Thursday, May 13, 2021

Covid Crisis Decimates Indian Airline Seat Capacities

As the second wave continues to spread, Indian airlines have sharply cut their seat capacities. The move comes as domestic flights see fewer passengers and India remains banned by countries globally. According to an OAG report, India has slashed the number of monthly seats on sale. For May 2021, airlines in South Asia have cut capacity by a massive 15.1%, or 2.4 million seats. This drop has been due to reduced domestic demand and international traffic all but gone due to travel bans.

Read on the impact of the second wave on airlines >>

Emirates, Etihad, Qatar: who does what in the Indian relief effort?

Airlines play a crucial part in transporting badly needed supplies to Indian airports – a smaller-scale repetition of a situation the world already experienced in the first months of the pandemic, in early 2020.

Among all the airlines taking part in the relief effort, three were particularly active. 

Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways, the so-called Big Three of the Middle East, have always considered India as a particularly important market. 

See what they have done >>


Blue Dart Med-Express Consortium to experiment Unmanned Aircraft System for delivery of vaccines, medicines

Blue Dart, a leading express logistics service provider, on Thursday said it formed Blue Dart Med-Express Consortium with a mission of revolutionising the delivery of vaccines and emergency medical supplies to the remotest parts of India using drones.

According to a press release from the logistics major, Blue Dart Med-Express Consortium is part of the 'Medicine from the Sky' project in collaboration with the Telangana government, World Economic Forum, Niti Aayog and Healthnet Global.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has granted the project with necessary exemptions and rights to fly drone flights on an experimental basis in Telangana.

The aim is to assess an alternate logistics route in providing safe, accurate and reliable pickup and delivery of healthcare items (medicines, Covid-19 vaccines, units of blood, diagnostic specimens and other lifesaving equipment) from distribution centres to specific location and back, the release said.

Blue Dart Med-Express Drone flights will deploy an immersive delivery model to optimise the current healthcare logistics within Telangana.

The model will enable deliveries from district medical stores and blood banks to Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Community Health Centres (CHCs), Blood Storage Units & further from PHCs/CHCs to Central Diagnostic laboratories, it said.

13/05/21 PTI/Economic Times

Misleading posts claim video shows South Asian passengers arriving at Singapore airport just before travel ban

Singapore: A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in social media posts that claim it shows a large group of South Asian travellers at Singapore’s Changi Airport on May 5, 2021 -- just before the country announced new travel restrictions on visitors from covid-hit India. The claim is misleading: the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CSSA) said the footage was at least a month old. AFP found there were no flights from India arriving at Changi Airport on May 5, 2021 at the time the video was purportedly filmed.

The video was published here on Facebook on May 5, 2021, where it has been viewed more than 40,000 times.

The video shows the arrival hall in the Changi Airport. Two men can be heard throughout the video discussing whether the passengers were in Singapore for work or travel.

At the video’s 41-second mark, a man can be heard saying: “so many going and so many come out.” 

The post’s caption reads: “Latest video at Changi Airport….. ?”

Singapore's Changi Airport is a major regional travel hub.

India is experiencing a record-breaking surge in Covid-19 infections, resulting in overburdened hospitals and extreme shortages in medical oxygen supplies, AFP reported here.

The Singapore health ministry announced on May 6, 2021 that long-term visa holders and short-term visitors with recent travel records to India would be denied entry.

The misleading post was taken down on May 6, 2021, and the user posted an apologetic note here.

Identical footage was shared alongside a similar claim on Facebook and on YouTube.

The claim, however, is misleading.

On May 6, 2021, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said in a post on its Facebook page that the claim was misleading and the footage had not been filmed on May 5, 2021.

“No flights from South Asia had arrived at Terminal 1 in the early afternoon of 5 May 2021,” CAAS said. 

“Based on the video footage, passengers were seen walking past a renovation hoarding at gate hold room D42/43. This hoarding was removed on 5 April 2021.”

According to the passenger arrival status record on Changi Airport's website, AFP confirmed that no flights from India had landed on May 5, 2021 between 2:00pm and 4:00pm.

13/05/21 AFP Fact Check

AAI floats tender for ATC tower in Madurai

Madurai: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has floated a tender for the construction of a new air traffic control (ATC) tower-cum-technical block at Madurai airport. The proposed cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 97.44 crore.

The new structure will be 50m high with a three-dimensional view of the runway. The project proposed last year was subsequently approved by the AAI.

Officials said that the contractor will have to take care of the repair and maintenance work for seven years after the construction of the tower. The cost of the construction has been worked out as Rs 77.05 crore for construction and Rs 20.39 crore for repair and maintenance. The work will be completed in two years’ time once the construction work begins.

Officials added that the new tower will enhance the safety of the airport as the air traffic controllers will have a better view of the runway. It will make it easier for the ATCs to handle more flights in a day. Madurai airport handled more than 25 flights in a day during its prime time. But the number has come down to single digits due to Covid-19 pandemic.

13/05/21 Times of India

Man held with 7 concentrators for charity at airport, MoS finance rescues him

New Delhi: A Mangalore-based man who brought seven oxygen concentrators with him, as non-declared goods from Saudi Arabia, on an Indigo flight, was held up by customs at the Mangalore airport on May 11. The concentrators were for charity, and an SOS by his kin and family to the MOS finance helped him release the machines and take them to their destination.

Irfan Khan, 25, got the concentrators from a charity organisation in Saudi Arabia. When he was stalled by the customs at the airport, he first dialled his donors for help. The donors then approached the finance authorities, including MoS Anurag Thakur, in Delhi.

"The custom officials had objected that I should have brought these goods as cargo since some people are black marketing and hoarding concentrators. Later, my friends and my organisation sought help from Anurag Thakur ji who intervened at 12:30 am to assist us and we were allowed to take concentrators home," Khan told TOI.

The concentrators cost about 14,000 dirhams, roughly Rs 3 lakh.

The charity organisation in Saudi Arabia that had donated the concentrators, also submitted a declaration to the Customs department.

“We as a volunteer organisation want to send these oxygen concentrators, purchased by contribution from Gujarat NRG Forum, to Vadodara, Gujarat to save lives in this pandemic situation. We are also thankful to IndiGo Airlines for carrying them free of charge. Please release them on humanitarian grounds and expedite the release process. I assure you these will be used for charity and not for commercial purposes,” wrote Dr Vimal Patel, to the Mangalore customs officer.

13/05/21 Rohan Dua/Times of India

IAF operates Covid Air Support Management Cell (CASMC) at Palam Air Base

The IAF is operating a Covid Air Support Management Cell (CASMC) at Palam Air Base since April 27, 21. The primary task of the cell is to efficiently coordinate for the distribution of all the relief aid coming from foreign countries. The cell is operational round the clock. Resources have been coordinated to cater for surge operations which include manpower, ground handling and loading eqpt and vehicles like flat top trailers and fork lifters.

One C-130 and two AN-32 transport aircraft are operating at Palam from 28 Apr 21 to air lift load on short notice across the country. A mock drill for such an emergency airlift was also carried out on 29 Apr 21, to streamline coordination amongst various stakeholders.

Communication links with all important stakeholders like MoHFW, Secy COVID, Hindustan Latex Limited (HLL) and the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) have been established for seamless flow of information and to reduce time delays. A meeting with Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), Air India SATS and Air Force Movement Liaison Unit was held to streamline custom and warehousing related issues.

13/05/21 Free Press Journal

1.37 lakh doses of Covaxin arrive at Kochi airport

Kochi: The state received around 1.37 lakh doses of Covid vaccine on Wednesday as the first batch of Covaxin purchased directly by the state government from Bharat Biotech reached Kochi by air. As many as 30 boxes containing 1,37,580 doses of Covaxin reached Cochin International Airport (Cial) in an Indigo flight from Hyderabad.

The vaccines were received by health department officials and were shifted to the warehouse of Kerala Medical Services Corporation, the agency in charge of purchasing vaccines, at Manjummel. The vaccines will be distributed across the state as per the schedule and district-wise quantity decided by the health department on Thursday.

Also, a box containing Covishield vaccine for the Union Territory of Lakshadweep (UTL) too reached Kochi airport on Wednesday. The vaccine reached Cial in an Air India flight from Mumbai around 7pm. The vaccine box will be kept at the cold storage at Cial and will be sent to UTL on the next scheduled flight to Kavaratti.

Earlier on Monday, 3.5 lakh doses of Covishield vaccines, directly procured from Serum Institute of India, Pune had reached the state. The state government has decided to buy vaccines from manufacturers directly after the Centre announced its new vaccine policy. The central government’s contribution in small quantities was not enough, forcing the state to make the purchases directly. The plan is to buy1 crore doses of vaccine, of which 75 lakh doses will be Covishield and 25 lakhs doses of Covaxin from Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, respectively.

13/05/21 Times of India

Tata Memorial Centre strengthens response to Covid 2nd wave, 3,400 oxygen concentrators airlifted to India

New Delhi: A FedEx 777 cargo plane landed in Mumbai this morning with 81,000 kgs of medical equipment for Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) and its associated hospitals for distribution across India. The chartered flight carried in 3,400 portable oxygen concentrators along with 300,000 N95 masks. A few hours later, an Air India passenger plane landed in Delhi with an additional 400 concentrators. 

These are the third and fourth shipments that Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) has brought in over the past two weeks. This disbursement will be sent onwards to NCG centres in Maharashtra, New Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, Bihar, Rajasthan, Kerala, amongst others.

13/05/21 ETNowNews

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Ranchi airport ensures unhindered oxygen supply across the country

Ranchi: The Indian Air Force, the Ranchi airport management and the Indian Railways are working like a giant conveyor belt to ensure unhindered oxygen supply to hundreds of Covid-19 hospitals across the country, which have critical patients gasping for breath.The Ranchi’s Birsa Munda airport is receiving C17 Globemaster aircraft, Ilyushin 76, Antonov 32 and C130 J Super Hercules aircraft of the Indian Air Force every day.

These heavy-duty aircraft are relentlessly bringing in empty cryogenic tankers from various parts of the country, which are then heading to the oxygen manufacturing plants in Jamshedpur and Bokaro for filing. Once filled, the tankers are then being transported by freight trains of the Indian Railways to states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

“Each day, we have IAF aircraft coming in from their bases in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, New Delhi and other parts of the country. Once empty oxygen tankers are being de-boarded, they are going to Jamshedpur and Bokaro for refilling,” Vinod Sharma, the director of Ranchi airport, told TOI.

To cater to the IAF planes, the airport staff are working round the clock. “The normal operations of the airport come to an end around 9pm each day. From then, our staff from various departments attend to the IAF planes which keep arriving,” Sharma said.

12/05/21 Dhritiman Ray/Times of India

Customs officials destroy cow dung ‘cakes’ left behind at airport

Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) were forced to destroy two “cakes” of cow dung that were found in a suitcase at Washington Dulles International Airport on April 4.

“That is not a typo,” the CBP wrote in Monday news release announcing the find.

The cow dung cakes, which were left behind by a passenger on an Air India flight, are traditionally used as a source of fuel for cooking or heating in some parts of the world, according to the CBP. “Cow dung has also been reportedly used as a skin detoxifier, an antimicrobial, and as a fertilizer,” the agency noted.

Agriculture specialists with the CBP eventually destroyed the cakes, as cow dung originating in India poses the potential for spreading Foot and Mouth Disease. Cow dung brought in from outside the United States, meanwhile, may be permitted depending on its country of origin and the likelihood for introducing a threat to U.S. livestock populations, a representative for the CBP confirmed.

“Foot and Mouth Disease is one of the animal diseases that livestock owners dread most, has grave economic consequences, and it is a critical threat focus of Customs and Border Protection’s agriculture protection mission,” said Keith Fleming, Acting Director of Field Operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office, in a news release issued on Monday. “CBP’s agriculture specialists are our nation’s frontline protectors of vital agricultural and natural resources that help keep our nation’s economy strong and robust.”

11/05/21 Nexstar/2 News Wdtn.com


Over 100 flights cancelled at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in three days

Hyderabad: Over 100 domestic flights were cancelled in a span of three days from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) to various destinations such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, to name a few.

Restrictions on Telangana and Andhra Pradesh passengers travelling to Delhi has led to many last-minute cancellations by people, forcing the airlines to cancel the flights.

“I was to go to visit Delhi for some personal work on May 12. However, due to the restrictions imposed by the government, I decided to cancel my trip and postpone it to a later date,” said Vinay Pulugundla, a resident of Kondapur.

12/05/21 Times of India

150-bed Covid-19 centre with oxygen support at Bengaluru airport

Mumbai: Fairfax Financial Holdings Group, the promoters of Bangalore's Kempegowda International Airport, has funded in setting up of a 150-bed, oxygenated Covid-19 treatment centre at the airport to bolster the healthcare infrastructure, which will start functioning from May 18, a release said on Wednesday.

The initiative is funded by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, through its subsidiary Fairfax India Holdings Corporation, it said.

The Canada-based group has committed USD 5-million (Rs 37 crore) to provide Covid-19 relief in India, as according to the release.

The facility, located near the cargo terminals at the Bangalore Airport and is designed to be a transit oxygen delivery centre is equipped to treat patients with mild hypoxia, it said.

Mild hypoxia is a medical condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply at the tissue level.

The centre would provide much-needed relief and treatment for patients requiring oxygen support until they are able to get admission in a hospital.

Besides, the centre would be equipped with a pharmacy, pathology unit, station for nurses, rest rooms and a dining area. Suitable drinking water facilities and visitor areas are provided. An ambulance would be on standby round-the clock to cater to emergencies, BIAL said.

12/05/21 PTI/Times of India

Strategic sale: Financial bids for Air India, BPCL likely to be delayed by 3 months to September

With the second wave of Covid hampering movement of executives of bidders, the asset evaluation of the two large CPSEs on the block – BPCL and Air India – is being delayed. This has increased the chances of the due-diligence process getting extended, and according to official sources, financial bids for the two firms is likely to be delayed by three months to September.

The government is, however, still confident that both the transactions would be completed in the current fiscal.

“The transaction advisers are in touch with bidders, who have sought extra time for putting in bids for AI. Covid has affected mobility of bidders’ representatives…site inspection is not happening,” an official said, adding that the BPCL sale process was also facing similar difficulties.

Even though shortlisted bidders of both companies have been recently given access to data room and the actual share purchase agreement (SPA) for better understanding of the asset and liabilities of the companies, bidders have to physically assess the true value of assets of the companies. “After bidders are comfortable and complete their due diligence, putting financial bids will not take much time,” the official said.

The pandemic has also affected the normal work of transaction advisers and legal advisers for both transactions.

Earlier, the department of investment and public asset management (Dipam) was hopeful that both AI and BPCL sales would be completed by September or thereabouts; the financial bids were to be in by June.

12/05/21 Prasanta Sahu/Financial Express

Indian carriers reduce seat capacity by 24 lakh this month, says OAG

New Delhi: The Covid catastrophe unfolding in India has virtually erased the gradual recovery made by the country’s aviation sector in the past few months. With both domestic and international air travel nosediving, the number of flights operated on the busiest international routes and within the country have fallen sharply.

“While overall in Asia, carriers are adding capacity – 12 lakh seats this month (May 2021) – this masks the reduction taking place at a regional level. In South Asia, seats have fallen by 15.1% this month as a result of the significant increase in Covid cases in India (24 lakh seats removed this month versus last month), and to a smaller extent in South East Asia, where seats have fallen by 9%, which is mostly being driven by reductions in Indonesia and Thailand,” UK-based air consultancy firm OAG global data for May 2021 says.

India-UAE, one of the world’s busiest international sectors in terms of traffic, has seen capacity deployment — in terms of the number of flights and seats offered as per aircraft used — by airlines sharply fall. UAE has from April 25 indefinitely restricted entry of travellers from India due to the Covid outbreak here.

According to OAG data, seats offered between the two countries have dropped by almost 20% this month over April, 2021. While India-UAE remains the world’s third busiest (in terms of capacity deployment) international route, it is the only one in the list of OAG’s top 20 pairs to witness a fall in capacity deployment so far this month over April, 2021.

The sharp fall in both domestic and international flights as a result of the Covid catastrophe currently unfolding in India has seen IndiGo drop to number 10 of the list of world’s biggest airlines in terms of the number of flights operated in May 2021. IndiGo had climbed upto number 6 of this list in the earliest months when the pandemic situation in India was improving, leading to a gradual increase in flights being operated. However, the relentless Covid surge has erased all signs of recovery seen in past few months by Indian aviation.

As a result, Delhi has not been able to make it to OAG’s list of top 20 airports globally in May 2021, in terms of seats deployed by airlines operating to and from there.

12/05/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Nanded delhi service suspended

Nanded: For poor occupancy the Air India's Nanded-Amritsar-Delhi flight service, the only one in the nation, has been suspended till May 31. The service was rendered for three days a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

It will cause hardship to the devotees coming to visit the Sachkhand Gurudwara. However, Air India's Nanded station manager Gajendra Gutte said the service would resume as soon as the corona disaster subsided. But now bookings have started for service in June, he added. However, TruJet's Hyderabad-Nanded-Mumbai flight is currently running three days a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

12/05/21 UNI


Indian shooting contingent reaches Zagreb for Tokyo Olympics preparations

The Indian shooting team, in quest of Olympic preparation, was given a warm welcome in Zagreb, Croatia, as it landed at 2am local time, in a 180-seater SpiceJet chartered flight, on Wednesday.

The 13 shooters, seven coaches, five physios and a two-member video crew, were given single rooms each at the hotel, where they would be in a week-long isolation.

"We are happy and excited to be your host for your Olympic preparations. We will do all in our power to make your stay pleasant and memorable," assured the communication from the Zagreb Shooting Association to the Indian squad.

Two of the coaches Neha Chavan, the guide for Elavenil Valarivan, and Pavel Smirnov did not accompany the team.

"One of us will be there for the World Cup to iron out the chinks, if necessary," said Gagan Narang, as he explained the decision to let Elavenil be on her own.

12/05/21 Kamesh Srinivasan/Sports Star


India's fuel sales drop 9.4% in April on Covid wave

New Delhi: India's fuel demand slumped 9.4 per cent in April when compared to the preceding month as lockdowns clamped in several states to curb the second wave of coronavirus sweeping the nation pummelled demand, official data showed on Wednesday.

Fuel consumption fell 9.38 per cent to 17.01 million tonnes in April from 18.77 million tonnes in March, data from Oil Ministry's Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) showed.

India was under one of the world's severest lockdowns in April 2020, bringing to a halt almost all economic activity. Fuel sales had halved that month, plunging to the lowest since 2006. Comparing on a yearly basis, fuel demand surged 81.5 per cent from April 2020 lows.

With airlines continuing to operate at less than capacity, jet fuel (ATF) sales in April were 4,09,000 tonnes, down 14 per cent over March 2021 and 36.7 per cent over April 2019. Jet fuel sales in April 2020 were 5,500 tonnes.

Sales volume of cooking gas LPG fell 6.4 per cent to 2.1 million tonnes in April 2021 when compared to the previous month. The sales were 11.6 per cent higher than 1.9 million tonnes in April 2019.

Fuels sales could have been worse in April, but the elections in some states saw increased use of vehicles for campaigning. Demand is likely to witness a sharper slump in May due to more impending restrictions.

Declining fuel sales will reduce crude intake by refiners, reducing operating run rate.

"India's 2Q21 (April-June) oil demand is projected to be impacted by the recent surge in Covid-19 infection cases," OPEC said in its monthly oil report.

"Recent mobility data show weakness in performance towards the end of April and this is anticipated to last well into the month of May and possibly June putting the whole 2Q21 oil demand performance in check."

12/05/21 PTI/Times of India


Another shipment of emergency assistance from Japan reaches India

New Delhi: Continuing with its support to India in its fight against the COVID-19 surge, Japan sent the shipment of emergency assistance on Wednesday and said that it stands with India unprecedented and difficult time as the country battles the second wave of coronavirus pandemic.

"The 2nd and the 3rd shipment of emergency assistance from Japan arrived by 2 flights of Japanese airlines. We stand with India in this unprecedented and difficult time, and will continue our maximum support. #FightCovid #JapanIndia," tweeted the Embassy of Japan in India.

Earlier Japan had announced the shipment of 200 oxygen concentrators as a part of the emergency assistance from Japan to India. On Saturday, Japan had sent 100 oxygen concentrators to India.

On May 5, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had a virtual meeting with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi.

During the meeting, Motegi conveyed that Japan is ready to provide grant assistance of up to 50 million US dollars to India, based on the latter's needs.

12/05/21 ANI/Yahoo! News

GoAir to start free vaccination drive for all employees

Mumbai: Low-cost carrier GoAir said on Wednesday that it will commence a programme to get its entire workforce vaccinated free of cost.

Accordingly, GoAir has tied up with various hospitals in different cities for the vaccination programme.

"The airline will pay the cost for both dozes of vaccination," it said.

Besides, GoAir has planned to allow vaccinated employees to take two days' leave over and above the entitled threshold.

At present, the airline has 4,481 employees in its workforce, who will get vaccinated.

12/05/21 IANS/Business Standard

Flight operations at Delhi airport's Terminal 2 temporarily suspended from May 18

Due to a drop in air passenger traffic in the wake of rising COVID-19 numbers, Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Tuesday said it will temporarily shut Terminal 2 from 0000 hours of May 18.

However, flight operations will continue from Terminal 3.

The Delhi International Airport Limited, which operates the Indira Gandhi International Airport, said the daily traffic at the airport has dropped to around 30,000 passengers currently.

Currently, IndiGo and GoAir flights are operating from the T2 terminal. Air India, Spice Jet, and Vistara are operating from T3.

Last year, flight operations from Terminal 2 were suspended for more than six months after it was shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in the country. However, special international passenger flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat mission since May and under the air bubble arrangements formed with various other countries since July.

12/05/21 CNBC-TV18

SpiceJet to start vaccination drive for all employees from May 17

Budget carrier SpiceJet has said it will start a company-sponsored vaccination drive for all its employees from May 17. The drive will commence from Delhi and Gurugram, which is SpiceJet's headquarters, and will cover the airline's employees across all the stations on its network, a release said on Wednesday. SpiceJet said it has around 15,000 employees.

Other carriers like Air India, Vistara, IndiGo and GoAir and AirAsia India have already rolled vaccination drives for their employees.

The first ones to get vaccinated will be the frontline employees of the airline including airport staff and in-flight crew, SpiceJet said. The vaccination program will be undertaken as per government rules and guidelines and basis the availability of the vaccine, SpiceJet said.

The airline will also make efforts to facilitate vaccination for the families of employees going forward, it added.

12/05/21 PTI/India TV

GoAir, SpiceJet to start vaccination drive for all employees free of cost

Mumbai: Low-cost carrier GoAir said on Wednesday that it will commence a programme to get its entire workforce vaccinated free of cost. Accordingly, GoAir has tied up with various hospitals in different cities for the vaccination programme. "The airline will pay the cost for both dozes of vaccination," GoAir said.

Besides, GoAir has planned to allow vaccinated employees to take two days' leave over and above the entitled threshold. At present, the airline has 4,481 employees in its workforce, who will get vaccinated

SpiceJet has also said it will start a company-sponsored vaccination drive for all its employees from May 17. The drive will commence from Delhi and Gurugram, which is SpiceJet's headquarters, and will cover the airline's employees across all the stations on its network, a release said on Wednesday.  SpiceJet said it has around 15,000 employees.

Notably, Other carriers like Air India, Vistara, IndiGo and GoAir and AirAsia India have already rolled vaccination drives for their employees.

The first ones to get vaccinated will be the frontline employees of the airline including airport staff and in-flight crew, SpiceJet said.  The vaccination program will be undertaken as per government rules and guidelines and basis to the availability of the vaccine, SpiceJet said. The airline will also make efforts to facilitate vaccination for the families of employees going forward, it added.

12/05/21 PC Thomas/News Track

Meet Kapil Raina, the Kashmiri pilot who enabled flights to Mediana

Before his daughter, Tanvi Raina, became the first Kashmiri woman to earn the prized commercial pilot license, Kapil Raina’s skill to navigate through sketchy skies and roaring clouds earned him the title of ‘King of Clouds’ awarded by Dr Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. 
 “It’s been donkey’s years and I cannot remember when Dr Saab gave me the title, but I received it because I used to volunteer to fly passengers in and out of Srinagar during adverse weather conditions,” the seasoned king recalled while speaking to Kashmir Observer. Born and raised in Srinagar, Kapil Raina (57) came from a family of fair reputation. His father, Jawaharlal Raina, owned and operated a transport company out of the city which he was meant to join but enterprising with a penchant for adventure, young Kapil wanted to spread his wings further than the limits of road-based transport. He had his dadias his rock, who supported him to chase his ambitions. 
 At 23, he applied for the commercial pilot license (CPL) and cleared all tests to claim his shot in the skies. In 1998, he was inducted into Indian Airlines, now known as Air India.Since then, Kapil Raina has led an illustrious career spanning 30 years as a commercial pilot. He has travelled across the globe and has over 22,500 flying hours to his credit. 
His approach towards his job has always made him a stand-out, as the former chief minister also called him the ‘Pride of Kashmir’ paying tribute to his services to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In his early years, when he was elected as the President of the Indian Commercial Pilot Association, Kapil Raina sought ways to leverage the power and responsibilities bestowed upon him by the position to the benefit of local Kashmiris. 
 Identifying that Kashmiris frequently travelled to Medina/Jeddah for a pilgrimage to Mecca, and that the absence of a direct flight to and from Saudi Arabia was burdensome for many, Kapil Raina negotiated with the management of Indian Airlines to begin flights connecting Kashmir and Saudi Arabia during 2009.He successfully spearheaded the mission and was able to start direct flights to Medina and Jeddah, for the first time from Srinagar. 
 “I have always had a lot of empathy for my people. Even during storms or foggy conditions, no matter how late it was at night, I would opt to fly to help delayed Kashmiri passengers. e route that I started from Srinagar became known as the ‘Hajj flight’amongst Kashmiris, who are known to have benefitted tremendously by that operation,” he stated matter-of-factly. is initiative has been the most prominent feather in Raina’s cap for a long time.e Hajj flight operation was kickstarted by flying a modest aircra to voyage people to Medina but it quickly upgraded to using a Boeing 777, one of the largest airliners, for transportation. Kashmiri Muslims who had to make a pit stop at New Delhi, were able to save travel time and money due to this Kashmiri Pandit’s proactive leadership. 
 11/05/21 Sanika Athavale/Kashmir Oberver

The Maldives just suspended travel from India

The Maldives has announced an indefinite but temporary suspension of tourist visas for visitors from South Asian countries. The new restrictions kick in starting Thursday, 13 May. Just three days ago, on 8 May, the country suspended entry of Work Permit Holders from South Asian Countries. As per that notification, the list of South Asian countries includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Maldives now joins the list of over a dozen countries that have restricted any direct travel from India. We’re yet to find out how this latest restriction impacts those already in the Maldives. But if airlines suspend operations, those holidaying on the islands may have trouble getting back.

11/05/21 Condé Nast Travelle

Vistara Partners With Discover The World In The USA

Scottsdale, Ariz.:Vistara, India's finest full-service carrier and a joint venture of Tata group and Singapore Airlines has appointed Discover the World as its exclusive GSA partner in the US market.

Discover has been assisting travel agencies to meet travel demand during the recent air bubble arrangements between the US and India and reaccommodate customers during the current period of travel restrictions with increased demand anticipated from the US market as soon as reciprocal travel arrangements are put in place in the months ahead.

Discover commenced its relationship with Vistara in the Singapore market in the past year and has been developing multiple sales channels and new commercial agreements ahead of the global anticipated return of travel.

"Our Sales teams are so thrilled and proud to work with Vistara, an airline with such award-winning service, a new fleet and a range of world-class cabin products to match ," said Ian Murray, Discover the World's CEO. Additionally, Dominic Bernardo, Sales Director for the USA stated, "As we've begun to cultivate relationships with key partners and implement the commercial strategy it's apparent the interest and excitement surrounding Vistara, and their expanding network is robust."

12/05/21 PRNewswire

India received 200 oxygen concentrators as foreign aid from UK

An Indian Air Force plane carrying 200 oxygen concentrators, arrived from the United Kingdom in Chhattisgarh's Raipur on Tuesday night as part of COVID-19 assistance to India.

"IAF C-130 landed with 200 oxygen concentrators which are gifts from the Government of the United Kingdom," said Raipur Airport director Rakesh Ranjan Sahay.

Similarly, medical aid from Netherlands and Switzerland arrived at Delhi airport today.

A flight carrying medical equipment including 200 oxygen concentrators from South Korea has also arrived at Delhi airport today. The spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Arindam Bagchi said that cooperation with the Republic of Korea has continued and appreciated the support from the country.

The worsening COVID-19 situation in India has seen a surge in the demand for medical oxygen and beds for the COVID-19 patients. Several countries around the world have come forward to help India as it continues to struggle with the increase in its health infrastructure needs caused by the rising coronavirus cases.

12/05/21 IANS/Wion

Air India Express Helping Farmers with its Cargo-in-Cabin Initiative

Air India Express (AIE) is lending a hand to the agriculture sector by starting the Cargo-in-Cabin service through their Boeing-737-800 fleet. Under this initiative, flights will transport agricultural produce, chiefly fruits and vegetables, to Gulf countries.  

This move has come at a time when flights are being cancelled due to the Covid pandemic. Transport of perishable agricultural produce is suffering due to this. AIE has decided to help farmers and traders by ramping up its cargo operations and moving the produce to international places.  

According to AIE officials, cargo is stored on passenger seats, in the legroom, and overhead bin. Till now, AIE has operated 12 Cargo-in-Cabin flights. Most of them are from South Indian cities like Chennai, Kochi, Mangaluru, Tiruchirapalli, and Kozhikode. These flights carry fresh fruits and vegetables, which are some of the most demanded items among the NRIs.  Between April 1 and May 5, AIE special flights moved 1930 tonnes of cargo.  

The main objective is to help farmers and traders supply their products to the user destinations. Apart from this, the service aims to decrease stress that has been caused on the supply chains due to the pandemic.  

According to sources, AIE transported 98 tonnes of cargo, which included 20 tonnes of mangoes, on May 6. This was an all-time high for the airline.  

12/05/21 Shipra Singh/Krishi Jagran

Flight with medical supplies from Netherlands, Switzerland arrive in India

Coronavirus related assistance from foreign nations including Netherlands and Switzerland arrived in India. Flights carrying medical aid arrived at Delhi airport on May 12. India is currently dealing with the second wave of coronavirus that has swept through the nation. The country reported 3,29,942 fresh infections on May 11.

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IAF plays critical role in fight against COVID-19; India Navy brings back more Oxygen from overseas

In an effort to help the civil administration in the fight against the global pandemic, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been flying overseas as well as domestically airlifting empty Oxygen tankers and cylinders as well as delivering medical supplies. These empty tanks are coming from the ASEAN member countries, the Gulf countries as well as members of the European Union (EU). The medical relief materials as well as empty cylinders from countries like the US, the UK, Russia, Japan, Canada, South Korea and Egypt among many others have arrived on their military aircraft.

Since April 24, 2021, the IAF has dropped 139 empty tankers at the Ranchi airport in different sorties. From Ranchi they were sent to Jharkhand for refilling of the Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) before being dispatched to various states either by road or on board trains.

The transport aircraft have the capacity to carry huge empty tankers (of 10 MT -20MT) and cylinders and by airlifting a lot of precious time was saved.

IAF deployed C 17, C 130J, AN 32, IL 76, and other small aircraft which have been ferrying around the essential medical materials as well as tanks and cylinders on priority basis.

C17 Globemaster has airlifted 35 tonnes of COVID medical supplies from Frankfurt, Germany. This load was flown to Mumbai on May 11, 2021. The plane had taken off from Hindan Air Base and after flying nonstop for 12 hours landed in Frankfurt airport. And in a quick turnaround, flew back with the load after clocking non-stop 10 hours and reached Mumbai.

Internally, C-17 aircraft has airlifted 2 tankers from Indore airport to Jamnagar, and 2 cryogenic oxygen tankers from Agra to Jamnagar.

According to the IAF, early morning on May 12, 2021, the aircraft took off from Agra and has already landed back at its base in the city.

12/05/21 Huma Siddiqui/Financial Express

Big relief for import-dependent Indian pharma as Sichuan Airlines resumes cargo services

In a major relief to the import-dependent Indian pharmaceutical industry, Chinese state-owned Sichuan Airlines has resumed its cargo services to India. The decision of Sichuan to suspend its services to India due to increasing COVID-19 cases for 15 days from the end of last month had threatened to disrupt the pharmaceutical, medical devices and oxygen concentrator supply chains.

In a major relief to the import-dependent Indian pharmaceutical industry, Chinese state-owned Sichuan Airlines has resumed its cargo services to India. The decision of Sichuan to suspend its services to India due to increasing COVID-19 cases for 15 days from the end of last month had threatened to disrupt the pharmaceutical, medical devices and oxygen concentrator supply chains.

It is known that Sichuan Airlines is restarting its operations from Chengdu to Chennai on May 12, while it had already resumed operations from Chengdu to Bengaluru on May 9. China has also permitted multiple cargo operations to India to avoid a crisis. Chengdu is one of the major sources for pharmaceutical raw material for Indian drug manufacturers. 

India is sourcing almost 70 per cent of drug intermediates, key starting materials and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) -- all essential raw materials needed to manufacture medicines from China. Almost 50 per cent of the APIs that go into the manufacture of products mentioned in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) are also imported from China. Even though India's production linked incentive (PLI) scheme aims at reducing this import dependency, it can only have an impact in the medium to long term. 

12/05/21 Joe C Mathew/Business Today