Thursday, June 04, 2020

Aviation ministry targets July for resuming commercial international flights

New Delhi: With inquiries growing over the past few days, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has expressed his view on India's plans to resume international commercial passenger flights.

On Friday, the minister tweeted: "We are continuously monitoring the situation and will consider restarting international flights as soon as situation normalises a bit and poses no danger to our citizens. We will also have to consider that countries, where we intend to fly, are open to incoming foreign citizens."

Under 'Unlock 1.0' guidelines released by the Ministry of Home Affairs on May 30, international flight operations remain suspended till June 30.

In fact, the guidelines stated that the resumption of operations will be discussed in 'phase 3' of Unlock 1.0, a timeline for which was not set at the time.

India Today TV has now learnt from highly-placed sources that the Ministry of Civil Aviation is targeting resumption of regular international flights by July.

But Is this possible? Resumption of commercial international flights depends on several factors. To begin with, domestic civil aviation operations, which restarted after a two-month gap on May 25, will have to see an increase in the number of flights being operated.
04/05/20 Poulomi Saha/India Today

Mission Vande Bharat: Air India to open bookings to US, Canada from 5pm on Friday

Air India will be opening its booking for the 75 special repatriation flights from India to destinations in the US and Canada, including New York, Newark, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Vancouver and Toronto on Friday at 5pm. The flights will be operating between June 9 and June 30 under the third phase of the Vande Bharat Mission.

"Those who wish to travel to US and Canada and fulfil required entry conditions can book themselves on these outbound flights. Some foreign airlines have already carried out evacuation flights & are planning to operate more flights. These flights will also take foreign nationals," Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri informed on Twitter on Wednesday.

However, he added that normal international civil aviation operations will only start when the situation normalises. "Right now most of our metro cities are under some form of restrictions due to which people from other cities cannot travel to catch flights and we also have a requirement for mandatory quarantine on arrival. We have to wait for the domestic operations to touch about 50-60 per cent and consider the behaviour of the virus and its spread to fully lift these restrictions and lockdown. Till then flights under Vande Bharat Mission are facilitating both inbound and outbound international passengers," he said in a series of tweets.
04/05/20 The Week

AIE flight with 178 Tamils arrive from Dubai in Trichy

Trichy: Yet another Air India Express flight under Vande Bharat Mission arrived at Trichy on Wednesday night carrying 178 natives of Tamil Nadu who were stranded in Dubai.
This was the second rescue flight under the mission to arrive at Trichy after 178 Tamils from Kuala Lumpur landed on May 9.
Hundreds of Tamils are stranded in various foreign cities including Dubai, Kuwait, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore as well as some South Asian countries for the last two months following the Covid-19 lockdown.

Meanwhile, Kuwait government will operate three flights on June 4, 6 and 8 to Trichy to ferry Tamils stuck in the country.

The first Kuwait Airways flight will arrive at Trichy at 4.40 pm on Thursday.

Malindo Air is also scheduled to operate two rescue services on Friday from Kula Lumpur with stranded Tamils. The first will arrive at 9.45 am and the second at 10.40 am.
04/05/20 Times of India/Times of India

Air India One Boeing 777-300: Features and interesting facts

India is all set to receive two wide-bodied Boeing 777-300ERs to serve as the new VIP transport for the President, Vice President and Prime Minister. The new jets will arrive in July 2020 as a replacement to the ageing 747s that have hitherto served as Air India One.

Air India One is not a plane but rather a callsign for any plane with the President, Vice President or Prime Minister on board. some speculate that the new Boeing 777s being fitted with advanced defence systems and Air India likely to be sold off, it is entirely possible that as the 777s will be entirely operated by the IAF the “Air India One” callsign will he retired. This is not confirmed by the government and, at best, remains speculation.

All these years four 747-400s, owned and operated by Air India, served the roles on long-haul international routes. Replacing these legacy planes are two new Boeing 777-300ERs that are a part of a larger delivery order placed with Boeing in 2006. The rest of the planes are already in operation in Air India. These two planes were delivered in 2018 but were returned to Boeing to carry out the upgrade and retrofitting work.

The 777 is not new to being used as a VIP transport. Japan, Bangladesh, and Saudi Arabia are nations that routinely use the plane for similar purposes.
04/05/20 Kirti Pandey/TimesNowNews

Pune flight returns to city due to cyclone

Nagpur: Indigo Airlines Nagpur-Pune flight came back to the city after the plane could not land due to bad weather in Pune.
The flight took off from Nagpur at around 1:45pm as against its scheduled time of 11:55am. Pranav Deshmukh, who was on board, said an announcement was made before taking off that the weather conditions may not be favourable in Pune.
“They said that the weather is expected to improve by the time the flight reaches Pune, in which case landing may happen. However, when we were close to landing there was another announcement that the visibility was low and the plane was turning back towards Nagpur,” said Deshmukh.
This was also confirmed by officials at Mihan India Limited (MIL) — the current airport operator. Flights to Mumbai were already cancelled due to the cyclone warning.
Deshmukh said the Pune flight was almost full. He had come to Nagpur in the last flight before commercial operation of planes was stopped due to the lockdown. At Nagpur, he was continuing to work from home and had to go back since the lockdown has been eased and his office had reopened.
04/05/20 Shishir Arya/Times of India

IndiGo introduces charter flights! Check guidelines on how to book and board charter flights

IndiGo charter flights in India: Travellers take note! IndiGo Airline rolls out its first full-fledged charter flight services in India. With a vision to acquire more landscape in the aviation sector, Indigo Airlines has launched the full-fledged charter flight services in the country. The move can be seen as an effort to diversify its plan and find out different alternatives to boost business and revenue as the aviation sector has resumed functioning after its biggest hiatus until now.
The low-cost carrier has announced that customers willing to opt for its charter flight services need to just fill a form detailing their destination, arrival point, travel time, names, address, and other details. Indigo has said that its representatives will get in touch with the interested person within 24 hours. Domestic and international cities have entry and departure options. Indigo has revealed the plans to offer both A320 and ATR aircraft for charter flight services.
Probably the leader in the low-cost carrier segment in the Indian aviation sector, Indigo airlines have also transformed 10 passenger aircraft into freighters and offers charter flights for cargo operations as well.
To board a charter flight, passengers must report 45 minutes before departure and they have to submit an undertaking for not testing positive for the COVID-19 in the last two months. All in-flight guidelines laid by the DGCA such as restriction on serving meals except for medical purpose, protective suit for pilots and cabin crew must be implemented for charter flights to function.
04/05/20 Financial Express

Bids invited from 4 little known suitors shortlisted for Jet Airways

Only four out of twelve suitors that came forward to submit an Expression of Interest to acquire grounded airline Jet Airways have made the eligibility cut, as per people in the know.

CNBC-TV18 had earlier reported that Jet Airways received twelve Expressions of Interest (EOIs) in the latest round of bidding. However, most of them did not meet the eligibility criteria set out by the committee of creditors, said people in the know.

Four players have now been shortlisted to submit bids for the airline, and have been asked to submit binding bids by July 11, CNBC-TV18 has learned. These include UK-based Kalrock Capital Partners along with an individual by the name of Murari Lal Jalan who is a resident of Dubai, people familiar with the matter told CNBC-TV18.

The second shortlisted player is another consortium comprising of Abu Dhabi based Imperial Capital Investments LLC (ICIL), Haryana-based Flight Simulation Technique Centre Pvt Ltd (FSTCPL) and Mumbai-based Big Charter Pvt Ltd (BCPL).

The third shortlisted player is a Canadian entrepreneur by the name of Sivakumar Rasiah, and the fourth player is Kolkatta based Alpha Airways, said sources who did not wish to be quoted.

Little is known about these four suitors that now remain in the fray for the airline. Banks CNBC_TV18 spoke to are not very confident of these EOIs getting converted into real bids, and say liquidation is a very real possibility.

This is the fourth round of bidding for Jet Airways, which was grounded over a year back and subsequently referred to the National Company Law Tribunal in June 2019 by its lenders.
04/05/20 Ritu Singh/CNBC TV18

Flight with stranded passengers arrives

Bhubaneswar: A special AirAsia flight carrying stranded people of Odisha from Mumbai arrived at the Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) here on Wednesday.

Besides, two more special flights from Guwahati and Imphal were scheduled to arrive at the airport later in the day, said airport officials.

Meanwhile, a team of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) along with officials of the Health Department, the Commissionerate police and Airport Authority of India made arrangements for thermal screening, stamping and registration of passengers.

Besides, intensive counselling and awareness drive on quarantine period, self-care, home quarantine, paid quarantine facilities and referral of critical cases are being carried out at the airport. Officials were deployed to ensure hassle-free transit of passengers to their destinations. 
04/05/20 Pioneer

AirAsia waives flight change fee

Bangkok: AirAsia will waive flight change fees for those booking travel up to 31 December 2020 by waiving flight change fees in a move to regain traveller confidence.

Airlines are facing an uphill battle convince even domestic travellers to rebook airlines after months of lockdown and hassles applying for refunds for unused travel. Thai AirAsia announced the fee change waiver 3 June.
The airline said guests may make an unlimited number of flight date changes via the ‘My Bookings’ tab on or the AirAsia mobile app, and may rebook their flights for travel up to 31 December 2020, subject to seat availability and fare difference.
AirAsia Group president – airlines,  Bo Lingam commented: “We are providing more flexibility for new bookings, to allow our guests to book their flights with confidence and peace of mind. This follows our recent announcement to extend our credit account validity up to 730 days.”

Flight date/time change is only applicable for flights up to 48 hours before original departure time (up to four hours for AirAsia India flight code i5). Add-ons such as baggage allowance, meals and seats will be carried forward to the next flight booking. Guests may need to reselect meals or seats, subject to availability on the new flight.

This flexibility option is applicable to all domestic flights within Malaysia (flight code AK), Indonesia (flight code QZ), Thailand (flight code FD), Philippines (flight code Z2) and India (flight code i5) which bookings are made directly online via
04/05/20 TTR Weekly

Air India to Open International Booking For These 7 Places

New Delhi: While the resumption of international flights will take some time, Air India will open bookings from 5 PM on June 5 for destinations in US and Canada under Vande Bharat Mission’s third phase which will ferry stranded passengers to several destinations in the US between June 9 and June 30.
Here is a list of the destinations:
1. New York
2. Newark
3. Chicago
4. Washington
5. San Francisco
6. Vancouver
7. Toronto
“Normal International civil aviation operations will only start when they can. Right now most of our metro cities are under some form of restrictions due to which people from other cities cannot travel to catch flights and we also have requirement for mandatory quarantine on arrival,” Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri wrote on Twitter.
“We have to wait for the domestic operations to touch about 50-60% and consider the behaviour of the virus and its spread to fully lift these restrictions and Lockdown. Till then flights under Vande Bharat Mission are facilitating both inbound & outbound international passengers,” the minister wrote.

Delhi Airport emerges as hub for export of agri perishables

New Delhi: After facilitating massive movement of cargo consisting of essential supplies, the Delhi International Airport Ltd-run IGIA has emerged as an hub for agricultural perishables.

In a statement, DIAL said that it has facilitated the export of the season''s first consignment of mangoes from Lucknow to Dubai.

"The consignment of 3 metric tonnes of mangoes, brought from orchards in Lucknow, was sent to Dubai by Air India Express flight today (June 4)," DIAL said in the statement.

"Delhi Airport is now fast emerging as a preferred airport for the export of fresh vegetables and fruits facilitating the government''s ambitious ''Krishi Udan'' initiative."

This initiative aims to assist farmers in transporting agricultural products to domestic and international markets.

"It is part of the Government''s 16-point programme to boost agriculture and double the income of farmers," the statement said.
04/05/20 IANS/Outlook

AirAsia cuts pilot salaries by 40% for May, June

Mumbai: AirAsia India has slashed salary of its pilots by an average 40 per cent for May and June, an airline source said.

However, the quantum of reduction in pay for other categories and senior management remains at the April level, the source said.

The senior management at AirAsia India had taken a pay cut of 20 per cent in April, while the wages of executives falling in other categories were reduced by 7-17 per cent.

However, employees getting a salary of Rs 50,000 per month or less were spared.

AirAsia India — a joint venture between Tatas and AirAsia (Investment) Ltd — will be completing six years of operations next week. It has a workforce of around 2,500 people. As many as 600 of them are pilots for its 30 Airbus A320 aircraft fleet.

On Tuesday, PTI erroneously reported that AirAsia India is a joint venture between Tatas and SIA.

“Earlier, a pilot was being paid for a fixed 70 hours irrespective of flying or no flying, which has now been reduced to 20 hours. This way, the average salary of a first officer (junior pilot) has come down to Rs 40,000 per month from Rs 1.40 lakh, and that of a captain (senior pilot) to Rs 1 lakh from Rs 3.45 lakh,” the source told PTI.
The reduction in pay accounts for 40 per cent of the total average salary of a pilot, the source said.

Responding to a PTI query on the issue, an AirAsia India spokesperson on Tuesday said, “We do not comment on the internal matters pertaining to the company”.

The source also said the airline has deferred its plans to induct any new plane in the fleet for the time being.

AirAsia India had plans to take delivery of five more A320s through March next year, the source added.
04/05/20 News Live

Vijay Mallya May Escape Extradition to India For Some More Time as UK Government Hints at ‘Further legal Issue’

New Delhi: Fugitive businessman and founder of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines Vijay Mallya can escape his extradition to India for some more time. He cannot be sent back until a “further legal issue” is resolved, British High Commission said on Thursday. The Commission added that this “issue” is confidential and cannot be disclosed. Further, the duration for resolving the issue cannot be estimated either, it asserted.

“Under UK law, extradition can’t take place until legal issue resolved.The issue is confidential & we can’t go into any detail.We can’t estimate how long this issue will take to resolve. We are seeking to deal with this as quickly as possible,” the High Commission said.
As of now, Mallya remains out on bail in England. Sources in London said that Mallya is likely to use all his heft to thwart the extradition process.
A top Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officer told news agency IANS on condition of anonymity, “Mallya is going to exploit all legal remedies. First the official order has to come out and Indian Mission has to be informed.”

The officer said the investigating agencies are aware of the possibility that Mallya, being a former Rajya Sabha Member, could seek political asylum in the UK. They said they had information to this effect.

Indigo CEO: Why India Is Uniquely Placed To Come Out Of COVID Strong

India’s largest airline, IndiGo, held its fourth quarter and fiscal year results call this week. While the substantial loss of 8.73 billion rupees ($115m) was to be expected, the general mood in the call was surprisingly upbeat. IndiGo’s CEO, Ronojoy Dutta, was positive about the future, and thinks that Indian aviation is in a great position to recover from the crisis.

Although IndiGo is striving for a fast recovery, it’s under no illusion that there’s a steep hill to climb before it will get back to where it was. During this week’s results call, CEO of IndiGo, Ronojoy Dutta, explained the current situation, saying,

“There’s a lot of dampening effect at the moment … the economy is weak, so even if the customers are willing to travel, the economy is depressing the demand. And then there are restrictions, and all those things are hugely dampening for the traffic, so clearly, we have to work our way through that.”

However, he remained positive about a swift recovery, and explained how he believes India is in a strong position to come out of the crisis.

During the call, Dutta alluded to the uniqueness of India, and the prevalence of Indians to travel. He noted the huge number of people doing what is known as ‘visiting friends and relatives’ travel, or VFR trips. These are often regarded separately in airline traffic data from those which are purely vacations and those which are for business purposes.

Dutta explained how India’s high volumes of VFR traffic would help Indian aviation recover more quickly. He said,

“What is the longer-term sustainability of the airline traffic? India is sort of, I wouldn’t say unique, but an outlier in terms of the VFR traffic. Indians have family everywhere, and they’re like, ‘hey, I don’t care if I die. I want to visit my sister’ or whatever.

“We have a very strong VFR component. People will travel and go to their cousin’s wedding, so I think that VFR traffic distinguishes India from other markets.”
04/05/20 Joanna Bailey/Simple Flying

Adani Group Seeks More Time To Take Over Three Airports

New Delhi: Citing the coronavirus pandemic, the Adani Group has sought at least six months from the Airport Authority of India to take over the Lucknow, Mangalore and Ahmedabad airports. The Airports Authority of India had bid out six of its airports in 2019 and Adani Group emerged as the highest bidder for all six -- Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Jaipur and Guwahati airports.
While the Union Cabinet is yet to approve the bids of Jaipur, Trivandrum and Guwahati, the Adani Group signed the takeover agreement for operations, development and maintenance of the remaining three airports in February 2020.

In November last year, the government had cleared a proposal for managing six AAI-run airports on public-private partnership basis. The move, the AAI had said, is part of an initiative to provide world-class infrastructure and services to stakeholders.

The aviation sector has been one of the worst hit in the worldwide lockdown to slow down the highly infectious coronavirus. Since the lockdown started in India in March, most airlines -- their flights grounded -- have cut salaries and sacked employees to keep afloat. 

After the 60-day lockdown, the government started domestic air travel last month. Most airports are struggling with the numerous safety aspects to ensure that the infection does not spread.

Civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri has assured that international air travel will also be restarted "after several factors are addressed".
04/05/20 Sakshi Bajaj/NDTV

Can't pilot airports in rough weather: Adani Group

Mumbai: The Adani Group has told India’s state-run airport developer that it won’t be able to take possession of the three privatised airports in Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru this calendar year due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The infrastructure conglomerate has invoked the force majeure clause in the contract, several people in the know said.

The group has also asked the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to defer the deadline for payment of asset transfer fees of over Rs 1,000 crore for these airports from August to beyond December 2020, the people cited above said.

On February 14, the group had signed concession agreements with AAI to maintain, develop and operate the three airports. In 2018, it won the bid for six airports, which also includes Trivandrum, Jaipur and Guwahati but the concession agreement was signed only for Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru.

The total asset transfer fees for six airports is worth Rs 2,000 crore, said two people in the know. The fees include upfront payments to contractors for development work already assigned by AAI.

Separately, the GVK group has also cited the force majeure clause to nodal body CIDCO in Mumbai indicating it will be forced to delay the start of construction work on the Rs 16,000 crore Navi Mumbai airport project.

Force majeure refers to a clause that is included in contracts to remove liability for natural and unavoidable catastrophes.
Senior executives at AAI and CIDCO confirmed the developments and said their legal teams are looking into requests from Adani and GVK.
“The concession agreement is signed. Now Adani needs to draw and sign registration and adjudication documents and take possession of the airport. They have requested a deferment. We will try to get the money and transfer possession this financial year. It’s too premature to say anything else,” said a top AAI executive.
04/05/20 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

DGCA nod clears runway for the Dawn of Drone age

Bengaluru: Delivery startups Dunzo, Swiggy and Zomato, budget airline SpiceJet and Reliance-backed drone startup Asteria Aerospace are among 13 consortia that have received approvals to test fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drones.
India’s civil aviation regulator has given the go-ahead a little over a year after the country announced plans to allow experimental long-range drone flights before framing a policy for the sector. The tests, which will see the unmanned vehicles either carry payloads or survey vast swathes of land, are likely to begin in the first week of July. This will mark the first steps in India’s plan to develop local drone-based services capabilities, even as it plays catch up with China and the US.
“We will start flying from the first week of July and plan to clock around 120 hours of flights in two and a half months,” said Nagendran Kandasamy, founder and director of Throttle Aerospace, which received approval from the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation in March along with Dunzo.
While the firm initially planned to begin tests much sooner, the virus outbreak induced lockdown pushed back its plans, Kandasamy said. The disruption caused by the pandemic also delayed the DGCA’s approval to end-May for 11 of the 13 consortia that were shortlisted.
The private industry consortia will need to clock at least 100 hours of flight time in airspace designated by the Airports Authority of India, by September 30. The logs will need to be submitted to the DGCA, which is hoping to use data from the experiments to frame a policy for BVLOS drones before year-end.
“Once they (the consortia) complete their flights and submit their logs, then we can really understand what will need to be the specifications required for BVLOS,” said a senior government official who did not want to be named. “Our plan was to have the draft policy out by August, but that got pushed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
04/05/20 Alnoor Peermohamed/Economic Times

Don’t make us feel like ‘used tissue paper’, unpaid Air India pilots tell airline

New Delhi: Don’t treat us like “used tissue paper”. “Corona warrior” Air India pilots had this to say to their management on Thursday after a meeting held to discuss their pay dues ended inconclusively. Flying allowance comprises 70% of crew’s total pay and AI pilots are yet to get the same for March, April and May apart from the basic of May. The unions will meet AI chairman and managing director (CMD) Rajiv Bansal again on Friday to find a solution to their financial woes arising out of non-payment of wages.
After Thursday’s meeting, the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association issued a note to all its members saying: “ CMD briefed us on the precarious financial condition of Air India due to the prevailing pandemic…. We are made to understand that the ministry of civil aviation had asked AI management to offer pay on actual flying hours to pilots. This was outright rejected (by pilots). We requested the management to impress upon the ministry not to let down the COVID warriors after serving the nation during the dangerous phase of pandemic, and not to let us feel like a used tissue paper.”
“We expressed the hardships faced by the pilots while operating Vande Bharath mission under the present circumstances of Covid-19 which is physically and psychologically challenging, especially at a time when many of our pilots are testing laboratory Covid-19 positive with symptoms. We also demanded the March Flying allowance to be cleared immediately along with dispensation to handful of our pilots who couldn’t genuinely satisfy the clause as per the agreement,” it added.
04/05/20 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Chartered flight brings 179 migrants to Raipur from Bengaluru

Raipur/Bengaluru: Helped by a group of law school graduates and generous donors, 179 stranded migrant workers, including women and children, were airlifted from Bengaluru to Chhattisgarh''s capital Raipur on Thursday in a chartered flight.

The air travel was arranged by the alumni of the Bengaluru-based National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and a few generous donors.

It was the latest in a series of such flights arranged by well-meaning individuals to ferry migrant workers stranded in various parts of the country due to the coronavirus- enforced lockdown and provide them hassle-free travel.

The IndiGo flight carrying 179 migrants, including women and children, took off from the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru around 8 am and landed at the Swami Vivekanand Airport in Raipur around 10 am, a Raipur airport official told PTI.
04/05/20 Outlook

Airport admin building sealed

Chennai: The city airport’s administrative building has been sealed after two employees of the Airport Authority of India tested positive for the coronavirus infection on Thursday. This comes as 59 international returnees and 32 domestic passengers have been tested positive since May 9.
04/05/20 New Indian Express

Wife leaves for airport after a fight, husband stops her with a hoax bomb call

On Tuesday, a woman waiting to board a flight in Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport was asked by the security personnel to step aside and have her handbag checked, said a Hindustan Times report.

The report said the woman was going to board the Bhubaneshwar flight after a fight with her husband and he decided to stop her with a hoax bomb call to the airport authorities.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) checked the handbag and found her bag had no dangerous material after a thorough checking.

At 6.45 pm, the threat call was declared a hoax, a senior CISF officer said, the HT report said.

Deputy commissioner of police (Delhi airport) Rajeev Ranjan said initial inquiry revealed the call was made from Gurugram.
“The man who was identified turned out to be the woman’s husband. She told us that the couple had a fight after which she had left the house. Because the call was made from Gurugram, DIAL{Delhi International Airport Limited} has approached Gurugram police for further legal action against the man,” Ranjan said, the report quoted.
04/05/20 India Blooms

Airport pact only in August? Global air travel bar increases wait time

Greater Noida: The Jewar airport project is seen as one of the big employers of migrant workers who have returned to the city but despite receiving both environmental and security clearances from the Centre, the signing of the deal without which work cannot start on the ground could be delayed till August.
This is because, officials said, the signatories on behalf of Zurich AG, the concessionaire, have to come from abroad, and they can’t as long as international air travel does not resume. Apart from Switzerland, allowing air traffic from Malaysia will also be crucial because the Asia office of the company is located in Kuala Lumpur and the presence of the Asia director is mandatory.
Actually the deal is to inked between UP government’s Noida International Airport Limited (NIAL) and Yamuna International Airport Private Limited (YIAPL), a special purpose vehicle formed by Zurich AG. NIAL has now sought time till August 17 on the request of Zurich AG, officials said.

YIAPL cleared the last hurdle on May 18 and obtained security clearance from the Union home ministry. However, due to coronavirus outbreak, the Indian government suspended international flights. Though as per the original terms and conditions, the concession agreement was to be signed within 45 days of obtaining security clearance, the company asked authorities to extend the deadline because of the flight ban.

Confirming the development, NIAL’s nodal officer Shailendra Bhatia told TOI that additional time has been sought from the state government to formalise the concession agreement.

“Instead of 45 days, Zurich AG would be given 90 days to sign the agreement. We have requested state government to extend the deadline to August 17,” he said.
04/05/20 Shalabh/Times of India

SpiceJet Pilot Robbed At Gunpoint, Left Bleeding Near IIT-Delhi

New Delhi: A SpiceJet pilot went through a harrowing experience after his car was stopped by some 10 men in the middle of the night in south Delhi and he was robbed at gunpoint. Before fleeing, one of the men attacked him with a knife, leaving the pilot bleeding on a flyover close to the Indian Institute of Technology in south Delhi.
Photos of the pilot's bloodstained car and an account of the attack have been widely shared on social media. Reports said several people have been looted in the same manner near IIT-Delhi in recent days.

The SpiceJet pilot, Yuvraj Tewatia, who is a flight captain, was going to the airport at 1 am in his office car from his house in Faridabad.

According to the police complaint, when he reached a flyover near IIT Delhi, some five two-wheelers with at least 10 men on them blocked the road and forcibly stopped his car.
They surrounded the car and broke the windows, the complaint said. Someone hit the pilot on his head with a pistol grip, it said. The men then snatched his belongings and also took away ₹34,000 that he was carrying.

Before leaving, they attacked him with a knife, leaving him bleeding inside the car. In visuals, the windows of the bloodstained car are seen broken and pieces of glass are scattered on the seat.

The pilot managed to call the police after the gang left, following which a police team arrived at the crime scene.

It is alleged that the gang also targeted other cars at night on this section of road in south Delhi, raising serious questions about the safety of commuters engaged in essential services amid the coronavirus lockdown when they go to work at night.
04/05/20 Mukesh Singh Sengar/NDTV

Repatriation Flight from Ukraine Lands at Guwahati Airport

Guwahati:  Another repatriation flight landed in Guwahati on June 4 at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport from Ukraine.

The Air India flight landed at the Guwahati Airport at 02:30 am, carrying 69 passengers from Kyiv to Guwahati.

This was the third scheduled flight under the Vande Bharat Mission to have landed in the city.

Earlier, on 1st June, 33 persons quarantined at the RCC 4 boys’ hostel of Gauhati University were tested positive of COVID-19. These persons were among the 98 air travellers from Kuwait to Guwahati.
04/05/20 G Plus

Hyderabad international airport sustaining environment

Hyderabad: World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June every year. This is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment. In 2020, the theme is “It’s Time for Nature – Preserve Biodiversity”.
GMR led Hyderabad International Airport is also observing the World Environment Day like previous years raising awareness among the airport community about the importance of environment and sensitizing them about pressing environmental issues. When it comes to airports, Hyderabad International Airport, the 6th busiest airport in India has taken environment to be at its core since its inception as India’s first Greenfield PPP Airport in 2008.
In its 12th year, the airport has continued to keep environmental protection as an integral part of the business, and are committed to conducting the operations at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), in an environmental friendly and sustainable manner in line with GMR Vision, Mission, Values and Beliefs.
The Airport has been established in an area spreading over 5000 acres; and half of the premises are with natural ecosystem and support the life of various flora and fauna. The management of GHIAL is taking several efforts by maintaining plant nursery, huge landscape, and rainwater harvesting across the airport.   
The ACI recognized RGIA with Green Airports Platinum Recognition 2020 for its best Water Management in the Asia Pacific region for the Category: 15 to 35 million passengers per annum
04/05/20 Mohammed Hussain/Siasat Daily

Aviation ministry aims to resume international flights by July

Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has expressed his views on India's plans to resume international commercial passenger flight operations.

India Today TV reported that the aviation ministry is planning to resume normal international flight operations by July.

Resumption of flights will depend on several factors. Domestic flights, which were not operating for almost two months, will see an increase in the number of flights being operated to recuperate costs.  Resuming international flights will also depend on states gradually easing lockdown curbs in their respective jurisdictions. Top sources within the Ministry of Civil Aviation have told India Today TV that backchannel talks are on with states like Maharashtra to raise the number of flights from current 25 departures and 25 arrivals.

Currently airlines are only operating on one third their summer capacity. Several states have imposed restrictions and are curtailing operations as a safety measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Aviation minister Hardeep Puri has indicated that domestic operations will have to touch the 50-60 per cent mark for international flights to become viable. Another factor not in favour of the early resumption of international flights is the fact that most coronavirus.
04/05/20 Business Today

Cancellation and quarantine rules hold up fliers

Many fliers are getting stuck in Calcutta because airlines are cancelling flights following changes in quarantine rules in some states and poor phone network is leading to passengers missing alerts about changed flight timings.

The temporary closure of the Mumbai airport because of cyclonic storm Nisarga was another reason for the fliers getting stranded.

Gaurang Dalal, along with three others, was scheduled to fly from Bagdogra to Mumbai through Delhi on an AirAsia flight on June 2. But they were stuck in Calcutta till June 4 afternoon because of cancellations of several flights, he said on Thursday.

Dalal, who owns several hotels in Sikkim, was stuck there during the lockdown and was returning home.

“We were told at the Bagdogra airport that the Mumbai flight was cancelled but we were redirected through Calcutta. The flight to Mumbai from Calcutta was to leave at 8.15pm,” said Dalal.

However, at 5.35pm that day, he received a call from the airline and was told that the flight had taken off almost three hours before the scheduled departure.

The airline had arranged for hotel accommodation for the four persons on June 2 and had booked them on a SpiceJet flight the next day (Wednesday, June 3). However, after reaching the airport, Dalal came to know that the flight had been cancelled because of the cyclone.

AirAsia rebooked them again on an IndiGo flight for Thursday afternoon, which they finally took.

“We had to cancel flights to Mumbai because the airport was closed. The passengers were informed but there are serious network problems, for which many passengers are not receiving messages,” said an official of the airline.

Other airlines also said they had to cancel flights because of the cyclone and change in quarantine rules in some states.

Manipur has temporarily restricted flight movements from all parts of India because of Covid-19. Airlines said the state was allowing only three flights every day, forcing them to abruptly cancel flights.
04/05/20 Sanjay Mandal/Telegraph

Chennai: Paid lodging or free facility for flyers with long layovers

Chennai: Domestic passengers who land at Chennai airport and plan to board a connecting flight scheduled several hours later or on the next day may have to spend to stay at a hotel or move into a free facility offered by the state government.

The state government and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) are working out a plan to accommodate these people till they can board their next flight.

Sources said that the state government may tie up with a few hotels and is also looking at identifying some facilities like college hostels or public buildings to accommodate transit passengers who have a longer layover at the airport.

"The rooms may be offered at a discounted rate so that people may not have to spend too much. A few buildings are being considered but it will be finalized soon," said an official.

The move comes after more people have started to book connecting flights via Chennai to different cities as many direct flights are not available from small airports because of the limited schedule.

Only point-to-point travellers flew last week after domestic flights resumed.

An airport official said, "We have started getting transit passengers in the last few days. Though the numbers are not much it may increase in the coming days as the flight schedule has stabilized."

04/05/20 V Ayyappan/Times of India

Kerala repatriation flight delay: Red tape or technical snag?

Ras Al Khaimah: After a 24-hour delay, a chartered flight repatriating stranded Indians from Ras Al Khaimah to Kozhikode in Kerala, India, organised by the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), finally took off at 6.30pm on Wednesday, Khaleej Times has learnt.

The SpiceJet flight carrying over 170 distressed Indians was supposed to depart from RAK International Airport at 6pm on Tuesday. Puttur Rahman, president of the UAE KMCC National Committee, attributed the delay to 'technical reasons'.

All passengers underwent mandatory IgG/IgM testing ahead of boarding, said Abdul Gafoor, one of the passengers. Passengers began boarding the flight at approximately 5.45pm on Wednesday, added Gafoor.

Khaleej Times has approached the Indian Embassy for comments. This article will be updated if/when we receive a response. On May 26, the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) issued a standard operation protocol (SOP), allowing private aircraft and chartered operations on international sectors. Since then, several private companies had chartered flights for their employees to return home.

After waiting at the airport from 5pm to 11pm on Tuesday night, all passengers, including families, pregnant women, workers who suffered job losses and people on visit visas were moved to Royal View Hotel in RAK's Nakhel region.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said during his daily media briefing on Wednesday that 40 chartered flights have been given permission to land in the state. He said: "In the first 10 days of the month, a total of 14 chartered flights will be landing in the state. We are ready to receive them."

The chief minister also warned that the state would put a limit on the flights if the charterers charge a higher airfare than what is being charged on the Vande Bharat Mission, and if they do not cater to priority groups as decided by the Government of India.
Passengers said they booked their tickets for Dh1,300 on the flight chartered by the KMCC two days ago. The Consulate-General of India in Dubai had issued a statement earlier, advising Indian citizens to book tickets only once the confirmed status of the flight has been updated on the missions' social media channels and websites.

Providing an explanation for breaking the ticket price ceiling placed by the Kerala government, Rahman said: "We received all approvals from respective local and Indian authorities. The flight to Kozhikode was delayed due to technical reasons. Also, people booked the tickets even before the government imposed the fare ceiling."
04/05/20 Dhanusha Gokulan/Khaleej Times

DGCA allows Zomato, Swiggy, Dunzo to start testing drone deliveries for food

It came as a welcome move when the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) gave permission to food delivery startups such as Zomato, Swiggy and Dunzo to test-fly long-range drones. These companies have got the permission to start testing drones beyond the visual line of sight. It is expected that this move may make an impact on how food is delivered in India.

Aviation experts have termed it as a landmark decision that may speed up the overall food delivery process in India. "We have been working on powering delivery via drones for some time now and welcome this move from DGCA to test our systems. We are excited to build the future of aerial food delivery in India,” Zomato spokesperson said.

Experts feel that food delivery by drones though revolutionary will also come with a bunch of challenges.

“It is probably the first time that any Indian regulatory body and the ministry has promoted the approach of deriving the technicalities of regulation by conducting detailed experiments. Regulators in countries such as the US are habitual of taking such an approach as they have been leading the development of regulation for such emerging technologies. This time India is getting in the league of front runners in creating an ecosystem for emerging technology,” Vipul Singh, co-founder and CEO, AUS -Aarav Unmanned Systems.

Besides being a landmark step, this move is expected to provide a promising platform for indigenous tech startups to innovate, solve, and develop hi tech drones that can be used for different applications in India. At the same time it can also create a roadmap that will allow this emerging start up ecosystem to decrease dependence on imported technology and create indigenous Intellectual Property (IP).
“Scaling up delivery operations based on technical maturity will ensure massive penetration of best quality essential commodities in the rural economy and locations in hilly areas in India which generally get deprived of timely availability of life saving and essential commodities,” added Singh.
04/05/20 Abhinav Singh/The Week

Airbus names India chief to lead Asia-Pacific operation

Airbus’s India division head, Anand Stanley, is to take over as president of its Asia-Pacific operation, succeeding Patrick de Castelbajac.

Stanley will take up the post from 1 July, the airframer says, reporting to chief commercial officer Christian Scherer.

He will be based in Singapore and will head the Airbus strategy in the crucial Asia-Pacific region, holding responsibility for commercial aircraft sales and the local operational sites, as well as government affairs and industrial partnerships.

Stanley joined the manufacturer in 2018 and holds the position of Airbus India president and managing director.

He previously worked with aerospace firms including Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky.
04/05/20 Flight Global

‘All-pet’ private jet, costing Rs 1.6 lakh per seat, set to fly from Delhi to Mumbai

New Delhi: An ‘all-pet’ private chartered jet is all set to transport six pets, who were stranded during the Covid-19 lockdown in Delhi, back to their owners in Mumbai in mid-June.

This initiative was taken up by 25-year-old Deepika Singh, a cybersecurity researcher in Mumbai. Singh told ThePrint that her relatives were stranded in Delhi and she had arranged a jet to bring them back, but some of them were not willing to travel with pets.
This led to the idea of an ‘all-pet’ private jet.

“Some people wanted to travel with their pets but when the others refused, I decided to arrange for another jet,” she told ThePrint.

She approached Accretion Aviation, an aggregator of private jets, helicopters and yachts, for a six-seater plane. The entire plane costs Rs 9.06 lakh, with each seat costing Rs 1.60 lakh.
“I contacted a private company. They agreed to give a plane for pets. Till now, four people have agreed to bring their pets from Delhi to Mumbai,” added Singh.

Fifty-eight-year-old Harvinder Kaur from Chembur, is one of the people who have agreed to have their dogs transported via the jet.

Kaur’s two 14-month-old Shih Tzus Finishia and Michelle were living with her relatives in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj, after she had to leave the national capital due to a family emergency. When a friend introduced her to Singh, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I did not care about money. They are like my children. I miss them terribly,” Kaur told ThePrint.
With four passengers already secured, the private jet needs two more pets to undertake the journey
Rahul Muchhal, the owner of Accretion Aviation, said, “Deepika has spoken to four pet owners. As soon as we get two more pets, we will start the preparations. At the latest, the plane will be ready to fly in the second week of this month.”

According to Muchhal, most people who charter private jets travel with their pets, but the latter have to be in cages during the flight. This protocol will be followed aboard the ‘all-pet’ jet as well.

The animals will also be screened before boarding, and temperatures will be taken of all the pets.
04/05/20 Tarun Krishna and Ananya Bharadwaj/Print

AAP MP arranges chartered flight for 180 migrants

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, here on Thursday, arranged a chartered flight for 180 migrant workers to ferry them from Delhi to Bihar, a day after he gave up his MP flying quota for 33 migrants.
Singh has been ferrying stranded migrant workers from Delhi to Bihar through private buses as well. "Singh has now arranged a chartered plane for 180 workers to fly them to Bihar," a statement from his office read.
The chartered Vistara flight for Patna left the Delhi airport at 6 p.m.
"All the migrant workers gathered at MP's residence for the necessary documentation process. They were briefed about the safety measures against the coronavirus while travelling. After the briefing and paperwork, six buses left for the airport at 1 p.m. with the workers," it said.
Singh had accompanied 33 migrant workers in a flight to Patna on Wednesday.
The Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha member has been helping the migrant labourers stranded in Delhi due to lockdown. He has also been supplying monthly rations to the needy.
04/05/20 IANS/daijiworld

Cargo rescues Indian airlines as humans remain hesitant to fly during a pandemic

India’s domestic carriers are making desperate attempts to stay afloat during the Covid-19 slump.

On May 28, low-cost airline SpiceJet said it has converted three of its Bombardier Q400 passenger aircraft into freighters. Other airlines are also considering the same move, industry sources told Quartz.

The decision comes at a time when passenger business is negligible as fewer people are travelling on domestic routes and international travel is suspended owing to the pandemic.
During this slump, some of the domestic carriers have been operating cargo flights on a commercial basis in addition to the aircraft being operated under Lifeline UDAN, a scheme launched for the movement of Covid-19 related essential equipment. This is helping the airlines find a “source of revenues as well as profits,” Kinjal Shah, an aviation analyst at credit rating agency ICRA, said.
Shipment delivery has come as a blessing in disguise as carriers were desperately looking to lap up anything that would save them from major financial distress.

“Cargo operations have become the only source of revenue for airlines as demand for essentials such as medical gear and consumables in India and outside remains high at the moment,” an industry executive told the New Indian Express newspaper on May 7.

Until May 28, SpiceJet had transported over 12,000 tons of cargo on more than 1,690 flights. The company is now looking to expand its international cargo operations to and from Sudan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong, among other places. On May 4, India’s largest airline, Indigo, said it had made three international cargo flights operational from Singapore and Maldives.
This cargo business, however, may not be enough to ensure financial success in the long-run, experts said.

Even as some funds trickle in from the freighters, carriers are focused on cutting costs.

“Many airlines have already started undertaking salary cuts for their employees, including leave without pay and laying off pilots and crew members,” Shah said. On May 30, low-cost airline GoAir announced a pay cut of over 60% for its senior pilots.

Despite these moves, the aviation industry is likely to have a really bad year. Analysts expect the demand for air travel to remain subdued for several more months, which would derail aviation companies’ expansion and new aircraft purchase plans. ICRA has predicted a de-growth of 44% for the Indian aviation industry for the FY21.
04/05/20 Niharika Sharma/Quartz

Bombay HC asks expert panel if coronavirus gets transmitted by touch?

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday sought to know from an expert committee, set up by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to review public health care protocols for air travel, if coronavirus can be transmitted by mere touch of a person who is a carrier of the virus.

A division bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and S P Tavade was hearing a petition filed by Air India pilot Deven Kanani, who claimed the airline was not keeping the middle seats vacant in flights bringing back stranded people to India.
Counsels of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) pointed out to the court minutes of the meeting held on May 26, 2020 by the expert committee under the chairmanship of the civil aviation secretary, by which it reviewed and strengthened public health related protocols of air travel.

As per the minutes of the meeting, physical distance between two persons helps in minimising transmission through an inadvertent touch, and if persons sitting next to each other could be provided a protective suit which could help in preventing spread of virus either by droplets or by touch.

"We seek clarification from the expert committee as to whether by mere touch of a person carrying COVID-19 virus, it can be transmitted to the person so touched, the court asked and posted the matter for further hearing on Friday.
04/05/20 PTI/New Indian Express

Cyclone Nisarga: Flight operations at Mumbai airport resume

Flight operations at the Mumbai airport, which was suspended at 2.30 pm, has now resumed, a spokesperson of GVK said on Wednesday. MIAL, the private airport operator, had earlier announced that all operations at the CSMIA will remain suspended between 2.30 pm and 7 pm as a precautionary measure in view of the cyclone Nisarga.

"The operatins at Mumbai airport have recommenced," the spokesperson said.

A GVK-led consortium in partnership with AAI runs the Mumbai airport under a joint venture MIAL.

"The landing and take-off is permitted at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) from 6 pm," the airport spokesperson said in a statement.

MIAL had scheduled a total of 19 flights for Wednesday, which include 11 departures and eight arrivals to be operated by five airlines -- Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir and AirAsia India.

It had, however, said schedule could change also depending upon the situation.

Meanwhile, during the day, a cargo aircraft belonging to FedEx overshot the main runway of the Mumbai airport on its arrival from Bengaluru, Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) said in a statement.

The aircraft was towed away from the runway and there has been no disruption in flight operations, it said.

"Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport witnessed a runway excursion today (Wednesday) with FedEx flight 5033 arriving from Bengaluru. The incident occurred when the MD11 aircraft landed on runway 14/32," it said.

Mumbai airport was allowed to operate a total of 50 flights per day, 25 departures and arrivals each following the resumption of air passenger services on the domestic routes from May 25.
04/05/20 PTI/Business Today

GoAir fires trainee officer Asif Khan after screenshots of his Hinduphobic comment went viral on social media

GoAir has terminated the employment of one Asif Khan after offensive comments he had made on social media started doing the rounds of the internet. The airline said that it doesn’t associate itself with the personal views and opinions of any individual. The contract of the trainee 1st officer has been terminated with immediate effect.

Asif Khan had made deeply offensive comments against Hindu Gods during an interaction on social media. Screenshots of his comments were subsequently captured by people on social media and demands were made to his employers fire him immediately. One such tweet received more than seven thousand retweets and likes on twitter. Asif Khan mentioned in his bio that he was a cabin crew at GoAir.

After screenshots of the abusive comments made by Asif Khan went viral on social media, Go Air announced that it was verifying whether Asif Khan is associated with their airline. It said that it has a zero tolerance policy and all its employees have to abide by their employment rules which includes behaviour on social media.
04/06/20 OpIndia

AI flight with 122 arrive Dimapur

Air India (AI-0709) with 122 stranded citizens of Nagaland including five from Manipur arrived Dimapur. 42 returnees were sent to Kohima by buses, including five Manipur bound passengers. The remaining passengers were taken to Agri Expo reception centre, from where they will be sent to various quarantine centres.
The passengers were received at the airport by APC Y Kikheto Sema, who is also in-charge of Dimapur for COVID-19, F&CS secretary Honje Konyak, EAC Chumoudekima, Thejavizo Nakhro, medical team and police personnel. 
It may be noted that the same flight (AI- 0709) that brought in 122 returnees, departed with 117 passengers, which included three infants.  Earlier, a flight from Guwahati landed in Dimapur at around 11 A.M. with 17 passengers, and departed with 29 passengers. 
04/05/20 Nagaland Post

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Vande Bharat Mission: Air India to operate 75 outbound passenger flights to US, Canada from June 9-30

Air India on Wednesday said it will operate 75 outbound passenger flights to select destinations in the US and Canada between June 9 and June 30 under the Vande Bharat Mission.
“Those who wish to travel to the United States and Canada and fulfill required entry conditions can book themselves on these outbound flights. Some foreign airlines have already carried out evacuation flights and are planning to operate more flights. These flights will also take foreign nationals,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted.
He said the aforementioned 75 flights will go to destinations like New York, Newark, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Vancouver and Toronto.
Domestic passenger flights resumed in India from May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India.
The central government, however, started the Vande Bharat Mission from May 7 to bring back the stranded Indians from abroad through special inbound flights. It is for the first time that outbound flights have been included under the mission.
“Under MissionVandeBharat, AI will be operating 75 flights from India to select destinations in USA and Canada from 9th to 30th June 2020. Bookings on these flights, ex India only, will tentatively be open from 1700 Hrs on 5th June 2020 only through Air India website,” the national carrier said on its website.
03/05/20 PTI/Financial Express

India announces 21 repatriation flights from Doha to 10 cities from June 9

Doha: Indian External Affairs Ministry has published on their website the list of flights from Doha to various Indian cities as part of repatriation efforts by the Indian government to get stranded Indians back home.

As per the website there will be 21 flights starting from June 9 to June 19 to 10 airports in 5 states of India.

The airports serviced by the Air India Express flights are Kannur (3), Trivandrum (4), Kozhikode (4), Kochi (4), Trichy, Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Madurai and Coimbatore.

Indian Embassy has not listed the flights details yet and it is the embassy which finalizes the passenger lists for the flights on the basis of registrations made on the Embassy website for this purpose. They have also setup special committee for different regions of India to come up with the list of passengers. 

Till today, 17 flight have left Doha to various Indian cities bringing the total number of repatriated passengers to 2828, plus 76 infants, Indian Embassy said in a Tweet.
03/05/20 Peninsula

Air India flights to bring stranded Kiwis home - MFAT

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is aware of a proposal for a private charter flight to get people stranded in India home, but says its focus is on a plan by the Indian authorities.
A group of more than 500 people have asked the Government to help secure a Singapore Airlines flight to return them to New Zealand, as they fear they won't get seats on the Indian government's planned flights.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said its priority was working with the Indian authorities on six planned flights to and from New Zealand.

The spokesperson said it had not ruled out engaging private charter flights, if there was still unmet need after the Air India flights.
MFAT said the New Zealand Government had since April helped more than 700 New Zealanders and their families return home from India, on three chartered flights.

The Indian government has arranged for six flights to return Indian citizens home, and the first of the Air India flights is scheduled to depart New Delhi for Auckland on 4 June.
03/05/20 1 News/TVNZ

Kerala: CIAL to operate repatriation flights from more countries

Kochi: Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), the airport is gearing up to receive more flights from new sectors. Both Air India and Air India express are planning more international flights from cities that remain intact so far. The Air India flight from the East African country Djibouti will land at Kochi airport at 1945 on 5 June. The National carrier will operate Vietnam-Bombay-Kochi flight on 07 June, Cairo-Bombay-Kochi flight on 16 June, Kiev-Delhi-Kochi flight on 19 June, London-Bombay-Kochi flight on 22 June, and Cebu (The Philippines)-Bombay-Chennai-Kochi flight on 23 June apart from their scheduled operations.

Meanwhile, the repatriation flights from Dubai and Kuwait reached Kochi on Tuesday evening with 369 passengers. The Air India Express flight (IX 434) from Dubai reached CIAL at 6.01pm with 184 passengers including 7 infants. The repatriation flight from Kuwait (IX 1496) reached CIAL at 7.34 pm with 185 passengers including, 8 infants.

While all the passengers of the Kuwait flight were asymptomatic, one passenger in Dubai flight was symptomatic, who was later sent to Ernakulam Medical College.
03/05/20 Times of India

IndiGo to add new Airbus jets to its fleet despite coronavirus uncertainty

New Delhi: IndiGo, India’s biggest airline, said it will keep adding new aircraft to its fleet even as it can’t give any firm guidance on future capacity growth because of the coronavirus pandemic, which destroyed demand for air travel in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets.

The airline, the world’s biggest customer for Airbus SE’s best-selling A320neo jets, plans to return its entire fleet of 120 older, fuel-guzzling planes to lessors in the next two years, Chief Executive Officer Ronojoy Dutta said in a conference call with analysts and investors after the carrier reported fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday. “Almost all or close to all” of those aircraft will be replaced by new jets, Dutta said, without giving a time frame for that to happen.

“We are in active discussions with Airbus — we will take a large number,” Dutta, who runs the airline operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., said on the call. “It will all depend on the revenue picture and the pricing we get and so forth, but we will take a large number.”

Shares of the company jumped as much as 8.7% Wednesday in Mumbai, their biggest intraday surge in almost two weeks. IndiGo was the best performer on the 28-member Bloomberg World Airlines Index, that tracks the biggest global carriers.

IndiGo joins a small number of low-cost airlines around the world that are keeping growth plans intact. Last week, Ryanair Holdings Plc. Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said that the carrier was planning to rekindle growth by negotiating incentives with traffic-starved airports and betting on the return of Boeing Co.’s beleaguered 737 Max model, which was grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes. Last month, Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi said the carrier plans to take delivery of the hundreds of jetliners it has on order from Airbus.
03/05/20 Anurag Kotoky/Print

IndiGo Airlines posts Rs 870.8 crore Q4 net loss

Mumbai: COVID-19 battered airline major IndiGo on Tuesday reported a net loss of over Rs 870 crore for the fourth quarter of 2019-20. The airline had posted a net profit of Rs 595.8 crore during Q4 of the previous fiscal. However, the company's revenue from operations grew 5.3 per cent to Rs 8,299.1 crore in the last quarter of FY20, compared with Rs 7,883.3 crore registered during the same period in 2018-19. Besides, IndiGo reported its first ever net loss for an entire fiscal for 2019-20. Accordingly, the net loss is Rs 233.7 crore, from a net profit of Rs 157.2 crore in 2018-19. On the full year revenue from the operations side, the airline reported a growth of 25.5 per cent to Rs 35,756 crore in FY20 from Rs 28,496.8 crore registered for the previous fiscal.
03/05/20 IANS/Sentinel

Life of a pilot in COVID-19 times: Little flying, diminishing salary and high EMIs

A monthly payslip of Rs 7.5 lakh can buy a lot of luxuries. Hirendra Barua, a Senior Captain at a low-cost airline in the country, had all that. A BMW car, flat in a posh colony in Mumbai and business class tickets for family on international holidays.

But in May, Barua got a shock when the airline said it was restructuring his salary. Now he would get a gross monthly salary of Rs 1.25 lakh, which could increase as much as his earlier pay, but it depended on the flying hours.

"Though the airline had resumed services after May 25, when domestic flights re-started across the country, I have flown only one day till now. I don't see myself flying more than 30 to 40 hours a month," says Barua ruefully.

The lower flying time, as compared to 70 hours earlier, would mean that the senior pilot's pay could come down to as low as Rs 2.6 lakh a month. That, says Barua, would be barely enough to meet the EMI payments on the loans he has taken. Though he has savings that will be enough to meet monthly expenses till the end of the year, the aviator wonders if the aviation sector will bounce back by then.
Across airlines, senior pilots like Barua, have seen a dramatic cut in their pay scales. While those in IndiGo, the largest airline in the country, may see a trim of about 40 percent, their counterparts in GoAir have had to suffer a heavier cut of 65 percent.
Not that others have been spared. Pilots who had moved companies recently, are facing a tough time. And many of these are from Jet Airways, which had suspended operations in April 2019.
Many of these pilots, who were undergoing training, have seen their job terms getting tweaked, resulting in lower pays and allowances. For instance, at IndiGo, these pilots will see a cut of 50 percent in their salaries and a drastic reduction in flying hours.
"I know of Jet Airways pilots who had joined airlines in the Philippines, South Korea and Turkey. All of them have either been terminated from their jobs, or sent on leave without pay," says a senior pilot who himself was earlier flying for the Naresh Goyal-founded carrier. "Worse is that the pilots are stuck in these countries because of travel restrictions, and can't even get back home," he added.
03/05/20 Prince Mathews Thomas/moneycontrol

Operations suspended for four hrs after FedEx flight veers off runway

Mumbai: Operations at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) were suspended for nearly four hours on Wednesday after a cargo aircraft veered off the runway in wake of heavy rain triggered by Cyclone Nisarga.

FedEx flight 5033, arriving from Bengaluru, landed on runway 14/32. The aircraft was towed away from the runway and there was no disruption in flight operations, said airport officials. “In consultation with AAI (Airports Authority of India), considering strong crosswinds, it has been decided that no arrivals and departures will take place between 1430 and 1900 hours,” read a statement from the airport. Officials said operations resumed around 6.30 pm.

GVK MIAL managing CSMIA saw 20 scheduled flights, including 12 departures and eight arrivals on Wednesday. Flights were scheduled to be operated by five airlines, including Air Asia India, Air India, IndiGo, GoAir and SpiceJet.
Lack of real-time updates on the airport website as well as on airlines’ websites caused confusion among passengers. Commute to the airport became difficult due to shortage of public transport and poor weather conditions.

Air India flight for Ahmedabad, scheduled to depart at 6 am, was delayed till 7 pm. On Tuesday, IndiGo announced cancellation of 17 flights to and from Mumbai, which were to fly on Wednesday. Only three departing flights were operated: 6E 495 Mumbai-Chandigarh, 6E 6179 Mumbai-Ranchi and 6E 5373 Mumbai-Patna. All these flights flew in the morning and reached their destinations.

According to flight status on its websites, Air Asia flew passengers to Kochi through its only scheduled flight. SpiceJet was originally scheduled to operate six arriving and six departing flights on Wednesday as per the schedule, but three departures and four arrivals were carried out. While all three GoAir flights departed as per schedule, flights arriving from Lucknow and Varanasi had to be delayed due to airport closure.

Vistara had cancelled all flights operating out of Mumbai airport on Wednesday. Returning flights Bombay-Kolkata-Bombay and Delhi-Bombay-Delhi were also cancelled.

In a statement, CSMIA had announced that food and beverage counters will be operational 24×7. These counters will continue to operate under safety measures adopted against the Covid-19 outbreak.
03/05/20 Abha Goradia/Indian Express

Global air passenger traffic plunges 94.3% in April: IATA

New Delhi: Global air passenger traffic plunged by 94.3 per cent in April this year as compared to the same month a year ago as the coronavirus pandemic virtually shut down air travel across the world, said global airlines body IATA on Wednesday.

"This is a rate of decline never seen in the history of IATA's traffic series, which dates back to 1990," said a press release by the organisation that has around 300 airlines as its members.

"Passenger demand in April (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs), plunged 94.3 per cent compared to April 2019, as the COVID-19-related travel restrictions virtually shut down domestic and international air travel," stated the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The RPK for a flight is calculated by multiplying the number of passengers in the plane to the total distance travelled by it.

“April was a disaster for aviation as air travel almost entirely stopped. But April may also represent the nadir of the crisis. Flight numbers are increasing. Countries are beginning to lift mobility restrictions," said IATA's Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.
03/05/20 PTI/Times of India

Pradhan urges Jaishankar, Puri for flights to bring back stranded Odias abroad

Bhubaneswar: Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan urged the Centre to make arrangements to operate direct flights to Bhubaneswar from the gulf countries, UK and Sri Lanka to bring back the people of Odisha stranded there due to the COVID-9 crisis.

The Union Petroleum and Steel Minister, in separate letters to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, sought the government''s intervention for arranging flights from these countries to bring back the stranded Odias.

Pradhan said the decision of the Centre to repatriate Indian nationals under the Vande Bharat Mission has helped many migrant workers, students and professionals to fly back to their home states.

In this regard, Ministry of Civil Aviation has been doing commendable work by operating flight service for the passengers stranded abroad, he said in the letters that were released to the press on Wednesday.

Pradhan said that he received representations from Odia persons living abroad, requesting to be brought back to Bhubaneswar.

The Odia community representatives living in GCC countries, United Kingdom, and Sri Lanka have made specific requests to travel back from their respective capital cities to Bhubaneswar directly, Pradhan wrote.
03/05/20 PTI/Outlook

Mumbai suspends flight movement from 2.30-7 pm; Fedex plane removed from runway after overshooting it

New Delhi: Mumbai Airport will suspend flight movement between 2.30 pm and 7 pm on Wednesday due to cyclone Nisarga leading to very strong crosswinds. Earlier on Wednesday, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport a Fedex MD 11 aircraft shot off the runway on landing at Mumbai Airport on Wednesday afternoon, when the super cyclone made landfall amid.

The Fedex aircraft was flying in from Bengaluru and landed on secondary runway 14. But it could not stop on time and went out of the runway by nine metres. Luckily like runway excursions seen in past monsoons, the aircraft was quickly restored and the runway did not have to be closed for operations.

In a statement, CSMIA said it “witnessed a runway excursion Wednesday with FedEx flight 5033 arriving from Bengaluru. The incident occurred when the MD11 aircraft landed on runway 14/32. The aircraft was towed away from the runway and there has been no disruption in flight operations.” There is no reported damage to aircraft infrastructure and aircraft.

“In consultation with Airports Authority of India, considering the strong crosswinds, it has been decided that no arrivals and departures will take place between 2.30 pm to 7 pm,” the airport statement said.

On July 1, 2019, a SpiceJet Jaipur-Mumbai flight had skidded off the main runway on landing at Mumbai airport. Then just a few hours later another SpiceJet Boeing 737 flying in from Coimbatore overshot the other runway on landing. While the aircraft from Coimbatore was quickly removed from the runway end, the plane which had flown in from Jaipur had remained for three days. It was finally removed by Air India engineering.
03/05/20 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

80 Punjab passengers reach home as flight with 153 Indians from Dubai lands at Chandigarh airport

Chandigarh: A special Air India flight has brought back 153 stranded Indians from Dubai under the Centre's Vande Bharat Mission, Chandigarh international airport officials said on Wednesday.
The AI 1916 flight landed at the international airport on Tuesday night.

This was the third flight under the mission to land here. Earlier, 244 Indians were brought back through special flights from New York and Ukraine's capital Kiev.

Eighty of the passengers who landed on Tuesday here belonged to Punjab, the officials said.

Thirty-seven of them belonged to Himachal Pradesh; 13 from Haryana; 11 from Chandigarh; four each from Delhi and J-K; and two each from Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

All passengers will be taken to their home districts under the supervision of officials where they will be quarantined according to the government guidelines.
All precautionary measures related to COVID-19 were at place at the international airport. The passengers were screened by the Punjab Health Department authorities.
03/05/20 Tribune

Bengaluru airport frames guidelines for no-contact travel

Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport recently heightened precautionary rules to control the transmission of Coronavirus for passengers opting to travel by air. As per recent developments, arrangements have been made by the airport authorities to make air travel contactless.

Reportedly, contact-free self-check kiosks, self drop bag facilities, and non-intrusive thermal cameras have been implemented at the airport along with other facilities. The hygiene rules also focus on how to minimise risk of infection while travelling in a taxi to or from the airport.

According to latest reports, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) had formerly announced that it will see to it that passenger taxis are cleaned and drivers are screened at the start of every trip to check for possibilities of infection. In addition, a statement issued by the BIAL said that taxi drivers have been asked to keep distance from the passengers. Stress will be laid on the usage of hand sanitiser and masks to cover the mouth.
03/05/20 Times Travel

3 special flights bring back stranded Odias to Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar: Three Air Asia special flights brought flight-load of stranded Odia migrants from Mumbai, Imphal and Guwahati on Wednesday.
The Odisha government facilitated the return of the migrants from Imphal and Guwahati cities while Mumbai flight was sponsored by a group of parents from a school in Mumbai.
The Mumbai-Bhubaneswar flight arrived here at 8.25 am with 180 passengers while the second flight from Imphal that mostly carried plumbers and construction workers arrived here at 2.40 pm with 124 passengers. The Bhubaneswar-Guwahati flight will arrive at 11.30 pm. The migrants were taken to their respective districts in separate buses from the airport. The officers of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and other state government officials deployed at the airport for the purpose completed the formalities of stamping them and registering each one after arrival.
Official sources said due to lockdown situation Odisha government has undertaken a mission to safely bring back all the migrant workers stranded in different parts of the country. “Government decided that person stranded in remote parts from where train services are not available and travelling on road is not possible, will be evacuated by Air,” said a government communication.
According to officials the migrants were stranded in Tinsukia, Silchar, Dimapur, Kamarup and Siva Sagar districts of Assam and also in Meghalaya. There were also migrants working in Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland. Dedicated teams of officers from the state government intensively interacted with the respective state governments and also the migrant workers before being brought here.
03/05/20 Riyan Ramanath/Times of India

As Asia’s tropical storm season arrives, grounded airplanes at risk of damage

Sydney/Taipei: Airlines, airports and insurers across Asia are bracing for the prospect of unusually high damage as the region’s tropical storm season begins. Hundreds of aircraft are currently grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic and these can’t be moved easily.

Major airports in storm-vulnerable regions such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and India have been effectively turned into giant parking lots as COVID-19 travel restrictions choke demand.

“If you have got those aircraft on the ground, you can imagine to get them back up and running in a short space of time is no easy thing,” said Gary Moran, head of Asia aviation at insurance broker Aon. “The challenge is you can have a typhoon or hurricane coming and there are going to be a lot of aircraft that aren’t going to be able to be moved in time.” Airline insurers, already on the hook to refund large portions of crash risk premiums because of the groundings, now face the larger-than-usual risk posed by having lots of airplanes grouped together at airports, industry experts said.
“One event could create damage that costs millions to repair, maybe even closer to hundreds of millions depending on the aircraft that are involved,” said James Jordan, a senior associate at law firm HFW’s Asia aerospace and insurance practices.

In guidance to be issued to airport operators this week, seen by Reuters, the trade group Airports Council International (ACI) warns that flying the planes out of danger, the practice in normal times, may not be possible. It says extra precautions such as more tie-downs could be needed.

“Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are a seasonal hazard in many areas of the world, and in the COVID-19 context provide an additional layer of hazard with many airports accommodating larger numbers of parked aircraft,” ACI Director General Angela Gittens said in a statement to Reuters.

Mumbai’s airport said today that small private planes vulnerable to strong winds had top priority to be flown out or parked in a hangar as the city braced for cyclone Nisarga.
03/05/20 Reuters/Gulf News

Air India to open bookings on 5th June for 75 additional flights to destinations in US & Canada: Civil Aviation Minister

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri today said, Air India has announced that it will open bookings on 5th June for 75 additional flights to destinations in US and Canada between 9th to 30th June under Vande Bharat Mission.

These destinations include New York, Newark, Chicago, Washington, Vancouver and Toronto.

In a series of tweets, the Minister said, those who wish to travel to US and Canada and fulfil required entry conditions can book themselves on these outbound flights.

Some foreign airlines have already carried out evacuation flights and are planning to operate more flights. These flights will also take foreign nationals.

Mr Puri said, normal international civil aviation operations will only start when they can. He added that right now most of the metro cities are under some form of restrictions due to which people from other cities cannot travel to catch flights and there is also requirement for mandatory quarantine on arrival.
03/05/20 All India Radio

Safety, health are my topmost priority: Air India CMD to employees

New Delhi: Air India Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Rajiv Bansal wrote to the company's employees assuring them that their safety and health are top priority for him.

"As head of the Air India family, I want to assure you that your concern, safety and health are my top-most priority no matter how the challenges of running our airline in these trying times keep me busy. Let me reiterate that your organisation is always with you during these difficult days," Bansal's letter read.

Bansal said that Air India is doing everything to minimise risk factors and help its employees work in an insulated environment as much as possible.

He said, "We have been leaving no stone unturned to ensure that your health concerns and safety get top priority. I have personally sensitised all the departmental heads to focus on the safety and interest of our employees working hard amidst the crisis to keep our flag fluttering high."

"Our dedicated medical services team members are available round the clock for any consultation, advice or emergency. The safety and health of our employees are as important to us as our passengers," the Air India CMD wrote.

"As we start our scheduled domestic flights, besides the ongoing Vande Bharat Mission evacuation operation, it becomes the prerogative of all of us to strictly adhere to the safety protocols to shield ourselves from the vagaries of the virus," he said.
03/05/20 ANI/Yahoo!

Flight operations at Mumbai airport suspended till 7 pm as severe Cyclonic Storm ‘Nisarga’ crosses Alibagh

Flight operations at the Mumbai airport will remain shut till 7 pm on Wednesday as a preventive step due to Cyclonic Storm Nisarga which made landfall near Alibagh in the afternoon with a wind speed of 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph.

The Mumbai International Ltd (MIAL) said the decision to temporarily suspend flight services at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) was taken in consultation with the Airport Authority of India (AAI)

"Considering the strong crosswinds, it has been decided that no arrivals and departures will take place between 2.30 pm and 7 pm," MIAL said in a statement.
A total of 19 flights were scheduled for Wednesday, which included 11 departures and eight arrivals to be operated by five airlines -- Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir and AirAsia India.

Earlier, the Severe Cyclonic Storm ‘Nisarga’ over Eastcentral Arabian Sea moved northeastwards with a speed of about 23 kmph during past 06 hours, crossed Maharashtra coast close to south of Alibagh with a maximum sustained wind speed of 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph between 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm, the India Meteorological Department said.

As of 2:30 pm, it lay centred over coastal Maharashtra, close to east-southeast of Alibagh, 75 km southeast of Mumbai and 65 km west of Pune.
03/05/20 Ahamad Fuwad/DNA