Thursday, January 26, 2023

Air India staff to get 98 crore shares as employee stock options

As Google, Meta and big tech firms use excessive manpower and wage costs as reasons to justify mass layoffs, one is reminded of Tata Steel's Early Separation Scheme in the 90s, when early exits guaranteed salaries till retirement age for employees. It just stands out among many other schemes implemented by the salt-to-steel conglomerate for employee benefit. The past few years were tough for employees of debt-burdened Air India, but its new owner Tata has set out to reward the staff with stock options.

After implementing an employee stock option (ESOP) scheme at Tata Motors in 2018, the Tata Group has plans to allot 3 per cent of its share capital to Air India employees. Permanent staffers of the airline will be getting 98 crore shares, which won't be owned by them personally, but by a trust. SBI Cap Trustee Company has been roped in to implement this ESOP scheme and assign shares to eligible employees, who can encash them after calculation of fair value by July 2023.

The step is just one among many measures to incentives employees, along with an open communication channel for 7,000 workers and plans to host townhall meetings.

26/01/23 FreePressJournal

How drones are proliferated in India — from R-Day parade to drug delivery

Don’t be surprised if, in some time from now, the pizza you ordered reaches your home through a drone. As India aims to become a global drone hub by 2030, the industry is confidently taking both small and big steps, steadily increasing the use of the technology in various sectors.

Read how >>

Gold worth over 48L sized at Cial

Kochi: The customs air intelligence unit at the Cochin International Airport Ltd (Cial) seized 1,062g of gold worth around Rs 48.5 lakh from an international passenger on Tuesday night. The passenger arrived in an Air India flight from Dubai. The gold in compound form was kept in four capsules, which were concealed in the passenger’s body

26/01/23 Times of India

Decorated Air India Pilot shocked to find her photo in misleading ad

India’s most well-known and decorated female commercial pilot Zoya Agarwal was shocked to find a dubious company using her photo to attract aspirants in an advertisement calling for admission in an aviation program in South Africa. Agarwal, on Wednesday was bombarded with queries on whether she was starting a training program at the said company after an advertisement was  published in a leading newspaper on 23 January with her photo in it. Agarwal was in New York when the incident happened. “I was informed by my father about the advertisement. This is a case of identity theft. They are trying to use my credibility to dupe gullible parents and aspirants. It is Indian parents and students who are going to be affected.” said Agarwal in a phone conversation with The New Indian. 

Agarwal wasted no time in raising the matter with the Delhi police. “A certain Krapa Study Abroad Private limited put an advertisement in some aviation programs in South Africa. They have given a toll free number 18003099831 and other non toll free numbers such as 9999194957,9999664957 +4 other numbers. My photograph was published by Krapa  whose director’s names are Kaushal Jemini and Mamta Rani. When my father spoke to  Kaushal on phone and asked them how they have my photograph in their advertisement, he could not give an appropriate answer,” she said.

The credentials of the company are questionable. A random google search doesn’t throw any website result. The said advertisement is full of spelling and grammatical errors and doesn’t carry any specifications about their course. “By using my photograph they are trying to cheat numerous innocent individuals of their money. This company tried to use my brand name and gave out the impression that I was associated with this venture. This can have dangerous consequences. This is a way to cheat the people of India and rob talented girls and boys of this country of their future.” said Agarwal.

Delhi police is yet to respond to her complaint. As someone  who is a  spokesperson at the UN for women empowerment alongside Greta Thunberg and Anne Hathaway, becoming a victim of fraud has left Agarwal disappointed.

26/01/23 New Indian

Upset over diversion, Dubai engineer falsely tweets Jaipur plane hijacked, arrested

In a shocking incident, a Dubai-based engineer was arrested at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Tuesday after falsely tweeting that a flight he was on had been hijacked.

The engineer, identified as 29-year-old Moti Singh Rathore, was reportedly upset over a diversion of his flight when he was flying from Dubai to Jaipur. The flight had been diverted due to bad weather conditions. Unhappy with the explanation, Rathore argued and reportedly fought with the airline staff over the sudden diversion.

When the flight was diverted to Delhi, the passenger tweeted tagging Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia that his plane was “hijacked”.

Airport and police personnel took cognizance of the tweet and evacuated the plane and performed all safety checks. The plane was checked and after clearance, it departed at 1.40 pm. It had landed in Delhi at 9:45 am. Officials also confirmed that no hijacking had taken place and that the situation was under control.

Rathore was deboarded and arrested. He later tweeted saying he “mistakenly” used the word hijack and posted it because he was angry at the diversion, police said.

26/01/23 Moneycontrol

Russian man enters terminal 3 with cancelled ticket to drop wife, FIR lodged

A man first purchased his ticket in order to drop off his wife, who was travelling to Russia, before the plane reached the airport. The ticket was later cancelled. However, the IGI Airport Delhi's vigilant security staff discovered his ruse and turned over the accused Russian national to the authorities. 

The suspect’s name was Alexander Timofeev, according to the information obtained from airport sources. His wife was travelling to Moscow. His wife was to fly to Moscow by Aeroflot plane. 

Alexander and his wife arrived at Indira Gandhi International Airport's Terminal 3. The airport authorities suspected this through their gestures. 

He arrived at Terminal 3 and proceeded through the main gate's forecourt. He then showed the security guards all the travel-related paperwork. The security guard allowed it in after spotting the document. 

The security personnel became suspicious when it reached inside. The security personnel questioned the Aeroflot flight staff about the accused's travel information when they were in the check-in area.

Alexander had purchased the ticket but had it cancelled, according to the airline. The security personnel later caught it. He admitted during questioning that he intended to leave his wife on the plane. His wife appeared to be in danger on her own at this location.

26/01/23 DNA

CSMIA installs 2D Barcode readers to ease passenger movement

Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) has installed 2D Barcode readers at the entry gates of Terminals 1 and 2, aimed at proving its commitment to understanding passengers' requirements for a hassle-free travel experience. Starting January 26 2023, CISF officers manning CSMIA’s Terminal entry gates will scan the barcodes of the ticket or boarding pass instead of manually checking the flight tickets. CSMIA implemented the 2D barcode readers to expedite entry into the terminal, while improving customer satisfaction.

With over 900+ flight movements per day, the airport welcomes approximately 150,000 passengers a day. The goal for CSMIA is to improve efficiency and expedite the passenger journey. This new addition is not only a security enhancement but also an efficiency improvement measure, both of which are critical for an airport which handles approximately 48 million passengers annually.

26/01/23 Times of India

Lucknow international airport will remain closed for night flight operations for four months!

As per the latest news reports, the Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport in Lucknow will not be operating any night flight operations for four months. Referring to this, airport officials in the know-how added that night flight operations will remain suspended from February 23 to July 11.

If reports are to go by, there will be no flight operations between 9:30 pm and 6 am during this period.

The Lucknow airport, during this period, will be undertaking the expansion and upgradation work of its existing runway (airside) to prepare for future challenges with the rise in number of passenger and cargo flow.

Revealing more about this, an airport spokesperson added that during the four-month period, the airport will be undertaking various construction activities to upgrade the infrastructure on the airside, which will include new ground lights for aircraft operations, introduction of three new link taxiways, runway end safety area made of sand and aircraft turn pad expansion.

The airport official added that they have already informed the airlines about non-availability of the runway for 8.5 hours for them to facilitate the passengers accordingly.

26/01/23 Times Travel

Akasa Air commences services from Hyderabad

Hyderabad: India’s newest airline, Akasa Air has announced its arrival into Telangana with the launch of its 13th domestic destination in Hyderabad. The airline on Tuesday announced that it will operate two daily flights between Hyderabad-Goa and Hyderabad-Bengaluru, with its first flight to RGIA scheduled to land on Wednesday. In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, Praveen Iyer, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer and Belson Coutinho, Co-founder and Chief Marketing & Experience Offices, Akasa Air, open about the essence of the new airline and talk about the values it carries from destination to destination. 

The interview >>

Air India has made 'quite remarkable progress' CEO airline finalising historic aircraft order

New Delhi: As the Tata group completes the first year of taking over Air India, the airline on Friday said it is finalising a historic order of new aircraft while the airline's chief Campbell Wilson highlighted that the carrier's progress has been quite remarkable.

     Stepping into the second year of Air India 2.0, Wilson, in a message to employees, acknowledged that there will be challenges along the way and emphasised that more than successes, "it is how we respond to our lapses ... that will define us".

     The airline has put in place a roadmap under Vihaan.AI for transformation over the next five years and has taken various measures, including committing USD 400 million to refurbish the interiors of its entire wide-body fleet.

     However, in recent weeks, the carrier has faced certain headwinds related to the unruly behaviour of passengers onboard two international flights and has also been penalised by the aviation regulator DGCA.

     Listing out major initiatives, Air India on Friday said it is "finalising a historic order of new aircraft to power future growth" and has added more than 1,200 professionals across key functions to upgrade capabilities.

     "Hundreds of initiatives across 22 broad work streams are underway to transform the airline over three phases: Taxi, Take Off and Climb," the airline said.

     In his message, Wilson said that while working on improvements, the airline has not shied away from other ambitious actions such as merging Air India Express with Air Asia, or Vistara with Air India, or kicking off the establishment of a new InfoTech Centre, or an Aviation Academy.

     "And that's not to mention our much talked-about short- and-medium term fleet expansion," the CEO and MD of Air India said.

     In the past year, Air India said its total operating aircraft increased 27 per cent to 100, 16 new international routes have been either launched or announced, average daily revenue has doubled and manpower at its call centre has been more than doubled, among other initiatives.

     Tata group took control of loss-making Air India from the government on January 27 last year.

     "Taken together, the progress over the last 12 months has been nothing short of stunning, even if so much of what we have been working on has been behind the scenes, building platforms and capabilities so that our future ambitions can take flight. There is of course much more that needs to be done, and everyone - internally and externally - is hungry for us to do it," Wilson said.

     Started his message by saying "Happy Friday, folks….. and Happy Anniversary, for today marks the first anniversary since Air India returned to Tata!" Wilson extended his deepest gratitude to the employees for the hard work put in over the past year.

     Noting that together they have embarked upon "one of the most ambitious turnarounds in international aviation history", Wilson said, "quite remarkable progress" has been made in a very short space of time.

     "I would especially like to acknowledge our erstwhile Air Indians who have experienced probably the most significant period of change in your entire working lives, with all the trepidation, uncertainty and adjustment that this entailed.

     "And to all of you, whether 'old' or 'new', I thank you for coming together behind this mission of national importance so quickly and constructively," he said.

26/01/23 PTI/The Week

AAI chairman says will implement Digi Yatra at Kolkata, Pune, Vijayawada airports

Airports Authority of India Chairman Sanjeev Kumar on Thursday said the Union government is implementing Digi Yatra at Kolkata, Pune and Vijayawada airports after the successful implementation at Varanasi airport.

During the celebration of 74th Republic Day at Delhi's AAI-ATC (Air Traffic Control) services building, the AAI chairman said, "Digi Yatra is an important step that we have been able to implement after 3-4 years of hard work. The AAI had been effectively involved under the ministry and with the help of private operators, we have made an ecosystem ready where software is made separately and hardware is kept at the airport so that passengers could have a faceless identification and travel faster."

"Whenever passengers come to airport, they go through security check at first, then at check-in and inside another security check at the boarding gate. At these places, they had to show their IDs and boarding cards. Digi Yatra has taken a huge step in implementing a seamlessly, paperless travel without these documents," the chairman said.

"We are happy to have been able to implement this at Varanasi airport and many passengers have been able to use it," the chairman said, adding, "More than 25-30 per cent passengers have been using this service at Varanasi airport."

He said, "We request passengers who haven't used to use it, to use this hassle-free and paperless travel."

Digi Yatra envisages a traveller pass through various checkpoints at the airports through a paperless and contactless processing, using facial features to establish his identity which could be linked to the boarding pass.

26/01/23 ANI/Economic Times

Russian woman held for entering Dabolim airport with fake tkt

Vasco: Dabolim airport police arrested a Russian woman for allegedly gaining access into the terminal building of the Dabolim airport by showing a forged ticket in her name for an Azur airlines flight.

Police said that the arrest was made after CISF official Shashi Kumar lodged a complaint against the Russian national who is identified as Marina Ekataria.

In his complaint, Kumar stated that Ekataria gained illegal access into the terminal building of the Dabolim airport around 3.45am on January 24 by showing an edited soft copy of an air ticket in her name for Azur airlines flight no-ZF2437.

The CISF handed Ekataria over to the Dabolim airport police. Ekataria was produced before the judicial magistrate first class Vasco and has been remanded in 14-day judicial custody. Dabolim airport PI Vinayak Patil is investigating the case.

26/01/23 Times of India

Mumbai Airport Installs Barcode Scanners to Read Boarding Pass for Quicker Passenger Flow

Uttar Pradesh Tourism minister Jaiveer Singh has mounted a blistering attack on the Samajwadi Party, saying that SP leaders are making objectionable remarks on 'Ramcharitmanas'. He also questioned party chief Akhilesh Yadav's silence on the controversy.

Calling them narrow-minded, he said it reflected in their behaviour. "The BJP has a large heart-this is evident from the fact that we gave Padma Vibhushan to Mulayam Singh Yadav even though he had ordered firing on kar sevaks in Ayodhya. Our leaders have a big heart and forgiving nature," he told reporters in Etawah.

He further said, "When Kalyan Singh died, Akhilesh, who lives at a stone's throw, did not go to his residence to offer his tributes to the late leader. But when Mulayam Singh passed away, Kalyan Singh's son Rajveer went to offer his tributes."

Asked to comment on SP MP Dimple Yadav's demand for Bharat Ratna for Mulayam Singh Yadav, the minister said, "When she becomes Prime Minister, she can do it. Our good wishes are for her."

26/01/23 ANI/Zee News

Akasa Air's online services hit by turbulence due to outage at Microsoft Azure

Akasa Air was touted as big bull Rakesh Jhunjhunwala's entry into the aviation business with a 46 per cent stake in the carrier, shortly before his demise. It started off by connecting Ahmedabad and Mumbai, at fares going below Rs 4,000 on the route. But less than a year after taking off, Akasa Air has flown into turbulence with the disruption of its online services.

The low-cost carrier was hit by an outage at its service provider Microsoft's Azure cloud computing. The disturbance which was resolved after a while, also affected the functioning of Akasa's check-in services.

But Akasa wasn't the only carrier affected, as IndiGo's services were also hit by issues at Microsoft, while Air India and Vistara were able to glide through without disruptions.

26/01/23 Free Press Journal

British Airways sees strong India demand, adds third flight from Mumbai

British Airways is getting strong demand from India, its second-largest market after the US, said Moran Birger, the airline's head of sales for South Asia, Middle East and Africa.

"India is an incredibly important market for us. Last month, we launched a third daily service between London Heathrow and Mumbai. The flight is operated with Airbus A350 aircraft, which has a new business class product. We are seeing demand from the leisure segment. Business travel demand has recovered too," Birger said in Mumbai.

British Airways weekly operates 56 flights between London and India. Other than Mumbai, it flies to Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, and Hyderabad.

British Airways is adding capacity as it sees increased competition in the India-UK market. Air India has announced seventeen additional weekly flights to London: five to Heathrow and twelve to Gatwick from Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Goa, and Kochi.

26/01/23 Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Man Arrested For Allegedly Peeing On Air India Passenger Applies For Bail

New Delhi: Shankar Mishra, the man accused of urinating on an elderly woman co-passenger on board an Air India flight from New York to New Delhi, on Wednesday moved a Delhi court seeking bail.

Mishra, currently in judicial custody, moved an appeal before a sessions court against an order passed by a magisterial court that had denied him bail on January 11.

The sessions court is likely to hear the arguments on his application on January 27. Mishra was arrested by a joint team of Bengaluru and Delhi police after he had gone incommunicado following the sordid incident on an Air India flight on November 26, 2022.

Mishra allegedly urinated on the woman, a senior citizen, in an inebriated condition in the business class of the Air India flight from New York to Delhi. The Delhi Police registered an FIR against him on January 4 on a complaint by the woman.

25/01/23 PTI/NDTV

Shankar Mishra was not served excess alcohol, did not look intoxicated, says Air India

Air India, after conducting an internal enquiry into the urination case, said Shankar Mishra, the 34-year-old man who allegedly urinated on a woman co-passenger, was not served excessive alcohol by the crew. The airline, in its official statement, said Mishra did not appear intoxicated and, in the judgment of the crew, he did not pose a risk to the flight's safety at any time.

Mishra is accused of urinating on a co-passenger -- an elderly woman -- onboard a New York-Delhi Air India flight on November 26, 2022. He was detained in Bengaluru after absconding from the police. According to the woman's complaint in the case, Mishra seemed to be drunk after consuming the alcohol served on the business class flight.

Air India acknowledged that it did not correctly classify the incident as per the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR), the guiding principles for the aviation sector. It said the flight crew and ground staff have been issued warning letters to adhere strictly to the CAR definition of “unruly” when reporting such incidents in the future.

The cabin crew and the ground staff, the airline said, have been counselled and have since returned to duty. Earlier, pending enquiry, Air India had de-rostered four cabin crew members and a pilot.

The complainant had earlier accused Air India of not offering any help when the incident happened. The victim in her letter said that neither the cabin crew nor the airline helped her in need.

24/01/23 Poulomi Saha/India Today

Air India’s Internal Committee report in peegate incident has multiple flaws

Last week, the Internal Committee constituted by Air India to examine the incident of a traveller peeing on a co-passenger declared the alleged perpetrator, Shankar Mishra, as ‘unruly’. In the normal course, such reports from Internal Committees signal the end of the issue. However, in this case, the committee has erred and glossed over facts in such a way that Air India must review it to ensure that bloomers aren’t repeated.

Read how & why >>

Mumbai businessman held for being unruly on Chennai-Mumbai Indigo flight

Mumbai: A 35-year-old man was arrested soon after a Chennai-Mumbai Indigo flight landed at the airport on Sunday night for creating a ruckus during the journey.

Darshan Parekh, a small-time businessman in Mumbai, was allegedly drunk when he boarded at Chennai and was violent, abusive and not ready to follow the safety instructions. At one point, he was hurling abuses and was not ready to sit even while the flight took off.

Police said airline crew are not taking a chance since the two incidents aboard Air India of drunk passengers urinating in the cabins and are reporting almost every ruckus for further police action.

"Parekh boarded the flight drunk and was not ready to follow the safety instructions the crew gave before the flight took off. The crew initially thought of de-boarding Parekh but as the door was already locked, they decided to take action once the flight landed in Mumbai," said an officer of the Sahar police station. Parekh has been granted bail.

During questioning, Parekh claimed he was trying to sleep when the crew disturbed him. But crew members told the police that Parekh, allotted seat 18C, began creating a ruckus as the flight was about to take off. The crew instructed flyers to fasten their seat belts. but Parekh kept standing and created a ruckus.

Matters got so bad, other flyers complained about the nuisance created by Parekh. "It was conveyed to captain Vishal Gandhi. Parekh was handed over to the police at around 11 pm," said the police.

In the complaint, chief flight attendant Almas Anwar Sheikh said: "The crew and captain tried to pacify the flyer and asked him to sit but he hurled abuses till the flight reached Mumbai. He disobeyed when the crew asked him to fasten his safety belt and sit."

25/01/23 Narayanan Namboodiri/Times of India

Jet Airways lenders move NCLAT against Jalan-Kalrock consortium

Lenders of debt-ridden Jet Airways on Tuesday filed an appeal in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) against implementation of the resolution plan by the Jalan-Kalrock consortium, according to sources.

The sources said the lenders have maintained that the condition precedent mentioned in the resolution plan of the consortium has not been met. And therefore, the plan is not valid.

“The lenders want the plan to be circled back to the committee of creditors (CoC) for fresh consideration,” the sources said.

On January 13, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had allowed the application of Kalrock-Jalan to implement its resolution plan for Jet Airways. NCLT permitted infusion funds into the grounded airline for its revival.

NCLT, in its order, said, “It goes without saying that the plan approved by this tribunal has to be implemented without any modification much less than on satisfaction of any other undertaking. And thus, the effective date and completion date of condition precedent under the plan shall have to be read as May 20, 2022.”

Jet Airways shut operations in April 2019 due to a financial crisis. The airline then underwent a resolution process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

The revival plan submitted by the consortium was cleared by Jet’s CoC in October 2020. The NCLT approved the plan in June 2021.

24/01/23 Business Standard

5G ban in India’s airports set to be reviewed

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has said it intends come up with a decision on whether to lift a ban on 5G around airports – but not until it has carried out a detailed study.

A Financial Express report quotes a ministry representative as saying that DoT is taking into consideration all views but that the ruling came after the civil aviation ministry flagged certain concerns with regards to operations of aircraft. “Since it’s a matter of public safety, DoT will conduct a detailed study before taking a decision further,” said the official.

Late last year DoT instructed operators to disable 5G base stations in the mid-band (3.3GHz-3.6GHz) within two kilometres from both ends of the runway and almost a kilometre from the centre line of the runway.

Not too surprisingly the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), wrote to DoT last month to suggest allowing 5G base stations to be turned back on.

It points out that aircraft altimeter systems run on C-band airwaves from 4.2Ghz and above, and not the 3.30-3.67GHz spectrum that is being used for 5G services in India, so interference should not be an issue.

Confusingly the civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, has said that it didn’t want the 5G base stations shut off, and that there was no mention of any specific service area around airports in a communication it had sent to the telecom ministry. It explained: "We have not forbidden 5G near airport but have asked them to operate only at lower power.”

24/01/23 Vaughan O'Grady/Developing Telecoms

Ticket downgraded involuntarily? Airlines will now have to refund up to 75% cost

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the regulatory body for civil aviation in India, has announced new reimbursement policy for passengers who are affected by the downgrading of their tickets.

The DGCA has amended its Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) Section-3 to allow the passenger, who is downgraded involuntarily and is carried in a class lower than that for which the ticket is purchased, to be reimbursed by the airline.

The reimbursement will be as follows:

For domestic sector: 75% of the cost of ticket including taxes

For international sector:

1) 30% of the cost of ticket including taxes for flights of 1500km or less

2) 50% of the cost of ticket including taxes for flights between 1500km to 3500km

3) 75 % of the cost of ticket including taxes for flights more than 3500km

25/01/23 Poulomi Saha/India Today

Pilot Plans To Draw Huge Map Of India In The Sky On Thursday



Pilot and vlogger Gaurav Taneja - owner of the YouTube channel 'Flying Beast' - is set to draw a map of India in the sky to commemorate the country's 74th Republic Day. The ‘Aasman Mein Bharat’ mission will launch from Tampa Airport, Florida on January 26th and involve around three hours of flying. Let's take a closer look below.

Captain Taneja, who boasts over 12 years and 6,000 hours of flying experience is attempting to break the record for the largest-ever map of India drawn in the sky. As reported by Business Wire India, the Aasman Mein Bharat mission can be tracked on Taneja's social media channels

The stunt will originate from Tampa Airport, Florida on India's Republic Day this Thursday - while details of the mission are still scarce, it will reportedly cover around 350km of distance during a three-hour flight.

"As we are approaching the 74th year of the Constitution of India on the occasion of the Republic Day, Captain Gaurav Taneja aka Flying Beast will be drawing the Largest map of the Largest Democracy in the World in a nation-binding patriotic initiative named ‘AASMAN MEIN BHARAT’."

Gaurav Taneja, otherwise known as the Flying Beast, has around 17 million followers across his social media handles - having initially made his name with aviation-related content, Taneja now posts wide-ranging videos, including vlogs of his daily life and workout regimen. Taneja reportedly gave up his aviation career for good in 2020 and transitioned to a full-time content creator.

24/01/23 Luke Bodell/Simple Flying

Air India to deduct Rs 10-15 lakh from each colony employee, apart from penal rent

Mumbai: Air India completes one year of privatisation on Friday, but for hundreds of its employees living in the airline staff quarters in Mumbai and Delhi it’s time to brace for impact as they face salary deductions worth Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh, apart from the penal rent that the airline started levying in December.

The airline has begun the paperwork on levying ``damage charges’’ on employees who continue to live in the airline quarters and those who vacated the quarters post July 31, 2022, said sources. “Apart from the penal rent which is double the market rate, that is charged with retrospective effect from August 1, 2022 onwards, Air India, on orders from the central government, will deduct a sum of Rs 10- Rs 15 lakh, towards damage charges from each colony employee,” the source added.

George Abraham, general secretary, Aviation Industry Employees Guild said: “The deductions are blatantly illegal and absolutely cruel. Employees will hardly earn any salary for the work done. This is an unprecedented act by a government in utter disregard to the courts, to the law and all laid down norms of corporate governance.” Air India refused to comment.

The airline staff quarters were not part of the privatisation deal and was transferred to Air India Asset Holding Ltd, a government-owned special purpose vehicle set up to handle non-core assets and 75% of Air India’s debt.

The ministry of civil aviation had set a deadline of July 26, 2022, six months from the date of disinvestment, for employees to vacate the staff quarters. Employees, through their unions, moved the high courts of Bombay and Delhi with petitions praying that they be allowed to reside in the staff quarters till the time they are employed with the airline. Late last year, the Bombay High court ordered Air India to approach the Central Government Industrial Tribunal (CGIT) to resolve the issue.

“The airline hasn’t approached the CGIT yet. Instead it started deducting penal rent. December salary was cut by 75%. Once the penal rent collection is complete, the `damage charges’ will be deducted. It is set at Rs 10 lakh for most of the staffers residing in Delhi and for those residing in Mumbai its either Rs 10 lakh or Rs 15 lakh, depending on the pay scale, type of accommodation allocated to them,” said an airline official, requesting anonymity.

25/01/23 Manju V/Times of India

Chandigarh gets second flight to Goa

Mohali: A new flight to Goa has been made operational from the Shaheed Bhagat Singh International (SBSI) Airport here.

The flight left for the Mopa International Airport at 7.17 am and returned to Chandigarh at 11.30 pm today. This is the second flight connecting the city to Goa. The existing flight to Goa’s Dabolim Airport will also remain operational. With this, the number of arrivals and departures have touched 94 here.

Mopa is located in North Goa, known for its beaches, forts and nightlife. The state’s second international airport was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December.

25/01/23 Tribune

Fully-automated parking system installed in Thiruvananthapuram airport

Thiruvananthapuram: A fully-automated parking system has been installed at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. According to airport officials, it will enhance the safety and security of passengers and their vehicles while also providing a seamless experience.

The system uses self-ticket dispensers to generate the slips. Users need to produce this at the exit booth to learn the prescribed parking fee. The payment can be done digitally or in cash. A pre-payment counter is also operational in front of the arrival area.

Plans are also afoot to introduce FASTag to further improve the convenience of passengers. TIAL had recently ramped up features at its facility by installing several CCTV cameras, an EV charging station, and an eco-car wash.

25/01/23 New Indian Express

Passengers complain of airport chaos

Jaipur: Passengers at Jaipur airport complained of chaos due to heavy traffic and lack of management. Filmmaker Onir took to Twitter and said, “Absolutely chaos at security checks at Jaipur Airport. Too few counters to deal with the number of passengers. Tempers flying high.”

In the past few months, footfall has been increasing continuously at the airport due to tourist season, long weekends and JLF.

25/01/23 Times of India

Mumbai Intn'l Airport introduces first batch of EVs

New Delhi, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) introduced its first batch of Electric Vehicles (EVs) on Wednesday.

To reduce dependency on fossil fuels, CSMIA has introduced 45 EVs by replacing its existing fleet of fossil fuel powered vehicles. This is part of the airport's commitment to reduce its carbon footprint and to promote sustainable transportation.

CSMIA intends to replace all its combustion-powered vehicles with electric vehicles as part of its Operational Net Zero mission by 2029.

According to a CSMIA spokesperson, this move is a step towards CSMIA's Operational Net Zero plan, which aims to reduce the airport's environmental impact.

In addition to the 45 EVs being introduced in January, CSMIA is also exploring the deployment of 60 more EVs in the next fiscal year, including ambulances, forward command post, security and airside operations & maintenance utility vehicles.

25/01/23 Times of India

DGCA amends ticket refund rules for air travellers

New Delhi: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has amended its Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) for passengers who are unable to board due to denied boarding, cancellation of flights, and delays in flights.

The amendment of CAR will allow the passengers, who are downgraded involuntarily and are carried in a class lower than that for which the ticket is purchased, will be reimbursed by the airline.

For domestic sector flights, 75 per cent of the cost of the ticket including taxes will be reimbursed.

Also Read: Pee-gate shocker: Air India amends existing in-flight liquor policy

For the international sector, 30 per cent of the cost of the ticket including taxes for flights of 1500 km or less; 50 per cent of the cost of the ticket including taxes for flights between 1500 km to 3500 km; 75 per cent of the cost of the ticket including taxes for flights more than 3500 km.

The amendment in the Civil Aviation Requirement, the civil aviation regulator in a statement, said, is to strengthen the rights of air travellers affected by the downgrading of their tickets.

25/01/23 ANI/Mid Day

Poor planning grounds Chennai airport’s high-flying plans

Chennai:   A few days ago, former WHO chief scientist Dr Sowmya Swaminathan landed at Chennai airport and took a metro rail train to the city. She posted on social media: “Taking the clean, efficient and environmentally friendly Chennai Metro from the airport. Need to improve access from domestic terminal to Metro station, especially for people with luggage.”

Like her, several people take to social media almost daily to suggest that facilities can be better. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is taking ad hoc steps but there will be no permanent solutions in the near future because of the way the terminals, multi-level car parking, space for pick-up and drop of passengers, connection to airport metro station were planned and designed around 15years ago, with no user inputs.

With the proposed airport at Parandur likely to take at least 10 years, passengers will have to live with the constraints. The number of passengers has touched around 50,000 a day and the number of flights 400 a day, at par with pre-Covid levels, but the airport is not able to cash in.

Airlines prefer to start new routes — the muchneeded direct flights to the US and Australia — from Bengaluru. The airport is suffering because one mistake led to another, said a former airport official. AAI has already spent `4,000 crore – `2,000 crore for the terminals commissioned in 2013 and another `2,000 crore for new ones being built – to modernize and boost passenger capacity from 20 million to 30 million.

Mohan Chandramouli, a retired airlines official who served at Chennai airport, said AAI had been doing quick-fixes without a vision. “It left everything to field officials with limited expertise.” The airport didn’t ensure buildings (at Manapakkam and Kolapakkam) complied with NOC norms though the second runway was extended 12 years ago.

“They are asking residents now to demolish obstacles.” “Pilots, airlines or safety experts were not involved in design and planning. AAI is resorting to trial and error methods. The international arrival terminal with one baggage ramp into the basement for arrival and departure baggage is shortsighted.”

25/01/23 V Ayyappan/Times of India

Adani-Owned Ahmedabad International Airport Plans Development, Expansion Projects

Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport (SVPI) at Ahmedabad has planned a slew of development and expansion projects to cater to future passenger traffic demand, the private airport said on Tuesday. The facility, owned by Adani Group, currently has the terminal capacity of 8-million passengers annually, while it is expected to handle 20-million passengers per annum by 2025-26 thereby necessitating the expansion work, which include a new integrated terminal building and refurbishment of existing terminals, it said.

According to the company, while the majority of the capex projects are related to development of airside and terminal capacity matching with projected exponential passenger growth, it is also pertinent to understand that the existing terminal infrastructure is not fully sufficient to handle the current and extraordinary growing demand.

In the current financial year, the passenger movement at the SVPI is expected to be around 12-million, the company said.

In addition to the planned works that are in keeping with the enhancement of terminal infrastructure, some of the initiatives that have already been executed, the airport operator said.

24/01/23 PTI/ZeeNews

Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal, wife get relief from ED action till Jan 31

The Bombay High Court has granted interim relief to Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal and his wife, Anita Goyal, in connection with a money laundering case registered against them by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The high court has ordered the ED not to take any coercive action against the couple till the next hearing, which is to be held on January 31.

Justice Revati Mohite Dere and Justice PK Chavan granted them interim relief while hearing a plea filed by the Goyals seeking to quash the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR).

The case was based on a First Information Report registered by the Mumbai Police at MRA Marg Police Station based on a complaint filed by a travel agency that accused the Goyals and their company, Jet Airways, of cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery.

The travel agent claimed that it had suffered a loss of over Rs 46 crores after the airline cancelled its flight operations in October 2018.

The Goyals' attorneys, Ravi Kadam, Abad Ponda, and Ameet Naik, drew attention to a closure report that the Mumbai Police had submitted in March 2020, concluding that there was no basis to the criminal case and that the issue appeared to be civil in nature.

24/01/23 Vidya/India Today

The homecoming of Biju Patnaik’s Dakota, a symbol of Odia pride

Finally, the iconic Dakota (DC-3) aircraft flown by legendary aviator and former Odisha Chief Minister Biju Patnaik has found a new address — Bhubaneswar’s Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA). Just a few hundred metres separate the aircraft’s new home and the late commander’s house, Naveen Niwas.

The 8-tonne and 65-foot-long aircraft, bearing registration number VT-AUI, was lying abandoned in a remote corner of Kolkata’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International airport for 55 years. It took its first flight in February 1944.

The heroic tales of Biju Patnaik, the pilot, and the Dakota aircraft he flew are an inseparable part of the illustrious history of Indian aviation.

Last week, as three trucks carried the dismantled aircraft to Bhubaneswar, hundreds of people lined up on either side of the Kolkata-Bhubaneswar national highway to witness history in motion.

Biju’s son and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik welcomed the aircraft by showering petals on it at the Bhubaneswar airport.

“I am happy that the Dakota flown by Biju Babu has reached Bhubaneswar. He had undertaken several daring operations with this aircraft,” Naveen said.

“His most daredevil act was the rescue of Indonesian freedom fighters from the control of Dutch forces. My mother Gyan Patnaik was the co-pilot of Biju Babu on that Dakota,” he added.

The aircraft will be displayed for public viewing from March 5, Biju’s birth anniversary. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has allotted 1.1 acres of land for this purpose at the airport.

According to BPIA Director Prasanna Pradhan, repair works are underway at the state government hangar in the airport. Following the repairs, the aircraft will be taken to the allotted space at the airport and reassembled before being installed on a pedestal for display.

The Odisha government has entrusted Bhubaneswar-based Aerospace Research and Development Center the job for its repair and installation at a cost of Rs 3 crore. The company also looked after the transportation of the aircraft from Kolkata to Bhubaneswar.

Before joining politics, Biju had in 1947 formed Kalinga Airlines with its base in Calcutta. He was the airlines’ chief pilot.

In 1946, Biju was asked by Jawaharlal Nehru to help the Indonesian freedom fighters and their cause by ferrying planeloads of medicines and humanitarian assistance. Along with his pilots, Biju flew numerous sorties, evading the Dutch who had put up land and sea blockades. The planes would fly from Calcutta with fuel stops at Mohanbari and Singapore.

On July 21, 1947, at the behest of Nehru, the 32-year-old Biju, along with his co-pilot and wife Gyan, leaving behind their 14-day-old son, took off on an old Dakota to Singapore enroute Jakarta. In Singapore, he received a message from the Dutch, threatening to shoot down his aircraft if it entered Indonesian airspace.

An unruffled Biju replied: “Resurgent India does not recognize Dutch colonial sovereignty over the Indonesian people. If my aircraft is shot down, every Dutch plane flying across the Indian skies will be shot down in retaliation.” He also dashed off a short message to Nehru: “Take necessary steps should my aircraft be shot down.”

In a dare-devil rescue act, the ace pilot, landing on an improvised airstrip and using leftover petrol from abandoned Japanese military dumps, eluded the Dutch to land in Jakarta. On July 24, he flew out Indonesian Vice-President Md Hatta and Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir and landed in Delhi.

For his act of bravery, Biju, who was a personal friend of the Indonesia’s first president Sukarno, was honoured with ‘Bhoomi Putra,’ the highest Indonesian award.

24/01/23 Debi Mohanty/Federal

Black box of crashed Nepal aircraft to be sent to Singapore for examination: Official

Kathmandu: Nepal will send to Singapore for examination the black box of Yeti Airlines that crashed in Pokhara, killing all 72 people, including five Indians, on board, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane, who is a joint secretary at Nepal's Tourism Ministry and also a member of the probe committee of the air crash, said that three members of the investigation panel would be flying soon to hand over the black box to Singapore's Transport Safety Investigation Bureau.

"Our team is heading towards Singapore in a couple of days carrying the black box," Lamichhane said, amid reports that the team would leave on Friday.

Nepal decided to take the black box to Singapore as the two countries have a memorandum of understanding to assist in the field of aviation.

"The examination of the black box in Singapore is free of cost," Lamichhane was quoted as saying by The Kathmandu Post newspaper.

All 72 people-- 53 Nepalese passengers, 15 foreign nationals, including 5 Indians, and four crew members -- were on board the ATR-72 aircraft when it crashed in a river gorge in Pokhara on January 15.

25/01/23 PTI/New Indian Express

Air India Express to unveil new tail art on Republic Day

Air India Express, an international budget airline subsidiary of Air India, on January 24 stated that it will be launching a new tail art developed at the Kochi Muziris Biennale on the 74th Republic Day on January 26. It will be installed on a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

The event will take place at a hangar of Air India Engineering Services Limited situated at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. The original acrylic painting of artist GS Smitha has been adapted into a 25-foot-long tail art by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, the airline said in a statement.

Air India Express has a tradition of exhibiting artworks on the tails of its aircraft, carrying the country's rich culture and heritage. "With this brand new tail art installed by the Kochi Biennale artists, Air India Express is ready to take the message and spirit of the Kochi Biennale Foundation to the skies and the world," it added.

The tail art will be unveiled by PA Mohammed Riyas, Minister of Public Works and Tourism, Kerala, Aloke Singh, CEO of Air India Express and President of Air Asia India, and Bose Krishnamachari, President of Kochi Biennale Foundation.

Further, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale festival, which began in December 2022 and will go on till April 2023, is Asia's largest contemporary art festival and Air India and Air India Express are the official travel partners for it.

24/01/23 Moneycontrol

Air India Express to unveil new tail art on Republic Day

Air India Express, an international budget airline subsidiary of Air India, on January 24 stated that it will be launching a new tail art developed at the Kochi Muziris Biennale on the 74th Republic Day on January 26. It will be installed on a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

The event will take place at a hangar of Air India Engineering Services Limited situated at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. The original acrylic painting of artist GS Smitha has been adapted into a 25-foot-long tail art by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, the airline said in a statement.

Air India Express has a tradition of exhibiting artworks on the tails of its aircraft, carrying the country's rich culture and heritage. "With this brand new tail art installed by the Kochi Biennale artists, Air India Express is ready to take the message and spirit of the Kochi Biennale Foundation to the skies and the world," it added.

The tail art will be unveiled by PA Mohammed Riyas, Minister of Public Works and Tourism, Kerala, Aloke Singh, CEO of Air India Express and President of Air Asia India, and Bose Krishnamachari, President of Kochi Biennale Foundation.

Further, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale festival, which began in December 2022 and will go on till April 2023, is Asia's largest contemporary art festival and Air India and Air India Express are the official travel partners for it.

24/01/23 Moneyconytrol

Peegate: Air India to appeal against DGCA decision to suspend pilot licence

Mumbai: Air India on Tuesday said it found the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) decision to suspend the license of its airline commander for a period of three months, in the unruly passenger-drunk-urination case as "excessive".

The airline said it will assist the said commander in filing an appeal against the order.

An elderly woman passenger on board Air India’s November 26 New York to Delhi flight had alleged that an intoxicated male passenger had urinated on her.

“In the absence of any witnesses, the crew took the complainant’s allegation at face value and assisted her by providing fresh clothes, helping clean her belongings and relocating her to another business class seat of the same type as her original one,” said the airline, which closed its internal investigation into the actions by its crew operating and administrative staff supporting AI102 on November 26.

“When awoken and confronted with the allegation, the alleged perpetrator was calm, co-operative and professed ignorance of the allegation. He had not been served excessive alcohol by crew and did not appear intoxicated to the crew,” the airline said.

“The commander was kept regularly informed by cabin crew. In the judgement of the crew, the alleged perpetrator posed no risk to flight safety at any time,” it said.

“Air India acknowledges that, in immediately taking the complainant’s accusation at face value and providing assistance, it follows that the matter should have been reported as a prima facie case of a passenger “...behaving in a disorderly manner toward... other passengers” and, as such, meeting the description of unruly behaviour at paragraph 4.9(d)(ii) of Civil Aviation Requirements, Section 3, Series M, Part VI (the CAR),” it said adding that the matter should have been classified and reported as such, without prejudice to any subsequent investigation into the facts.

“Upon receipt of the voyage report, ground staff did not challenge the crew’s assessment and, therefore, also did not report the matter as an unruly incident,” it added.

“Based on the absence of witnesses to the alleged act, that the alleged perpetrator was peaceful, co-operative and claiming ignorance of the event, that there was no risk to flight safety and that a resolution had been witnessed between the parties, the crew made a judgement call to record the matter as an (non-reportable) inflight incident rather than a (reportable) case of unruliness. It should also be noted that, in the absence of witnesses to the alleged act, crew were being asked to make a presumption of the accused’s guilt which runs contrary to natural justice and due process,” the airline said.

“Air India acknowledges the decision of the DGCA to impose fines on the Company, a ground staff and to suspend the Commander’s license. As stated above, Air India accepts that, notwithstanding the mitigating circumstances, based on the letter of the CAR it did not correctly classify the incident and therefore did not report it as required,” Air India said.

“The crew and ground staff have been issued warning letters to henceforth adhere strictly to CAR definition of “unruly” when reporting incidents onboard, so that later investigation can assess the facts. The cabin crew and ground staff have been counselled and have since returned to duty,” it said.

24/01/23 Manju V/Times of India

Airlines look to attract customers with lower airfares as domestic demand plummets after new year

Domestic airfares have tumbled on many major domestic routes after peaking in recent months, fuelled by high costs and large domestic demand around the new year and Christmas.

Budget carrier GoFirst has slashed airfares as part of its Republic Day sale. Passengers can book domestic fares starting at Rs 1,199, while international airfares start at Rs 6,599.

Similarly, Air India last week offered discounts on its flight tickets across the airline's domestic network. Starting from an incredibly low one-way fare of Rs 1,705, the discounts will be available on over 49 domestic destinations.

SpiceJet also announced a Republic Day sale where the airline is offering 26 percent off on domestic flights, with airfares starting at Rs 1,126. Akasa Air has also cut prices across its routes.

While the country's largest airline, IndiGo, has not yet announced a Republic Day sale, it has matched the lowest rates offered by domestic airlines on routes. IndiGo is also offering up to Rs 1,000 off on tickets booked through its mobile application.

Airfares in January have decreased by 15-20 percent month-on-month (MoM), said Aloke Bajpai, Group CEO and Co-founder of Ixigo.

Similarly, online travel agents and Cleartrip said that airfares in January are down by around 15 percent compared to December.

According to data available with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, daily domestic passengers travelling in India has fallen from around 435,500 as of December 24 to around 406,684 passengers as of January 23.

Aviation experts said that the new prices reflect the competitive landscape present in India. The fact that all the airlines have reduced prices is a positive sign for the industry, going forward.

Lower prices are not only a reflection of airlines looking to grab or retain market share, but are a product of competition, demand, supply, costs, and potential cargo revenues.

Senior airline officials said that the fall in prices on many routes across India is also due to lower demand in the ongoing January-March quarter, which is the off-season for travel in India.

"Forward bookings for February and early March have dropped significantly in the last two weeks. Discounts will be key in driving demand in the market in the current quarter," the official added.

Another official from a domestic airline in India said that airlines are looking to cannibalise on the market share of the market leader, IndiGo.

24/01/23 Yaruqhullah Khan/Moneycontrol

Failure of Departure Control System forces flyers to queue up for hours at Bengaluru airport

Bengaluru: The collapse of the Departure Control System (DCS) across airports in the country including Bengaluru for nearly an hour delayed the check-in procedure for thousands of flyers leaving from Kempegowda International Airport on Wednesday.

There was a huge rush to leave the City today due to the Republic Day holiday on Thursday and the approaching weekend prompting the airport operator to make it compulsory for all to bring the printed boarding pass to the airport.    

People were being checked in manually across KIA, said a top airport source. “Navitaire (Digital platform) was not working from 1.20 pm to 2.19 pm on Wednesday. The DCS at Indigo was restored at 1.40 pm and at Air Asia at 1.51 pm. Akasa Airlines was also impacted. The application got back to normalcy nearly an hour later,” the source explained.

A source from airport operator, Bangalore International Airport Limited confirmed there was a brief issue with the `GoNow’ software, which was rectified later.  

However, due to the cascading impact of the glitch, some passengers were affected for more than three hours. Meanwhile, airlines were bombarded with complaints from flyers with one individual drawing a parallel with the railway station due to the huge crowds piling up.

Rajendra kumar, Data Science Engineer at Abu Dhabi, departing from Bengaluru tweeted this: “#BLRAirport #AAI_Official #AkasaAir passengers are standing from last 3 hours for check-in , poor management from Akash airlines. Giving excuses of Server down and doing manual check-in.”

 Sumit Sharma, a coder at  Dell said, “First fix your existing operations then go for other ones. From more than 1 hour people are waiting in check-in queue at Bengaluru airport and Your staff has no regrets about this Chaos. Who will be responsible for this inconvenience? Will never ever travel in your airline.”

25/01/23 New Indian Express