Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tata SIA Airlines eyes all-stock merger of Vistara with Jet Airways

Mumbai: The Tata group and Naresh Goyal-promoted Jet Airways are inching towards a two-step transaction, the first leg of which could see the merger of Jet with Tata SIA Airlines, the joint venture between Tatas and Singapore Airlines that operates Vistara. The second step of the deal could involve the purchase of the Goyal family’s stake in the combined entity by Singapore Airlines.
Two people with direct knowledge of the development said the talks between representatives of Tata group, Singapore Airlines and the Jet Airways management gathered pace after US private equity giant TPG Capital opted to go slow on its talks to buy a stake in Jet. As per the terms under discussion, Jet Airways will first merge with Tata SIA through a share swap.
The Naresh Goyal family, Etihad, Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines will all become partners in the new company. In the second stage, Singapore Airlines will buy out the shares of the Goyal family, giving them a complete exit. Goyal’s partner Etihad may continue with the venture as minority shareholder.
“However, if Etihad needs an exit, we are ready to buy them out as well. Eventually, Tatas and Singapore Airlines will control the entity,” said one of the two persons quoted above. When contacted, a Tata group spokesperson said, “We don’t comment on market speculation.” Jet Airways didn’t respond to ET’s mail seeking comment.
The transaction, if successful, will give the Tata group’s aviation plans a muchneeded boost as it will secure landing rights, routes and related infrastructure amenities of Jet after the deal. Tata, along with its partner Singapore Airlines, are expected to infuse capital to enable the Jet-Vistara combine to function effectively.
15/11/18 Kala Vijayraghavan/Indulal PM/Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

Tata Sons chief to pitch for board’s backing to acquire Jet Airways

Mumbai: In the clearest sign yet that talks to seal India’s bigger-ever merger and acquisition deal in aviation are gathering steam, Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran is expected to present to the board on Friday a business viability plan on the proposed acquisition of the struggling Jet Airways.
The plan will touch on long-term financial goals as well as on the proposed path for combining the acquired business with that of the group’s existing aviation interests, according to people close to the development.
The share-purchase in India’s biggest full-service private carrier needs the backing of Tata Sons’ board as well as its controlling shareholder, Tata Trusts. The move clearly indicates the Tatas’ interest in Jet, and would be its third investment in the country’s aviation sector since the 2013 launch of Air Asia India, a budget carrier, and Vistara, a full-service airline.
TOI broke the story about the Tatas being in talks to pick up a significant stake in Jet in its October 18 edition.+
People with knowledge of the matter said that after his initial resistance, Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal is coming around to the idea of ceding management control, though he is likely to insist on retaining a stake in the company he founded 25 years ago. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways, which owns 24% in Jet, is yet to reveal its plans but may exit as part of the consolidation deal with Vistara. An email sent to Etihad remained unanswered till the time this piece was published.
The broader plan could include combining Jet Airways and Vistara, in which Tata Sons holds 51% and its foreign partner Singapore Airlines the balance 49%. This follows deal-talks moving apace in recent weeks as Jet stares at possible financial defaults in the next ten days. Buyout investor TPG remains in the fray for Jet though discussions with Tatas are reliably learnt to have progressed significantly.
15/11/18 Reeba Zachariah and Boby Kurian/Times of India



Jet Airways deal: Singapore Airlines also in the fray in talks between Naresh Goyal, Tatas

Although Jet Airways has consistently dismissed the buzz about a stake sale to the Tata Group as speculative, talks are reportedly picking up pace and a two-step transaction is being hashed out.

The cash-strapped airline could merge with Tata SIA Airlines Ltd - the joint venture between Tatas and Singapore Airlines that's known by the brand name Vistara - through a share swap in the first phase. Jet promoter Naresh Goyal, his partner Etihad, Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines will then all become partners in the new company, The Economic Times reported.

In the second step of the deal, Singapore Airlines could buy out the Goyal family's entire 51% stake in the new combined entity.

While Etihad may choose to continue with the venture as minority shareholder (it holds a 24% stake), it will have an exit option too.

"If Etihad needs an exit, we are ready to buy them out as well. Eventually, Tatas and Singapore Airlines will control the entity," a person with direct knowledge of the development told the daily.

Media reports earlier this week suggested that the Tata Group had already started its due diligence process in order to pick up a controlling stake in Jet Airways, which recently reported its third consecutive quarterly losses for the quarter ending September.

"The attempt is to work out a way where there would not be substantial cash payment involved in the buyout," a second source told the daily.

"Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran is keen that a deal is quickly worked out that will strengthen the group's position in the aviation business and give it a much needed heft. Since Air India deal is not easily possible and the GoAir deal with the Wadias won't happen, Jet is our best bet," he added.

Tata, along with its partner Singapore Airlines, are expected to infuse capital to enable the Jet-Vistara combine to function effectively.

The deal in the works, if successful, will give the Tata Group's aviation plans a much-needed boost as it will secure Jet's landing rights, routes and related infrastructure amenities.
15/11/18 Business Today

What Vistara and Jet Airways merger means for Indian aviation

The Tatas have begun due diligence of Jet Airways’ books in a bid to possibly purchase a majority stake in the airline. While contours of any such deal are not yet known with any certainty, it is being speculated that Vistara, the Tata-Singapore Airlines JV in which the Tatas own 51 percent stake, will likely be merged with Jet Airways. This may or may not happen and there are strong reasons for either scenario.

First, the positives of such a merger. Vistara and Jet Airways merger will create the biggest full service airline (FSC) in India, with Air India the only other remaining FSC and not in a very sound financial state at that. The merged entity would be able to command the FSC traffic, which has been growing at about 10 percent (slower than the growth in low-cost carriers (LCCs) at close to 20 percent). The combined entity gets close to 20 percent share of the domestic market, slots at premium airports including Mumbai and Delhi and this merger will provide Tatas the much needed heft in the aviation business.

Additionally, it brings in 14 percent international share of traffic that Jet already has to the table – remember, Vistara has had international ambitions for long but does not have the required fleet to fulfill these on any scale just now. (The amended overseas flying norms dictate that only the 21st aircraft from an airline’s fleet can be deployed on international routes). Jet has been a strong international player and even in the September quarter, when its domestic business lost over 5 percent in revenue, its international business reported over 17 percent growth in topline. Almost 60 percent of Jet’s topline comes from the international business.

So, a merger of Jet with Vistara would be helpful not just for the Tatas’ persistent attempts to become a meaningful player in the Indian aviation market but also offer international wings to Vistara.  A source close to developments, however, said that the merger, if at all it were to happen, will be a decision for later.

“Right now, the energies of the Tatas are concentrated on evaluating Jet’s books and a merger is not on the horizon. This is why Singapore Airlines (the 49 percent partner in Vistara) has not yet made its comments known on the Tata-Jet deal,” this person said.
15/11/18 Sindhu Bhattacharya/CNBC TV18

65 years later, Tatas about to revive JRD's aviation success

New Delhi: JRD Tata's ambitious dream to start the first Indian airline, which he turned into reality with utter passion, died a sarkari death when he was removed from the chairmanship of the airline in 1977, 25 years after it was nationalised by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1953. Today, the Tata group is on the verge to revive that dream. The group is in talks with Naresh Goyal-promoted Jet Airways to merge the airline into Vistara and buy out the promoters and shareholders. Vistara is operated by Tata SIA Airlines, a joint venture between Tatas and Singapore Airlines.

Acquisition of Jet will provide the Tatas the rights and assets that will help it expand Vistara into a far bigger airline and resuscitate JRD Tata's dream of a world-class Indian airline.
Jet has ordered 225 Boeing Max planes and 10 Boeing 787 dreamliners. They will add to Vistara's orders, leases and options of 50 A320s and A321s and 10 787 Dreamliners. Jet has daily 600 daily flights to 66 destinations while Vistara has just 112 flights to 22 destinations. Jet flew 30 million pasengers in FY18 while Vistara flew only 4.4 million. Jet has 20 codeshare partners while Vistara has only 3.
If the acquisition happens, the Tata group will help revive and shape up JRD Tata's ambitious aviation dream.
Flying was a passion with JRD Tata. He was the first person to qualify within India to fly, according to the company website. "He got his licence, which bore on it Number 1, on 10 February 1929. As an aviator and pioneer flier, he was the one who brought commercial aviation to India. JRD went on to establish Air-India International in 1948 and became the president of Inter-national Air Transport Association (IATA) within 10 years of its establishment. He remained at the helm of Air India till1978, making it one of the most efficient airlines in the world," the website says.
15/11/18 Economic Times

How Jet Airways Fits Tatas All-in Aviation Strategy Despite Its Liabilities Exceeding Assets

New Delhi/Mumbai: Tata Sons Ltd is in pursuit of a controlling stake of debt-laden Jet Airways Ltd, a purchase which could transform India’s largest conglomerate from airline fringe player into the country's dominant, full-service international carrier.

Tata is weighing upon the economic viability of a deal which would make it Jet's decision-maker, necessitating the departure of the airline's founder, people aware of the talks have told Reuters. Tata declined to comment on the matter.


"There are compelling reasons but any deal with Jet is opportunistic," one of the people said. "Tata needs to see if it fits into its overall aviation strategy."


Buying Jet, with its fleet of 124 aircraft, would return Tata to the forefront of Indian aviation in terms of size, almost 70 years after its first airline was nationalised, and six years after it re-entered the market with two joint ventures.

However, Tata will also take on an airline which reported its third consecutive quarterly loss on Monday and owes money to vendors and employees alike. With liabilities exceeding assets, Jet's accountants prepared its financial results on a "going concern basis" assuming the airline receives a capital injection.

"If Tata is into aviation then they are in it completely or it does not make sense," said an industry executive, who declined to be identified as the deal was not yet final. "Combining Jet with its own airline will give Tata the scale and size it typically operates at in its other businesses."

Tata's businesses are as varied as IT services and car-making. In aviation, it runs the Vistara full-service carrier together with Singapore Airlines Ltd, which applied to begin international flights earlier this year.
Tata would likely seek to combine Vistara with Jet, three of the people said, thereby achieving international expansion in a fraction of the time it would take organically.
"If you have to make sure that Vistara is given a leg up, this acquisition is perfectly in line," the industry executive said. "It will move the airline from one extreme to another."
Singapore Airlines' Chief Executive Goh Choon Phong on Wednesday told reporters he would not comment on "speculation".
14/11/18 Reuters

With Jet stuck between hope and despair, Naresh Goyal is running out of time

New Delhi: Naresh Goyal, Chairman of Jet Airways, India’s second-biggest airline by market share, began his career in aviation as a humble cashier in his maternal uncle Seth Charan Das Ram Lal’s travel agency, East-West Agencies, in 1967. He rose in his field to launch an airline of his own 25 years ago. Today, Jet AirwaysNSE 24.99 % — saddled with debt, facing a challenging market, grappling with low fares and high fuel prices — is struggling to stay afloat. India’s biggest full-service carrier, Jet has been unprofitable in nine of the past 11 years.

In August, Jet seemed to be on the brink of a crisis when its senior management took pay cuts of as much as 25% and it also asked pilots and technicians to take similar cuts. Facing one of the worst financial crisis of its existence, Jet has delayed salaries, grounded planes, rationalised its network by cutting flights and laid off staff. In October, credit rating agency ICRA downgraded Jet Airways’ long-term borrowing programme. Jet is also facing investigations by the ministry of corporate affairs over complaints of irregular transactions.

After two consecutive years of profits in fiscal 2016 and 2017, Jet incurred losses of about Rs 76 crore during FY2018. Jet Airways has reported its third straight quarterly loss this year. It posted a net loss of Rs 1,292 crore for July-September quarter. It made a net profit of Rs 46 crore a year earlier in the corresponding period. The cost of servicing its Rs 8,100 crore debt is high.
14/11/18 Economic Times

With eye on Jet Airways, could Tata be biting more than it can chew?

The Tata group is close to buying a controlling stake in Jet Airways, say news reports. If a deal fructifies, it will be a lifeline of sorts for Jet Airways promoter Naresh Goyal. Employees of the beleaguered airline can now hope for a regular salary cheque by the end of the month. However, as far as the shareholders are concerned, the company has merely survived another crisis.

The price conscious Indian airline space has been a graveyard for many promoters. Low-cost airlines compete in the same space as full-service airlines, which has resulted in severe damage to the latter. Kingfisher Airlines, Air India, Jet Airways and Tata’s partly owned Vistara have all been badly hit by the price competition.

The competition is so high that any increase in oil prices cannot be passed on to consumers; airlines end up absorbing the hike and increasing their losses. In the present scenario, even highly cost-efficient airlines such as Indigo and SpiceJet are facing losses.
That’s the lens to view Tata’s acquisition of Jet Airways. No doubt that the Tata group will increase its market share in the airline space. The group presently owns 51 percent in Vistara and 49 percent in low-cost carrier AirAsia India. If the deal goes through and Jet Airways comes under the Tata banner, the group would then have a combined market share of around 23.6 percent.

What is interesting in the acquisition is that there will be intense competition within the Tata group itself with three different airlines vying for attention and capital. A certain amount of cannibalisation cannot be ruled out. One will have to wait and see which airline will be sacrificing its share for Jet Airways or if it will be the other way around.

To add to the complexity, AirAsia is a low-cost airline with a DNA of aggressive pricing. AirAsia recently announced a new promotional offer of Rs 399 for domestic flights and Rs 1,999 for international ones. Such pricing will cannibalize Jet Airway’s market share along with others.
14/11/18 Shishir Asthana/moneycontrol

Jet Airways stares at financial defaults within 10 days

Mumbai: The Tatas are closing in on to acquiring Jet, with deal-talks moving apace in recent weeks as Jet stares at possible financial defaults in the next ten days. Buyout investor TPG remains in the fray for Jet though discussions with Tatas are reliably learnt to have progressed significantly.

The Jet deal would give the House of Tata a combined market share of 24% in the country.

Jet, with a fleet of 124 aircraft, has a domestic market share of 16% and around 14% on international routes. Air Asia India and the 22-fleet Vistara have market shares of about 4% each in the country; neither operates internationally. The transaction would also give the Tatas a large network as well as slots at busy airports around the world.
15/11/18 Times of India

Air India bailout plan not alternative to divestment: CMD

The government's proposed move to pare Rs 29,000 crore of Air India's debt is a short-term measure and not an alternative to divestment plans, the national carrier's Chairman and Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola said.

He said discussions are in advanced stage for transferring Rs 29,000 crore out of Air India's near Rs 55,000 crore total debt to a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

"Temporarily, the divestment is kept on hold. As the scenario improves, the divestment process will restart," Kharola told PTI on the sidelines of IIM-Calcutta's 58th annual foundation day.

The non-core assets will also be transferred along with the debt to the SPV, likely to be known as Air India Assets Holding (AIAHL), he said.

"Initially, land and building will be moved and then the subsidiaries will follow," Kharola said.
14/11/18 PTI/moneycontrol.com

Former IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh checks into OYO as India CEO

New Delhi: He has built the country’s most efficient, affordable and profitable airline and now he will build the world’s top budget hospitality firm. Aditya Ghosh, former president of Indigo Airlines, has joined five-and-half-year old hospitality start-up OYO Hotels as its chief executive officer (CEO) in charge of India and South Asia.
Ghosh, 43, quit Indigo in April 2018 after a decade-long stint during which the airline went on to become the largest and most profitable player in the domestic aviation industry. Reporting to the 25-year old Ritesh Agarwal, who founded OYO in 2013, Ghosh will oversee and grow OYO’s business in South Asia, which will include, India, Nepal, and the other upcoming markets in the region. “He will focus on continuing to drive growth while delivering high-quality customer experience and sustained yields for asset owners,” SoftBank-funded OYO said in a statement. Agarwal, who has been the CEO all along, will now become the Group CEO at OYO Hotels. Ghosh joins OYO from December 2018.
“With Aditya taking on this mantle for one of our home markets, India and the broader South Asia region, we are confident that he will be able to help OYO Hotels set new benchmarks in the hospitality industry, and nurture a high performing workforce. His business acumen, his problem-solving capabilities, and his customer-centric approach to innovation that helped him build an influential brand that is loved by all makes him an excellent choice for OYO Hotels,” Agarwal said. OYO raised $1 billion in September 2018 which valued the start-up at $5 billion, making it the most valuable hospitality firm in the country.
15/11/18 Ajay Modi/Business Standard

5 more AI aircraft to increase flights in eastern India

Kolkata: National carrier Air India will add five aircraft to its fleet by next March, paving the way for introduction of more flights to the east, AI chairman and MD Pradeep Singh Kharola said on Wednesday. The planes will be taken on dry lease.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Alumnus Award Ceremony and Foundation Day Lecture at IIM Calcutta, Kharola said: “We have domestic and international plans and augmenting the fleet is key to realizing them. We will be adding five more Airbus A320 aircraft by next March. They will primarily be used in the domestic sector and eastern India figures in the plan.”

On the possibility of introducing long-haul international flights from Kolkata and possible direct connectivity with Europe, something that chief minister Mamata Banerjee had been requesting AI for sometime, the executive said it was under consideration. “Long-haul flights depend on availability of aircraft and viability of the route. We have recently started a flight to Bangkok. The flight to Europe from Kolkata is still under consideration,” he said.

AI had withdrawn the direct flight to London from Kolkata over a decade ago. Though loads were adequate, aviation industry sources said lack of business class passengers — who offer higher yields than economy-class travellers — led to the flight’s withdrawal. Lufthansa, too, withdrew its Frankfurt flight, ostensibly for the same reason.
15/11/18 Times of India

No threat of overcapacity if overhead cost remains in control: SpiceJet

New Delhi: SpiceJet on Wednesday sounded a note of optimism saying that Indian airlines will soon start making money due to fall in crude prices and a stronger rupee. The airline, which registered a loss of Rs 3.89 billion in the July-September period against a profit of Rs 1.05 billion last year, said that the aviation market won't have an overcapacity problem as long as overhead cost remains in control.

“I don’t know why we keep saying there is overcapacity. If we go back to last two or three years, there was a capacity addition of around 16-17 per cent and demand increased by more than 20 per cent, the airlines made money - which means the capacity got absorbed. Overcapacity is an outcome of the ticket price and input cost. As long as costs are in control, capacity will get absorbed. That’s not an issue”, said Kiran Koteshwar, Chief Financial Officer, when asked if there was a need to rationalise the capacity.
The airline will induct 26 aircraft by the end of this financial year which includes 18 Boeing 737 Max and eight 90-seater Q400.
15/11/18 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard

Chennai: A dream flight for 48 underprivileged children

Chennai: On the occasion of Children’s Day, Indigo airlines, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and the Airports Authority of India took 48 underprivileged children on an Indigo flight on Wednesday morning.

 A “dream flying” ATR aircraft was specially arranged to fly students on board on the occasion of Children’s Day.

Forty-eight government school students from Meenambakkam, Polichalur and Crown bazaar were taken to fly on the aircraft by a special flight “Dream flying” part of IndiGoReach initiative.

The students were dressed in IndiGo blue coloured T-shirts and there was a cake cutting ceremony, as a  special surprise for kids at the Chennai airport. Special gifts such as books and notes were also given to students.

 Actor Sathish, senior vice president of Indigo Airlines Ashim Mishra, Airports Authority of India Director G.Chandra Mouli and GM of Indian Oil Corporation accompanied the children on the dream flight.

The aircraft boarded at around 9 am on Wednesday and flew for more than an hour. It travelled to Chidambaram, Puducherry and Tiruchy and landed at Chennai international airport at around 10. 30 am.
15/11/18 Deccan Chronicle

Trujet offers a free-flying facility to underprivileged children

Hyderabad headquartered regional air carrier Trujet has announced offering opportunity to forty underprivileged children to fly for free from Chennai to Salem on the occasion of Children’s Day under its ‘Wings of Hope’ program.
The students belonged SRVV School of Vellapa Sembana Gounder Memorial Trust.
In a statement, Trujet said it is committed to carrying 300 underprivileged children throughout the year so that they may aspire to build a better life for themselves.
It is a year-long program where the regional air carrier will work with the non- governmental organisations who are championing this cause.

Earlier in July this year, Trujet flew forty underprivileged children of Valmiki Foundation from Hyderabad to Bellary and return.
14/11/18 Economic Times

Air India eyes Rs 800 crore from sale of over 70 properties

Mumbai: Loss-making national carrier Air India plans to mop up Rs 700-800 crore by selling over 70 residential and commercial properties spread across the country, a senior airline official said Thursday.
This fresh bid is a part of the airline's real estate assets monetisation plan approved by the then UPA government in 2012. As per the plan, Air India had to garner funds to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore between April 2014 and March 2021, with an annual target of Rs 500 crore from FY13 onwards.
The properties, which are spread over 16 cities pan India, will be e-auctioned through the state-run auctioneer MSTC.
"We are expecting to raise about Rs 700-800 crore by e-auctioning of these over 70 properties, which comprises both residential as well as commercial. Some of these properties are those which we put up on the block earlier but could not get a buyer," the official said.
15/11/18 PTI/Economic Times

Indian Carriers Deliver Their Worst Quarterly Performance In At Least Three Years

India’s top three airlines reported their worst quarterly performance in at least three years due to higher fuel prices, weaker rupee and competitive fares.
InterGlobe Aviation Ltd.-operated IndiGo, Jet Airways (India) Ltd. and SpiceJet Ltd. flew 70 percent of air traffic in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, but at a loss. The combined net loss before tax reported by these three companies was more than Rs 2,600 crore—the highest in at least the last three years, or since IndiGo’s debut on the bourses—according to BloombergQuint’s calculations.
Their fuel cost per available seat kilometer also rose on the back of an increase in jet fuel prices, which accounts for more than a third of an airline’s operating costs. The rising global crude prices only made the aviation turbine fuel in India, which is the most expensive in Asia due to higher taxes, costlier. That, coupled with a double whammy of a weakening rupee and the airlines’ ability to raise ticket prices in a highly competitive industry, led to the loss. Though the rise in fuel cost of the country’s largest airline was in line with an increase in jet fuel prices, the cost of its listed peers was higher than usual. Increasing fuel costs negated the gains from a surge in demand for air travel.

Yields, a measure of the average earnings per passenger per kilometer, fell the most for IndiGo due to higher capacity deployment. The decline in yields was the least for SpiceJet because of the regional routes.

For an airline, most of its expenses are dollar denominated, which means that with depreciating Indian rupee, airliners need to shell out more. In the September quarter, the rupee, on an average, depreciated by 9 percent over last year. This led to at least a fivefold jump in foreign exchange losses.
15/11/18 Soumeet Sarkar/Bloomberg/Quint

KUL welcomes India's largest low cost carrier IndiGo inagural flight

Sepang:  India's largest low-cost carrier IndiGo became the 59th airlines operating at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), with the inaugural flight arriving at klia2 earlier this morning.

KUL is IndiGo’s 12th international destination after flying from Delhi, India, carrying 180 passengers on its Airbus A320 aircraft.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) acting chief executive officer Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin said KUL would continue enhancing connectivity and positioning Malaysia as a preferred global hub.

“India is one of our target destination markets in growing the connectivity at KUL. In its traffic forecast for 2017-2040, Airports Council International projects that India will be the second fastest growing country in the world for passenger traffic at 7.5 per cent,” he said after welcoming IndiGo's inaugural flight at klia2, here, today.
15/11/18 Ayisy Yusof/New Straits Times

Aviation security alert at Kolkata airport after hijack mail

Kolkata: Security was beefed up at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here on Tuesday after the airport director received a hijack mail from an unknown email address.

The director received the message at 10:54 am yesterday.

Security was beefed up at the airport and ATC was alerted to halt flight operations for a moment.
The Director received hijack mail from “purnadhara900@gmail.com” mail address after which necessary actions were taken.

Later, the aviation security found nothing specific, an airport official said.
14/11/18 ANI/India.com

Airports authority scraps T M Krishna concert after trolls call him anti-India

New Delhi: A campaign by right-wing trolls has allegedly forced the organisers to call off a concert by T M Krishna in the national capital, scheduled to be held this Saturday. An unfazed Krishna, however, said: “Give me a stage anywhere in Delhi on November 17, I will come and sing. We just can’t let ourselves be cowed down by this kind of threats.”

Krishna’s concert was to be part of a two-day “Dance and Music in the Park” festival at Nehru Park, Chanakyapuri, organised jointly by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the cultural body, SPIC-MACAY. On November 5, AAI announced the concert on its Twitter handle and, over the following week, shared details about the performers.

On November 10, it tweeted about Krishna’s proposed performance. Advertisements also appeared in some newspapers in the city. However, late Tuesday night, AAI informed SPIC-MACAY over email that the concert was called off. “Because of some exigencies of work, we are not in a position to go ahead with the dance & music concert jointly organised with SPIC MACAY on 17th and 18th November, 2018 at Nehru Park, New Delhi. Hence, we request you to kindly postpone to a new date and inform all concerned. The new date will be discussed with SPIC-MACAY soon,” the email said.

AAI Chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra denied that the concert was postponed because of the criticism the government body received for inviting Krishna. “We have some issues. Some exigency has come up and we are not free that day. Whatever note we have given in the media, that is all, there is nothing more I want to say on this,” Mohapatra told The Indian Express.

Krishna had re-tweeted AAI’s invitation on Monday, which activated trolls who targeted the government body for sponsoring the concert. The tweets accused AAI of using public funds to sponsor Krishna, and said he sings about “Jesus and Allah”, is “anti-India”, and is a “converted bigot” and an “Urban Naxal” among other things.

Krishna’s views on constitutional values like secularism and caste prejudice in music have made him a target of Hindutva supporters. In August, a Maryland temple had cancelled his concert, allegedly after Hindutva activists accused him of singing Christian hymns. This is the only previous occasion when people opposed to his political views managed to deny him a stage. However, a group of music lovers in Georgetown University in Washington organised his concert the same day (September 9) in the campus.
15/11/18 Amrith Lal, Pranav Mukul/Indian Express
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AAI issues notices to SpiceJet, Air India arm for non-payment of UDAN levy

State-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) has issued notices to SpiceJet and Air India's subsidiary Alliance Air for non-payment of regional connectivity levy, sources aware of the matter told CNBC-TV18.

"We have been in regular touch with the two airlines. Alliance Air has paid a part of the payment but some amount is still pending. SpiceJet has also said that they(it) will come up with a plan to repay the dues," one of the sources said.

According to the documents reviewed by CNBC-TV18, payment of the regional connectivity levy amounting to Rs 23.6 crore was pending from Alliance Air while Rs 8.8 crore was pending from SpiceJet as of November 2.

Airports Authority of India is also mulling to put the two airlines on cash and carry mode to recover the charges, the sources added.

When contacted, SpiceJet said that all its payments to AAI are being made as per schedule. "We remain firmly committed to all our obligations," the airline said.
15/11/18 Anu Sharma/CNBC TV18

Air India offers cheap flight tickets at Rs 1000 for late-night travel

New Delhi: Budget travel just got a new definition with Air India's latest announcement. Come November 30, and travellers will be able to take some really cheap late night flights to famous destinations like Delhi, Goa and Bengaluru. The fares start at Rs 1000.

Also known as red-eye flights because of their timings, these flights depart late in the night and arrive at their destination before dawn.

The ticket prices for flights between Delhi and Goa start at Rs 3000. The flight to Goa will leave from Delhi at 10 pm. and arrive the beach town at 12:35 am. The flight from Goa will depart at 1:15 am. and reach Delhi at 3:40 am.

Now coming to the Bengaluru-Ahmedabad route. The ticket prices start from Rs 1000. The Bengaluru flight will depart at 12:30 am and reach Ahmedabad at 2:35 am while the return flight will take off from Ahmedabad at 3:05 am and reach at 5:25 am.

The Delhi-Coimbatore flight has fares starting from Rs 2500. It will take off from Delhi at 9:15 pm and reach Coimbatore at 12:30 am. The return flight from Coimbatore will depart at 1 am and reach Delhi at 4 am.
14/11/18 India Today

Air India plans for more flights from east

Air India is planning to introduce more flights from eastern India next year and is considering whether to start a direct flight from Calcutta to Europe, Pradeep Singh Kharola, chairman and managing director of the government-owned airline, said on Wednesday.

“We have nationwide and global plans and in the scheme of things, it all depends upon the augmentation of the fleet. Some aircraft will be introduced, for which orders were placed a couple of years back. We have five to join us by March,” Kharola said on the sidelines of a programme at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.

Kharola delivered the foundation day lecture at the B-school, which also hosted its distinguished alumnus award ceremony during the day.

The debt-ridden airline has taken the new planes — all Airbus A-320 Neo — on lease.

Is there any plan to start a direct flight from Calcutta to Europe? The Air India boss said the matter was under consideration.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had on several occasions requested Air India and private airlines to start a direct flight between Calcutta and Europe.
15/11/12 Telegraph

SC reserves order on Rafale, no sovereign guarantee by French government backing the deal

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on four petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into 36 Rafale fighter jet deal with French firm Dassault Aviation even as the government admitted that there was no sovereign guarantee by the French government backing the deal.

On pricing, the court asked Attorney General K.K. Venugopal not to respond to the contentions raised by the petitioners until the court decides to look into it.

"The discussion on pricing will come only if we decide... so long that is not there," the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph told the AG. The AG also opposed the judicial review of the Rafale deal.

He said that if the cost of weaponery and avionics comes in public domain, it will be used by the adverseries to make out the weaponery fitted in Rafale.
A three-hour-long hearing saw Attorney General K.K. Venugopal telling the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph that "though there is no sovereign guarantee from France (government), there is a letter of comfort."
The hearing saw counsel Prashant Bhushan and former Union Minister Arun Shourie questioning the circumventing of the procedure for aborting the process for procuring 126 aircraft (18 in a flyaway condition and 108 to be be manufactured by HAL) in favour of procuring 36 jets in a ready-to-fly condition and unloading HAL as an offset partner.
The petitions included one by Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, and others by advocate M.L. Sharma, Vineet Dhanda and AAP MP Sanjay Singh. All of them have broadly assailed the pricing and the induction of an offset partner replacing HAL.
Defending the deal on the grounds of "urgent requirement" of national security, the Attorney General justified the scrapping of the earlier deal for 126 aircraft as it was taking a long time in reaching a conclusion.
This was contested by Bhushan who had earlier referred to March 25, 2015 statement of Dassault Chief Eric Trappier saying that the deal with HAL was 95% complete and that they were in final stages of an agreement. Bhushan said the Dassault CEO had said this in the presence of the IAF Chief and HAL Chairman.
14/11/18 IANS/Outlook

Rafale probe will throw up names of Modi, Ambani: Rahul Gandhi

Kabirdham/Korba: A probe into the procurement of Rafale fighter jets from France would throw up names of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday.

Addressing a campaign rally here for the second phase of Assembly polls, Gandhi also claimed the NDA government bought the planes at Rs 1,600 crore a piece as against the Rs 526 crore for each aircraft fixed by the Congress-led UPA government.

Gandhi's comments came on a day the Supreme Court said a discussion on the pricing of the Rafale jets can only take place if the facts of the deal are allowed to come into the public domain.

The apex court, which began its hearing on pleas seeking a court-monitored probe into the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, also said it would like to hear from an Air Force officer and not an official of the Defence Ministry.

"The CBI director (Alok Verma) initiated a probe in the Rafale deal. The prime minister removed him at 12 in the night. I am telling you, the day a probe will begin in Rafale deal, two names will surface: Anil Ambani and Narendra Modi," Gandhi told the gathering.
On former French president Francois Hollande's comments in French media that the Indian government had proposed Reliance Defence as partner for Dassault Aviation in the deal and that France did not have a choice, Gandhi said Modi named Ambani's company as Dassault's partner in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal.
The Modi government chose Ambani's "inexperienced" company over the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which has a long experience in aerospace and defence sector, Gandhi said.

There was no reaction from the government or the BJP on the fresh charges, though they have previously rejected all allegations over the Rafale deal.
14/11/19 PTI/Times of India

Third terminal at SVPI to cost Rs 1,300 crore

Ahmedabad: A third terminal is set to come up at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport, to better manage its rapidly growing number of fliers.

Manoj Gangal, the director of SVPI airport, said, “The new terminal was proposed because of the growing traffic at SVPI and this was cleared recently. AAI has earmarked a little over Rs 1,300 crore for the new terminal, which will be spread over 80,000 square metres.”

Terminal-3 will be built next to the existing domestic terminal (Terminal-1), toward the right while facing the entrance to the terminal. Preparations for construction of the new terminal are in their final stages.

“With the plan for the new terminal being cleared a couple of months ago, we expect that the foundation stone will be laid in early 2019,” Gangal said.

AAI has decided that the new terminal will serve domestic passengers. “The number of domestic passengers travelling to and from SVPI is doubling every three years. Thus there is a space crunch despite the expansion of the arrivals area and the security hold part of the departures area,” said Gangal.
15/11/18 Niyati Parikh/Times of India

Maharashtra govt cancels bonanza for 5-star hotels near airport

Mumbai: Owners of five-star hotels around the international airport, who had hoped to use land in their possession for expansion following some changes in development control regulations (DCR), received a setback with the state government cancelling it.

TOI had reported (5-stars near airport get devpt bonanza, Oct 13) that five-star hotels around the international airport in Sahar, Andheri (E), can utilise development potential on most of the reserved public recreational grounds in their possession in the form of additions floor space index-transfer of development rights (FSI-TDR).

The hotels could carry out constructions on only 50% of their plots, and had to reserve the remaining half as recreational grounds (RG) to be open to the public for certain hours of the day. Earlier, the government changed rules which said that hotels have to give BMC only 20% of the half reserved for RG, and can keep the remaining reserved plot with them permanently as open space.
Town planners pointed out that the DCR was silent on whether the landowners were entitled to additional FSI or TDR for keeping the land as open space in their custody. This, combined with another clause, that permitted calculation of the plot's development potential on the basis of gross plot area under the ownership of the land-owner, would have been a bonanza.
In a corrigendum, the government said, "No FSI/TDR/compensation in any from shall be allowed for the area kept permanently open as park and even for area to be handed over to BMC."
15/11/18 Vijay V Singh/Times of India

After Varanasi inland port, UP to speed up work on Noida's Jewar Airport

Lucknow: Within days of PM Narendra Modi unveiling inland waterway port in Varanasi as a future cargo hub for Eastern India, UP CM Yogi Adityanath has showcased the proposed Jewar International Airport in Noida as an aviation hub for Northern India.
Adityanath reviewed the progress of Jewar Airport on Tuesday. He underlined the airport's utility not only for Western UP pockets, but also for neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Haryana. He said the airport would become a milestone in the path of economic development of UP and connect major tourist and trade hubs of Mathura and Noida.
The airport is estimated to cost nearly Rs 160 billion. Owing to regulatory and clearances hurdles, the project had been hanging fire over the last almost 18 years after being conceived in 2000.
It will be developed under the public private partnership (PPP) model.
According to the techno-economic feasibility report, the airport would comprise two runways and handle 70 million passengers and 3 million tonnes cargo annually after being fully developed. Although the project needs about 5,000 hectares, the airport alone would require more than 1,300 hectares in first phase, to become operational by 2022-23.
14/11/18 Virendra Singh Rawat/Business Standard

CISF men to be deployed at J&K airports

New Delhi: The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) will soon be deployed at the ultra sensitive Srinagar, Jammu and Leh airports. Given the rising threat perception, the Home ministry earlier this week cleared the long-pending proposal for these airports which currently handle over 50 lakh passengers annually. They are under the security cover of J&K state police and the CRPF.

“The home ministry has cleared the move. Now the aviation ministry has to give its nod,” said a top security official. A senior aviation ministry official on Wednesday said that the ministry, Airports Authority of India and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) have also recommended CISF deployment at the three J&K airports.
The aviation and security agencies are also examining if passengers flying out of these airport be allowed to carry hand bags with them as they do from other airports in India. At the moment, hand bags are not allowed for departing flyers from J&K. And passengers need to identify their check-in baggage also before boarding aircraft.
15/11/18 Times of India

Airport body told to size up Lodha's World Tower building

The legal adviser of Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA) has asked Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) to measure a building in the World Towers project by Shreeniwas Cotton Mills Ltd (Lodha Developers) at Lower Parel.

Tuesday's instruction follows a complaint filed with MahaRERA against the promoters for alleged irregularities in approvals related to the project. The developer says they would cooperate with MIAL to have the height verified before the next hearing.

While the exact content of the complaint isn't known, MahaRERA has held two hearings, on October 31 and November 5, on the complaint filed by Manvi Computech Pvt Ltd. It was heard by MahaRERA Member Vijay Satbir Singh.
Part of the letter, a copy of which has been accessed by DNA, says: "During the hearing, Member 1 has directed you (MIAL) to carry out measurement of the height of the said building [World One] before the next date of hearing. You are directed to comply with the same."

A spokersperson for Lodha Developers said, "The case has been filed by an investor who is unable/unwilling to pay the balance amount and hence has levelled all kinds of baseless allegations. The building has been constructed within permissible height. In 2017, the Delhi High Court passed an order in our favour in a related matter and we are awaiting its implementation. We have coordinated with MIAL to have the height verified before the next hearing, as directed by MahaRERA. The very fact that a simple order, dated just yesterday, asking for the height to be confirmed is leaked to media shows the mala fide intent of the complainant."
15/11/18 Varun Singh/DNA

WOW air to offer flights to India from BWI Marshall Airport, starting at $199

WOW air is launching service to Delhi, India, via Iceland from BWI Marshall Airport next month, the Icelandic low-cost airline announced Wednesday.

The airline is offering one-way tickets as low as $199.99 for flights between Jan. 5 and April 10.

In addition to Baltimore, the initial pricing will be available for passengers flying from Newark Liberty International, Boston Logan International, Chicago O’Hare International, Detroit Metropolitan and Los Angeles International airports.

WOW Air, which is being acquired by Icelandair, is, meanwhile, reportedly stopping service to St. Louis, Cincinnati and Cleveland next year.
14/11/18 Colin Campbell/Baltimore Sun

DRI seizes foreign currency worth Rs 1 crore, 3 held

Hyderabad: Three passengers were arrested from the international airport in Shamshabad here Wednesday by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence personnel for allegedly attempting to smuggle USD 1,38,000 (approximately Rs one crore).

Based on specific intelligence, the DRI officials intercepted the passengers bound for Hong Kong by a Thai Airways flight, scheduled to depart at 1.30 a.m at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.

On examination of their checked-in baggage, foreign currency of USD 1,38,000 was found, a release from the DRI’s (Hyderabad Zonal Unit) said here.

The passengers during interrogation said the currency was obtained from unauthorised dealers to be smuggled out of the country, it said.

The release said the seized foreign currency was obtained from unauthorised dealers/persons in violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 and regulations made thereunder and was attempted to be exported illegally, in contravention of the prohibition imposed under Customs Act 1962.
14/11/18 PTI/India.com

Mumbai duo held at city airport with 3 kg gold bars

Aurangabad: The Pune unit of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) arrested two passengers of the Delhi-Aurangabad Air India flight and seized 3kg gold from them at the airport here on Tuesday night.
An officer privy to the operation said that a total of 12 pieces of foreign marked gold bars were seized from the duo. “The Abu Dhabi-Delhi Air India flight gets converted into a domestic flight upon reaching the national capital. The suspects had brought the gold on the international flight.”

The officer said that one of the suspects went to the economy class while the other to the business class in the Delhi-Aurangabad domestic flight.

The passengers were identified as Fayyum Shaikh and Jawed Ismail Shaikh, both in their 30s and residents of Mumbai.

When contacted, DRI authorities said that officers from their Pune regional unit had coordinated with the customs department in Aurangabad after receiving specific information regarding possible smuggling of gold.
15/11/18 Times of India

Don’t File Charge Sheet In YSR Reddy Airport Attack Case: Hyderabad HC

The Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday directed the State police not to file the charge-sheet before the lower court concerned until further orders YS Jagan Mohan Reddy attack case.

The court also directed the Centre and the State government to place full details on the issue before it. Making it clear that the petitions filed before it would not be any obstacle to the ongoing SIT probe into the incident, the bench directed the investigating officials to submit their report in a sealed cover on the progress made in the investigation by next date of  hearing.

The bench comprising Chief Justice TBN Radhakrishnan and Justice SV Bhatt was passing this order on the petition filed by Jagan seeking probe into the attack on him by any appropriate independent agency not under the control of the AP government. The bench was also dealing with petition filed by YSR Congress, represented by party’s topleaders seeking CBI probe into security lapses at the Visakhapatnam airport where the attack took place. The bench felt the need for a detailed hearing of the petitions.
14/11/18 India Legal

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Drunk woman flyer abuses Air India crew, held

Mumbai: After she was refused another drink, an inebriated Irish business class passenger onboard an Air India Mumbai-to-London flight, manhandled a flight attendant. She also verbally abused the flight attendants in an incessant rant where she spoke of the "human rights" work she did for free as an international criminal lawyer for the Palestinians, the Rohingyas, and all the indigenous people of the world. The passenger was arrested after the flight landed in Heathrow and is currently in custody.
In a four-minute clip recorded by a cabin crew member, the passenger can be heard uttering expletives more than 40 times. The incident took place on November 10 on board Air India flight AI-131.

"The woman was seated on 1J. Two quarter bottles of red wine later, she went to the lavatory in the economy class. She emerged in a cloud of smoke. We don't know what she smoked but the smoke alarm wasn't set off," said a source.

She returned to her seat and finished two more quarter bottles of wine and turned increasingly unruly. "When she demanded yet another bottle, the crew declined. She then threatened to push over the dessert trolley. She saw an open bottle of wine on it and took it without permission," the source added.

By now, the commander of the flight was informed about the passenger and he instructed the crew not to serve her more alcohol. "He also instructed that only female flight attendants would come in contact with the unruly woman passenger," said a source.
The video clip captures her outburst of profanity, as she first confronts an Air India cabin crew member in the business class galley, then moves on to a couple of female cabin crew working at the station and finally directs her rage at the other business class passengers for being mute witnesses. "The captain issued her a warning letter, which she read out loud to other passengers. She then came to the galley and spat on the face of a crew member, before twisting her arm and injuring her," said the source.
An Air India spokesperson did not comment on the matter and refused to reveal the passenger's identity.
14/11/18 Manju V/Times of India

Denied More Wine, Air India Passenger Goes On Racist Rant, Spits At Crew

An Irish woman let loose an expletive-riddled drunken rant on an Air India flight after the crew refused to serve her more wine. The passenger was travelling business class on a flight from Mumbai to London on Saturday.
In a video that is circulating on social media, the woman is seen shouting and using the most abusive language at the crew.

"I am a f***ing international lawyer," the woman yells at a crew member who stays calm. She also spits at the crew and directs her rage at a woman flight attendant.

The mobile phone video was apparently taken by a crew member. The woman was reportedly arrested when the Air India flight landed in Heathrow.

She was described by the crew as very drunk when she insisted on a bottle of wine. The crew reportedly complained to the pilot and refused to serve her any more drinks.

Reports suggest she even swiped a bottle of wine from the food trolley.

"You are the captain, aren't you? You treat business class passengers like this? I work for all you f**king people... The f***ing Rohingyas, the f***ing people of all Asia, for you, an international criminal lawyer. Don't get any money for it by the way. But you won't give me a glass of wine, is that correct? "she screams and claps. "If I say boycott Air India, done!"

"Calm down, no touching," a crew member is heard saying.
14/11/18 ANI/NDTV

Treat drunk pilots as criminals: Aviation experts

Chennai: Pilots on duty who consume alcohol before or during flights should be treated as criminals, aviation experts said, adding that, pilots should undergo breath analyser tests before and after a flight and any violation should be treated as a criminal offence.

They were also of the opinion that even aircraft maintenance personnel on ground should undergo the breath analyser (BA) test. The BA test must be strictly enforced as both pilots and ground crew staff were responsible for thousands of passengers' lives.

An official of the Indian commerical pilots' association (ICPA) told IANS that post flight BA tests were done only for international flights to India whereas no pre-flight alcohol tests were done.

"If an Air India pilot flies an international flight after taking alcohol then he is risking the lives of several hundreds of passengers. But by the time he lands in India then the alcohol level might have gone down and would pass the BA test," he said.
The official said in the case of domestic flight, pre-flight BA test is done.
According to him, drunken flying should be treated as a criminal offence.

"The airline can hire doctors or agencies to oversee the conduct of the BA tests," the ICPA official added.

An Indian Air Force (IAF) official told IANS preferring anonymity: "No sane person will start a fighter jet under the influence of alcohol. It is akin to committing suicide."

When a pilot or a ground service personnel fails the BA tests or misses it for the first time then the penalty is three months of suspension of licence/approval.

13/11/18 IANS/Times of India

Air India fires senior pilot who was caught drunk before flight

New Delhi: Arvind Kathpalia, a senior pilot who was recently caught drunk before a flight, was fired from his post of director of operations at Air India. The Ministry of Civil Aviation relieved Kathpalia of all duties just a day after his pilot's licence was suspended by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for three years.

Kathpalia was found too drunk to fly before he was to fly an Air India flight to London. Kathpalia's Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was recorded at 0.07 per cent during the mandatory pre-flight breathalyser test.

This was the second instance of Kathpalia violating India's aviation laws on drinking before a flight. In 2017, Kathpalia's license was suspended for three months after he skipped a mandatory pre-flight breathalyser test.

The second offence means that Kathpalia cannot go near a cockpit for the next three years.
13/11/18 India Today

Air India "Rewarded" Arvind Kathpalia After Alcohol Test Fail Last Year

New Delhi: The removal of senior pilot Captain Arvind Kathpalia from the Air India board has been widely praised, with many terming it as the ailing national carrier's first step towards getting its act together.
Captain Kathpalia tested positive for blood alcohol on Sunday, after which Air India suspended his flying licence for three years. This was strike two for the senior pilot, whose licence was earlier revoked for three months last February on charges of circumventing the mandatory pre-flight breathalyser test and manipulating medical records.

However, there is more to the story than what meets the eye. NDTV has found that soon after Captain Kathpalia was handed out his three-month suspension last year, he was promoted from his position as an Executive Director to the Director of Flight Operations at Air India for a five-year period. The rationale behind promoting a pilot accused of forging an alcohol test and flying a plane after skipping the mandatory medical screening eluded many at the time. The Indian Pilots Association even filed a writ petition with the Delhi High Court, urging Air India to explain the circumstances under which such negligence had occurred. The Delhi Police also registered an FIR in the case that August.

This time, however, Air India and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are conducting separate probes against Captain Kathpalia. He was removed on a directive from Union Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu.
While the action against the senior pilot is a reaffirming step, it comes a little late in the day. He has a series of misdemeanours to his name, highlighting the nexus that allegedly enables dubious practices in national air carriers as well as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). While short-circuiting mandatory medical check-ups is one such issue, there have also been allegations of sexual harassment against Captain Kathpalia that sources say were covered up by the pilot and his friends at Air India.
14/11/18 Alisha Sachdeva/NDTV

Will they fare well with low-cost model?

Airlines that are full-service carriers (FSCs), facing an uncertain future, are doing exactly that: trying to experiment with the low-fare model by quietly introducing several new options that allow passengers to choose lower fares minus the add-ons, like free food and other amenities.

Jet Airways, which has been offering fare options since 2016, has gone further down the road by introducing newer low-fare categories with the flexibility of choosing seats with flight+meal or flight only. (Jet has posted a net loss of ₹1,261 crore on a consolidated basis for the quarter ended September 30.)

In August this year, Vistara, another full-service carrier, allowed its passengers the benefit of a bundle of features, claiming that it offers “freedom to choose from thoughtfully designed bundles of features and services at different price points for their preferred flight and class of service or select them à la carte.”

In comparison, state-owned Air India, which is also a full-service airline, does not offer passengers the option of paying less to fly if they buy a ticket without free food.

According to industry watchers, this is perhaps one way of dealing with the current aviation scenario in the country. Crisil Rating points out that the current fleet size in the industry is about 600 aircraft. It expects an annual addition of 120 aircraft in fiscals 2019 and 2020 alone. Further, operating cost is increasing due to the depreciation of the rupee, oil prices are increasing, the input costs are high and there are fears that any attempt to allow fares to move northward could see the passenger carriage fall. This is leaving full-service airlines with little choice but to look at new methods to ensure that they remain relevant in the domestic market.
14/11/18 K Giriprakash and Ashwini Phadnis/Business Line
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Jet Airways reports third consecutive quarterly loss of Rs 1,261 crore on higher fuel, steep rupee

Jet Airways on Monday reported its third consecutive quarterly losses for the quarter ending September, with a consolidated net loss of Rs 1,261 crore, roiled by higher fuel cost that soared 59 percent, and a steep rupee fall that led to a sevenfold spike in forex losses. The airline had posted a net profit of Rs 71 crore in the same period last fiscal. The cash-strapped airline, which is reportedly looking for investors to tide over the liquidity crisis, said its fuel bill jumped 58.6 percent to Rs 2,419.76 crore during the quarter. In the year-ago period, it had spent Rs 1,525.66 crore in fuel cost.
14/11/18 Business Today

Tatas in active talks to buy out JetAirways

Tata Sons is in active talks to acquire a controlling stake in Jet Airways, four people aware of the talks told Reuters, in what could potentially be a lifeline for the debt-laden carrier.
Tata is very interested in Jet but it is not at a stage of conducting due diligence or looking through non-public data, said two of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the discussions are private.
Tata told Reuters it would not comment on speculation. Jet did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
One potential deal structure could include Tata taking over Jet’s assets, including the planes, leases, pilots and slots, but not the whole company, one of the people said.
The first step is to see if the economics are viable, if it makes sense from the cost and strategy perspective, and if Tata can make it work with its other aviation businesses, the person said.

Tata already owns and operates two airlines in the country: full-service carrier Vistara, which is in partnership with Singapore Airlines, and low-cost carrier AirAsia India in combination with AirAsia Group.
14/11/18 Reuters/Financial Express

Jet Airways terms deal with Tatas as 'speculative'

Struggling carrier Jet Airways Tuesday termed media reports of Tata group carrying out due diligence to acquire the airline as "speculative".
In a response to the clarification sought by the BSE on the news reports, Jet Airways (India) said, "...the subject news is speculative in nature and that there is no discussion or decision in the board which would require a disclosure..."
Separately, its deputy chief executive and chief financial officer, Amit Aggarwal, in the post-earnings analysts call Tuesday also termed the reports speculative and said that unless something get materialised, the company will not comment.
"We can't comment on speculations. We have very clearly stated time and again that once something materialises, we will talk it through. Otherwise, we are not commenting on any speculation," he said.
13/11/18 PTI/Economic Times

Cash-strapped Jet Airways Says in Talks With Many Parties For Stake Sale, Funding

Mumbai: Cash-strapped Jet Airways Tuesday said it is at various stages of discussions with multiple "interested parties" for capital infusion and partial stake sale in its loyalty programme Jet Privilege.

The Naresh Goyal-run airline is looking for investors to tide over the liquidity crisis, which has resulted in delayed payments to some vendors and salaries to a section of its over 16,000 employees.
"We are working towards various liquidity initiates to bridge the gap. We have engaged the services of experts to help in the turnaround plan and enhance liquidity," deputy chief executive and chief financial officer Amit Agarwal told analysts in a post-earnings conference call on Tuesday.
These measures include sale of aircraft, monetization of its stake in Jet Privilege and fresh equity infusion, the official added.
"We are actively pursuing both the transactions and are currently at various stages of discussions with multiple interested parties for both part stake sale in Jet Privilege and fresh inclusion of equity into the airline," Agarwal said.
13/11/18 PTI/News18

Pilots say they weren’t trained for the risks of a new Boeing 737 Max flight feature

Investigators in Indonesia have zeroed in on the role of a new feature on the Boeing 737 Max 8 as they try to pinpoint what led to the crash of Lion Air flight JT610, which killed 189 people when it went down in the Java Sea on Oct. 29.

On Tuesday (Nov. 13) the Wall Street Journal reported (paywall) that crash investigators, sources at the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), pilots at US carriers, and airline regulators are saying the new feature wasn’t adequately publicized, and that pilots weren’t trained on it ahead of the 737 variant being phased into fleets.
According to the Journal, the automated stall-prevention system, which is on the Max 8 and Max 9 models, is supposed to help pilots avoid accidentally raising the nose too high—but under certain rare conditions, the feature can actually push the nose down so sharply that crews can’t redirect the craft.

In the case of the Lion Air flight, Indonesian regulators first focused on an airspeed indicator and data from a faulty sensor feeding information about the “angle of attack” of the plane’s nose. Now they are also looking at how pilots were trained to deal with the plane’s reactions to such data, with regulators saying the situation faced by the Lion Air crew last month was not in the aircraft’s flight manual, Reuters reported.

Boeing said in a statement today that it is confident of the 737 Max’s safety, and is “taking every measure to fully understand all aspects” of the Lion Air crash in close coordination with investigators and regulators. “Safety remains our top priority and is a core value for everyone at Boeing,” it said.

A week ago, the aviation firm put out a worldwide safety bulletin directing operators to procedures for dealing with faulty angle sensor data. The FAA on the same day ordered fleets to update their training manuals with information on how to adjust for the feature in Max 8 and 9 planes. Pilots in the US say the information in those directives led them to realize (paywall) they had not been informed and trained on the feature.

“It is information that we were not privy to in training or in any other manuals or materials,” Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the American Airlines pilots’ union, told Reuters.
13/11/18 Tripti Lahiri/Quartz

Lion Air crash: Boeing didn’t reveal key info

Mumbai: The single-most important information from the ongoing investigations into last month’s deadly Lion Air crash is that the current lot of pilots who fly the type of aircraft that crashed into Java Sea now know that its flight controls and the ones on the aircraft simulator that they were trained on, work differently.

US aircraft manufacturer Boeing was silent on this, till the Lion Air crash investigations forced it to reveal the unique response that this aircraft had when its systems sensed that the nose was dangerously high.

Boeing sells the single-aisle Boeing 737 aircraft in two versions, the classic Boeing 737 NG and the new generation Boeing 737 MAX. Indonesia Lion Air crash involved a Boeing737MAX.

There are 219 B737 MAX aircraft currently with operators in the world, but only about five Boeing 737MAX simulators. The first Boeing 737 MAX was delivered only in May 2017 and so not much was known about this aircraft, except what was published by Boeing for the pilots and airlines in its Flight Crew Operations Manual (FCOM) and Quick Reference Handbook (QRH).

``What Boeing conveyed to airlines and pilots was that the B737NG and B737 MAX essentially had similar flight-control features,’’ said a senior commander. ``India has no Boeing737MAX simulators. The closest we have is the one in Singapore. Boeing said there was no requirement to train specially on B737 MAX simulator. So pilots in India and elsewhere in the world who are to fly the B737MAX, largely train on B737NG simulators,’’ the commander added.

Capt Sam Thomas, president, Air Lines Pilots’ Association, India said:

``We have perused the FCOM and QRH of airlines that fly some of the 737 Max airplanes and have not found a conclusive action to be taken in case of the said error.’’ The error Capt Thomas refers to involves a sensor which could erroneously indicate that the aircraft nose is dangerously high.

In response, the Boeing 737 MAX flight controls will override the pilot and pull down the nose, even if the aircraft is being flown on manual mode and not on autopilot. But when the nose is brought down in response to a false alert the aircraft could dive and crash. Which is what is supposed to have happened with Lion Air B737MAX.

``We urge Boeing and the FAA to expeditiously incorporate into the FCOM and QRH ,the unambiguous and concise procedure to overcome this error until such time that the flaw is completely rectified,’’ Capt Thomas said.
Capt Mohan Ranganathan, an air safety expert said: ``Currently, nowhere in the Boeing flight crew operations manual or the flight crew training manual or the non-normal check-list are these failures listed. The first document that spoke about this issue was the November 6 Boeing bulletin after the Lion Air crash. The pilots have not done any training for this manoeuvre because the DGCA has permitted them to do training on B737NG simulators which are not programmed for this manoeuvre.’’
Said a senior commander, requesting anonymity: ``Apart from training on B737NG simulator, the only other training material for a B737MAX pilot is an e-module. But that’s hardly sufficient. Pilots who are to fly the B737 MAX should be trained to handle the B737MAX systems respond when it senses that the aircraft nose is dangerously high. The system consistently over rides the pilot to bring the nose down, till the time it's disconnected. Handling this charactetestic it B737 MAX flight control should be part of the simulator training exercise. The first time a pilot faces such a situation shouldn't be when with passengers onboard and all lives at stake."
14/11/18 Manju V/Times of India

US Pilot Unions Question The Boeing 737 MAX Documentation After Lion Air Crash

Two pilots unions have complained that they were ‘kept in the dark’ regarding a potential risk from a new safety feature on the 737 MAX 8. This comes following the devastating Lion Air crash that killed 189 people on October 29th. It seems Boeing failed to include information on this new system in any of its communications, leaving pilots unaware of the potential dangers of a malfunction.

Two pilots’ unions in the US have said that the potential risks of a particular feature on the 737 MAX were not specified to them during training. Boeing have admitted that there was no reference to this safety feature in any of the documentation either. The unions say this left them in a compromising position of not knowing what to do in the event something went wrong.

Known as the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, this feature was added to compensate for particular nuances in the handling of the aircraft. Designed to protect against pilots losing control, the sensor for the system on the Lion Air flight malfunctioned, causing the aircraft to take a sharp dive.

Since the accident, Boeing along with the Federal Aviation Administration have issued directives highlighting the specifics of the system in question.  The directive warned pilots that a computer on the Boeing 737 MAX could lead to the plane being forced to descend sharply for up to 10 seconds even in manual flight, leading to potential difficulties in controlling the plane.

President of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, Jon Weaks, spoke for all their pilots when he said, “We don’t like that we weren’t notified. The companies and the pilots should have been informed. It makes us question, ‘Is that everything, guys?’ I would hope there are no more surprises out there.”

Dennis Tajer, spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association at American Airlines and a 737 captain himself said that his union’s members were troubled by the revelations. He commented that, “This is not about silos and layers of bureaucracy, this is about knowing your airplane. We will always be eager and aggressive in gaining any knowledge of new aircraft.”
13/11/18 Jo/Simple Flying

Jet Airways to sell six B777s, phase out B737s

India's Jet Airways plans to sell six B777s in a sale and leaseback deal with undisclosed aircraft lessors. The proceeds from the transaction is expected to clear most of the carrier's aircraft-related debt, which stands at roughly US$249 million.

Jet will also finance the purchase of its 225 B737 MAX on order via sale and leaseback deals. Five MAX aircraft have already been delivered to the carrier in the current fiscal 1H, with another six due for delivery in the 2H.

For the ten aircraft the Jet Airways currently owns, they may end up being sold as well, however no decision has been taken.

Additionally, the carrier will phase out its 75 older B737s by 2025, while delivery of 15 new B737 MAX are expected in fiscal 2020.
13/11/18 Aviator

Saudia to operate wide-bodied aircraft from Calicut from December

Kozhikode : The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has approved the proposal of Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines) to resume the operation of wide-bodied aircraft Boeing 777-200 and Airbus 330-300 at the Calicut International Airport from next month.

The announcement was made by M.K. Raghavan, MP, who said he had received a communication in this regard on Tuesday. The DGCA had on August 9 given a no-objection certificate to Saudia to resume the operation of both types of aircraft under Code E comes with multiple riders.

The airline had submitted a safety and compatibility study for the operation of wide-bodied aircraft under International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidelines.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation had allowed Saudia to operate existing schedules from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport till March 2019, Mr. Raghavan siad. He said Saudia representatives would make the announcement on the operation of wide-bodied aircraft at Calicut airport shortly. The resumption of wide- odied aircraft would be a boon for the air passengers of north Kerala.
14/11/18 The Hindu

Flying to Chennai at night irksome for pilots, passengers

Chennai: Flying into Chennai at night, particularly between 9.30pm and 11pm, is not something pilots and passengers relish.

High air traffic congestion forces pilots to carry extra fuel for hovering in a sequence while waiting for clearance to land. Two domestic flights had to be diverted to Bengaluru and Hyderabad on Sunday due to congestion, while on Monday, around 10pm more than eight planes were given permission to approach the main runway for landing after they were made to stay on hold near the airport.
A Coimbatore-Chennai Alliance Air flight was on hold over Kancheepuram; a Hyderabad-Chennai Air India flight, Delhi-Chennai Jet Airways flight, a Delhi-Chennai Vistara flight, a Kolkata-Chennai IndiGo flight were made to hold near Pulicat north of the city and a Pune-Chennai flight was told to hold near Puttur.
These planes had to fly around in circles thrice before making the final approach for landing “Most pilots who have experience flying to Chennai at night make sure to take additional fuel so they are able to hover till they get clearance for landing,” a pilot said. He added that on Sunday, a pilot decided to divert “instead of hovering endlessly waiting for a chance to land”.
“Pilots sometimes feel that it is better to divert because of the uncertainty over when they will get clearance to land,” he said.
An airport official said flight movement was high at night because international flights too need to be accommodated in addition to the recent increase in domestic departures and arrivals at the time.
14/11/18 V Ayyappan/Times of India

280 passengers stranded at Bangkok airport for over 12 hours as Air India cancels flight

Mumbai: More than 280 passengers, booked on Air India flight AI 331 bound for Mumbai, were stranded at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok for more than 12 hours after the flight was cancelled. AI cancelled the flight as it could not arrange crew to operate it, sources said.

Many of the stranded passengers were planning to attend family functions or meetings in Mumbai on Monday. They left Bangkok at 8 pm Monday on an alternative flight, reaching Mumbai around 11 pm. Many passengers said they would sue the airline.

“We were stuck at Bangkok airport since 5 pm on Sunday for the flight originally set for departure at 8 pm. We were then told that the flight would depart at 11 pm, which was further pushed to around 3 am. Most of us ate from the food outlets at the airport as the airline could not even arrange that for us,” said S Mahadevan, who said he had to excuse himself from work on Monday.
On Sunday, senior AI pilot and Director (Operations) Arvind Kathpalia was stopped from operating Air India flight AI 111 from Delhi to London after he failed the pre-flight alcohol test. As the airline had to find a replacement, it disrupted crew scheduling affecting other AI flights.
14/11/18 Indian Express

India could clear flight for Singapore Airlines

India could give Singapore Airlines a lift. The $8 billion group posted dismal quarterly earnings. But opportunity may be knocking, as indebted rival Jet Airways comes into play. A deal by Singapore's influential Indian partner Tata would bring newfound clout in a promising growth market.

It was always going to be a difficult first half for the city-state's flag carrier, still in the throes of a turnaround plan. Higher oil prices drove net fuel costs up almost a quarter in the three months to September. Meanwhile, impairments and other charges at part-owned Virgin Australia hit too. The result was a drop of over 80 percent in quarterly earnings, with regional arm SilkAir and low-cost Scoot posting operating losses, too.
True, cut-throat competition in India has pushed ticket prices to the floor and carriers to the wall, from state-owned Air India to top player IndiGo, and loss-making Jet. But it remains one of the world's fastest-growing markets, and an inflection point may be near: Jet, controlled by tycoon Naresh Goyal and backed by United Arab Emirates carrier Etihad, is bleeding and buyers are circling, including the Tatas.
Singapore has a foothold in India through Vistara, but this venture with Tata only has a sliver of the market. If the Indian group - which also has a separate low-cost airline - can win control of Jet, the smaller operations could be folded into it. Singapore could benefit from slots in crowded airports through a stake in the subcontinent's top full-service carrier. It would be far easier too than trying to turnaround sprawling state-owned Air India, which was recently up for sale.
13/11/18 Reuters/Nasdaq

SpiceJet posts ₹ 389 cr loss on higher fuel prices, weak rupee

New Delhi: Rising cost of aviation turbine fuel and depreciation of rupee have seen SpiceJet, the Delhi-based low-cost airline post a net loss of ₹ 389.4 crore for the quarter ended September 30 this year. The airline had reported a profit of ₹  105.3 crore in the same period previously. 

In a statement, the airline said that it has witnessed an "Unexpected cost increase” of ₹ 396 crore in the quarter on account of fuel increase and currency depreciation.''

The statement added that the airline had paid ₹  272 crore on account of increase in the cost of ATF, ₹  78 crore on account of rupee depreciation and ₹  46 crore on account of forex losses on its obligations compared to the second quarter of 2017.

During the quarter, the airline's total income stood at ₹ 1,910.3 crore against ₹ 1,842 crore in the same quarter previously. Expenses stood at ₹ 2,299.7 crore against ₹ 1,736.7 crore.

EBITDA or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortisation before exceptional items stood at a loss of ₹ 310.4 crore against  ₹ 168 crore previously. EBITDAR or or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortisation rent/restructuring before exceptional items stood at a loss of ₹ 32.7 crore against ₹  409.6 crore previously.
14/11/18 Business Line

Technical snag grounds flight from Bangkok

Ahmedabad: Passengers scheduled to take the Ahmedabad-bound SpiceJet flight from Bangkok International Airport, had a hard time on Tuesday night, as they were left stranded at the airport after their flight got cancelled.

Airline officials confirmed that Bangkok-Ahmedabad flight SG-86, which was scheduled to take off from Bangkok at 2.05am on Tuesday, got cancelled due to some technical issues.

Narrating the experience, Tejas Mojidra, a city-based architect and consultant, who was scheduled to take the flight, said, “We were asked to report early at the airport for our Ahmedabad-bound flight and were waiting at the departure gate. However, as the boarding did not begin past the scheduled departure time, a group of passengers checked with the airline’s ground staff about the status of the flight.”

“As the ground staff remained unresponsive, we tried getting out of the security hold area and check with the airline’s office at the airport, however, we were barred from doing so. There were several elderly people along with women and children who were stranded at the airport. Even as the temperature was chilling, airline officials did not even provide any blankets or water. I finally ended up booking a flight to Kolkata myself and from there I would take a connecting flight,” he added.
14/11/18 Times of India

4-yr-old Kerala boy dies mid-air while flying back from Saudi after pilgrimage

Abu Dhabi: A four-year-old Kerala boy died on a flight due to epileptic seizures on his way back from Saudi Arabia after performing Umrah with his family.

The Oman Airways flight, flying from Jeddah to Kozhikode in Kerala, made an emergency landing in Abu Dhabi on Monday afternoon after the tragic incident, the airlines said.

The boy, identified as Yahya Puthiyapurayil developed epileptic seizures 45 minutes after the take-off, a relative told the Khaleej Times.

“He was running a mild fever while boarding the flight from Jeddah and developed epileptic seizures in mid-air. He died on his mother’s lap. The family is inconsolable,” said the boy’s uncle Mohammed Nadeer, who lives in Abu Dhabi.

Puthiyapurayil was a specially-abled child who could not walk or talk.

“He was wheel-chair bound and had been undergoing treatment since his birth. He was travelling with a 13-member family pilgrimage group including his parents, uncles and cousins,” the Khaleej Times reported on Wednesday.
14/11/18 IANS/Statesman

Inline baggage scan soon at Calcutta airport

An inline baggage scanning system is finally being installed in the domestic section of the airport, ending a wait of more than five years for a passenger amenity that is meant to be a basic feature of any modern terminal.

Work started on Monday in check-in portal C of the integrated terminal’s domestic area and will be extended to the remaining ones over the next couple of months. Airport officials said it would take about 15 days on an average to complete the installation in each portal.

Of the eight check-in portals within the terminal, five are assigned for domestic operations.

A separate inline baggage scanning system would be set up for out-of-gauge luggage, according to officials. The international section of the terminal, which already offers inline baggage scanning, will be upgraded to the new system.

“Since this is a functional airport, it will take us more time to install the inline baggage scanning system. In a newly constructed one, the process of installation would be much faster,” an official said.

The installation was to be completed by June but a delay in the arrival of equipment imported from the US forced a change in schedule. Domestic airlines operating to and from Calcutta requested the airport authorities to start the process after Diwali to avoid chaos during the peak of holiday traffic.
14/11/18 Sanjay Mandal/Telegraph

User development fee fixed for Kannur airport

Thiruvananthapuram: International flyers from the Kannur international airport have to pay a user development fee of ₹1,070 and domestic flyers ₹320 from the date of commencement of flight operations till March 31, 2023.

The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA), in its order fixing aeronautical tariffs of the airport for the first control period from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2023, has exempted children below two years, holders of diplomatic passport, airlines crew, including sky marshals on duty, and persons on duty for United Nations Peace Keeping Missions from the fee.

A passenger service fee of ₹130 will be collected but exemption has been given as in the case of the user fee to seven categories of flyers. A sum of ₹85.1 will be levied as CUTE (common user terminal equipment), CUSS (common use self service), and baggage reconciliation system (BRS) charges from all domestic passengers and ₹92.5 from international passengers.

The flights operated under the regional connectivity scheme UDAN have been exempted from all the charges. However, AERA says the UDAN flight operators will have to pay the in-line X-ray, aerobridge, fuel throughput, CUTE/ CUSS/ BRS/ CUPPS, self-baggage drop-in, and ground handling charges.
No landing charges will be collected from the aircraft with a capacity of less than 80 seats operated by domestic scheduled operators and by helicopter of all types.
13/11/18 S Anil Radhakrishnan/The Hindu

Demand for maiden Kannur-Abu Dhabi flight spikes; tickets sell out fast

Abu Dhabi:Flight tickets on the maiden Air India Express flight from the soon-to-be-launched Kannur International Airport in the South Indian state of Kerala to Abu Dhabi has almost sold out, according to senior officials at the airline.

Officials also revealed that flights to Sharjah from Kannur will be added to the network in a day or two.

"The first international flight is set to fly out on 10 am IST on December 9, the same date as the official opening day," PG Prageesh, chief of corporate communication at Air India Express, revealed to Khaleej Times on Tuesday.

Tickets on the maiden flight went live on Monday, November 12, and within moments, and the 'express value' category of tickets have been completely sold out, according to the airline website. However, a few 'express flexi' category of tickets remains.

AI Express is currently the only airline operating international flights out of the Kannur Airport for now.

14/11/18 Dhanusha Gokulan/Khaleej Times

Airport gets 2 parking bays

Pune: Two of the four new aircraft parking bays have been made operational at the city airport, taking the total number of bays to 10.
With two bays reserved for VIP movement and standard operating procedure for emergencies, that still leaves eight bays for commercial flight operations. Moreover, by the end of next week, two more bays, currently being tested, will be made operational.

At the airport, which at present is handling 200 flights a day, the addition of new bays is likely to ease passenger movement. “Earlier, we had just six bays. After landing, flights often had to wait for availability of parking bays, and that caused delays and problems for the passengers, airlines and the Airport Authority of India (AAI). Now we can use eight bays,” an official at the airport told TOI.

Even flights taking off from the airport are going to benefit. “The flights set to fly out from Pune often used to get delayed because of the limited parking bays. Now, with the extension of the apron area and additional bays, we are looking to end such problems once and for all,” another official said.
14/11/18 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Adani Group plans airport at Dhamra

Bhubaneswar: The state government on Monday inked a MoU with Dhamra Port Company Ltd (DPCL) for construction of a commercial airport near Dhamra port in Bhadrak district. The airport will be developed over an area of 500 acres and used for passenger movement and cargo handling.
It would come up at a place 20 km ahead of Dhamra. Adani-owned DPCL would invest over Rs 500 crore in the project.

"This will be the first airport in north Odisha and will not only serve DPCL, but also boost tourism and industrial activities at the proposed special economic zone (SEZ) being set up by the Adani group," a senior state government official said.

Karan Adani, CEO of Adani Ports and SEZ was present during the signing of the MoU at the Make in Odisha conclave.
In September, the state government had given the nod for the airport project.
Bhadrak district administration has already identified over 400 acres for the proposed airport, a source said.
13/11/18 Sujit Kumar Bisoyi/Times of India

Mopa airport-affected will be rehabilitated’

Panaji: Union Ayush minister Shripad Naik on Tuesday assured Pernem locals, from whom land has been acquired for the Mopa international airport project, that those who have lost houses due will be rehabilitated. The affected met Naik after the foundation stone laying ceremony for the All India Institute of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy.

They told Naik that the market rate of land and property was much higher than the cost at which the government acquired their land. Those whose houses were demolished said they couldn’t afford to construct a new one with the amount paid to them and requested to be rehabilitate, to which demand he agreed.
14/11/18 Times of India

Rafale Twist: Why Did France Refuse to Give India a Sovereign Guarantee?


New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has consistently claimed that the Rafale aircraft deal was between two governments – India and France – and therefore there was hardly any possibility of India’s interests being compromised in any way.

However, government documents accessed by The Wire reveal the Ministry of Law and Justice had opined that the “core elements of Government-to-Government (G-to-G) character” of the Rafale deal were not acceptable to France and consequently had to be diluted and waived in the final inter-governmental agreement (IGA) signed between the two governments in September 2016.

So what were the two core G-to-G elements that France did not accept? The law ministry gave a clear view to the Ministry of Defence that in G-to-G contracts, “the responsibility for the supply of equipment and related industrial services and performance of the entire contract remains with the foreign government”.

The second condition cited by the law ministry was that “the dispute resolution mechanism remained at Government-to-Government level only”.
However, in the course of negotiating the IGA, certain sensitive issues arose whereby the French government sought to transfer its own direct responsibilities and obligations to the industrial supplier – in this case Dassault Aviation.

For instance, in the event of a future breach of contract or any other dispute, France insisted India would have to enter arbitration proceedings with the equipment-supplying company, Dassault. Consequently, the French government shied away from providing a direct sovereign guarantee for the performance of the contract. The law ministry saw a direct sovereign guarantee from France as core to the G-to-G character of the deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter aircraft. This sovereign guarantee was, however, not forthcoming.

The law ministry, though, managed to have one fresh clause introduced in the IGA which mentioned “joint and several responsibility” of the French government and the industrial supplier.
14/11/18 MK Venu/The Wire

Pricing of Rafale jets can be discussed only if facts on deal come in public domain: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday said any discussion on pricing of the Rafale fighter jets can only take place if the facts on the deal are allowed to come in the public domain.

"The decision we need to take is whether to bring the fact on pricing in public domain or not," a bench headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.

The bench, also comprising justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, told Attorney General K K Venugopal that without bringing the facts in public domain, there was no question of any debate on pricing.

However, the bench clarified to the attorney general that any discussion on price will be considered if it thinks that it should come in the public domain.

The top court also sought the assistance of any Air Force officer on the issue of procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

"We are dealing with requirements of the Air Force and would like to ask an Air Force officer on the Rafale jet. We want to hear from an Air force officer and not the official of the Defence Ministry on the issue," the bench said when Venugopal commenced his arguments on behalf of the Centre.

Venugopal told the bench that an Air Force officer would be reaching within a few minutes.

The attorney general in his arguments defended the secrecy clause related to the pricing of Rafale jets saying,"Our adversaries may get advantages if the entire details on the pricing is disclosed."

Refusing to divulge details on the pricing aspect, Venugopal said he would not be able to assist the court further on the pricing issue.

"I decided not to peruse it myself as in a case of any leak, my office would be held responsible," he said
14/11/18 PTI/Outlook
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Jagan Mohan Reddy attack: Accused had access to check-in area only, says BCAS

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has clarified that the person accused of attacking Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) president Jagan Mohan Reddy did not have permission to enter beyond the premises of check-in area.

BCAS Director General (DG) Kumar Rajesh Chandra in his written reply to the questions raised by YSRCP national general secretary and Member of Parliament (MP) Vijayasai Reddy, said that no permission was given to Fusion Foods owner Harshvardhan Prasad Chowdhary and accused J Srinivasan Rao to have access in the aerodrome entry point of Vishakhapatnam airport. Chowdhary belongs to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

In the letter, Chandra also clarified that accused Rao had obtained a temporary one-month Aerodrome Entry Permit (AEP) for the period from October 1 to October 30, 2018 which gave him access only till check-in area of the departure terminal. The restaurant operator, Fusion Foods, was granted a license for catering in the departure area of the airport only. There was another approval in the area of departure specifically for setting up a restaurant, the letter stated. In its clarification, BCAS categorically stated that Rao never had permission to access the VIP lounge.

The letter also pointed out that Rao's criminal track record was not shared with the BCAS by the restaurant. On whether accused Rao was given permission to serve food in the aeroplanes and whether restaurant had permission to serve food to passengers of different airlines onboard, it was clarified that the restaurant was allowed to serve food only within the premises of the restaurant and not outside the allocated area of the restaurant.

13/11/18 Catch News

Senior staff of Air India SATS, SriLankan Airlines held at Delhi Airport for smuggling gold

New Delhi: Senior employees of Air India SATS and SriLankan Airlines are among three men held for allegedly smuggling gold worth over Rs 14 lakh at Delhi airport, according to an official statement issued Tuesday.

It said an Indian man was intercepted after his arrival from Dubai on Sunday.

He was apprehended in the toilet of international arrival hall while handing over smuggled gold to one airport staff working as a duty manager for AISATS, Delhi, it said.

"A detailed personal and baggage search of the passenger and airport staff resulted in the recovery of four gold bars total weighing 464 grams having market value of Rs 14.39 lakh," the statement issued by the customs said.

Air India SATS or AISATS is a 50:50 joint venture between Air India Limited, and Singapore-based SATS Limited, a gateway services and food solutions provider in Asia.

The SriLankan Airlines staff, working as a station security coordinator, was also apprehended for assisting the said passenger in smuggling of the recovered gold, it said, without citing further details.

"Further the staff of AISATS and SriLankan Airlines have admitted their role in smuggling of similar quantity of gold previously on one occasion. Therefore, it is apparent that they have actively conspired to smuggle gold having total tariff value of Rs 27.42 lakh," the customs department said, adding that all the three accused have been placed under arrest.
13/11/18 PTI/New Indian Express