Saturday, March 23, 2019

SBI-led lenders may take control of Jet by Monday

New Delhi: Unless Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal is able to arrange for funds over the next 24-48 hours, lenders led by State Bank of India could take over the cashstrapped Jet Airways by Monday and simultaneously seek the exit of Goyal and his nominees from the airline’s board.
 Bankers are then expected to rope in professionals to run the airline for a few months before finding a suitor for what was once India’s largest airline, sources told TOI.
 As things stand, Etihad (which has 24% stake in Jet) seems reluctant to pump in more funds and may also sell its stake to the consortium of bankers, which will then have a stake of 60-65% in the airline, sources added. It is not just the loan of over Rs 8,200 crore that stares at the prospective new owners.
 “Jet’s total debt is in the range of Rs 8,000-9,000 crore. Plus, there are payables of Rs 15,000 crore and estimated advance ticket sales of Rs 3,500 crore. Banks should be ready to pump in much more than the emergency funding of Rs 1,000-2,000 crore,” said an aviation industry insider.
 While the future of Jet will eventually be decided by the next central government that will assume office in about two-and-a-half months, the plan as of now is that banks get together to ensure that the airline does not shut operations
 “The feeling among bankers is that if Jet shuts down, they will lose all the money. On the other hand, if it somehow survives, there is a chance of some other player — preferably an Indian giant or consortium of desi players — taking over Jet in a few months. At that time, banks will offload some of their stakes to the new owner,” said sources.
 23/03/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Jet Airways lenders may re-initiate talks with Tata Group, says report

Lenders of cash-strapped Jet Airways are looking to re-start talks with the Tatas as a possible new investor in the Indian airline, The Hindu Business Line reported.

The development comes after Etihad Airways, which holds a 24 percent stake in Jet Airways, offered to sell its stake in the beleaguered airline.

Tatas, who were keen to buy the airline and were in preliminary talks with Jet in November, have already been approached by the lenders and a formal offer is likely to be sent soon, said the report citing top sources.

Sources told the paper that the lenders have reached out to 'multiple players, including the Tatas.

The talks in November with the Tata Group, however, did not bear fruit. Tatas already own stakes in Vistara, 51 percent, and AirAsia India , 49 percent.

One of Tatas demands, as per a CNBC-TV18's report, was for the chairman, Naresh Goyal, to step down from the airline's board. Now that the lenders have asked Goyal to step down and Etihad is already willing to exit, it is easier for Tatas to acquire a controlling share in Jet.
23/03/19 CNBC-TV18.com

How Jet Airways managed to remain airborne, set itself on this course until turbulence

In an industry as volatile as aviation, 12 years can be a long time. Long enough for Jet Airways’s descent from being one of the most preferred airlines with offerings that matched those of top-rated international carriers to one that’s fighting for survival.
According to a report of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), for February 2019, Jet Airways, along with JetLite, the company’s wholly owned subsidiary, received the highest passenger complaints at 3.1 per 10,000 passengers. These complaints are over a number of issues such as fares, refunds, flight delays and cancellations, baggage handling, etc. Next on the list was Air India (domestic) with 1.5 complaints per 10,000 passengers.
While the airline has in its almost 26 years of existence ridden through – and survived – a number of rough patches, sector watchers see the carrier’s current run as its most turbulent yet.

Today, the airline is facing a crisis of confidence among its various stakeholders – faced with frequent disruption and complaints, its passengers are looking at other airlines; its pilots are interviewing for jobs with rivals; aircraft lessors are in discussions to take back planes rented to Jet so that they can be leased to other domestic carriers; and its shareholders are looking to offload Jet’s stock.
With the future of Jet’s 17,000 employees tied to the airline’s survival, efforts are being made at the highest levels of the government to ensure there are no job losses ahead of what is being billed as a defining election.

“In a situation where market forces are left free, it is healthy if an airline or an airport goes bust. It weeds out inefficiencies. But Jet is a large player and there are 17,000 families associated with it,” said a senior government official who is in the know of plans pertaining to Jet’s future.
In 1993, a year after its launch, Jet got its permit to fly as an air-taxi operator, which meant that it could fly but without a schedule. (A flight schedule allows a carrier to estimate costs and revenues for six months, the period of a single schedule in India.) Among the first flyers on Jet’s maiden flight from Bombay to Ahmedabad on May 5, 1993, was the pioneer of Indian aviation, J R D Tata.

Less than two years later, Jet Airways got the go-ahead to fly as a scheduled airline. This was made possible because the government had by then abolished the Air Corporation Act, 1953, which gave monopoly to State-owned carriers to operate as scheduled airlines.

Over the next few years, as Jet Airways started full-fledged operations, it grew to become the poster boy of private sector efficiency in India. Though the government’s Open Skies policy of 1992 — which called for the liberalisation of the rules and regulations of commercial aviation to create a free-market environment for the airline industry — coupled with the repeal of the Air Corporation Act, meant that the skies opened up to other private players such as ModiLuft, Air Sahara and East-West Airlines, Jet stood out from the pack. Until 2015-16, it paid among the highest salaries, spending Rs 67.04 lakh annually on each of its pilots. While ModiLuft and East-West ceased operations in 1996, Jet acquired Air Sahara in 2007.

While Jet continued to grow over the 1990s and early 2000s, in 2004, another change in government policy came as a boon for private carriers.

In December 2004, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal of the Ministry of Civil Aviation to allow “eligible” Indian scheduled carriers to operate on international routes. “Only Indian scheduled carriers with a minimum of five years continuous operations and having minimum of 20 aircraft in their fleet will be allowed to operate on international routes,” read the official statement dated December 29, 2004.

With about a decade of flying under its belt, Jet benefited immensely from the policy, which came to be known as the “5/20 rule” and which served to keep its relatively younger competitors such as the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines and Air Deccan out of international operations. In March 2004, Jet Airways and Air Sahara both launched their first international flights on the same route — Chennai to Colombo. In 2016, however, the government scrapped the 5/20 rule, which had been opposed by every new airline in India.

Over the years, as the founder-chairman of Jet, Goyal was able to foster relationships across the international aviation community and also managed to leverage some of these during times of trouble. One such relationship was with the Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad Airways, which, aided by relaxed FDI rules, picked up stakes in Jet. Goyal currently owns a majority 51 per cent stake in the airline, with Etihad holding another 24 per cent.

“You should never write off Naresh Goyal,” a senior official in the Civil Aviation Ministry had told The Indian Express last month, around the time that discussions at Tata Group on picking up stake in Jet Airways had gained serious momentum. “He has seen this airline through various seasons and he won’t let it go down without a fight,” the official had said.
23/03/19 Pranav Mukul/Indian Express

Jets grounding, yet flyers pay heavily for cancelling tickets

Munbai: Thousands of passengers who have booked their summer holiday air tickets on Jet are now stressed over the prospect of a ruined holiday and the money they would lose. The reason: Jet has been cancelling a large number of flights on a daily basis, but it also levies the steepest cancellation fee in the industry.
 While the government has allowed Jet to cancel any number of flights with impunity, if a passenger decides to cancel a ticket given Jet’s unpredictability, the airline will charge them a steep cancellation fee that can go up to Rs 4,600 for an economy-class ticket. Last month, Jet hiked its cancellation fee. At present, Jet Airways operates about 120 daily flights, which is about one-sixth the number of flights it operated at its peak, say industry sources.
Most Jet passengers aren’t told whether their flight will be operated or cancelled till the last 72 hours or so. Once Jet cancels the ticket, it is legally bound only to refund the airfare. That is no solace for passengers who bought cheap tickets months in advance as last-minute fares on other airlines would be steep.
Given the unpredictability of Jet’s operations, if the passenger decides to cancel the ticket beforehand, Jet will levy the heavy cancellation fee and most early-bookers will lose almost the entire amount they spent on the ticket.
 A Jet Airways spokesperson said, “Guests opting for voluntary cancellations are subject to appropriate charges in line with appropriate fare rules and the airline’s policy.” Anoop Kanuga of the Travel Agents Association of India said: “The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) should ask Jet to publish two months’ flight schedule, a list of flights Jet will surely operate, say till May 31. Then those passengers who find that their flights have been cancelled should be given a complete refund so that they are free to buy advance purchase tickets on other airlines. With a forward schedule, the DGCA can also release the unused Jet slots to other airlines, who will operate flights and so the supply won’t fall too much during the peak summer travel period and passengers won’t be hit.
 23/03/19 Manju V/Times India

Jet Airways has grounds 7 more aircraft

Jet Airways has grounded five more aircraft and two others operating for its sister airline JetLite due to nonpayment of lease rentals.
The airline has also stopped taking reservations for its Mumbai-Manchester and Delhi-Hong Kong routes from March 23, indefinitely stopped all flights to Abu Dhabi, and curtailed frequencies to destinations like Dubai, Doha and Singapore.
 With the financial crisis in the airline deepening, Jet has so far grounded 49 aircraft, 30 in March alone. The bank led provisional resolution plan (BLPRP) being worked out between lenders led by the State Bank of India has also been prolonged. The Jet management and partner Etihad Airways, which has a 24 per cent stake, have been unable come up with a final solution.
 The airline’s domestic and international network is witnessing a collapse, with massive cancellations and airfare increase of over 100 per cent on some key sectors. Arun Gopalakrishnan, a frequent Jet flyer, said, “My 90-year-old grandmother was to travel from Mumbai to Coimbatore on March 17. They cancelled the flight in last minute and gave the option of either taking a refund or rescheduling the flight. There was no point in taking a refund as spot air fares are very high. So we got the flight rescheduled to March 22. They cancelled even that and asked us to get a full refund.”
 23/03/19 Satish Nandgaonkar/Mumbai Mirror

Jet Airways suspends 12 international services

New Delhi/Mumbai: India's debt-laden Jet Airways has grounded seven more planes after failing to pay for its aircraft leases, heaping pressure on its founder as a ballooning crisis threatens its survival.

The beleaguered airline, gasping under debts of more than $1 billion, had grounded six planes earlier this week, and is also facing the threat of strike action over salary payments.

In a statement late on Friday announcing the latest groundings, the airline said it was "making all efforts to minimise disruption to its network... and is proactively informing and re-accommodating its affected guests". The Mumbai-based airline has now been left with just a quarter of its fleet of 119 aircraft in operation.

Jet has suspended 12 international flights, a separate report says, even as it grapples with a reduced fleet strength, industry insiders said.

Sources said the airline has suspended operations to Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Dammam, Singapore, Manchester and Dhaka, among others, until April 30.

"Apart from suspensions, the airline has also reduced frequencies on some of the international routes. These suspensions and reduction in frequencies can be attributed to the fact that its fleet size has been trnucated," sources said.

Jet, which employs more than 20,000 people, has also been facing pressure from pilots who have not been paid on time, with unions threatening they will walk off the job if salaries do not arrive soon.

Jet's crisis deepened due to a stalemate in talks between Jet founder Naresh Goyal and the airline's other major stakeholder, Etihad Airline. Local media said on Saturday hope was fading that Goyal would be able to raise the funds needed to save the airline he launched 26 years ago.

Meanwhile, Jet's pilots said they are suffering from massive financial stress caused by non-payment of salaries for the last three months, which has even forced some to mortgage jewellery and take short-term loans. The pilots said even EMI payments on car and home loans might become difficult in the present circumstance.

Pilots said that they, along with engineers and other highly-critical segments of employees, have not been paid three-month salaries from January 1 and that only 12.5 per cent of December pay was given.

"Nearly all of us have financial responsibilities. We fear that a sudden collapse of the airline might be imminent. We need our dues to paid by March 31 and a clear road map for our company," National Aviator's Guild vice-president Captain Asim Valiani told IANS in Mumbai.

"We have decided that either the management lets us know about the progress of the resolution plan and the future of the company by March 31 or we will refrain from flying duties."
23/03/19 AFP/IANS/Khaleej Times

Why even Jet Airways shutting down may not save Air India

Those in government who are constantly looking for revival plans for loss-making PSUs—under various ‘turnaround’ specialists—would do well to look at how Air India has fared after large parts of the airline industry stopped functioning due to IndiGo grounding flights because of lack of pilots and Jet Airways coming close to shutting down. In February 2018, according to a news report in The Times of India, IndiGo had a market share of 39.9%, followed by Jet at 16.8% and Air India at 13.2%; SpiceJet was fourth with a share of 12.4%. A year later, in February 2019, IndiGo’s market share had climbed to 43.4%, SpiceJet rose from 4th position to 2nd with a 13.7% market share while Air India remained at the 3rd slot, but with a reduced market share of 12.8%; nearly 90% of the fall in Jet’s market share, to 11.4%, was grabbed by IndiGo and SpiceJet. A similar story, not surprising given the various factors constraining PSUs that no government has been able to fix, applies to telecom PSUs like MTNL and BSNL; despite so many telecom players being forced to shut down, even before the fresh RJio onslaught, both PSUs continued to lose market share.

And this is despite the thousands of crores of taxpayer bailouts these PSUs continue to get in order to protect their bloated/inefficient workforces. Worse, this access to free money has distorted the competitive environment and may even be responsible for the large losses made by private sector firms. Air India, as Bloomberg Opinon columnist David Fickling has pointed out, is a full-service carrier—like Jet Airways—but its ticket prices resemble those of a budget airline. Over the past few years, data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation show that Jet’s passenger yields are significantly higher than IndiGo’s—as they should since the latter is a low-cost airline—but Air India’s yields aren’t very different. In 2017, for instance, Jet’s yields were Rs 4.4 per revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) versus Rs 3.7 for IndiGo (18.9% higher) and Rs 3.9 for Air India (just 5.4% higher than IndiGo); in 2014, in fact, while Jet’s yield was Rs 4.9 versus IndiGo’s Rs 4.5, that for Air India was even lower at Rs 4.3. Had Air India not got the Rs 32,809 crore it got since FY10, it would have shut down, and with overall fares rising as a result, other airlines would have done better.
23/03/19 Financial Express



Why Tata Sons may be best for Jet Airways as lenders scout for a 'long-term investor'

In November 2018, when Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran presented the board a proposal to buy into Jet Airways, he was cautioned not to rush into a deal.

Coming just a week after the holding company of the Tata Group had released a statement accepting that it was in 'preliminary talks' for a deal, the caution felt like a suggestion to keep away. The Tatas were not keen to board the flight as long as it had Naresh Goyal, its founder Chairman.

In the next few weeks, Tata Group seemed to have lost interest in buying the distressed airline and attention shifted to Jet Airways' attempt to raise money from partner Etihad Airways.

But in less than four months, the caution may have probably resulted in the right opportunity for India's oldest conglomerate to finally make the decisive moment in achieving its aviation dreams.

Jet Airways is in a precarious situation. Just about a third of its planes continue to fly, the rest are grounded because of non-payment to lessors and for want of spare parts. Its pilots have threatened to go on strike from April 1, if their three months' salary dues are not cleared. And if funds don't come by immediately, the airline may default - fourth time within three months - yet again.
Much of that urgent funding, part of the resolution plan prepared along with lenders was meant to come from Etihad Airways, which owns 24 percent stake. But the Abu Dhabi-based airline is now keen on exiting.
Goyal reached out to others, including Qatar Airways, but no one seems to be willing to invest.
With no immediate solution in sight to take off the Rs 8,000 crore debt pile off Jet Airways, its lenders have now taken up the onus to land the airline safely.
State Bank of India, the lead lender, has asked Goyal to step down, will reconstitute its board and also bring in a long-term investor at a later stage. In return, banks are expected to inject some much needed cash into the airline.

Rumour mills have been working overtime on who that 'long term investor' could be.

IndiGo?
The Rahul Bhatia-airline, which is hoping to make a big international splash this year, would benefit from Jet Airways' expansive overseas operations. The Goyal-led airline flies to 20 countries and has a code share agreements with about 20 airlines.

But IndiGo would be saddled with Jet Airways' domestic presence, something that had put it off when it came to the Air India divestment too.

There was also buzz that SpiceJet could come in with a stake buy in Jet Airways. To the credit of Chairman Ajay Singh, the airline has turnaround impressively since it changed hands from Kalanithi Maran. But with a market capitalisation of about Rs 5,500 crore, can the airline chew its bigger peer that will come with a debt of Rs 8,000 crore?

And not to forget, acquisitions in India's airline industry haven't done well. Think of Kingfisher-Air Deccan, and Jet Airways continues to suffer because of its buy of Air Sahara in 2007.

Perhaps the banks could do with a strategic investor, like the kind of Yussuf Ali of Lulu Group. But Ali is not interested, and the banks would prefer an investor who could immediately take the controls at Jet Airways.

The Tatas started India's first airline. Their ambition to re-enter the industry and start an airline in the 1990s didn't take off - some say Goyal had a role to play.

The Group at present has a presence in the industry through two partnerships. The Tatas hold 51 percent in Vistara, its joint venture with Singapore Airlines, and also own 49 percent stake in AirAsia India.

The two airlines are relatively new in the market and need a push to garner market share, especially when IndiGo is adding capacity at a furious pace.
23/03/19 Prince Mathews Thomas/Moneycontrol.com

IndiGo Airlines plans to add 20-25 A321 Neos to its fleet this summer

India’s budget carrier Indigo Airlines plans to add 20-25 A321 Neos to its fleet this summer as it gears up for international and domestic expansion.

Indigo Airlines chief commercial officer William Boulter said the airline had ordered 125 A321 Neos and 48 deliveries were expected this year. Over 50% of the new destinations could be on international routes, he said.
Boulter, who was speaking with the media after the inaugural run of Indigo’s Delhi-Istanbul flight, said the airline was bullish about flying to China and other international destinations. “We are looking very seriously into other points in Southeast Asia, notably Vietnam and Myanmar. We also are looking at Saudi Arabia on the West side,” he said.

“Over half of our expansion this year will be international and this will take our international capacity from 15% to 20%,” he said. Boulter said the company was hoping to fly to London this year. “We had slots with Gatwick but they expired,” he said. “However, we are looking at Istanbul as an option as well.”
The airline’s flights to Istanbul are currently operating via Doha due to closure of airspace above Pakistan. “The airline has started a daily operation and will add a second one to it later this month,” he said. The airline has also announced flights from more Indian cities to overseas destinations including China, Vietnam, Myanmar, UK and Saudi Arabia.
23/03/19 Nanda Kasabe/Financial Express

GVK Airport Holdings acquires 12 crore MIAL shares

GVK Power and Infrastructure (GVKPIL) said that its step-down subsidiary, GVK Airport Holdings, has exercised its right, under right of first refusal, in terms of the shareholders agreement to acquire 12 crore equity shares of Mumbai International Airport (MIAL), constituting 10 per cent of the total paid-up share capital of MIAL from ACSA Global.

The company acquired 10 per cent stake at the rate of Rs 77 per share, which amounts to about Rs 924 crore.

Upon completion of this 10 per cent acquisition, along with the earlier acquisition of 13.5 per cent stake from Bidvest, the equity shareholding of GVK group will rise to 74 per cent from the existing 50.5 per cent in MIAL, GVK said in a filing to the stock exchange.

With this, the company will acquire Airports Company South Africa Global’s (ACSA) entire stake in MIAL.
23/03/19 Indian Express

Dedicated spot at airport for heroes in armed forces

Pune: The district administration will construct a “Shraddhanjali Sthaan (place to pay homage)” at the city airport for the armed forces personnel who lay down their lives in the line of duty.
 The Dakshin Maharashtra Sub Area (DMSA), the local military authority, put forth this demand at the first civil-military liaison meeting held at the DMSA headquarter at Ghorpadi on Tuesday.  General Officer Commanding Major General Navneet Kumar of DMSA chaired the meeting.
Pune police commissioner K Venketesham and senior officials from the Pune district administration, as well as the railway and health departments, attended the meeting. Authorities from the Army and Maharashtra Sainik Welfare Board (MSWB) said that a memorial has been constructed at the exit gate of the airport. But it is not an ideal place as only VIPs can pay their tributes at the current location.
 District collector Naval Kishor Ram said a proposal will be prepared with the help of army authorities and then submitted to the authorities concerned. “Acquiring land for this project is the first crucial step and we will have to work in tandem with the Airport Authority of India (AAI). Currently, it is in the process of launching several infrastructures projects as part of airport expansion work,” he said. Recommended By Colombia Ajay Kumar, director of Pune Airport, said, “As we did not attend the meeting, we are not aware of this demand. We cannot comment on the matter at this juncture.
 23/03/19 Times of India

No hike in parking fee at airport, says director

Calicut International Airport director K. Srinivasa Rao has said that action will be initiated against mischief makers trying to spread fake news via social and print media on hike in car parking fee at the airport from April 1.

He added that steps had been taken to identify those behind the news. As such, no decision has been taken on hiking the fee.

Usually, rate revision is made by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on an all-India basis, and the Calicut airport authorities alone cannot revise and implement new rates, Mr. Rao said.
The director also said the AAI was in the process of floating a new tender in accordance with the new AAI parking policy. Accordingly, the existing free timing concept for pick and drop for three minutes in front of the terminal building will be abolished.
23/03/19 The Hind

Indira Gandhi International Airport ranks 12th in Passenger traffic, gets busier than Frankfurt

In the 11th Annual Airport Economics and Finance Conference and Exhibition, Airports Council International, the global trade representative of the airport authorities across the world, released its preliminary list of total passenger traffic for the year 2018. Interestingly, the Indira Gandhi International Airport New Delhi is the only Indian airport among the top 20. The New Delhi-based airport jumped from position 16 to 12 within a year, displaying a massive growth, a difference of 10.2% compared to 2017.
Delhi's airport passenger count surpassed Frankfurt, Dallas Forth Worth, Guangzhou and Istanbul Ataturk airports. The airport had an enplaning and deplaning number of 6,99,00,938. Moreover, the airport has scope of expansion and growth. In 2017, Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd, proposed to have a 5.5km-long automated people mover or air train between T1 and T2-3 by 2020. This gives more scope of better numbers in the coming years.
23/03/19 ZeeBiz

New Delhi-bound flight returns to Chennai after developing technical problem

Chennai: A New Delhi-bound SpiceJet flight carrying 182 passengers returned back to the airport here after flying for over an hour, following a technical problem, officials said Saturday.
According to the airline's website, flight SG104 had taken off at 7.00 am and the pilot decided to return due to the technical problems and landed the plane at 8.10 am.
The aircraft later resumed its journey at 10.00 am after the issue was sorted out and safely landed at 1.10 pm in New Delhi, the airline added.
23/03/19 PTI/Economic Times

Interim domestic arrivals terminal opened at Hyderabad airport

The GMR Hyderabad International Airport on Saturday commissioned the Interim Domestic Arrivals Terminal (IDAT).
 SpiceJet SG 468 airline passengers flying from Tirupati to Hyderabad were the first to get an experience of the new facility. The commissioning coincided with the 11th anniversary of the opening of the Hyderabad International Airport.
 Spread across about 4,000 sq.mt in the air-side, east of the existing Passenger Terminal Building (PTB), the IDAT is an exclusive Domestic Baggage Reclaim Concourse primarily serving the passengers arriving on aircraft parked on remote stands.
 23/03/19 P Pavan/Mumbai Mirror

Contract for airport terminal extension yet to be awarded

Surat: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid foundation stone for extension of terminal building at Surat airport at a cost of Rs350 crore in January.
However, information gathered under Right to Information (RTI) Act by an RTI activist shows that Airports Authority of India (AAI) is yet to award work contract for the same. Official sources said the tender for terminal building extension was floated two months ago, but the work order is yet to be awarded.
With model code of conduct in force due to Lok Sabha elections, the tender procedure now will be taken up after June 2019. The terminal building of Surat Airport is being extended by AAI at a cost of Rs350 crore. The existing terminal building has an area of 8,474 square metre that will be extended by additional 17,046 square metre (excluding city side and air side kerb) to have a total area of 25, 520 square metre. After the extension, the terminal building will be capable to handle (1,200 domestic + 600 international) ie 1,800 passenger during peak hours daily. Surat airport will be able to handle 2.6 million passengers annually.
 23/03/19 Times of India

Kutch businessmen hit hard as Jet suspends two Bhuj flights

Rajkot: The crisis at private airlines Jet Airways has adversely impacted the industries in Kutch as the country’s largest district in terms of area, has lost connectivity to India’s financial hub Mumbai.
 The Jet Airways has suspended its two flights — one morning and one evening— from Kutch district headquarters Bhuj till April 30 with immediate effect. Kutch businessmen are frequent fliers to Mumbai. But with suspension of the Jet flights, they are only left with one option that is the Air India flight.
 According to Airport Authority of India (AAI) the occupancy rate in flights originating from Bhuj was high. Bhuj Airport director Navneet Kumar Gupta said, “The jet has informed us that they are suspending operation till April 30. They used to fly Boeing 737 which has capacity to carry 170 passengers and it was operating with at its full capacity
 23/03/19 Times of India

Model detained for carrying banned MDMA drug in hair bun at Kolkata airport; NCB's probe underway

Kolkata: The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) detained a Mumbai-based Bengali model at the Kolkata airport security check on Wednesday evening for carrying banned MDMA drugs. The accused was later handed over to the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

According to a report in the Times of India (TOI), the banned MDMA drug is commonly known as ecstasy and it was found in her hair bun. The model hailed from Basirhat and has acted in various regional movies.
The TOI report mentioned that at the security check the woman officer found her hair bun 'odd' and insisted her to unravel it. Meanwhile, the model tried to resist but she gave in and the substance came out. The NCB sources told TOI that the model was heading out of the city to attend a party at a city hotel and reportedly, she also told that the drugs for her own consumption.

Reportedly, these drugs' cost varies, Cocaine costs Rs 10,000 per gm, LSD costs Rs 3,000 per gm and MDMA costs Rs 6,000 per gm. An officer told TOI that during investigation model revealed at a holi party the drug was easily available. The police are trying to investigate the matter.

Reportedly, the MDMA drug is gaining popularity and since last year the Kolkata police has seized 16.3 g and the NCB has seized 13.5 g of the drug.
23/03/19 Mirror Now

Sri Lankan woman with Indian passport arrested

Trichy: A 57-year-old Sri Lankan woman was arrested while attempting to fly to the island nation through the Trichy international airport on an Indian passport.
 H Meherbanu, who is married to an Indian and residing in in Morsingpettai in Beema Nagar was caught by immigration officials on Thursday evening while she was boarding a flight to Sri Lanka as they found that she had obtained an Indian passport by submitting fake documents.
 Police said the woman and her parents had migrated to Trichy in 1981 and since then she has been living here. She also got married to Mohammed Hanifa, an Indian.
The woman lost her Sri Lankan passport. Instead of taking steps to get a new passport, she obtained an Indian passport. Using the passport, she had travelled to Sri Lanka multiple times but managed to escape without raising any suspicion.
 On Thursday, the immigration officer checked her passport and asked about her place of birth. The woman spilled the beans that she was born in SriLanka.
 23/03/19 Times of India

Friday, March 22, 2019

After grounding 12 Boeing aircrafts, Spicejet in talks to add more planes to its fleet

SpiceJet on Friday said it was in discussion with various lessors to bring in more planes into its fleet.
The no-frills airline has grounded 12 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft following regulatory directives earlier this month.
"In order to cater the gap from the reduced fleet size due to grounding of Max fleet, the company is in discussion with various lessors globally to induct aircraft in its fleet," it said in a filing to the BSE.
The clarification came amid reports that the airline is in talks to lease some grounded planes of Jet Airways.
Earlier this month, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) ordered grounding of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.
The decision came days after a 737 MAX 8 aircraft operated by the Ethiopian Airlines crashed in Ethiopia, killing 157 people.
22/03/19 PTI/India Today

After crashes, Boeing rolls out safety feature

New York: Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft will be outfitted with a warning light for malfunctions in the anti-stall system suspected in October’s fatal crash in Indonesia, an industry source said on Thursday, standardising a feature previously sold as an optional extra.

The development comes as the manufacturer struggles to cope with the fallout from both the Indonesia crash and another in Ethiopia this month, which have cast a spotlight on the safety certification process and shaken confidence in a plane that is crucial to its future plans.

Known as a “disagree light”, this safety feature will become standard and is among the modifications the company will present to US authorities and clients in the coming days, the source said on condition of anonymity.
Neither the Lion Air aircraft which crashed in Indonesia, nor the Ethiopian Airlines jet, had the feature, the source said.  Modifications are in the final stages but Boeing wants to be certain this meets the expectations of regulators and customers, the industry source said. Neither Boeing nor the Federal Aviation Agency offered any comment. But an industry expert said the system should have already been included.
22/03/19 AFP/Tribune

Tell us about your dues, DGCA tells government agencies as Jet's lessors flock to repossess

New Delhi: Inform us about your dues before we allow unpaid lessors to repossess aircraft and fly them out of India, aviation regulator told government agencies.
 The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday asked stakeholders like airport operators, fuel vendors, services tax, customs and income-tax departments to “notify DGCA regarding any dues which may be required to be paid off by the lessor/owner/operator before export permission is granted by DGCA.”
 The move comes as several dozens of Jet Airways aircraft have been grounded by unpaid lessors. Many of these planes are the Boeing 737 NG (new generation, not MAX that are currently not allowed to fly anywhere globally due to safety concerns).
The grounding of 371 B737 max globally has pushed up demand for the earlier or pre-MAX versions of the B737. While a few lessors are in talks to lease the B737s to SpiceJet, other want to fly them out of India to rent them to other airlines globally. Monthly lease rentals of about a decade-old B737 NG is between $200,000 and $250,000 month, which has risen by about 10% after the Max crisis. Clearly, keeping them on ground is significant revenue loss for lessors in the current situation and now they quickly want to repossess the planes, fly them out and rent them to other airlines.
 “All such entities which may have any interest in such aircraft need to refer DGCA website from time to time for such proceedings and other procedural requirements... This is issued for interest of government entities/public service providers, who may be involved or may have interest when deregistration of an aircraft and export,” the DGCA notice issued on Friday said.
22/03/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Amid crisis, Jet Airways pilots hop on to other carriers

As Jet Airways makes an effort to get the cash-strapped airline back on track, its pilots have started to resign and move to other carriers.

While 10 to 15 pilots from JetLite and Jet Konnect have joined Air India Express, many of the other Boeing 737-800 Next Generation (NG) pilots have opted for SpiceJet, which held interviews in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Jet Airways officials said that while a few had already joined, a 100 had been offered jobs by SpiceJet, while others have appeared for interviews or have evinced interest.

“Several pilots, having ancestral connection in the southern cities of Kochi, Kozhikode, Tiruvananthapuram, Tiruchi, Thrissur etc. have all opted for Air India Express, which has a huge presence in the region,” a senior commander with Jet Airways and a former managing committee member of the National Aviators Guild (NAG) said.

Air India Express is a low-cost airline and a fully-owned subsidiary of Air India. Since it operates a fleet of 25 Boeing 737- 800 NG aircraft like SpiceJet, an Operators Conversion Course would get the pilots airborne within a fortnight of joining.

Senior SpiceJet officials said pilots of Jet Airways had shown interest in joining it over the past three months and that some had already joined.

GoAir, Vistara, IndiGo are among the domestic airlines that have attracted pilots who have in the past flown an Airbus 320. Scoot, Oman Air and Fly Dubai are among the international carriers which have also attracted pilots from Jet Airways.

With the financial year set to end, Jet Airways pilots want to have a good credit score and be able to pay EMIs on loans and school fees on time.
IndiGo, which operates a pure Airbus fleet, is hiring over 100 Boeing 737 commander-level pilots from Jet Airways. These pilots would require six months’ training so that they could fly the Airbus 320s. In mid-February, IndiGo said it would operate about 30 fewer flights each day till March-end due to the pilot shortage but these flights have now been taken out from the entire summer schedule that goes on till October. These pilots from Jet will help IndiGo get back on track at a lower cost since it would incur lesser spending on expatriate pilots.
22/03/19 Aditya Anand/The Hindu

UAE travellers hit by Jet Airways woes, make backup plans

Dubai: Indian travellers from the UAE are hit hard as the Jet Airways woes mount up, resulting in many of the cash-strapped airline's flights getting cancelled.

The 25-year-old Jet, reeling under mounting debts of more than $1 billion, has been forced to ground a total of 78 of its 119 aircraft after failing to pay lenders and aircraft lessors. To add to it, the April 1 deadline given by the carrier's pilots - who had been unpaid for more than three months - is approaching and passengers are facing more inconvenience.

The airline had been operating 11 flights daily from Dubai and 4 flights from Abu Dhabi to various Indian cities. Currently the Dubai flight is reduced to one daily till March 30 and the operations from Abu Dhabi are completely suspended.

The airfares on other airlines have now moved up considerably.

Those who already booked tickets are left with no option but to check on other airlines even at the cost of cancellation and re-booking at premium air fares.

"I want to fly with my family for a vacation and even if it means paying a little more to other airlines, it is fine. The holiday plans cannot be altered and uncertainty on travel plans is better to be avoided. We have now shifted to Emirates and SpiceJet," Bijay Rajnikantt Shah, national director, BNI UAE, told Khaleej Times.

Himanshu Sampat, business head UAE, Cox & Kings Tours, said: "Travellers who have booked their tickets with Jet are left with two choices; either claim for the refund or opt for alternative flights provided by the airline. Travellers who are planning their journey are opting for alternative airlines by not taking any chances. Travel towards India would become more expensive as supply will be impacted with the cancellation as Jet Airways had great frequency of daily flights to different parts of India. Currently, business travellers are opting for full cost national carriers and travellers looking for personal segment are opting for airlines offering best deals like Air Arabia, flydubai, Indigo, Air India and others."
21/03/19 Sandhya D'Mello/Khaleej Times

IndiGo plans for wider global expansion

Istanbul: India's budget carrier IndiGo has launched its flight on the Delhi-Istanbul sector and announced to use its expanding fleet of A320neo and A321neo aircraft to connect more Indian cities to countries such as China, Vietnam, England, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia. William Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer of IndiGo said on Wednesday here, "We are looking very seriously into other points in South East Asia, notably the obvious ones of Vietnam and Myanmar. We also want to operate shortly to Saudi Arabia on the west side". "We are seriously interested in getting in China as soon as we can. We are still selecting precise destinations," he said.
"India operates only five flights from here to China per week, whereas China operates 42 flights to India per week. It's basically time that we start readdressing that balance. I am convinced that there is a huge amount of traffic in India-China axis. We have not yet tapped that," Boulter said. The airline plans to add 125 A321neo aircraft in its fleet over number of years.
In 2019, it will receive 20-25 of these aircraft from Airbus, he said. India's largest airline IndiGo has around 40 per cent domestic passenger market share. Boulter said, "Once we get more A321s, we will do more longer routes." A321neo aircraft has the capacity to carry around 230 passengers while A320 neo carries around 180 passengers.
While Delhi-Istanbul flight is being operated in A321neo aircraft having 222 seats, Boulter clarified that the flights to China would be based on A320neos.
Talking about IndiGo's plan to connect Delhi to London, he said, "We are still hoping to operate to London this year. We haven't chosen yet what the mid-point is going to be whether Baku or Tsblisi or Istanbul."
"We had some slots in Gatwick airport last winter but they have lapsed. So, we are again looking at which airport we can operate to in the UK. It's not yet confirmed. We are very keen to get into the UK market this year.
"We also have a plan to put A321 aircraft domestically because in slot limited airports in Delhi and Mumbai and increasingly, other airports too, A321 gives you that additional capacity," Boulter said.
21/03/19 PTI/Hans India

Years Before Crash, Ethiopian Pilots Had Raised Concerns Over Training

Two pilots filed complaints with the Federal Aviation Administration about allegedly flawed training programs and poor safety procedures at Ethiopian Airlines years before a Boeing 737 MAX commercial jet crashed in Ethiopia with 157 people on-board last week, according to a Federal Aviation Administration database.
The 2015 complaints, filed before the Max 8 was in use, are critical of training and pilot documentation on the 737 in use at the time, as well as two larger Boeing planes. They could also lead to renewed scrutiny of Ethiopian Airlines, a fast-growing international airline that has enjoyed a generally positive safety reputation in international aviation circles.

One pilot said the airline didn't "have the infrastructure" to support the fleet of Boeing and Airbus jets it ordered, and alleged the airline had a "fear-based" management culture in which "safety is being sacrificed for expansion and profit margin." The pilot also accused the airline of failing to update pilot manuals and leaving out certain checklists designed to help pilots respond to "non-normal" situations. And another pilot criticized Ethiopian regulators for maintaining lax standards with respect to crew flight and rest time. The FAA's data does not identify the pilots by name.

Anmut Lemma, a spokesman for Ethiopia's Civil Aviation Authority, said because the complaints were lodged years ago the agency would need "further investigation" before commenting additionally. A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The FAA closed the complaints less than a month later and it's unclear whether the agency shared them with Ethiopia's Civil Aviation Authority.

An FAA spokesman emphasized that the agency has a "long-standing and robust" program that evaluates airlines overseas in conjunction with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations organization responsible for standardizing international airline regulations.

"The FAA regularly evaluates foreign civil aviation authorities to ensure they continue to adhere to ICAO standards," FAA communications manager Ian Gregor said in a statement.

Mike Boyd, a Colorado-based aviation analyst with Boyd Group International, said the two complaints are "not a smoking gun," but actually more like "an artillery barrage" that call for additional scrutiny on airlines' roles in the two deadly crashes. Boyd referred to multiple published reports that the pilot of the doomed plane had 8,000 flying hours while the copilot had just 200 hours.

"There is no way [Ethiopian Airlines] can claim they had a qualified crew on that flight," Boyd wrote in an email Wednesday. In the U.S. copilots on commercial flights are required to have at least 1,500 flight hours.

The first 2015 pilot complaint "is totally consistent with an airline whose standards would put a 200-hour pilot in a sophisticated 737-MAX," Boyd said. "That is not inconsequential and it's a scandal that, instead of investigating the fact that we have an airline such as [Ethiopian Airlines] flying into the U.S., we have Congress running off into the weeds chasing Boeing/FAA issues."

The complaints have surfaced at a time when Boeing, the FAA and Ethiopian Airlines are under intense scrutiny.
22/03/19 Aaron Gregg/Washington Post/NDTV

Pilot says after fatal incident at Malaysia airport: I was not told about vehicle on runway

A pilot, whose jet ran into a car on the tarmac of Subang Airport in Selangor this week, killing a worker, claimed to have been cleared to land by the air traffic controller and that no notice was issued for maintenance work, as required.

Captain Muhammad Fauwaz Zamzam, who had piloted the Bombardier Challenger 300, said he did not see any other light on the tarmac, except for the airport guiding lights and boundary markers.

He said they decided to proceed to the bay after checking the aircraft instruments and confirming that there was no fire.
Captain Muhammad Fauwaz, who has 7,000 hours of flying experience, claimed to have been surprised when he "heard on the airport radio that the plane had rammed into a car and someone was injured" after he had taxied.

During the 3.15am incident on Monday (March 18), the jet collided with a Malaysian Airport Holdings Bhd (MAHB) vehicle, seriously injuring Mr Mohd Ruzaimi Iskandar Ahmad Razali, 39. The vehicle was used to supervise the painting and electrical repair work on the runway.

Mr Mohd Ruzaimi died on Wednesday.

The case is now being investigated by the police and the Transport Ministry's Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB).

Mr Muhammad Fauwaz also alleged that he was given clearance to land some four minutes before he approached the airport.

"I did not see any other light on the tarmac, except for the airport guiding lights, as the plane approached the runway. If there has been work being carried out or any vehicle on the runway, normally there would be beacon lights," he said.

He also claimed that the airport did not issue Notice to Airman (Notam) to indicate that work was being carried out, and that he radioed the control tower twice.

The private jet, belonging to Berjaya Air, was on a chartered flight from Jaipur, India, with eight passengers on board.
22/03/19 Starits Times

Drone sighted at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, airport, Kovalam beach; security on high alert

Thiruvananthapuram: A drone was sighted at the airport, the highly sensitive Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and nearby Kovalam beach early Friday morning, prompting Southern Air Command and Military Intelligence to go on high alert.
Southern Air Command and Military Intelligence are on high alert after the drone was sighted, defence sources said.
"We are always on high alert. The present sighting of the drone is in the civilian area. We are not intervening in the current situation, but are monitoring the entire scenario," a defence spokesperson said.
The drone was first sighted at Kovalam beach early Friday morning by a night patrolling group of Kerala police, who searched the area for its operators.
As it started flying towards the north, where the airport is located, the team informed the airport authorities.
However, after two hours, the CISF team at VSSC found the drone flying there and informed the authorities concerned.
Police and the central intelligence agencies visited the VSSC and found that visuals of the drone was not available in any of the security cameras installed.
22/03/19 PTI/ZeeNews

GoAir Offers Domestic Flight Tickets From 2,765 Rupees

GoAir is offering flight tickets from Rs. 2,765 in a limited-period scheme. Under the GoAir scheme, domestic flight tickets are available from an all-inclusive Rs. 2,765, international bookings are priced from Rs. 7,000, according to the airline's website - goair.in. Bookings under the offer can be made till March 26, 2019, according to the GoAir website. Under the offer, the cheapest flight ticket is offered by the airline on the Guwahati-Hyderabad route via Kolkata, according to the GoAir portal. Flights tickets are priced from Rs. 3,222 on the Jaipur-Bengaluru route via Hyderabad.
21/03/19 NDTV

MADC to start expansion work of Shirdi airport

Pune: The Maharashtra Airport Development Company Limited (MADC) has embarked on an immediate expansion of the Shirdi Airport’s terminal building, prompted by the rise in passenger traffic.
 “Two more flights were added to the airport earlier this week, taking the total flight movements to 24. The daily passenger traffic at the airport is more than 2,000. This kind of growth is posing multiple challenges to us,” C S Gupta, executive director (technical), MADC, told TOI. The Shirdi airport was inaugurated by the President on October 1, 2017.
 “The two new flights are being operated by SpiceJet on the Shirdi-Delhi sector using Boeing 737-800, which can accommodate close to 190 passengers. In addition, we already have a Chennai-Shirdi service daily with the same type of aircraft being used for it,” the official pointed out. He said the rise in passenger traffic has prompted them to expand the current terminal building.
“After the two Delhi-Shirdi flights were started, we are seeing an excess of 400 passengers with the flights running full. The last time we calculated the passenger traffic at Shirdi in February, it was around 1500. So, we have decided to immediately take up the expansion of the terminal building, else things can become difficult to manage,” Gupta told TOI.
 22/03/19 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

Kerala family awaiting son’s body receives body of Lankan woman

Thiruvananthapuram: The body of a man from Kerala who died in Saudi Arabia was wrongly sent to Sri Lanka, while the body of a Sri Lankan woman was ferried to Kerala due to a mix-up in transit.

The mix-up added to the woes of the grieving family of Ittimoottil Rafeeque, 27, who died at Abha in Saudi Arabia on February 27 due to cardiac arrest. Rafeeque hailed from Konni in central Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district.

The body arrived at Kochi airport on Wednesday. When the casket was opened on Thursday morning before burial, the family realised it was of a woman. Inside the casket, there was a tag with the name of the woman.

Konni Police Inspector Ashad M pointed to the cargo firm that had ferried the body to Kerala.

“After completing all forensic and legal formalities, a cargo firm was assigned the task of sending the body of Rafeeque to Kerala. At the same time, the body of a woman from Sri Lanka was to be ferried to that country by the same cargo firm. Both caskets were given identification numbers. While loading the caskets to Kochi and Colombo, the cargo firm employees messed up the identification numbers. Thus, the body that should have reached Kochi airport went to Colombo, and the body of the Lankan woman reached Kochi,” he said.

The officer said steps have been taken to get the body of the youth released from Colombo. The body of the woman, now moved to a morgue, would be released to the cargo firm on Friday.

“The firm Saudia Cargo has agreed to rush the body of the woman to Lanka and bring back the body of the Kerala youth to Kochi via direct flight from Colombo. Lankan authorities have informed that the body would be embalmed again and emigration process would be cleared soon to ferry the body to Kerala,’’ said the police officer.
22/03/19 Shaju Philip/Indian Express

When the Mi-8 landed on Bengaluru’s roads

Bengaluru roads became a runway on Wednesday as a Mi-8 Helpicopter took the route to reach its newest destination-National Military Memorial.
As the aircraft was being transported via road, the police had a tough time getting all the clearances and ensuring the near ‘zero’ traffic so that the chopper isn’t damaged or doesn’t crash into other vehicles.
 After a lot of brainstorming, the police gave permission for the chopper to be towed on Wednesday midnight. As it was slowing being towed in the night, many people who on Airport Road had a pleasant surprise as this was the first time they were seeing a helicopter running on city roads for such a long distance. “I was heading to the airport in the night and was surprised to see a chopper travelling on the road. I couldn’t believe my eyes at the first instance and then saw a tractor towing it. However, it was a great experience to see it. I saw a few people videographing the event also,” said Ramesh K, a resident of Sadashivanagar.
 The Mi-8 helicopter which bid a farewell to the force in 2017 after 45 years of service was moved to the National Military Memorial in Raj Bhavan from the Yelahanka Air Base on Wednesday.
 A towing vehicle was provided by the Indian Air Force (IAF) which towed the helicopter till Raj Bhavan. Traffic police were instructed to guide the traffic at Yelahanka, Hebbal and RT Nagar. It took a total of 45 minutes to move the helicopter.
 22/03/19 Iffath Fathima/Bangalore Mirror

Sena drops MP Gaikwad who slapped Air India staffer

There are not too many surprises in the Shiv Sena’s first list of 21 candidates announced on Friday for the Lok Sabha elections. The Sena dropped controversial member of Parliament (MP) from Osmanabad, Ravindra Gaikwad, who had hit an Air India staffer at New Delhi airport in 2017. Besides, it has made a change in the Hingoli constituency by nominating its member of the Legislative Assembly from the area.

Mr. Gaikwad has been replaced by Om Raje Nimbalkar, the political opponent of the Nationalist Congress Party strongman Padma Sinh Patil, whose son Rana Jagjit Sinh will be contesting.

Nanded MLA Hemant Patil has been nominated in Hingoli against sitting MP Rajeev Satav from Congress, whose name has not been officially announced by the Congress yet. Mr. Patil was nominated after dropping Ashok Wankhede who lost to Mr. Satav in 2014.
22/03/19 Tanvi Deshpande/The Hindu

CBI books former Customs SP for facilitating gold smuggling at KIA

Bengaluru: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against a former superintendent of police of Customs at Kempegowda International Airport for allegedly facilitating smuggling in of gold worth Rs 6.42 crore for a commission.
 The officer’s wife and daughter were sent on a sponsored Europe trip as the commission. According to CBI sources, D Ashok, SP of KIA Customs during 2017 allowed two passengers to smuggle in gold through Bengaluru.
Tamtam Chandrashekar, resident of Indiranagar in Bengaluru, and Vathallore John Williams, resident of New Thippasandra, are the other accused. S Nasser Khan, additional commissioner and the principal commissioner of Customs, airport and air cargo complex at KIA, lodged a complaint against Ashok.
 Ashok entered into criminal consipracy with Chandrashekar and Williams and facilitated their illegal smuggling of 20.12 kg of gold worth Rs 6.42 crore. It is also alleged that Ashok had facilitated smuggling of gold by Chandrashekar on earlier occasions and was receiving illegal gratification of Rs 40,000 to Rs 60,000 per kg. Ashok received a commission of Rs 2.38 lakh from Chandrashekar in the form of payment of travel expenses for his daughter Nidhi Ashok and his wife Padma Narayana to Europe.
 22/03/19 Kiran Parashar/Times of India

Thursday, March 21, 2019

India state banks want Jet Airways' Goyal to reduce stake to 10 percent: CNBC-TV18

Mumbai:  A group of Indian state-run banks want Jet Airways’ embattled founder and Chairman Naresh Goyal to reduce his stake in the carrier to 10 percent, news channel CNBC-TV18 reported on Thursday, quoting sources.

“Banks want Goyal to bring his stake down to 10 percent, below the 17 percent envisaged in the bank-led provisional resolution plan (BLPRP),” sources told CNBC-TV18.

The state-run banks are also pushing Goyal to step down, CNBC-TV18 added.

Jet has more than $1 billion in debt, and owes money to banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors - some of whom have started terminating leases with the carrier.

The government has asked state-run banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), to rescue Jet without pushing it into bankruptcy, two people within the administration have told Reuters, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to avert thousands of job losses weeks before a general election.

Several people who have worked closely with Goyal, 69, have told Reuters that his penchant for control has emerged as a major obstacle in negotiating a rescue deal.
21/03/19 Reuters

IndiGo staff resent offers for Jet Airways pilots; SpiceJet holds interviews

Mumbai: The harried pilots of Jet Airways, which is on the brink of shutting down operations, have now approached SpiceJet seeking employment.

Jet Airways pilots had earlier been wooed by IndiGo with compensation for their pending salaries and other benefits, leading to murmurs of protest from its own pilots. Jet Airways, the largest airline in India, has been facing acute shortage of cockpit crew, leading to cancellation of hundreds of its flights last month.

Jet Airways pilots, along with engineers and senior management, have not been paid for more than three months now as the airline is facing its worst existential crisis since its inception a quarter of a century ago. Gurugram-based SpiceJet, which had all its 12 Boeing 737 MAX planes grounded following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane early this month, is looking to hire pilots for its expansion plans, and conducted walk-in interviews on Wednesday.

"As many as 260 Jet pilots, including 150 captains, appeared for the interviews in Mumbai today [Wednesday]," a SpiceJet source said.

Unlike IndiGo, which owns a fleet predominantly consisting of Airbus A320s, SpiceJet has Boeing 737s in the fleet. The majority of Jet Airways pilots are trained and type-rated for Boeing planes, the source said.

IndiGo is offering jobs to Jet Airways pilots, along with compensation for overdue salaries from the full-service airline. It can be noted that pilots at full-service carriers get higher pay and other benefits.

With no assurance on the payment of their pending salaries, Jet Airways pilots had on Tuesday warned that they would stop flying from April 1 if the management failed to provide clarity on the revival plan along with a deadline to clear their salary dues by March 31.

According to IndiGo, all job offers are in line with its current terms and conditions. But its own pilots have termed the move to hire Jet Airways pilots as an "injustice" and "unacceptable". "They are taking us lightly. Offer to Jet Airways pilots is sheer injustice to us as they're being offered a two-month bonus along with same-designation salary," argued an IndiGo source.

Moreover, they have also been allowed to choose their operational base, which is unacceptable to the IndiGo pilots, the source added. Questions sent to IndiGo chief operating officer Wolfgang Prock-Schauer and also to its spokesperson did not elicit any response.
21/03/19 PTI/The Week


More than 200 Jet Airways pilots look to board SpiceJet as IndiGo captains seek to abort their entry

The harried pilots of Jet Airways, which is on the brink of shuttering operations, have now approached SpiceJet seeking employment.

Jet Airways pilots had earlier been wooed by IndiGo with compensation for their pending salaries and other benefits, leading to murmurs of protests from its own pilots.

The largest airline has been facing acute shortage of cockpit crew, leading to cancellation of hundreds of its flights last month.

Jet pilots along with engineers and senior management have not been paid for more than three months now as the airline is facing its worst existential crisis since its inception a quarter of a century ago.

The Gurugram-based SpiceJet, which has all its 12 Boeing Max planes grounded following the crash of an Ethiopian Airline plane early this month, is looking to hire pilots for its expansion plans, and has also conducted walk-in interviews here, Wednesday.
"As many as 260 Jet pilots, including 150 captains, appeared for the interviews in Mumbai today," a SpiceJet source said.

Unlike IndiGo, which flies majorly Airbus 320s, SpiceJet has Boeing 737s in the fleet. On the other hand it can be noted that majority Jet Airways pilots are trained and type-rated for Boeing planes, the source said.

IndiGo is offering jobs to Jet pilots along with compensation for overdue salaries from the full service airline. It can be noted that pilots at full-service carriers get higher pay and other benefits.

With no assurance on the payment of their pending salaries, Jet pilots had Tuesday warned that they would stop flying from April 1 if the management failed to provide clarity on the revival plan along with a deadline to clear
their salary dues by March 31.
According to IndiGo, all job offers are in line with its current terms and conditions. But its own pilots have termed the move as "injustice" and "unacceptable".

"They are taking us lightly. Offer to Jet Airways pilots is sheer injustice to us as they're being offered a two-month bonus along with same designation-salary," argued an IndiGo source.

Moreover, they have also been allowed to choose their operational base, which is unacceptable to the IndiGo pilots, the source added.
21/03/19 PTI/CNBC TV18

IndiGo airlines continues to recruit expat and 'out-of-job' pilots

Istanbul: At a time when Jet Airways is facing financial difficulties, India's budget carrier IndiGo has said that it continues to engage in recruiting expat as well as "out of job" pilots in India. William Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer of IndiGo, said on Wednesday here, "We continue to engage in recruitment efforts both for expats (pilots) and for the pilots who might be out of job in India to join us."

IndiGo on Wednesday launched its flight on the Delhi-Istanbul sector and announced to use its expanding fleet of A320neo and A321neo aircraft to connect more Indian cities to countries such as China, Vietnam, England, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia.

IndiGo is facing acute shortage of commanders amid aggressive expansion of its fleet. The carrier has more than 210 planes in its fleet. It is offering jobs to pilots of Jet Airways along with compensation for overdue salaries from the cash-strapped full-service airline, IndiGo said on March 12. Shortage of trained and experienced pilots has been an issue for domestic airlines amid capacity expansion to meet rising passenger traffic.
IndiGo, India's largest airline by market share, decided in mid-February that it will operate about 30 fewer flights each day till March-end as it has been battling a shortage of pilots. Boulter said that those 30 flights will not make a comeback post-March either. "The 30 flights have been taken out from the summer schedule that will go on till October," he said.
Talking about airfare hike, Boulter said, "It is no secret that the prices have generally gone up in India over the last month or so because there have been flight cancellations and Mumbai runway issues and there has been Bengaluru NOTAM (notice to airmen) as well."
21/03/19 New Indian Express

Etihad in talks to help debt-ridden Jet Airways

Dubai: Etihad Airways is in discussion with banks and various stakeholders of the debt-ridden Jet Airways to find a solution, the UAE national airline said on Wednesday amid reports about the possible sale of its entire stake in the Indian carrier.

Responding to Khaleej Times' query on its widely reported talks with State Bank of India on selling the entire 24 per cent stakes in Jet Airways, an Etihad spokesperson stated: "As a minority shareholder, Etihad is working closely with Indian lenders, the company and key stakeholders to facilitate a solution for Jet Airways."

According to reports in Indian media, Etihad has formally asked SBI, India's largest lender, to purchase its stake in Jet at Rs150 per share, or for a total consideration of Rs4 billion, as the embattled airline continued to ward off multiple crises including an impending strike by pilots over delayed salary and a looming bankruptcy.

Rajnish Kumar, SBI chairman, said on Wednesday that lenders are making every effort to keep afloat Jet Airways, and putting the airline into bankruptcy is the last option for all stakeholders.

"We believe that it is in everybody's interest that Jet Airways continues to fly," Kumar said, adding that placing Jet into bankruptcy would mean grounding the airline.
The SBI chief said talks with Etihad, Jet's largest shareholder, to secure a rescue deal are in progress while there is the possibility of bringing in a new investor. He said that any decision taken to rescue Jet is a commercial one and is not at the direction of the Indian government.

The Indian government, keen to avert a King Fisher like disaster ahead of next month's Lok Sabah polls, has asked state-run banks and other lenders to come to the rescue of India's second full service airline.
21/03/19 Issac John/Khaleej Times

SBI boss insists bankruptcy ‘last option’ for Jet Airways

New Delhi: State Bank of India’s (SBI) chairman said on Wednesday that putting Jet Airways into bankruptcy is the “last option” and that its lenders are making every effort to keep the airline flying.

“We believe that it is in everybody’s interest that Jet Airways continues to fly,” SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar told reporters after a meeting with government officials, adding that placing Jet into bankruptcy would mean grounding the airline.

Jet has racked up over $1 billion in debt, and owes money to banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors — some of whom have started terminating their lease deals with the carrier.

The government has asked state-run banks to rescue Jet without pushing it into bankruptcy, two people within the administration have told Reuters as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to avert thousands of job losses weeks before a general election.

New Delhi has urged state-run banks, led by SBI, to convert debt into equity and take a stake in Jet, which would however be “transitory”, in a rare move in India to use taxpayer money to save a struggling private sector company.

Kumar, however, said that any decision taken to rescue Jet is a commercial one and is not at the direction of the Indian government. He was speaking after a meeting with officials from the prime minister’s office and finance and civil aviation ministries to discuss the rescue plan for Jet Airways.

Talks with Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad, Jet’s largest shareholder, to secure a rescue deal are ongoing, the SBI chief said, adding that there is also the possibility of bringing in a new investor.
20/03/19 Reuters/Gulf News

Will Jet Airways Survive The Financial Turbulence?

The government’s intervention to bail out Jet Airways will amount to rigging the competition in the aviation sector, say experts.

Jet Airways, India’s second-largest airline, plunged into a deeper crisis after its pilots, on Tuesday, gave an ultimatum to go on strike if not paid their salaries by April 1.

Over 20,000 Jet employees haven’t been paid for over three months as the company is cash-strapped due to various reasons, prominent among them is bad financial management.

At present, out of 119 of its aircraft, 47 have been grounded, which led to the cancellation of over 250 flights every day.

So what has brought the company to the brink of an existential crisis?

A section of experts blame the rising fuel prices, which increased the company’s operational costs more than its earnings, whereas others point towards the company’s bad financial planning.

Ramesh Dugar, a chartered accountant and a new entrant to the aviation sector, says that the cost of Jet Airways per seat/per km is about Rs 4.15, whereas it is charging about Rs 3.65 per seat/per km from fliers. “It’s a bad business model which has brought the airline to this mess,” Dugar who is not in favour of the government asking banks to bail out the company by infusing more money into it, told Outlook.

Sources in Jet say that they had to offer cheaper tickets to stay in competition with their rivals such as IndiGo and SpiceJet.

“Why should the government ask the banks to give public money to a company which has itself caused the financial mess?”, says an aviation expert requesting not to be quoted.

He draws a parallel saying the government’s financial support to Air India was one of the reasons why Kingfisher Airlines failed.

“With the government’s support, Air India offered cheaper tickets to fliers on those routes on which Kingfisher was its rival. While Air India rode on government’s money, Kingfisher went bust,” he told Outlook.
21/03/19 Jeevan Prakash Sharma/Outlook

Passenger growth story hits air pocket, dips to 53-month low

Mumbai: Domestic air passenger growth has lost the high double-digit momentum seen till recently, with a growth of 5.62% in February — a 53-month low — with airlines flying 11.34 million passengers compared to 10.74 million, according to DGCA data released on Wednesday.

The last time such a low growth was reported was in July 2014 when incremental traffic grew 7.19%, while in August 2014, the same was at 8%. Since September 2014, the market has been clipping at double-digits which lasted till December 2018. In January 2019, the growth rate slipped to 9.1%.

Significantly, almost all major carriers operated a truncated schedule, mostly led by the crippled Jet Airways and budget carrier Indigo which had to cancel hundreds of flights in the month due to a host of reasons. These include cash-crunch, pilot shortages, notices to airmen at various airports and a reduced capacity due to grounding of some planes, among others.

Indigo retained its top position with a market share of 43.4%, carrying 4.93 million passengers in February, while Jet, along with subsidiary Jetlite, slipped to a distant fourth position carrying 1.28 million passengers and had a combined market share of 11.4%.

Both Spicejet and national carrier Air India flew more passengers than Jet at 1.55 million and 1.45 million, and had market share of 13.7% and 12.8%, respectively.

Another budget carrier Goair, which garnered 9% market share with 1.02 million passengers, continued to outperform on punctuality from the four major airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, recording an average 86.3% followed by Vistara at 81.6% in the month.

However, Indigo, slipped to fifth position in OTP (on-time performance) at 76.2% during the month, while Spicejet’s retained its leadership in average seat occupancy at 94%.
21/03/19 PTI/The Hindu

IndiGo launches Delhi-Istanbul flight; plans for wider global expansion

Istanbul: India's budget carrier IndiGo has launched its flight on the Delhi-Istanbul sector and announced to use its expanding fleet of A320neo and A321neo aircraft to connect more Indian cities to countries such as China, Vietnam, England, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia. William Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer of IndiGo said Wednesday here, "We are looking very seriously into other points in South East Asia, notably the obvious ones of Vietnam and Myanmar. We also want to operate shortly to Saudi Arabia on the west side".
"We are seriously interested in getting in China as soon as we can. We are still selecting precise destinations," he said.

"India operates only five flights from here to China per week, whereas China operates 42 flights to India per week. It's basically time that we start readdressing that balance. I am convinced that there is a huge amount of traffic in India-China axis. We have not yet tapped that," Boulter said. The airline plans to add 125 A321neo aircraft in its fleet over number of years. In 2019, it will receive 20-25 of these aircraft from Airbus, he said.

India's largest airline IndiGo has around 40 per cent domestic passenger market share. Boulter said, "Once we get more A321s, we will do more longer routes." A321neo aircraft has the capacity to carry around 230 passengers while A320 neo carries around 180 passengers. While Delhi-Istanbul flight is being operated in A321neo aircraft having 222 seats, Boulter clarified that the flights to China would be based on A320neos.

Talking about IndiGo's plan to connect Delhi to London, he said, "We are still hoping to operating to London this year. We haven't chosen yet what the mid point is going to be whether Baku or Tsblisi or Istanbul."
"We had some slots in Gatwick airport last winter but they have lapsed. So, we are again looking at which airport we can operate to in the UK. It's not yet confirmed. We are very keen to get into the UK market this year.

"We also have a plan to put A321 aircraft domestically because in slot limited airports in Delhi and Mumbai and increasingly, other airports too, A321 gives you that additional capacity," Boulter said. The Delhi-Istanbul flight plans to connect 20 forward destinations using the codeshare pact that was signed between India's largest airline and Turkish Airlines on December 21 last year. Codeshare pact allows passengers to travel on a single ticket on flights operated by the partner carrier.
21/03/19 ETNowNews.com

IndiGo To take delivery of 25 A321 planes; sets sights overseas

Istanbul: IndiGo plans to get 20-25 of the Airbus A321 planes, the stretched, longer version of the A320 family of planes, as India’s biggest airline by market share gears up for further international expansion.
This is part of the 48 plane deliveries the airline is expecting this year. The rest would be Airbus A320neos, said Willy Boulter, chief commercial officer of IndiGo.
Boulter was talking late Wednesday on the sidelines of IndiGo’s maiden flight to Istanbul. The airline has started a daily operation and will add a second one to it later this month. It also has a code share with Turkish Airlines which will connect it to 20 European destinations.
IndiGo plans to upgrade its product for medium haul routes, Boulter said without elaborating.
IndiGo CEO Rono Dutta recently said the airline plans to deploy 60% of fresh capacity on international routes.
Boulter Wednesday said the airline is looking at destinations in China, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia among others. IndiGo had obtained slots at the Gatwick airport in London but those have lapsed, said Boulter. But the airline still has plans to fly to London he said.
21/03/19 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

Jet Airways' pilots fear 'airline on verge of collapse', write to PM on non-payment of salaries

The pilots of financially-strapped Jet Airways have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu to intervene and instruct the management to release their pending salaries.

"We fear that the airline is on the verge of collapse. This will leave thousands of people unemployed. It will change the dynamics of aviation as fares will increase due to a reduction in capacity, and travelling public will face major inconvenience," said the National Aviators Guild (NAG), the registered trade union of Jet Airways' Indian pilots. Two days ago, they had threatened to stop flying from April 1 if their pending salaries are not cleared by March 31.While the airline is going through a tough financial phase, all employees except for pilots and engineers are getting paid on time, claimed the NAG in communication to Modi and Prabhu.

"The pilots and engineers are now almost three months behind salaries and facing a lot of financial hardships with no relief in sight. Our repeated pleas to the management have gone unheard. The pilots have maintained professionalism and not hampered operations of the airline as that would have had a catastrophic effect on passengers' travel plans," read the letter. Naresh Goyal-led Jet Airways is facing the worst financial crisis of its 25-year existence with more than one billion dollars of debt. As it struggles to stay aloft, the carrier has delayed payments to banks, suppliers, and aircraft lessors some of which have begun terminating lease deals.

The airline is reportedly down to operating 150 flights a day  from 450 at full capacity with a third of its 12-plane fleet grounded.The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has already instructed Jet Airways airline to comply with relevant provisions of the applicable civil aviation requirements for facilitation of passengers regarding timely communication, compensation, refunds and providing alternate flights wherever applicable.
21/03/19 ANI/DNA

Government enters cockpit to curb air fare hike

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday said it was working with the airlines to increase capacity across sectors to keep a check on spiralling air fares.

"To ensure passenger convenience, stable operations and affordable fares, MoCA is working with airlines to provide sufficient capacity across the entire network. We continue to monitor safety and compliance on a daily basis," the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) tweeted.

"All airlines are required to follow the Passenger Charter requirements fully and comprehensively. Any complaints may be registered with the AirSewa portal," it said.

The development has come after a meeting between the Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola and airlines' representatives. On Tuesday, a similar meeting was held between the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the airlines.
A senior DGCA official said on Tuesday the government did not issue a directive, but advised the airlines to increase capacity and keep fares under check.
The regulator is undertaking sector-specific reviews on price hike.
The government has advised the domestic airlines not to go for predatory fare pricing as several 737-MAX aircraft were grounded due to safety reasons in the wake of a plane crash in Ethiopia.
India suspended operations and overflight permission for all Boeing 737-MAX aircraft from 4 p.m. on March 13. In India, SpiceJet (12) and Jet Airways (5) together operated 17 Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft.
21/03/19 IANS/daijiworld

High fares dent February air passenger growth

India's domestic air passenger traffic growth slowed further in February owing to high air fares even as airlines continued to cancel flights due to various reasons.

According to industry observers, seasonal factors too contributed to the slowing of growth rate in February at 5.62 per cent to 1.13 crore.
In January, the number of passengers flown by domestic airlines grew at 9.10 per cent on the year-on-year basis, while in December 2018 it increased by 11.03 per cent.

As per the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data, January-February 2019 passenger traffic grew to 2.38 crore from 2.22 crore reported for the corresponding period of the previous year.

"Passengers carried by domestic airlines during January-February 2019 were 238.56 lakh as against 222.09 lakh during the corresponding period of the previous year, thereby

registering a growth of 7.42 per cent," the DGCA said in its monthly domestic traffic report here on Wednesday.
20/03/19 IANS/Business Standard

Domestic air passenger traffic up 5.6% in Feb

New Delhi: The domestic airline industry flew 1.13 crore passengers in February, registering a 5.62 per cent growth, compared to the same period previously.

This is the second consecutive month that the domestic industry has reported single-digit growth in the number of passengers flown. Before January, the domestic airline industry registered double digit growth for 52 consecutive months.

The latest data released by the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation shows that IndiGo retained the number one position among all the airlines, carrying 49.31 lakh. SpiceJet flew 15.58 lakh passengers followed by Air India (14.53 lakh passengers) and Jet Airways (11.33 lakh passengers) while GoAir carried 10.88 lakh passengers. Air Asia flew 5.83 lakh passengers while Vistara flew 4.52 lakh passengers during the month.

SpiceJet, however, reported the highest Passenger Load Factor (PLF) of 94 per cent among all the domestic airlines in February followed by GoAir (92.6 per cent), AirAsia (91.8 per cent) and Jet Airways (89.4 per cent).

Passenger load factor shows how many of the total seats on offer by each airline are getting filled.

GoAir reported the best on-time performance (OTP) among all the airlines at 86.3 per cent, followed by Vistara (81.6 per cent) and SpiceJet (77.1 per cent) at the four airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
20/03/19 Business Line

Domestic airlines to induct 20-25 planes

New Delhi: Domestic carriers will see planned induction of 20-25 aircraft between now and end April to bridge the shortage of flights on the back of groundings by airlines due to several reasons.
“The aircraft will join either because airlines have ordered aircraft which will be delivered or some will lease them. Besides, the airlines will also try and utilise their aircraft more so that passengers are not inconvenienced,” said Pradeep Singh Kharola, secretary, civil aviation after a meeting with major domestic airlines which had been called to discuss increasing capacity in the domestic market.
About 100 odd aircraft (84 of Jet Airways due to financial stress) and (12 of SpiceJet 737 MAX ) are currently grounded. The airlines have been asked to submit their schedule of planned induction and leasing to the ministry in the next few days.
The meeting had been called due to the crisis that the domestic market is facing due to a variety of factors including the grounding of Jet Airways aircraft, pilot problems with IndiGo and the grounding of the Boeing MAX aircraft that have led to grounding by Jet Airways.
Sources in the government also said that flights with these new planes will be added to destinations that have seen the largest number of cancellations due to the grounding. “While the decision will come from the airlines, they will follow this principle while deciding on flights,” said a senior DGCA official, who did not want to be identified.
21/03/19 Economic Times

Ethiopian Airlines Had a Max 8 Simulator, but Pilot on Doomed Flight Didn’t Receive Training

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Ethiopian Airlines surpassed many carriers by becoming one of the first to install a simulator to teach pilots how to fly the new Boeing 737 Max 8, but the captain of the doomed Flight 302 never trained on the simulator, according to people close to the airline’s operations.

The people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Ethiopian Airlines had not authorized disclosure of the information, said the carrier had the Max 8 simulator up and running in January, two months before Flight 302 crashed.

Boeing has said that experienced 737 pilots needed little training for the new Max 8, an assertion that has now come under close scrutiny by regulatory officials and pilots at other airlines. Two of the planes have fatally crashed in the past five months, and regulators around the world grounded all Max 8s last week.

The pilot of Flight 302, Yared Getachew, who had 8,000 hours of flying experience including on the 737, took a refresher course on a different simulator in late September and early October, according to one person familiar with the airline, and was not due for another round of simulator training until after the crash on March 10.

It was unclear if the second pilot on Flight 302, the co-pilot, had trained on the Max 8 simulator. Nor was it clear if the airline had used the simulator for refresher courses it requires pilots to take every six months, or only to train new pilots.

Still, use of the simulator by Ethiopian Airlines means the carrier was among the few in the world that not only had a working simulator for Boeing Max jets but was using it a few months after the first Max 8 crash, Lion Air Flight 610.

The Ethiopian and Lion Air flights crashed minutes after takeoff and showed similar up-and-down oscillations before fatal nose-dives. A central focus of the Indonesian investigation is the possibility that the automated system pushed the nose down into a fatal dive because of inaccurate input from a sensor.

Even if both pilots on Flight 302 had trained on the simulator, it is unclear if such preparation would have included maneuvers to deal with the kinds of problems they may have faced.

After the Lion Air crash, Ethiopian Airlines also shared with its pilots Boeing’s instructions on how to deal with the kind of problems Lion Air pilots appeared to have encountered, the people close to Ethiopian Airlines operations said.

In a bulletin issued in November, Boeing said that emergency procedures that applied to earlier 737 models would have corrected the problems that may have contributed to the Max 8 crash in Indonesia.

Pilots for Ethiopian Airlines, who declined to speak on the record, said they paid close attention to bulletins issued by aircraft manufacturers, especially following an accident. One pilot said failing to read the bulletins would be tantamount to “walking out of your house naked.”

The Ethiopian crash has brought new scrutiny to the system Boeing put in its new Max planes to prevent stalls, called MCAS. The system was designed to compensate for changes to the aerodynamics that arose from alterations to the size and position of the engines on the wings.

The pilots on the doomed Lion Air flight did not appear to understand why the jet was tipping downward and how to correct that problem. One flipped through a technical manual, and the other began to pray, according to the cockpit voice recording.
20/03/19  Selam Gebrekidan/New York Times

Allahu Akbar: Report reveals Lion Air pilot's last words before plane crash

Jakarta/Singapore/Paris: The pilots of a doomed Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX scoured a handbook as they struggled to understand why the jet was lurching downwards, but ran out of time before it hit the water, three people with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder contents said.

The investigation into the crash, which killed all 189 people on board in October, has taken on new relevance as the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other regulators grounded the model last week after a second deadly accident in Ethiopia.

Investigators examining the Indonesian crash are considering how a computer ordered the plane to dive in response to data from a faulty sensor and whether the pilots had enough training to respond appropriately to the emergency, among other factors.

It is the first time the voice recorder contents from the Lion Air flight have been made public. The three sources discussed them on condition of anonymity.

Reuters did not have access to the recording or transcript.

A Lion Air spokesman said all data and information had been given to investigators and declined to comment further.

The captain was at the controls of Lion Air flight JT610 when the nearly new jet took off from Jakarta, and the first officer was handling the radio, according to a preliminary report issued in November.
20/03/19 Reuters/India Today

‘Snag, not pilot error, led to Feb Mirage crash’

New Delhi: The ongoing investigation into the Mirage-2000 crash in Bengaluru last month, in which two IAF test pilots were killed, indicate that the accident in all likelihood was caused by a technical snag in the fighter that had been newly upgraded by defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL).
 “With the court of inquiry (CoI) yet to be finalised, a conclusive finding is not possible at this stage. But there is enough evidence to show pilot error was not the reason for accident. It is also reasonably clear that the arrester barriers at the end of the runway in the HAL airport failed to stop the fighter after its aborted take-off,” said a defence source on Wednesday.
 Both HAL and IAF, on being contacted by TOI, refused to comment on the ground that the CoI was still in progress. Squadron Leaders Samir Abrol and Siddartha Negi, who were with the IAF’s Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment(ASTE), were undertaking “a user acceptance sortie” of the Mirage-2000 when the accident took place on February 1.
 21/03/19 Times of India

Desperate gamble? SpiceJet tapped to save jobs at Jet Airways, say sources

The Union government is mulling options to save jobs at Jet Airways including asking low-cost carrier SpiceJet to consider taking over some of the debt-laden company’s aircraft, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The proposal involves SpiceJet, led by Chairman Ajay Singh, acquiring as many as 40 of Jet Airways’ grounded planes that are owned by lessors, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as discussions are preliminary. The government has also reached out to other carriers, the person said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to avoid the collapse of an airline that employs about 23,000 people, weeks before elections. The need to save jobs at the beleaguered carrier became urgent this week after lenders led by State Bank of India failed to convince Etihad Airways PJSC, which owns 24 per cent of Jet Airways, to infuse funds into the Indian carrier.

Jet Airways has amassed about $1.1 billion of debt and has fallen behind on paying loans and salaries. Once India’s second-biggest airline it has been forced to ground almost two-thirds of its fleet because of its inability to pay lessors. Earlier today an Indian government official said they were trying to revive Jet Airways by changing its management but any decision on the carrier’s future will be a commercial decision by the lenders.

Both SpiceJet and Jet Airways operate Boeing Co.’s 737 planes making it feasible for the budget carrier to fly the aircraft. SpiceJet, which had cash of about $15 million as of Sept. 30, will initially operate a two-class configuration of business and economy under the SpiceJet brand, one of the people said. Lessors have been in discussion with SpiceJet to take over the planes, the person said.
21/03/19 Bloomberg/New Indian Express

‘Privatise Air India, bail out Jet Airways’: is it the new Gujarat model?

Barely six months after the BJP accused Congress of offering Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines a sweet heart deal to keep it afloat, the Modi Government has asked public sector banks to bail out Jet Airways and save it from bankruptcy.

With Jet Airways grounding two-thirds of its fleet, resulting in cancellation of hundreds of flights, and its pilots threatening to stop working from April 1, the central government’s SOS to PSU banks is meant to prevent loss of jobs ahead of a crucial general election.

Congress on Wednesday took a swipe at the Government and asked why the Modi Government is bailing out a bankrupt, private airline. Fifty-one per cent of Jet Airways is owned by London based NRI Naresh Goyal and 24% is owned by Etihad Airways from Qatar.

Randeep Surjewala, in-charge of the Communications Department of All India Congress Committee, released documents to establish that serious complaints of financial irregularities against Jet Airways had been made to the PMO last year. The State Bank of India consequently started an inquiry in December, 2018 into charges of fraud and siphoning of funds.

According to its balance sheet, Jet Airways has reported a loss of ₹7,400 Crore and its liabilities to PSU banks like SBI and PNB are ₹8,500 Crore.

Following complaints made by a whistle blower, the PMO ordered an inquiry in August, 2018 and the SBI in December, 2018 wrote to the whistle blower and informed that he would be informed about the result of the inquiry.

The SBI also informed the whistle blower that a special forensic audit of Jet Airways had been entrusted to Ernst & Young.

Surjewala wondered aloud whether public money can be used to bail out a private, bankrupt enterprise. The Government’s ‘advice’ to the banks to buy equity shares from Goyal and Etihad, he pointed out, would leave the PSU banks holding the liabilities of another bankrupt business.
21/03/19 National Herald

Working with all airlines to provide sufficient capacity, says civil aviation ministry

The civil aviation ministry Wednesday said it is working with all airlines to provide sufficient capacity and is monitoring safety as well as compliance levels on a daily basis, amid concerns over flight cancellations and rise in airfares.
The grounding of aircraft by crisis-hit Jet Airways, grounding of Boeing MAX 737 planes by SpiceJet and curtailed schedule of IndiGo, among other factors, have impacted flight schedules.
"To ensure passenger convenience, stable operations and affordable fares, MOCA (Ministry of Civil Aviation) is working with all airlines to provide sufficient capacity across the entire network. We continue to monitor safety and compliance on a daily basis," the ministry said in a tweet.
20/03/19 PTI/ZeeBiz

Passengers fleeced at city airport

Ahmedabad: Just days after Ahmedabad-headquartered Adani group won bid to operate Ahmedabad airport, taxi and rickshaw drivers have started collecting extra Rs 50 from passengers claiming they have to pay parking charge to the new operator.
 However, airport authorities have clarified that Airports Authority of India (AAI) continues to operate the airport and there is no role of the private company in parking fee collection. Incidentally, AAI introduced the new parking policy around the same time the winning bid to operate city airport was announced.
As per the new parking policy, taxi drivers have to pay Rs 50 to AAI while picking up passengers and not while dropping them. However, taxi drivers charge extra money even when they drop them. Clarifying on the issue, airport Director Manoj Gangal said, "The new parking policy was introduced pan India keeping passenger comfort in mind. It is one of the best policies AAI has come up with for parking and it is implemented in all AAI run airports. Private vehicles are exempted from paying any fees for dropping their relatives. They need to pay only when they park in dedicated parking plot." 
According to the new parking policy, commercial vehicles entering airport to pick up passenger need to pay Rs 50 to AAI, but there are no charges for dropping the passengers.
The taxi or rickshaw is given receipt for the fees they pay to AAI with their vehicle number. Apoorva Bhatt (25), a resident of Ghatlodia who returned from Jaipur recently, told Mirror, "I am a frequent flier. Last time, when I flew back and took a rickshaw to home, the driver asked Rs 200 instead of Rs 112 as per meter. When I asked for the reason, he said since the airport has been taken over by Adani, they need to pay parking charges. I paid only Rs 112 but was taken aback by the confrontation. It was for the first time that such an incident happened with me."
 21/03/19 Ahmedabad Mirror