Sunday, December 05, 2021

Aviation veteran Fred Reid could helm Air India under Tata group

Air India’s new owners Tata Sons is considering appointing aviation industry veteran Fred Reid as the Chief Executive Officer of the airline and Nipun Aggarwal as the Chief Financial Officer, according to sources in the know.

Fred Reid has over 35 years of experience in the aviation industry. He has had stints as a president with Lufthansa German Airlines, COO & president of Delta Airlines, CEO of Virgin America, Senior Advisor to the CEO and Co-founder of Airbnb and currently is the president for Surf Air Mobility, among several other positions. Reid is not new to the Tata group and had worked as a resort manager at Taj Group of Hotels between 1974 and 1976.

In October this year, after an 18-month-long hustle, the Indian Government managed to sell Indian flag carrier, Air India, to the Tatas for ₹18,000 crore. Post this, the Tatas have started scouting for the right people to run Air India.

Aggarwal, who is being considered for the position of CFO is a senior vice president with Tata Sons at present having joined the group in April 2017. He has been spearheading the strategy and M&A segment for the steel, Infrastructure, and defence cluster. He has worked with Standard Chartered Bank, Merrill Lynch, and Corporate Sector with L&T and BP plc in India and abroad.

05/12/21 Debangana Ghosh/Forum Gandhi/Business Line

Jalan-Kalrock to pump in fresh equity to revive Jet Airways

Mumbai: Jet Airways’ new owner, the Jalan Kalrock Consortium, plans to infuse additional funds into the airline even as the earlier committed investment of ₹350 crore is being fast-tracked.

Speaking to BusinessLine, Ankit Jalan, partner of the Jalan-Kalrock consortium said that “We had envisioned infusing ₹350 crore in the first six months; this was our commitment in the plan, but we see that being fast-tracked as we realised that to rebuild an airline, we would need more than that.”

The consortium had to infuse over ₹600 crore in one year with the first tranche of ₹350 crore in the first six months. However, it plans to now invest up to ₹600 crore in six months.

“We may pump in $100-200 million. While this is just an estimate, it depends on how the market dynamics change because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Jalan added.

The fresh funding will be through equity and external credit borrowings. There are no plans to bring in any new investor to the consortium, according to Jalan.

The process of Jet’s revival is in full swing, and on track with the team’s expectations according to Jalan. Jet Airways has applied for the Air operator's certificate (AOC) and has sought all the necessary approvals. The consortium has received security clearances for three directors including Murailal Jalan (the lead of the consortium), Manoj Madnani (representative of Kalrock Capital) and Ankit Jalan, Murarilal’s nephew.

Jet Airways is likely to start in the first quarter of 2023. Jalan explained that the consortium plans to induct 20 aircraft and is in conversation with aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus for orders. The team will also hire its key managerial personnel, technical, IT and commercial staff.

Jalan said that living on the Jet Airways’ legacy, Jet 2.0 will be a full service carrier. “Jet has enjoyed brand loyalty and offered best in class services. We plan to use that legacy and run the airline as a full service.”

05/12/21 Forum Gandhi/Business Line

AI pilots put off strike plans; to meet civil aviation secy on Monday

Mumbai: Air India pilot unions have put on hold their decision to serve a notice on strike.

While Air India pilots' key demand of reversing pay cut remained unresolved in a meeting with the management on Friday, the unions would call on Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal on Monday to push their demands.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association and the Indian Pilots Guild had earlier given a three-day ultimatum to the airline to reverse the pay cut. The unions threatened to resort to industrial action if their demands remained unfulfilled.

In a letter to their members, unions said the issue of pay cut was discussed on Friday and the matter remained inconclusive. “We demanded the restoration of full bilateral wage agreements. The management executives informed us that a follow-up meeting would be convened on December 6, chaired by the secretary of civil aviation, as they have no mandate on this issue," the unions said in a joint letter.

05/12/21 Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

Codeshare with IndiGo likely to be implemented by March 2022: American Airlines

American Airlines is in the process of getting requisite approvals from the US government for its codeshare agreement with IndiGo airlines and the partnership is likely to implemented by March 2022, a senior official of the Texas-based carrier has stated.

American Airlines and IndiGo had in September announced that they have entered into a codeshare agreement which allows the former to sell seats -- on its distribution system -- of the Indian carrier's flights operating on 29 routes.

The Texas-based carrier resumed its New York-Delhi flight on November 12 after a gap of 10 years.

American Airlines' Managing Director (Sales) Tom Lattig has told PTI in an interview that the carrier's Seattle-Bengaluru flight would start flying from March 25 instead of January 4 as was announced before.

"We have not seen much corporate travel recovery yet. We know that route (Seattle-Bengaluru) in particular will depend heavily on corporate traffic and we have made the decision to push the date," he mentioned.

The airline has more than 2,000 agreements in place in the US with various companies, he noted.

"Any of our big technology firms in North America, on the west coast in particular, which is where we expect to get traffic from for our Seattle-Bengaluru flight, we already have those corporate agreements in place," he mentioned.

American Airlines would be going to those companies and adding special pricing for them on its new service to India, Lattig added.

Gulf carriers such as Qatar Airways and Emirates carry a significant share of traffic on the India-US routes and the India-Europe routes through their one-stop flights.

When asked how he sees the competition posed by the Gulf carriers on the India-US routes, Lattig replied: "We certainly expect to be able to take traffic on our non-stop services. To the extent the pie is going to grow -- it is going to be a bigger market -- we will certainly be able to take traffic and build traffic there."

"I do expect we would be able to take traffic from airline that carry passengers via third countries (one-stop flights). Certainly, that will be the target for us," Lattig added.

He said there is a lot of pent up demand for travel between India and North America.

05/12/21 PTI/New Indian Express

Station Managers of 2 Airlines of Delhi Airport Issued Show-cause Notice For Not Following Covid-19 Guidelines

New Delhi: The New Delhi district administration has issued show-cause notices to Air India and a private airline from Iran for alleged violation of passenger boarding guidelines issued by the Centre following the emergence of the coronavirus variant Omicron, officials said on Saturday. They said three passengers — one each in Air India flights from Dubai and Amritsar and the third travelling in a Mahan Air flight from Tehran — were allowed boarding without filing up their personal details.

No response was available from the two airliners to queries by PTI. The Vasant Vihar subdivisional magistrate under New Delhi district has asked station managers of the airlines to respond to the show-cause notices within 24 hours. Earlier, the New Delhi district authorities had issued a notice to American Airlines for alleged non-compliance with the guidelines for international arrivals. 

According to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on November 30, airlines are directed to allow boarding to only those international passengers who have filled up their personal details on Air Suvidha portal and uploaded negative RT-PCR test report. 

A passenger in Mahan Air flight from Tehran that landed at Delhi’s IGI Airport on Friday evening was allowed boarding despite not filling up personal details form, stated the notice. Similarly, two passengers from Air India’s Dubai and Amritsar flights that landed here on Saturday early morning had not submitted their personal details.

The notices stated that not furnishing replies by the concerned airlines officials within 24 hours will be taken up seriously and it would be presumed that they have nothing to say in the matter. Action as deemed fit shall be initiated as per relevant provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005; Section 188 of IPC and other applicable laws, in case of non-compliance, it stated.


Vizag airport to operate international flights

Visakhapatnam: The airport in Visakhapatnam, which has been witnessing an increase in passenger footfall and freight traffic post second wave of Covid-19, is gearing up to handle international flights. 

Speaking to TNIE, airport director K Srinivasa Rao said no international flights, including Vande Bharat and air bubble, were operated to Vizag.

Scoot Airlines had proposed to operate flights from Vizag to Singapore from December 15, but the proposal was deferred due to an advisory issued by the Centre in the wake of Omicron threat. Scoot Airlines is likely to start its flight services to Singapore from December 29, if the Centre decides to operate international flights, he said. So as to meet Covid norms for international passengers, a permanent RT-PCR centre will be set up at the airport for which the Civil Aviation Ministry has given its nod. The RT-PCR centre will start functioning at the airport from December 20. HLL Lifecare Ltd has submitted a proposal to set up a centre to conduct RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests, he explained.

On other development initiatives, he said the airport expansion is nearing completion, which enables it handle a passenger traffic of 3.5 million per annum. Now, the footfall of passengers is 6,000 on weekdays and 7,000 on weekends. For operation of international flights, customs and immigration centres are required and necessary facilities are being made for them. In one or two months, customs and immigration centres will start functioning at the airport, he said. 

Listing out the facilities, he said there are 16 parking bays at the airport. The four parking bays in the old terminal are being used for special flights.

05/12/21 G Janardhana Rao/New Indian Express

Newark-bound Air India flight returns to Delhi's IGI airport after 3 hours as passenger dies on board

New Delhi: An Air India flight to Newark in the USA returned to Delhi airport after three hours of departing due to the death of a passenger on board.

"Air India Delhi-Newark (US) flight returned to Delhi after more than three hours of flight, due to a medical emergency on board," an Air India official told ANI.

A team of airport doctors arrived on the plane and declared him dead after a thorough check of the passenger. The passenger was a US national and was travelling with his wife.

"On December 4, flight number AI-105 returned to IGI airport, due to the death of a US citizen who was travelling with his wife to Newark," the official said.

The flight landed safely at Delhi airport, and as per the flight time duty limitation norms, another batch of the crew will be arranged for flight operations.

"The same aircraft with new crew members are expected to take off around 1600 hrs," the official added. The matter was reported to the airport police for legal formalities.

05/12/21 ANI/Times of India

Amid 'Omicron' Fear, Telangana Steps Up Surveillance At Hyderabad Airport

Hyderabad: Amid rising concerns over ''Omicron'', the new variant of COVID-19, surveillance mechanism has been intensified at the international airport in Hyderabad, a senior health official said today.

Though no cases of Omicron variant have been reported in Telangana so far, the official said, "It would not be surprising if the new variant gets reported in Hyderabad or Telangana."

The Telangana government has geared up for a possible third wave of cases and has intensified the vaccination exercise, he said. "We have intensified our surveillance mechanism at the international airport here. Since December 1, as many as 979 international travellers from 'at-risk' countries arrived at Hyderabad international airport and on Saturday 70 international travellers came," Director of Public Health (DPH) Dr G Srinivasa Rao told reporters here.

RT-PCR tests were conducted and 13 of them were found positive for COVID-19 and the samples sent for genome sequencing in view of the Omicron variant threat, he said.

The genome sequencing reports of the 13 passengers are expected to come today evening or tomorrow after which it will be known whether they have the Omicron or Delta variant, he said, adding that the 13 who tested positive have been shifted to the designated health facilities.

05/12/21 PTI/NDTV

Low visibility hits flight operations at Pune airport

Pune: The thick fog cover in Pune was back on Sunday morning resulting in flight movements to and from the city getting totally disrupted again for the third time in a week.

"There is low visibility at the airport due to fog. Current visibility is below 100 meters. As a result, all flights are delayed for the next few hours. All passengers travelling from Pune airport are requested to check the flight timings from the airlines,” said officials of the Pune airport at around 7am.

Sources said no landings or takeoffs had happened at the airport since 3am and all departing and arrival flights had been delayed. Between the time slot of 3am and 6am, a total of seven departures and six arrivals were heavily delayed.

This included an IndiGo flight to Lucknow which was delayed by over 7 hours.

"The flight was scheduled to take off at 3am and we had come to the airport at 1.30am and completed the check-in. Soon the announcement happened about the delay due to weather factors and we are still at the airport with no further information from the airline. The wait is endless," a passenger said.

Another flight coming to Pune from Ahmedabad was delayed by around 8 hours resulting in flyers losing cool and arguing with an airline staff at the Ahmedabad airport.

A Vistara flight from Delhi to Pune was diverted to Mumbai due to the weather conditions.

The flight was scheduled to arrive in Pune at around 8am. Between the time slot of 6am and 9am, 8 departures and 7 arrivals were severely affected.

Airport officials said departures from the airport were expected to start from around 10am.

05/12/21 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

SpiceJet air hostess dances to Lazy Lad at airport in viral video. Amazing, says Internet

New Delhi: Ever since the video of an Indigo air hostess dancing to Manike Mage Hithe on an empty flight went crazy viral online, several clips of other cabin crew members dancing to various songs have surfaced online. SpiceJet air hostess Uma Meenakshi, whose previous video dancing to Navrai Majhi trended furiously on social media, posted a new clip and netizens simply loved it.

In the new video, Uma danced to the song Lazy Lad at the airport. Instagram users are currently obsessed with the popular number due to a challenge that started on the app. The air hostess absolutely nailed the challenge and we are sure that you will enjoy watching it, just like us.

The clip garnered more than 53,000 views after being posted online. Netizens flooded the comments box with appreciation for the performance.

“Wow, beautiful dance performance,” a user said.

Another user commented, “Amazing.”

05/12/21 Shubhi Mishra/India Today

Jacqueline Fernandez allowed to leave Mumbai airport after brief detention

Jacqueline Fernandez was allowed to leave the Mumbai airport after she was briefly detained there based on a look-out circular issued to her by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Rs 200-crore extortion case involving conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar.

Jacqueline Fernandez was stopped at the Mumbai International Airport while she was leaving the country for a show on Sunday evening.

05/12/21 India Today

Actor Jacqueline Fernandez detained at Mumbai airport, stopped from leaving India

Mumbai: Bollywood actor Jacqueline Fernandez has been detained by the immigration authorities at the Mumbai International Airport from going outside the country based on a look-out circular issued against her by the Enforcement Directorate, sources told India Today.

Jacqueline Fernandez is being investigated by the ED in Rs 200 crore extortion case involving conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar.

Sources told India Today that while the actor was completing the process to board a flight for a foreign country, the officials stopped her and informed her about the look-out circular. The airport officials have informed the officials of the Enforcement Directorate about the detention of Jacqueline Fernandez. The ED may allow the actor to leave the airport or they can take her into custody.

A lookout circular is issued against a suspect or accused by law enforcement agencies or investigators based on which they are not allowed to leave the country by air or road or water ways.

Sources have told India Today that Jacqueline would be questioned soon in Delhi. Earlier, her statement was recorded at least twice by the ED.

In a recent chargesheet against Sukesh Chandrasekhar, the ED mentioned Jacqueline Fernandez's involvement with the conman.

EAM Jaishankar flags 'sharpening of tensions' on territorial issues across Asia amid China's rise

EAM Jaishankar flags 'sharpening of tensions' on territorial issues across Asia amid China's rise

India Today has exclusively learnt that Sukesh sent gifts worth over Rs 10 crore to the actor while he was in jail. Sources say Sukesh also booked a chartered flight for Jacqueline from Mumbai to Chennai when he was out on bail.

The ED also suspects that a huge amount of money, which Sukesh extorted from a businessman’s wife, was diverted to Jacqueline Fernandez.

However, Jacqueline maintains that she is a victim and extended to cooperate with the investigators.

05/12/21 Munish Chandra Pandey/India Today

Industrialist detained at airport

Coimbatore: The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel have detained a 32-year-old Delhi-based industrialist at the city airport on Saturday afternoon with some powder material containing trinitrotoluene (TNT), a chemical compound that is used chiefly as an explosive.

The CISF personnel have seized the powder and handed that over to the Peelamedu police for further investigation. Bomb detection and disposal squad has been deployed for testing the powder materials.

An official source identified the industrialist as Varun Arora, director, SRAM India LOGAM Private Limited, from South Delhi.

Preliminary inquiry revealed Varun had bought four types of powder materials from Himachal Pradesh. “On November 29, he landed in Kochi in Kerala in a flight from Delhi. The next day, he went to Trichy along with another person, identified as Manoj, from Kerala. Later, he arrived in the city. He was staying in a star hotel at Race Course. He had taken the powder materials to a private testing centre on Thiyagi Kumaran Street,” the source said. Varun was detained on Saturday afternoon, when he was about to leave for Delhi. “During the baggage scanning, traces of TNT were found in the powder material,” the source said. 

05/12/21 Times of India

Saturday, December 04, 2021

French climber shares in treasure trove of precious gems found off Mont Blanc

The mountaineer stumbled across the precious stones in 2013. They had remained hidden in a metal box that was on board an Indian plane that crashed in the desolate landscape some 50 years earlier.

"The stones have been shared this week" in two equal lots valued at around 150,000 euros ($169,000) each, Chamonix mayor Eric Fournier told AFP.

He said he was "very happy" that events had been brought to a conclusion, in particular for the climber who he praised for his "integrity" in turning his find in to police as required by law.

Two Air India planes crashed into Mont Blanc in 1950 and in 1966.

Over the years, climbers have routinely found debris, baggage and human remains from the aircraft.

In September 2012, India took possession of a bag of diplomatic mail from the Kangchenjunga, a Boeing 707 flying from Mumbai which crashed on the southwest face of Mont Blanc on January 24, 1966.

The crash killed 117 people including the pioneer of India's nuclear programme, Homi Jehangir Bhabha.

Authorities believe the precious stones are likely to have come from that flight which had been en route from Mumbai to New York.

04/12/21 AFP/France 24

Malayali Russia returnee not tested at airport turns Covid positive

One of the Keralites who had returned from Russia on November 28 has been tested positive for Covid. The Ernakulam native was part of the 24-member group that had returned after their holiday in Russia. The infected person was not subjected to an RT-PCR test at Kochi airport, which was a violation of the Central government’s travel policy for international passengers. 

The Central government on November 26 had rolled out its advisory making RT-PCR test and one-week home quarantine mandatory for international passengers arriving from high-risk zones, including Europe, after the Omicron variant of Covid was detected in several countries. However, only four of the group members were subjected to RT-PCR test at Kochi airport, while the entire group was not informed that they had to remain in quarantine at home for a week. 

Sources said the individual, who was tested positive, had developed physical uneasiness towards the last stage of the Russia sojourn. There were 30-members in the group and the RT-PCR test was conducted at Murmansk, a city in northwestern Russia, on November 25 and the result came the next day. After the test, the group took a flight to Moscow, where they spent a night before leaving for Kerala via Sharjah. At Sharjah airport, there was a layover of about two hours.

“There was a flight time of three hours from Murmansk to Moscow. They stayed overnight in Moscow and then spent another four hours in Moscow airport, which is very crowded. You never know who could infect what in such a long journey,” sources said.

03/12/21 Shan AS/New Indian Express

Mangaluru airport helps a family that faced mid-air health crisis

Mangaluru International Airport (MIA) helped a family that faced a mid-air health crisis on Friday.

A statement from MIA said that the Air India Express aircraft from Kannur to Sharjah made an emergency landing at MIA on December 3 after a woman passenger (aged 33) suffered a cardiac arrest and breathing issues. The woman, her husband, and three children were travelling to Sharjah from Kannur.

Following the alert received from the commander of flight IX-745 about this medical emergency on board at 9.21 am, MIA and other stakeholders concerned were put on alert to deal with the situation.

A doctor attached to the Airport Health Organisation examined the woman passenger onboard the aircraft after it was landed at 10 am. After she was found to be stable, all the members of the woman’s family were escorted to a private hospital in Mangaluru for treatment in 17 minutes.

A senior MIA official was in constant touch with the airline officials, the ground handling agency staff who escorted the woman passenger to the hospital, and the doctors treating her at the hospital.

Once the doctors confirmed that the woman passenger was out of danger and had recovered, the senior MIA official extended assistance for the onward journey of the family to Sharjah.

On arrival from the hospital, the family received priority in clearing the mandatory RT-PCR tests and other statutory clearances at the airport. The statement said that the family departed from MIA to Sharjah at 11 pm.

04/12/21 Business Line

Two per cent passengers from not 'at risk' nations to undergo random testing on arrival at Bengaluru

Bengaluru: In line with the fresh norms following the Omicron variant scare, the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in Bengaluru on Saturday said two per cent of the passengers coming from countries, which are not in the 'at risk' category, will undergo random testing on arrival at the airport.

In a tweet, the BIAL, which manages the airport, said, "As per the international travel guidelines, 2% of the passengers coming from countries that are not in the 'at-risk' list shall undergo random testing at the Airport on arrival. The cost of random testing of such passengers will be borne by BIAL."

Amid the Omicron variant scare, the Government of India issued a new set of guidelines on November 30.

It said that travellers from countries excluding those countries at risk will be allowed to leave the airport and should self-monitor their health for 14 days post arrival.

A sub-section or two per cent of the total flight passengers should undergo post-arrival testing at random at the airport on arrival.

The two per cent of such travellers in each flight should be identified by the concerned airlines, preferably from different countries, and such travellers should be escorted by the airlines or Ministry of Civil Aviation to testing area on arrival.

The cost of testing of such travellers shall be borne by the travellers identified for random testing themselves.

The Government of India has also made a self-declaration mandatory for the passengers before scheduled travel including 14 days of travel details.

04/12/21 PTI/New Indian Express

Maharashtra govt considering revision of air travel guidelines: Chief secretary

Mumbai: Maharashtra chief secretary Debashish Chakravarty on Thursday said the state government was considering a revision of its air travel guidelines, a day after the Centre wrote to the state saying its order was in divergence with the Covid-19 SoPs and guidelines issued by the Union government.

In view of global concerns over the Omicron variant, Maharashtra has mandated seven-day institutional quarantine for travellers arriving in the state from 'at-risk' countries, under the guidelines issued by the State Disaster Management Authority on Tuesday night.

Such passengers will also undergo RT-PCR test on the second, fourth and seventh day of arrival. If found to be Covid-19 positive, the passenger will be shifted to a hospital. In case the test is negative, the passenger will still have to undergo seven-day home quarantine.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday, in a letter addressed to Maharashtra Health and Family Welfare Department's Additional Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Vyas, asked the state to align its order with the SOPs issued by the Centre.

When contacted, state Chief Secretary Chakravarty said, "The revision of guidelines is being considered and the picture will be clear by this evening."

Under the new guidelines issued by the Union Health Ministry on November 28, passengers originating or transiting from at-risk countries will have to undergo RT-PCR testing post-arrival and will be required to wait for the results at the airport before leaving or taking a connecting flight.

Travellers from countries excluding those countries at risk will be allowed to leave the airport and shall self-monitor their health for 14 days post-arrival but five percent of the total flight passengers shall undergo post-arrival testing at random at the airport on arrival.

04/12/21 PTI/Times of India

Did not violate testing norms, American Airlines says in response to Delhi Govt notice

New Delhi: American Airlines (AA) has responded to Delhi government's show-cause notice on alleged violation of 2% testing of passengers arriving from 'not-at-risk' countries by saying that it “believes (its) flight was in compliance with the latest guidelines".

Following emergence of the Omicron variant, India has ordered that all arrivals from 'at-risk' countries and 2% randomly selected passengers from 'non-at-risk' countries, that includes US, Canada and UAE, among others, will be tested on landing here.

The Delhi government had issued a notice to AA on Friday on the grounds that its crew of a New York-Delhi flight did not randomly identify the required 2% passengers for on-arrival testing at IGIA.

Passengers randomly selected “shall be escorted by the concerned airlines/aviation ministry to the testing area on arrival. The GM of the concerned airline is hereby show caused for not complying with the directions...,” says the notice issued by Delhi Cantonment SDM Piyush Arun Rohankar.

Responding to this, AA said in a statement: “American Airlines holds the health and well-being of our customers and team members as our highest priority, and we take care to abide by Covid-19 guidelines and all other rules and regulations established by governments in markets where we operate. We received the notice and believe our flight was in compliance with the latest guidelines, and we have responded accordingly.”

The new testing requirements have come into effect to prevent the spread of Omicron and the notice to AA is the first to an airline for the alleged violation of the same.

04/12/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

New norms for international arriving passengers get going at the Mumbai airport

Mumbai: Based on the countries they have flown in from, passengers arriving at Mumbai airport are now segregated for further testing, keeping in line with the latest central government norms issued to track the Omicron variant.

The good news for passengers who need to undergo a Rapid RT-PCR is that the airport has reduced the rate of this test from Rs 4500 to Rs 3900. The new rates came into effect on Saturday.

On Friday, a total of 6732 international passengers landed at the Mumbai airport. Out of this 969 international arrival passengers underwent RT-PCR test of which 214 passengers took the standard RT-PCR test and 755 passengers opted for Rapid PCR test, said MIAL.

Passengers arriving from countries identified by the government as ‘at-risk such as those in Europe including the United Kingdom and then South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Brazil, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel are deboarded on priority to undergo a PCR test on arrival, said MIAL Dedicated corridors and counters have been created for these passengers, said the airport “The passengers are required to wait for their test results before leaving or taking a connecting flight,” said MIAL.

But those arriving from South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe or passengers who have visited any of these 3 countries in the last 15 days before arrival in Maharashtra have to undergo a mandatory week-long hotel quarantine after undergoing an RT-PCR test at the airport. A second test needs to be done at the end of the quarantine period. If tested negative, they can leave but have to undergo another week of home quarantine.

Travellers from countries excluding those at risk are allowed to leave the airport. Under the norms, they need to self-monitor their health for 14 days’ post-arrival. But a small percentage (2% of the total flight passengers) of these are required to undergo RT-PCR test post-arrival testing at random at the airport on arrival. “The 2% of such travellers in each flight are identified by the airlines concerned (preferably passengers from different countries). Such travellers are escorted by the airline to the RT-PCR testing area on arrival,” said MIAL.

04/12/21 Manju V/Times of India

Singapore Passenger Tests Positive For COVID, Tries To Escape Authorities In Madurai

A passenger from Singapore who had tested positive for COVID-19 at the Madurai Airport tried to escape from authorities on Saturday, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma. Subramanian informed. Detailing the incident, the TN Minister revealed that the person who arrived from Singapore to Madurai, escaped from the lounge area post his RT-PCR Test at the premises. As authorities awaited his results, the man attempted to exit the airport to avoid hospitalization. The passenger has been nabbed and admitted to the Nagercoil Hospital. It is yet to be ascertained if he has been infected with the Omicron variant. 

"The person who arrived from Singapore to Madurai, post their RTPCR Test, while waiting in the lounge area inside the airport was known to have attempted to exit the airport while they were held in the holding area. When his results came back from the tests taken at the airport, his test results came back positive. We cannot take the positive test result to be that of Omicron. He has been identified, found, and has been admitted to Nagercoil Hospital where he is undergoing treatment. His test results have also been taken for genome sequencing and results are awaited," said Ma. Subramanian. 

The Health Minister also revealed that another person who returned from London tested positive for COVID upon arrival. He is reported to be asymptomatic and is being treated in isolation. The government also informed that in initial test reports, none of those who had been tested positive carried the Omicron variant.

04/12/21 Ananya Varma/

Flybig services come to a grinding halt

Shillong: Flybig which was contracted to operate the Shillong-Delhi-Shillong flight has had to suspend its operations due to the non-availability of the Q400 Bombardier aircraft.

The flight services of Flybig between Shillong-Delhi-Shillong so far have been erratic and the flight has not operated for a long time even though the services were inaugurated last December with much fanfare.

Speaking on the matter, Flybig Director, Manish Koul said that the services have not been stopped but only temporarily suspended due to non-availability of aircraft. However the company is optimistic about starting the services soon.

“We are in talks with the management of SpiceJet and we hope to start the services by next week,” Koul said.

Flybig does not own the Q400 Bombardier aircraft but hires them from SpiceJet and hence is dependent on whether the latter can spare the aircraft on a given day. When the frequency of SpiceJet flights increases, Flybig faces issues of getting an aircraft.

When asked why the company is not using popular websites like Yatra and MakeMyTrip to enable passengers to book their tickets seamlessly for the Shillong-Delhi-Shillong flight, Koul said that since this is a chartered aircraft, they can only confirm the availability of the aircraft only one or two days in advance and hence they cannot put their schedules in popular websites.

“If we have a longer tie-up for the aircraft, then we can definitely put up the schedule on popular websites,” he said.

Koul also said that there is very good response to their Shillong-Delhi-Shillong services and passengers, ministry and other authorities are happy about it since passengers who wish to fly to the national capital from Shillong are no longer required to go via Guwahati as they can board the flight from Shillong.

04/12/21 Shillong Times

Pilot saves Vizag flight from disaster, returns to Vijayawada

Visakhapatnam: Quick reflexes made Vijayawada-Vizag IndiGo pilot save the flight from major disaster on Friday evening. While landing around 4.30 in the evening, the pilot felt the ATR aircraft was vibrating due to high-speed winds caused by the cyclone Jawad and instead of landing the aircraft, he took it back to the Vijayawada airport to the safety. The air traffic control cleared the flight for landing earlier.

Confirming the incident, Visakhapatnam International Airport K Srinivasa Rao said it was wise decision on the part of the pilot not land in the bad weather.

"The pilot reported unstable approach and decided to go back. Had he landed, there could have been a major disaster. All the passengers would have gone and the aircraft,’’ the director told Deccan Chronicle. Practically he took off few feet above from the runway, said a passenger.

A senior government official in the flight said the aircraft was vibrating as if it was going to crash.

"I was breathless for some seconds,’’ the official told this reporter after landing in Vijayawada.

04/12/21 Deccan Chronicle

200+ fly into city from ‘at risk’ London

Ahmedabad: At least 200 passengers arrived at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport in Ahmedabad on Friday night from London, the UK, which has been classified as an ‘at risk’ country under the latest guidelines of the Union health ministry.

The UK is among the 11 countries designated as ‘At Risk’ in relation to the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. The other countries are South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Israel.

The passengers arrived by Air India Flight AI-172 and landed at Terminal-II of SVPI airport. “As soon as the passengers stepped out of the aircraft, their RT-PCR negative reports of Covid-19 tests taken within 72 hours of departure and their self-declaration forms were checked,” a source said. “These passengers were made to queue up separately from other fliers. Once their immigration and customs clearances were done, they were sent for testing.”

The results were not available till late on Friday. Authorities at SVPI airport have earmarked a separate area for the passengers to be seated as they await their Covid-19 test reports.

“Five counters have been established for Covid-19 tests at the arrivals area. Passengers are given the option of taking either an RT-PCR test or an RT-LAMP test which is equivalent to the RT-PCR test approved by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR),” said a well-placed source at the airport. “About 200 chairs have been set up at the arrivals area for the passengers to rest.”

04/12/21 Times of India

Air India Delhi-Newark flight returns midway due to medical emergency

New Delhi: An Air India flight from Delhi to Newark in the USA has returned back to the national capital on Saturday after three hours of departing from Delhi, informed an airline official.

The flight was landed back in Delhi reportedly due to a medical emergency on board.

"Air India Delhi-Newark (US) flight returns to Delhi after more than 3 hours of flight, due to a medical emergency on board," said Air India official.

04/12/21 ANI/Times of India

3 Indians arrested in US Virgin Islands for illegal entry

Washington: Three Indian nationals, who were earlier deported to India, have been arrested once again in the US Virgin Islands for illegally entering the country, an American attorney has said.

Krishnaben Patel, 25, Nikunjkumar Patel, 27, and Ashokkumar Patel, 39, were arrested at St Croix airport in US Virgin Island as they were about to board a flight for Fort Lauderdale in Florida on November 24.

If convicted, they face up to a potential 10 years in prison and subsequent deportation, according to the Department of Justice.

They appeared on December 2 before Magistrate Court Judge George W Cannon in St Croix for a preliminary hearing on criminal charges related to their alleged attempted illegal entry into the US.

A probable cause was found and the defendants were bound over to the District Court for further proceedings, US Attorney Gretchen C F Shappert said.

According to the US attorney, the trio were about to board the flight when a system check revealed that their Florida driver’s licenses were not legally issued and were deemed fraudulent.

Further inspection revealed that in August 2019, the three were previously detained in Tecate, California, and were processed for expedited removal. They were subsequently removed from the United States to India, the media release said.

04/12/21 PTI/EastMojo

Delhi airport sets up 20 counters for international flyers who have pre-booked Covid test to ease 'chaos'

The Delhi airport authorities on Saturday said 20 dedicated counters have been set up for the passengers arriving from "at risk" countries and having pre-booked their mandatory COVID-19 test, after many flyers complained of chaos and crowding at the terminal following the implementation of new travel guidelines.

According to the Union Health Ministry's guidelines issued earlier this week, all passengers coming from "at-risk" countries have to compulsorily undergo PCR test and two per cent of passengers arriving from other countries would have to take the test on a random basis.

The passengers will have to wait for the results before leaving the airport or taking a connecting flight, according to the guidelines.

"For the convenience of the passengers, DIAL has set up 20 dedicated counters on arrival piers for passengers who have pre-booked their RT-PCR/Rapid PCR test," Delhi International Airport Limited said.

There will be dedicated queues for these passengers, it noted.

They will save the time taken for registration and will proceed directly for testing, it added.

Commenting on a tweet about the situation at the Delhi airport after the new travel rules kicked in, Congress MP Karti Chidambaram said, "As I feared & warned. Total confusion & crowding in airports."

The Union Health Ministry's recent guidelines have come due to the fear of Omicron variant of the coronavirus that reportedly has higher transmissibility.

In a bid to ease the RT-PCR/Rapid PCR booking process for the passengers, DIAL, in collaboration with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has allowed for online payment to pre-book the test from the originating airport itself, it mentioned.

04/12/21 PTI/Economic Times

Passenger arrested with methamphetamine worth Rs. 30 million

A passenger on a SriLankan Airlines flight UL-126 from Chennai, India, was arrested along with a consignment of methamphetamine, which was hidden in milk powder boxes in his suitcase by Sri Lanka Customs Arrivals Terminal personnel today (04).

The weight of the seized consignment was 1.5 kg while the market value is estimated at a value close to Rs. 30 million.

The suspect has been identified as a 43-year-old businessman residing in the Grandpass area.

The Sri Lanka Customs Narcotics Division is conducting further investigations into the arrest, while the suspect and the seized narcotics will be handed over to the Narcotics Bureau of the Sri Lanka Police for further investigations into the matter.

04/12/21 Amani Nilar/News First