Monday, November 29, 2021

Air passenger footfalls up 56%

Ahmedabad: With increased confidence among travellers after getting fully vaccinated and the decreasing number of Covid-19 cases, air travel received a boost ahead of the festive season in October. Air passenger footfalls rose by 56% in October this year. Some 5.58 lakh passengers travelled from the city airport in October this year, against 3.58 lakh passengers in the same month last year.

Travel operators and city hoteliers attribute the increased movements to the revival of leisure travel as well as corporate travel for events, conferences and exhibitions.

“During the festive season, a lot of corporate and leisure travellers travelled to Ahmedabad. Many came to attend weddings. This gave good business to hotels,” said hotelier Narendra Somani.

Of the 5.58 lakh passengers that travelled through the city airport, 65,722 were international passengers and 4.93 were domestic. Overall travel sentiment improved significantly over the past few months. So much so that in October footfalls increased by 20%, compared to 4.6 lakh passengers in September.

“With Covid-19 cases decreasing, people are regaining confidence to travel. Moreover, with restrictions eased or completely lifted in parts of the country, their sentiment is strengthening. Thus, business travel in domestic market has gone up to near pre-Covid levels. With the festive season and long weekends, leisure travel picked up. All of this led to a high number of air travellers,” said Virendra Shah, chairman, Travel Agents’ Association of India , Gujarat.

29/11/21 Niyati Parikh/Times of India

Two flights diverted, 15 delayed due to dense fog

Patna: A sudden drop in the visibility owing to dense fog in the city on Sunday morning forced two airlines to divert their two Patna-bound flights to Ranchi and Kolkata. Fifteen flights, on the other hand, were delayed due to bad weather till 8pm. The flight operation at Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport resumed after 9am when the required visibility of 1,000m was achieved.

Go First’s Delhi-Patna-Delhi flight (G8-165/168) landed at Patna airport at 9.10am instead of its scheduled arrival time of 7.15am. The flight was diverted to Ranchi. Another flight from Delhi (6E-2022) of IndiGo was diverted to Kolkata and landed at Patna airport at 12.30pm. The flight got delayed for more than four hours.

An IndiGo executive at Patna airport said the flight landed at Kolkata airport at 7.55am. “Even the manual runway visual range (RVR) was less than required visibility of 800 at Patna airport. Most incoming and outgoing flights of different airlines operated with delays,” he added.

29/11/21 Faryal Rumi/Times of India

Passengers fall prey to ‘hunter’ cabbies at Hyderabad airport

With unauthorised cab drivers nudging out the app-based cabbies, the passengers arriving at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) are going through a harrowing experience. As soon as travellers arrive, the unauthorised cabbies, just like the autowallahs at railway stations, crowd around them. As no app-based cab drivers are available, the passengers ride home grudgingly in the unauthorised cabs.

The app-based cab drivers are reluctant to go to the airport as they cannot compete with the unauthorised colleagues and have to return without customers for nearly 20 to 25 km, which they cannot afford.

For the past year, there have been complaints galore over the non-availability of app-based drivers as unauthorised cabbies, who are referred to as ‘hunters’, persuade and hijack the passengers. With a lack of assistance on landing and non-functional booking kiosks, the passengers are forced to give in to these ‘hunters’. 

The practice has gone out of control in recent months and authorities remain helpless. Most of the domestic travellers have started taking their own vehicles to the airport if they have a couple of days of work in some other city. 

“I stopped booking cabs as they are cancelling at the 11th hour, impacting all my plans. Back in February, I complained to authorities but of no avail,” said Vinod Kanumala, chief functionary of the Indian Federation of Road Safety. 

Following Vinod’s tweets, RGIA police then tweeted: “We are booking cases against them. For the safety of passengers, we are running the help desk and also a women’s help desk at the airport. We are also arranging regular pickets and patrolling duties. Even now if any such incident comes to our notice, we take immediate and necessary action.” 

Like Vinod, many other passengers stopped booking cabs and are now taking their own vehicles to the airport. Some are urging the RGIA authorities to resolve the issue, while others want the TSRTC to run more services between the airport and major areas of Hyderabad city. 

However, as per the cabbies, app-based cab drivers were avoiding going towards the airport, fearing 20-25 km of dry run. Even if they wait in queue for five to six hours, these “hunters” snatch away their business. 

29/11/21 MD Nizamuddin/New Indian Express

Woman, mom fly to Delhi, bag with coconuts retained at KIA

Bengaluru: Unaware that dry coconuts are prohibited onboard aircraft as they pose a fire threat, a young woman and her mother had a shock when they landed in Delhi and realised their suitcase with six coconuts was retained in Bengaluru.

The two are now on a quest to find the suitcase, which also contains clothes for a wedding they are scheduled to attend. The coconuts were to be part of a belated Bhai Dooj celebration in Uttarakhand.

Education content developer and Kodihalli resident Astha Chaudhary and her mother booked an Air India flight, AI 804, from Bengaluru to Delhi on Saturday as they were headed to their relative’s wedding in Kashipur, Uttarakhand.

“We checked in two suitcases at Kempegowda International Airport around 5am and took off in the 6.10am flight. We landed in Delhi by 9am. I was shocked to realise that one of our checked-in suitcases hadn’t reached our destination. I enquired with Air India ground staff at Delhi airport, who checked with their Bengaluru counterparts and informed us that the bag was retained in Bengaluru as there were dry coconuts inside,” Astha said.

She said Air India staff asked her to wait at the airport for an update on the missing luggage. “I waited outside the airport for two hours but there was no update. The airline gave me a property irregularity report for my complaint. Its phone helplines have been unresponsive since,” she claimed.

Astha is enraged that the airline failed to flag the coconut issue soon after her luggage was checked in Bengaluru. “If they had reached out to us at Bengaluru airport itself, we would have discarded the coconuts and got our bag with our wedding clothes. We had no clue dry coconuts were banned on flights,” she said.

29/11/21 Petlee Peter/Times of India

Fliers can head to 10 new int’l destinations

Ahmedabad: Flights to some 10 new international destinations have been announced from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport in Ahmedabad, during the winter schedule.

The winter schedule was recently announced by the aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and was implemented effective October 28 this year. More flights to Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Doha, Qatar; Kuwait; London, UK; Muscat, Oman; Nairobi, Kenya and Najaf, Iraq have been announced.

“International flights are running full at this point with a lot of businessmen as well as family members travelling by these flights to meet their loved ones. People have not been able to travel much last year due to the pandemic situation and the restrictions on international travel,” said Manish Sharma, chairman, Travel Agents’ Federation of India (TAFI), Gujarat.

A total of 76 flights have been announced as part of the winter schedule for international operations by various airlines including Indigo, SpiceJet, GoAir, Fly Dubai, Emirates, Etihad, Kuwait Airways and Air India, among others. Of these, 47 flights have already been operationalised.

“The starting of international operations will benefit travel and tourism sector in a big way as tourism industry will get the much-needed boost. That apart, even the hospitality sector will also get a lot of business in Gujarat with international movements beginning,” said Sharma.

29/11/21 Niyati Parikh/Times of India

Hi-tech facilities at upcoming terminal, taxi track to make Surat airport fly high

Surat: Construction work of a new terminal building and parallel taxi track is in full speed at the Surat airport, the financial capital of Gujarat, which has of late witnessed significant rise in passenger footfall as well as inbound and outbound flights.

Keeping the rise of flyers in view, the airport authority also envisaged enhancing facilities at the airport, which will soon get CISF security protection within a short time. The new taxi track aims to cut down flight’s take off time at the runway. Accordingly, the new terminal building will be equipped with all modern facilities to facilitate more international flight operations from the airport.

Surat airport located on Bardoli-Hazira highway is spread over an area of 784.37 acres and belongs to the Airport Authority of India. At present domestic airlines including Air India, Alliance Air, SpiceJet, IndiGo, Go First, Star Air and Ventura Air connect the Diamond City to Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Bhavnagar, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Patna, Bhuvaneshwar and Kishangarh with its schedule flights in A320, A321, Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

29/11/21 Times of India

Delhi: Winter’s here, IGI plans to cut through the fog

New Delhi: Delhi airport operator DIAL on Sunday said it was all geared up to deal with the winter fog in the capital, which may disrupt flight operations from mid-December — like it does every year. While a ceilometer is installed at the airport to ascertain the fog depth in advance, air traffic controllers, airlines, ground handlers, the meteorological department and the airport staff are working together to ensure that all terminals are prepared to deal with the situation.

But with the airport operator already struggling to maintain social distancing amid the increased passenger traffic, which according to the data accessed by TOI has touched 70% of the pre-pandemic days, the dense winter fog is likely to pose much bigger challenges.

The DIAL spokesperson said: “Amid all the challenges, preparations like efficiently putting in place Delhi airport’s collaborative decision-making cell, which has representatives of the air traffic control, domestic airlines and DIAL, will be done timely.”

The airport is well equipped to handle operations safely during the periods of poor visibility, according to Airports Authority of India spokesperson JB Singh.

“The runways are equipped with low-visibility procedure so that flights can take off and land efficiently,” added Singh.

Low Visibility Procedures (LVP) is a set of procedures established at an aerodrome in support of CAT-II/III approaches and landings and of takeoffs with runway visual range below 550 meters. With the help of the procedure, which is used 30 minutes before an aircraft takes off or lands during poor weather conditions, flights are able to operate with ease.

“To ensure the comfort requirements of the recently increased number of passengers at IGI during instances of flight disruptions and cancellations and in view of the Covid norms for social distancing, the number of chairs and recliners is being increased,” the DIAL spokesperson added.

29.11/21 Zumbish/Times of India

Aviation, communication may not come under cross-border insolvency ambit

India could exclude some key strategic sectors, such as aviation, telecommunications and critical infrastructure services, from the cross-border insolvency framework’s ambit.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) released a consultation paper on November 24 seeking public comments on a draft cross-border insolvency framework under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) by December 15.

The government intends to amend the IBC in the Winter session of the Parliament that begins on Monday.

“Certain sectors are of national importance, highly sensitive and bound by various regulations and conditions, so their insolvency significantly affects public interest,” said a senior government official.

Once the Bill is introduced, the government is likely to put out a negative list of sectors, the official added.

While financial services providers have been kept out of the ambit of cross-border insolvency provisions, the government is looking to exclude some more sectors when the final rules are issued after the amendment, the official said.

The proposed amendment would empower the government to notify a class or classes of corporate debtors or entities to whom the provisions of cross-border insolvency provisions would not apply.

29/11/21 Shrimi Choudhury/Economic Times

Singapore Airlines to resume services from Kochi airport

Kochi: After a gap of 20 months, the Singapore Airlines has announced the resumption of services at the Kochi airport from November 30 (Tuesday). Three passenger flight each will operate weekly on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. They will arrive in Kochi at 10.15pm and depart at 11.05pm.

CIAL managing director S Suhas said the chairman and the board of directors have taken proactive steps to re-establish air connectivity to Kochi from all international travel hubs. "We are happy to have Singapore Airlines back here after a long hiatus. With the resumption of flights, passengers can finally reunite with their friends and family in Singapore," he said.

Passengers arriving from Singapore have to take a COVID RT-PCR test at the Kochi airport and undergo a seven-day home quarantine. On the eighth day of their arrival, they must take one more test and continue quarantine for another week if found positive.

CIAL now handles 185 weekly departures to the Middle East. The airport operator also facilitates flights to the UK, Sri Lanka and Male. It hopes that the airport’s international flight operations will be back to normal by the end of the year.

29/11/21 New Indian Express

Flying to India? Here’s what you need to know

Union Health Ministry revised guidelines for international arrivals in India on Sunday to be effective from December 1 amid the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant termed Omicron. The revised guidelines mandate

submitting 14 days’ travel details and uploading a negative RT-PCR test report on the Air Suvidha portal before the journey.

All travelers will need to submit a self-declaration form before the scheduled travel under the new guidelines, including details of the last 14 days of travel. Travelers will also need to upload a negative COVID-19 RTPCR report 72 hours before undertaking any journey.

“The existing guidelines have been revised in view of reporting of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 (B.1.1.529; named Omicron) which has been now classified as Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization,” the Health Ministry said.

Passengers coming from ‘at-risk’ countries will have to undergo RT-PCR testing on arrival in India now.

If tested negative, they’ll follow home quarantine for seven days. Re-test will take place on the 8th day, which if negative, further self-monitoring will happen for next seven days.

A sub-section (5% of total flight passengers) will undergo post-arrival testing at random at the airport on arrival.

The Health Ministry has classified countries in Europe, including UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel as ‘at-risk’.

Earlier today, the central government said it would review the resumption of scheduled international commercial flights.

Full service carrier Vistara on Sunday said it was looking forward to the guidance from the government on normalisation of international flight services amid the emergence of a new COVID variant.

Two days after announcing that scheduled international flight services to and from India will resume from December 15 subject to certain conditions applicable for ‘at risk’ countries, the government on Sunday decided to review the decision on effective date as per evolving global scenario.

Scheduled international passenger flights remain suspended since March 23 last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and on Friday, aviation regulator DGCA said the suspension will continue till 2359 hours of December 14. Limited air services are being operated between India and select countries under the air bubble agreements.

29/11/21 Bangalore Mirror

Two held at airport with 1.71kg gold

Mumbai: The air intelligence unit of customs on Friday arrested two passengers at the Mumbai International Airport for allegedly smuggling 1.71kg of gold worth Rs 77 lakh.

In the first case, goldweighting 928 gm and valued at Rs 41 lakh was seized from a passenger holding an Indian passport. He had arrived from Dubai. In another case, an Indian passenger who had arrived from Dubai by the same flight was arrested with 785 gm of gold valued at Rs 35.31 lakh.

29/11/21 Ahmed Ali/Times of India

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Over 390 RCS-Udan air routes are operational now

New Delhi: India has till date operationalised 395 air routes under the Regional Connectivity Scheme 'Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik' or RCS-Udan. Under the scheme, which was launched in 2016, airlines are provided with a 'Viability Gap Funding' to keep fares affordable and accessible. "Till date, 395 routes and 63 airports, including six heliports and two water aerodromes, have been operationalised under the UDAN scheme," the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a statement on Saturday.

The statement came a day after domestic flight operations at the newly-inaugurated Kushinagar Airport in Uttar Pradesh commenced with the first flight operating between Delhi and Kushinagar under RCS-UDAN.

"The commencement of the flight operations on this route is in line with the commitment and perseverance of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to enable the country with better air connectivity under the UDAN scheme," the statement said.

28/11/21 Sentinel

Passengers from 'at risk' countries will have to undergo RT-PCR test on arrival in Delhi

New Delhi: In wake of Omicron variant, Delhi’s IGI Airport has from Sunday morning started conducting RT-PCR tests on all arrivals from the 12 areas designated as high risk countries — countries in Europe including UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.

Arrivals from three Omicron hotspots — South Africa, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong — will be required to wait at the airport for their test report and only those found negative will be allowed to leave, say sources. Those testing positive will be sent to designated Covid centres.

Arrivals from other at risk countries will be allowed to leave after their sample and the result will be conveyed to them electronically, with the same protocol for those testing positive or negative.

The government on Sunday morning is learnt to have conducted a review of travel rules after the new mutant has been found in Southern Africa and subsequently in some other parts of the world, including the UK.

Many countries have started imposing new restrictions or test rules which mainly include suspending flights to southern Africa for some period. UK, for instance, has changed testing and isolation rules for all arrivals starting November 30, 4 am (local time). All international arrivals to the UK will need to take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative test.

28/11/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Model design of India’s biggest airport mocked by netizens for passing off exactly like Beijing airport

The upcoming Noida International Airport in Uttar Pradesh, India, which is expected to surpass Delhi's Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport to become the largest in the country, went viral on social media over the weekend for having used a photo of Beijing Daxing International Airport as its model design, drawing ridicules from both Indian and Chinese netizens. 

The Noida International Airport project was launched on Thursday by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who laid the foundation stone of the first phase. It is scheduled to be completed by 2024 with a capacity of 12 million passenger flows annually, local media reported. 

"By the last phase of development, the Noida International Airport will even surpass IGI and become India's leading airport," said the country's aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia at the ceremony. The final phase is expected to be completed by 2040-50 with a capacity to handle 70 million passengers annually, reports said. 

However, the mega project flopped on Twitter shortly after releasing the news, as netizens found that the concept photo illustrating model design of the airport, which was shared widely among local officials and media outlets, turned out to be the Beijing Daxing International Airport in China's capital. 

"The [Modi's] party cannot make an original design, just a design, how will they build the real structure itself? It's Shame," said one netizen on Twitter. 

"It's extremely shameful," noted another, "Our legends in non-political fields have spent years to make India shine. Don't spoil our nation's image like this just for your political advantage," said another Indian netizen. 

The Beijing Daxing International Airport, which locates in the southern part of the Chinese capital, was put into use in September 2020, and handled nearly 39 million passenger trips the first year. The airport, nicknamed "Starfish," is featured by cutting-edge technology with high efficiency, and is expected to handle 72 million passengers by 2025.

28/11/21 Global Times

Vistara says looking forward to govt guidance on scheduled international flights

Full service carrier Vistara on Sunday said it was looking forward to the guidance from the government on normalisation of international flight services amid the emergence of a new COVID variant. Two days after announcing that scheduled international flight services to and from India will resume from December 15 subject to certain conditions applicable for ‘at risk’ countries, the government on Sunday decided to review the decision on effective date as per evolving global scenario.

Scheduled international passenger flights remain suspended since March 23 last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and on Friday, aviation regulator DGCA said the suspension will continue till 2359 hours of December 14. Limited air services are being operated between India and select countries under the air bubble agreements.

“We look forward to guidance from the government,” a Vistara spokesperson told PTI on Sunday in response to a query on the government’s decision to review the decision to restart scheduled international flights.

Vistara, a joint venture between Tatas and Singapore Airlines, started flying to eight international destinations during the pandemic under the air bubble arrangements.

Last week, Vistara designate CEO and its Chief Commercial Officer Vinod Kannan told PTI that prolonged suspension of scheduled commercial international air services to and from the country was impacting the topline of some airlines. IndiGo did not offer any comment while SpiceJet and GoFirst did not respond to the query.

On Sunday, the government decided to review the decision on resuming scheduled commercial international passenger services as well as SOP on testing and surveillance of incoming passengers, especially from countries identified as ‘at risk’ in the wake of the emergence of new coronavirus variant of concern ‘Omicorn’.

28/11/21 PTI/Financial Express

India revises Covid-19 guidelines for international arrivals amid Omicron fears

Union Health Ministry revised guidelines for international arrivals in India on Sunday to be effective from December 1 amid the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant termed Omicron. The revised guidelines mandate submitting 14 days' travel details and uploading a negative RT-PCR test report on the Air Suvidha portal before the journey.

All travelers will need to submit a self-declaration form before the scheduled travel under the new guidelines, including details of the last 14 days of travel. Travelers will also need to upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report 72 hours before undertaking any journey.

"The existing guidelines have been revised in view of reporting of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 (B.1.1.529; named Omicron) which has been now classified as Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization," the Health Ministry said.

Passengers coming from 'at-risk' countries will have to undergo RT-PCR testing on arrival in India now.

If tested negative, they'll follow home quarantine for seven days. Re-test will take place on the 8th day, which if negative, further self-monitoring will happen for next seven days.

A sub-section (5% of total flight passengers) will undergo post-arrival testing at random at the airport on arrival.

The Health Ministry has classified countries in Europe, including UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel as 'at-risk’.

28/11/21 Economic Times

Unruly passenger offloaded from Guwahati-Delhi plane on Friday: SpiceJet

New Delhi: A male passenger was offloaded from a SpiceJet plane for unruly behaviour at Guwahati airport on Friday and was handed over to CISF personnel, according to the airline.

The incident happened on Friday morning on the Delhi-bound flight SG 8169, when the aircraft was taxing on the runway.

In a statement on Sunday, the airline said the passenger was offloaded as he repeatedly got up from his seat and created a ruckus.

"Repeated attempts to pacify him failed and co-passengers told the crew that they were not ready to fly with the said passenger on board.

"The aircraft was brought back to the bay where airport security officials along with SpiceJet staff deplaned the passenger and handed him over to the CISF," the statement said.

28/11/21 New Indian Express


Rs 20 lakh worth of gold seized at Hyderabad airport

Hyderabad: Customs officials at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), Hyderabad, on Saturday, booked a gold smuggling case against a man who arrived at the airport from Dubai and seized gold weighing a total of 410 grams and valued at Rs 20.30 lakh.

Based on credible information, officials from the Air Intelligence Unit of the Customs wing intercepted the passenger and questioned him. Later, they searched his belongings and found the gold concealed inside a talc powder container and in the inner supporting metal frame of a suitcase. The gold was seized and the passenger was also apprehended for further questioning. Further investigation is in progress.

28/11/21 New Indian Express