Tuesday, April 07, 2020

In a first, SpiceJet transports cargo on passenger seats

SpiceJet has become India's first airline to transport cargo on passenger seats. The Boeing 737 NG aircraft of SpiceJet carried essential supplies in the passenger cabin and belly space on Tuesday.

Under the government's Lifeline UDAN initiative, flights are being operated in transporting essential equipments and medicines all over the country to fight coronavirus. So far, 132 cargo flights have been operated to transport medical supplies.

The Gurugram-based airline did four rotations - Delhi to Chennai (4:40 am-7: 35 am); Chennai to Surat (8:20 am-10:45 am); Surat to Chennai (11:10 am-13:05 pm); and Chennai to Mumbai (13:45 pm- 15:30 pm).

The aircraft will operate from Mumbai to Delhi at 16:10 pm.

Also read: Coronavirus Live Updates: COVID-19 infected person can infect only 2.5 persons during lockdown: Health Ministry

Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet, said, "Today, for the first time in the country, we used a passenger aircraft to transport cargo where in addition to the belly space the passenger cabin was used to safely carry essential supplies. We are honoured to be a part of the government's 'Lifeline Udan' initiative".
The Gurugram-based company said that special seat covers were made from flameproof material to transport cargo to various domestic destinations. "To ensure optimum utilisation of space, the overhead bin were also used," the company added.

SpiceJet's dedicated cargo arm - SpiceXpress has been transporting surgical supplies, sanitisers, face masks, etc. and providing doorstep deliveries of essential supplies and medical equipment in Bengaluru, Patna, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Visakhapatnam, Srinagar, Thiruvananthapuram, Guwahati, Jammu, Lucknow among other cities.
07/04/20 Business Today

Indian Aviation Cash Losses Mount as 250 Aircraft to Remain Grounded for a Year

New Delhi: Facing economic headwinds in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, private-sector airlines in India have announced salary cuts. Indian air carrier Spicejet recently cut salaries some 10-30 percent. In March, Indigo announced a salary cut, while GoAir dismissed staff for “leave without pay”.

The COVID-19 pandemic has distorted the global economy and, while no sector will remain untouched, aviation, hospitality and tourism are likely to be some of those worst hit.

India's aviation sector is projected to contract in the financial year 2020-21 and airlines will see deep financial losses, suggest research agency analysis and projections.

In one estimate, the Indian aviation industry is likely to see a loss of some $3-3.6 billion between April and June of this year.
“Domestic traffic is expected to decline from an estimated 140 million in financial year (FY) 2020 (April 2019-March 2020) to around 80-90 million in FY2021. International traffic is expected to fall from approximately 70 million in FY2020 to 35-40 million in FY2021", the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation aviation consulting and research data firm (CAPA) in India said, in a report titled ‘COVID-19 and the State of the Indian Aviation Industry” on Monday.
The report also points out aviation companies will have 200-250 surplus aircraft over the next six to 12 months, due to the sharp decline in travel.
“Indian carriers will require a domestic fleet of around 300-325 aircraft from October-2020 onwards, and an international fleet of 100-125 aircraft. The total fleet size of 400-450 aircraft would still mean that the current fleet of 650 represents a surplus of 200-250 aircraft for a period of 6-12 months," the report said.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) pointed out in its March report, titled “Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Global FDI”, that cash losses for the aviation sector would be extremely high.
06/04/20 Sputnik

Air India to conduct 3 special flights to London from Apr 8-10 to repatriate Canadians amid lockdown


New Delhi: Air India is planning to conduct three special flights to London from April 8-10 to repatriate Canadians who are stranded in India amid a 21-day lockdown imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic, senior airline officials said on Monday.
Once the Air India flights drop them in London, the Canadian government will arrange flights to take them to Canada.

The national carrier has signed a contract with the Canadian government to repatriate its citizens amid the 21-day lockdown till April 14.

"One flight on Delhi-London route will take place on April 8. Another one would take place on April 10," said senior airlines officials.

Another flight on the Mumbai-London route will take place on April 9, official said.

All three special flights to take Canadians from India to London''s Heathrow airport will be conducted using B777 wide body aircraft, they added.

Apart from Canada, Air India has also signed contracts with Germany, France and Ireland to repatriate their citizens from India through special flights.

Till now, more than 4000 people have been infected and 100 plus people have died in India due to the novel coronavirus.

During the last few weeks, Air India has conducted multiple special flights to bring stranded Indians to the country from virus-affected cities such Wuhan in China and Rome in Italy.

It has also conducted multiple special flights during the last few weeks to take stranded foreigners in India to their respective countries such as Israel and Germany.
06/04/20 PTI/Outlook

With skies empty, aviation industry runs out of adjectives for its agony; recovery only after a year

Aviation industry in India will take a year to recover to normalcy as the current coronavirus crisis takes a massive toll on airlines across the globe. “For India to return to a pre-COVID operational fleet of 650 aircraft is likely to take up to 12 months from the time that restrictions are lifted, and this may be conservative,” industry advisor CAPA said in a report on Monday. The airlines now stare at slow recovery as travel remains suspended, slow or even negative GDP growth, broken supply chains, and low consumer confidence. In fact, the industry is now running out of adjectives to describe its agony, CAPA added in the report.
With flight operations suspended across the globe, global aviation activity has slumped to one-third of the normal levels in the last month, according to data curated by Flightradar24. “In India the decline in aircraft movements has been even more dramatic, with the government having suspended all scheduled domestic and international flights until 15 April 2020, a date which may be further extended,” CAPA said. While several of the country’s vulnerable airlines will manage to survive, the Indian aviation sector is still going to shrink considerably. The airlines are right now operating with additional aircraft and for the next 6-12 months, they will have about 200-250 surplus aircraft, according to CAPA estimates.

The industry has already started to surrender under the pressure with several major airlines announcing paycut for employees. While India’s largest airline IndiGo announced a salary cut for its top management, Ajay Singh-led SpiceJet also said that it will cut salaries by 10-30% for its top and mid rung management. MD Ajay Singh said that he will bear the majority of the salary cut for March pay. SpiceJet also returned five of its wet-leased Boeing 737 aircraft to Turkey’s Corendon Airlines to keep costs in check.
07/04/20 Prachi Gupta/Financial Express

IndiGo, SpiceJet face major air turbulence after Corona hit, may soon run out of fuel

New Delhi: The forward journey from here on is going to be very turbulent for Indian aviation firms, a sector that has probably taken the worst hit from the Coronavirus crisis.
Regional airline Air Deccan on Sunday announced ceasing of operations until further notice, becoming the first Indian airline to succumb to the lockdown crisis. The airline sent all employees on sabbatical without pay.
Travel bans globally as well as domestically have virtually paralysed the capital-intensive sector, and domestic airlines are staring at big losses in March quarter.
A delay in the much-anticipated government relief is only making matters worse, as it has made any fundraising difficult. A major oil price crash in international markets came as godsend, but the oil producers’ bid to cut output and cushion the price fall may take away much of that advantage by the time the airlines are back in the sky again.
Analysts noted the 11-12 per cent interim drop in ATF prices since March 23 would have little impact as operations remain suspended since March 25.
Besides, a 5.8 per cent fall in the rupee against the dollar during the quarter increased the outgo on dollar-based costs, said Centrum Broking, which expects steep forex mark-to-market (MTM) losses on operating lease liabilities.
07/04/20 Amit Mudgill/Economic Times

Domestic air traffic to fall from 140 mn to 90 mn due to covid-19: CAPA

Mumbai: Domestic air traffic is expected to drop to 80-90 million passengers in the current fiscal and delivery of more than 200 planes to Indian carriers are likely to be deferred by up to two years, according to a report.

"The combination of COVID-related travel restrictions and an economic downturn is likelyto result in 1Q FY2021 being a virtual washout for the Indian industry.


"The second quarter is historically the weakest period for demand and hence airlines are only likely to limp back into recovery," aviation consultancy CAPA India said on Monday.

As a result, CAPA said the majority of the fleet is likely to be surplus to requirement during the first half of the current financial year.

In its report titled 'COVID-19 & the State of Indian Aviation Industry,' the aviation consultancy forecast domestic traffic to decline to around 80-90 million this fiscal from an estimated 140 million in FY2020.

International traffic is expected to fall from approximately 70 million in the previous financial year to 35-40 million passengers or may be even less in the current fiscal.

While giving the forecast, CAPA India said it is initial estimate and would be continually revised.
06/04/20 PTI/Business Standard

UAE airlines resume limited passenger flights

Dubai: UAE carriers Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways have resumed limited passenger flights two weeks after authorities grounded airlines as part of wider shutdowns to combat coronavirus.
The flights are open to foreign citizens who wish to leave the United Arab Emirates, but no incoming passengers are allowed. Foreign residents of the oil-rich Gulf state are banned from re-entering until at least mid-April.

Dubai''s Emirates, the largest carrier in the Middle East, said it operated a flight to London late Sunday and another to Frankfurt on Monday as part of its limited resumption.

It said in a statement that it plans to operate four flights a week to London and three weekly flights each to Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Zurich.

Wearing face masks and other protective gear at Dubai Airport on Monday, some 212 travellers to Frankfurt went through thermal screening before they boarded the aircraft. Etihad said on its Twitter account that it resumed limited operation with a passenger flight to Seoul on Sunday.

The carrier said it will operate seven flights to Seoul, five to Singapore, six to Manila and two flights to Jakarta through April 21.

Last week Emirates said that cleaning and disinfection of the planes will take place after each flight.

UAE civil aviation authorities slapped a total ban on passenger flights two weeks ago at all the Gulf state''s airports.
06/04/20 AFP/Outlook

Repatriation of Indian pilgrims, students in Qom ongoing

Tehran: Thousands of travelers have been stranded throughout the world unable to return back to their country of origin due to flight cancellations and border restrictions amid Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This is the story of more than 1,200 Indian pilgrims and seminary students stranded in the holy city of Qom during the Nowruz holidays.

“There are over 6,000 Indian nationals in various provinces of Iran. These include about 1,100 pilgrims mainly from the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir and the State of Maharashtra; nearly 300 students primarily from the UT of Jammu and Kashmir; about 1000 fishermen, including from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat,” Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said early March.

“Given a large number of Indians in Iran, it was natural that we should seek to sequence their return, taking into account their location and exposure. The initial focus is on visiting pilgrims. Many of them are in Qom, where Coronavirus incidence has been strong. The nature of their residency also increases the risks of exposure”, added Jaishankar.

Iran was among the worst impacted countries in the world in terms of the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the first two cases were announced on February 19 in Qom, the number has swelled countrywide. Hence the return of these pilgrims and students became a priority for the Indian High Commission and Iranian officials.

Before the arrangement for the departure of some 1,200 pilgrims and students, they had to be tested for COVIC-19 infection. For this purpose, a six-member medical team was dispatched to Iran by the Indian Council of Medical Research on March 5, to run a medical lab and test the stranded Indian citizens for infection. A wellness center was established where the medical team conducted tests on the Indian citizens and at least 255 had tested positive for COVID-19.
07/04/20 Salman Parviz/Tehran Times

Cargo flights requested to repatriate bodies from Bahrain

Indian community leaders in Bahrain are urging officials to permit cargo flights to repatriate dead bodies.

India has banned commercial flights until further notice as part of a lockdown to combat the spread of the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19).

Of the nine Indians who have died in Bahrain in the past 16 days, the bodies of five remain in morgues at public hospitals.


Malavika Manojan, 16, who died from a terminal illness on March 21 was cremated in Askar cemetery in the presence of her parents, while 28-year-old Ahmed Ayoub, who died in a motorbike crash in Ghufool last Monday, was buried in a local cemetery the following day.

Two others were repatriated on cargo flights last Wednesday to Kochi, Kerala.

Bodies of Rajan Raman, 47, an accountant who died of a heart attack on March 25, and 52-year-old Reghunathan Kuniyil, who committed suicide in his Muharraq accommodation on March 26, were sent on Gulf Air cargo flights.

“Cargo flights should be opened to repatriate dead bodies,” said World NRI Council GCC Humanitarian Aid director Sudheer Thirunilath.

“With India banning commercial flights, we need to look at other options – the last thing we need is to see families waiting for dead bodies.”

Currently, due to Covid-19 restrictions, cargo flights are limited to transporting essential items.
06/04/20 Gulf Daily News/Zawya

AAI donates Rs 10 lakh each to all northeastern states

Guwahati: The AirportS Authority of India (AAI) under its CSR scheme has donated Rs 10 lakh each to every state government in the northeast, said Sanjeev Jindal, the regional executive director of northeast region.
"This fund will be utilized to procure PPEs, protective kits and equipment for health workers and hospitals in the states. As these bravehearts are fighting against the virus, we are always with them and will continue to help them in whatever manner we can," Jindal said.

He added that AAI in the northeast region has identified 10 airports where 500 families from a poor background who live near these airports will be provided 5 kg of rice each. "We are equally worried for the anganwadi workers and will be contributing Rs 25 lakh for Manipur and Rs 20 lakh for Rani block in Assam with the help of UNDP-UNICEF. AAI in total has donated Rs 15 crore under CSR funds and out of this, Rs 3 crore is for the northeast region," Jindal said.

The employees of AAI have contributed their - ranging from a minimum of three days' to one month - to the PM Cares Fund. All the airports in northeast are prepared to fly commercial flights from April 15, Jindal said.

"Regarding resumption of commercial flight services from April 15, the final decision is yet to be taken by the Centre and by the ministry of civil aviation. But our airports in northeast are ready to cater to all the services as per normal practice with all the precautions in place and sanitization of airport premises, including the passenger terminal building," he said.

07/04/20 Times of India

500 unsung heroes keep Delhi's IGI safe

New Delhi: With no domestic or international flight operations due to the 21-day lockdown, the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) is wearing a deserted look, probably for the first time since it has become operational. However, almost 500 personnel are staying on the premises and still on duty every day to sanitise and disinfect each item inside the airport.
Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which manages the airport, said that though commercial operations had been halted, special flights — ferrying stranded citizens of various countries — were still functioning, making it essential to sanitise every item in the area after each operation.
“When almost everyone is in the safe environs of home following the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19, some unsung heroes are working round the clock,” said the DIAL spokesperson.

They are in a way leading a “quarantined life as they are not even going back home to meet their families,” he added.

The team functioning 24x7 includes staff dealing with trolleys, sanitisation, security, airport rescue and firefighting, airside operations, inline baggage and landside management.

DIAL is, meanwhile, also preparing for resumption of commercial operations with social-distancing lines being drawn inside and near counters. “They have been marked with yellow colour,” said an airport official.

After international flights were suspended on March 22, domestic operations came to a grinding halt on March 24 at 11:59pm. While more than 10 evacuation flights have been operated during this period by India to ferry its stranded citizens abroad, it also handled 29 flights (between March 25, 2020 and April 2, 2020) in which about 5,751 stranded foreign nationals flew to their country of origin from the IGI airport. The biggest aircraft used was an Airbus 380 by Lufthansa, which flew around 500 Germans to Frankfurt.
07/04/20 Jasjeev Gandhiok/Times of India

Delhi Airport handles over 50 evacuation flights in past 14 days; remains operation despite lockdown

New Delhi: The AAI-GMR group joint venture-run Delhi Airport on Tuesday said it has handled over 50 evacuation flights, transporting over 10,000 stranded foreign nationals to their respective countries, till date since the implementation of 21-days lockdown.
Since the suspension of all commercial passenger aircraft operations, Delhi Airport has been operational 24x7 despite suspension of commercial operations, due to the 21-day lockdown following the coronavirus outbreak, said Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) CEO, Videh Kumar Jaipuriar said.

In the last 14 days, the airport has remained functional to handle cargo and evacuation flights, operated by countries like Japan, Norway, Germany, Afghanistan, Poland, Russia and France to repatriate their nationals stranded in India due to lockdown, DIAL said.

“At present, Delhi Airport is handling cargo and evacuation flights, operated by various countries. We have handled around 56 evacuation flights and helped over 10,600 stranded foreign nationals in reaching their homes in the last 14 days since the lockdown has come into force," he stated.
07/04/20 PTI/Outlook

Air India To Help Stranded Canadians Get Home Amid COVID-19 Shutdown

New Delhi: Air India is planning to conduct three special flights to London from April 8-10 to repatriate Canadians who are stranded in India amid a 21-day lockdown imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic, senior airline officials said on Monday.
Once the Air India flights drop them in London, the Canadian government will arrange flights to take them to Canada.

The national carrier has signed a contract with the Canadian government to repatriate its citizens amid the 21-day lockdown till April 14.

"One flight on Delhi-London route will take place on April 8. Another one would take place on April 10," said senior airlines officials.

Another flight on the Mumbai-London route will take place on April 9, official said.

All three special flights to take Canadians from India to London's Heathrow airport will be conducted using B777 wide body aircraft, they added.

Apart from Canada, Air India has also signed contracts with Germany, France and Ireland to repatriate their citizens from India through special flights.
06/04/20 PTI/NDTV

Cargo Plane With COVID-19 Essentials Lands At Mysore Airport

Mysuru: The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent nation-wide lockdown has stalled domestic and commercial flights. Still the skies are buzzing with regular cargo flights to transport critical medical equipment and supplies.
Several small airports in India including the Mysore Airport at Mandakalli have been earmarked as Lifeline UDAN Airports that will facilitate transport of medical cargo and other essential supplies across India at the time of the Covid-19 crisis. These small airports that were operating flights under Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik (UDAN) scheme have become a hub of medical transport in a war-like situation.

According to a press communiqué released by Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) yesterday, as many as 116 flights and choppers have already been operated by Air India, Alliance Air, IAF, Pawan Hans and private carriers under Lifeline UDAN.

As per plan, one Air India Dornier plane landed at Mysore Airport at 11.45 am today and carried medical cargo. However, the details of the cargo and the shipping location have not been disclosed by the Airport authorities. The aircraft left Mysuru at 1 pm.
06/04/20 Star of Mysore

How Much-Maligned Air India is Coming to Country's Rescue

During the last few weeks, Air India has conducted multiple special flights to bring stranded Indians to the country from Coronavirus-affected cities such as Wuhan in China and Rome in Italy.

It has emerged as one of the frontline warriors in the fight against Coronavirus. From bringing back thousands of stranded Indians from  Wuhan, Japan, Italy and Iran to bringing critical medical equipment from abroad, the much-maligned national carrier has earned praise.

Air India is now planning to conduct three special flights to London from April 8-10 to repatriate Canadians who are stranded in India amid a 21-day lockdown imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic, senior airline officials said on Monday.
Scheduled to operate 18 such flights from March 31, 2020, the national carrier has flown back German nationals to Frankfurt and  Israeli nationals to Tel Aviv.

Since the lockdown was imposed, the national carrier has conducted multiple flights across India to transport essential cargo such has coronavirus testing kits, medicines and food.

“The government of India has taken this initiative on the request of respective embassies. On April 4, flights to London and Paris were being operated carrying foreigners,” an official spokesperson from Air India said.

Keeping in mind a number of foreign tourists who are still stranded in India, the airline might start more charter flights if the foreign governments make a request to its Indian counterpart.
07/04/20 Jeevan Prakash Sharma/Outlook

Bid to identify 100 Air India passengers

Patna: The state disaster management department with the help of district authorities has started identifying the flyers, who had travelled by Air India flights— AI-101 (Mumbai to Delhi) AI-415 (Delhi to Patna) on March 22 and March 23 respectively. The flyers list provided by the Centre has been sent to the district magistrates.

Earlier on Saturday, the disaster management department had issued an alert to Air India after a flyer who travelled by the Mumbai-Delhi and Delhi- Patna flights, was tested Covid-19 positive on March 31.

Patna DM Kumar Ravi said, “According to the flyers list provided by the disaster management department, altogether 100 passengers travelled to Patna from Mumbai via Delhi on March 23. We are contacting them on their registered cell phone numbers and they will be advised to undergo isolation and home quarantine for 14 days.”

He added, “The health team will collect the sample of those flyers, who travelled on these two flights and if they were found to be symptomatic. Besides, asymptomatic would have to strictly follow home quarantine for 14 days.”

Air India on its Twitter handle issued an appeal to the passengers: “As informed by the disaster management department (DMD), Government of Bihar, Patna, one passenger who travelled from Mumbai to Delhi by AI-101 on March 22 and from Delhi to Patna on March 23, has been found to be Covid-19 positive on March 31. As advised by the DMD, passengers of both the flights in proximity are required to follow necessary isolation/ quarantine action as applicable.”
07/04/20 Times of India

Unfolding virus crisis may take Indian aviation back by half a decade

The magnitude of the unfolding trauma for India's airlines is now too severe to ignore.
The "Covid-19 & the State of the Indian Aviation Industry" report, released by Capa India recently, reveals that local air travel in the country will likely crash from 14 crore in 2019-20 to around 8-9 crore in the next financial year (2020-21).
It is worth noting that 8-9 crore was the level seen in 2015-16. A ToI report, citing data from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), puts the the number of domestic air travellers in the country at 8.1 crore in 2015 and 9.9 crore in 2016.
So, the findings essentially means the unfolding novel coronavirus crisis is all set to take India's aviation sector back by at least four to five years.
The Capa India report had some more dire predictions to make. The most significant ones among them include:
(a) The Indian aviation sector is likely to shrink significantly, even if some of the vulnerable airlines manage to survive.
(b) For India to return to a pre-Covid operational fleet of 650 aircraft is likely to take up to 12 months from the time that restrictions are lifted, and this may be conservative.
07/04/20 Economic Times

SpiceJet to operate 5 flights for transporting vital supplies

New Delhi: Budget carrier SpiceJet has said it will be operating five in-cabin cargo flights on Tuesday, using a passenger aircraft, to transport vital supplies to various parts of the country amid the lockdown.
Since March 27, various air operators, including Air India and its subsidiary Alliance Air have been operating cargo flights, using the belly space of the passenger plane, under Lifeline Udan initiative of the Central government, which is aimed at transportation of medical cargo and essential supplies across India at the time of the COVID-19 crisis. However, the private airlines are conducting such flights on a commercial basis.

"SpiceJet has operated the country’s first cargo-on-seat flight carrying vital supplies in the passenger cabin of a Boeing 737 and its belly space from Delhi to Chennai with due regulatory approvals on Tuesday," the airline claimed in a release.

The aircraft will do five rotations on Tuesday ensuring that vital supplies are delivered in the shortest possible time, it said, adding the aircraft flew from Delhi to Chennai.

From Chennai it operated to Surat and from Surat it operated back to Chennai. The aircraft will operate from Chennai to Mumbai and from Mumbai to Delhi later on Tuesday with cargo on-board, it said.

“Since the lockdown began, we have carried more than 1,400 tons of cargo operating around 200 domestic and international cargo flights. Today, for the first time in the country, we used a passenger aircraft to transport cargo where in addition to the belly space the passenger cabin was used to safely carry essential supplies. “We have also put our five freighters to maximum use to transport cold chain medical supplies, medicines, medical devices for various state governments, medical and pharma companies," SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh said in a release.
07/04/20 PTI/Outlook

500 unsung heroes keep Delhi's IGI safe

New Delhi: With no domestic or international flight operations due to the 21-day lockdown, the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) is wearing a deserted look, probably for the first time since it has become operational. However, almost 500 personnel are staying on the premises and still on duty every day to sanitise and disinfect each item inside the airport.
Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which manages the airport, said that though commercial operations had been halted, special flights — ferrying stranded citizens of various countries — were still functioning, making it essential to sanitise every item in the area after each operation.

“When almost everyone is in the safe environs of home following the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19, some unsung heroes are working round the clock,” said the DIAL spokesperson.

They are in a way leading a “quarantined life as they are not even going back home to meet their families,” he added.

The team functioning 24x7 includes staff dealing with trolleys, sanitisation, security, airport rescue and firefighting, airside operations, inline baggage and landside management.

DIAL is, meanwhile, also preparing for resumption of commercial operations with social-distancing lines being drawn inside and near counters. “They have been marked with yellow colour,” said an airport official.
After international flights were suspended on March 22, domestic operations came to a grinding halt on March 24 at 11:59pm. While more than 10 evacuation flights have been operated during this period by India to ferry its stranded citizens abroad, it also handled 29 flights (between March 25, 2020 and April 2, 2020) in which about 5,751 stranded foreign nationals flew to their country of origin from the IGI airport. The biggest aircraft used was an Airbus 380 by Lufthansa, which flew around 500 Germans to Frankfurt.
07/04/20 Jasjeev Gandhiok/Times of India

Air India Pilot Quarantined, Colony Residents Call Him a Hero

The residents of a gated community in Chennai pasted a 'Thank You' note right below the quarantine sticker pasted by the GCC (Greater Chennai Corporation), outside the home of an Air India Pilot, Captain Manish Sharma.
This feel-good gesture by the members of the community has given Twitterati the warm fuzzies, and for good reason. Typically, in a number of cases, people who have had quarantine stickers stuck outside their homes are being met with unnecessary fear, discrimination, and are being unduly ostracised.
Incidentally, Captain Manish had operated an international evacuation flight. It was owing to this that the GCC placed his home under isolation.

The handwritten note was pasted right under the GCC quarantine sticker. While Twitter users appreciated the gesture, and 'Bitanko Biswas', for sharing the photograph, some were apprehensive of the backlash that would result in revealing the address of the Air India pilot.
07/04/20 Quint


Qantas in talks for rescue flights to India

Qantas is in talks with the federal government about emergency flights to pick up Australians stranded in India, despite thousands baulking at the expected $3000-plus cost of a ticket home.

While the India flights are yet to be locked in, two more flights have been arranged with Latam Airlines on Wednesday to rescue hundreds of Australians trapped in South America.
A recent survey by the Australian high commission in India found just 4 per cent of more than 3100 respondents were willing to pay more than $3000 for a flight home.

An email sent to Australians in India by the high commission said evacuation planning had been complicated by the cost of flights and the fact some airlines, such as Air India, had indicated they couldn't conduct repatriation flights to Australia.
"As you know the Australian government's policy precludes assisted departures," the email says. "The survey results were very clear on this point, with only 126 of the over 3100 respondents indicating they are willing to pay over $3000 for the return flight.
"We know many of you have asked about availability of Australian airlines such as Qantas to conduct the flights. We have been exploring that. The issue of cost is likely to be the same."
The high commission said it was also working with other countries that had chartered flights to see if there was room for Australians, "in particular if they are returning to hubs that allow a connection back to Australia".
06/04/20 Anthony Galloway/Sydney Morning Herald

IndiGo operates relief flights at own cost in the service of the nation

In its continuous endeavour to provide support to the nation in the current scenario, IndiGo has been authorised to operate over 30 relief flights in the country. These flights have been successful in carrying and supplying the medical equipment and other requisite resources across the country, while adhering to all the precautionary measures. The airline has been allowed by the government to carry cargo in their planes, to fly food, medicine and medical equipment in the country's battle against the pandemic. These flights are being operated by the company at its own cost.

Mr. Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer, IndiGo said, "We are humbled and gratified that despite the lockdown, we have so far been authorized to operate at our own cost over thirty emergency relief flights carrying medical equipment and supplies from one part of the country to another. We know how critical it is for health workers in every corner of the country to get immediate access to medical supplies, and we are grateful to be allowed to play a role, however modest, in this supply chain. Our 27,000 employees are standing just a little bit taller, knowing that we are able to mobilize our resources to make a small contribution to the health and well-being of our nation. The employees of IndiGo would also like to salute our colleagues over at Air India, for the heroic work they have been doing in evacuating Indians and other nationals stranded in foreign countries. It makes us all proud to see aviation professionals stepping forward to respond to the critical humanitarian needs of the hour."
07/04/20 Equity Bulls

Air India cargo flight with medicines lands at Swami Vivekananda Airport

Raipur: A special Air India Cargo flight carrying medical supplies to the Chhattisgarh State Health Department landed at Swami Vivekananda Airport (SVA), Mana on Monday. SVA Director Rakesh Ranjan Sahay said that Air India operated Special Cargo Flights on April 6 to transport medicine and other related items. Team RPR Joined hands for 2nd medical supply at Airport.

The airport is opened only for emergency services like operating special aircraft for bringing stranded people of Chhattisgarh and for sending or receiving medical supplies. Details of flight: Aircraft-ATR72. 9I-924 Delhi/Varanasi – 1100/1300, 9I-924 Varanasi/Raipur– 1330/1500, 9I-924 Raipur/Hyderabad – 1530/1710 9I-924 Hyderabad/Delhi – 1800/2115.
07/04/20 Hitavada

Booking tickets to fly? You may not get refund

Chennai: Planning to fly on or after April 15. Beware. You may not get refund of ticket fare in case the suspension of flights continues beyond the lockdown period and you want to cancel the booking.

Though there is no clear instruction from the Centre on flight operations resuming after April 14, private airlines have opened bookings and started sending out promotional emails urging people to travel.
Many people, most of them stuck in different cities, have booked tickets.
Minister of civil aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday said the government is yet to decide on resumption of flight services. He also tweeted that reports of flight resumption after April 14 are mere speculation. This has put in a fix people who had already booked tickets and those planning to do so.
As per the new cancellation policy, airlines will not issue refunds for tickets if flights are suspended because of the shutdown. Instead, they will hold the money as a credit so that the passenger can travel anytime within a year. So, if the shutdown is extended, people who have booked for flying on April 15 and on subsequent days may not get their money back.
Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) national president D Sudhakara Reddy said, “Its unfair that airlines have opened booking without instructions from the government. Now, those who have booked will have to suffer as they will not get their money back. The association is planning to raise the issue with the ministry.” The APAI has already raised the issue of airlines not refunding ticket fares for flights cancelled during the shutdown period.
The idea of using the same ticket by paying a difference in fare, if any, at a later date makes sense only to those who are stuck away from their workplace or the city of residence because they may have to travel when the situation normalises. “I am waiting to book a ticket from Kolkata to fly to Chennai where I live. I do not want to book unless I am sure that there will be flights,” said Priya Kumar.
07/04/20 V Ayyappan/Times of India

400 foreign tourists in Kerala yet to reach home

Kochi: When the Prime Minister announced the 21-day lockdown on March 24, nearly 820 foreign tourists were stranded in Kerala, unable to return to their native countries. Now, into the second week of the lockdown, nearly 400 of them are still held over.Though nations concerned are attempting to evacuate these tourists safely, closure of airports is seemingly deterring the move.

According to P Bala Kiran, director, Kerala Tourism, so far, 300 of the 820 tourists have been evacuated. “We are taking care of all the foreign tourists who are currently in Kerala. Some had arrived as part of tour packages, while a few others were visiting the state for medical reasons. All the foreign tourists here are safe. Our officials are frequently in touch with them,” he said. The tourists were kept under quarantine at various hotels and hospitals across the state.
K Raj Kumar, joint director, Kerala Tourism, Ernakulam said the evacuation procedures are conducted after coordinating with the embassies of the respective countries. “We evacuated over 100 German nationals last week. Similarly, a flight from Oman was arranged to airlift the Omani medical tourists. Also, steps were taken to evacuate French nationals and other tourists from other European countries on Saturday, “ he said.

According to Raj Kumar, the majority of the foreign tourists, who are still in Kerala, are from the United Kingdom. “There are also several tourists from the United States and Malaysia also, besides a few Saudi nationals. We are constantly contacting them, “ he said. 
Owing to the pandemic across the globe and much to the credit of the tourism fraternity here, several tourists, especially from European countries, say they want to continue their stay in Kerala till their tourist visa period ends.

On Saturday alone, 24 tourists who were supposed to board the Air India flight along with the remaining 112 people to Paris opted to stay back. “Some tourists claim they feel safer here than in Europe now. A few of them have also arrived in the state with long-term visas and wish to stay here till their visa period ends,” an official said.
Eight foreign tourists underwent medical treatment in Kerala after they were tested Covid-19 positive. The successful treatment of 57-year-old British national Brian Neil who was admitted in a critical condition after testing Covid-19 positive during his tour here, brought laurels to the Kerala government.
07/04/20 Toby Antony/New Indian Express

IAF airlifts medical supplies from Bagdogra to Gangtok

New Delhi: Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft lifted medical supplies from West Bengal''s Bagdogra to Sikkim''s Gangtok on Monday for COVID-19 patients.

"The medical supplies were airlifted by Mi-17V-5, a military transport helicopter, from Bagdogra to Gangtok," the IAF said.

The force said that it continues support to contain the spread of the coronavirus across the country, as IAF has been airlifting essential medical supplies and commodities.

It said that the medical supplies are being transported to equip the state governments and supporting agencies to combat the contagion effectively and efficiently.

During the last one week, IAF airlifted essential medical supplies and commodities from nodal points to Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Mohanbari in the northeast; Prayagraj, Gorakhpur, Bareilly and Agra in the central region; and the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
06/04/20 IANS/Outlook

AirAsia India announces free rescheduling, direct booking discounts on all flights till 31 May

AirAsia India has announced a waiver of all rescheduling fees on current and future bookings for travel until 31 May, 2020.
The waiver, announced in the campaign “From A to B, we’ve got your back”, encompasses all flights “from A to B on the AirAsia India domestic network” across points-of-sale, encouraging guests to book even if they are concerned that their Plan A may change to Plan B.

In view of the ongoing uncertainty, AirAsia India has extended this offer across channels.

In addition, AirAsia India is offering a limited period special discount of up to 10 percent on bookings made 14 days in advance on www.airasia.com and the AirAsia India mobile app using the Promo Code FLYNOW10.

Guests can manage their bookings and reschedule by logging in or signing up as a BIG Member on www.airasia.com with the email ID used when making their original booking, linking their existing PNR to their BIG member ID and editing their booking.
06/04/20 First Post

Government not in a position to bailout aviation industry: CAPA report

Mumbai: While governments world over have announced economic stimulus packages or put in place measures to help their COVID infected ailing aviation sector, the Indian aviation industry’s high expectations that the government would bailout the sector may be unrealistic, said Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), a global aviation consultancy firm, in its latest report.

"Despite its best intentions, the government has multiple competing calls on its limited resources. There is only so much that it can offer to the aviation sector given that numerous industries across the economy are under severe stress. And the priority will understandably be on providing a basic health and economic safety net for the most vulnerable segments of society," said the CAPA report.

Among the options through which the government could support the Indian aviation industry were direct equity infusions or secondly, loans or getting banks to extend lines of credit with government backing, both of which CAPA said was unlikely. What was also not likely to happen was waivers/moratoriums on airport and en route charges, fuel charges, on interest and principal payment and on tax obligations.

"The Indian government may only be in a position to offer more functional relief consisting of waivers and moratoriums on liabilities. Given the massive structural dislocation faced by the aviation sector, this may not be sufficient to rescue operators, particularly weaker companies," the report said adding that it was still too early to predict the full extent of the impact on the industry. Any government support may be announced incrementally as greater clarity about the state of the industry emerges over time.

The report recommended that Air India and private airlines be treated equally when it comes to emergency relief consisting of wage subsidies to protect employment; survival relief, consisting of waivers and moratoriums on various charges, taxes, and interest obligations; and lastly, a set-up for recovery, which includes bringing aviation turbine fuel under the GST framework with full input tax credit (in the interim, VAT should be reduced to 4%); direct cash injections; arrangement of credit lines with banks; temporary waiver on airport charges.
06/04/20 Manju V/Times of India

Monday, April 06, 2020

Air India asks passengers of 4 flights operated in March to quarantine themselves

Air India has asked passengers who travelled in four of its flights in March to follow necessary isolation or quarantine after three passengers on those flights tested positive for coronavirus. The flights were from Mumbai to Goa, Delhi to Goa, Mumbai to Delhi and Delhi to Patna.

In an appeal to passengers who were onboard these flights, the airline said it has got the information that three passengers who travelled on the flights have been found to be infected with coronavirus.

"As informed by Disaster Management Department of Bihar, one passenger who travelled from Mumbai to Delhi by AI-101 of March 22 and from Delhi-to Patna on AI-415 on March 23 has been found COVID-9 positive on March 31," the airline said in a tweet.
As appealed by the department, passengers who were on this flight are required to follow necessary isolation or quarantine process.

The national carrier also made similar appeals to the passengers of its Delhi-Goa flight, AI 883, on March 22, and Mumbai-Goa flight, AI661, on March 19.

"As informed by Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, Directorate of Health Services, Goa, one passenger who travelled from Mumbai to Panjim in Goa on Air India flight AI 661 on March 19 has been found COVID-9 positive.

As appealed by integrated disease surveillance programme, Goa, passengers for this flight are required to follow for necessary isolation quarantine," Air India said in a tweet on Saturday.
06/04/20 PTI/News Minute

Airline Companies want Government to invoke ‘force majeure’ due to COVID-19

The outbreak of pandemic COVID-19 has reignited the debate of term ‘force majeure’ in contractual businesses particularly in civil aviation business. The outbreak has brought the world to a near standstill and as a result the commercial businesses are at their low. The companies across the world want the governments or the other businesses to invoke the clause of force majeure so as to save them from incurring losses and their collapse in these unforeseen circumstances.

One of the major industry suffering in India from this pandemic is the airline industry. It is already suffering from low availability of credit to maintain their day to day operation and has been plagued by rampant corruption. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has recommended that the government should mandate that force majeure applies to all civil aviation contracts to save the domestic civil aviation industry from the COVID-19 induced crisis.

The passenger airlines both domestic and international have been put on ground for an indefinite period to contain the spread of novel corona virus. In such an extraordinary situation the airlines are seeking invocation of force majeure by the government to defer the payment of taxes, oil charges, aviation turbine fuel and salary to workers. Most of the airlines capital reserves would be wiped out if the situation persists for more than three months. FICCI also suggested that Oil Marketing Companies may be directed to extend unsecured interest-free credit terms to the aviation sector as the aviation turbine fuel is one of the three major costs for domestic airlines.
06/04/20 India Legal

Lifeline Udan: No commercial traffic but Indian skies buzzing with cargo planes carrying Covid-19 essentials

Patna: Though commercial flights stand suspended in India due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the skies are still buzzing with regular cargo flights to transport critical medical equipment and supplies.

By 5 pm on April 5, according to a press communiqué released by Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) on Sunday, as many as 116 flights have already been operated by Air India, Alliance Air, IAF, Pawan Hans and private carriers under Lifeline UDAN.

Lifeline Udan is a government initiative for air transport of medical cargo and essential supplies across India at the time of the Covid-19 crisis.

The Civil Aviation Ministry says that 79 of these flights have been operated by Air India and Alliance Air. Cargo transported till date is around 161 tons. Aerial distance covered by Lifeline Udan flights till date is over 1,12,178 km.
On the international front, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Air India have been working closely with China to establish a cargo air-bridge between the two countries for the transfer of critical medical supplies. The first cargo flight between India and China was operated by Air India on April 4, carrying 21 tons of critical medical supplies from China.

The urgent demand for medical equipment to fight coronavirus has kept the cargo crew busy while domestic and international passenger flights are banned till April 14 to check the spread of Covid-19. The only passenger flights that have departed from Indian airports are special relief flights to carry stranded foreigners abroad.
05/04/20 Amitabh Srivastava/India Today

Potential impact of Covid-19 on Indian aviation and tourism

As the Covid-19 cases in India cross 4,000 with worldwide cases at 1,284,665, KPMG, a multinational professional services network, has put together a paper that offers a foresight on the business landscape, including aviation and tourism in India.

Read how the study throws some light on the overall situation of Indian economy amid the pandemic >>

Nowhere to go, Covid air pocket leaves flyers with forced vouchers

New Delhi: Visiting California was on Amrita’s mind since she got her first job in mid-2019. She saved and planned a Vegas trip. But with the coronavirus pandemic forcing India to cancel international flights, the Rs 42,500 she spent on the tickets, booked in December for travel in April, is stuck.

Etihad Airlines has refused to provide her a refund and has given her a voucher of equivalent amount that can be used till July 31 next year. But with the virus spread becoming severe in the US, Amrita is unsure of any international travel in the near future. She now spends 10 minutes daily trying to get a refund. “I call them. They’re robotic, keep repeating the same information, that Etihad has decided not to give refunds and offer a voucher,” said Amrita, 25. “They wouldn’t deviate from the repetition. They just say I could log a complaint but that wouldn’t get me a refund.”
Not just the international airlines, it’s the same story with the domestic carriers. Indian airlines, too, are refusing to refund cash and giving credit that can be used later.

As airlines pocket millions owed to customers, people are questioning the objective of spending taxpayer’s money to bail out these airlines while they hold the same taxpayers at ransom.

Indian civil aviation regulation mandates airlines to offer passengers a refund if a flight is cancelled, with exceptions for circumstances like bad weather. “If you are informed of the flight cancellation less than two weeks before but up to 24 hours of the scheduled departure time, the airline must offer another flight or refund the ticket amount, as acceptable by you,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s passenger charter states.

“That happens in normal times... but country lockdowns have dissolved schedules for weeks, forcing airlines to park their fleets and guarding their cash as revenue withers. If forced to give refunds now, one or more than one airline will be out of business,” an airline executive said.

The official’s comment echoes the message airline trade group International Air Transport Association (IATA) sent on Friday, urging governments to relax regulations on cancellation refunds.

“We believe the best answer for both airlines and travel agents is for regulators to ease requirements for cash refunds and allow airlines to issue vouchers instead. This would remove the pressure on agents to issue cash refunds at a time when airlines are making decisions based on their own need to preserve cash,” IATA said.
05/04/20 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard

Indian aviation’s wings will remain clipped long after the coronavirus lockdown

While most Indian airlines are taking domestic bookings for April 15, India’s ministry of civil aviation has not confirmed if operations will resume from that date. The curbs and the uncertainty have paralysed the sector and are bound to cause unprecedented turmoil.

Even with some partial resumption of services in May and June, the financial outcomes may not change significantly- Read Niharika Sharma's analysis in full >>

Civil Aviation Minister calls reports of flights resumption after April 14 as 'mere speculation'

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said that the government is yet to take any decision on resumption of flight services both on domestic and international sectors. In a tweet, he described the reports of flight resumption after April 14 as mere speculation. The aviation sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

All major airlines except Air India are taking domestic bookings for dates post April 14. Air India is taking bookings for dates post April 30 only. Government has imposed a 21-day lockdown from March 25 to curb spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
06/04/20 All India Radio

Chandigarh Municipality to do drone-based sanitisation

Chennai: Bagging the latest order for anti-coronavirus sanitization from the Chandigarh Municipality, Chennai-based Garuda Aerospace mulls a mix of transport mode to execute the orders, said a top company official.

"On Monday we got the order from Chandigarh Municipality to sanitise about 200 acre on a pilot basis. There is a strong possibility of higher area being offered for sanitization," Agnishwar Jayaprakash, Managing Director of city-based Garuda Aerospace, told IANS.

The company has already bagged anti-coronavirus drone based sanitization orders from smart cities like Varanasi, Raipur, Chennai and Hyderabad.

Varanasi is a star Parliamentary constituency that has sent Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Lok Sabha.

"Already one team is travelling by road to to sanitise Chhattisgarh capital Raipur and Hyderabad with drones. It is a long drive for the team," he added.

"With the lockdown in place, we have approached government and private airlines operating cargo service private agencies to transport our drones and personnel to Varanasi. We are yet to hear from them," he added.
06/04/20 IANS/Outlook

Minor fire near runway of Solapur airport in Maharashtra

Pune: A minor fire broke out on a stretch of grass near the runway of the Solapur airport in Maharashtra on Sunday night, a Fire Brigade official said.
Prima facie, firecrackers burst by some people while responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to switch off lights at 9 pm might have sparked the blaze, he said.
"The fire broke out at 9:30 pm. We sent four fire tenders to the spot and the fire was extinguished within 15 to 20 minutes," he said.
06/04/20 PTI/New Indian Express

UK to send 7 charter flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Goa to fly stranded nationals back

Chandigarh: Giving much awaited relief to around 20,000 British nationals stranded in India, UK is sending seven charter flights to fly its nationals back from New Delhi, Mumbai and Goa airports between April 8 and April 12.
The charter flights will depart for London on April 9 and 11 from New Delhi and Mumbai international airports and on April 8, 10 and 12 from Goa international airport. Though a considerable number of UK nationals are expected to be stranded in Punjab, no flights have been announced from either Amritsar or Chandigarh airport. However, Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh assured that his government would facilitate travel of foreign nationals to the nearest airports.
UK MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi tweeted, “Why isn’t one of these (at least) from Amritsar? Given the huge numbers within Punjab, especially elderly and those fast running out of medicine, surely that should have been actioned. No doubt questions will be raised afterwards about numbers stranded in different locations.”
UK announced the first seven charter flights from India on Sunday. These are part of a 75 million pound package announced on March 30. More charter flights from India are yet to be announced by the UK government.
06/04/20 Sanjeev Verma/Times of India

Air India aircraft returns with 19 tonnes medical equipment from China

New Delhi: An aircraft of staterun Air India reached Delhi in the early hours on Sunday with more than 19 tonnes of mandatory medical equipment from China.
Air India has set up an 'aerobridge' to import essential medical supplies from China.
Under this, the first flight reached Delhi with 19,416 kg of medical equipment from Shanghai. Flight number AI349 landed at Delhi airport at 0450 hrs.
India has also sought permission to operate more aircraft from Shanghai and Hong Kong for import of medical equipment.
05/04/20 UNI

Corona cripples travel, Delhi IGIA leads with social media updates for troubled passengers

New Delhi: Delhi’s IGI Airport has been making the most of social media to update passengers about the constant travel changes in the corona-ravaged world. According to Konnect Insights, a reputed social media tool, IGIA had over 3.5 SM engagements in those times, followed by Singapore Changi at over 84,000. Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) says its round the clock command centre is live seven days a week “to meet all passenger queries during Covid lockdown.”

The top five airports in terms of SM engagement according to Konnect Insights in the corona times have been: Delhi IGIA, Singapore Changi, Seoul Incheon, Hyderabad RGIA and London Heathrow.

DIAL CEO Videh Kumar Jaipuriar said: “While the whole country (is) in a state of lockdown, our social media 24x7 command centre remain(s) fully functional just like any other essential service at the airport. The cutting edge cloud based technology deployed by us ensured that the team could operate remotely from their home and adhere to the 21 days lockdown. We still continue to respond almost real-time to the passengers’ queries and engage with them proactively through advisories and updates. It has also helped us in gathering insight of the situation on ground through online conversations. The team’s contribution is truly on the lines of work from hub culture promoted during the Covid-19 crises.”

India’s 21-day lockdown started from March 25. As a result, all domestic and international flights (except evacuation and essential cargo flight movements) were suspended. “While air traffic witnessed a significant decline between March 15 and 31, it also resulted in higher anxiety levels in passengers … During such crucial times, passengers were left with only one reliable choice for their enquiries, social media, especially at a time when call centre operations too were impacted because of the lockdown,” DIAL said in a statement.
06/04/20 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Embraer eyeing Indian skies with new E2; but will it work?

The usual buzz was missing but Wings India 2020 was one of the few events that braved the coronavirus outbreak that has upended social, political, sport and business calendars across the world.

The biennial aero show sees manufacturers bring their latest offerings to one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world. The Brazilian Embraer, too, joined the show held in mid-March, with its newest aircraft-- the E195-E2.

Also called the “Profit Hunter, Embraer sees the E2 as the missing piece in Indian skies -- a regional jet aircraft.
Is it really that one aircraft that Indian airlines need? Your writer took a tour of the new bird at Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad and also spoke to Embraer’s Vice President Asia-Pacific Cesar Pereira to get some answers.

Big Boys Boeing and Airbus have orders worth billions of dollars from Indian carriers but they are for medium and long-haul aircraft.
On the short-haul, or regional routes as we know them, Franco-Italian ATR and Canadian Bombardier lead the segment with their turboprop planes.

It is this segment that Embraer, which is the third-largest producer of civil aircraft after Boeing and Airbus, is eyeing.
06/04/20 Shivam Vahia/Moneycontrol

No charter flights scheduled between Maldives, India: High Commission

The Indian High Commission in Maldives has stated that no charter flights between Maldives and India have been scheduled.

The High Commission said it had been receiving a large number of emails and telephone calls regarding restarting flight connectivity between India and Maldives as well as chartering flights to India.

Noting that India is still on lockdown and has suspended all domestic and international flights, the High Commission said no charter flights from Maldives are currently being planned. Commercial airlines including GOAIR, AirIndia and Indigo will be resuming operation at the end of this month or early next month, said the High Commission.

The High Commission urged all Indian nationals in the Maldives to keep a close tab on developments in India, and acknowledged that returning Indians may face hardships due to travel and quarantine restrictions. The High Commission assured that they are closely observing the situation, and that the Indian community in Maldives will be kept informed.
06/04/20 Avas

GoAir Open For Bookings From April 15 For Domestic Flights, From May 1 For International Flights

New Delhi: A day after the Central government said it will consider allowing flight operations in a staggered manner after the 21-day nationwide lockdown ends on April 14, the private airline GoAir on Monday said it is open for bookings from April 15 for its domestic flights. The airline also said it is open for bookings for international flights from May 1.
On Sunday, the Central government said it may consider allowing flight operations in a staggered manner after the 21-day nationwide lockdown ends on April 14.  As per updates, other airlines except for Air India, have been taking bookings for commercial passenger services from April 15.
However, the government also made it clear that flights may not be allowed to operate on all sectors. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the country suspended domestic and international commercial passenger flight operations from midnight on March 24 for 21 days in line with the nation-wide lockdown.
06/04/20 India.com

SpiceJet stands strong in India’s fight against Coronavirus

When India is fighting against Coronavirus i.e. COVID-19 and almost all modes of transportation coming to grinding halt, airlines are playing the much needed role in transporting medical necessities from one corner of the nation to another.
Like government owned Air India, several private airlines have shown their commitment to serve the nation in the hour of need and emergency. SpiceJet has shown its commitment and reiterated that it is committed and honored to help the nation every way it can during the battle against Covid-19 and continue transporting essential supplies across the country. Reiterating its commitment to help the Government in the battle against COVID-19, SpiceXpress freighters SG 7051 & SG 7055 carried blood vials from Surat & Bengaluru to Chennai, & emergency medical supplies on SG 7008 from Pune to Mumbai.
Nonetheless, Spicejet has operated 109 domestic cargo flights from 24 March to 3 April covering a distance of 1,14,993 KMs to carry 825 tons cargo to help India fight against Corona epidemic. Similarly, the airline transported first Covid-19 Rapid Testing kits for Kerala, a state that has been facing huge influx of coronavirus patients. These testing kits will help the state fight against the epidemic as the number of patients tested will go up. Similarly, the airline operated a special flight from Delhi to Coimbatore to deliver one hazmat suit that are used by the local authorities to do research & manufacture more locally, and bolster their efforts to combat the epidemic.
Apart from transporting cargo and testing kits, SpiceJet’s joint fight against COVID-19 continued as in March the airline operated a special flight to fly 142 Indians, evacuated from Iran, from Delhi to a quarantine facility in Jodhpur. All safety protocols were adhered to by the crew during this special flight to ensure that the virus does not spread to healthy people. The airline has also attracted media’s attention for its marvelous work in fight against Corona as Capt. Namrata Keen was featured on CNNnews18 as a CoronaWarrior.
06/04/20 Himanshu Jain/Newsroom Post

Coronavirus hits govt's plan to privatise Air India, BPCL, Concor

The coronavirus outbreak and crash of crude price have hit the disinvestment plan of the government that planned to raise about Rs 2.1 lakh crore in 2020-21. The sale of Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) is in trouble because of the crash of crude price, while it's tough to find a buyer for Air India, especially when the global aviation sector is in doldrums after the outbreak. The sale of Container Corporation of India (Concor) has additional problems as its major valuation comes from the leased land that it took from Indian Railways at subsidised rates. Besides, the stock market crash is not a good news for the government, which wanted to divest its 47 per cent stake in IDBI Bank and 10 per cent stake in Life Insurance Corp of India (LIC). Overall, the government wanted to sell stakes in two dozen central public sector companies in 2020-21.

Rating agency Fitch Solutions said that India's fiscal deficit in 2020-21 may skyrocket to 6.2 per cent of the GDP from 3.5 per cent that the government estimated. They expect that the revenue collection will contract in this financial year because of the weak economic activity. Fitch Solutions said the receipts may contract by 1 per cent from a growth of 11.8 per cent previously. Moody's slashed India GDP growth in 2020 to 2.5 per cent, while KPMG estimated below 3 per cent growth. Fitch quoted a 2 per cent GDP growth. Disinvestment is one of the major options to bridge budget deficits in this kind of economic scenario.
05/04/20  Nevin John/Business Today

AirAsia India announces free rescheduling & direct booking discounts on all flights till May 31

Kolkata: To help quell guests'worries around making travel plans, AirAsia India has announced a waiver of all rescheduling fees on current and future bookings for travel until May 31.
The waiver announced in the campaign “From A to B, we’ve got your back”, encompasses all flights “from A to B on the AirAsia India domestic network” across points-of-sale, encouraging guests to book even if they are concerned that their Plan A may change to Plan B.
In view of the ongoing uncertainty, AirAsia India has extended this offer across channels.
In addition, AirAsia India is offering a limited period special discount of up to 10 pc on bookings made 14 days in advance on www.airasia.com and the AirAsia India mobile app using the Promo Code FLYNOW10, an AirAsia spokesperson here on Monday said.
06/04/20 UNI


Air India flight brings 21 tons of medical supplies from China to combat COVID-19

New Delhi: National carrier Air India has brought in 21 tons of critical medical supplies from China for treatment of coronavirus infected people.

"On the international front, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Air India have worked closely with China to establish a cargo air-bridge between the two countries for transfer of critical medical supplies. The first cargo flight between India and China was operated by Air India on 4 April 2020, carrying 21 tons of critical medical supplies from China," an official statement said.

It also said that the a total of 116 flights have been operated under 'Lifeline Udan' so far by Air India, Alliance Air, the IAF, Pawan Hans and private carriers. Out of the total, 79 flights have been operated by Air India and Alliance Air.

Total cargo transported till April 4 is around 161 tons, it added.
The cargo includes Covid-19 related reagents, enzymes, medical equipment, testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), masks, gloves, other materials of HLL and ICMR along with cargo requisitioned by state government and union territories and postal packets among others.
05/04/20 IANS/New Indian Express

UK announces first charter flights from India to bring British nationals home

ew Delhi: The UK has announced the first seven charter flights that will bring home British nationals stuck in India due to the coronavirus lockdown. The charter flights will depart for London from the following cities:

Goa: 8, 10 and 12 April
Mumbai: 9 and 11 April
New Delhi: 9 and 11 April

British travellers should visit the booking portal for respective cities to reserve seats. Information on further flights from other locations in India will follow shortly.

Acting High Commissioner to India Jan Thompson said, We know how worrying the past few weeks have been for British nationals in India. I hope this announcement will bring relief, especially to those in greatest need. Due to the large numbers of British travellers involved, the scale of this operation is huge. The UK government continues to work hard with our Indian counterparts in New Delhi and London to arrange a safe journey back for as many people as possible.

Foreign Office Minister of State, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon said, The UK is working around the clock to support the large numbers of British travellers who wish to return to the UK from India and around the world. In the absence of commercial flights, these first charter flights from India should provide relief to some of our British travellers who are desperate to return home, especially for the most vulnerable and those in greatest need.
05/04/20 Geeta Mohan/India Today

UK organises rescue flights to Goa, but steep fare shocks Britons

Panaji: The UK government has organised three special flights to rescue its citizens stranded in Goa with the first scheduled for April 8, the British high commission announced on Sunday. Along with these flights, four others have been arranged by the British government from Delhi and Mumbai.

While the flights did bring to an end the uncertainty about their return home, British citizens were unhappy with the steep fares. Many Britons had expected the fares to be capped at £500, but found themselves paying close to £700 for a seat.

The steep fares did prompt some British nationals to consider staying on in India to wait till the lockdown is lifted. “My friend paid just under £2,000 for him, his wife and son and he said there was no option to pay later. I thought the government said the flights would be £250-500 and you would have the option the pay in 6 months. Anyway I’m not going as I don’t have the money. I will try and reschedule my Air India flight once they reopen,” Annie Stuart, who is stuck at Palolem, said.

“Just had to pay £2,050 for flights from Goa for my wife, three-year-old daughter and myself. No option to pay when we get back, no £500 cap. Can’t afford the flights, but had space on a credit card for now. Lots of other people I know won’t be able to do that. Not the level of help was hoping for,” Birmingham resident Jit Coulter-Patel said.

There were close to 1,500 British citizens stranded in Goa when the state was put under lockdown and all international flights cancelled. However, several of them managed to fly out on repatriation flights organised by European Union nations such as Germany, France, Italy and Poland.
06/04/20 Newton Sequeira/Times of India

DHS urges Air India AI883 & AI1661 passengers to report to nearest Govt Health Facility

Panaji, Apr 5 (UNI) Directorate of Health Services (DHS) has asked those who had travelled by Air India flight AI 883 and Air Asia flight AI 661, which landed in Goa on March 22 and March 19, 2020, respectively, to quarantine themselves.
The appeal has been made in view of two patients being detected positive for Corona virus Disease (COVID-19) on April 3, 2020, and April 4, 2020, at Goa Medical College (GMC) having a travel history to reached Goa from Air India Flight.
''The Corona Positive Patient detected on April 3, 2020, at Goa Medical College has a travel history from Kempton Park to Johannesburg to Kenya to Mumbai to Goa from Mumbai to Goa.
He travelled via Air India Flight AI661 and reached Goa on March 19, 2020. The Corona Positive Patient detected on April 4, 2020 at Goa Medical College has a travel history from San Francisco to New Delhi to Goa. From New Delhi to Goa he travelled via Air India Flight AI 883 and reached Goa on March 22, 2020,'' a statement said.
05/06/20 UNI