Thursday, November 26, 2020

Hyderabad-Chicago Air India flight 1st direct trip from south

New Delhi: Air India will start a direct flight between Hyderabad and Chicago from January 9, 2021, making this the first scheduled service between south India and the US. The Bengaluru Airport on Wednesday announced AI will start a twice-weekly nonstop between Bengaluru and San Francisco (SFO) from January 11, 2021. United is scheduled to start direct flight o this route from May 6, 2021. And next winter, American Airlines plans to connect Bengaluru to Seattle.

A senior AI official said: "We plan to launch Hyderabad-Chicago as a twice weekly from January 9. The date for Bengaluru-SFO is yet to be finalised. We are awaiting US Transportation Security Administration clearance for both these routes."

At 14,003 km, the Bengaluru-SFO nonstop will be the longest route to be operated by AI and any US carrier. "This route, at this point in time, will be third in the ranking for longest routes operated by all carriers," a United spokesperson had said recently.

26/11/20 Times of India

Pilots, cabin crew exempted from test rule

Mumbai: Airline pilots and cabin crew have been exempted from the RT-PCR tests made mandatory for domestic passengers arriving from certain Covid hotspots in the country into Maharashtra from Wednesday onwards.

In an order issued on Wednesday, chief secretary Sanjay Kumar said that the state government received a request from Air India stating that the airline operates a large number of Vande Bharat flights and multiple cargo flights in and out of Maharashtra on a regular basis. “This involves a large number of light and cockpit crew to travel into Maharashtra from various states to either operate or to be positioned for flight duties on a daily basis,” stated the order.

Under the latest guidelines issued by the state government, Covid RT-PCR test has been made compulsory for all people arriving into Maharashtra from Covid hotspots of Delhi NCR, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa. This would lead to delays of scheduling of flights, the airline pleaded.

The state government then decided to exempt all cockpit crew and cabin crew carrying valid identity cards from RT-PCR tests at all airports in Maharashtra “subject to following all necessary Covid-related protocols” by the airlines concerned, said the order.

26/11/20 Times of India

Interesting: SpiceJet Plans Boeing 737 USA Flights

Indian airline SpiceJet has filed an application with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for permission to operate flights to the USA. Specifically, the airline wants to fly PPE and repatriation passenger flights between Delhi and New York JFK. Most interestingly, the airline wants to operate these flights using Boeing 737 aircraft.

The Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet has had its eye on flying to the US for some time. Back in July, the airline was granted permission by Indian authorities to become a scheduled carrier operating between India and the US. At the time, it was thought that the airline would be wet leasing an Airbus A330 to make the trip, rumored to be an Oman Air widebody that it had been using for London flights.

However, a filing with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) dated yesterday indicates that the airline has applied for permission to operate these flights with something not so well suited to such a long trip – its Boeing 737s.

Specifically, Spicejet wants to fly to New York’s JFK Airport from Delhi using its 737-700, 737-800 cargo planes, and 737-800 passenger aircraft. The filing relates to one -700 and five -800s, as registered below:

In its application, the airline says that it wishes to operate both cargo and passenger flights to New York. Passenger flights would be under Vande Bharat – repatriation flights only – given that India’s international travel ban has now been extended to the end of the year. Cargo flights would be specifically for the purposes of transporting COVID-related PPE.

SpiceJet is pressing for a rapid response from the DOT on its application. The filing states that,

With a range of some 5,700 km, the 737-800 is incapable of operating direct to the US from India. Even the one -700 on the application, with its slightly greater range of 6,300 km, could not make the hop in one go. As SPD_Travels on Twitter said, this will make for a classic ‘milk run’ flight of some sort.

So what would the routing likely look like? Well, we can imagine at least three stops along the way, possibly fewer when traveling empty.

From Delhi, the aircraft would need to make a stop in the Middle East or Turkey. Given the high costs involved with using an airport in the Middle East, we’d put our money on Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International (SAW).

From Istanbul, the airline would likely make a stop somewhere in Europe. Shannon (SNN) is a good pick, with plenty of capacity and about as far west as you can go without leaving the continent.

From Shannon, SpiceJet could probably make the trip to JFK if the plane was lightly loaded or empty. However, we’d bank on it making one more stop on the route. Iceland is a likely candidate (KEF), or perhaps it would aim to cross the Atlantic in one go, stopping in Newfoundland (possibly Gander?) on the way.

However, a note in the filing may mean SpiceJet isn’t really planning to operate the 737s at all. A brief sentence reads,

“Subject to appropriate authorizations, it may start operations of charter flights through a wet lease arrangement at the outset and then transition to its own fleet thereafter.”

This may suggest that, although it’s stuck 737s on the form (because that’s what it has in its fleet right now), in reality, it will go ahead with a wet-leased widebody instead. There are indications that either the Oman Air A330 or a Hi Fly A330neo have been discussed at the airline, so perhaps this crazy 737 flight will never actually happen.

26/11/20 Joanna Bailey/Simple Flying

Flights cancelled, but airlines charge Rs 500 to issue refunds

Chennai: Airlines are charging Rs500 if passengers want a refund of tickets on domestic flights cancelled because of adverse weather at Chennai airport. They give two options -- to change the ticket to another date for free or cancel and get a refund.

However, those who opted for refund were surprised to learn that a cancellation charge is being deducted. And those who tried to change their travel date for free are not able to get a convenient date allotted.

V Darshan, who wanted to cancel his ticket from Chennai to Mangalore after IndiGo airlines cancelled the flight, was told that they will deduct Rs500 before refund. “I wanted to change my travel date but then they told me that I should fly out within two days. It’s unfair to have such conditions. I cannot travel in two days.”

GoAir too is deducting money before giving refunds for flights cancelled because of the cyclone. A passenger commented on social media, “When asked for refund, you are deducting cancellation charge. Pl give full refund.”

Passengers are facing many inconveniences regarding tickets after the flights were suspended on Wednesday. A passenger said date selection has been disabled for alternate flights on SpiceJet. IndiGo has given a passenger four options for the same day as flights are full for the subsequent days. To queries, IndiGo said alternative flights are shown depending on the availability.

Airline executives are telling passengers to approach customer care. However, there are complaints that it takes time to get a response from the call centre.

26/11/20 Times of India

IATA urges Centre to support Indian airlines to tide over COVID crisis

The central government should change its position and support the Indian airlines and other aviation stakeholders in the face of COVID-19 crisis, a top official of global airlines body IATA said on Wednesday. The Indian carriers have laid off employees, cut salaries and posted significant losses during the last few quarters as coronavirus-induced travel restrictions have drastically impacted the aviation sector. “The Indian government has not engaged in support for airlines and we do urge them to change that position and to assist the airlines and airports and other aviation stakeholders, IATA Regional Vice President for Asia Pacific region, Conrad Clifford said.

This is something that we continue to encourage and urge the Indian government to do, he said at a virtual press conference. The Indian airlines have sought an interest-free credit line of at least USD 1.5 billion for the coronavirus-impacted aviation sector, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had told the Rajya Sabha on September 16.

The airlines have sought relief from the government by asking that banks and financial institutions may be directed by the Centre to defer repayments of loans to the aviation industry by six months, the minister had noted.

Clifford said given the increase in domestic activity in India, he hopes that the Indian carriers would get back to a cash positive situation, possibly more quickly than the carriers that do not have a strong domestic market. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) represents around 290 airlines across the world comprising 82 per cent of the global air traffic. “The progressive raising of the limitation by the Indian authorities is actually being matched by demand… and I do expect that trend to continue so it is very welcome to be raising the restriction, which the authorities have been doing progressively,” Clifford said.

Since May, the country has gradually raised the limit on the number of domestic flights that the Indian carriers can operate. India had resumed scheduled domestic passenger services from May 25, after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. However, the airlines were allowed to operate not more than 33 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights. On June 26, this was increased to 45 per cent, and on September 2, it was further increased to 60 per cent. This cap was extended to 70 per cent on November 11.

25/11/20 PTI/Financial Express

Attention fliers! Check DGCA’s order on commercial international flights

The aviation regulation DGCA on Thursday issued a fresh circular saying that all commercial flight operations to and from India will remain suspended until the further order. According to news agency ANI, the Director General of Civil Aviation said that the order will remain in force till December 31st. This means that no commercial flight will be allowed to land or take off from India. However, there is a caveat in the new DGCA order. Global cargo flights and those with special approval from the DGCA will be allowed to operate, the circular said. On a case-specific basis, specially scheduled flights on the international routes may be allowed, the order added. Such flights would need a nod from the officials concerned.

The Thursday order is an extension of the DGCA’s October order that had put the ban on the commercial flight operations in India. Since March 23, normal aviation activities remain suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. So far, the Narendra Modi government has been running special flights under the Vande Bharat Mission to bring back those stranded abroad due to lockdowns in other parts of the world. From May on, flights under the Vande Bharat Mission have brought back scores of students, traders and others. The Vande Bharat flights are being operated under specific ‘air bubble’ pacts between India and other nations. Only selected nations have such ‘air bubble’ agreements with India.

Due to the stringent Covid-19 restrictions, India has signed special arrangements with selected countries such as Kenya, France, the UK and the US for the flight operations. In total, there are 18 countries with which India has signed the ‘air bubble’ pacts. While the international flight operations remained suspended, the domestic sector has witnessed a steady rise in the number of fliers. As part of the ‘Unlock’ strategy, the Modi government had allowed the resumption of domestic flights from May 25. It was after the stringent 2-month lockdown that the domestic flights had resumed operations. Internationally, the aviation sector is the worst-hit due to coronavirus pandemic. While major players have tried to bring back the fliers with the assurance of safety and regular sanitisation, the ground reality is lesser number of taking flights. The main reason is the increased risk of contracting coronavirus during the flights.

26/11/20 Financial Express

Surat-Sharjah flight to remain suspended till March 27

Surat: The wait for the high-flying Surtis to fly directly to Sharjah is getting longer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Air India Express on Wednesday announced that the international flight services between Surat and Sharjah will remain suspended till March 27, 2021. However, the operations will resume once the coronavirus situation in the country gets under control.

Official sources at the Surat airport said that the authorities sent an official communication on Wednesday stating that the flight operations has been suspended till March.

The announcement regarding the normal operations will be made in the fourth week of March.

The flight was cancelled after the first lockdown was announced in the country to contain the spread of Covid-19 in March.

According to the figures available from the Airports Authority of India (AAI), about 4,000 passengers would travel to and from Sharjah to Surat per month.

The lone international flight between Surat and Sharjah commenced operations in February, 2019. In December, 2019, the number of passengers has gone up to about 5,500 per month.

26/11/20 Times of India

SpiceJet launches cargo flights from Delhi to Leh, to carry vegetables, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment during winter

New Delhi: SpiceJet has launched dedicated cargo flights from Delhi to Leh to ensure a timely and seamless supply of essentials during winters. The maiden flight has carried 13 tonnes of cargo from Delhi to Leh today. SpiceJet’s first freighter flight SG 7370 departed from Delhi at 9:05 am and reached Leh at 10:40 am. The airline’s first scheduled cargo flight from Leh departed at 11:25 am and was flagged off by a Member of Parliament from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal.

SpiceXpress, the dedicated cargo arm of SpiceJet, will deploy its Boeing 737 freighter on this route. With the launch of the cargo services, SpiceJet is the first and only airline to have dedicated freighter flights connecting Leh. The dedicated cargo flights will help transport fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, perishables, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and other general cargo. Besides improving logistics and connectivity, the new freighter service will ensure transportation of these essential commodities remains unaffected due to dipping temperatures and adverse weather conditions during these winter months.

On November 28, SG-7370 will depart from Delhi at 9.35 am and will reach Leh at 11.10 am. SG-7371 will depart from Leh at 11.55 am and will reach Delhi at 1.20 pm. On November 30, SG-7370 will depart from Delhi at 9.05 am and will reach Leh at 10.40 am. SG-7371 will depart from Leh at 11.25 am and will reach Delhi at 12.50 pm, SpiceJet said in a statement.

The new flights launched are seasonal and will operate during the winter months when surface transportation is disrupted owing to harsh weather conditions. Leh, the largest town of the Union Territory of Ladakh, is primarily dominated by a mountainous landscape which makes surface transport even more difficult during the winters when the terrain is mostly covered with snow most of the time.

26/11/20 Debjit Sinha/Financial Express

Plea in HC against Centre's decision to allow flower imports only through Chennai airport

New Delhi: A plea has been moved in the Delhi High Court challenging a central government notification which prevents import of fresh flowers from all airports in the country except Chennai.

The petition by an association representing traders of fresh fruits, flowers and vegetables has challenged that the July 9 notification issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) permitting import of flowers from Chennai airport only.

The association has contended that the decision is arbitrary.

The matter was listed before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan on Thursday.

However, as the bench did not sit, the matter has been adjourned to December 18.

26/11/20 PTI/Outlook

New export cargo terminal will open at Bengaluru airport in January

Bengaluru: An export cargo terminal, supposed to be the first in the country, will be unveiled at Kempegowda International Airport cargo complex in January 2021 alongside an all-new digital platform for cargo operations, thus eliminating paperwork completely.

Satyaki Raghunath, chief strategy and development officer, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), announced the dedicated cargo terminal to facilitate operations of key players, including DHL and FedEx, inside Bengaluru airport cargo complex.

26/11/20 Times of India

Uttarakhand Wildlife Board de-notifies Shivalik Elephant Reserve for expansion of Dehradun airport

Dehradun: In the face of opposition from activists and environmentalists, the Uttarakhand State Wildlife Board on Tuesday decided to denotify the Shivalik Elephant Reserve. The decision was taken during the 16th meeting of the board chaired by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat to make way for the expansion of Dehradun's Jolly Grant airport.

In addition, the Uttarakhand State Wildlife Board also gave its approval to four new trek routes in Nelang Valley in the Gangotri National Park in a bid to boost tourism in the state. The newly approved trek routes include Dumku-Chorgad (18km), Jaspur-Brahmikhal (14km), Jhala-Avan meadow (10km) and Nadung-Janaktal (10km).

Chief Wildlife Warden JS Suhag told news agency PTI that the withdrawal of the 2002 notification on Shivalik Elephant Reserve will allow authorities to initiate development activities in an area spread across 5,405 sq km falling under a dozen forest divisions across the state of Uttarakhand. This will include the expansion of the Dehradun airport, he added.

"The notification on Shivalik Elephant Reserve had no legal sanction as it was just a government order which did not have the Cabinet's approval," JS Suhag went on to add.

Referring to the newly approved trek routes, the Chief Wildlife Warden said that the limit of five vehicles and 30 people per day has now been increased to 20 vehicles and 100 people per day.

26/11/20 India Today

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Air India to start Hyderabad-Chicago and Bengaluru-San Francisco nonstops in the New Year

New Delhi: Air India will start a direct flight between Hyderabad and Chicago from January 9, 2021, making this the first scheduled service between south India and the US. The Bengaluru airport on Wednesday announced AI will start a twice-weekly nonstop between Bengaluru and San Francisco (SFO) from January 11, 2021.

United is scheduled to start direct flight to this route from May 6, 2021. And next winter, Amrican Airlines plans to connect Bengaluru to Seattle.

A senior AI official said, "We plan to launch Hyderabad-Chicago as a twice weekly from January 9. The date for Bengaluru-SFO is yet to be finalised. We are awaiting US transportation security administration (TSA) clearance for both these routes."

The privatisation process for AI is on and aviation minister HS Puri has often said that failure to find a buyer could mean curtains for the Maharaja. As of now, the deadline for bidding for AI ends next month unless the same is extended again.

While AI future depends on it getting a buyer, south India will see direct connectivity to the US. Due to Covid, people will want to travel nonstop between India and North America and not one-stop via hubs in the Europe, Gulf and southeast Asia. So India-North America, especially US, is a huge market for airlines flying direct.

If AI gets a buyer and the new owner decides to continue the routes, then Hyderabad-Chicago and Bengaluru-SFO routes, could continue if not more by the privatised Maharaja. Then United and American Airlines have planned their own launches. Vistara is also looking at starting direct flights on India-US routes.

Currently while scheduled international flights to and from India remain suspended, these flights are being operated under an air bubble between India and the US.

At 8,701 miles (about 14,003 km), the Bengaluru-SFO nonstop will be the longest route to be operated by AI and any US carrier. 

25/11/20 Saurabh SInha/Times of India

Airlines, hotels brace for losses as travel restrictions kick in today

Nagpur: The curbs on travellers to the state from Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Goa are expected to be another setback for airlines and hospitality industry, which were yet to emerge from the losses due to Covid. Railways, which continue to run limited trains, are yet to gauge the impact. For Wednesday, only three tickets for Nagpur to Delhi were cancelled, but figures for incoming passengers from these states were not available readily.

If a passenger from Nagpur travels to any of the four states, there will be no curb on exit, but the same person on coming back to the city by any of the modes will be subject to tests or screening. The frequency of buses from these states to Nagpur and nearby is already low, said sources in road transport business

Sources in a couple of private airlines said they are bracing for reduction in passenger load from the sectors in coming days, which may lead to cancellation or rescheduling of flights.

Nagpur has direct air connectivity to Ahmedabad, Goa, and Delhi in these states.

“Majority of the airlines are still operating at half their capacity, and the improvement has only been marginal during the festive season. There has been hardly any vacation travel since reopening of airports,” said a senior official in a private airline requesting anonymity. ”Such sudden decisions by states have even earlier impacted passenger traffic on some sectors,” the source said.

A single aircraft does not fly to two destinations alone. If there is less than viable load at one of the stations then cancellations affect the entire route covering multiple stations, the source said. Airlines have also seen permanent and temporary layoffs following Covid losses.

Some labs have offered to do RT-PCRs test for Rs1,400 per passenger at the airport. As per GR, home visit charges are Rs1,600 for RT-PCR sample collection. NMC has asked labs to charges as per GR only.

Even as the state government has made Covid-19 tests mandatory for railway and bus passengers arriving from Goa, Gujarat, Delhi, and Rajasthan, no panic buttons have been pressed. Railway sources said on Tuesday only three passengers had cancelled tickets to Delhi.

25/11/20 Shishir Arya/Times of India

Will Airline Companies make Vaccination Compulsory for International Travel?

Many airlines companies across the globe, banking on the news that immunisation against COVID-19 virus will become a reality soon, are considering if vaccination for international passengers can be made compulsory.

One of the worst pandemic-hit sectors, the airlines industry, is still bound by various restrictions, especially regarding international travel. But the companies are also looking towards ways to boost business from the coming year.

Australia’s leading airlines, Qantas, is one of the first airlines, which is thinking of making vaccination compulsory for passengers travelling on international flights, once the vaccine is widely available, reported the country’s media recently.

According to latest reports, the head of International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, urged governments to relax quarantine rules and borders bans in favour of testing but remained wary of the compulsory vaccination plan for international passengers. He was speaking at IATA’s annual general meeting in Geneva.

Air New Zealand and Korean Air, according to media reports, appear partial to the idea of immunisation shots for international travellers but have said that relaxation of pandemic containment rules have to be determined by the governments.

25/11/20 Outlook

India Inducts US Predator Drones On Lease, Can Be Flown In Ladakh: Report

New Delhi: In a sign of growing closeness between India and the United States amid conflict with China, the Indian Navy has inducted two Predator drones from an American firm on lease for carrying out surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region and which can also be deployed along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh.

The American-origin drones have been inducted by the Navy under the emergency procurement powers granted by the Defence Ministry in view of the India-China border conflict.

"The drones arrived in India in the second week of November and were inducted into flying operations on November 21 at Indian Navy base at INS Rajali," top government sources told ANI.

The drones have already started flying operations and with an endurance capability of being in the air for over 30 hours, they are proving to be a big asset for the maritime force, they said. An American crew from the vendor is also accompanying the equipment and would help the Navy to operate the machines, the sources said.

The drones are flying in Indian colours and would be on lease with India for one year even as the three services are preparing the case for acquiring 18 more such drones from the US, the sources said.

25/11/20 ANI/NDTV

Flyers to pay Rs 1,400 for RT-PCR test at airport

Nagpur: The district and civic authorities will start screening and if need be perform rapid antigen test (RAT) on rail, road passengers and RT-PCR on air travellers coming from Delhi, Gujarat, Rajashtan and Goa from Wednesday morning.

RAT, which gives the results in 30 minutes, would be free of cost while the domestic flyers, who arrive with a Covid -ve report, will have to bear the expenses of the test.

Some labs have offered to do the RT-PCR test at the airport at Rs1400 per passenger. As per state government orders, home visit charges are Rs1600 for RT-PCR sample collection. The Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has instructed labs to charge as per the order.

Airlines have made it compulsory for flyers to obtain a Covid negative report through RT-PCR test before boarding the flight. Officials of three different airlines operating from Nagpur told TOI that even travellers for urgent reasons with last-minute tickets will be denied boarding without the certificate.

A GoAir representative shared a note which reads that travellers will have to carry a certificate and on failing to comply, the test will be undertaken at the concerned airport at their own cost. The official, however, stressed that boarding will not be permitted without the certificate. Indigo Airlines also shared a note. It was about a tie-up with a private lab for the tests.

Municipal commissioner Radhakrishnan B told TOI that airport and railway station authorities would screen and help segregate passengers from these worst-affected states. “Four teams, each comprising a doctor, nurse and data entry operator, would be deployed at the airport and railway station for testing and recording details round the clock,” he said.

Only passengers arriving without a test and showing symptoms like cough, cold or fever would be tested. “Symptomatic rail passengers testing negative will be asked to isolate at home and the NMC team will later do the RT-PCR. Residents of the other states testing positive would be put up at the Pachpaoli Covid care centre (CCC) for 14 days,” he said.

25/11/20 Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shishir Arya & Vijay Pinjarkar/Times of India


‘Festive Season To Fuel Air Travel Growth’

Sunil Bhaskaran, MD & CEO, AirAsia India speaks with Ashish Sinha of BW Businessworld about the green shoots of revival in air travel, the induction of Airbus A320-Neo, and the rapid recovery of demand as more restrictions are getting lifted, among other things. 

Excerpts >>


Cyclone Nivar: 26 flights cancelled after heavy rains batter Chennai

Over two dozen flights arriving and taking off from the Chennai airport have been cancelled after heavy rains and strong winds battered the city as cyclone Nivar approached. According to news agency ANI, the Chennai Airport in a statement said that a total of 26 scheduled flights have been cancelled. 

Meanwhile, Indigo airlines has cancelled 24 flights from and to Chennai due to heavy rain triggered by the Cyclone Nivar. Cyclone Nivar, which is expected to intensify into a “very severe cyclonic storm” is all set to make landfall around Puducherry on Wednesday night.

26 flights -- bot arrivals and departures have been cancelled as heavy rain lashed Chennai ahead of Cyclone Nivar landfall. Most of them are flights using small aircraft ATR-72. In total 49 flights have been cancelled.

IndiGo flights to or from in the southern region, mainly Chennai, have been disrupted. "Forty-nine flights that were scheduled for tomorrow have been cancelled. We will monitor the situation and decide on the further course of action for November 26," said IndiGo.

Meanwhile, the Airports Authority of India has urged passengers to contact the airline for details.

SpiceJet also issued an alert saying that the cyclone Nivar might impact flight operations from Chennai and Vijayawada and cancellations will be intimated to passengers through sms/email.

25/11/20 India TV

Andhra Pradesh Government starts Dagadarthi airport works

Nellore: The YSRCP government finally resumed works on the Greenfield Airport at Dagadarthi by inviting tenders for the Detailed Project Report. The Infrastructure Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (Incap) invited tenders for commercial operations of passenger and cargo aircraft. The last date for filing bids was November 24 and the date for opening them is December 2.

The district administration earmarked 3,407.77 acre land under Damavaram, Dagadarthi, Velupodu , and K Kourugunta villages for the airport in 2013, and subsequently, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had expressed its nod for initial acquisition of 614 acre and the Union government had accorded clearance in December 2015. Government of India enterprise RITES prepared the feasibility study also.

The airport would be a low-cost, no-frills airport under the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode and will be developed at a cost of Rs 368 crore. The government had spent around Rs 20 crore on compensation to the farmers who provided lands. But the Principal Secretary of Infrastructure and Investments Ajay Jain informed in 2017 that they had dropped the proposal owing to the huge compensation demanded by the farmers.

The TDP government had inked an MoU with the SCL Turbo, a consortium of Nellore International Airport Private Limited, for developing the airport and a cargo hub and subsequently there was a concession agreement in 2018. Last August, minister for industries and IT Mekapati Goutham Reddy announced that the AAI is going to construct the airport and the state government had expressed interest in handing over lands to the aviation ministry for proceeding with the plans. But the proposal failed to gain momentum.

25/11/20 Hans India

Cyclone Nivar: Indigo airlines cancel 24 flights to and fro Chennai

Chennai: In a recent development, in view of cyclone Nivar, Indigo airlines has cancelled as many as 24 flights from and to Chennai, Tamil Nadu due to heavy rain caused by Cyclone Nivar. The cyclonic storm, which is expected to intensify into a "very severe cyclonic storm" is all set to make landfall around Puducherry on Wednesday night. 

As many as 24 flights (12 arrivals and 12 departures) have been cancelled as heavy rain lashed the city ahead of Cyclone Nivar landfall. Most of them are flights using small aircraft ATR-72. In total 49 flights have been cancelled. 

"Forty-nine flights that were scheduled for tomorrow have been cancelled. We will monitor the situation and decide on the further course of action for November 26," said IndiGo.

25/11/20 Alphonse Joseph/One India


Use drones to monitor if people do not wear masks: Allahabad HC to Yogi govt

The Allahabad High Court has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure strict monitoring, and compulsorily implement the rule of wearing face masks in the six districts most affected by the coronavirus infection in the state.

The High Court on Tuesday said that the crowded areas should be monitored in these districts 24 hours, seven days a week, with drone cameras.

A division bench of Justice Siddharth Verma and Justice Ajit Kumar, which is monitoring the government's preparedness to deal with the corona infection, said that a similar campaign should be conducted in Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Kanpur, Prayagraj and Gautam Buddha Nagar that are most affected by the corona infections.

The court has directed to closely monitor the wearing of masks for at least the next 30 days. The order not to sell food and drinks in the open will remain in force for the next six weeks.

Prayagraj Senior Superintendent of Police Shrestha Tripathi, who appeared in the High Court, said that a team of four constables has been formed for continuous monitoring. The police will report to the police station in-charge every four hours. The court asked all the concerned officials to monitor the list of constables through the mobile phones.

25/11/20 IANS/National Herald

“We’ve been surprised by the demand from passengers”: Willy Boulter, IndiGo

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indigo

In his career of close to four decades in the aviation industry, William “Willy” Boulter, chief commercial officer of IndiGo, hasn’t seen a crisis like COVID-19.

During his stints at many top global airlines companies in the past, Boulter has witnessed several major crises. These include the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, the Gulf War (1990), the invasion of Iraq (2003), the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak (2002), MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak (2012), and the Zika outbreak in Brazil (2015).

Boulter joined IndiGo in 2018 and has had stints at airlines companies like Etihad Airlines, Gulf Air, Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific in the past.

He tells afaqs! that unlike Coronavirus, all of these were localised in nature and had a short-term impact.

The aviation industry has been amongst the worst affected. The (Coronavirus) pandemic put a two-month-long pause on passenger travel, plugged international flights and had a negative travel sentiment among consumers. The ripples also rocked several other businesses associated with travel. “We’ve never seen something of this scale,” he says.

The Indian government allowed airline companies to resume domestic flights in a phased manner from May 25. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) reported that 52.71 lakh passengers travelled within the country in October.

While the growth is significant, from the 39.43 lakh flights in September, it was 57.2 per cent lower than October 2019. IndiGo accounted for the largest share (55.5 per cent) of the domestic traffic. The growth was driven by factors like the festive season.

Post the initial suspension of international passenger flights (March 23), the DGCA extended it till November 30. Apart from the government’s rescue program Vande Bharat Mission, only special flights to countries with 'air bubble' arrangements were permitted. India has air bubble pacts with countries like the US, the UK, France, etc., which make way for special flights to these countries.

“We had this couple of months where we did not have any substantial passenger operations. We did flights for the government and got into cargo flights during that period. We were flying medical supplies, PPE kits, pharmaceuticals, etc., across the country. We moved quite a bit of cargo, both internationally and within the country,” Boulter says.

With a dip in passenger revenue, attempts were made to reduce fixed costs. The company also had to reduce some of its workforce. IndiGo has currently resumed around 70 per cent of its domestic operations and is looking at an upward path. It recently crossed the 1,000 daily flights a day mark (from the pre-COVID frequency of 1,500).

"In terms of passengers, we’ve been surprised by the demand."

While business-oriented travel is yet to recover, Boulter mentions that there is a healthy demand for leisure travel. “In terms of passengers, we’ve been surprised by the demand. Flights to Maldives from Mumbai are doing really well. There are other such examples of normal demand returning. The SME sector is also recovering gradually and we are seeing people doing business across India again.”

He, however, mentions that in comparison to other global markets, the aviation industry in India is recovering faster due to its large domestic travel base. “India is relatively buoyant because of the large domestic market. It was in a good position and was growing fast pre-COVID.”

25/11/20 Abid Hussain Barlaskar/afaqs!


Kerala seeks stay on handing over of Thiruvananthapuram Airport to Adani Group

Thiruvananthapuram: The state government on Tuesday moved a petition in the Supreme Court seeking an interim stay on the Centre’s move to hand over the Trivandrum International Airport to the Adani Group.

Challenging the Kerala High Court order which rejected the state government’s petition questioning the Centre’s decision to lease out the international airport here to Adani Group, C K Sasi, who appeared for the state government, sought an interim stay on the High Court order of October 19 which allowed the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to let Adani Enterprises Limited take over the operation, management and development of the airport for 50 years.

While arguing that the winning concessionaire Adani Group has no previous experience in running or managing airports, the state said the Centre’s decision to hand over the airport to Adani is arbitrary. The state government has enough experience in managing airports by handling Kochi and Kannur airports.

Further, the tendering process for the airport was in violation of the provisions of the Airports Authority of India Act, the state contended. The petition also said the state government had suggested a proposal to run the airport on a revenue-sharing basis after forming a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).

Further, the state was ready to pay the price quoted by the winning concessionaire if the airport was handed over to it. Ignoring all these proposals, the Centre had moved ahead and awarded the airport to the private entity, the state said.

25/11/20 New Indian Express

Two held at Chennai airport for smuggling Rs 90 lakh of gold

Chennai: Two persons were arrested at the Chennai airport and 1.78 kg of smuggled gold was seized from them, a Customs statement said on Wednesday.

In a statement here, the Commissioner of Customs, Chennai International Airport, said three passengers from Dubai who had arrived by Fly Dubai and Air India Express flights were intercepted at the exit and searched.

Six bundles (three each) of gold paste concealed in the rectum were recovered from two of the persons and two bundles from the third persons, along with two gold bits weighing 81 grams from his trouser pocket.

On extraction, the eight gold paste bundles, weighing 1.88 kg, yielded 1.78 kg gold of 24 K purity valued at Rs 90.4 lakh. This was seized under Customs Act, and two of the persons, identified as Nasar Ali and Mohammad Aakif Babu, were arrested.

25/11/20 IANS/Daijiworld

Gang lands at Kempegowda International Airport with gold worth Rs 1.3 crore hidden in TV sets, speakers

Bengaluru: In one of the biggest gold-smuggling bids unearthed at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in recent times, officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) nabbed a gang that landed from Dubai on Monday with gold worth Rs 1.3 crore hidden inside television sets and speakers.

Sources with Bengaluru airport said the suspects, including three from Tamil Nadu and one from West Bengal, landed at KIA at 12.28pm by IndiGo flight 6E 096 from Dubai. Following a tipoff, sleuths from Bengaluru DRI zonal unit reached the airport and combed the passengers, who disembarked from the flight.

The DRI team intercepted four male passengers and questioned them about the smuggled yellow metal. The investigators established that three men were carrying television sets and speakers, which they had checked-in for their flight. The fourth suspect is said to have flown in with a cooking device and a Bluetooth speaker. The DRI dismantled all the electronic goods, including the LED television sets, to unearth large quantities of gold bars concealed inside to avoid detection by customs officials.

DRI sources confirmed the bust in which more than 3kg of gold worth over Rs 1.3 crore had been seized from the men. However, they refused to divulge the identities of the suspects as probe is under way.

The central agency suspects that the men are part of a Tamil Nadu-based gang involved in gold smuggling from the Gulf to India and have strong international links in the UAE.

25/11/20 Petlee Peter/Times of India