Tuesday, September 21, 2021

SpiceJet to transfer cargo, logistics biz worth Rs 2,555 cr to SpiceXpress

Budget airline SpiceJet on Tuesday announced that it has received the approval of the shareholders’ for transferring its cargo and logistics services business to its subsidiary, SpiceXpress and Logistics Private Limited on a slump sale basis valued at Rs 2,555.77 crore. The company added that the consideration for the slump sale shall be discharged by SpiceXpress by the issuance of its shares in favour of SpiceJet.

This proposed transfer of the logistics business will give SpiceJet a one-time gain of Rs 2,555.77 crore along with wiping out a significant portion of its negative net worth, the company said in a statement. As of the quarter ended June 30, 2021, the carrier’s negative net worth stood at Rs 3,300 crore and it is expected to narrow down to Rs 745 crore after the transfer is over.

In addition to this, the airline also said that it has received a go-ahead from shareholders to raise funds via the issue of eligible securities through Qualified Institutions Placement (QIP). SpiceJet is planning to raise Rs 2,500 crore through a QIP.

“The shareholder approval paves the way for our long-term plans to take a concrete shape and will result in unlocking significant value for the Company and all its shareholders. The transfer of the logistics business to SpiceXpress will reduce SpiceJet’s negative net worth by Rs 2,555.77 crore and strengthen our balance sheet significantly. Post the transfer of the logistics business, the new company will be able to raise capital independently of SpiceJet to fund its growth. We have also received shareholder approval to raise funds through a QIP ensuring our long-term growth plans remain intact,” said Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet.

21/09/21 Akashdeep Baruah/BusinessToday.in

A Shortage of Pilots Looms as the Next Challenge for Airlines

After being thrust into crisis by the coronavirus, the aviation industry faces yet more trouble as the world emerges from the worst of the pandemic to find there’s now likely to be a shortage of pilots after thousands were laid off or decided to retire.

Government policies such as mandatory vaccinations for trainee pilots and travel curbs have also kept a new batch of potential aviators away, according to Bhanu Choudhrie, chief executive officer of Alpha Aviation Group, which runs flying schools in the United Arab Emirates and the biggest one in Southeast Asia’s training hub, the Philippines. They’ve trained more than 2,500 pilots for carriers including Philippine Airlines, AirAsia Group, Cebu Pacific and Air Arabia.

Modern, longer-distance narrow-body aircraft like Airbus SE’s A321 XLR jets -- due to be delivered from 2023 -- will require more pilots than earlier models, compounding the shortage, Choudhrie said in an interview from London. 

“Airlines are going to continue to buy, modernize their fleets, and as they do that, they are going to require pilots,” he said. “The market is getting interesting again and we’re starting to see that upward trend, we’re starting to see airlines come to us and say -- look this is my delivery schedule, can you have pilots ready for me in two years time?” 

Many airlines are aggressively trying to rehire pilots as well as cabin crew and ground staff, but that’s not been a simple process and some jobs are left unfilled. Careers in the industry no longer look as secure as before.

It takes 18-24 months to train a pilot, according to Choudhrie, which means carriers must work on getting them ready way ahead of the delivery of new aircraft, including narrow-body jets, like the A321 XLR, that can fly longer. Airlines typically order aircraft years in advance given the limited production capacity of plane manufacturers. 

The crew ratio -- or number of pilots assigned to a plane -- could be as high as 18 for the A321 XLR compared with 10 or 12 for older models in the same family, said Choudhrie, who also heads U.K.-based private equity firm C&C Alpha Group and was an early investor in Air Deccan, a pioneer of India’s low-cost flying boom. 

Boeing Co. estimates that the world will need more than 600,000 new pilots in the next two decades, during which airlines will take 43,600 new aircraft deliveries. Demand for new planes will soar in markets where carriers are looking to replace their old fleet, and in countries like India, home to IndiGo, the biggest customer for Airbus’s best-selling narrow-body jets. 

That’s why Alpha Aviation is setting up a new flight training center in India, with an initial investment of $15 million, and has plans to expand and invest as much as $100 million, Choudhrie said. He declined to elaborate ahead of a formal announcement. 

21/09/21 Anurag Kotoky and Cecilia Yap/Bloomberg

Indore: Direct flight for Nagpur to roll out on October 1

Indore: City fliers are going to get a direct flight for Nagpur from October 1. The flight is being rolled out by IndiGo, a leading private airline. TK Jose, chairman of the Travel Agents’ Federation of India (TAFI), said on Monday that the airline was deploying a 72-seater ATR aircraft for the Indore-Nagpur-Indore sector. According to the schedule, the flight will depart from the city for Nagpur at 6 am and land there at 7.10 am.

On return, the flight will depart from Nagpur at 7.35 am and arrive here at 8.45 am. Initially, the fare of the one-way journey is being quoted at Rs 1,950. Senior travel agent Jose said that, following the end of the second wave of Covid-19, the air passenger flow between both the cities was constantly increasing. Rolling out this flight will definitely help passengers as they will be able to reach their destination in just 1.10 hours.

21/09/21 FreePressJournal

Emirates told to pay Rs 55k to flyer for missing bag

Hyderabad: A district consumer forum directed Emirates airlines to pay Rs 55,000 to a flyer from city for a missing bag at her destination Copenhagen.

The flyer, Sagarika M, had taken Emirates flight from Hyderabad-Dubai-Copenhagen on May 18, 2018. In her complaint, she said that one of her bags containing clothes and valuables went missing when she arrived in Copenhagen. She said that she stayed in Copenhagen until May 29 on which date she returned to Hyderabad, but the bag was never found.The complainant filed a complaint with the consumer body after the airlines refused to compensate her.

The airlines submitted that the complainant’s bag was handed over to it as check-in luggage on the flight. But they claimed the bag might have been taken by some other passenger or the complainant herself and was now claiming compensation on false pretences. “The contention of the opposite parties that the bag might have been taken by other passengers or by the complainant does not sustain. The bag is missing and it was not traced and handed over to the complainant,” the bench said.

21/09/21 Nirupa Vatyam/Times of India

India the place for drone tech solutions: Keshav Murugesh

The adoption of drone technology is taking India by storm. According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, over a period of three years, the country will see an estimated investment of ₹5,000 crore for manufacturing of drones, which in turn will see the drone industry clock an annual turnover of ₹900 crore in fiscal 2024 and create 10,000 jobs. Talking about the government’s drone policy, Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, said, “Our objective is to establish India as a global drone hub by 2030 and the Ministry of Civil Aviation is committed to facilitate industry, service delivery and consumers in achieving the aforesaid target.”

Captains of the tech industry like Keshav Murugesh, group chief executive officer of WNS applaud the government’s drone manufacturing initiatives. “By introducing all of these changes it positions India in a very different format, in the world markets. Because everyone has understood that India is now the place to go to for tech solutions,” says Murugesh in an exclusive interview to Fortune India. He adds, “The reality is that we were talking as an industry about leveraging drones for our insurance business 3 to 4 years back.” Countries like Israel, U.S., U.K. are using drones in the agriculture sector to monitor crops. The technology is even being leveraged to watch how bees fly and how bats live. “It’s just amazing what the technology is being leveraged for,” says Murugesh.

21/09/21 Anshul Dhamija/Fortune India

India-Nepal joint military exercise ‘Surya Kiran’ kicks off in Pithoragarh

Pithoragarh: The 15th edition of the India-Nepal combined battalion-level military exercise ‘Surya Kiran’ commenced at Pithoragarh on Monday. The fortnight-long exercise will continue till October 3, a statement from the Indian Army said.

The biannual exercise – which takes place alternately in both countries -- is aimed at sharing experiences gained during the conduct of various counter- insurgency operations by both India and Nepal.

At the opening ceremony on Monday, Lt Gen SS Mahal, GOC Uttar Bharat Area “addressed the gathering and exhorted the contingents to train and strengthen mutual confidence, inter-operability and also to share best practices,” the Army statement said.

“The understandings developed between the two armies at the top level recently are an encouraging sign for both the nations and their armies for further cooperation,” Lt Gen Mahal said.

The Indian side in the joint exercise is being represented by the 6th Garhwal Regiment, while the Nepalese side is being represented by Ripu Daman battalion of Nepali Army.

The training will also focus on humanitarian aid and disaster relief including medical and aviation support, he added.

21/09/21 Times of India

IndiGo to operate additional service to Dubai from Oct

Trichy: In the wake of increase in passenger patronage, IndiGo Air plans to operate two additional flights between Trichy and Dubai on September 21 and 28. Currently, Air India Express operates five flights weekly and IndiGo two flights in this sector. There is also a proposal by IndiGo air to increase its weekly service to three from two.

This additional flight willdepart at 10.10am (Dubai local time) from Dubai and arrive at Trichy airport at 4pm on Tuesday. In the return direction, the flight will depart at 5.30pm from Trichy airport and will reach Dubai at 8.20pm (Dubai local time), airport sources said. IndiGo Air is currently operating flights on Thursdays and Saturdays. The third service will be added on Tuesdays from October 3 to meet the excess demand, officials added.

International flight operations were suspended due to the Covid-19 from the last week of March 2020 to April first week of 2020. However, special flights were started to operate under Vande Bharat Mission after a gap of more than a month. Special flights were also operated to Trichy from Kuwait, Doha and Bahrain beyond the regular overseas destinations to bring back Indians who were stranded in various countries.

21/09/21 Times of India

The rise and rise of Kempegowda International airport

Since the maiden flight from the second runway at Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International airport took off in December 2019, the city has been in a neck-and-neck race to steal Mumbai’s rank as the second largest airport in India.

Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had set the deadline to fly the inaugural flight from the Navi Mumbai airport in December 2019. While the Navi Mumbai International airport failed to meet the deadline, Bengaluru stole the show. The competition is head-on since then.

Last fiscal, Bengaluru airport handled 10.9 million passengers while Mumbai did 11 million. Mumbai is in a losing battle.

The latest blow comes from Akasa Air and Jet 2.0 — they have decided to set up their primary base in Bengaluru and Delhi, respectively. As the birthplace of commercial air travel in India, Mumbai should have stayed prominent on the country’s aviation radar.

But, over the past decade, the story of Mumbai, with its lone congested airport that functions out of a single runway, has been one of setbacks. Today Delhi is the primary operations base for IndiGo, Air India, Vistara, SpiceJet and GoAir; while AirAsiaIndia calls Bengaluru home.

Mumbai is currently airline-bereft. And if trends persist, it may slide further to keep company with Kolkata and Chennai in third or fourth position, which is a mighty drop from the number one position it held till 2011.

Mumbai began losing at the turn of the century with the advent of low-cost carriers (LCCs), which thrive on airports with nimble runways and fast terminals. Land, de-board passengers, board and depart as quickly as possible, is the process. Take-off or landing slots and speed afforded by Delhi airport’s parallel runways—both can be used simultaneously— have made it a natural choice for LCCs.

Mumbai too has two runways, but they lie X-shaped, a cross that LCCs were not ready to bear, given that only one runway could be used at a time.

21/09/21 Manju V/Bangalore Mirror

If Tatas win the Air India bid, it will be poetic justice

The news that Tatas have put in a bid to acquire Air India brings much cheer. Jawaharlal Nehru nationalised the airline in 1953 without any dialogue or notice to the Tatas. It bewildered many as to why the government would take over a well-run private enterprise and run it into the ground.

JRD Tata was heartbroken. He rued this, and he was deeply hurt that the government took over the airline through the backdoor. He was retained as chairman of Air India till 1978, and took it to great heights. It was a much-loved airline globally.

Can you believe that Singapore Airlines — considered the world's best airline — was set up by Air India at the invitation of the Singapore government? And what a fall from grace it has been for our national carrier, in its service standards and operational efficiency.

Though Nehru erred in nationalising the airline, he and his successors gave autonomy to JRD to run Air India without interference. After JRD's exit, the decline began. Successive governments treated the airline as their private carrier. Political and bureaucratic interference without accountability turned the iconic airline into a loss-making decrepit carrier. And stiff competition from the private sector reduced it to irrelevance. The airline haemorrhaged cash at an alarming rate.

The current debts and accumulated losses are an astronomical ₹1 lakh crore. And the question arises that if Air India can be saved, why were Kingfisher Airlines with ₹6,000 crore of debt, and Jet Airways with ₹8,000 crore of debt, not rescued, when their bank debts were minuscule in comparison to Air India? The promoters could have been prosecuted for recovery of dues, but why punish the airline and its employees for the sins of the promoters?

They may be in the private sector, but their assets are national assets. The blood that runs in the veins of the private sector is not different — or less red — from that of the public sector employees.

It is only befitting that the great airline, now run down, may go back into the hands of the business house that founded and nurtured it in its formative years. The government cannot unilaterally hand Air India back to them for a negotiated price. The Tatas have to participate in a bid to earn back what was taken away from them. That is a cruel irony.

JRD was respected as a visionary and was revered for his charitable work through the Tata Trusts. He was also looked up to as an intrepid aviator, and as the man who built a great airline with a huge national and international network.

JRD was India's first licensed pilot in 1929. He also flew the first commercial flight in 1932 that was carrying airmail from Karachi to Chennai (then, Madras) via Ahmedabad, Mumbai (then, Bombay), Pune, Kolhapur, Bellary and Bengaluru (then, Bangalore), in a single-engine three-seater unpressurised de Havilland Puss Moth.

This was the beginning of Tata Airlines which was eventually renamed Air India in 1946 when it became a public limited company. Air India is still a jewel, though jaded. It has an enviable national and global route network, invaluable bilateral rights with foreign countries, prime slots and aviation infrastructure in Indian airports as well as in the airports of overseas capitals and key cities of strategic and commercial importance.

It has many highly qualified and trained pilots, engineers and crew, though burdened with redundant staff who are deadwood put in there by many ruling parties and bureaucrats over the last few years. This can be dealt with, with a helping hand from the government.

It is probably late now, but the bidding should have been through an open and transparent electronic tender, instead of sealed, opaque covers. The shortlisted bidders must first deposit the reserve price in an escrow account and the bid must close within six to eight hours of commencing. The auction should be open, where each bidder can increase the bid price after viewing the offer prices of other bidders. That's how the Tatas won the Corus Steel bid. As Air India is not listed, this is also the best way for price discovery for the government to realise the highest value from the sale.

21/09/21 Captain Gopinath, Hindustan Times/The Business Standard

Canada resumes direct flights to & from India after 5 months; Delhi to be connected first

 New Delhi: Direct connectivity has finally resumed between India and Canada after almost five months. Air Canada has restarted Delhi-Toronto nonstops with a new protocol where WHO-approved vaccinated passengers must undergo an RT-PCR or a rapid PCR test within 18 hours of boarding its flights from the Covid-19 Testing Centre and Lounge at Delhi Airport’s Terminal 3.

“Air Canada requires either of these specific tests as no other test from any other clinic within India will be accepted, even if you are connecting from a different city. You may also be able to travel if you provide proof of a certified positive PCR test result taken between 14 and 180 days before your scheduled departure flight to Canada,” Air Canada says on its site for “testing requirements for flights from India.”

The requirement of a negative RT-PCR report from a third country has been dropped. The first post-resumption flight AC 42 (Toronto-Delhi) is going to land at the destination around 9 pm on Monday to fly passengers from here starting Tuesday.

Air India could soon start Delhi-Vancouver and Delhi-Toronto nonstops.

“In addition to the above new requirements the following conditions to travel still remain: All travellers must be double vaccinated. Only the following vaccines are recognised by Canada : Johnson / Moderna / Pfizer/Covishield. All documents must be uploaded prior to departure on https://www.arrivecan-online.com/. For further information and updates please also visit Government of Canada website www.canada.ca ,” Air Canada has told travel partners in a communique accessed by TOI.

All documents must be uploaded prior to departure online and travellers have been advised to check for information and updates please on government of Canada website www.canada.ca

Canada had suspended all commercial and private passenger flights from India on April 23, 2021, during the deadly second Covid wave here, and the restriction was till Tuesday (September 21). Since then, people going from India to Canada would do so via some other country and they were required to get a Covid negative test report from that transit country before taking off for their destination.

Now with Air Canada listing new travel requirement from India, the third country transit option will no longer be need to be exercised.

21/09/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Noida airport foundation event likely next month

Greater Noida: The foundation stone laying ceremony of the Noida International Airport project is likely to take place during Navratri next month.

Arun Vir Singh, the CEO of Noida International Airport Limited — the special purpose vehicle of the UP government — said more than 90% of the families affected by the project had started constructing their houses in the rehabilitation township of Jewar Bangar. “Of the 3,003 plots that have been allocated to villagers in Jewar Bangar, construction work has started on about 2,730 of them. Some families have already started staying in their new homes,” he added.

The stone laying ceremony was expected to take place in the last week of August. But, sources said, the death of former BJP chief minister Kalyan Singh and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan kept the Prime Minister’s office and the state government busy.

As pitru paksha will go on till October 6, no big ticket event is likely to be launched during this period. “The concessionaire of the airport project has already started work on the ground. The foundation or the stone laying ceremony has to be decided by the state government. We are focused on getting the commercial operations started within the next three years and improving the accessibility and connectivity of the Yamuna Expressway region with other parts of NCR,” Singh said.

21/09/21 Times of India

Ahmedabad airport ramps up rapid Covid-19 testing facility

Ahmedabad: Authorities at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad have ramped up its rapid Covid-19 testing facility.

The decision was taken after Indian travellers to Dubai were required to not just carry a negative Covid RT-PCR test report but also a rapid PCR test report, within six hours of departure. As the frequency of passengers travelling to Dubai increased, the number of machines installed were also increased to 100.

A rapid PCR test is basically an RT-LAMP test which has been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as an RT-PCR equivalent for rapid Covid-19 testing.

"When the rule was imposed, the airport had barely 30 machines installed by two private diagnostics laboratories to conduct the RT-LAMP test. However, of late, the number of flights as well as passenger movement to Dubai from SVPI airport has increased. Therefore, to meet growing requirement for tests, more machines are installed," said a source at the city airport.

Sources confirmed that in August, an estimated 70 flight movements were handled from Ahmedabad to Dubai. However, the same number has now increased.

21/09/21 Niyati Parikh/Times of India

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Telangana State Aviation Academy bags Aero Club of India trophy

Hyderabad: The Telangana State Aviation Academy has bagged the Aero Club of India’s Rolling Trophy for the Best Performing Flying Club this year. The Juhu-based Bombay Flying Club got the second prize and the third prize went to the Government Aviation Training Institute in Odisha. Captain Aneesha Suresh, the secretary general of Aero Club of India, said the trophy was constituted in 2003.

Twenty-one flying training clubs across the nation are affiliated to the Aero Club of India. These flying clubs have been rendering valuable service with regard to ab-initio training of aviation pilots and engineers.

21/09/21 Indian Express

Customs book duo for smuggling Rs 20 lakh worth gold at Delhi airport

New Delhi: Two Indian nationals, who arrived at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport on September 13, were booked by customs officials for allegedly smuggling gold worth Rs 20,78,248, officials said.

According to officers of airport customs, the duo arrived at IGI airport on September 13 on a connecting flight from Riyadh via Dubai. They were intercepted after they had crossed the green channel.

On detailed personal and baggage search of the duo, one gold biscuit and two gold bars were recovered. The recovered items weighed 483 gms and were valued at Rs 20,78,248.

21/09/21 Tanseem Haider/India Today

Monday, September 20, 2021

SpiceJet looks to save Rs 1K cr on commercial settlement with MAX lessors

New Delhi: In a boost to domestic carrier SpiceJet, the commercial settlement finalised by the airline with two major lessors of MAX aircraft will result in savings of roughly around Rs 300 crore for the Ajay Singh-led carrier.

Top sources in the airline said that the carrier is hopeful of saving around Rs 1,000 crore in all, once the settlements are finalised with other MAX lessors.

While neither the airline nor the two lessors - Avolon and CDB Aviation - having publicly spoken about the details of the agreement, sources said the lessors have agreed to write-off roughly around Rs 300 crore of lease rental dues that had to be paid by the airline.

The MAX aircraft has been grounded for over two years in India. The DGCA recently revoked the ban on the aircraft. SpiceJet, the only operator of 737 MAX in India, hopes to resume MAX operations by the first week of October, subject to regulatory approvals.

Sources said that settlement negotiations with some other MAX lessors are in an advanced stage and the airline is hopeful that the total write-off for the lease rentals would be roughly around Rs 1,000 crore.

The DGCA lifting the ban on Boeing 737 MAX couldn't have come at a better time for SpiceJet. As India slowly opens up its aviation sector to pre-Covid levels and gradually allows its airlines to operate more capacity, SpiceJet would have needed more planes to operate additional flights.

With the ban on MAX now lifted, SpiceJet has at its immediate disposal 13 brand new aircraft, which can be deployed back in service within a matter of weeks, allowing the airline to plan and expand its network ahead of the busy festival season that's traditionally considered the best time for Indian carriers to make money.

20/09/21 IANS/Business Standard

Kolkata's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport Severely Waterlogged After Incessant Rains

Severe waterlogging occurred at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata on Monday following incessant rainfall. Torrential rains pounded Kolkata and its surrounding districts since early hours on Monday, disrupting regular life on the first working day of the week, with the Meteorological department predicting further rain for at least another day. 

Kolkata received more than 100 millimetres of rain between 1 am to 7 am, submerging many major thoroughfares and low-lying regions in knee-deep water. Kolkata Municipal Corporation drainage pumping stations recorded 136 mm rain at Dhapa, 115 mm at Kalighat, and 109 mm at Ballygunge, according to an official.
Due to the severe rain in Kolkata, major airlines operating from the airport have issued an advisory. IndiGo tweeted,"Due to waterlogging in some parts of  Kolkata, we advise passengers to keep enough travel time in hand while travelling to the airport. "Due to bad weather in Kolkata(CCU), all departures/arrivals and their consequential flights might get affected," wrote Spicejet. Meanwhile, Vistara tweeted, "Due to waterlogging on account of heavy rains in Kolkata, traffic congestion is expected. Customers travelling are advised to allow more time for their journey to the airport."

20/09/21 Srishti Goel/Republicworld.com

Spectacular aerial display by army aviation helicopters, elite commandos

Jaipur: A spectacular aerial display by the Army Aviation Helicopters and elite commandos of special forces demonstrating skills of insertion and extrication of force in a hostile environment won the hearts of thousands of people in Jaipur.

The event was the Army Multi Activity Regalia (AMAR) organised on Sunday to mark the glorious victory of the Indian Army in 1971 War as part of 'Swarnim Vijay Varsh' celebrations.

The war heroes were felicitated by Governor of Rajasthan Kalraj Mishra and Lieutenant General Amardeep Singh Bhinder, Army Commanders of the South Western Command at Rambagh Polo Ground, Jaipur.

Various displays and demonstrations were also showcased by the Army teams, including a mesmerising show by 13 Army Bands. The audience were kept spellbound by the teams showcasing basic obedience and special training demonstration by the Army dogs, equestrian events including show jumping and skill riding and motorcycle skill riding display.

During the event the Governor and Army Commander of South Western Command honoured H.H. Rajmata Padmini Devi, wife of Late Brigadier Sawai Bhawani Singh, Maha Vir Chakra (MVC); Dhanno Devi wife of Late Colonel Hoshiar Singh, Param Vir Chakra (PVC); and Colonel Ranvijay Singh son of Lieutenant General Sagat Singh, Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM), said Lt. Col. Amitabh Sharma, PRO (Defence), Jaipur/Rajasthan.

The Governor addressed the gathering and dedicated the event as a humble tribute to the sacrifices of the Indian Army by a grateful nation.

20/09/21 Daijiworld

IRB Infra in demand after receiving aerodrome license for Sindhudurg airport

IRB Infrastructure surged 2.49% to Rs 175.20 after the construction company's wholly owned subsidiary received Aerodrome license from the Director General of Civil Aviation.

IRB Sindhudurg Airport Private Limited, a special purpose vehicle of IRB Infrastructure received Aerodrome license for Sindhudurg Airport from the Director General of Civil Aviation on Saturday, 18 September 2021. The Aerodrome License will enable IRB Infra to open the new aviation facility for airlines and general public.

The DGCA in the license issued to the company states, The license authorizes the Aerodrome to be used as regular place of landing and departure to all persons on equal terms and conditions by aircraft requiring specifications of runway and associated facilities including granted exemptions equal to or less than those indicated in the Aerodrome Manual.

Virendra D. Mhaiskar, chairman & MD of the company said, We are very happy to achieve yet another milestone in current year and see the airport receive license to operate after successful completion. With a concession period of over 90 years and compelling regional proposition, it offers meaningful avenues of growth. We express our sincere gratitude to all Authorities and Stakeholders for extending their valuable cooperation and support in bringing up this new facility. We now look forward to opening the facility for airline operators and general public soon.

The airport will enhance air connectivity of the region with Western Maharashtra, Southern states, Mumbai and subsequently to all regions of the nation. Sindhudurg is located in the Konkan region of Maharashtra.

The company said it has developed the airport project with capital outlay of Rs 800 crore. Apart from earning revenue from the operations of airport, IRB Infra said it has the right to utilise/ commercially exploit the additional land parcels forming part of the project. With receipt of the license from DGCA, the company would commence commercial operations in due course. The concession period is 95 years commencing from February 2013.

20/09/21 Capital Market/Business Standard

Sabarimala airport's future hangs in balance; Kerala still hopes to overcome hurdles

Thiruvananthapuram: With the land acquisition of the Sabarimala airport project in a legal tangle and the objections raised by central government agencies, the Kerala government has a herculean task ahead, but it hopes to overcome the hurdles.

Apart from the Sabarimala pilgrims, the airport project, proposed to be in Cheruvally estate in Kottayam district, about 50 kilometres from Sabarimala, also aims to cater to the considerable NRI population from Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala. There are also many tourists visiting nearby destinations like Kumarakom backwaters and high ranges tourist spots of Idukki district.

Special officer for the Sabarimala Airport project V Thulasidas told DH that the queries by central agencies were only part of the normal process for approval for airports. Similar queries were raised for the Kannur International Airport and those were resolved by convincing the central agencies of the feasibility, said the former chairman and managing director of Air India.

Of the Director General of Civil Aviation's (DGCA) many queries over the project proposal by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation, the major one was that the Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi international airports were only 110 kilometre and 88 kilometre respectively from the proposed site. As per Green Field airport policy, new airports should be at least 150 kilometre away from existing international airports...

Ownership of the land was also caught up in a legal tangle with the Kerala-based Believers Church of India claiming ownership of the 2,263-acre Cheruvally estate. A government committee had earlier found that the Harrison Malayalam plantations sold out the estate to the Believers Church of India using forged documents as the Harisson Malayalam plantations only had possession rights and no ownership over the land.

20/09/21 Arjun Raghunath/Deccan Herald

Bengaluru-Delhi flight lands safely in Hyderabad after windshield crack

New Delhi: An Air India Dreamliner (VT-ANU) operating as AI 503 from Bengaluru to Delhi diverted safely to Hyderabad on Monday due to windshield window crack. “The L1 window (meaning left forward windshield) cracked,” said people in the know. Comments from AI were sought and are awaited.

The Boeing 787 took off from Bengaluru at 5.35 pm for Delhi on Monday. Flight tracking websites show after crossing Hyderabad enroute, the left side front windshield cracked and pilots decided to divert to Hyderabad. It safely landed there just after 8 pm.

20/09/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Rescued turtles board Air India flight for grand journey to Lucknow from Hyderabad

Hyderabad: In a first for Telangana and in the fourth such instance in the country, 266 baby Indian tent turtles were airlifted to Uttar Pradesh from the Nehru Zoological Park on Saturday. These turtles spent six weeks at the park after they were rescued on August 1 from sellers here.

The team of 266 – both Indian tent turtles, and Indian roofed turtles – were taken to Lucknow by the Uttar Pradesh forest department and the Turtle Survival Alliance. The Indian roofed turtles are an endangered species and are given the highest protection under the Wildlife Protection Act.

These turtles were confiscated in August this year from two persons. The duo was attempting to sell the turtles to aquarium shops from where people could purchase these for display in their own aquariums at home or as pets.

Following the seizure, 330 turtles were moved to the city zoo. “The zoo officials took good care of them,” Dr Shailendra Singh, director of Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), told Deccan Chronicle. “It is normal at their age, about a year old, to have some instances of mortality among these turtles,” he said.

The 266 turtles were flown in specially designed cargo container aboard the Air India flight. The airline is a trusted partner of TSA for trans-locating the endangered wildlife via New Delhi. After an eight-hour flight, they were received at Lucknow by TSA and UP forest department officials.

Dr Singh said these species of turtles are poached to cater to the demand for the illegal pets trade. They look very pretty and fit in beautifully well in aquariums. Both the species are sympatric and found in River Gomti and its associated wetlands, with one preferring the flowing water another the stagnant pools near and within the river.

20/09/21 Balu Pulipaka/Deccan Chronicle

India to allow charter flights as it gets ready to welcome tourists

Mumbai: Vaccinated foreign tourists would be allowed to visit India on charter flights as the government plans to relax entry restrictions. An announcement regarding the modalities and date for resumption of leisure travel is expected by the end of this month.

Last March the government clamped down on overseas air travel to curb spread of Covid-19. While businesspersons, healthcare professionals, technical specialists and overseas citizens of India have been allowed since last year, leisure travellers are still denied access.

Now, the government plans to open the doors for foreign tourists in a phased manner in view of decline in Covid-19 cases and widespread vaccination.

An official familiar with the matter said inter-ministerial discussions are going on and at first vaccinated tourists would be permitted to come to India on charter flights. “It will be a calibrated opening. A decision is expected in around a week,” he said.

Subhash Goyal, chairman of Stic Travels, however, said that the government should restart scheduled international flights with the opening of leisure travel. “Allowing foreign tourists to come but keeping scheduled flights under suspension will not serve any purpose. We have been in touch with our overseas trade partners and we can expect good demand in the winter season if a decision is announced now," he said.

The Union Home Ministry did not immediately respond to a query on this topic. In 2019 over 10.9 million foreign tourists visited India and contributed to over $ 30 billion in foreign exchange earnings.

As a part of its economic stimulus plan finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had in June announced that 500,000 tourist visas will be issued free of charge upon reopening of borders. The scheme would be applicable till March 31 and would reduce government income by around Rs 100 crore, she had said.

20/09/21 Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

Travelling in style: Man books entire Air India business class cabin to travel with his dog!

We have heard a number of love stories but this one is one-of-a-kind! In a heartfelt gesture, a dog hooman travelling from Mumbai to Chennai booked the entire Air India business class cabin just to travel with his furry friend in luxury.

It all happened on a beautiful Wednesday morning that a dog flew business class with his human friend on Air India AI-671. The Mumbai man spent a whopping amount of INR 2.4 lakhs for the two-hour long flight that landed in Chennai.

The J-class cabin on Air India A320 aircraft has 12 seats and the owner of the dog booked all the 12 seats so he could travel with his pet in luxury class without any disturbance. For your information, one Mumbai to Chennai business class ticket ranges between INR 18000 and INR 20000 (average cost).

A source told TOI, "The J-class cabin on Air India A320 aircraft has 12 seats, so the cute pup flew in luxury.".

This is not the first time that a dog has travelled in a plane. However, Air India is the only Indian airline that allows people to carry their pet along inside the plane under certain conditions. People are allowed to carry a maximum of two pets on an Air India flight and generally the pet is given a seat in the last row of the booked class. Also, passengers need to pay some extra charge for this service.

20/09/21 Times Travel

HC dismisses plea against govt. leasing out Mangaluru airport to Adani Enterprises

Bengaluru: The High Court of Karnataka has dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition questioning the Union government’s decision to hand over Mangaluru International Airport to Adani Enterprises Ltd. for operation, maintenance and development.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has followed the most transparent process in leasing out airports. This airport has not been leased out by way of private negotiation. Tenders were issued and the successful bidder has been awarded the contract and there is no violation of any statutory provision of law in the matter, the court said.

A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum passed the order while dismissing the petition filed the Airports Authority Employees Union, Mangaluru International Airport.

The petitioner union has not been able to make out a case for interference in respect of the policy decision of the Union government for leasing out airports, the Bench said, while pointing out that the union has not been able to show any violation of statutory law and Constitutional provisions.

Also, it is nobody’s case that the AAI has handed over all functions under Section 12(3) of the Airports Authority of India Act 1994 to the private company as it is pertinent to note that only seven functions, out of the 18, of the airports are the subject matter of the public-private partnership, the Bench noted.

Referring to a verdict of the High Court of Kerala, which had dismissed a similar petition filed by the union questioning the privatisation of Thiruvananthapuram airport, the Bench held that the petitioner union “has not approached the court with clean hands as it had suppressed the fact of filing a similar writ petition” before the High Court in the neighbouring State.

20/09/21 The Hindu

Kenya Airways Resumes Flights to India After Four-Month Break

Kenya Airways (KQ) has resumed flights between Nairobi and the Indian city of Mumbai.

The resumption follows a four-month hiatus occasioned by a spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths in the populous Asian nation.

In a statement on Sunday, the national carrier said the first shall depart the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) at 9:30 pm and land in Mumbai at 06:15 am on Monday.

"Fly to Mumbai with normal flight schedule resuming starting Monday 20th September," the notice read in part.

KQ will operate three weekly flights on the route with Monday, Wednesday, and Friday set as days to depart from Nairobi while the return flights will be on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

The airline suspended flights to Mumbai in April after the government issued a directive on traveling between Kenya and India due to a coronavirus crisis in the Asian state.

19/09/21 John Wanjohi/Mwakilishi.com

CBI files FIR against 11, including two customs officials, in 2018 gold smuggling case

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered an FIR against two customs officials for allegedly being a part of an international gold smuggling racket which was busted by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in August 2018.

The FIR by the CBI has been lodged against 11 accused, including two officers of air customs, on the basis of a vigilance report.

According to the FIR, the DRI officials had received secret information that a person identified as Ajay Verma, was attempting to smuggle about 3 kg of gold into India on his two carriers - Praveen and Pawan - from Dubai via an Indigo flight on August 13, 2018.

"It also came to knowledge that Ajay Verma would try to smuggle the gold with the help of two customs officers posted at Indira Gandhi international Airport, New Delhi. The officers were identified as Vivek Gehlout, Air Customs Officer and Navin Singh, Air Customs Superintendent," read the vigilance report of the customs department.

The DRI officials, according to the FIR, also learnt that another set of five passengers would smuggle about 14.5 kg of gold on an Emirates flight from Dubai on the same day.

"The intelligence had also suggested that clearance of the gold being carried by the passengers arriving from Dubai via an Emirates flight would be facilitated at the Indira Gandhi international airport, New Delhi by two customs officers - Vivek Gehlout and Naveen Singh," added the vigilance report.

The DRI officials, acting on intelligence inputs, kept a close watch on the passengers and both the officers. On August 13, 2018, when the suspected passengers arrived on an Indigo and Emirates flight from Dubai to New Delhi, they were caught by the officials with gold.

"Vivek Gehlot, on August 13, 2018, while he was posted at the departure side of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, he took the help of Naveen Singh, who was posted at X-Ray machine scanning at the arrival hall of airport, to facilitating seven passengers namely Pawan Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Mohammed Rehan, Shaibi, Zubaida Khatoon, Zainul Abdeen and Saqib Malik, on the instructions of smuggling operators namely Ravi Panwar, Sirajuddin, Ajay Sarma and Ajay Verma, who were arriving with foreign origin gold to smuggle the same without customs checking," added the FIR.

19/09/21 Munish Chandra Pandey/India Today

Gold seized at MIA

Mangaluru: Officers of the Customs department at Mangaluru International Airport (MIA) seized assorted gold jewellery of 18-carat purity weighing 230 grams from a passenger on Sunday.<br>        The value of the seized gold is estimated at Rs 8,44,100. It was seized from a passenger hailing from Bantwal, who arrived at the airport from Dubai via Air India Express IX 0384.<br>        The gold was concealed inside the package of a body lotion. Further investigation is in on, a Customs release here said. 

20/09/21 The Week