Sunday, August 02, 2020

Tatas Group raise debt funds for AirAsia India, infuse equity into Vistara

Mumbai: Tata Group is raising debt funds for low fare carrier AirAsia India and has infused equity into premium airline Vistara, documents filed with the Registrar of Companies show, to help overcome the disastrous impact of the pandemic on aviation.
In AirAsia India’s latest board meeting, joint venture partners Tata Sons and Malaysian low fare carrier AirAsia Berhad decided to raise ₹300 crore by issuing optionally convertible redeemable debentures. Prior to that, in a Vistara board meeting, promoters Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines were together allotted fresh equity shares worth ₹75 crore. The business decisions were sourced from RoC by business intelligence company Veratech for ET.
Tata Sons owns 51% in both airlines. The moves come even as AirAsia Berhad is understood to be in discussions with Tata Sons to exit AirAsia India. The two are yet to arrive at a decision.
Airlines in India and the world are grappling with drastic cuts in revenue as the pandemic has all but sapped demand for travel. The situation is likely to continue and airlines across the world have turned to received support from respective governments.
In India, with no bailout expected from the government, it’s up to airline owners to see companies through the crisis.
AirAsia India's net loss for the quarter ended March more than doubled year on year to ₹334 crore from ₹147 crore in the previous year, due to higher operating expenses. The airline also plunged to an operating loss from a profit last year, according to figures filed last month by Malaysian parent on Kuala Lumpur stock exchange Bursa Malaysia.
AirAsia Berhad’s auditor EY raised significant doubt on its ability to continue as a going concern.
02/08/20 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

Government widens scope of Air India’s sale

New Delhi: The scope for the sale of the debt-ridden national carrier Air India has been widened with the Union government’s recent notification of allowing 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by NRIs into Air India.
The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Civil Aviation had together brought in this amendment in the FDI policy earlier this week with a hope that this would fast-track the sale of Air India. Sources in the Ministry of Civil Aviation said that they had been pushing hard for getting this amendment passed as they believed that this would help the national carrier find some buyers as repeated attempts to sell the airlines have remained futile over the past two years.

Officials in the Ministry of Civil Aviation that this correspondent spoke to also hinted that there were some buyers who were expressing their interest, but were not eligible due to the existing rules for buying stakes in an Indian airline.

“The government allowing 100% FDI in Air India certainly does not mean that this airline can be brought out by any foreign national or for that matter any foreign company. The 51% stake of the airlines will still remain with an Indian national which is why the rule has been amended to bring only NRIs,” a Ministry of Civil Aviation official told this correspondent.

According to the earlier norm, NRIs could own only up to 49% stake of the national carrier’s stake while the rest had to be owned by an Indian residing in India.
However, aviation experts believe that the exercise to sell Air India at a time when the global aviation industry is facing one of its biggest crisis will still remain futile as no individual or company would like to invest in an airline at this time which is already debt-ridden.
02/08/20 Dibyendu Mondal/Sunday Guardian Live

In a first, SpiceJet brings home 269 Indians in long-haul charter flight from Amsterdam

Bengaluru: SpiceJet operated its maiden long-haul charter flight bringing back home 269 Indians from Amsterdam to Bengaluru and Hyderabad on Sunday.

The airline operated its first-ever long-haul charter flight from Amsterdam on a A330-900 Neo aircraft. The flight arrived in Bengaluru at 8.58 am IST and the same aircraft then proceeded to Hyderabad with the remaining passengers.

Airline chairman Ajay Singh said, “SpiceJet is immensely proud to operate its maiden long-haul repatriation flight from Amsterdam to India and bring back home our fellow Indian nationals. This is a historic moment for SpiceJet and Indian aviation.”

“I have always believed that there is an opportunity in every adversity and time and again SpiceJet has tried to convert a crisis into an opportunity. This global pandemic has taught us many things and given us an opportunity to show our true potential. SpiceJet emerged as the No.1 Cargo Company in India during the pandemic. We have successfully repatriated over 75,000 Indian citizens operating more than 450 charter flights from different parts of the world. This repatriation flight from Amsterdam is another feather in our cap and we hope to do many more such flights in the coming days," Singh said in a press release.
02/08/20 Economic Times

Airport Authority of India updates state-wise quarantine guidelines for domestic passengers

Airport Authority of India (AAI) on Saturday issued the updated state-wise quarantine regulations for domestic passengers to address concerns regarding quarantine norms in different states.

"To address concerns regarding quarantine norms in different states, latest state-wise quarantine regulations for domestic passengers (as of July 30, 2020) have been issued," Airport Authority of India tweeted.

 The thermal screening will be done for all passengers on arrival by all the states.
The installation of the Arogya Setu app continues to be mandatory for all domestic passengers.

AAI also said that conditions are changing on an everyday basis, therefore passengers are requested to check the state government`s website also for the latest updates.
As per the latest guidelines issued by the airport authority, all international passengers have to undergo seven days of institutional quarantine at their own cost following which they have to home quarantine themselves for another week.

All the international passengers have to sign an undertaking accepting the proposal of seven days paid institutional quarantine which will be retained by the overseas mission/embassy before the booking is confirmed.

However, certain passengers are exempted from being institutionally quarantined: pregnant women, those who suffered death in the family, those suffering from a serious illness, and parents travelling with children below 10 years have to send an undertaking form, along with required documents, to
01/08/20 DNA

‘Withdraw 14-day quarantine norm for air passengers’

The air travel agents in the city are seeking complete withdrawal of 14-day quarantine norm for air passenger arrivals in order to give a boost to the aviation sector. Apart from this, air travel agents are demanding support from banks to provide them loans and assistance by the Government to tide over the COVID-19 crisis, said sources on the condition of anonymity while speaking to The Hitavada. “We expect the air ticket bookings to surge by more than 50 per cent from the current levels, if the 14-day quarantine norm is withdrawn by the Government.
 There needs to be growth in demand for tickets which can save the air travel agents from bankruptcy,” sources said. Air travel agents also said that the 14-day quarantine norm is the biggest hurdle for travellers as they want hassle free travel. It becomes unviable for the business class and sales executives who frequently go on short trips by air to attend important meetings or prospective clients. According to sources, hotels and restaurants should also be allowed to open as these facilities and services are simultaneously required by travellers. As a practice, all major airlines are taking extra precautions and following standard operating procedures (SOPs) laid down by the Government regarding containment of COVID-19. Airport officials and other agencies are conducting numerous checks on passengers at the airport before boarding a flight.
The travel agents are under tremendous distress as ticket sales have slumped by 90 per cent. Infact, they are not getting sufficient volume of business to pay for salary of staff, office expenses, rent, EMIs etc. From the past four months, business has become a biggest challenge. Furthermore, bank officials are saying that the travel industry is in deep red due to which they are not sanctioning loans. On this, air travel agents want the Government to intervene by directing banks to disburse loans and bail them out through the COVID-19 crisis. Ever since the 14-day quarantine norm has been introduced the number of passengers has sharply dropped.
02/08/20 Hitavada

Indians recount tumultuous Kuwait evacuation three decades after Iraq invasion

Air India is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people rescued by a civil airline. The operation became the plot for the hit 2016 Bollywood film Airlift.
"It was a sudden emergency and we did not know what we were getting into. It was a war zone, we had fears that we could be shot down,” said Rita Pradeep Nair, a member of the cabin crew aboard the first evacuation flight.
Read more about the world’s biggest civilian evacuation in history >>

State on high alert after flight carrying 170 Australians touches down from a coronavirus hot spot

A flight carrying 170 Australians from the world's third biggest coronavirus hot spot has landed in Adelaide.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH8461 arrived in South Australia from New Delhi on Saturday morning.
The flight had 170 Australians on board who were all subject to health tests and screening upon arrival.
All passengers will be forced into mandatory hotel quarantine for 14-days to ensure they don't have the deadly COVID-19 virus.
A Facebook group called Australians Stuck in India has done a survey and found that more than 2,000 people are trying to get back to Australia.
India has recorded 1.7million positive coronavirus tests since the pandemic began as the country struggles to combat the virus.
There are currently four active cases of coronavirus in South Australia. The state has suffered four deaths.
01/08/20 Sahar Mourad/Daily Mail Australia

Air Bubble flights are back in the air

Under the Air Bubble bilateral agreement signed by India with USA, France, Germany and UAE, flights are being operated to and from these countries and Bengaluru.
Four foreign carriers -- Lufthansa, Air France, Etihad and Emirates -- will be operating Air Bubble flights to and from Bengaluru. Similarly, three Indian carriers, Air India along with its subsidiary, Air India Express and Indigo, have been given permission to operate Air Bubble flights during August.
Last week, the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) said it is in discussion with airlines to operate flights on select routes and that it would have to take the state government’s approval to operate the flights.
“BIAL is in discussion with airlines on opening up select routes to countries approved by the Government of India. These currently are France, Germany, USA and UAE. While the DGCA has given approvals, operations of these routes is subject to individual airlines getting Government of Karnataka approvals, as well,” a BIAL spokesperson told Bangalore Mirror.
02/08/20 Hemanth CS/Bangalore Mirror

International flights: Status check on airlines’ operations as countries lift Covid-19 lockdown

With several countries gradually opening their air space and lifting lockdown restrictions, ‘non-essential’ travel is slowly gaining traction as major airlines ramp up their services in time for the peak holiday season. However, most countries still have border closures and travel bans in place. In a bid to kick-start tourism and help economies rebound, governments are implementing “travel bubbles” or air bridges between countries, allowing citizens to travel freely between specified nations. India has implemented a temporary reciprocal arrangement with the US, Germany and France and more countries like the UK and Canada will soon be added to the list.
See the details >>

Hyderabad International Airport receives UNICEF funded mass fever screening system from Govt of India

Hyderabad: Amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Hyderabad International Airport is continuing to handle the international relief flights under the Govt of India’s largest evacuation programme of Vande Bharat Mission (VBM).

With an objective of enhancing the efficacy of the screening process, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, in coordination with Asian Development Bank, has provided Hyderabad International Airport with a state-of-the-art Thermal Scanner, a Mass Fever Screening System, funded by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). The new thermal scanner will be used by the Airport Health officials of MoH&FW (Ministry of Health & Family Welfare).

The new thermal scanner at Hyderabad International Airport is a ceiling-mounted Mass Fever Screening System. This system is capable of scanning, detecting and tracking febrile persons with elevated skin temperature. The system automatically adjusts and adapts to the surrounding ambient temperature without any human intervention. With its Intuitive User Interface and Dual-Displays (Day Camera + Infra-Red), it provides easy identification of passengers with elevated temperature while simplifying operations and minimizing handling. The new thermal scanner imparts more control to the Hyderabad Airport Health Organisation, along with the existing thermal scanners at the International Arrivals.

The system alerts if any passenger is found with high temperature, without disturbing passenger movement and throughput. We are thankful to all the stakeholders for this gesture for assisting us in the system supply, installation and integration.
02/08/20 Ashish Pandey/India Today

Airlines unlikely to refund Rs 3,000 crore to passengers

New Delhi: People who were issued credit shells against tickets cancelled for flights during and after the national lockdown may have to hold on to them longer, as cash-strapped airlines are unlikely to refund about ₹3,000 crore they owe to passengers.
Detailed data of refunds shared by airlines show they have issued credit shells worth ₹3,000 crore that can be used for travel at a future date. Estimates also show about ₹1,500 crore has been refunded to passengers — a substantial part through the utilisation of credit shells by passengers.
These estimates were part of the discussion between airlines and the government after the Supreme Court asked the government to look into the issue of refunds. Airline executives told ET that the industry is in a precarious financial position and refunding this amount to passengers would not be possible for many. “It is not that airlines have not returned the money,” said an airline executive who did not want to be identified. “The money has been put in a shell.”
The government is also of the view that airlines cannot be forced to pay these refunds, as they do not have funds.
“Airlines are going through their worst phase and forcing them to refund this amount would not be possible,” a government official said on a condition of anonymity. “There is a need to devise a solution that takes care of both airlines and passengers.”
02/08/20 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Pilot unions in India losing clout?

New Delhi: Unlike their Western counterparts, pilot unions in India have been on the decline for years now with the current crisis in aviation only exacerbating the problem.
By definition, airline pilots are few in number and can't be manufactured overnight, one would assume pilot unions should be wielding considerable clout. Surprisingly, pilots say the reverse is true now.
See why >>

Congress leader falsely passes off lavish Boeing-787 jet as PM Modi’s aircraft

Madhya Pradesh Congress president and MLA Jitu Patwari shared a photo of a plane with expensive and luxurious interiors to claim that it was PM Narendra Modi’s private plane.
Patwari mocked Modi’s humble origins as a tea-seller to sarcastically claim that India would become a superpower only if Modi gets to enjoy all luxuries of life.
The photo shared by Patwari is not of PM Modi’s plane. It is the private jet version of Boeing's bestselling 787 Dreamliner.
Using reverse-image search, we found a post from Business Insider carrying the same image as the one shared by Patwari.
Titled ‘The private jet version of the Boeing 787 can cost more than $200 million and fly over 18 hours. Take a look at some its most luxurious designs’, the post is about Boeing Business Jet 787.
The image is captioned as ‘Inside a BBJ 787 Dreamliner. DeerJet and Greenpoint Technologies/Boeing’.
As per a June 8, 2020 report from Hindustan Times, two custom-made B777 aircraft, which will be used to fly Modi and other top Indian dignitaries, are likely to be delivered by Boeing to Air India by September.
Currently, the Prime Minister, the president and the vice president fly on Air India’s B747 planes, which have the call sign ‘Air India One’.
Air India pilots fly these B747 aircraft for the dignitaries and the Air India Engineering Services Limited maintains them. When these B747 aircraft are not flying the dignitaries, they are used by the Indian national carrier for commercial operations.
The fact check arm of the Press Information Bureau took to Twitter to bust Patwari’s false claims.
02/08/20 Time Fact Check/Times of India

With fewer flights, jackals back at Kolkata airport grassland

Kolkata: A combination of less aircraft movement and abundant rainfall has turned Kolkata airport’s sprawling grassland around the runway into a happy hunting ground for jackals. In recent weeks, there have been multiple sightings, causing anxiety among pilots and catalyzing a renewed drive to rein them in.
“The reduction in flights emboldened the jackals to move out of the burrows. The monsoon also played a part with the overgrowth providing a cover. After repeat sightings, we have started trapping them. The latest one was on Friday, the second one in July,” said Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee.
A sustained effort last year had nearly freed the airport premises of jackals. But since they breed fast, the pack has again grown. A pair produces between two and four pups in a litter and their gestation period is a mere 63 days; the pups attain reproductive age in less than a year. Striking a jackal weighing around 10kg while making the take-off run or just after landing can cause major damage to aircraft In June, DGCA deputy director D C Sharma had said, “Given the environment of reduced aviation activity, bird and wildlife are expected to expand their environment. Hence, it is advised not to ease wildlife control measures.”
02/08/20 Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India

Fewer cabs at airport trouble passengers

Visakhapatnam: People landing at Visakhapatnam airport are finding it difficult to get a cab home. With no Airport Express buses plying at the moment and few app-based cabs, auto-rickshaws are charging exorbitant fares.
Speaking to TOI, SM Krishna, who works at a real estate company in Visakhapatnam, said, “When I arrived in Visakhapatnam from Bengaluru, I first checked out app-based cabs. However, they weren’t available. So I went to take an auto-rickshaw where the driver asked for Rs 1,000 for a distance of 19km.”
The trouble with finding transport home from the airport began mid-July when the government decided to test only 10 per cent of fliers. Earlier, when domestic airports became operational on May 26, all fliers would have to go to Seetha Rama Kalyana Mandapam to get tested. APSRTC buses were used to ferry them.
An airport official said, “There are only a few flights operating at the moment. The number of passengers is also low. Perhaps, this is why there are fewer app-based cabs at the airport now.”
Drivers of these app-based cabs explained that in regular circumstances, passengers boarding flights would arrive at the airport around an hour or hour-and-a half before take-off. Meanwhile, a corresponding flight would land in Visakhapatnam and they would find passengers to ferry back to the city
02/08/20 Arpit Basu/Times of India

Hackathon finalists design solutions for AAI challenges

Varanasi: The 36-hour grand finale of Smart India Hackathon 2020 commenced Saturday morning, as 240 master brains in 39 groups were given the task to find software solutions for the challenges faced by the Airport Authority of India.
Addressing the inaugural session, AAI general manager (IT) and information security officer Bijendra Singh Dalal said AAI is connected with SIH since its first edition in 2017.

The participants were asked to design tools to aid in search and rescue operations by calculating search area from the last known position of a missing aircraft, besides rating an airport mapping database and web-based software for fail-free operations of Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Systems for Air Traffic Management.

The tasks also incuded designing preventive maintenance and mobile-based inventory management system using QR code application, a visual dashboard based on data analytics for percentage utilization of airport facilities and utilities, a mobile-based dwell time management system, a knowledge management system through block chain, and a passenger facilitation system using artificial intelligence.
02/08/20 Times of India

Jahu better suited for airport, says ex-servicemen body

Mandi: In the wake of resentment among Balh valley residents to construct an airport at Balh, an ex-servicemen’s body has said it is in favour of constructing an airport at Jahu, the tri-junction of Bilaspur, Mandi and Hamirpur districts.
The ex-Servicemen body from Baldwara tehsil in Mandi district has raised their voice to shift the proposed plan of airport from Balh to Jahu on merit basis.

Capt Jagdish Verma (retd), president of Honorary Commissioned Officers’ Welfare Association of Himachal Pradesh Branch office at Baldwara, said, “We are in favour of constructing an airport at Jahu, which is tri-junction of Mandi, Bilaspur and Hamirpur districts.”

He said that Balh Bachao Sangharsh Samiti was not in favour of this airport at Balh and they are not in a mood to give their fertile land for this ambitious project. Around 10,000 families would be displaced by this project and they would face rehabilitation problems.

“The recent technical survey carried out by the Airport Authority of India suggested that only small planes could land and take off from the proposed airport at Balh in Mandi district due to the presence of mountains near Sundernagar,” he remarked.

“So, the best idea would be to shift the venue from Balh to Jahu, a tri-junction of three districts,” he added.
02/08/20 Dipender Manta/Tribune

Chennai: Covid delays second airport, plan to engage consultant postponed

Chennai: The pandemic and the lockdown has hit plans to build a second airport for Chennai.
The decision to appoint a consultant for the airport proposed to be established at Parandur in Kancheepuram district has been postponed because of the spread of Covid-19.
The state government had fixed a pre-bid meeting for bidders in mid-March but it has been postponed and a revised date is yet to be announced.
The state-owned Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (Tidco), the nodal agency for developing the new airport, has announced that the date of pre-bid meeting for consultancy services would be notified in "due course". Pre-bid meeting is meant for firms who are interested to bid for being a consultant for the project, they seek clarifications and suggestions ahead of the selection process.
A tender for request for proposal (RFP) for appointing a consultant to study various issues including preparation of techno-economic feasibility report was floated in February.
02/08/20 Yogesh Kabirdoss/Times of India

Post Unlock 3.0 restrictions at airports in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh

Hyderabad: The Telangana State has not specified any Covid-related restrictions to the domestic passengers arriving at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) at Hyderabad after the Centre announced unlock 3.0. But, the Andhra Pradesh State has decided to continue to follow stringent norms at all the four airports in the State.
The Airports Authorities of India (AAI) sent a circular to all the airports and airliners to take into consideration the Covid-related norms put in place by the State governments in the country.
Accordingly, the thermal screening will continue to be followed at RGIA for all the air passengers on their arrival. Besides, all international passengers shall be sent to a 7-day of institutional quarantine at a government facility or at paid designated hotels. Health officials are to decide the quarantine requirements to be followed by all the symptomatic passengers.
Regarding the air travellers arriving at Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Tirupathi and Rajamahenderavaram, the thermal screening will be carried out for all the passengers arriving at the four airports. Besides, swab tests will be taken for 10 per cent of the randomly selected passengers by domestic flights. Particularly, people of more than 60 years of age and children of less than 10 years of age will be given preferred for taking swab tests.
That apart, domestic air travellers arriving from different parts of the country will have to observe 14-day home quarantine. Similarly, passengers arriving by international flights will have to undergo a 7-day institutional quarantine.
02/08/20 VRC Phaniharan/Hans India

Air Bubbles Soon Coming up With Neighbouring Countries, Says Hardeep Singh Puri

New Delhi: The civil aviation ministry is working towards setting up bilateral agreements for two-way flights with neighbourhood countries, minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said in a television interview, as the fifth phase of Vande Bharat Mission kicked in on August 1.
“Had a discussion with the external affairs minister in this regard. We have requested some countries. But on our own, we would like to have bilateral civil aviation flights with some of our neighbouring countries,” the minister said.
On being asked the names of the countries in the neighbourhood, the minister said, “I am not announcing it yet, but most of the countries in our neighbourhood.”
“Our planning for such bilateral flights depend on the capacity and the willingness of the receiving states. Most often, the states tell us you can bring flights but we can take only these many flights. This is not only about Indian states. Australia, for instance, wants limited aviation functions. West Bengal is again under lockdown. So we respect the decision of the states and are navigating our operations through all this,” the minister said.
India has already set up air bubbles with the US, the UK, France, Germany.

Indian Navy Rejects HAL Designed Advanced Light Helicopters

The Indian Navy has rejected the contract for Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The Indian Navy believes that that Advanced Light Helicopters by HAL does not meet its requirement and that there is a dire need to establish alternative capability in the private sector to manufacture modern choppers.
A report by Economic Times states the naval version of the ALH that is being offered does not meet basic qualitative requirements and is unsuitable for the role required, including urgent Search and Rescue (SAR) missions at sea.

The ALH has a rigid rotor head and has been designed for high altitude operations. The problem is that the design limits it in terms of the blade folding capability. In missions such as SAR, every minute is precious and the ALH just takes too much time to be deployed,” a source said.

While the navy is already operating the ALH in a utility role, it requires 111 helicopters for deployment onboard ships to carry out multiple roles, including surveillance and ferrying supplies. The requirement is urgent and a specialised chopper is needed that can be quickly deployed and retrieved and can be stored in the space-constrained hangar on board all vessels.

The process to acquire the choppers is already in advanced stages with four Indian companies shortlisted who can partner with a foreign technology provider to make the helicopters domestically.
01/08/20 Xavier Francis/EurAsian

Air India and Indigo cancel some flights from Qatar to India: Embassy

Doha: Air India and Indigo has announced cancellation of some flights scheduled from Qatar to India as part of the repatriation flights organised by the Government of India as part of their Vande Bharat Mission.
The Indian Embassy in Qatar on their twitter handle published a list flights cancelled by both the airline.
Airlndia announces cancellation of the following flights under Phase -5 Vande Bharat mission:
Al 0970 from Doha to Mangaluru - 3rd August 2020
Al 1976 from Doha to Hyderabad - 5th August 2020
Al 1982 from Doha to Bengaluru - 6th August 2020
Al 1978 from Doha to Chennai - 7th August 2020
Al 1970 from Doha to Delhi - 9th August 2020
Simultaneously, Indigo announced cancellation of the following flights :
Indigo 6E 8713 from Doha to Chennai - 3rd August 2020
Indigo 6E 8715 from Doha to Lucknow - 4th August 2020
Passengers are requested to contact respective Airlines for further assistance/ information,” embassy said in the post.
02/08/20 Peninsula

Combating coronavirus: Over 275,000 Indians in UAE fly back home

Dubai: Over 275,000 Indians in the UAE have flown back home since India's repatriation mission began on May 7. The Indian mission in Dubai said over 500,000 Indians had registered on its website after the Vande Bharat Mission was first announced.

"In the last couple of weeks, the consulate called several people, but found that most of their demands have been met except on a few sectors. We feel there might be some people who are stuck and wish to go back to India, but they have been unable to do so due to lack of knowledge and means to get the tickets for their journey," the consulate said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The Indian mission said that "plenty of seats" are still available on Air India and Air India Express flights operating as part of the repatriation mission from Dubai and Sharjah. Indians can book seats on 90 flights till August 15 to Kerala, Delhi, Gaya, Varanasi, Amritsar, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Trichy, Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Mangaluru and Lucknow, among others. In addition to these, Emirates, flydubai, Air Arabia, SpiceJet, Indigo, Go Air and Vistara have "planned close to 100 flights from various destinations from Dubai, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah", the consulate added.
02/08/20 Sahim Salim/Khaleej Times

Chennai-Mumbai flights from Monday

Chennai: With lockdown norms relaxed at the national level, Chennai airport will see resumption of direct flights to Mumbai from Monday.

It is expected to boost passenger traffic at the city airport as Mumbai is a popular route and benefit those who want to board international flights to the Middle East and Europe from Mumbai. There was one flight from Chennai on Saturday at 2.45pm. But there is no flight on Sunday. Vistara has slotted a flight on weekdays.

Passenger numbers were not increasing at Chennai airport as two popular routes — Mumbai and Kolkata — did not have flights. Operations are yet to resume to Kolkata.

But, there is demand for more flights on Chennai-Mumbai, Chennai-Madurai, Chennai-Hyderabad routes. An airport official said airlines have started to push for more flights on some of the cities like Madurai, Hyderabad and also some small towns which were served by flights under the regional connectivity scheme. An airline official said, “There is good potential for flights to many cities to which no one is operating. People stranded here prefer flights.” Airlines are also looking at deploying bigger aircraft on routes where they were flying small planes.
02/08/20 Times of India

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Will the Indian aviation sector be reduced to 2-3 players?

The aviation sector is flying through turbulence that seems to find no landing any time soon. In a report by CAPA, the industry expert says Indian aviation will shrink to 2-3 players without funding. This, they believe, will result in a sustained damage to connectivity in India. Highlighting the financial strain Indian carriers are facing, sources tell ET NOW that SpiceJet will now have to pay around Rs 60 Lakh every day to the Airport Authority of India to be able to operate their flights. The airline also needs to submit AAI a payment plan to clear their past dues.

In a discussion with Tamanna Inamdar on India Development Debate, Ajay Awtaney, Founder, says he expects only IndiGo, Vistara and Air India will be able to survive this storm. “IndiGo is cash-rich. They are doing the right thing by raising liquidity and have also taken cost-cutting measures. Vistara too is in a good position right now. They are bleeding financially but have the support of two strong backers. Air India, on the other hand, has the backing of the government”, explains Awtaney.

Jitendra Bhargava, Former ED of Air India points out the sector will not be seeing any M&A action now as all airlines are in a very sad state with surplus capacity and employees, shrunk net worth and fewer passengers.
The demand destruction can be gauged from the fact that even after resumption of domestic air services; the load factor is hovering at 50-60%, says Crisil. The flow of travel is primarily unidirectional and limited to largely essential travel. The report also says that the fare-caps implemented by the government are higher on-year today. Awtaney backs this by saying that a Mumbai-Delhi flight which used to be priced around Rs 3,000 pre-COVID is now flying at Rs 4,000. “It is catastrophic for airlines if you are going to regulate ticket prices and tell airlines you can’t fly the schedules you deem fit”, Awtaney remarks.

IATA reports that passenger demand in Indian aviation will contract 49% in 2020 as compared to the previous year. It says Indian carriers will see revenues decline by $11.61 in 2020 versus last year. “Need a trigger to start flights as business, leisure and social travel is not taking place”, Bhargava points out. While Crisil expects domestic demand in Q2 to remain subdued, it is expected to increase in Q3 and Q4 owing to the festive season. However, Indian carriers are expected to log operating losses this fiscal despite lower crude prices. A revival to pre-pandemic levels appears unlikely even in the next fiscal, adds Crisil.
01/08/20 Shivangani Misra/

Will not extend bids deadline for Air India beyond August 31, says Hardeep Singh Puri

New Delhi: Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday (August 1) told ET Now that that the government wants to sell Air India as a commercially viable going concern and will not extend bids deadline beyond August 31.

Talking about the steps that the government has been taking to make the national carrier commercially viable, Puri said: "So, if you curtail expenditure and make it an economically viable lean organization it is more attractive to buyers. And, there is enough interest."

"India and Air India are a sui generis case. We have today the world's third-largest civil aviation market. We are going to be the third-largest market in a few year's time. How many countries do you have which have a footfall of 435 million passengers? We have just a 7 per cent penetration and we were at one stage registering a 17 per cent of growth in pre-covid times.

Puri further said that entities have shown interest in Air India. Giving further details, he said that a combination of people have shown interest. "There is a fair amount of interest. And, even during Covid there are people outside. Now, that you can have 100 per cent FDI in the aviation space," he added.

Now, fly to UAE with PCR results from any approved labs in your country

Dubai: Passengers arriving from the countries where there are no UAE-approved laboratories available can conduct their polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test at any government-accredited laboratory in their country of departure, major UAE carriers and other airlines operating in the UAE have announced.

Earlier, the UAE had announced all returning residents, visit visa holders and tourists must carry a PCR-negative test result from a Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship (ICA) approved laboratory in partnership with the Pure Health network of laboratories.

According to the airlines, in case a UAE-approved laboratory is not in the country of departure, residents and tourists can procure a test result from any government accredited laboratory in their home country. Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways and Air India Express are among the airlines that announced a reform in the earlier ruling.

Indian flag carrier Air India Express has said passengers travelling from India can carry a test result from any Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) approved medical testing centre. The airline said on its India to UAE travel guidelines blog: "For all passengers above 12 years old, a valid negative Covid-19 PCR test report in the printed form, from a government-approved laboratory in India (ICMR) or a Certified designated laboratory which is available on website, no older than 96 hours is required. Children below the age of 12 years old are exempted from Covid-19 PCR test."
01/08/20 Dhanusha Gokulan/Khaleej Times

Wage Cuts, LWP - Is This How Govt Rewards ‘Corona Warriors’? Asks Air India Joint Union

Indian national air carrier - Air India - recently announced wage cut for employees and also compulsory Leave Without Pay to offset the losses incurred due to Covid-19. While Air India has justified the move by saying that the air carrier is not laying off any employee like other carriers, various Air India unions have been opposing the move saying wage cuts and compulsory Leave without pay is not a way to reward ‘Corona warriors’?
Read News18's exclusive interview with Air India Joint Forum of All Unions >>

Covid-19: No shortage of flights from India to UAE

Expatriates stranded in India have said they continue to face "hurdles" in returning to the UAE, even as flights between both countries resumed for a 15-day window until August 15.
Some expats claimed they are struggling to receive the mandatory pre-departure approvals from the Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship (ICA). A number of UAE residents - whose children are studying in India - said they are still awaiting clarity on whether their kids can return on visit visas.
Others Khaleej Times reached out to said they are finding it difficult to get their PCR Covid-19 negative results from a UAE-approved facility close to their residence.
According to media reports, the Government of India has extended the suspension of scheduled international flights until August 31. However, travel will take place under 'travel bubbles' agreement India has signed with various countries. Furthermore, travel agents in the UAE have confirmed that the visit and new entry visa applications to the General Directorate of Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) have been approved and accepted starting Wednesday.
However, airlines such as Air India and Air India Express have asked passengers for visas stamped in their passports to fly.
01/08/20 Dhanusha Gokulan/Khalej Times

Air India Pilot Retiring After 33 Years Gets Surprise Water Cannon Salute In Chennai

Chennai: It was a pleasant surprise for passengers and the pilot of the Air India flight from Port Blair as it touched down Chennai on Thursday. The Air Traffic Controller instructed the pilot to "turn into a particular taxi track". Moments later, water from two fire tenders hit the flight for a water cannon salute, honouring the pilot, Captain Sebastian Joseph, who would retire the next day after a 33-year-long tenure with the airline. It was his sign-off flight.
His wife Mischelle, a senior cabin crew was on duty on the same flight and his son Karan, a pilot with another airline was onboard too as a passenger to make it special. None of them knew this was planned.

"It was an emotional moment. I didn't expect such a big surprise. My colleagues and my students put together a fabulous send-off," Captain Sebastian told NDTV.

Captain Sebastian has trained and groomed around a hundred pilots. Three were on the flight. Passengers also got to hear about his contribution from them on the public address system.
An alumnus of Loyola College, Captain Sebastian says he was interested in flying after seeing wings adorning shirts of the NCC flying club members in college. He joined flying classes during his second year and joined Air India in 1987 and there was no stopping him since.

No luring by private airlines worked and his love story with the Maharaja continued for 33 years.

Captain Sebastian says, "Air India is more like a family. If there is a problem, you have someone who you can call up who knows how to go about. It's like a family".

He says he began with flying Boeing 737 and over the years switched to A320, A330 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The veteran who loves challenging table top landings besides touching down on hilly terrains and unfavourable weather conditions says Srinagar and Ladakh are his favourite spots.
01/08/20 J Sam Daniel Stalin/NDTV

Vande Bharat Mission Phase 5 Begins, Air India Adds More Destinations Apart From Air Bubble Flights

New Delhi: The fifth phase of Vande Bharat Mission, which started as a repatriation initiative and got dovetailed into the beginning of the international flight operations in a limited manner, begins today. In the first four phases, Air India operated to 52 countries in which the national air carrier did not have scheduled commercial operations.
In this phase, there will be regular two-way flights between Delhi, Mumbai and Washington DC, Newark, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Frankfurt, Paris. These are the countries with which India signed air bubble pact for a month.
Apart from the air bubble flights, Air India will be operating one-way repatriation flights from Bishkek, Manila, Cebu, Sharjah, Bangkok, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Bahrain, Guangzhou, Melbourne, Yangon, Riyadh, Manila, Cairo, Dammam, Auckland, Sydney, Muscat, Jeddah, Dhaka, Kiev, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Vancouver, Hong Kong etc.
Four additional flights between India and Canada have been announced between August 6 and August 14. The fare starts at Rs 51,600.

Air India commences fifth phase of Vande Bharat Mission, expected to run 700 flights

National carrier Air India on Saturday commenced the fifth phase of the 'Vande Bharat Mission'.
Accordingly, the airline is expected to operate close to 700 flights between India and at least 53 countries during this phase, airline sources said.
In the fourth phase till July 30, the airline had operated 617 flights to bring back around 110,383 passengers.
According to sources, the airline along with its subsidiary Air India Express, is expected to repatriate more than 1.2 lakh passengers from these 53 countries in the fifth phase.
Besides, the airline will continue to deploy the majority of its assets in the 5th phase, which will see ultra-long-haul flights to north America.
It will also operate extra flights to the UK, Canada and also service the Hong Kong route.
The airline is also servicing the domestic sector. Till July 30, the Air India Group had repatriated more than 271,910 passengers on 1,461 flights from around 53 countries.
01/08/20 IANS/Economic Times

Aviation Turbine Fuel Price Hiked 3% In Delhi, Sixth Straight Increase

Oil companies hiked the price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) or jet fuel with effect from Saturday. That marked the sixth straight increase in the price of aviation turbine fuel since June. In Delhi, the price of jet fuel was increased by Rs 1,304.25 - or 3.06 per cent - to Rs 43,932.53 per kilolitre, compared to the existing Rs 42,628.28 per kilolitre, according to Indian Oil Corporation. Aviation turbine fuel rates are revised on the 1st and 16th day each month to bring them at par with international crude oil prices and forex rates in the preceding fortnight.
Jet fuel prices were earlier raised by a record 56.6 per cent - or Rs 12,126.75 - on June 1, followed by a hike of 16.3 per cent (Rs 5,494.5) on June 16, 7.48 per cent (Rs 2,922.94) on July 1, and 1.5 per cent (Rs 635.47) on July 16.
01/08/20 PTI/NDTV

UDAN airports in Karnataka bounce back despite pandemic

Bengaluru:  Even though the global aviation industry has been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the smaller airports in Karnataka are showing promise. By operating smaller flights under the Civil Aviation Ministry Regional Connectivity Scheme (UDAN), Kalaburagi Airport appears to have bounced back from the crisis.

Kalaburagi Airport, began operations on November 22 last year. Airports Authority of India (AAI) director S Gnaneshwara Rao told TNIE, “Till June 30 this year, the airport has witnessed a total of 17,525 passengers. The passenger load ranges between 60% and 80% in each flight.” Statistics furnished by AAI reveal that though operations had come to a standstill after the first lockdown, the airport appears to be on the right track now.
“Star Air had plans to begin operations on two different routes: Kalaburagi to Hindon (near Delhi) as well as to Tirumala. However, the pandemic put their plans on hold temporarily,” Rao said. Kapil Mohan, principal secretary, State Infrastructure Development Department, was quite optimistic of the UDAN operations in Karnataka. “There is a huge demand for air transport in emerging economic hotspots. The Infrastructure department recently took steps to link far flung districts in Karnataka,” he said. Bidar Airport started operations only recently too. A top government official claimed the airport had good patronage.
01/08/20 S Lalitha/New Indian Express

Kuwait bans flights to 31 'high risk' countries including India due to coronavirus

Dubai: Kuwait has banned until further notice commercial flights to 31 countries it said that it regarded as high risk due to the spread of the coronavirus, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said on Saturday.
The countries include India, Pakistan, Egypt, the Philippines, Lebanon and Sri Lanka, which all have large numbers of expatriates in Kuwait. The list also includes China, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and Iraq.
The ban was announced the same day Kuwait began a partial resumption of commercial flights. The authorities have said Kuwait International Airport would run at about 30% capacity from Saturday, gradually increasing in coming months.
01/08/20 Reuters/Tribune

Air Seychelles to repatriate Indians on Aug 8 & lift cargo on return

Air Seychelles will be operating a repatriation flight to Ahmedabad and Mumbai on August 8, 2020, to return Indian citizens back home. The return flight from Mumbai to Seychelles will be operated as a cargo flight.
The flight is being organised jointly with the Seychelles High Commission of India.
Starting July 1, the airline has started passenger flights weekly twice from Seychelles to Dubai International Airport. On return to Seychelles, the flights are operated only for cargo.
01/08/20 ITLN

Indian student arrested at Sydney airport

Sydney: A 22-year-old international student was arrested Friday in an apparent bid to leave Nova Scotia where he is facing criminal charges.
Jashandeep Singh of India was arrested Friday morning at the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport in Reserve Mines. Cape Breton Regional Police were called to the facility with a report of a disturbance.
As a result, Singh, whose court address lists Argyle Street in Sydney, was charged with breaching an undertaking by possessing or consuming alcohol.
He had been released on a police undertaking in March after being charged with impaired driving and refusing a breathalyzer demand.
The offences are alleged to have occurred March 8 in Sydney.
The undertaking mandated that Singh not leave the jurisdiction, he attend court when ordered and he refrain from possession or consumption of alcohol.
During a provincial court appearance earlier this week, Singh entered not guilty pleas to the driving charges and was assigned a trial date of March 22.
01/08/20 Cape Breton Post

Coronavirus: Flight from New Delhi carrying more than 100 Aussies arrives in Adelaide as India's cases soar

Another new case of COVID-19 has been recorded in South Australia and is the state's third case in three days.
The man is in his 20s and returned from Victoria on Jetstar flight JQ774 on Tuesday.
Eighteen close contacts on the flight are in isolation and two of the man's family members have returned a negative test.
All of the state's three new cases are people who travelled from Victoria.
The state has seen seven new cases in 11 days.
All of the state's three new cases are people who travelled from Victoria.
Earlier this morning, about 170 Australian travellers who disembarked a flight from India, which landed in Adelaide, went through mandatory testing on arrival.
They were transported to hotels in the Adelaide CBD for their two-week mandatory quarantine.
Flight MH8461 arrived at Adelaide Airport from New Delhi this morning, bringing home about 170 Australian citizens and permanent residents.
On June 30, three travellers from India to South Australia tested positive to COVID-19.
Hundreds of Australians are still stuck in India where coronavirus cases continue to grow.
A record surge of 55,079 new cases in the past 24 hours took India's coronavirus caseload past 1.6 million, as the government decided lifted a night curfew that has been in force since late March.
01/08/20 9News

Airlines make quarantine SOP plea to West Bengal

Airlines want the Bengal government to prepare a standard operating procedure (SOP) on which agency will ensure passengers arriving on evacuation flights from abroad go to a paid quarantine facility after landing in Calcutta.

Such a procedure, officials said, could lead to restoration of evacuation flights to the city.

The airline operators’ committee at the Calcutta airport said on Friday that they would write to the state government on the matter. The panel will also communicate to the government that airlines are ready to take the responsibility of ensuring that passengers boarding flights at an international location have booked paid quarantine facilities in Calcutta.

Representatives of the airline operators’ committee (AOC) spoke to the Calcutta airport authorities on Thursday, discussing how evacuation flights could be restored to Calcutta.

Airline officials said some passengers were still coming to Calcutta through other cities. According to the rule, one has to get quarantined in the city where he or she lands from abroad.

Adding to the complications, the Bengal government has banned flights from six cities with high Covid prevalence, including Delhi and Mumbai, to the state till August 15.

So any Bengal-bound passenger arriving on an evacuation flight from abroad in any of the six cities is getting stuck.

Airlines told Calcutta airport officials that a large number of people from Bengal stuck in various countries are desperate to return home. “There is good demand for evacuation flights to Calcutta. Such flights will fetch good business for the airlines, which are in dire straits because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said an AOC member.

“We’ll write to the state government, requesting it to come up with a standard operating procedure, which will result in all passengers going to paid quarantine facilities of their choice after landing in Calcutta. Once the SOP is prepared, we can decide how to implement it,” said an official of an international airline who is also a member of the AOC.

“The airlines are ready to take the responsibility and ensure all arriving passengers go to quarantine facilities,” the official said.

A state government official said the SOP issue would be discussed with the airlines “once they write to us”.
01/08/20 Sanjay Mandal/Telegraph

COVID 19 ordeal at Jammu Airport

After India resumed domestic flights on May 25, aviation authorities assured the public that measures were put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as they claim all protocols have been put in place to protect passengers from COVID-19. However, as the virus has been spreading rapidly across India in recent weeks, there is growing concern that lax enforcement of safety measures at airports is contributing to the spread of COVID-19 via the country’s air routes.
A visit to airport reveals the truth as passengers waiting for flights are not adhering to the physical distancing at all and no airport officials are there to enforce the rules.
See how Jammu Airport is no exception >>

Gold seized from 11 Saudi returnees at Hyderabad Airport

Hyderabad: The Customs Department seized 3.11 kg of gold valued at Rs 1.66 crore from 11 passengers who arrived from Saudi Arabia at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) on Thursday night, officials said on Friday.

The Air Intelligence Unit of the Customs Department intercepted the passengers who arrived by Vande Bharat Mission flight from Dammam.

During the frisking, the officials found gold biscuits concealed in the secret pockets in the trousers of the 11 men, who all hail from north Telangana.

The passengers told the officials during questioning that some unknown persons handed them over the gold biscuits at Dammam Airport and asked them to deliver to their contacts in Hyderabad.
The investigating officials suspect that the smugglers bought tickets for the gold carriers and might have also given them some money for expenses during a 14-day mandatory quarantine which they will have to undergo before they are allowed to go home.

A case under the Customs Act was registered against the 11 men. The officials took up the investigations to find out the members of the smuggling gang.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) seized 78.5 kg of sandalwood at the RGIA. Five Sudanese nationals were intercepted while trying to smuggle sandalwood to Sudan. They were about to board a special relief flight to Khartoum when the airport officials intercepted them.
01/08/20 IANS/daijiworld