Monday, April 12, 2021

No in-flight meals on domestic flights under 2-hour duration, government orders airlines

New Delhi: The government on Monday directed airlines to serve or sell in-flight meals from Thursday (April 15) only on those domestic flights that have a duration of over two hours, in wake of the sharp surge in Covid-19 cases in India.

However, there are no restrictions on inflight meals on international flights as of now.

The decision comes amid fears that passengers taking off masks to eat may lead to spread of the virus. While inflight meals can’t be avoided on medium or long hauls, the restriction has been imposed on domestic flights of up to two-hour duration for now.

A senior aviation ministry official said: “We had (last year) issued guidelines for in-flight meals and they have worked well. However, as an abundant precaution, additional provisions are being made. For domestic flights, an order is issued to consider in-flight meal when flight duration is two hours or more.”

The inflight meal SOP also calls for staggering them “among adjacent seats, as far as possible.” “These provisions will be reviewed on a regular basis and necessary modification carried out on the basis of experts’ inputs,” says the order issued by ministry joint secretary Usha Padhee.

Meanwhile, the surge in cases has prompted Air India to opt for 100% pre-flight testing for crew operating nonstops to US, UK, Canada and Australia. The Maharaja has also started post-flight testing for crew on flights from UAE, UK and Europe.

Since resumption of domestic flights from May last year, Air India was giving its pilots hotel stay with meals to ensure they don’t need to leave the hotel or their room.

Last month, the airline switched over to bed and breakfast for crew members as the Covid situation was improving.

12/04/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

India's Airline operators fear repeat of 2020 situation as Govt ponders ban on in-flight meals

As if the second wave of the pandemic was not enough for the already paranoid travel and hospitality sector, the recent ruling by the government has given it a further blow. Desperate times, desperate measures and what's got to be done, has got to be done.

Government of India orders airlines to ban in-flight meals as a part of several other norms that come into effect from April 15. That's one more source of revenue struck down completely for the airlines. The new norms are an attempt at curbing the rising cases of coronavirus as the country battles the second wave of infection.

ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) had raised objections to meals being served on board because that leads to passengers removing masks while having their meals. The fresh order also stated that for flights with a duration of more than 2 hours, the meals will be staggered among adjacent seats.

The order issued dated April 12, further says, "In all classes, tray cutlery will be completely disposable...tea/coffee/beverage should be served in disposable containers and glass...and the crew should wear a fresh set of gloves for every meal/beverage service."

Fearing a repeat of 2020, the airline industry is worried about the repetition of pandemic this year too. The aviation sector worldwide is battling a severe economic crunch amidst the restricted travel. The second wave of infection grips the nation at a time, what would otherwise be, the start of holiday and travel season.

It was only two weeks ago that many airlines decided to roll back the salary cuts, partly encouraged by a low but steady influx of tourists and travellers. But the rising cases, record number of infections running consistently in six digit figures has halted any recovery plans for the industry.

12/04/21  Manpriya Khurana/International Business Times

Avoiding tabletop Kozhikode runway with tyre trouble, AI Express pilots land plane safely in Kochi

New Delhi: Presence of mind displayed by the pilots operating an Air India Express flight from Riyadh to Kozhikode Saturday night ensured that all the 188 people onboard reached home safely. Just before IX-1322 got airborne, Captain Yazad Bachaa and first officer Nishad Arawandakar experienced a “small jolt, a wobble” that indicated a possible trouble with the landing gear or tyre/s.

Since all flight parameters were normal, they decided to continue flying home but made one crucial change — diverting to safer Kochi to avoid landing with landing gear trouble at the tabletop runway of Kozhikode which last August had witnessed the crash-landing of an AI Express flight in which 19 passengers and both the pilots lost their lives. IX-1322 landed safely in Kochi early Sunday morning.

The Boeing 737-800 (VT-AXI) took off late on Saturday night from Riyadh. Just before getting airborne, sources say, it experienced a “vibration that showed something out of the ordinary.” The pilots repeatedly checked all flight parameters that were absolutely normal. After reaching cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, they contacted the Riyadh air traffic control (ATC) and asked them to check if tyre pieces were found on the runway after this flight took off. Riyadh ATC shortly afterwards confirmed that there were tyre pieces on the runway but they could not confirm if they were from the AI Express Boeing 737.

Making best use of “crew resource management”, the pilot-in-commmand (PIC) called the co-pliot and captain who had operated this aircraft from India to Saudi and were returning home as passengers, to the cockpit. The four pilots brainstormed and worked out likely scenarios with the tyre trouble. Then the highly experienced Captain Bachaa decided to divert to Kochi because of its longer runway and clear weather, choosing it over the airline’s maintenance base Trivandrum.

Kochi airport made all arrangements for handling an emergency situation. The aircraft had an uneventful landing early on Sunday morning and exited the runway to come to a halt on a taxiway. AI Express engineering and fire tenders checked the landing gear. Once it was confirmed there is no fire, all the 180 passengers, six cabin crew and the two pilots deplaned using stepladder. The runway had tyre pieces strewn along it and the right side tyre (rubber part) of the main landing gear had completely disintegrated.

AI Express arranged another aircraft some hours later to fly the passengers to their destination, Kozhikode. “We are very proud of the way the pilots handled the situation,” said airline sources.

12/04/21 Times of India

Boeing 737 Max re-entry to Indian skies is further delayed. But SpiceJet is not worried

Barely five months after major airlines resumed flying Boeing Max 737 aircraft that were grounded for almost two years, the popular airplane that cay fly up to 7,000 km has hit another air pocket.

This was not expected. Just a few days ago Boeing's senior management told Indian media that the aircraft had gone through a rigorous check of 4 lakh engineering hours, 1,400 test flights and 3,000 flight hours before it took off again after being grounded for 20 months following fatal accidents that killed 346 people,

The return looked like a success, with regulatory approvals coming from major markets, including Europe, the US and Australia. Twenty airlines had brought it back to service, and 182 of these planes were in service.

But on April 9, quite a few of these airlines grounded many of their 737 Max aircraft after Boeing warned of a new fault. About 16 airlines and nearly 100 aircraft are effected.

Is it the same problem that led to the earlier grounding?
It isn't. This time the problem is an electrical one, and gives a backup to the main power system.  This is different from the software problem that led to the twin fatal crashes. Ironically, the new issue has cropped up in those planes that were produced after the checks and changes in the system.

Which airlines have been impacted?
The three biggest American airlines that use the aircraft, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, have been forced to pull some of their 737 Max out of service. On the other hand, Flydubai, the low-cost airline that had resumed using the aircraft only on April 8, said it is not impacted.

Didn't Flydubai want to bring the 737 Max to India?
Indeed. It had asked Indian aviation regulator, the DGCA, for approval. But senior executives told Moneycontrol that the request has been turned down.

"We will need some more time to gauge the performance of the aircraft and therefore, it has been denied for the time being," a senior executive said.

What does all this mean for SpiceJet? Doesn't it have 737 Max in its fleet?
The airline does. It has 13 of these planes, all of which remain grounded. The executive quoted above said the 'situation is similar for SpiceJet.' In other words, more time is needed to decide on getting these aircraft back to service.

Is it a good or bad thing?
Last year, SpiceJet had said it was hoping to start operating the 737 Max from the first quarter of 2021. That timeline is now past. But that necessarily may not be that bad for the airline.

12/04/21 Prince Mathews Thomas/

Forest dept sends notice to DIAL over removal of trees to build runway at Delhi airport

New Delhi:  The Delhi Forest Department on Monday issued a notice to Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), asking it to establish if it had permission to remove trees in around 10 acres of land to build a new runway at the city airport, officials said.

While the DIAL spokesperson did not offer any comments on the matter, company sources said they have complied with all the rules and will convey their position to the forest department.

"The trees were removed in around 10 acres of land near Terminal 3 of the Delhi airport in the last one year. We have registered an offence under the Delhi Tree Preservation Act,” an official said.

The company - a consortium led by the GMR group that operates the airport – has been asked to appear for a hearing next week to establish if it had permission for tree removal.

The official said around 10 stumps were found at the site during an inspection recently and that the department believes permission was not taken for felling these trees.

12/04/21 Outlook

Passenger From Dubai Held At Airport With Gold Pieces Worth Rs 5.4 Lakh Bandaged To His Feet

A man was held at the Bengaluru International Airport in Karnataka after he was found hiding gold pieces under his feet using a bandage.

The 27-year-old flier from Dubai, hailing from Karwar in Uttara Kannada, landed in police custody as the cops suspected his unusual walk at the airport.

A report by Times Now says the passenger had arrived at the airport on flydubai flight FZ 4007 on Saturday morning.

The cops suspected the man at the immigration area and approached to question him.

They found out that he was extremely nervous while interrogation.

Upon being frisked, they were surprised to see a bandage under each foot that contained pieces of gold. As per the officials, the gold weighing 116 gms was worth Rs 5.4 lakh.

12/04/21 India Times

Sunday, April 11, 2021

India’s TruJet Seeks New Airbus A220s & Embraer E190s

India’s TruJet is eying a massive order for 54 Airbus A220s and 54 Embraer E190-E2s. The expansion follows investment fund Interups’ 49% purchase of the airline and plans to invest nearly $1.9 billion. With a fleet expansion coming soon, could India be looking at its newest major airline? Let’s find out more.

According to Moneycontrol, TruJet’s new 49% stakeholder Interups has huge plans for the Hyderabad-based regional carrier. The New York-based investment fund has allocated $1.89bn towards growing the airlines, which it plans to invest over three years. The expansion will see TruJet increase its domestic destinations, start international flights, enter the cargo market, and more.

Perhaps the most important part of the plan is TruJet’s new aircraft order. Interups Chairman Laxmi Prasad has said that the airline will sign an order for 54 A220s (variant unknown) and 54 E190-E2s. This order could come as soon as the end of April or slightly later, with deliveries starting soon after.

Considering many airlines have been deferring deliveries, Prasad is confident that TruJet will get its new fleet soon. In a statement about the order, he said, according to Moneycontrol,

“Airbus and Embraer have already identified some aircraft. And with the addition of these, it will take us to 21 almost immediately…Embraer will supply three aircraft every two months. The arrangement with Airbus will see one aircraft coming in every 1.5 months, or a maximum of nine planes a year. So, it may take about six years for the Airbus order to be delivered, lower for Embraer.”

11/04/21 Pranjal Pande/Simple Flying

Nitish reviews Darbhanga airport development, assures more amenities soon

Patna: The number of flights from Darbhanga airport would be increased and more passenger amenities would be provided soon, chief minister Nitish Kumar announced on Saturday.

A presentation was made before the CM on the development of Darbhanga airport. Nitish said the airport would be named after the legendary Maithili poet Vidyapati and a resolution to this effect has been unanimously passed by the state assembly.

The CM said the airport whose foundation was laid in 2018 has come as a boon for the Mithilanchal region and other parts of Bihar neighbouring areas. He asked officials to hold talks with the officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) to develop the Darbhanga airport because it was important for the people of north Bihar and adjoining areas.

Nitish also stressed the need for raising the height of the boundary wall of the airport. Among those who attended the meeting included water resources development minister Sanjay Jha, CM’s principal secretaries Dipak Kumar and Chanchal Kumar, cabinet additional chief secretary Sanjay Kumar and other officials while Patna airport director Bhupesh CH Negi and Darbhanga DM Thiyagrajan SM joined through video conferencing.

Earlier in March, the ministry of civil aviation had urged the Bihar CM for his intervention in land acquisition for the development of the new and bigger civil enclave. The AAI asked the state government to provide 78-acres on the southern side of the runway, which was earmarked by them in February.

11/04/21 Faryal Rumi/Times of India

BJP promises to set up sea airport in Nagarjunasagar reservoir

Hyderabad: The BJP on Saturday released its manifesto for the April 17 Nagarjunasagar Assembly bypoll, promising to set up a ’sea airport’ in the Nagarjunasagar reservoir to operate seaplanes so as to develop it as a world-class tourist destination, thereby providing huge employment opportunities for the locals and unemployed youth.

The party promised to set up food courts, hotels and other recreational facilities in Nagarjunasagar which it said will have the potential to create jobs for 50,000 people.

For students, the manifesto promised a Kendriya Vidyalaya and gurukul schools in the constituency to be set up using Central funds. For tribal students, the party promised to set up Ekalavya residential schools.

The party said it would set up food processing clusters for farmers to make agriculture profitable.

The manifesto also promised to upgrade roads from the village to the mandal level with the assistance of Central funds.

Meanwhile, Union minister of state for home G. Kishan Reddy held roadshows in the constituency to campaign for the party candidate Dr P. Ravi Kumar. He termed the Congress as the B-team of the TRS, because voting for the Congress would be nothing short of voting for the TRS.

11/04/21 Deccan Chronicle

SpiceXpress Launches Scheduled Cargo Flight Services Connecting Mumbai, Delhi With Bangkok

SpiceJet’s dedicated cargo arm SpiceXpress launched scheduled cargo flights connecting Mumbai and Delhi with Bangkok, the company said on Friday. Besides Bangkok, SpiceJet operates scheduled cargo flights to Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangladesh. According to the company, the airline has deployed its Boeing 737-800F aircraft on these routes. At present, SpiceXpress is capable of flying over 600 tonnes of cargo daily to domestic and international destinations.

“SpiceJet’s scheduled flights will operate twice-a-week to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. The first flight carrying eight tonnes of cargo operated today,” the company said in a statement.

“These flights will help in regular transportation of auto parts, perishables including fruits, vegetables and sea food, electronic items etc.”

It has a network spanning 63 domestic and 50 international destinations and a fleet of 19 cargo planes.


Manipur: 11, including 3 more air passengers, test COVID positive

Imphal: Manipur reported 11 more persons, including three returnees, positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.

However, in the last 24 hours, no fatality related to COVID-19 was reported in the state as per the circular issued by the state health department.

The cumulative number of air passengers tested at Imphal Airport in the state since March 24 stands at 2,829, of which 50 returnees were found infected with the virus, said State Surveillance Officer (SSO) Dr Somorjit Ningombam.

The majority of the air passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 are from the state of Maharashtra, it said.

With these new positive cases, the number of active cases in the state has surged to 101, while the total confirmed cases to date are 29,486. A total of 29,010 infected persons have recovered, and the cumulative number of deaths is 375 to date, as per the state health data.

In a statement, it further requested those air passengers who travelled to the state on April 8 by Air India flight AI-889 in rows 6-12, on April 9 by Indigo flight 6E-2251 in rows 1-7, and Indigo flight 6E-6181 seated in rows 1-7 to immediately inform the Common COVID Control Room 1800345318 or respective District Surveillance Officer (DSO).

10/04/21 Vangamla Salle K S/East Mojo

Air Customs officials seize gold worth Rs 72 lakh at Kannur Int'l Airport, one held

Kannur: Air Customs sleuths on Sunday seized 1,514 grams of gold valued around Rs 72 lakh from a passenger who arrived at Kannur International Airport from Sharjah in a GoAir flight.

Customs Joint Commissioner S Kishore-led team detained Kunhabdulla Kattodi of Onchiyam in Kozhikode district with the gold.

The seized gold was concealed inside an emergency lamp kept in his check-in baggage, Customs sources said.

11/04/21 UNI

Job fraud: 6 from Delhi held in multiple cases

Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Cyber crime police had recently conducted raids on two Delhi-based call centres and nabbed six persons in different cases for duping innocent unemployed youth on the pretext of providing jobs. Police seized mobile phones and hard disks of computers for verification. 

In the first case, a resident of Langer Houz who was looking for jobs online got a call from one of the accused  claiming to be from the job portal. The caller offered the complainant a job in Tata Company and asked to pay Rs 2,600 as the registration fee.  The complainant paid the money and over the course of time, ended up paying Rs 78,000, which the accused said was for different charges.

When the victim grew suspicious, he called the help line number of the job portal and the customer care executives told the former that he was duped. He then approached the police, who registered a case of cheating and IT Act. The arrested persons are Ravinder Kumar Pandey, 27, running Call Centre, Amar Kumar Singh, 29, Team Leader, Shivam Tripati, Caller, Prakash Tiwari , 21. 

In another case,  a girl student from Mehdipatnam was duped by online fraudsters who offered her a job of an ticketing executive in Indigo Airlines at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. They had asked her to pay registration fees of Rs 2,500. Believing their words, she transferred the amount to the bank accounts, as directed by the callers. Subsequently, she was transferred a total of Rs 6 lakhs in various instalments towards different charges.Inthis case, the police arrested Vijay Rawa,  the owner of call centre and Priyanka, the former’s partner.

11/04/21 New Indian Express