Thursday, September 17, 2020

Indian airlines seek $1.5 billion interest-free credit line from Modi govt

New Delhi: Airlines in India are seeking at least $1.5 billion as an interest-free credit line from the government, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said, as lockdowns and restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic hit demand for air travel.

The carriers in what was until recently the world’s fastest growing aviation market are also seeking to defer loan repayments by six months, without these borrowings getting classified as “non-performing,” Puri said in a written reply in parliament. Local airlines have asked the government to include jet fuel in the South Asian nation’s goods and services tax, and abolish excise duty on aviation turbine fuel, the minister said.

Airlines from Africa to Australia have been hammered by the pandemic, as companies cut back on travel, holidaymakers defer trips and border restrictions dent international journeys. Unlike countries such as the U.S., which have offered financial assistance to carriers, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has yet to announce any meaningful monetary package for the aviation industry, as the government struggles with the worst economic slowdown among major nations.

Indian carriers need as much as $2.5 billion to keep flying, according to estimates from Sydney-based CAPA Centre for Aviation, and one or more of the nation’s airlines are expected to fail in the absence of additional funding from the government or their owners. India was one of the most difficult places for the aviation industry even before the pandemic, with fares as little as 2 cents and some of the world’s highest fuel taxes.

However, the government is engaged with aircraft lessors and financiers to ensure there is no premature withdrawal of planes, Puri said. Local traffic has slumped almost 80% to just 12 million passengers in the five months to July 31, eroding airline revenues, he said.

16/09/20 Anurag Kotoky/Bloomberg/Print

Air India earned over Rs 2550 crore revenue from Vande Bharat flights till Aug 31: Hardeep Singh Puri

Air India earned a revenue of Rs 2556.60 crore from flights that have been operated under the Vande Bharat mission till August 31, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said. Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 
However, the Central government started the mission from May 6 to help people stranded in different countries reach their destinations through special international flights. 
 "As on 31.08.2020, the total number of inbound and outbound special repatriation flights undertaken by the Air India group was 4,505," Puri said in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha. Out of a total of about 11 lakh Indian nationals repatriated till August 31, about four lakh passengers were carried by the Air India group into India, the minister mentioned.
16/09/20 PTI/Deccan Herald

Civil aviation sector on a steady growth trajectory: Puri

New Delhi: India's civil aviation sector is on a steady growth trajectory, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday.

Speaking on the new 'General Aviation' terminal at IGI airport here, Puri said: "The sector is all set to emerge stronger in a post-Covid world as more routes are opening up and number of passengers are growing."

"We expect a bulk of pre-Covid domestic air passengers' traffic to be back by Diwali this year, and 'General Aviation' will have a significant contribution to it."

According to the Minister, the new 'General Aviation' terminal at Delhi airport is the need of the hour which will significantly support this growth."

The GMR Group led consortium "Delhi International Airport Limited" on Thursday launched India's first exclusive 'General Aviation Terminal' facility for private jets at IGIA.

17/09/20 Daijiworld

Passenger Footfall Continue to Rise in North-Eastern States Amidst Covid-19: AAI

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, air passenger movement in northeast India is growing since July, Airport Authority of India (AAI) officials said on Tuesday.

According to the officials, the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati has registered 111 per cent increase in airline passengers from 2,812 on July 10 to 5,924 on September 10.

Agartala airport witnessed a 104 per cent increase, Assam's Dibrugarh 126 per cent and Imphal 66.5 per cent.

AAI's officiating Regional Executive Director J.T. Radhakrishna said, in a statement, that passenger movement in northeast India is growing with each passing month.

"Amid corona pandemic, since the domestic flight operations resumed in the country, the airlines have slowly started their services to almost 50 per cent pre-corona numbers adhering to all the health guidelines laid down by the state as well as the Central government," he added.

He said that airports mainly operational during July to September, included Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Silchar, Jorhat, Tezpur and Lilabari (all Assam), Agartala, Imphal and Dimapur (Nagaland).

16/09/20 IANS/News18

Non-chartered foreign flight lands in Calcutta

Calcutta: The first non-chartered international flight since the Bengal government lifted restrictions landed in and took off from Calcutta on Wednesday. The government had imposed the curbs as a precaution against Covid.

The Emirates airline flight from Dubai arrived with 179 passengers in the morning under an air-transport-bubble arrangement, said airport officials. It took off for Dubai with 110 passengers. 

The state government had given a no-objection certificate for the flight a week before.

Several airlines are applying for no-objection certificates to operate flights under air transport-bubble arrangements (temporary arrangements between two countries to restart commercial passenger flights because regular flights are suspended). 

SpiceJet will operate a flight between Calcutta and Dubai on Thursday, an official said. The airline has several other flights on the route planned for this month. 

Emirates has planned at last two more Dubai-Calcutta flights this month. Airport sources said IndiGo was planning to operate a flight to and from Singapore in the last week of September. Air India's first of the several Calcutta-London direct flights under the Vande Bharat evacuation programme is scheduled for Thursday. 

In July, the Bengal government had asked the civil aviation ministry to stop evacuation flights from international destinations after hundreds of passengers refused to go to a paid quarantine centre after landing in Calcutta and went home instead.

Any flight from abroad needs a no-objection certificate from the state government.

Later, the government eased the restrictions and allowed chartered flights from abroad to arrive in Calcutta. Earlier this month, the state government, following appeals from airlines and travel operators, started giving approvals for evacuation as well as air-transport-bubble flights. 

The 179 passengers who arrived in Calcutta on the Emirates flight had tested negative for Covid-19 within 96 hours before the journey. “All arriving passengers will have to undergo home quarantine for 14 days,” said an airport official. 

17/09/20 Sanjay Mandal/Telegraph

Boeing among 6 from foreign nations to get on board Aero India

At a time when scheduled air shows around the world have been cancelled or postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Defence has been bullish about going ahead with Asia’s largest air show, Aero India.

Apart from announcing that Air Force Station Yelahanka would be the venue of Aero India 2021 in April itself when the country was in lockdown, the ministry

last week opened up the registration for the air show.

In just five days, around 36 companies have registered to participate in the five-day air show, to be held between February 3 and 7.

Among those to register, a majority are Indian defence and aerospace companies with a mix from public and private sector undertakings like the Hindustan

Aeronautics Ltd, Bharat Electronics Ltd and Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd.

Companies from six foreign countries have also signed up. US aerospace major Boeing Russia’s Rosoboronexport JSC, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd,

Frances MBDA are among the foriegn participants. About 60 sq mt of space has also been booked so far.

During the last edition of the show, 403 exhibitors had taken part with 165 foreign exhibitors from 22 countries.

With the Indian Air Force looking to procure 100-plus multi-role fighter aircraft, global companies are expected to bring their aircraft for display. So far, six have

responded to the IAF’s Request for Information (RFI) — Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet), SAAB Aviation’s (Gripen), Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin (F-16

Fighting Falcon) and Russia’s Mig-35.

17/09/20 Hemanth CS/Bangalore Mirror

Why is India amending its aircraft law?

Rajya Sabha on September 15 passed The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill 2020, which seeks to provide statutory status to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), and the Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB).

What will change when this Bill becomes law? Why are these amendments being made to the Aircraft Act? What was the trigger for these changes now? Read >>

Plea in SC seeks installation of EMAS in Mangaluru, Kozhikode airports to prevent overshooting

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought response from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Ministry of Civil Aviation on a plea claiming there was a deliberate omission for years to install Engineered Materials Arrestor System (EMAS) at airports, which prevent aircraft from overshooting runways at vulnerable airports such as Mangaluru and Kozhikode.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde has issued a notice to the ministry and DGCA on a plea filed by a Delhi resident Rajen Mehta, an 85-year-old retired engineer.

The plea has been filed through advocate Shohit Chaudhry. It seeks installation of EMAS at the airports considered vulnerable.

The plea also cited the accidents of August 7 at Calicut International Airport and May 22, 2010 at Mangalore.

Both these airports have table-top runways. The petitioner contended that if EMAS were to be installed, it could have helped in averting the plane crash.

"The existence of EMAS was brought to the knowledge of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and the respondents (DGCA and Civil Aviation Ministry) in 2008. However, for no plausible reason, it has not been installed till date," said the plea.

The petitioner argued that the aviation industry has seen two horrific incidents in Mangalore and Calicut causing loss of hundreds of lives, which could have been saved by the timely action of the authorities concerned.

The plea pointed out that EMAS has been installed at 125 airports across the globe. The petitioner also sought an inquiry into delay in installation of EMAS, despite prior knowledge on the airports which are vulnerable, and insisted that criminal action should be taken against those responsible.

17/09/20 Daijiworld

Railway Ticket Not Confirmed? Mumbai Startup Will Replace it With a Flight Ticket

Anyone who has ever travelled by train anywhere in India is familiar with stress and anticipation that comes with booking a ticket. If your ticket is listed in the waiting list or on RAC (Reservation Against Cancellation), then chances are you may not get a confirmed seat.
So, as a passenger, you will have to wait for the chart preparation, that takes place four hours before the departure of the train. If your name is not on the list, then you can either buy a general compartment ticket or stand in the train throughout the journey.

The whole saga of waiting lists is not just for people who book ‘tatkal’ tickets but also for those who book them in advance.

Whether it is someone going on a business trip or someone who has a medical emergency, millions of railway travellers are affected by this process annually.

Often, with no option left during emergencies, they end up purchasing flight tickets at inflated rates – like Rohan Dedhia from Mumbai did in 2016.

He had booked two train tickets so that he could take his grandmother to their native home in Kutch, Gujarat from Mumbai. Even one day before the day of the trip, their seats were not confirmed. Rohan ended up buying flight tickets. Since he had booked the flight tickets on the same day of his travel, the airlines charged them four times the usual price.

Upset by the episode, Rohan furiously researched about how can one predict the chances of getting a confirmed ticket while sitting at the airport.

“Despite booking a train ticket well in advance, the ticket was not confirmed. Since I paid such a heavy price for the flight tickets, I assumed the flight would be packed full. But when I entered, almost 15-20% of the seats were empty. I found this ridiculous. So, I checked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation website and found that India has almost 50,000 empty seats on flights each day. I decided to translate my thought – if only all those waitlisted passengers could get to Bhuj at train prices – into reality,” Rohan tells The Better India.

Four years later, Rohan’s tiresome experience gave birth to Railofy, a startup that aims to eliminate the problem of the railway waiting list.

The Mumbai-based startup was founded in September 2019 by Rohan, Vaibhav Saraf, and Hrishabh Sanghvi (alumni of ISB, IIT and IIM respectively) and their operations began in January 2020.

Within the first few months, they crossed a hundred protection purchases, and they have recorded over 60,000 visits on the website.

Seeing the overwhelming response and demand for a consumer-centric solution, the bootstrapped startup recently raised Rs 70 million in its seed round from Chiratae Ventures.

17/09/20 Gopi Karelia/Better India

Kalyan Singh Discharged from Lucknow Hospital, Flown to Ghaziabad for Treatment

Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, who had tested positive for coronavirus, was shifted Wednesday from Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow to a private hospital in Ghaziabad. He was discharged at the request of his family, the government hospital in Lucknow said.

Hours later, Yashoda Hospital, located in Kaushambi area near the national capital, confirmed that the former Rajasthan governor was now admitted there. He was flown to Hindan airport by an air ambulance run by a private company. He was admitted around 6.15 pm, three hours after being discharged from the Lucknow hospital.

16/09/20 PTI/

Covid Testing At Entry Airports For International Passengers On Pilot Basis

New Delhi: The Ministry of Civil Aviation has allowed RT-PCR testing at the entry airport on a pilot basis to facilitate the transfer of international passengers, Minister of State (I/C), Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

"Airport Operator will create sample collection cum Waiting Lounge facility for RT-PCR testing. Waiting Lounge should be located away from the Operational area, should follow all sanitisation and social distancing related guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, should have no unauthorized access, should provide necessary amenities to the passengers like Wifi, F&B options, washrooms, etc and should provide cashless options for making payments with regard to testing and various amenities," Mr Puri said.

"Airport Operator shall provide an option to the passengers to either stay at the Waiting Lounge awaiting the test results or to proceed to designated hotel(s) in order to isolate themselves till the test results are available," he added.

He further stated: "Sample collection to be in strict compliance with the protocols established by ICMR and NABL. Passengers should make online booking of the RT-PCR test through respective websites or other appropriate online platforms."

16/09/20 ANI/NDTV

AAI notice to Surat airport to ensure ‘0’ wildlife intrusion

Surat: The Surat airport authorities have been asked by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to ensure ‘zero’ incidence of wildlife intrusion on the airport premises and any security lapses in the future “will entail administrative action”.

The notice which was sent after the recovery of two dead foxes on the airport runway in December 2019 also asks the authorities to take appropriate measures for the safety of aircraft and passengers, revealed airport activist, Rajesh Modi, who received a copy of the notice under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The incident at the Surat airport on December 19, 2019 not only caused three flights to delay, but also has serious repercussion for safe aircraft operations, said the notice sent by AAI’s member (operations), IN Murthy to the airport director. The foreign object debris (FOD) was reported during the landing of the Surat-Udaipur flight at the runway near the taxiway on December 19, 2019. During inspection, operational jeep reported two dead foxes on the runway.

After the incident, the arrival of Delhi-Surat flight was hold overhead and was delayed by 20 minutes, Goa-Surat flight had to hold over head and was delayed by 10 minutes and that the departure of Surat-Kolkata flight was delayed by 25 minutes, says a report furnished by the Surat airport authorities under RTI.

In the earlier report filed by the airport authorities, it was stated that the deputy general manager (air traffic management) Pradeep Kumar Dobriya was responsible for prevention of wildlife intrusion and bird hit at the Surat airport.

17/09/20 Times of India

NE region gateway to east, SE Asia: Foreign Secretary Shringla

Agartala/Gangtok: As the northeast region is India's gateway to east and southeast Asia, the country has a vision for this region that is captured in the 3 Cs - Connectivity, Commerce, and Cultural Commonalities, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said.

He said that in foreign policy terms, the states of the northeast are the link between two fundamental pillars of our foreign policy: "Neighbourhood First" and "Act East". "In partnership with our neighbours and friends to the east, we are working to improve the infrastructure and connectivity in our northeastern states while also facilitating greater regional integration," Shringla said recently while addressing a seminar on a virtual platform.

He said that the connectivity between India and Bangladesh directly and positively impacts both the northeast region and Bangladesh. Four of the six pre-1965 rail links between the two countries have been made operational, and work is underway on the remaining two.

"Nationals of the two countries can not only travel on board the Maitree and Bandhan express to each other's countries but on buses plying between Shillong and Dhaka and between Agartala and Kolkata via Dhaka. We are upgrading the infrastructure of Land Customs Stations (LCS) for enabling smooth cross-border movement of goods and people," he added.

16/09/20 Sujit Chakraborty/daijiworld

Aviation woes: With nearly 20% passenger load, revenues nosedive; Air India reports this much fall

The coronavirus pandemic has delivered heavy blows to the aviation industry which was already under pressure due to various issues. The sector has reported a major drop in passenger load, which has in turn impacted revenues as well. “The domestic traffic has reduced from 5,85,30,038 during March-July 2019 to 1,20,84,952 during March-July 2020… The revenue of Indian carriers has reduced from Rs 25,517 crore during April-June 2019 to Rs 3,651 crore during April-June 2020,” Hardeep Singh Puri, MoS, Civil Aviation, said in a written reply during Lok Sabha session. The government had put restrictions on flight operations in the country to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Divestment-headed Air India, which was already cash-strapped even before the start of the pandemic, also saw a total revenue decline from Rs 7,066 crore during April-June 2019 to Rs 1,531 crore during the comparable period this year. With a blow to passenger load, employment at airlines also reduced from 74,887 as on 31st March 2020 to 69,589 as on 31st July 2020. Decline was also reported in jobs at airports, ground handling and cargo operators.

Upon being asked about the steps that the ministry has undertaken to reduce the impact of the pandemic on the aviation sector, it said that “all efforts have been made to reduce the impact of the pandemic on the aviation sector.” The government has taken various measures such as allowing the resumption of domestic air services, increasing operations of the summer schedule to 60% as on 2nd September 2020 from the initial downgrade, creation of exclusive air-links or air bubbles with countries including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Canada, France, Germany, Qatar, Maldives, UAE, UK and USA.

16/09/20 Financial Express

Two more senior executives at GoAir quit

Mumbai: Budget carrier GoAir continues to see the exodus of senior management level personnel with two more executives, including its Head of Flight Operations Nikhil Ved, parting ways with the Nusli Wadia-promoted no-frills airline, sources familiar with the development have said.

Their departure comes close on the heels of half-a-dozen other senior executives, including the then CEO Vinay Dube quitting the carrier last month, whose majority of the employees are on “Leave Without Pay” mode for the last many months.

Covid-19 has impacted the aviation sector globally due to suspension of visa and travel services by many countries, including India, to combat the pandemic, with airlines struggling for survival in a low demand environment.

The revenue of domestic airlines dropped by 85.7 per cent to ₹3,651 crore in the June quarter from ₹25,517 crore during April-June period 2019, the government informed Parliament on Wednesday.

“After the resignation of some six senior executives in recent past, two more GoAir senior officials --head of flight operations Nikhil Ved and senior GM flight operations Manoj Arora-- have left the carrier,” said a source.

Significantly, Ved had moved to the budget carrier from Jet Airways after it ceased operations in April last year. He joined the airline following Dubey, the former Jet Airways CEO, boarded the Wadia’s carrier first as an advisor and then stepped into the position of the CEO.

“Ved’s exit from the carrier was a foregone conclusion after Dubey was removed from the job last month,” said another source.

GoAir, in an e-mail response to PTI on the quitting of the two executives said, “GoAir like any other carrier worldwide has been impacted by the unprecedented scenario owing to Covid-19...the airline has attempted to control costs wherever possible and is continually looking at several areas to optimise costs. In this context, the airline is taking steps to realign the organisation structure.”

It also said it has taken “proactive measures in time to ensure that it remains agile, cost-effective and scalable.”

16/09/20 PTI/Business Line

Spicejet starts daily cargo services to NE, Air India weekly

Guwahati: In a bid to boost the growth of trade in the North Eastern markets and help Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, domestic carrier Air India and the country’s largest air cargo operator Spicejet launched dedicated cargo flights to the region yesterday. 
 Air India started its weekly (Wednesday) freighter services from Kolkata to North Eastern Airports. A dedicated freighter A-321 landed successfully at Imphal and Agartala Airport yesterday. This is a weekly service started by Air India for the North East Region, initially at Agartala and Imphal Airports. Air India also operates its services at other NE airports through passenger’s flight in cargo belly at Guwahati, Aizawl, Dibrugarh, Dimapur, Silchar, Lilabari and Tezpur airports. 
The consignments that landed at Imphal and Agartala airports yesterday were mainly consisting of Day Old Chicks, Ducklings, Fish seeds, Medical equipment kits etc. At Agartala Airport, the Air India flight brought 2500 kg of essential medical equipment for the state of Tripura and carried outgoing cargo consisting good load of fish through Imphal Airport. And at Imphal Airport the items delivered mainly included Fish, Day old Chicks and Medical kits.
“With the support of our farm fraternity the consignment was delivered at these destinations and dedication of airline staff paying special attention while loading of the cargo is laudable. Our cargo terminals at Agartala, Imphal, Silchar, Guwhati and Dibrugarh Airports are operational and ready to provide full services in the region with the help of AAI Cargo Logistic and Allied Services Ltd. (AAICLAS, the cargo wing of AAI),” said JT Radhakrishna, officiating Regional Executive Director, AAI North East Region. Meanwhile, Spicejet launched 14 new cargo flights to and from the region using its Bombardier Q400 freighters yesterday. The dedicated cargo flights will help transport fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, perishables, fish seeds, fresh fish, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, express cargo and other general cargo, besides improving logistics and connectivity. 
 17/09/20 UNI

Taking a flight? This is how airlines are keeping their aircraft coronavirus safe

New Delhi: From disinfecting customer touch points, spraying seats with anti-microbial mist to health check-ups of crew members at regular intervals, airlines are scrambling to reassure wary travellers that planes are safe even as air passenger traffic remains a trickle of what it was in pre-Covid days. In India too, most airlines have put in place a rigorous cleaning procedure involving 3-4 hours for every commercial aircraft.

Most airlines have equipped their aircraft with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which claim to catch 99.9 per cent of particles as small as 0.1 to 0.3 microns and trap harmful particles such as pollen and dust mites, including coronavirus.

Resurgence of novel coronavirus cases in Europe has not helped matters, with a recent survey cited by AP saying that instead of growing comfortable with air travel, more people are becoming nervous at the idea of being trapped indoors in close proximity with many people for hours on end.

This comes even as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that most viruses and other germs don’t spread easily on flights because of how air circulates on planes.

In its latest report, the International Air Transport Association said global air passenger traffic was 79.8 per cent less in July this year compared to the corresponding period a year ago. The association, which represents 290 airlines comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic, has predicted that carriers will lose $84 billion this year, making it the worst year in the industry’s history, with traffic not recovering fully until 2024.

17/09/20 Indian Express

Stuffy cabin forced us to take off masks, claim flyers

Kolkata: Passengers of two SpiceJet flights from Delhi to Kolkata complained that the airline had put nearly 350 people in harm’s way by not cooling the aircraft cabin while it waited on the ground for around an hour, creating an unbearable condition that forced gasping passengers to remove their masks.

The airline denied there was anything wrong with the air conditioning and claimed the timeline provided by flyers was incorrect. “The aircraft door was closed at 7.36pm on September 13 and at 7.40pm on September 14 and the flights departed on time on both days. The allegation in the tweet that the flight did not depart till 8pm is wrong,” the airline said. To the passengers, however, the airline tweeted: “Apologies for the discomfort. Please note while the aircraft is on the ground, air-conditioning is often ineffective and as soon as it reaches height and cruises, the temperature starts getting lower.”

Pradeep Kumar Nemani, who travelled by SpiceJet flight SG253 on September 14, recounted to TOI how the situation became unbearable as the plane without adequate ventilation remained on ground for over an hour after boarding was over. “It was stuffy from the start. But as time progressed and passengers exhaled, the oxygen level in the cabin declined and carbon dioxide level rose. People had to take off their masks to breathe,” said Nemani, a general surgeon at CMRI Hospital in Kolkata, who was in Delhi to attend a conference organised by the Indian Medical Association. Nemani was glad he wasn’t in a middle seat as passengers assigned those seats sweated profusely as they had to be in full PPE gear.

The previous evening too, passengers on another SpiceJet flight had made a similar complaint after reportedly being forced to sit in the hot and sweltry cabin for almost an hour. Nemani’s daughter Prachi, an MBBS passout who went to Delhi for an exam, said everyone around gasped for breath and took off their masks. “ Had there been one Covid-19 patient on the flight that day, several people would have got infected,” she said.

17/09/20 Subhro Niyogi/Times of India

Mumbai Airport caters to 1.76 crore passengers since resumption of flight operations

Ever since the lockdown restricting air movement was imposed at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) on March 25, it had led to the crumbling down of foreign travel. While they catered to 1.76 crore passengers since the flight operations resumed on May 25, as a part of the Unlock 3, the airport handled over 67,500 passengers in the month of August alone.

Ever since the flight operations partially resumed from May 25, the CSMIA has catered to a total of 1,76,89,907 passengers in over 1,90,794 flight movements. While the total number of departing passengers was 88,74,301, that of arriving passengers was 88,15,606.

As the country stepped in the third stage of Unlock since the nation-wide lockdown, the CSMIA has facilitated numerous flights connecting to the foreign countries and Mumbai. In a press statement released by the airport authorities, the CSMIA is working endlessly to handle charter flights while complying with the guidelines of the government and catered to 67,500 passengers in 570 flight operations carried out by 26 airlines, connecting to 34 international destinations.

"Abiding by the Air Bubble agreements signed by the Indian government as well as the ongoing Vande Bharat missions, CSMIA catered to destinations across Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and America; the airport has witnessed countries such as Dubai, Doha and London-Heathrow handling the highest passenger load," read the statement.

17/09/20 Priyanka Navalkar/Free Press Journal

GoAir partners Stemz Healthcare to offer COVID-19 testing to passengers

Budget carrier GoAir on Thursday said it has partnered Stemz Healthcare to offer coronavirus testing facility to its domestic and international passengers. As per travel guidelines of different states and countries, several destinations require a COVID-19 RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test to be undertaken within a stipulated time frame before a customer boards a flight.

GoAir has been taking multiple steps to ensure safety of passengers in the wake of the COVID-19 situation and as part of these measures, the airline "has partnered with ICMR-approved lab aggregator Stemz Healthcare to enable customers travelling on GoAir domestic or international network to undergo COVID-19 RT-PCR testing at affordable rates", the airline said in a release. Undertaking the mandated COVID-19 RT-PCR test also provides an exemption from quarantine to a passenger, it said.

"The COVID-19 testing service in association with Stemz Healthcare to all travelling customers demonstrates our continued commitment to the 'Safety First' philosophy," GoAir Chief Executive Officer Kaushik Khona said. Customers can book their appointment online through GoAir website based on their travel date, the airline said, adding they can either opt for a home visit, wherein the collection agent will visit the residence to take swabs, or choose to go to over 200 collection centres.

Once the payment is made online, the confirmation of payment and appointment will be e-mailed to the customer. Travelling customers need to carry the test results provided to them within 48 to 96 hours of swab collection, the airline added. "Pre-flight Covid negative report is an essential for every traveller to avoid quarantine at the destination. With the launch of the services through GoAir, meeting the requirements of the destination has been simplified for passengers," Stemz Healthcare founder and CEO Raman Sodhi said.
17/09/20 PTI/CNBC TV18

Delhi Court convicts ex-regional manager Srilankan Airlines

A Delhi Court on Wednesday ordered conviction of Lalit D’Silva Former Regional Manager (India) of Srilankan Airlines on charge of outraging the modesty of a female employee. Metropolitan Magistrate Dev Saroha, at Patiala House Court pronounced the verdict through video conferencing today and will decide the quantum of sentence on 17th November 2020 in presence of the accused Lalit D’Silva. 

The sentence wasn’t pronounced by the Court as the accused, Lalit D’Silva wasn’t physically present before the Court today in wake of the pandemic and non operation of international flights, as its necessary for the accused to be present at the time of pronouncement of quantum of sentence as per the Procedure code. 

The Complainant’s lawyer Advocate Ajay Verma, while talking to India Legal said “The victim a woman with strong will power has been fighting  for her honour. She remained consistent in her testimony. Despite giving her best performance for 12 years to the company, the airline was insensitive and did not create safe working Environment for women. She was illegally terminated also. The termination has also been challenged before the Industrial Tribunal. The proceedings are pending. The Airline is also facing criminal trial for failure to have the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) as mandated under The sexual harassment of women at workplace Prevention,Prohibition, and Redressal Act 2013 , Law as applicable in India to investigate the complaints of Sexual Harassment made by employees. The verdict will definitely will give other women a ray of hope to seek justice in case of harassment. The law has been enacted in 2013 but still in private sector it has not been strictly enforced. Many private institution in delhi don’t have ICC as mandated under the act.” 

According to the complainant (name of the complainant has been omitted to protect her identity), who was a sales executive at the Delhi office of Srilankan Airlines the accused jo people also who stopped her from filing a police complaint. Even after all the management people had assured her that they will take corrective action the accused, nothing was done. The complainant alleged that the accused, in his attempt to take revenge against her for complaining about sexual harassment committed by him, transferred her from Delhi to Kochi. The accused continuously used to harass her-while she was in Delhi after the incident and even after she joined the office in Kochi. 

16/09/20 India Legal 

Lucknow: Customs nab Moradabad man from Amausi for smuggling gold worth Rs 2.09 crore in undergarment

Lucknow: Ahead of dhanteras and diwali, in a major crackdown against gold smugglers --- the customs department of Chaudhary Charan Singh international airport caught a passenger with undeclared gold worth Rs 2.09 crore, which he was carrying inside his undergarment.

Hailing from Moradabad, the passenger had landed with GoAir flight (G8 6451) at Amausi based airport from Riyadh on Wednesday late night along with 33 gold biscuits.

Niharika Lakha, the deputy commissioner of customs Lucknow said, "While frisking for the suspicious object by security personnel, the metal detector raised alarm around passenger’s abdomen area. After a thorough inspection, our team recovered 3849.12 grams of gold that the passenger had not declared and was allegedly smuggling into the country under his undergarment. The gold biscuits were taped into a black pouch."

"The passenger used to work as carpenter in Riyadh and had returned to India after spending five years in there. During interrogation, he claimed that a man contacted him in Riyadh via his acquaintance and offered to pay for his return ticket on condition to smuggle the gold biscuits. Had the passenger been able to pass through security check at Amausi, he would have delivered the gold to another person waiting for him outside the airport. The smuggling racket left no lose ends, hence the passenger was not given any information as who would had contacted him outside airport," added Lakha.

According to customs, the seized gold worth is Rs 2,09,77,704.

Customs officials claimed, “Majority of gold smuggled into India is done from middle eastern countries. Since the flight operations have resumed, there is a sudden surge in the illegal activities. There are high possibilities that customs and other security agencies of airports based in Middle East nations are involved in the racket.”

“Most of the apprehended passengers are courier to smuggle gold into India. They are lured for free air tickets and some cash for the service. The actual kingpin never comes into light. In rare of the rare case, we are able to catch a person who is involved in gold smuggling for himself in order to make hefty profit,” added official.

The accused passenger arrested on Wednesday night was presented to a judicial magistrate on Thursday and sent for 14 days remand.

17/09/20 Arvind Chauhan/Times of India

Nearly 4.5kg gold seized at Lucknow airport linked to M-E cartel

Lucknow: The Lucknow Customs team has seized around 3.8 kg of gold biscuits valued at over Rs 2 crore at the Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport (CCSI) from a passenger travelling from Saudi Arabia.

This was the second seizure in two days and showed a clear link to the Middle East gold smuggling cartel.

"In the night of 16.09.2020-17.09.2020, Lucknow team Customs CCSI Airport seized 33 Gold Biscuits (each biscuit weighing at 116.64 grams) total weighing 3,849.12 grams and valued at Rs 2,09,77,704/ from a passenger travelling from Riyadh to Lucknow in flight no G8 6451," a statement said.

The Gold biscuits were wrapped in cellotape and kept in a black coloured pouch which was in his undergarment.

He was thoroughly checked by Customs officers on suspicion which led to the detection of the 33 Gold biscuits. The person was arrested.

17/09/20 IANS/Daijiworld

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Report On Air India Express Crash To Be Submitted By Investigator-In-Charge Within 5 Months: Hardeep Singh Puri

New Delhi: Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday informed that the investigator-in-charge Captain S S Chahar, who is probing Air India Express crash, will "submit the report to Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) preferably within five months from the date of order."
Chahar was appointed by the Director-General of AAIB on August 13, 2020, for probing this case.
"The investigator-in-charge will determine the probable cause and contributory factors leading to this accident," the Union Minister stated in a written reply in Rajya Sabha to an unstarred question.
16/09/20 Ashoke Raj/ANI/Business World

CSMIA Sees Surge In International Chartered Flight Operations

As India slowly winds down the nation-wide lockdown imposed on March 25, 2020, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) continues its efforts in aiding the government and the country to help travelers reach home. During the Unlock 3.0, CSMIA has helped in the facilitation of over 570 charter flights during August 2020. The airport handled over 67,500 passengers by connecting to 34 international destinations operated by 26 airlines in the same period.
A gateway to the financial capital of the country, CSMIA is working endlessly to handle charter flights while complying with the guidelines of the government. Abiding by the Air Bubble agreements signed by the Indian government as well as the ongoing Vande Bharat missions, CSMIA catered to destinations across Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and America; the airport has witnessed countries such as Dubai, Doha and London-Heathrow handling the highest passenger load.
During this period, the airport played host to 22 international and 4 domestic charter flights transporting passengers to and from the country. The domestic airline partners for the repatriation efforts include Air India, Air India Express, IndiGo & Vistara. The international charter flights include Air Arabia, Air France, Air Mauritius, Air Peace, Air Seychelles, Air Tanzania, Asiana Airlines, British Airways, EgyptAir, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Flydubai, Gulf Air, Kenya Airways, KLM, Kuwait Airways, Lufthansa, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, SriLankan Airlines, United Airlines, amongst others. Out of these, CSMIA witnessed the highest ATMs for Indigo (domestic airline) and Emirates (international airline) catering to over 33,700 and 9,200 passengers, respectively.
16/09/20 Business World

All you need to know about modified PW engines that DGCA has asked IndiGo, GoAir to use

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) asked IndiGo and GoAir to fly only those aircraft that have modified Pratt and Whitney (PW) engines on them, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday.
The PW engine-powered A320 neo planes in IndiGo and GoAir fleets have been facing glitches both mid-air and on-ground since their induction way back in 2016.
Now read what are the A320neos and what were the tale of glitches >>

Revenues of Indian airlines fell by 85.7% in April-June period due to COVID-19, says Aviation Minister Puri

The revenue of Indian airlines fell by 85.7 per cent to Rs 3,651 crore during the first quarter of 2020-21 in comparison to the corresponding period a year ago due to COVID19, said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday.
Moreover, employee count at the Indian carriers went down from 74,887 on March 31 to 69,589 on July 31, a decrease of 7.07 per cent, Puri stated in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.
"The revenue of airport operators has reduced from Rs 5,745 crore during April-June 2019 to Rs 894 crore during April-June 2020," he said.
The minister said the employee count at airports has reduced from 67,760 on March 31 to 64,514 on July 31.
Scheduled domestic flight services were suspended in India from March 25 to May 24 due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. They were resumed from May 25 but in a curtailed manner.
The employee count at ground handling agencies fell by 22.44 per cent to 29,254 in AprilJuly period, Puri said.
16/09/20 PTI/Business Insider

FlyBig lends wings to NE’s UDAN 4.0 dreams

Guwahati: Regional airline FlyBig has decided to lend its services in the northeast under UDAN 4.0, at a time several routes under the scheme have closed because of the pandemic.

JT Radhakrishna, the officiating regional executive director at the northeast regional headquarters of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), on Tuesday said, “FlyBig airline’s services are expected to be operational after mid-November this year. However, some new routes may also be made operational through the same airline by the end of this year or the next. We welcome FLyBig and expect their daily regular services here.”

“The CEO of FlyBig has informed that the airline is very much enthusiastic about their first operations in this beautiful part of the country,” read a statement by AAI.

The vital routes in the northeast that were operationalised under the previous phases of UDAN were Jorhat-Kolkata by Indigo and Lilabari-Kolkata by SpiceJet in phase-II, and Guwahati-Dimapur-Imphal by Alliance Air and Shillong-Kolkata by Indigo in phase-III. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown had ruined all prospects, as the services initiated under UDAN remained suspended except for the Jorhat-Kolkata route.

The completely new routes in UDAN 4.0 include Imphal-Tezu, Rupsi-Kolkata, Aizawl-Tezpur, Agartala-Dibrugarh, Shillong-Passighat, Guwahati-Misa, Misa-Geleki, Geleki-Jorhat, Guwahati-Shillong and Shillong-Dibrugarh. But the routes that are likely to operate initially are from LGBI Airport in Guwahati and these include Guwahati-Passighat, Guwahati-Tezu-Imphal and Tezpur-Lengpui, the AAI statement said.
15/09/20 Kangkan Kalita/Times of India

New airline FlyBig to connect Pasighat, Lengpui, Tezu with Guwahati

The North East region is all set to receive a new airline service under UDAN 4.0 which would connect Pasighat, Tezu-Imphal and Lengpui with Guwahati city.
The news domestic airlines focusing its routes on UDAN through regional connectivity and planning to operate its services in the North East India is a regional Airline- FlyBig.
The CEO of FlyBig airline, said that the airline is very much enthusiastic about their first operations in this beautiful part of the country.
Guwahati airport will be connected with the three routes initially with ATR-72 type aircrafts in operation as informed by the Airlines authorities.
However, Guwahati-Rupsi-Kolkata route has been planned to open after the Rupsi airport in Assam opens for flight operations.
Informing more about the services, JT Radhakrishna, officiating regional executive director, AAI- North East Region said that the FlyBig airline’s services are expected to be operational after mid-November this year. However, some new routes may also be made operational through the same airline by the end of this year or next year.
"Smaller aircrafts are the future of the UDAN programme and as far as the Northeast Region is concerned, more routes are expected to be open for regional connectivity as identified by Govt in UDAN 4.0. On the occasion we welcome new airline FLyBig in the region and expect their daily regular services here," he added.
16/09/20 Chandan Panday/East Mojo

Indian Airline Industry Pins Hope on Upcoming Festive Season but Flyers Hesitant

After a catastrophic spell of over six months, the Indian airline industry is pinning its hopes for a revival with the upcoming festive season starting next month. However, prospective flyers are still unsure whether they would want to take the risk given that the number of positive Covid-19 cases have been soaring across the country. Since the resumption of domestic flights by the Central government in June, passenger demand has not significantly picked up.

Earlier this month, Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, president and chief operating officer of IndiGo said, “We can see a gradual improvement in passenger load factor (PLF). Also, fares are holding on and slightly higher fares and improvement in PLF will lead to an improvement in RASK."

PLF measures the capacity utilization of airlines. On September 2, the Centre had extended the capacity cap of 45 per cent imposed on domestic flights to up to 60 per cent.

"We are expecting the demand will rise as more people would want to travel to their hometowns and to their families in the coming months. Given the current pandemic, people may prefer taking flights as that would reduce the travel time significantly," said a top official who did not wish to be named.

According to a report by aviation consultancy firm CAPA India, the airline industry is expected to report a consolidated loss of USD 6-6.5 billion in the current financial year. The airline industry is one of few industries that saw demand fall by more than 90 per cent within weeks of the global spread of the pandemic in March, Moody's Investors Service said. The strain on the industry's previous fundamentals is (and will continue to be) felt across a broad swath of the global economy well into 2022 and beyond, it added.

11 years on, first London flight to land in Kolkata

Kolkata: At noon on Wednesday, Air India flight AI 1550 will take off from Heathrow airport in London for Kolkata airport, reconnecting the umbilical cord that had been snapped 11 years ago when first AI and then British Airways withdrew services from the sector.

The flight is scheduled to arrive in Kolkata at 2.20am on Thursday and take off for London again at 6.20am on Thursday. “There is a lot of hope riding on the flight. Though it has been initially scheduled for only five weeks, we will try to convince AI to persist with the flight and make it part of the regular service between the two cities. Once the flight becomes regular, it will attract passengers bound for not only the UK but to the rest of Europe and the US as well,” said a leading travel agent on the eve of the flight’s arrival. The current flights under the Vande Bharat mission have been scheduled between September 16 and October 24. The travel trade fraternity hopes it will be extended as part of the bubble flight pact between India and the UK. There is one area of concern though. Only a quarter of the first pair of inaugural flights have been booked.

While poor passenger load isn’t unusual when a new flight is introduced in an international sector with three-four months needed to attain flier confidence and stabilise the flight, the travel trade fraternity is concerned that the airline top brass may pull the plug prematurely, citing poor loads.

The Boeing B787 aircraft with a reduced capacity of 234 passengers will fly in with barely 60 passengers from London and fly out with 70. Incidentally, Vistara that started its direct service to London from Delhi had fewer passengers on the inaugural flight. Loads have since improved.

“One needs to give a flight some time. Unfortunately, that is what’s been lacking when it comes to treatment with flights from Kolkata. We are glad that AI has scheduled the flight. The airline will do everyone a big service if it continues to operate the flight beyond October 24,” said another travel agent.
16/09/20 Subhro Niyogi & Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India

Once unthinkable, Mumbai loses airport crown to Bengaluru

In August, Bengaluru airport saw 3,051 domestic departures, nearly double those of Mumbai, which clocked 1,527 departures. The gap widened in August, since July had seen Bengaluru clock 2234 domestic departures while Mumbai was at 1367.
But this is not the only change, the pecking order has got completely re-arranged since domestic flights resumed on 25th May 2020. For the last financial year, Mumbai ranked second in terms of domestic passenger numbers. Data released by Airports Authority of India (AAI) shows that the airport ranked fourth in July.
Read what led to the fall and how long this new order will last >>

5 People Injured In Kozhikode Air Crash Still Receiving Medical Attention At Hospitals: Puri

Five people who were injured in the Kozhikode air crash last month are still receiving medical attention at hospitals, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Wednesday.

On August 7, an Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 people overshot the tabletop runway during landing at the Kozhikode airport in heavy rain and fell into a valley 35 feet below and broke into pieces, killing 21 people, including the pilots.

A day after the crash, Puri had said 149 people have been admitted to hospitals, 23 have been discharged, while three were critically injured in the B737 plane crash.

In a written reply to a question, Puri told Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, "As on 14.09.2020, there are five persons who are still receiving medical attention at hospitals." On August 13, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) had announced the formation of a five-member panel to inquire into the circumstances of the Kozhikode plane crash.
16/09/20 PTI/Republic World

Kozhikode Plane Crash: Supreme Court Issues Notice to Centre Over Runway Safety

New Delhi: Over a month after the tragic Air India Express plane crash in Kerala, the Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the aviation ministry along with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on a plea seeking to install a fail-safe mechanism to prevent aircraft from overshooting tabletop runways at airports like Mangaluru and Kozhikode.
The plea sought that the aviation ministry installs Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) that will help stop airplanes from overshooting runways as did in case of the Dubai-Kozhikode flight.
Union Civil Aviation Minister told the top court Captain S S Chahar is heading the probe into the Kozhikode plane crash and will submit a report on the investigation to Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) “preferably within five months from the date of order”.
Notably, the Kozhikode International Airport, that suffered one of India’s worst aviation disasters last month, had been issued a show-cause notice by the DGCA in July 2019 after an audit revealed ‘significant’ safety concerns.
The Air India Express plane crash with 191 people on board took place amid heavy rains as the pilots failed to land the aircraft properly. The aircraft skidded off the airport’s tabletop runway and plunged 35 feet into a gorge, splitting into two and resulting in the deaths of 21 people who were on board, including the two pilots.

Do you really need a PPE if you’re getting on a flight?

Last week, after six long months, I finally got on a flight out of Mumbai. After six long months, I was finally going to see my wife and our 2 YO. Earlier that day, the COVID test came clean, so the last stretch to negotiate was the flight. When it was finally time to go, I slipped into the closest thing to a shroud. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) had been sitting at home for months, waiting for a chance to embarrass save me when I stepped out in public. When the moment arrived, it did the job. But do you really need one? Read >>

India’s evolving landscape of drone delivery

Just like many countries around the world, India too is gearing up for the new normal with not only a rising demand for timely healthcare but also other supplies delivered quickly. While the most immediate need is the delivery of vaccines and medical necessities and equipment, the industry is looking at expanding faster than it may have imagined. With constant innovation going hand-in-hand, drones are not only being looked at as the future of last-mile delivery but also function as an integral part of the supply chain to deliver cargo around the world. As several countries are already using the technology, the need for collaborations is going to be important, making the world get much closer than we know it today.
Read more on the drone delivery >>

As airlines rev up, ministry’s data paints grim picture of Covid impact

Chandigarh: Even as the number of passengers being ferried by domestic scheduled airlines begins to show a consistent rise in the post-lockdown phase, a grim picture has emerged of the economic impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the aviation sector.
Like in many other sectors, the period from April to July has been marred by drastic revenue losses and job cuts in the aviation industry, which now appears to be in the initial stages of the flight to recovery, which, however, may take time as the present figures are still way below last year’s.

“The passenger load factor in the month of August 2020 has shown some recovery due to increased demand after opening of lockdown,” the DGCA said on Wednesday after analysing traffic data submitted by various domestic airlines for the month.

In response to a question on the impact of COVID-19 in the aviation sector, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday said in Parliament that regulatory restrictions on flight operations in domestic and international sectors led to severe curtailment in operations and sub-optimal aircraft utilisation.

This resulted in the revenue of Indian carriers reducing from Rs 25,517 crore during April-June 2019 to Rs 3,651 crore during April-June 2020 and the revenue of airport operators has reduced from Rs 5,745 crore to Rs 894 crore during this period. State-owned Air India’s revenue fell from Rs 7,066 crore to Rs 1,531 crore.
16/09/20 Vijay Mohan/Tribune

28.32 lakh domestic air passengers in August, 76% lower than in August 2019: DGCA

A total of 28.32 lakh domestic passengers travelled by air in August this year, 76 per cent lower than the corresponding period last year, aviation regulator DGCA said on Wednesday. While IndiGo carried 16.82 lakh passengers, a 59.4 per cent share of the total domestic market, SpiceJet flew 3.91 lakh passengers, which is 13.8 per cent share of the total market, the DGCA data noted.
These two airlines were followed by Air India, AirAsia India, Vistara and GoAir at 2.78 lakh, 1.92 lakh, 1.42 lakh and 1.33 lakh passengers respectively in August, the data showed. As many as 21.07 lakh people travelled by air domestically this July, the regulator had said last month.
The occupancy rate or load factor for five out of six major Indian airlines was between 58 and 69 per cent in August, it said Wednesday. “The passenger load factor in the month of Aug 2020 has shown some recovery due to increased demand after the opening of lockdown,” said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The occupancy rate in SpiceJet was 76 per cent in August, the regulator noted. However, the occupancy rate for other major airlines Vistara, IndiGo, AirAsia India, GoAir and Air India stood at 68.3 per cent, 65.6 per cent, 64.4 per cent, 61 per cent and 58.6 per cent, respectively, according to the DGCA.

India resumed domestic passenger flights on May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.Indian airlines are allowed to operate a maximum of 60 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights. A total of 19.84 lakh passengers travelled domestically in June this year. Between May 25 and May 31, 2.81 lakh air passengers had travelled domestically, the DGCA noted.

The DGCA data mentioned that in August, IndiGo had the best on-time performance of 98.5 per cent at four metro airports – Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. AirAsia India and Vistara were at number two and three at these four airports with 97.6 per cent and 95.9 per cent on-time performance, respectively, the regulator said.

Vistara and Air India cancelled 14.99 per cent and 12.05 per cent of their flights in August, the DGCA mentioned. The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
16/09/20 PTI/Financial Express

More direct ops to tier-II cities from today

Kolkata: Flight count at Kolkata airport is set to increase further from this Wednesday with IndiGo airlines reintroducing direct flights to multiple tier-II cities, where its services had been suspended due to the Covid-induced lockdown. Airport officials said they are set to host 110-plus flights on Wednesday, for the first time since the resumption of flight movements with additional services to Kochi, Bhopal, Dehradun, Surat and Baroda.
“As air travel gathered pace we have reinstated a few of the direct flights from pre-Covid days. This includes direct flight to Kochi, Bhopal, Dehradun, Surat and Baroda, along with additional flights to other metros and tier-II cities. With domestic transfer facility being inaugurated at the airport by the end of this month, more additions are expected in near future,” said an IndiGo official.

Experts in the aviation sector said the additional flights are being made by the airlines in keeping with the trend of passenger travel in recent times. The resumption of flight movements has seen a rush of passengers, mostly labourers, to Kerala and they were taking a rerouted journey in absence of direct flights.

“The increase in flights to tier-II cities hints at movement towards normalcy. Hopefully, by the end of this year, we will be able to reach the pre-Covid numbers of domestic flights (both arrival and departure) from all sectors,” said Kaushik Bhattacharjee, the airport director.
16/09/20 Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India

Port Blair airport to have a new terminal building by mid-2021: AAI

New Delhi: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) said on Wednesday it is constructing a new integrated terminal building at the Port Blair airport and it will be ready by mid-2021.
The airport currently handles around 18 lakh passengers annually, said the AAI, adding that the new terminal building will be able to handle about 50 lakh passengers per annum.

"More than 65 per cent of project work is completed and the new terminal building of Port Blair is scheduled to be ready by the middle of the next year," the AAI said in a press release.

The new passenger terminal building will have three-levels comprising lower ground, upper ground and first floor, the AAI noted.

"The lower ground floor will be used as a remote arrival, departure and service area, the upper ground floor will have an entry gate for departure passengers and exit gate for arrival passengers and the first floor (will be used) as a lounge for international passengers," the AAI stated.
16/09/20 PTI/Outlook

Airport expansion project: Land owners demand compensation

Coimbatore: More than 20 people from Irugur and surrounding areas met district collector K Rajamani on Tuesday, requesting him to compensate them immediately for their land that was earmarked for the city airport expansion project.
The project entails acquisition of 627.89 acres. While some land owners have already been compensated, there are others who have been waiting for more than 10 years for the district administration to pay for their land.
S Anbarasu, 48, a lathe workshop employee, is one among them. He had bought three cents of land in Irugur town panchayat in 1990 to construct a house. The district administration, however, issued a notice to acquire the land for the airport expansion. Today, he, along with his family, is staying at his mother-in-law’s house at Pattanam near Sulur.

He said, “The state government decided to acquire our land and fixed a price of Rs 1,500 per sqft. But I am yet to receive the payment. I am also not allowed to sell the land to others. If I could at least sell the land, I could buy a house in a rural area.”

Anbarasu urged the district administration to provide him compensation immediately.

K Ravi, 57, a private security guard from GN Mills, has a similar story to tell. The three cents land that he bought in Irugur town panchayat in 1996 to build a house was also earmarked for the airport expansion project. “I have been fighting for the compensation amount for the past 10 years. But the state government has been delaying the payment.”
On his part, the collector promised them to take necessary action immediately.
16/09/20 A Subburaj/Times of India

478.1 acres land is required for phase-1 development of airport in Ayodhya: AAI to UP govt

New Delhi: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has told the UP government that it requires 478.1 acres land for the phase-1 development of the Ayodhya airport, said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday.
"The state government of Uttar Pradesh has informed that they have earmarked Rs 525.92 crore for acquiring the land so far (for the airport)," Puri said in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.

On the request of the UP government, a multi-disciplinary team of the AAI visited the existing Ayodhya airport in December last year to conduct a pre-feasibilty study to develop the airport further so that it can handle wide-bodied aircraft, Puri said.

"As per the techno-economic feasibility study report, the airport is suitable for development in two phases i.e. phase-I and phase-II with the expected rise in passenger traffic in Ayodhya," he noted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on August 5 performed the ''bhoomi pujan'' of a Supreme Court-mandated Ram temple in Ayodhya, bringing to fruition the BJP''s ''mandir'' movement that defined its politics for three decades and took it to the heights of power.

"AAI has projected land requirement of 478.1 acres to the state government of Uttar Pradesh for development of the airport in Phase - I," Puri stated on Wednesday.
16/09/20 PTI/Outlook

Port Blair airport confirms new terminal

The statutory body under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has announced the construction of a new terminal building at Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair, the gateway to Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

AAI has decided to undertake the development of the new terminal building at an estimated cost of ₹723 crores.

The new terminal will be spread across 40,837 sqm area with three levels out of which the lower ground will be dedicated to remote arrival, departure and service area, the upper level will have access to the terminal and arrival and the first level will have a waiting lounge for international passengers.

The terminal will feature all the state-of-the-art facilities for travellers and will be equipped with 28 check-in counters, three passenger boarding bridges, and five conveyor belts.
16/09/20 Nisha Shroff/Business Traveller

HP: Don’t Take Away Fertile Land for Airport, Villagers Write to PM Modi

The villagers of Balh tehsil in Himachal Pradeshs Mandi district wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 3, opposing the construction of an international airport.

They listed the enormous loss of fertile land which is bound to occur if construction activity begins on the land proposed for the airport. The government is set to acquire 3,500 bighas of land (nearly 700 acres across eight villages) for the airport; over 3,000 bighas is private land. Of this, 25 acres is forested, and is home to several species of birds.

The area has historically been fertile, initially cultivated by local peasants with absentee landlords; in 1966-67, the struggle of farmers culminated in land reforms that allowed tillers ownership rights. The farmers recall that in collaboration with the German government, agriculture implements were also manufactured in the area, starting from the 1970s. Scientific farming got an impetus, and farmers now cultivate vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and tomatoes – this region is the second-largest tomato producer in the state after Solan district.
16/09/20 Rosamma Thomas/News Click

Axis Bank in partnership with Times OOH picks Mumbai Airport T2 for promotions

As the market unlocks and Mumbai airport is witnessing reinstatement of premium travelers, Axis Bank has made the first move post unlock to embark on a trail of targeting affluent fliers at Mumbai International Airport.

Axis Bank in partnership with Times OOH, the advertising partner for Mumbai airport, choose the most prominent and premium location to place an eye-catching promotion display in the domestic departure retail area. Beautifully designed in bank’s brand colors the zone gives a feel of Axis Bank as soon as you enter the area. An ROI led campaign promoting the latest offers available on the credit card for the flyers including benefits like complimentary access to lounges. Advertising at the airport allows Axis Bank to target the right customers in the right frame of mind, hence, the promo location plays an important role in promoting the message.
16/09/20  exchange4media