashik and Nagpur, Alliance Air will operate flights to Pune and Surat, TruJet operated by the Turbo Megha Airways Group will run flights to Mysuru, Hyderabad, Tirupati and Kadapa. SpiceJet and Indigo will also operate flights to Hyderabad.
17/02/19 Times of India

Airfare offer: 8% GoAir flight ticket discount for these travellers

Go Air has come up with an offer for senior citizens by giving them 8% discount on the base fare. Now, senior citizens can freely enjoy their vacation with a comfortable travelling fare.

With the offer named 'Fly Smart  and travel more in your wise years!', senior citizens can now enjoy an 8% discount on base fare.

To avail this offer, you have to visit the Go Air website The discount would be 8% on base fare on domestic and international flights.

This offer can be availed by senior citizens above the age of 60 years.

It is mandatory for the passengers claiming booking under this Senior Citizen special fare need to carry a valid photo ID Card (like – Aadhaar card, Senior citizen card, Driving license etc. issued by a Government body) indicating their date of birth, and display it at the time of check-in at the airport. Bookings under this fare are not transferable.

In the absence of any valid documents, the passenger claiming booking under special fare for senior citizen will not be able to claim benefits, under the offer and their booking will stand cancelled and if the passenger still intends to fly then the passenger will be required to pay differential fare as per the rate prevailing on the date of booking

This offer is on a first-come and first-serve basis.
16/02/19 Zeebiz

Sri Lankan Airlines plane suffers flat tyre, none injured

Chennai: A Sri Lankan Airlines flight which arrived here Sunday morning from Colombo suffered a flat tyre while it was being taxied to the parking bay, airport authorities said.

However, no casualties were reported as all the 142 passengers onboard had alighted, a top airport official told PTI.

"Yes, it happened when the aircraft was being taxied to the bay. There were no injuries to anyone," the official said.

According to the official, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has been apprised of the incident.
17/02/19 PTI/Times of India

City woman pilot at controls of maiden int’l flight from Sharjah to Surat

Surat: The joy of high-flying Surtis would be twofold when they will come to know that one of the pilots of the maiden international flight that commenced operations between Sharjah and Surat was a woman pilot from the Diamond City. Captain Jasmine Mistry Patel, married to a pilot working with SpiceJet, is a mother of two children. When she got an opportunity to fly the maiden flight of Air India Express from Sharjah to Surat on Saturday, she just grabbed it despite being at a marriage function of a relative in Mumbai along with her parents and two kids. She flew to Sharjah to fly the maiden flight to Surat that was expected to land at the airport here at 11;35pm and depart at 12:30am in the wee hours of Sunday. The demand for flight signals good business revenue for Air India Express in the coming days.

Jasmine said, “It’s an amazing feeling, which can’t be expressed in words. The dream of flying international flight to Surat has come true for me and my family. Surely, Surat has had its own struggle for international flight operations. It’s just not me, but the entire city that is excited about it.”

“I will not be able to meet my husband, who hails from Navsari town and is a pilot with SpiceJet. I will fly back the Sharjah flight from Surat in the early hours of Sunday morning and he will land SpiceJet flight from Delhi to Surat a few hours later.

“I have been operating on Dubai, Muscat and Abu Dhabi routes of Air India Express, but had never got an opportunity to fly the aircraft in India. My bosses were aware that I was from Surat and hence the flight was allocated to me. But, just like all government organizations, I had to give my request to fly to Surat in writing,” said Jasmine.
17/02/19 Melvyn Reggie Thomas/Times of India

Three IndiGo flights resume operations at Patna airport

Patna: Three IndiGo flights resumed operations from Jayapraksh Narayan International Airport on Saturday following improvement in weather.

Operations of the three flights had been suspended for two months under the winter schedule of IndiGo airline. One more IndiGo flight is slated to resume operations from March 2.

The flight which resumed operations on Saturday included Delhi-Patna-Delhi (6E 6367), Bengaluru-Kolkata-Patna-Lucknow (6E 339) and Lucknow-Patna-Kolkata-Goa (6E 634).

IndiGo’s 6E 6367 flight reached Patna airport at 8.55am on Saturday and left for Delhi at 10.45am. Flight 6E 339 landed here at 10.12am and departed for Lucknow at 11.15am and 6E 634 arrived here at 9.23am and left for Kolkata at 9.50am.

With this, the number of flights of IndiGo operating from the city airport has increased from 12 to 15. IndiGo’s 6E 441 Patna-Varanasi flight, which will resume operations from March 2, will depart from here at 7.40am.

According to Patna airport officials, the flights from Patna and other routes are now operating as per their scheduled timing due to improved visibility.
Patna airport director Rajender Singh Lahauria said few more flights would resume operations from March. “The summer schedule of flight operations will be released in March. The airlines have filed application for summer schedule with the director general of civil aviation (DGCA),” Lahauria told this newspaper.

17/02/19 Faryal Rumi/Times of India

Among 14 airports in India, three in NE don’t have night landing facility

Three airports in the Northeast are among the 14 airports across the country which does not have night landing facility.
Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh, Shillong in Meghalaya and Pakyong in Sikkim does not have night landing facility.

Official statistics in possession of Northeast Now indicates that airports in all other states in the Northeast have night landing facility.

“The provision of night landing facility at an airport depends upon operational requirements, traffic demand, commercial feasibility and vary from airport to airport in the country,” said an official in the ministry of civil aviation.

However, at the airports which does not have night landing facility, the qualified meteorological personnel of India Meteorological Department (IMD) provide the visibility measures.

“No aircraft is permitted to land at night at an airport which does not have night landing facility and the flight operations are permitted during VFR (Day) conditions only,” the official said.
The reporting of measured visibility does not depend on visual capacity of individual ATC officers.
16/02/19 Rupa Sarkar/NorthEastNow

GMR set up sub-committee to consider demerger of airport biz

Hyderabad: In what could be a precursor to the GMR group clearing the decks for taking its airports business public, GMR Infrastructure Ltd on Friday said its board has constituted a sub-committee to consider a possible demerger of its airport business.
The latest development comes amid buzz that GMR Infrastructure Ltd has been mulling listing its airport holding entity, GMR Airports Ltd (GAL), to prune debt and mobilise funds for the next phase of growth of its airports business.

The company informed the bourses that it has already received multiple proposals from investors, which are currently being evaluated and will be placed before the newly constituted sub-committee.

“We wish to inform that the board of directors of the company, at its meeting held on February 14, 2019, approved constitution of a board sub-committee to consider and evaluate options of demerger to unlock shareholder value in the existing business of the group paving way for – i. next phase of growth considering government’s stated intent of faster privatization of airports in the country which is $100 billion investment opportunity, ii. raising equity capital in the airport business and iii. accelerated de-leveraging of company,” the company informed the bourses.

The company, however, did not divulge any additional information in this regard stating that it is at a premature stage.

In October last year, GMR Infra had settled its row with investors — SBI Macquarie, Standard Chartered Private Equity, JM Financial Old Lane, among others — in what was seen as paving the way for spinning off GAL into a separate entity.

As part of the agreement, all the parties had decided to withdraw arbitration and said they would acquire 5.86% equity of GAL and receive a payment of Rs 3,560 crore in lieu of their entire CCPS (compulsorily convertible preference shares) in GAL, which was valued by investors at Rs 21,000 crore.
16/02/19 Times of India

Bengaluru offers plug-and-play options

Bengaluru: The biennial Aero India is here again, ever since its debut in 1996. But in the run-up to the event, there were rumours about it being shifted to Bakshi-ka-Talab airbase on the outskirts of Lucknow. The key requirements for such an event are, among other things, a fully functional international airport, good hotels and efficient transport system.
Eventually, Bengaluru and Yelahanka Air Force Station got the nod as the venue offers plug-and-play infrastructure which has been efficient over the years. The city also has many accommodation options, including many close to the international airport.

Lucknow city and the airbase wouldn’t have had enough time to prepare for this show which attracts tens of aircraft, hundreds of delegates and thousands of visitors. “Lucknow airbase doesn’t have enough hangars or a good enough runway. The road connecting Lucknow and the airbase is in bad condition,” Air Marshal (retd) BK Pandey told TOI.

Industry sources, including managing directors of two firms who didn’t want to be named, said conducting an aero show there would have required huge expenditure to create infrastructure.

In Bengalury, connectivity to the venue is not a problem and the venue has permanent structures created for Aero India. As the IAF Training Command is headquartered here, the force has enough personnel who can be deputed for the show.
17/02/19 Chetan Kumar/Times of India

Modified Saras makes flying debut as Rs 500 crore fund still in pipeline

Bengaluru: The indigenous light transport aircraft (LTA) Saras, a modified version of which has already completed more than 10 test flights, will make its flying debut at Aero India, hoping to cash in on the show’s popularity to further the programme. Saras is developed by National Aeronautics Laboratories (NAL).
First conceived in 1989, the project was to be shelved after a Saras prototype aircraft crashed near Bidadi on the city outskirts in March 2009, killing three personnel. But the Centre gave a second chance in late 2016, which was announced at Aero India 2017.

“The project was dumped by the previous government, after the crash despite the Directorate General of Civil Aviation exonerating the aircraft from any design flaw or poor-quality production. The credit for reviving the project goes to the present government,” Union minister Harsh Vardhan said at the 2017 air show.

However, two years later, the Centre’s Rs 500 crore fund for the project is yet to reach the NAL. “We have been told that it is in the pipeline and clearance is at advanced stages. We are likely to get the money soon,” said an official aware of the developments.

The Rs 500 crore fund is important to take the project forward as NAL needs this money to start work on the three proposed limited series production (LSP) aircraft.

While the IAF has made a commitment to buy at least 15 Saras aircraft when it is ready, the plane is still far away from obtaining military certification. “The 10-odd flights have been good with all parameters being met. We are gearing up for more trials,” said the official.

NAL director Jitendra J Jadhav had earlier told TOI that the team is looking at about 20 flights before initiating the certification process. Vardhan had said there are even plans to subsequently use Saras in civilian roles.
17/02/19 Chethan Kumar/Times of India

Aero India 2019 promises to offer big value to industry

Bengaluru: The countdown has begun for the 12th Edition of the Aero India at Airforce Station, Yelahanka. As the skies fill with the metal birds which started their practice from Thursday. The excitement in the air this time is to see the flying Rafales,  which landed here ahead of the aero India 2019.

While it will not be the first time that the Rafale will be flying at the Aero India but the excitement surrounding it makes it one of the most awaited event. It will also be the first time that the Rafale Multi role Combat aircrafts will be flying wiith Indian colours . The show also has brought to fore the enhancement in the capabilities of the Aviation sector in the last 4 years.

Apart from the impressive flypasts at the inaugural , the most awaited is the exhibitions and the eminars which go along with th air display. Like last time the theme this time will be showcasing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship initiative, Make in India. Several PSU’s are lining up the indigenous taken up by the Ministry Of Defence in recent years. Public sector BEML is bringing the Akash missiles and Quick Response Surface-to-Air-Missiles (QRSAMs) along with bomb pallets and a lot more. The Missile systems , essential for the future wars are one of the key achievements of India which give India a supremacy in the region with the vast range that is available.
The PSUs have also been consciously working towards increasing their export share. Neelakantan Iyer, an independent director on HAL’s board said the PSU has, in the past year or so,been working on increasing the range of aircrafts it can Make In India.

HAL is keen to launch the indigenous development of SPORT (Aircraft) with 4++ generation or equivalent capabilities to bridge the gap in pilot training to command front line fighters, HAL CMD R Madhavan told media.

The SPORT aircraft would be an essential element of the training of the pilots in future and utilized for fighter training after Advanced Jet Training stage and before induction of pilots into a frontline fighter squadron, he noted.
Another star attraction at the pavilion would be the aerospace corner, virtual and holographic room and Jaguar aircraft simulator.
16/02/19 Kamal Shah/Sunday Guardian Live

Nagpur-bound IndiGo flight diverted to Hyderabad

Hyderabad: An IndiGo flight from Mumbai to Nagpur was diverted to the city’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), on Saturday morning, leaving several passengers inconvenienced. According to airline staff, the aircraft, 6E 482, was diverted to Hyderabad due to VIP movement in Nagpur. It reached its destination around 1.30pm, instead of its scheduled arrival time of 10am.

Reportedly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a one-day visit to Maharashtra to inaugurate several projects including flagging off two trains (virtually), opening schools for tribals and launching a rail electrification project. He landed in Nagpur early on Saturday.
17/02/19 Times of India

Gold smuggling cases at RGIA sees decline

Hyderabad: While the number of gold-smuggling cases being reported at the RGI Airport has actually come down - from 145 cases in the corresponding period in 2017-18 to 56 cases this year - Customs department officials note that the amount of the metal being seized is much less that what is being brought into the country illegally through various channels. Gold weighing more than 53,000 kilos was seized during 2017-18, and 22,000 kilos were seized in 2018-19 as per the statistics till December 2018.
On the other hand, there has been a rise in cases related to foreign cigarettes being seized at the airport. From 19 cases being reported last year, as many as 45 cases were registered this year. Over 1.90 lakh packs were seized in 2017-18, while over 9.41 lakh packs were seized in 2018-19 till December 2018.
Officials say that gold is often the material of choice for smugglers due to the massive difference in its price in the Gulf and India.
17/02/19 New Indian Express

Passenger caught with foreign currencies at Goa airport

Panaji: Customs authorities on Saturday caught an international passenger at the Goa airport for illegally carrying foreign currencies worth Rs 7.64 lakh, a senior official said.
The passenger was bound for Sharjah in the UAE by an Air Arabia flight when he was intercepted by Air Customs officers at the international airport in Dabolim, Commissioner of Customs in Goa R Manohar said.
The officers recovered assorted foreign currencies equivalent to Rs 7.64 lakh from the passenger who was apprehended, he said.
"They said assorted foreign currencies were concealed inside wallet and hand baggage of the said international passenger," Manohar said.
16/02/19 Tribune

Sri Lanka couple with fake Malaysian passports held

Chennai: Police nabbed a couple from Sri Lanka at Chennai airport on Friday for attempting to board a flight to London using fake Malaysian passports .
The immigration officials handed over the couple to the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of police who launched a search for two people, who arranged the fake passports for Vijayan, 35, and Yasodha, 33, hailing from Vavuni Kulam in Sri Lanka.
The Tamil Nadu ‘Q’ branch is investigating if the couple had any role in the Sri Lankan civil war, which end in 2009. However, preliminary inquiries revealed that the couple was not part of any civil war in Sri Lanka.
The two had planned and executed collecting the fake Malaysian passport to migrate to London.
During interrogation, the couple told police they had approached a travel agent in Sri Lanka, who promised to get fake Malaysian passports for the couple through his contacts in Kuala Lumpur.
As per the plan orchestrated by the travel agent in Colombo, he asked the couple to travel to Chennai with their original Sri Lankan passport and they reached Chennai on Air India flight. The couple was asked to wait at the transit lounge where two others would come from Kuala Lumpur and hand over the fake Malaysian passports to them.
17/02/19 A Selvaraj/Times of India

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Banks, NIIF and Etihad to restart Jet engine with Rs 3,400 crore infusion

A consortium of banks, along with the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Etihad, will invest about Rs 3,400 crore in Jet AirwaysNSE 2.94 %, leading to a much-reduced holding for founder Naresh Goyal, a change in management control and lenders with the biggest stake. Following the infusion, which will be in phases, the consortium of banks, led by State Bank of India, will own 32% of the airline and Abu Dhabi-owned Etihad and the NIIF will hold about 24.9% and 19.5%, respectively, said a person with knowledge of the matter.

Goyal’s stake will drop to 20% from 51%, stripping him of board membership and management control, the person said. He will, however, retain his status as promoter.EThad reported on Friday that Goyal’s stake was likely to drop to this level.
“Both NIIF and Etihad funds will be converted into equity at a rate of Rs 150 per share,” said the person. A waiver from the Securities and Exchange Board of India for a subsequent public offer won’t be required because Etihad’s stake won’t increase beyond 25% even after the equity infusion. The banks will get their stake in the company at Rs 1 per share.
Jet Airways ended at Rs 232.55 on the BSE Friday, up 3%. The carrier didn’t respond to queries.

On the Jet Airways earnings conference call Friday, the management declined to say who would be promoter after the change in ownership structure. “Jet Airways will continue the structure of a professionally run management reporting to the board of directors,” CEO Vinay Dube said.
The person cited above pointed out that the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) has contributed a big chunk of the NIIF, which is anchored by the government of India. Etihad has reportedly told the banks that it wants Goyal out of the board and that its share of infusion be converted into shares at Rs 150 a piece.
The carrier’s total debt amounts to about Rs 8,400 crore. As part of the deal, about Rs 6,000 crore of what it owes will be converted into long-term debt by the banks to be repaid over a period of 10 years. A substantial part of the infusion will be used to repay debt and meet other operational costs including salaries.
16/02/19 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Jet Airways’ new approved SBI-led bailout plan, explained

On Thursday, Jet Airways approved a bailout plan after reporting consecutive losses in the last three quarters.

This Bank-led Provisional Resolution Plan (BLPRP) will allow lenders to convert loans they gave Jet to equity and become shareholders of the airline.

The approved bailout plan will be funnelling Rs 8,500 crore into Jet with a mix of equity infusion, debt restructuring, refinancing of aircraft, and others, says the company in an official press release.

The Jet Airways board has agreed to gives its lenders, namely SBI, a 50.1% ownership stake in the bailout plan. Under this deal, SBI will be allotted 11.4 crore shares at a value of Re 1, and it will have the power to nominate members for a seat on the Board of Directors.

The plan also allows a sanctioning of interim credit facilities on terms that are in agreement with government requirements. “The BLPRP envisages the company receiving the requisite approvals from shareholders at their meeting scheduled on February 21,” says Jet.

Other shareholders’ equity will be diluted in the process: Chairman Naresh Goyal will own 25% and Etihad Airways will own 12%. Both have reduced their ownership stake by half.

Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube said, “Jet Airways continues to make steady progress on its operational and financial turnaround, and with today’s approval of the BLPRP by its Board of Directors, we remain confident of delivering a more strategic, efficient, and financially viable airline.”

Like its contemporaries, Jet Airways became another Indian airline trying to keep its head above the water amidst heavy financial troubles. The airline defaulted on debt repayment and reported a net loss of Rs 732 crore in the third quarter.

Last August, Jet vocalised concerns about its funding and cut employee salaries by 25%. Then, in September, the airline only managed to pay 84% of its employees.
16/02/19 Rhea Arora/Qrius

DGCA safety audit to check Jet Airways for salary delay

New Delhi: Aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), will, in the next few days, conduct a safety audit of Jet Airways on several criteria that will likely include “delays in meeting payroll.”

India’s second-largest carrier by market share is running two-and-a-quarter months behind salary obligations to most employees.

A top official at the DGCA confirmed Jet’s audit. While audits happen for all airlines, they are more frequent for those with issues, the official added.
Jet said the audit has nothing to do with salaries. “The DGCA is planning a main base inspection, which is carried forward from the previous year. This is a scheduled audit and not a special one as suggested by you,” a spokesman said, adding: “Your assumption of linking it to salary is incorrect.”

ET has seen DGCA’s checklist for such audits and one of its points is delay in paying salary.
ET, on January 15, reported about the DGCA expressing caution over delayed salary payment at Jet, saying that could pose security risks.
Meanwhile, the airline’s pilots have met twice in Delhi and Mumbai this month and told the management they would “take action” if all salary arrears weren’t cleared by March.
16/02/19 Anirban Chowdhury/Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

CAG's Rafale audit report may not be worth the paper it was printed on: Chidambaram

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram said the CAG audit report on Rafale deal contains "no useful information or analysis or conclusions".

"CAG has meekly submitted to the unprecedented demand of the government and presented a report that contains no useful information or analysis or conclusions. The report may not be worth the paper on which it is printed," Chidambaram said.

The CAG report on Rafale that was tabled in Rajya Sabha on February 13, said the NDA government's deal to buy 36 Rafale jets is 2.86 per cent cheaper than the UPA's proposal to buy 126 jets. After the details of the CAG report was made public, Congress alleged again irregularities in the Rafale deal.

While addressing a presser at All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters in Delhi on Thursday, the senior Congress leader said, "CAG report is significant not for what it has said (actually it has said little) but for what it has not said."

The Congress Rajya Sabha MP added that the report doesn't throw light on the six questions which are relevant in the controversial deal.
16/02/19 Supriya Bhardwaj/India Today

Air India clueless of bedbug source on its US flight

It's been six months but Air India has still not been able to ascertain the main source of bedbugs that left several passengers 'red' on AI's 144 Newark-Mumbai flight in July 2018. The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said that no particular source could be established. AI has carried out extensive fumigation on its aircraft to eliminate the bedbugs.

Several passengers sitting in the business class section of the Newark-Mumbai flight had posted pictures and messages of bedbug bites on social media. After the incident, AI had even grounded two aircraft on the Mumbai-Newark route for fumigation. Saumya Shetty, who was bitten by bedbugs on the flight and had sought refund said, "I cannot believe AI could not establish the source. I think the aircraft that fly on the Mumbai-Newark route are old and not maintained, the reason they have bedbugs."

The issue was raised in Parliament last week during which the MoCA said: "Bedbugs were reported by passengers on Air India Flight No.144 (Newark- Mumbai). After passenger complaints, thorough investigation was carried out. Bedbugs were found on some seats of the aircraft."
The MoCA further said, "AI carried out extensive fumigation/bedbug treatment on all its aircraft. No particular source could be established for the bedbug on Air India aircraft. On arrival of the aircraft in Mumbai, bedbug treatment (intensive spraying of Chlorophosphide, Protex & Ektara) was carried out on the aircraft before further flight."
16/02/19 Mehul R Thakkar/DNA

Air India Express puts Surat on world air map

Air India Express has finally put Surat on the international air map. Surat residents have a reason to rejoice with the airline starting its first flight to Sharjah from Saturday. The non-stop flight to Sharjah is scheduled to depart from Surat at 12:30am six days a week and arrive at Sharjah at 2:15am.

Surat residents have been fighting to get international connectivity for many years now. In June last year, the airport was accorded international status and was given permission to operate 24x7. A month ago, the central government had notified the airport as a customs airport. As per the notification, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs had notified Surat airport as a customs airport through its notification under Section 7 of the Customs Act, 1962, issued on June 8.

The international airport is touted to bring immense growth to the city, which is a hub for diamond merchants, traders, businessmen and industrialists.
16/02/19 DNA

Leave celebrities alone, provide them elbow room on flights: Air India to crew

Mumbai: One of the perks of being a pilot or a flight attendant would be getting a chance to be around VVIPs and celebrities when they're on board your flight. But a number of celebrities don't like to be bothered, especially on flights, because there is nowhere to retreat to. So if a cabin crew or a pilot comes around requesting a selfie or worse, wanting to discuss the latest going-ons in their field of expertise, the VVIP might get cross and complain.
In an office order issued last week, Air India director (operations) has laid out the dos and don'ts for crew when dealing with important passengers on board. "It has come to our knowledge that whenever VVIP/VIP are travelling on our flights, crew is/are intruding into their personal periphery and disturbing them by requesting for selfie/photo clicks, etc, and getting into unwarranted discussions," said the order.
This not only hampers their smooth and peaceful travel but also disturbs other passengers seated in executive class/first class, it said. "All cockpit and cabin crew are hereby instructed not to intrude into the personal space of VVIP/VIP, whenever they are travelling on our fleet," stated the order, warning that "any disregard to the instructions will be viewed seriously and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against the said crew".
16/02/19 Manju V/Times of India

Kerala: New airport brings more airlines, passengers convenience

The state’s domestic air passengers have often found it tough as they are made to schedule their journey according to the timings of the circular services, which connect with overseas destinations or cities outside Kerala. It is set to change with Kannur having added to the aviation map. Two airlines have come forward, offering inter-city services inside the state, much to the passengers’ convenience. The move will force airlines to offer competitive rates as well.
Trivandrum International Airport Director C V Ravindran said Go Air will start its operations from the city to Kannur on March 1 while Indigo will begin Trivandrum-Kochi-Kannur daily service from March 31.
Indigo, for instance, is eyeing office goers and business community. Its flight will depart Kochi at 9.05 am and reach Thiruvananthapuram at 9.50 am while another one, which leaves Kochi at 6.30 pm, will reach the capital at 7.15 pm.
In return direction, a flight will leave Thiruvananthapuram at 7.35 pm and reach Kochi at 8.20 pm. The airline company is offering a similar flight from Kannur to Kochi and the capital city in the peak hours, although Kozhikode is absent from their services.
The Air India Express was one of the segment leaders so far in the state, with its aircraft heading to overseas destinations connecting cities like Kochi and Kozhikode, and Trivandrum and Kozhikode.
More than the domestic service offered to the city passengers, aircraft were more less used as feeder service by picking passengers from two different cities to the overseas destinations and vice-versa.
Sources said, daily intra-state services have an average load factor of 40-50 passengers. Further, Air India and Indigo have been offering daily services from Kochi to Trivandrum and vice-versa. The only thing is Kozhikode is yet to figure in the schedule of domestic airlines, which look forward to cash in on the state’s burgeoning middle class.
16/02/19 Dhinesh Kallungal/New Indian Express

Vayushakti 2019: IAF to demonstrate its indigenous firepower in Pokharan

Pokharan : The Indian Air Force's (IAF) major exercise Vayushakti 2019 will take place on Saturday at Pokhran Air-to-Ground Armament Range near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan during which it will display its massive firepower.

During the event, the IAF will showcase the prowess of its air-warriors and 'magnificent machines'. The full dress rehearsal of the Fire Power Demonstration (FPD) took place on Thursday.

A wide array of fighters, transport, helicopters, remotely piloted vehicle and combat equipment will be part of the exercise. They are as follows:
The IAF's Vayushakti 2019 is all set to witness a glimpse of Asia's top fighter jet Su-30MKI dropping HSLD bombs.
The Su-30 MKI is a modern multi-role, air superiority fighter aircraft of Indian Air Force. The aircraft is capable of decimating adversaries in air or on the ground with the wide array of air to air and air to ground weapons.
"Conventional 1000 lbs class of bombs offer more drag, ARDE (DRDO) designed & developed high-speed low drag (HSLD) 450 kg bombs suitable for carriage on modern aircraft," the IAF posted on Facebook.


The event will also see Mighty Mig-29 (Upgrade), the 4th generation air superiority fighter aircraft, showcasing its new capabilities for the first time.

Mig-29 upgrade is a multi-role, air dominance fighter aircraft of IAF. It is upgraded to carry a veritable plethora of air to air, air to surface, precision-guided and standoff weapons along with air to air refuelling capability.


The MiG-21, which is the most widely used fighter aircraft in the country, will also be seen in action at Vayushakti 2019.

The MiG-21 Bison is a multi-role, all-weather air defence aircraft. The aircraft is equipped with modern Radar and Avionics systems and carries a mix of air to air and air to ground weapons.
16/02/19 Zee Media

IndiGo cancels 60 more flights

Mumbai: Low-cost carrier IndiGo cancelled at least 60 flights on Saturday over pilot shortage even as Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and ministry of civil aviation were silent. In the past one week, IndiGo cancelled a few hundred flights, forcing thousands to change travel plans.

On Wednesday, IndiGo stated that due to weather problems and temporary runway closures, it would cancel 30 flights per day in February and March. These account for 2% of their operations, it said. On Thursday, IndiGo said the 30 cancellations per day don't include those on account of runway closures. That is, if there were more than 30 cancellations, it was due to runway closures. But such runway closures are planned months in advance, with adequate notice to airlines. On Friday, the airline acknowledged it was facing a pilot shortage.

Capt Mohan Ranganathan, an air safety expert, said, "An airline cannot cancel a scheduled flight like this. They have cancelled scheduled flights for two months, and there is no guarantee this will not continue. Those slots should be released for other operators and the aircraft procurement schedule of IndiGo should be permitted only if they prove that they have adequate crew."

The DGCA norm states that an airline "shall have an adequate setup for crew scheduling and also have a computerised system to maintain their flying record and monitor compliance of flight duty time limitation (FDTL)...'' FDTL is the work/rest rules for pilots as laid down by DGCA.
16/02/19 Times of India

Arrivals of bodies of martyred CRPF jawans will be delayed as aircraft develops snag at Patna airport

Kolkata: The bodies of the two martyred CRPF personnel - Havildar Bablu Santra and Sudip Biswas - are expected to arrive here a bit late than the scheduled time as an IAF aircraft, which is carrying the
coffins, developed snag at the Patna Airport en route, official sources said.
Sources said the aircraft from Delhi on way to Patna, Ranchi and Kolkata, has developed a technical snag at the Patna Airport. Another IAF aircraft was being requisitioned to carry the coffins of the jawans.
Bablu Santra(39) from Howrah and Sudip Biswas(27) from Nadia, laid their lives along with 40
CRPF personnel on the line of duty during a terror attack at Pulwama in J & K on Friday last.
16/02/19 UNI

Trichy airport second in customer satisfaction index

Trichy: Trichy international airport has climbed to the second spot in customer satisfaction index (CSI) among non-metro airports across the country. Trichy, which scored 4.82 points lost the top spot to Raipur (4.86) by just 0.04 points owing to poor performance in immigration and customs departments, officials from Trichy airport said.
The ranking is based on 52 airports, under the Airports Authority of India (AAI), surveyed across the country in the latest round-II report of the CSI survey conducted by AAI for the period from July to December, 2018. Trichy was followed by Udaipur, Vadodara and Gaya airports which scored 4.80, 4.78, and 4.75 respectively.
Even though Trichy airport’s overall index points enhanced to 4.82 from 4.72, poor performance of the Immigration and Customs department has cost the airport the first place, as indicated by the survey.
Compared to the last evaluation round (January-June, 2018), the immigration department lost 0.03 points for waiting time at passport / personal ID inspection and courtesy and helpfulness of inspection staff. Another 0.01 points was lost for speed of baggage delivery service by the customs department. Apart from this, Raipur airport has fared way better over Trichy airport on ground transportation, parking facility and efficiency of check-in staff.
16/02/19 D Vincent Arockiaraj/Times of India

Hotels close to Delhi airport, disaster lurks

New Delhi: For all their glitz, the hotels in Mahipalpur lack proper safety arrangements. And uncontrolled construction poses an additional hazard.

Located opposite the airport, this southwest Delhi village was once a hub for cargo companies that had their warehouses here. But gradually, the warehouses gave way to hotels.

“Initially, the hotels were running on the main road, but as people saw the business booming, they built them on lanes inside where two people can barely walk together. Today, there are over 300 hotels in the village,” said real estate businessman Rajender Sehrawat.

Locals say the village falls under the lal dora line.

Sehrawat said that the majority of the hotels are operated by big companies, which take these on rent from property owners and pay lakhs of rupees every month. The hotels mostly cater to people coming from the airport but do not run rooftop restaurants or bars.

The warehouses were converted into hotels, and temporary partitions were made to create rooms using plastic and other material. While the big hotels are using central air conditioning, others who do not have the means are still using window or split air conditioners with their ducts almost touching the electrical wires hanging outside. Many of the buildings do not have any emergency exits and have other commercial activities running from basements for which pick-up trucks and cabs are parked on the roadside.
Except for hotels located on NH-8, there is no parking space inside and only small four-wheelers can go to a certain distance within the village. In an emergency situation, this could lead to loss of crucial time in which lives could be saved.
16/02/19 Times of India

Spicejet likely to add 20 aircraft to its fleet this year; majority Boeing 737 Max

Budget carrier SpiceJet is likely to add 20 aircraft to its fleet in 2019 with the majority of them being Boeing 737 Max. The Boeing Max will allow the airline to fly to countries that are up to eight hours away from India. “This opens up new markets in China and countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States,” Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director, SpiceJet, said on the sidelines of the CAPA India summit. The Gurgaon-based carrier recently added Jeddah in Saudi Arabia as its ninth international destination.

In the third quarter of FY19, the low-cost airline added 12 new planes — nine Boeing 737 Max aircraft and three Q400s — taking the fleet size to 74 aircraft. In the first two quarters of FY19, the airline had added just one.

Analysts expect SpiceJet to accelerate the capacity growth to 20-25% during Q4FY19 on the back of the Max addition. “With all the additional aircraft being B-737 Max with 15-20% greater fuel efficiency than existing aircraft, SJ (SpiceJet) will also start benefits of lower fuel costs,” brokerage firm Edelweiss noted.
Yields at SpiceJet improved 4% year-on-year in Q3FY19 due to higher pricing power on routes to tier-2 cities which comprise 70% of its routes. The focus on yields led to a 4% y-o-y fall in passenger load factor (PLF) during the quarter. “Contrary to market fears, PLF has proven less elastic to yields than anticipated,” analysts at Edelweiss added.
16/02/19 Arun Nayal/Financial Express

Kerala govt bids for Thiruvananthapuram airport through KSIDC

Mumbai: Seeking to stave off the Centre’s plan to privatise Thiruvananthapuram airport under its watch, the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala has applied on the tender through its Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation Ltd (KSIDC).

The Pinarayi Vijayan-led government has picked KSIDC to apply on the tender to get the benefit of the right of first refusal (RoFR) granted to state-owned entities in government auctions. It will also help the government pass the eligibility criteria set by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for bidders by using the financial and technical muscle of a broad range of state-owned entities under its control, Kerala government officials told BusinessLine.

The state government has hired KPMG and Amarchand Mangaldas to help put in a bid for the airport in the state capital, the official said, asking not to be named.

The state government is in the process of forming a special purpose vehicle (SPV) - ‘Trivandrum International Airport Ltd’- to comply with the tender conditions. The SPV will be initially fully-owned by state government entities. “If successful in winning the tender, we will induct 1-2 strategic partners by diluting up to 49 per cent stake in the SPV,” the official said.

“Due to the extremely short timeline in submitting a bid, we are yet to identify the strategic partners which, in any case, is a time-consuming process,” the official added. The Kerala government initially told the Centre of its desire to take over and run the airport on nomination basis (without a tender).
16/02/19 P Manoj/Business Line

The skyfarer: the woman who drove India’s first 'Aero Show'

Born into a family of fighter pilots, Sugandha Sukrutaraj grew up with a deep interest in aviation. As it happened, she would go onto to become the face of India's first ever Aero Show, Avia India, back in 1993. Fellow enthusiast, former PM Rajiv Gandhi, had always dreamed of an international air show, which was then conceptualised by his Doon school classmate, Anand K. Sethi. Sugandha recalls the iconic journey and the pioneers who helped make it happen.

Perhaps it was something to do with the fact that he was a pilot himself, but the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was said to be always keen on holding an international aero show in India and he got his wish  in 1993 when Avia India, the country’s first aero show was conceptualised by his Doon School batchmate , Anand K Sethi, the managing director of Conventions and Expositions (CONVEX).
“It was Rajiv’s dream to organise a spectacular international show and exposition on aerospace and aviation in India and Anand stuck his neck out to make it happen. It took a lot of courage to do what he did,” says Mrs Sugandha Sukrutaraj, who, as the then regional manager of  CONVEX,  became fully involved in organising India’s first international aerospace and aviation exposition. 

From a family of fighter pilots, the event was right up her sleeve. “My father, husband and son are pilots.  Aviation is in my genes,” she says proudly .

Recalling how accessible the former chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Chief Marshal N C Suri, was in the run-up to the aero show that was soon to make a history, she adds, “Air Chief Marshal Suri not just organised the venue for the aero show,  but went with us to meetings with the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary to the Karnataka government to help us get just about everything we needed for Avia India ’93. Air headquarters was always just a phone call away.”
16/02/19 Aksheev Thakur/Deccan Chronicle

Aero India: Indigenous combat helicopter set to bare fangs

The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is at striking distance from being inducted into the armed forces. The designers and test crew at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (LTD) vouch for the LCH's might, with four prototypes having completed the pre-induction trials as mandated by the users—the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Army.

During a recent visit to the Rotary Wing Research and Design Centre (RWRDC) of HAL, Onmanorama was briefed by the officials about the future flightpath of the combat helicopter programme.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had cleared the proposal to induct an initial batch of 15 LCHs. Notwithstanding the final orders to formally come, HAL had gone ahead and began the process of manufacturing the limited series production (LSP) platforms.

Of the 15 LSPs, 10 are for the IAF and the remaining five for the Indian Army. There’s an additional projection of 65 LCHs for the IAF and 97 for the Indian Army. The LSP of LCHs was launched in August 2017 by Arun Jaitley, when he was holding the additional portfolio of defence.

Post-completion of all trials, HAL officials now say that they are confident of the LCH becoming one of the most resourceful and potent helicopters for high-altitude missions. The programme has already got initial operational clearance (IOC).
16/02/19 Anantha Krishnan M/The Week

Boeing brings the big guns to Aero India

Boeing will showcase a range of platforms, support and training capabilities at Aero India 2019, including the F/A-18 Super Hornet, KC-46A Pegasus tanker, AH-64E Apache, CH-47F Chinook, and P-8.
Featured at the show will be two U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets and the P-8A, and the U.S. Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster III. Boeing will showcase an AH-64E Apache Heavy Attack Demonstrator (HAD) Cockpit Simulator to highlight training capabilities. On display will be the models of the latest Boeing
commercial airplanes, including 737 MAX, 777X and the 787 Dreamliner.“Boeing has been closely supporting the modernisation and mission-readiness of the Indian armed forces
with advanced products and services, and we look forward to continued discussions on their future
requirements. Boeing’s advanced capabilities for India include the Make in India F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter, KC-46 aerial refuelling tanker, AH-64E Apache attack helicopter, P-8 long-range maritime surveillance, and services,”said Michael Koch, vice president, Boeing Defense, Space &
Security in India.
“The Indian economy is projected to grow by nearly 350 per cent over the next two decades to become the third largest economy in the world, which will fuel the continuous growth of India’s commercial aviation market – resulting in the need for 2,300 new airplanes for India. Boeing’s new, fuel efficient airplanes like the 737 MAX, 777X and the 787 Dreamliner will bring innovation to the market and unbeatable fuel efficiencies, aiding airlines in India to prosper,” Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president, Asia Pacific and India Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
16/02/19 Bangalore Mirror

India-Singapore to sign pact for skilling Indians in aviation

India and Singapore will sign an agreement for skilling Indian youths in the aviation sector at the Aero India Show next week.

Academies will be set up in Bengaluru and other places in India that will act as regional hubs for the training of Indian youths for domestic and overseas jobs in these sectors.

National Skill Development Corporation of India's (NSDC) Aerospace and Aviation Sector Skill Council in collaboration with Singapore Polytechnic and a Singapore-based private sector firm will signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on February 22 to establish skill development centers.

Aero India show 2019 will be held in Bengaluru from February 20-24. It will provide a significant platform in bolstering business opportunities in International aviation sector.
These 'Centers of Excellence in Advance Skilling' will provide training and certification drawing from Singapore curriculum and standards in sectors such as aerospace and aviation, emerging technologies, automotive and logistics.

"These are all priority sectors under 'Skill India' and 'Make in India' programmes, which require large workforce with advanced technical skills," India's High Commissioner in Singapore Jawed Ashraf said here on February 15.

He said that these sectors also provide more productive and remunerative employment opportunities.

Singapore is a leader in aviation services including maintenance, repair, overhaul services as well as skill development across various sectors, Ashraf said.
16/02/19 PTI/

Seven Rohingya Muslims arrested at Bengaluru airport for duplicate passport

Bengaluru: CCB police of the city have arrested seven Rohingya Muslims, including two women, who were about to fly to Malaysia via Kempegowda International airport in the city on duplicate passports.
 The seven arrested accused, who were extradited from Myanmar, were living illegally in Hyderabad since many years. Recently, they acquired Indian passport using duplicate documents saying that they are citizens of India. They also got visa on the basis of their passports.
Acting on definite information from the central intelligence squad, the special CCB team and immigration officials took the seven people in custody. On interrogation it was confirmed that they got duplicate passports and visa to travel to Malaysia. They were immediately arrested at the airport itself.
 16/02/19 daijiworld

Gold worth Rs 19 lakh seized at Hyderabad airport

The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) officials have seized 585.64 grams of gold on Saturday here at Rajiv Gandhi International airport in Shamshabad.

The gold foils were seized from a passenger who concealed inside the layer of a cardboard box containing sweets and chocolates. The gold worth is said to be of Rs 19.5 lakh.
Officials caught the passenger after he scanned the bag at the airport. An investigation is underway.
16/02/19 Roja Mayabrahma/Hans India

Indian Air Force airlifts GATE aspirants, teachers in J&K

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) airlifted as many as 319 GATE aspirants on Friday, February 08 and Saturday, February 09, 2019 while the Jammu-Srinagar national highway remained closed due to heavy snowfall. As flights were cancelled and roads were blocked, Governor Satya Pal Malik gave directions to the administration to make immediate alternative travel arrangements for stuck students in Srinagar and Delhi. Hence the arrangements were made for several students including GATE aspirants who took the exam on February 10, 2019.

"Due to heavy snowfall, the valley was cut off from the rest of world due to closure of national highway and cancellation of flights. In view of above, state authorities in coordination with Indian Air Force arranged an aircraft to airlift the students appearing for GATE examination," one of the officials said.

The IAF launched the special sorties of C17 Globemaster and came into assistance of GATE aspirants, the locals and tourists who were stuck in the twin capitals due to the closure of Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the only all weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country owing to the recent heavy snowfall, a defence spokesman told PTI.
The spokesperson informed that a total of 319 students appearing in Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) on February 10 onwards were airlifted from Srinagar airport to Jammu airport on Friday and Saturday.
16/02/19 India Today

Friday, February 15, 2019

IndiGo is cancelling 1,300 flights till end of March; how to check if your flight has been axed?

Has your next flight on IndiGo been cancelled? You may want to check. The no-frills carrier is scrapping around 30 flights every day till the end of March, reportedly because there isn’t enough crew available for duty. The flight cancellations began last week and have affected flyers at all major airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Guwahati and Nagpur.

How many IndiGo flights have been cancelled?
IndiGo’s official statement says it is chopping approximately 30 flights per day till 30 March 2019, when the winter schedule ends. However, the number of flights cancelled per day will vary. On Tuesday, for example, the airline cancelled 30 flights across the network, but on Wednesday, 49 flights were scrapped, and on Thursday, 70 flights were cancelled, including those due to Bengaluru airport shutdown. Overall, nearly 1,350 flights are likely to be cancelled over the next six weeks.

How to check if your IndiGo flight has been cancelled?
Unfortunately, there is no way to be fully sure.

The airline has put up this page to check the list of airports affected “due to weather”.
And this page lists the flights cancelled. (However, this currently lists no cancellations for Friday; ergo, it may or may not be reliable.)
There’s also this page where you can check the status of flights for up to two days later.
Do note that:

At the moment, the pages only list flights and airports affected for the day. They’re no help if you’re flying early tomorrow or a few days later. And that is because…
The airline is likely to chop and change its cancellation list based on crew requirements and weather. And though IndiGo says it is reaching out to flyers proactively, you may be intimated as late as one or two days before the flight.
And so, your only real option is to keep an eye out for an SMS, call or email from the airline (check that spam folder). But, more wisely, ring up the airline closer to departure (and then hope they don’t cancel after).

So what happens if your flight is cancelled?
IndiGo says it is reaching out to passengers to let them know if their flight has been cancelled and is trying to accommodate them on “flights at a similar time as booked”.

If your flight has been cancelled, or brought forward by more than an hour or delayed beyond two hours, head here to pick an alternative flight for no extra charge.
15/02/19 Salil Deshpande/Conde Nast Traveller

Train 18 Vande Bharat Express vs Air India, Spice Jet, Indigo, Vistara: Tickets SOLD OUT! Future bright for Bullet Train?

India's fastest train, Vande Bharat Express aka Train 18, is set for its first commercial run on 17th February (Sunday) from New Delhi to Varanasi. Till this article was published today (Friday), all executive class and AC chair car tickets of the Vande Bharat Express (22436) for its inaugural ride were completely sold out. That too, when the Executive chair car ticket costs Rs 3300 and AC Chair Car tickets are priced at Rs 1755 each. For the 19th February ride between New Delhi and Varanasi, only around 50 seats were available in the Executive Chair Car. In the same class, only 51 seats were available for 20th February, 13 for 22nd February and no tickets were available for 23rd February on the IRCTC ticket booking website ( 
The fast sale of the costly executive class tickets augurs well for the Indian Railways' plan for introducing high-speed Bullet Train on the tracks in near future. The Bullet Train project has faced criticism for its expected high-cost tickets.

Train 18 tickets costlier than plane tickets!

Interestingly, Vande Bharat Express Executive Chair car tickets have been sold out even as the price appears costlier than flight tickets offered by domestic carriers - if someone books tickets several weeks in advance.
The Air India flight tickets for Varanasi from Delhi on March 24, 2019, was selling today at Rs 2471. The flight will take just 1.20 hours to reach Varanasi. Spice Jet ticket for the same day was available at Rs 3090 for a 1.40-hour journey.

Air India, Vistara, Spice Jet tickets for March 26 was available at the cost below Rs 3000, while IndiGo ticket was available for just Rs 3117.

Flight tickets available at the ticket-selling websites come with many hidden costs, including more for luggage above 15 kg. Train 18 doesn't put this limitation on passengers. In Indian railways trains, a passenger can travel with luggage up to 40 kg. Moreover, the food price is included in the ticket. These may tempt travellers to take a ride, instead of going by flight.
15/02/19 ZeeBiz

Lucknow to Najaf: Air India restarts flights to Iraq after a 30-year gap

National carrier Air India has resumed flights to Iraq after a 30-year gap. On Thursday an Air India plane flew Shiite pilgrims to the city of Najaf. The plane started its journey from Lucknow and upon landing the crew and pilgrims were welcomed by Iraqi officials.

"This is the first time in the last 30 years" that a plane has come from India to Iraq, said Pradeep Singh Rajpurohit, India's ambassador to Iraq, at the international airport that serves the Shiite holy city.

The five-and-a-half-hour flight from Lucknow to Najaf will operate on Mondays and Thursdays.
The flight AI414 was flagged off at Lucknow airport by Home Minister Rajnath Sinh in the presence of Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma and eminent personalities of the Shia community.
15/02/19 Business Standard

Ashwani Lohani takes charge as Air India CMD

Retired technocrat Ashwani Lohani took charge as the chairman and managing director (CMD) of Air India on Friday.

He took the charge in presence of recently appointed Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola and senior officials of the national carrier.

This is Lohani's second tenure as Air India chief.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on February 13 cleared Lohani's re-induction on a contract basis for a one-year tenure.

Lohani is a 1980-batch IRSME (Indian Railway Service Mechanical Engineering) officer hailing from Madhya Pradesh.

He had headed the national carrier from August 2017 to September 2017 before being moved to the Railway Board as the chairman, from where he retired in December, 2018.
15/02/19 PTI/

India's Jet knocks on govt doors in fight for survival -media

Bengaluru:  Beleaguered Indian carrier Jet Airways is seeking an $840 million bailout from shareholders and a state-backed fund, Business Television India said here, after earlier approving a deal with its lenders to help plug a billion-dollar funding hole.
Jet will receive 15 billion rupees ($210 million) from the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund in return for a 20 percent stake and it may also seek to raise 45 billion rupees via a rights issue priced at 125-150 rupees per share, the news channel reported, citing unnamed sources.
The funds would come as a huge relief for the airline that is in dire need of money to pay off debt, pilots and aircraft lessors as it also grapples with competition from budget rivals, high oil prices and a weaker rupee.
Jet and the fund were not available for comment on Friday.
On Thursday, Jet said its board had approved a rescue plan in which a consortium led by State Bank of India would swap some of Jet’s debt for 114 million shares, doubling the company’s outstanding stock.
15/02/19 Tanvi Mehta/Reuters

Lenders in pilot's seat at Jet Airways; Goyal's stake may reduce to 22%

Mumbai: Lenders led by State Bank of India (SBI) will become the largest shareholders in Jet Airways in a move to bail out the country’s second-largest domestic airline. The Naresh Goyal-led company made the disclosure to the stock exchanges on Thursday after its board approved a draft resolution plan comprising conversion of lenders' debt into 114 million equity shares at an aggregate consideration of Rs 1, issue of fresh interim loan to the airline and changes in governance structure and board composition.
Even as the stock exchange disclosure did not give out the specifics of the proposed deal, including the amount of fund infusion to be made by the shareholders, loan amount to be converted into equity or who would hold how much in the new entity, sources indicated that Goyal’s stake would be diluted to around 22 per cent from the current 51 per cent. Foreign partner Etihad will possibly retain its shareholding at the current level of 24 per cent.
While the lenders’ consortium will hold 51 per cent, the National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) may be amongst the new investors in the airline, one of the sources said.

The draft plan estimates a funding gap of Rs 8,500 crore (including aircraft loan repayment of Rs 1,700 crore) which would be met through equity infusion, debt restructuring, sale and lease back of planes, among others.
15/02/19 Aneesh Phadnis & Abhijit Lele/Business Standard

JPPL stake sale put on backburner: Jet Airways

The stake sale in JPPL, which manages Jet Airways' customer loyalty program Jet Privilege, has been put on the backburner but the airline has identified a potential buyer for its aircraft as part of its resolution plan, a senior company official said Friday. "We will continue to work on the stake sale in JPPL (Jet Privilege Private Limited) but not immediately and that is why it is not part of the resolution plan," Jet Airways' Chief Financial Officer Amit Agarwal said during a conference call for discussing the third quarter results.

Earlier this month, Jet Airways mopped up Rs 250 crore from advance sale of tickets to Jet Privilege, less than five months after raising money through the same route. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways owns 50.1 per cent in JPPL while 49.9 per cent stake is with Jet Airways.

"As far as the aircraft is concerned, we have identified the potential buyer, both for sale as well as sale-and-leaseback of some of the other aircraft, and we are well on track and that is considered part of the resolution plan which had been approved by the board yesterday," Agarwal added.

Debt-laden Jet Airways board Thursday approved a bank-led provisional resolution plan (BLPRP) which will pave the way for conversion of the airline's debt into equity, making lenders the largest shareholders in the company.

While talking about the debt situation on Friday, Agarwal said that as on December 31, 2018, the gross debt of the airline was Rs 7,654 crore or USD 1.09 billion dollars, "a reduction of about Rs 750 crore in the quarter as compared to second quarter of FY2019".

"Of this, aircraft debt stands at Rs 1,585 crore, about 60 per cent of the total debt is denominated in US dollars," he added.

Jet Airways Thursday reported a standalone net loss of Rs 587.77 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, owing to higher fuel cost and rupee fall.
15/02/19 PTI/

CAG has allowed itself to become a 'joke': Chidambaram

New Delhi: Dubbing the CAG report on the Rafale jet deal as "useless", senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said Thursday the principal government auditor has allowed itself to become a "joke" and "failed" the people of the country.

The report contains no useful information or conclusion and its motive is to hide the truth, he told reporters here.

Chidambaram reiterated his party's demand for a joint parliamentary committee probe into the deal, saying only it can call for all relevant records.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) is not "god", he said, apparently, rejecting the ruling BJP's contention that the national auditor's report should be the final word on the contentious issue.

Even the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee can examine the CAG report and seek the redacted or masked details from CAG, the former finance minister said.

"The government has given CAG the details ... it has the details but have not been made public," he said.

The CAG "allowed itself to become a joke and an honourable government in future will restore the prestige and credibility of the institution," Chidambaram said.

"If you thought those 33 pages will bring to light the hidden aspects of the deal and explain matters relating to numbers, pricing, delivery etcetera and comment on correctness and propriety of transaction, you will be disappointed," he said.
14/02/19 PTI/Business Standard

Who will be Jet Airways new owner? Naresh Goyal's airline slipping away from his grasp

The last time the government bought an airline goes as far back as as the 1950s when Tata run Air India was nationalised. A similar scenario is brewing in 2019, only it is a lot different. There is a buzz that Jet Airways may well be ''nationalised''! However, as we said, the situation is different. This may well happen, but that is through its lenders - Jet Airways owes crores to its lenders. This is gradually becoming clear as a new resolution plan has been finally accepted by the private carrier’s board. For the current 'pilot' of Jet Airways, Naresh Goyal, this will be a sad event as although his airline has finally got a lifeline, yet it is on the verge of slipping away from his hands. It may happen that Goyal will no longer be able to retain control of Jet Airways. On Friday, the share price of Jet Airways rose by nearly 8% after touching an intraday high of Rs 242.85 per piece.

Notably, Jet Airways has accepted its lenders debt resolution plan. In a filing to exchanges, Jet Airways said, “Jet Airways’ Board considered and approved a Bank led Provisional Resolution Plan (BLPRP). The BLPRP proposes restructuring under the provisions of the “RBI Circular” in order to meet a funding gap of nearly Rs 8500 crores which is to be met by an appropriate mix of equity infusion, debt restructuring, sale/ sale and lease back/ refinancing of aircraft, among other things.”

This funding estimate of Rs 8,500 crore also includes proposed repayment of aircraft debt of Rs 1,700 crore.

What will happen is that the lenders will convert the debt into equity. They will convert Jet Airways debt into  11,40,00,000 shares of Rs. 10/- each by allotment of such number of equity shares to the Lenders that would result in the Lenders becoming the largest shareholders in the Company.

Lenders will allot debt to 114 million shares for a consideration price of Re 1 each under RBI’s guidelines. Banks are allowed to convert debt into equity at INR 1/- when the book value per share of a company is negative. This is not a new movement, a similar plan was used to bailout Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines in 2011.
15/02/19 Pooja Jaiswar/ZeeBiz

Did your pilot fly high?

New Delhi: Beware the next time you board a flight as 84 pilots have skipped the mandatory breath analyser test in the past five years.

Exclusive data accessed by India Today TV, through an RTI, has revealed that on an average, 14 pilots skip the pre-flight alcohol test every year. The norms of Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are very clear.

There is zero-tolerance for pre-flight drinking. Blood alcohol levels should be zero. Aircraft rules state that crew members are not allowed to consume alcohol 12 hours before the commencement of a flight.

While first-time offenders are debarred from flying an aircraft for three months, a third offence gets the pilot's flying licence revoked permanently.

However, in response to an RTI filed with the DGCA, dated 6.1.2019 by India Today TV, a response was received that stated that between 2013 and 2018, 84 pilots operated flights without undergoing the mandatory breath analyser test.
While 2016 recorded the highest number of such cases at 20, 17 pilots did not take the test in 2017. In 2014 and 2018, 14 pilots each missed the test, while 10 pilots skipped the test in 2013. In 2015, 9 pilots skipped the test.
15/02/19 Ashok Kumar Upadhyay/India Today

Indian Air Force gets its first woman flight engineer

Bengaluru: Flight Lieutenant Hina Jaiswal has created history by becoming the first Indian Woman Flight Engineer. She achieved the feat after completing the prestigious Flight Engineers’ course 112 Helicopter Unit, Air Force Station, Yelahanka.

Commissioned on January 15 in the engineering branch of the IAF, she has served as Chief of firing team and battery commander in a frontline Surface to Air Missile squadron, before being selected for the prestigious Flight Engineers’ Course.
She successfully completed the course and earned her Flight Engineer’s wing on Friday. During the course of six months of grueling training, she trained shoulder to shoulder with her male counterparts, and displayed unflinching commitment, dedication and perseverance, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence said.
Jaiswal, hails from Chandigarh and has completed her Bachelor of Engineering degree from Panjab University. Hina describes her achievement as a “dream come true”. Since childhood, she had aspired to don the soldier’s uniform and take on the skies as an aviator. Finally, her dreams have manifested into reality after successfully graduating from the alma mater of Heli-lift.
15/02/19 Akshatha M/Economic Times