Saturday, May 18, 2019

Dhaka: Biman Bangladesh

Airlines on Tuesday resumed Dhaka-DelhiDhaka direct flights after nearly five years with three flights a week initially as India’s private Jet airways halted its flight operations between the two capitals recently.
 The resumption flight landed at Indira Gandhi International Airport this afternoon while Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali received the arriving passengers through flowers at terminal-3 of the airport at 1720 hrs (local time).
 A spectacular gate was decorated by using water cannon to welcome the 150 arriving and receiving the 87 departing passengers. A cake was cut on the gate premises to mark the occasion. The passengers including some in wheel chairs expressed their satisfaction after travelling by Biman’s Dhaka-Delhi direct flight saying that it would immensely reduce their sufferings which they had to face while travelling via Kolkata. Earlier in Dhaka, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism M Mahbub Ali inaugurated the flight before it took off from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 1500 hrs.
 Ali hoped that Biman would be able to make profit form Dhaka-Delhi direct flight as the national flag carrier is now the lone airline on this route. He said the government is committed to turn the national flag carrier into a profitable venture through providing standard on time service to the passengers.
 Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary M Mohibul Haque, Biman’s board of directors chairman Air Marshal (retd) Muhammad Enamul Bari and acting managing director and CEO Captain Farhat Hasan Jamil also spoke while Indian deputy high commissioner to Dhaka, Bishwajit De were present on the occasion.
14/05/19 UNI

Friday, May 17, 2019

Land identified for solar panels at Chennai airport

Chennai: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) plans to install solar panels near the main runway to reduce the use of power from the grid at Chennai airport.
A tender, which was issued last year, has been given to a contractor and the process is on to install the panels on an 8.58-acre land, identified in the northern corner of the main runway, close to the Pallavaram side, said an official. Panels will generate around 6.5MWp (Mega Watt peak, a unit of measuring solar power) power which will be connected to the grid.

The project is estimated to cost Rs 44crore and is part of the AAI’s ‘Go Green’ initiative, which includes installation of LED lights at the terminals and airfield.

The power generated from the panels will be used for terminals and a balance of 11KV will be supplied to the grid through a sub-station, said an official. The airport already has a roof-top solar plant at the cargo complex which generates 5MW power.

The airport has a total connected load of 17,55KW and a total consumption of around 83.23 million units.
17/09/19 Times of India

Wall Decor Falls Off At Lucknow Airport, Close Shave For Passengers

Lucknow: The passengers and staff at Lucknow airport had a close shave after a portion of wall decor fell off today morning, news agency ANI reported. No injuries have been reported so far.
One of the passengers, Narendra Dubey, who escaped unhurt, said, "I was just a few inches away when the decoration from the wall fell off. I got lucky or could have died today."

"My appeal to the authorities is, please do your work properly and don't play with our lives," he added.

Lucknow airport is an international airport in Uttar Pradesh. It was earlier called Amausi Airport but was renamed as Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport after the fifth Prime Minister of India in 2008.
The airport has three terminals and a third one was announced last year by Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu. This new terminal will be able to have a capacity of 24.6 million passengers.
17/05/19  Richa Taneja/NDTV

Waiting in Bagdogra wings: more facilities

Siliguri: The Bagdogra airport will get more check-in counters and luggage conveyer belts as part of a plan drawn up by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to boost infrastructure at the facility and keep pace with soaring passenger numbers.

The flier count has increased to around 2.5 million annually and over 30 flights operate from the airport near Siliguri every day. “We plan to introduce four more check-in counters along with conveyers to expedite the check-in process. The new counters will be opened shortly,” said a source in the AAI.

At present, there are 16 check-in counters on the ground floor of the two-storied terminal where long queues of passengers in the departure lounge are a common sight.

This happens because the existing building is meant to handle around 400 passengers per hour but draws over 1,000. The rush is particularly intense during the afternoons when most of the flights arrive or depart from Bagdogra.

“Right from the entrance of the airport to the terminal building, it takes a lot of time these days. This is because with the increase in the number of flights, vehicular traffic has also increased at the airport. Even after reaching the entrance of the departure lounge, one has to stand in a queue to get to the check-in counters. We hope the queues would become shorter when the new counters are opened,” said Prithvi Dasgupta, a frequent flier.

An AAI official, told about the overcrowding at the airport, said they were trying to make best of the available space. “Unless we get land from the state and a new terminal is built, all we can do is to use every possible space in the existing building. Setting up new check-in counters is a part of the plan,” he said.
17/05/19 Avijit Sinha/Telegraph

Will create transparent SOP to allocate Jet Airways' foreign flying rights to airlines: Kharola

New Delhi: With each of the Indian airlines vying for maximum share of the Jet Airways' foreign flying rights, Civil Aviation Secretary P S Kharola said Friday the ministry will create a transparent standard operating procedure (SOP) to allocate these rights on a temporary basis.
"We had asked airlines to confirm their requirement of (domestic) slots and (international) traffic rights...Their requests have been officially logged in. Our people will do an analysis now and we will evolve a transparent SOP based on which the rights will be given," Kharola said.
He was speaking to reporters after holding a meeting -- which was focused on temporary allocation of foreign flying rights of Jet Airways -- Friday morning with senior executives of the Indian airlines.
The airfares have risen dramatically on many international routes since Jet Airways suspended its operations on April 17.
The central government, therefore, is planning to allocate Jet Airways' international flying rights to other airlines such as IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet, GoAir and Vistara.
17/05/19 Economic Times

Fliers oppose bookings on a grounded aircraft

Pune: A group of city residents has decided to take on a website agent and airline for booking them on a Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight, a model that has been grounded since March.
 The four customers had booked the tickets through from Pune to Srinagar via Ahmedabad on April 22 for a trip scheduled on June 4.
 However, on May 6, the airline SpiceJet sent an email informing them the flight from Ahmedabad to Srinagar was cancelled due to the grounding of the aircraft. “The Boeing 737 MAX 8 was grounded in March, then why did the airline and the website allow booking of the tickets on such an aircraft a month after the incident,” said Nitin Bhujbal.
 Bhujbal booked the journey along with three others as part of a recreational trip planned a couple of months ago. Bhujbal said the MakeMyTrip employees refused to cooperate when the issue was brought up.
 “The staff in Pune said they could not help as the bookings were done online and that we would have to approach the head office,” he said, adding that representatives of the company on phone only agreed to pay the compensation for Pune to Ahmedabad.
 “How could a cancellation fee be deducted when it was not our fault? When we found out that Boeing 737 MAX 8 was already grounded, we felt that the move to cancel the flights at last moment was deliberate and aimed at earning more profit after the flights are rescheduled at higher rates,” Bhujbal added. Someshwar Balgude, general secretary, Pune City Congress Committee, said he had faced a similar issue.
 “The airline and website agent should have removed the listings and route when the aircraft were not functional. This is pure cheating and siphoning off money at the expense of customers,” he said. 17/05/19 Himanshu Nitnaware/Pune Mirror

City awaits other airlines to fill the void created by Jet Airways

Aurangabad: After cancellation of Mumbai-Aurangabad Jet Airways flight and several unsuccessful attempts for the airline’s revival, city airport is eagerly awaiting advent of another private airlines on this route.
Currently, the Aurangabad airport has only two airlines catering to the passengers — Air India operating on the Delhi-Aurangabad-Mumbai route, while Trujet is operating on the Aurangabad-Hyderabad route.

The grounding of Mumbai-Aurangabad flight, operated by Jet Airways, has affected a daily average of 200-250 fliers. Director of Aurangabad airport DG Salve told TOI that with resignation of top management and lack of investors, revival of Jet Airways is highly unlikely.

The airport has approached other operators like Spicejet and Indigo airlines to take up the slot vacated by Jet Airways. “Spicejet has given an assurance that it will consider initiating flights from Aurangabad and Indigo has also given positive indications. However, both the airlines are running short of aircrafts which is why we will have to wait,” Salve said.

However, before the Jet Airways debacle, the city was looking forward to starting of new air routes. Jet had confirmed operating a flight on Aurangabad-Udaipur route and an additional flight on Aurangabad-Delhi route.

Corporate fliers and tourism stakeholders have expressed discontent over government’s lack of attention in bringing more flights to Aurangabad. During his visit to the city last year minister of civil aviation Suresh Prabhu had outlined the impact of poor air connectivity of Aurangabad on tourism.
17/05/19 Arpita Sharad/Times of India

Airfares for Varanasi shoot up more than 11 times to Rs 35,000

An air ticket to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Parliamentary constituency costs about Rs 3,099 if booked in advance during a normal season.
However, on Thursday no tickets were available for direct flights to Varanasi while tickets for hopping flight on Friday (today) morning shot up by more than 11 times to as high as Rs 35,000. Voting in Varanasi will take place on May 19 in the last phase of LS polls.
 Travel agents ascribe the jump in tariffs to election tourism and BJP leaders from Gujarat rushing to the holy city to campaign for PM Modi. Campaigning for the last phase of polls ends today with PM Modi’s mega rally in Varanasi. When checked on Wednesday evening, a 6.30 am SpiceJet flight from Ahmedabad to Varanasi on Thursday was priced at Rs 19,788.
 Flights of all the other airlines were already full. Airfare for Vistara flight departing at 10.55am on Thursday with 3.5-hour duration and one stop quoted at Rs 26,318. An Air India flight scheduled to depart at 7.10 am with single stop and 4.25-hour duration quoted fare of Rs 35,210. When checked on Thursday afternoon, Friday morning SpiceJet flight to Varanasi was selling at Rs 17,584 while the 5.55 pm Indigo flight was on offer at Rs 6,736.
 17/05/19 Alok Brahmbhatt/Ahmedabad Mirror

In the aftermath of Jet Airways, here's a new update

In the wake of the sudden touchdown of Jet Airways, there has been another big development in India’s aviation sector. Spice Jet, the low cost, no-frills carrier has become the second to add a business class service.
Called Spice Biz, the business class service is being offered on SpiceJet’s newly acquired Boeing 737s. The budget carrier is offering the service on some routes between New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Varanasi, Bengaluru, Bagdodra and Srinagar, as per reports. The service includes gourmet meals, 2x2 cabin, access to the airport lounges, and extra baggage, among other facilities.
SpiceJet announced this move after acquiring nine of Jet Airways’ now grounded Boeing 737s. These aircrafts were already fitted in with economy and business class seats.
Until now, GoAir was the only budget airline to offer business class on their A320 plane models. With SpiceJet in the mix, there’s more choice than ever for traveller. Especially those still mourning Jet’s sudden touchdown.
17/05/19 Outlook Traveller

Jet Airways international routes up for grabs today, could be the final blow

New Delhi: The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation will reallocate Jet Airways’ international slots to other airlines at a meeting Friday, landing a fresh blow to the besieged private carrier amid dimming hopes of its revival.

Since the cash-strapped and debt-laden airline suspended operations last month, over 85 aircraft of its fleet of 119 have been de-registered — which means lessors with unpaid dues have been allowed to lease them to other airlines.

The order for 10 Boeing planes has been cancelled, the airline has lost its domestic slots, and several members of its brass — including the chief operating officer, company secretary and even the chief executive officer — have resigned.

Meanwhile, there’s been no healthy bid from investors to get India’s oldest private airline back in the sky.

The reallocation of Jet Airways’ international routes will be discussed at a meeting Friday, with Air India, the country’s flag carrier that is itself grappling with debt but still running, likely to get the bulk of the slots.
17/05/19 Ifrah Mufti/Print

Travelling from Mumbai airport? Know these latest changes

Mumbai airport is among busiest airports in the country having two terminal points for flights to take off and landing purposes. The terminal 1 is exclusively kept for budget airlines like GoAir, IndiGo, SpiceJet and TrueJet. It has 11 terminal boarding bridges. The handling capacity is 10 million passengers per year. On the other hand, terminal 2 is extensively used for international flights and some selective domestic flights. The airport has an area of 210,000 sq. meters. It has 192 check-in counters and 60 immigration counters at departure, and 14 baggage carousels and 76 immigration counters at arrival. It has seen lots of changes so far. The reason for these changes in the Mumbai Airport T2 is the slots which were held by Jet Airways have been temporarily re-distributed among other airlines. With an extra slot in hands, the carriers such as IndiGo, Air Asia, GoAir and SpiceJet got the chance to expand the network. 
If you are travelling in terminal 2 then you should know that from 15 April 2019 onwards IndiGo will carry additional flights from Mumbai Terminal 2 to Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Indore, Kochi, Nagpur, Patna, Vadodara, Varanasi and Kochi.
Apart from IndiGo, AirAsia has also announced today its network expansion plans by starting 10 new connections from Mumbai terminal 2. AirAsia India will now connect Mumbai to Kochi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Indore, New Delhi and Bengaluru from Mumbai terminal 2 Airport. Flights to the new routes have commenced from today.
Budget carrier GoAir announced that they will launch 28 additional flights to their network from which eight services will be from Mumbai Terminal 2. This services commenced from April 26, flight numbers starting from G82000 to G82999 will depart and arrive at Terminal 2 of the Mumbai airport.
SpiceJet is looking at the possibility to induct up to 40 Jet Airways aircraft to expand significantly from Mumbai and Delhi. As SpiceJet is inducting more aircraft, they have announced some more new routes out of Mumbai Terminal 2. Here is the list of SpiceJet new flights that will operate from terminal 2.
17/05/19 ZeeBiz

IndiGo tension simmers

The fissures that have emerged between the two promoters of IndiGo — Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal — could see the carrier landing up at the National Company Law Tribunal if the board is not able to resolve the dispute even as the CEO of the budget carrier tried to lift the confidence of investors and flyers.

CEO Ronojoy Dutta’s assurances could not prevent the shares of IndiGo from going into a free fall. The stock dropped 8.82 per cent to close at Rs 1,466.60 on the BSE. During the day, it tanked 9.82 per cent to Rs 1,450.50. The company’s market valuation dropped Rs 5,455.89 crore to Rs 56,377.11 crore on the BSE.

Dutta in an email to his employees on Thursday said, “I want to assure you that the growth strategy of the airline remains unchanged and firmly in place, and the management is fully charged by the board to implement it.”

The IndiGo CEO referred to media reports in the communication. “I am sure that you are all aware of the press reports regarding alleged disagreements between our two promoters Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal,” he said.

InterGlobe Aviation owns and manages IndiGo Airlines, which has around a 47 per cent share in the domestic market.

According to media reports, serious differences have cropped up between the two chief promoters over the strategies . On a query from The Telegraph, IndiGo said the company would not make any statement on the subject.

Gangwal and Bhatia have different strategies for the expansion of the airline, reports suggest.

The closure of troubled Jet Airways, besides the financial woes at Air India, has left a gap that provides an opportunity for other airlines.
17/05/19 Telegraph

Will seriously consider any partnership proposal from Indian carriers: Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways, which has sought additional seat capacity on temporary basis for its flights from Indian cities to Doha, Thursday said it will "seriously" consider any proposal for partnership from Indian carriers. The blockade on Qatar & withdrawal of 28 weekly between Doha and cities of New Delhi and Mumbai has increased the pressure on available seat capacity in Qatar-India routes, the airline said.
Jet Airways shut down operations temporarily on April 17 after it ran out of cash.
"Qatar Airways is always open for partnership with other airlines, including Indian carriers. We will seriously consider any proposal for partnership from Indian carriers," the airline said in a statement.
The Gulf carrier has submitted a formal request to the Indian authorities for an additional capacity on a temporary operating permit basis to meet the air traffic demand in Qatar-India routes.
The airline asked the civil aviation ministry to favourably consider its request for additional seat capacity "to help evacuate the stranded Indian passengers in Doha".
Airfares have already significantly increased due to the unexpected unavailability of restricted capacity during this summer peak season, it added.
17/05/19 PTI/Economic Times

AP offers to pay AAI to close Vizag airport for Bhogapuram

Hyderabad: In a desperate move to shut down the Visakhapatnam International Airport by 2022 and make the Bhogapuram airport project viable, the Andhra Pradesh government is ready to compensate Airports Authority of India (AAI). But AAI officials say they see no reason to shut shop given that the airport’s passenger numbers have been rising for the past few years.
Although AAI had not responded to the compensation proposal, the Andhra Pradesh Airports Development Corporation Limited (APADCL) is pegging the compensation to around Rs 40 crore. “AAI has to share details of the capital expenditure incurred on expanding facilities at all airport with the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA). The AERA website states that AAI spent just over Rs 30 crore on the Visakhapatnam Airport since 2014-15,” says Virender Singh, managing director and CEO of APADCL.

APADCL officials are jittery as they have already spent Rs 800 crore of the Rs 24,020 crore meant for the Bhogapuram project. A better part of the funds have been invested on land acquisition.

“Rs 800 crore is no joke,” said a senior APADCL official on condition of anonymity. “We made the investment after getting a written assurance from AAI about shutting down Visakhapatnam airport for 30 years from day one of Bhogapuram airport becoming functional. We would wait for a while after the new government is formed. If the ministry of civil aviation or AAI don’t change their mind, we would move the Supreme Court. At any cost, we want to meet the 2022 deadline for the project.”
17/05/19 Times of India

Aurangabad awaits other airlines to fill the void created by Jet Airways

Aurangabad: After cancellation of Mumbai-Aurangabad Jet Airways flight and several unsuccessful attempts for the airline’s revival, city airport is eagerly awaiting advent of another private airlines on this route.
Currently, the Aurangabad airport has only two airlines catering to the passengers — Air India operating on the Delhi-Aurangabad-Mumbai route, while Trujet is operating on the Aurangabad-Hyderabad route.

The grounding of Mumbai-Aurangabad flight, operated by Jet Airways, has affected a daily average of 200-250 fliers. Director of Aurangabad airport DG Salve told TOI that with resignation of top management and lack of investors, revival of Jet Airways is highly unlikely.

The airport has approached other operators like Spicejet and Indigo airlines to take up the slot vacated by Jet Airways. “Spicejet has given an assurance that it will consider initiating flights from Aurangabad and Indigo has also given positive indications. However, both the airlines are running short of aircrafts which is why we will have to wait,” Salve said.
17/05/19 Times of India

Maharashtra govt offers Rs 1400 cr for iconic Air India building in Mumbai

Soon, Mumbai’s iconic Air India building may possibly be the new address for workplaces of the Maharashtra secretariat. In what is maybe the first occurrence of the state purchasing back land it had rented, the government has presented the national carrier Rs 1,400 crore to take over the property.
However the state’s offer is Rs 200 crore less than the reserve amount Air India had fixed, sources said the national carrier has decided to go forward with it as part of its strategy to monetise its real estate assets.
The Centre-run Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) as well as the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) had estimated Rs 1,375 crore and Rs 1,200 crore, individually, for the property.
Air India, which has been into controversy in the recent months had run into debt of Rs 50,000 crore and the first step they had put up is the sale of leasehold rights of the land and the building last December. Maharashtra had rent out the sea-facing property to the carrier in the year 1970 for 99 year’s occupancy.
For the period of the first round of bidding, only the LIC stand up to a quote, stimulating a second round. On the other hand the state government used its status as the land’s owner to appeal the “first right to refusal” situation before edging former JNPT. Only government bodies were allowed to take part in both rounds.
17/05/19 Naman Dhyani/Dekh News

Air India to crack down on sexual harassment

New Delhi: Air India chief, Ashwani Lohani, has instructed the airline’s leadership team to “come down heavily” on instances of sexual harassment in the company which were being reported “often.”

The order from the airline’s Chairman and Managing Director follows a complaint from a woman pilot about a senior pilot and instructor about an incident on May 5 in Hyderabad.

“It is shameful that sexual harassment cases are being often witnessed in Air India. We need to come down very very heavily on such offenders. Pass this message down the line especially in departments related to operations,” Mr. Lohani wrote in a WhatsApp message to the heads of various departments such as operations, finance and commercial.
The woman pilot had written in her complaint that the senior pilot had behaved inappropriately with her at a restaurant where the two met after work. Following the complaint the airline has de-rostered the pilot as well as removed him from training duty. It has constituted a three-member Internal Committee to look into the complaint and prepare a report within a month.
17/05/19 The Hindu

DRI unravels global racket in drones smuggling

Ahmedabad: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Ahmedabad has busted, what it claims to be, an international racket involving smugglers from Pakistan, China, Myanmar and India teaming up to import high-end drones into Indian heartland through the northeastern border of India.

The DRI stated in a release on Thursday that its officials rounded up the alleged Ahmedabad-based mastermind of the racket and he has admitted the offences.

The agency said the racket had been going on since 2017 and thousands of drones valued at over Rs 10 crore and involving duty evasion of around Rs 3 crore have been smuggled into India.

The DRI has been able to intercept and seize 85 high-end drones of DJI Mavic, DJI Phantom and MI brands. Besides, 27 DJI Mavic Air Fly More Kit and 34 DJI Ronin S hand-held gimbal stabilizer for DSLR and mirrorless camera, smuggled from China, having a market value of more than Rs 1 crore, were also seized from the tempo van that was carrying the smuggled goods from Air Cargo Complex, Ahmedabad and from the shop of the allegedly involved person in Paldi area of Ahmedabad.

According to DRI, Pakistani-based firms placed an order for drones with Chinese firms. The drones were supplied by Chinese firms to a warehouse in Dehong, Yunnan located in South China and is close to the eastern border of Myanmar. From Dehong, the Myanmar smugglers were tasked to get them across China-Myanmar border into Myanmar.
17/05/19 IANS/Outlook

Smuggler with gold biscuits worth Rs 75L held

Bengaluru: A passenger carrying gold biscuits worth Rs 75 lakh landed in the custody of the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI), Bengaluru unit, at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on Thursday.
Arif Hussain, 55, a resident of Adugodi, is a known offender involved in smuggling the yellow metal into Bengaluru from overseas. With strong links to smuggling rackets in the city and other states, he was on the radar of enforcement agencies for a while.
Officials received information on large quantities of gold being smuggled into Bengaluru via KIA from Bangkok on Thursday. “Our team was waiting at the arrival area. Arif Hussain landed at Bengaluru airport on Thursday on a Thai AirAsia flight and we detained him as he was exiting after immigration procedures,” said a DRI official.
The officials grilled Hussain, but he did not divulge any details. They then inspected his hand luggage and found three gold biscuits, including two weighing one kilogram each and another 250 grams. A total of 2.25kg of the foreign-made gold worth Rs 75 lakh in the Indian market was seized from the suspect, who was arrested by the DRI team and booked for smuggling.
17/05/19 Petlee Peter/Times of India

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Land for airport expansion to be acquired by end of year

Chennai: The Airports Authority of India's (AAI) plan to have runway lights, hangars near the second runway and a taxiway in the northern side of the main runway will soon become reality as the state government will complete acquiring approximately 100 acres of land by end of this year.
The airport authorities had asked the state government to acquire small parcels of land at Manapakkam, Kolapakam and Cowl Bazaar, which are close to the runways, to add more facilities to improve aircraft handling capacity of the airport.

The AAI had sought 92.62 acres on either side of the second runway near the Manapakkam end of the second runway to build a fuel farm and hangars for maintenance, repairs and overhaul (MRO) and 15.83 acres at the end of the second runway to install approach lights and 4.81 acres near the main runway near the Pallavaram end.

Sources said the land needed in these areas is empty and acquisition won’t affect residents.

“The acquisition process is almost over except for some court cases which will be settled soon. A favourable verdict is coming through and the first portion may be transferred after the government issues money for giving compensation. The entire land parcels can be handed over by end of the year," said an official.

The state government is expected to decide and pass an order to transfer the land after the election results are out and the model code of conduct ends.
16/05/19 Times of India

GVK gives Delhi HC proof it has money to buy out Bidvest's stake in MIAL

New Delhi: GVK Airport Holdings on Thursday told the Delhi High Court how it plans to buy South African company Bidvest Group's stake in Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL). Details of where the money will come from and how it will be given to Bidvest were submitted in a sealed cover to the court. Further proceedings in the case will be done in-chamber at GVK's request, the court said.

Bidvest had sought that the High Court direct GVK Airport Holdings to prove that it had Rs 1,300 crore to buy out its stake. The court is hearing a plea by GVK Airport Holdings seeking injunction against Bidvest selling its stake to a third party.

In February this year, the GVK arm had exercised its right of first refusal (ROFR) to buy out 13.5 per cent of the total paid-up share capital of MIAL.

GVK Airport Holdings’ stake would rise to 74 per cent--from the present 50.5 per cent--after it completes the acquisition of Bidvest's stake.

GVK will require Rs 2,171.4 crore to pay for 23.5 per cent stake as it was earlier agreed to it would acquire the shares from Bidvest as well as ACSA Global at Rs 77 apiece.
16/05/19 Aashish Aryan/Business Standard

Hundreds sign up for direct Mumbai-Birmingham flight in UK

London: An online petition by a mayoral authority in the UK calling for a direct flight between India's financial capital Mumbai with Britain's second largest city Birmingham has attracted hundreds of signatures within days.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) issued the petition titled "We need a direct flight to Mumbai from Birmingham" on Change.Org on Friday and was edging towards reaching its target of 1,000 signatures on Tuesday.

"Given the significant business (Jaguar Land Rover, JCB, Rolls Royce, Bharat Forge, Pattonair and Bombardier to name a few) links between the Midlands and India, and the strength of the diaspora, there is strong demand for a direct flight between Birmingham and Mumbai," said West Midlands Mayor Andy Street.

"There is a business case but there is also a personal case thousands of families will be able to reconnect more easily with a new route. The Midlands and India have a wonderful relationship, we need to strengthen it with a new route," he said.

Body of Indian man repatriated from Abu Dhabi to New Delhi

The body of the Indian man who died on Alitalia's New Delhi-Milan flight was flown out from Abu Dhabi International Airport due to timely intervention of Indian Embassy and local authorities. 

Kailash Chandra Saini, 52, from the Jhunjhunun district of Rajasthan, had died on the flight after suffering a heart attack on Monday. The flight made an emergency landing in Abu Dhabi airport. The body was taken to Mafraq Hospital and death certificate issued on Tuesday. 

Saini's 26-year-old son Heera Lal was supposed to fly out with the mortal remains of his father to New Delhi on Wednesday morning but things didn't go as per plan due to procedural delays.

Embassy counsellor M Rajamurugan said the 'necessary approvals' were attained from New Delhi airport by Wednesday afternoon.

"The embassy was reopened on Tuesday night to continue the local documentation procedures. Still there were some procedural issues. The embassy took up the matter with authorities in New Delhi. The body was flown out on by 9.45 pm Etihad Airways EY 218 flight. All local and Indian authorities and Etihad Airways have jointly worked together so the body can be repatriated back. We all have to unite in such cases and that's what has happened," Rajamurugan added.

According to social worker MM Nasar Kanhangad, Delhi airport doesn't accept death certificates which certify the cause of death as heart attack.
16/05/19 Ashwani Kumar/Khaleej Times

Kochi airport commissions second substation

Kochi: Further enhancing its solar-power banking facilities, the Cochin International Airport Limited (Cial) commissioned its second substation on Wednesday. A parallel 110 Kv electrical substation for exporting the power generated by its eight solar plants to the Kerala State Electricity Board’s grid was inaugurated by Cial managing director V J Kurian. The substation was constructed at a cost of Rs 16 crore.
Cial, which is the world’s first airport to be fully powered by solar energy, has been using only one substation so far to facilitate power banking arrangement with KSEB. This became insufficient as the company had recently augmented its solar power plant’s total installed capacity to 40 MW through the launch of the solar carport. With the commissioning of additional substation, Cial is now able to bank the power through two channels - one for the export of power and the other for the import from KSEB’s grid.
16/05/19 Times of India

Tit for tat: US suspends self-handling rights of Indian airlines

The US has ordered the suspension of self-handling rights of Indian carriers at American airports, retaliating under a bilateral air services agreement against denial of similar concession to US passenger airlines here, sources told FE.

Analysts say, for the time being, the US move is unlikely to hurt Air India, the only Indian carrier operating direct flights to key cities like Washington, New York and Chicago, as it has already outsourced its ground handling work to different agencies at American airports. However, if the problem persists, the US may choose to retaliate in some other way or raise red tape for the Indian carrier, they fear. As for the American airlines, while United is the only carrier to operate flights to India currently, Delta Air Lines has also announced plans to launch a flight from December.

For its part, India has asked the US to refrain from implementing the order. To diffuse the situation, New Delhi has proposed to allow self-handling by the US carriers but with a security oversight by Indian agencies and said costs of such oversight will be borne by the US side, according to the sources.

The US Department of Transportation has also ordered that Indian carriers report their ground handling arrangements at American airports, while a separate directive mandated Indian airlines to submit their operating schedules, according to the sources. The US is learnt to have conveyed to the Indian side that these orders will remain effective until a solution is found.
In his talks with US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross earlier this month, commerce, industry and civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu is understood to have flagged the issue.
17/05/19 Banikinkar Pattanayak and Arun Nayal/Financial Express

Singer Shreya Ghoshal blasts airline for not allowing her to carry musical instrument on flight

New Delhi: Singer Shreya Ghoshal took to social media to slam an airline for not allowing her to carry a musical instrument with her on the flight.

In a scathing message she wrote, "I guess @SingaporeAir does not want musicians or any body who has a precious instrument to fly with on this airline. Well. Thank you. Lesson learnt."

The airline apologised and wrote back, "Hi Shreya, we are sorry to hear this. May we seek more details of your concerns and what was last advised by our colleagues? Thank you."
As Shreya calls herself a 'recluse', this rather mild outburst on social media surprised her fans. In fact, one user pointed out that Shreya doesn't point out things on Twitter unless it's a matter of grave concern.

"Well, I didn't expect this from Singapore Airlines though. It is one of the best airlines. But yes Shreya doesn't tweet up things unless they are bad/worse," the user wrote.
16/05/19 India Today

Efforts to revive Jet Airways are futile. A hard assessment is needed to understand its debacle, pin accountability

It certainly seemed obvious that Jet Airways, like other airlines, had made the most of the vaunted Indian aviation boom. An April 2018 report shows that the sector experienced 42 months of double-digit revenue per kilometer (RPK) growth and the load factor on all airlines were in the 90 per cent range. All the parameters showed a robust and growing aviation environment. Equally important, all the other Indian airlines also had reflected growth and income consonant with these numbers.

Read Parvez Damania's analysis in full >>

West Bengal: Andal airport sees little business this election season

Durgapur: Business has been really dull for the Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport also known as Andal airport, India’s first greenfield private airport in this seven-phase election season.

During the 2016 assembly polls, however, Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport had registered business of Rs 1 crore and almost every day, choppers of VVIPS and chartered flights used to land at the airport.

Till the end of the six-phase polls in the state, only Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah have landed at the Andal airport. Mr Amit Shah landed thrice at Andal. PM Narendra Modi came once before the polls started and twice for campaigning in south Bengal and landed at Andal airport. He had come to address election meetings at Asansol, Purulia and Bankura. But the Prime Minister came in an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft from New Delhi and used helicopters of the IAF.

Andal airport is not entitled to get any fees for the PM’s flights and choppers landing and parking. The IAF which has a base at Panagarh also utilises the Andal Airport for defence purposes and no fees are charged.

Sources at Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport told The Statesman that the airport authorities received Rs 20,500 on each day for three days as parking fees for Amit Shah’s choppers. It also got Rs 40,000 each for three days as the landing fees for his double-engine fixed-wing small chartered flights of AR Airways. This means that the total business of Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls has been about Rs 1,80,000, according to sources.
16/05/19 Debajyoti Chakraborty/Statesman

From a professor to an aviation startup: Meet Jet Airways' newest bidders

After Etihad Airways decided they want to be a minority shareholder in the beleaguered Jet Airways and promised to invest only Rs 1,700 crore, banks are forced to look at other suitors to save the airline. They have started approaching unsolicited bidders that include a former air passenger service agent, a US-based professor, former head of a Bengaluru software company and member of an influential Indian political family.
See who the bidders are, who submitted their offers after the deadline of May 10 >>

Trouble erupts in IndiGo cockpit over flight path

Mumbai: Serious differences have cropped up between the two founders of IndiGoNSE 0.60 % that could end up affecting the airline’s functioning if left unresolved, people close to the development have told ET.

Among the issues are clauses in the shareholders’ agreement and differences between the two founders — Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal — over strategies and ambitions for the airline. ET couldn’t immediately ascertain the specific clauses in the shareholders’ agreement that are a bone of contention.

The promoters refused to comment on the development.

ET Now, ET’s business channel, was the first to break the story on Wednesday evening.
Both founders are, however, trying to iron out the differences so that the functioning of the airline isn’t impacted. “The dispute may have escalated in the last few weeks, but things are at a very nascent stage with regard to any formal legal dispute and both parties are weighing other options as well,” said one of the persons.
Legal firms Khaitan & Co and J Sagar Associates are helping the founders resolve the problems. “The promoters, Gangwal and Bhatia, are old clients of Khaitan & Co and J Sagar Associates, respectively, and hence the leadership teams from both the firms are actively overseeing the entire situation,” the same person said.
16/05/19 Anirban Chowdhury/Maulik Vyas/Satish John/Economic Times

GoAir Offers Domestic Flight Tickets From 2,765 Rupees

GoAir is offering domestic and international flight tickets at a starting all-inclusive price of Rs. 2,765 and Rs. 7,000 respectively. Customers can book tickets till May 23, 2019 under the limited-period sale, according to the private carrier's website, The cheapest flight ticket under the scheme is offered by the airline on the Guwahati-Hyderabad route via Kolkata, starting from Rs. 2,765 under the sale, according to the GoAir website. The announcement from GoAir comes at a time when full-service carrier Jet Airways has suspended its operations temporarily, leading to additional demand for flights in the country's civil aviation market.
In a separate scheme, GoAir is offering domestic flight tickets at a starting price of Rs. 1,375. Bookings under the sale can be made till May 16.
16/05/19 NDTV

SpiceJet gives family tickets on grounded flight

Bengaluru: A nightmare unfolded for a city-based entrepreneur who had been with his family to Andaman and Nicobar Islands to celebrate the 35th wedding anniversary of his parents. The reason: SpiceJet provided them tickets from Port Blair to Bengaluru on a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, a flight that was grounded a month ago.
Rahul Neelkanth, Managing Director of Peregrine Phosphate (P) Ltd, plans to approach the consumer court seeking justice for the trauma his family underwent on May 11 with their two infants in tow at Vir Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair.
The DGCA had grounded all Boeing Max 737 aircraft in India from March 13. Neelkanth’s family were issued the tickets on April 15. Though SpiceJet helped the family return to Bengaluru by booking them on a flight to Kolkata and then to KIA, Neelkanth is still upset. Instead of reaching Bengaluru in 2.5 hours from Port Blair, the family reached after 12 hours, he said.
“My two-month-old daughter Aria and my relative’s 2-year-old son Rahul were crying. We all had a miserable experience,” he told The New Indian Express. “When an airline has stopped the operation of a flight, how can they accept bookings? SpiceJet staff in Port Blair were rude and I had to argue my case for an hour before they made alternate arrangements,” he added.
The airlines had sent an e-mail to Neelkanth and other passengers that the aircraft was not operational. He missed the mail as it had landed in his spam folder. “As per DGCA rules, passengers need to be informed at least two weeks in advance about a cancelled flight,” he said.
When contacted, a statement from SpiceJet confirmed it had booked the tickets on a non-existent route. “The airline was hopeful that with the induction of new planes and a likely resumption in MAX services, it would be able to resume operations on the route by May 1 and hence restarted bookings on the sector,” it said. However, the continued grounding of MAX 737s and a delay in induction of new planes hit SG 759 operations, SpiceJet said.
Passengers were intimated via SMS and e-mail about the cancellations on April 29 and sent a reminder on May 5, the statement added.
16/05/19 S Lalitha/New Indian Express

SpiceJet to start daily Mumbai-Jeddah flight from July 5

SpiceJet announced Thursday that it will start a daily non-stop flight on Mumbai-Jeddah sector from July 5. The airline said it will also start six new domestic flights from May 20 on the following sectors: Mumbai-Dehradun-Mumabi, Mumbai-Guwahati-Mumbai and Guwahati-Bagdogra-Guwahati.
"Mumbai is the third destination after Hyderabad and Kozhikode which is being connected by SpiceJet with the pilgrim city of Jeddah," SpiceJet said in a statement.
The airline added that tickets are available at a special fare of Rs 12,399 (all-inclusive) for Mumbai-Jeddah trip and Rs 15,399 (all inclusive) for Jeddah-Mumbai trip.
From May 20, SpiceJet would be starting second frequency flights on Mumbai-Dehradun-Mumbai sector and Mumbai-Guwahati-Mumbai sector.
16/05/19 PTI/Economic Times

Report of 'rift' between IndiGo promoters; airline calls it speculation

New Delhi/Mumbai: Even as a report on Wednesday claimed an alleged rift between budget passenger carrier IndiGo's promoters -- Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal -- the airline denied any such developments calling it mere speculation.
According to a business television report, differences have surfaced between Bhatia and Gangwal over managerial control of the firm. The report quoted sources as saying that the two partners have approached different law firms.
The differences are reportedly over Rahul Bhatia feeling that Gangwal trying to gain control of the airline by bringing his own team. The Indian Expres newspaper, quoting sources, said the tension between the two promoters began simmering when the airline's former CEO Aditya Ghosh left in the airline in April 2018 and the consequent appointment of expatriates in management positions."A chunk of the expatriate executives at IndiGo, the source said, were handpicked by Gangwal from his former employer — United Airlines," the Indian Express report said.

Differences also cropped with Gangwal supporting growth at breakneck speed and on occasion, Bhatia, opting for a more cautious approach. The two founders are, however, trying to iron out the differences so that the functioning of the airline isn’t impacted.
According to The Economic Times report, the founders believe IndiGo is at an inflection point with both Jet Airways and Air India floundering. The two believe IndiGo can occupy the vacant slots left behind by the two legacy carriers but differ on how to grab this opportunity. While Bhatia reportedly is keen on wide-bodied aircraft to pursue its international dream, Gangwal believes in single aircraft model and code sharing agreements rather than servicing long-haul destinations itself.
The reports of promoter rift at IndiGo comes days after the debacle in Jet Airways, where the partnership between Naresh Goyal and the airline's stakeholder Eithad fell through.
16/05/19 Business Standard

DGCA de-registers 83 Jet Airways' aircraft including 2 B777s, 6 A330s

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has de-registered 83 aircraft of Jet Airways so far including six Airbus A330s and two Boeing B777s.

Latest data shows DGCA has de-registered 67 aircraft of Boeing 737 family including the MAX type, eight ATRs, two B777 and six A330s. The regulator is also considering requests for de-registeration of 11 more aircraft.

Three Boeing 737s, six ATRs and two Boeing B777s are currently under the radar of the regulator.

Bank of Scotland PLC is the mortgagee of these two B777s and JIHB DAC from Ireland is the owner.

The airline, which had a total fleet size of around 119 planes until a few months ago, owned 16 planes including 10 Boeing 777s. The wide-bodied Boeing 777 planes, along with slots and international traffic rights, formed a key asset for the grounded airline while it looks out for an investor.

In fact, even the debt resolution program prepared by the lenders, accounted for refinancing of aircraft loans and additional secured facilities worth  Rs 2,400 crore for 10 Boeing 777s and sale and leaseback of at least three Airbus A330 planes of the cash-strapped airline.
16/05/19 Anu Sharma/CNBC TV18

Big-bucks bid for Jet Airways

Mumbai: The top management of Darwin Group, which was one of the unsolicited bidders for Jet Airways, on Wednesday met officials of SBI Caps to discuss its proposal.

The group has offered a Rs 14,000-crore deal to the lenders for acquiring the grounded airline, its CEO Rahul Ganpule said.

Darwin Platform Group of Companies claims it has investments across various sectors, including oil and gas, hospitality and realty, among others.  Ganpule said the company had submitted its bid on May 8.
“They (SBI Caps) had called us. We wanted to understand the liability and assets of Jet Airways,” he told reporters after the meeting.

The consortium of SBI-led seven lenders has offered to sell up to 75 per cent in the airline, which stopped flying around the middle of last month. The ailing carrier owes over Rs 8,000 crore to the lenders.

SBI Caps had early last month invited expressions of interest between April 8 and 12 on behalf of the lenders to sell their stake in the carrier.

It received one solicited bid from the airline’s investment partner Etihad Airways, besides two unsolicited on May 10, which was the last date of submission of financial bids.

The bids were examined by the lenders on May 13 and they found Etihad’s bid conditional.

Ganpule said though the group had done due diligence before submitting the financial bid, it wanted some more financial details that were not publicly available.
16/05/19 Telegraph

Hinduja group keen on Jet Airways takeover; seeks Naresh Goyal's consent

Mumbai: The Hinduja group would be keen to take over Jet Airways, provided lenders agree to take a substantial haircut on their dues and founder Naresh Goyal gives his consent to the takeover. A top official of the group said it sees value in the airline, which is going through a crisis.

“We may look at the airline provided banks agree to take a haircut on debt. The high debt is unsustainable,” said a source close to the development. Jet Airways owes Rs 9,000 crore to banks and has defaulted to banks, suppliers and employees. Its operations have shut down due to lack of funds.

If both banks and Goyal agree, the group will start talks with Etihad, which had made a bid for the airline last week. Goyal owned 51 per cent stake in the airline of which 41 per cent stake is pledged with the lenders. “Goyal has run the airline like his own baby and we do not want to take any action unless he agrees,” the source said.

“Traffic from India is growing substantially and we think, in association with Etihad, we can turn around the airline,” the official said, adding that the group was contacted three days ago for a joint venture.

The airline industry in India has already witnessed similar meltdowns with SpiceJet making a spectacular turnaround after a similar situation. “The airline would need a professional management like other Hinduja group companies where the family members do not interfere in the day-to-day operations of any company,” said the source. Traffic from India is growing and there is a need for an another airline to meet the demand, he added.
16/05/19 Dev Chatterjee/Business Standard

Jet Airways lenders and Etihad keen to issue boarding pass to Hindujas

Mumbai: Lenders to Jet Airways and its second-largest shareholder Etihad Airways have approached the Hinduja Group offering a stake in the grounded airline, said people close to the development, adding that exploratory talks are on.
The Hinduja Group has so far not given a clear commitment about investing in Jet, but began showing interest after Etihad representatives approached SP Hinduja, the elder brother, who heads the group. The senior Hinduja, in turn, put Etihad in touch with Ashok Hinduja, the younger brother, who leads the India business.
“The Hinduja Group is non-committal (on Jet), but will keep its options open,” a senior executive told ET. He said the group will meet Etihad executives and Jet’s lenders in the coming days, but added that no date has been fixed yet.
The person, however, clarified that no formal meeting or dialogue has taken place yet.
The group globally runs 10 businesses in sectors such as automotive, oil & speciality chemicals, media, IT, power, healthcare and real estate. It owns Ashok Leyland, India’s second-largest truck maker by sales.
16/05/19 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

China moves world’s largest UAVs, Bombers near India’s border

New Delhi: China is strengthening its offensive capabilities in areas which are close to India. The Chinese forces have deployed the deadly Diving Eagle Jet UAVs and H-6K bombers at its two airbases. According to the latest report accessed by Zee News, China’s People Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is operating the Divine Eagle Jet UAVs from Malan airbase and H-6K bombers from the Hoping airbase.
Divine Eagle UAVs are known to be the world largest unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The length of the Diving Eagle Jet UAV is about 15 metres and its wings size is about 35-45 metres. China claims that these UAVs can also detect stealth fighters like the F-22 and F-35 of the USA.
On the other hand, the deadly H-6 bomber of China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is a variant of the Tupolev TU-16 twin-engine medium-range bomber of the erstwhile Soviet Union. The latest version is the H-6K, which has been designed for long-range attacks and is a strategic bomber. Some reports say it is capable of even attacking the US carrier battle groups having the nuclear-strike capability.
16/05/19 Northlines

IndiGo in no hurry to fill Jet Airways' space in European market

India's largest air carrier IndiGo may not be in a tearing hurry to expand its international footprint to Europe and fill the gap created by the suspension of Jet Airways' operations.

Despite reports that the low-cost airline is looking at 'cut-price business class seats' for the European market, a senior official at IndiGo cautioned that flights to London 'remains an aspiration'.

Though the airline had received slots in London's Gatwick airport and despite reports that flights to the UK capital could begin from March, IndiGo has reviewed its plans.
"We don't want to hurry and go aggressive internationally. Look at Jet Airways, it paid the price," a senior official told Moneycontrol.

The executive recalled how Jet Airways had inducted 24 medium and long haul aircraft within two years, but was unable to deploy them profitably. "These included Airbus 330 and Boeing 777 aircraft. These were deployed in routes that were not profitable, and some of these were later stopped," the official said.

Jet Airways, which suspended its operations on April 17, used to have a Mumbai-Shanghai-San Francisco flight. But that ran for less than a year and was stopped in January 2009. Though there were plans to resume the services in 2016, it didn't fructify.
16/05/19 Prince Mathews Thomas/

First UDAN flight takes off from Pune

Pune: The first flight under the Union government's regional connectivity scheme (RCS), popularly known an UDAN, took off from the city airport on Wednesday.

The Alliance Air flight will operate six days a week, except on Tuesdays, and connect Pune to Belagavi and Bengaluru, airport officials said. Alliance Air is a subsidiary of national carrier Air India.

Since the launch of RCS in 2017, the Pune airport has got five flights. While Air Deccan's flight from Pune to Nashik got suspended, none of the other flights, except for the above, has started.

"This can be considered the first UDAN flight from Pune, because the Air Deccan's route Pune-Nashik route is suspended," an airport official said.

Suhas Jadhav, the station manager of Air India in Pune, said the first flight had 50 passengers on board. "Of the total load factor of 69, the flight was almost full with 50 passengers. We expect the flight to be popular considering the capped fare," he said.
16/05/19 Times of India

Kerala gold smuggling: DRI arrests one more woman

Thiruvananthapuram: Directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) officials arrested another woman in the Rs 8.5 crore gold smuggling case at Trivandrum International Airport.

Vineetha Kumari, wife of advocate Bjiu Manohar, who was suspected to be part of the gang involved in gold smuggling, was arrested on Wednesday and remanded in judicial custody.

DRI officials are investigating the role of Vineetha, who is suspected to have smuggled gold from Middle East to the state earlier. She had made frequent trips to and from Middle East and the DRI suspects that those trips had been for smuggling.

Sunil Kumar M, a resident of Thirumala and Sareena, a resident of Kazhakootam, were arrested in an attempt to smuggle 25kg gold, when they arrived in Oman Air flight from Muscat on Monday. DRI officials are also investigating into the previous cases of gold smuggling by Sunil and Sareena.
16/05/19 Times of India

Customs seizes 3kg gold worth 1 crore at Chennai airport, nine held

Chennai: Customs officials at Chennai international airport on Tuesday intercepted a group of nine people and seized 3kg of gold worth 1 crore from them.
The nine landed from Colombo on a SpiceJet flight. They had concealed the gold inside their rectums. Officials identified ring leaders - Mohammad Gani, 38, and Karpagam,45.
Gani, a trader in textiles, was intercepted on his way out of the airport. On questioning, he confessed that he had concealed gold weighing 535g in his rectum. One gold ring of 25g was also recovered from him. Apart from Gani, Abbas, 41, of Perambalur, Maideen, 51, of SP Pattinam and Mohamed Rafeek, 37, of Trichy, were nabbed.
Besides gold concealed in their rectums, one gold chain of 9g was also recovered from Abbas. Besides Karpagam, four women passengers arrested were Shameem Begum, 45, Nagoor Amma, 40, both of Trichy, Srimathi, 41, of Pappanad, and Parameshwari, 55, of Vathalagundu, Madurai.
Besides gold hidden inside their rectums, 5 gold rings weighing 25g each were also recovered from them.
16/05/19 Times of India