Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Goyal meets Qatar Airways CEO, other potential investors in Dubai

Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal has recently met Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, sources told CNBC-TV18, adding that the former is currently in Dubai and meeting other potential investors.

Goyal is not expected to be back in India before April, added the sources.

Rajnish Kumar, chairman, State Bank of India, on Wednesday said the lenders will make every effort to keep Jet Airways flying and all stakeholders are in the unanimous view that the airline is a good aviation property.

Kumar met finance minister Arun Jaitley along with aviation secretary Pradip Singh Kharola and Nripendra Misra, principal secretary to Prime Minister.

"An effort has been made by lenders to keep the airline running in the interest of all stakeholders and resolution plan for Jet Airways was almost ready but there is some delay," said Rajnish Kumar, chairman, State Bank of India.

On Etihad, he said the lenders are interested in Jet Airways and dialogue with the UAE-based airline is still on.

On insolvency and bankruptcy code (IBC), the SBI chairman said it is the last option for Jet Airways and the bankruptcy law is nearly impossible for an industry like this.
20/03/19 Anu Sharma/CNBC TV18

Jet Airways crisis worsens as Indian government steps in, pilots threaten strike

New Delhi: A crisis at India’s Jet Airways deepened on Tuesday as an increasingly worried Indian government called for an emergency meeting, angry passengers demanded refunds and pilots threatened to go on strike over unpaid salaries.

India’s Civil Aviation Minister, Suresh Prabhu, asked his officials to call for a meeting to discuss grounding of flights, advance bookings, cancellations, refunds, and any potential safety issues, at the cash-strapped carrier.

Saddled with debt of more than $1 billion, Jet is struggling to stay aloft. It has delayed payments to banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors - some of whom have started cancelling their lease deals with the airlines.

The groundings have forced Jet to cancel hundreds of flights, some at the last minute, leaving passengers stranded. Many have taken to social media to voice their angst.

Jet is currently operating only 41 aircraft, just a third of its original fleet, the aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), said in a statement, adding that the situation is fluid and the airline may be forced to reduce its fleet further in coming weeks.

Several angry passengers were seen demanding pending refunds for canceled flights at Jet’s offices in Mumbai earlier on Tuesday, a source told Reuters.
20/03/19 Aditi Shah/Reuters

Jet Airways crisis deepens as 'unpaid' pilots threaten not to fly from April 1

New Delhi: Cash-strapped airline Jet Airways crisis has gone from bad to worse. Till a few weeks ago Jet had a total of 119 operational aircraft but on Tuesday just a third of its original fleet, 41 flew.

On Tuesday, the Jet Airways pilots' union met in Mumbai and decided to refrain from flying aircraft from April 1 unless their last three months salary dues were cleared or at least by March 31, a letter of intent was signed for clearing of dues.

According to the ToI report, currently, Jet is scheduled to operate nearly 140 flights per day, which is quite far from the number of 600 till a few months ago.

Etihad reportedly denied pumping in funds that Jet was counting on. Currently, Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi is the largest shareholder in Jet Airways with a 24 per cent stake.

Meanwhile, the government is likely to turn to the public sector (PSU) banks to rescue Jet in an apparent bid to avert thousands of job losses weeks before the general election. Sources said the government wants National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), where it owns 49 per cent stake and whose mandate is to invest in stalled and new infrastructure projects, to buy a stake in Jet to save the cash-strapped airline.

On Tuesday, Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association (JAMEWA) said in a statement that Jet Airways' aircraft are “safe to fly” and are being maintained at the “highest levels of safety”. “We assure you and the public that Jet Airways airplanes are safe to fly and are being maintained at the highest levels of safety standards since the last 25 years. We have an impressive TDR (Technical Dispatch Reliability) of 99.50 per cent, one of the highest in the industry,”

Jet Airways' lessors offer 50 grounded Boeing aircraft to SpiceJet: Sources

Lessors of beleaguered Jet Airways have offered 50 of the airlines’ new generation Boeing 737 aircraft to budget carrier SpiceJet even on short-term leases of up to three years, Moneycontrol has learnt.

Top sources in SpiceJet told Moneycontrol that the lessors have offered the aircraft on dry lease in order to avoid grounding of these planes in wake of ailing financial health of Jet Airways. A dry lease is a situation where the lessor provides aircraft to an airline without any crew or ground staff member.

SpiceJet is in need of 12 new aircraft after the aviation safety watchdog, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), decided to ground Boeing 737 Max planes owing to safety concerns. The aircraft model was involved in two fatal accidents within a span of six months killing 346 people in all.

The budget carrier has, so far, received two replacements on lease from a Turkish Airline, sources said.
Lessors of Jet Airways, sources say, fear payment uncertainty owing to the financial crunch in the company.

Jet Airways is reeling under a debt of over Rs 8,000 crore has been defaulting on loan re-payment and interest thereof. It has grounded a total of 60 aircraft so far and is operating with half its fleet. This has led to numerous flight cancellations, consequently leading to soaring airfares.

India's second-largest carrier, which is facing is worst ever debt crisis in 25 years, has delayed payments to its pilots, suppliers and lessors for months and defaulted on loans subsequent to an intense competition, weak rupee and rising fuel costs.
19/03/19 Nikita Vashisht/

Tax payers' money to save Jet Airways: Congress

New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday said the government intended to bring a bailout package for the cash-strapped Jet Airways - partly owned by foreign investors - using Indian tax payers' money.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told the media that the Modi government had asked public sector banks - State Bank of India (SBI) and Punjab National Bank (PNB) - to waive the debt on the airliner totalling Rs 8,500 crore by taking an equity of Rs 1.

"Naresh Goyal, who is a London-based NRI, owns 51 per cent stakes while Etihad Airways has 24 per cent stake. It means the 75 per cent ownership is with an NRI and a foreign company," said Surjewala.

"Why is the Modi government giving a 'bailout package' to a bankrupt corporate entity like Jet Airways owned by foreign investors, out of public money, but not to India's debt-ridden farmers?"

"The PMO (Prime Minister's office) has issued two orders. It has asked the SBI and other PSU banks to waive the loan by converting it into equity of Rs 1. Also, it is going to pay Rs 150 for every share to Etihad.

"Will the Modi government now save every defaulting crony capitalist out of public funds?"
20/03/19 IANS/Business Standard

Is Jet Airways poised to axe Manchester-Mumbai?

Jet Airways’ Manchester-Mumbai route, launched only a few months ago, was the only direct link between the English city and India.

And last August Jet Airways was so confident of its success it decided to up the flight frequency.

Jet Airways has financial problems, and has been not been operating many domestic and regional routes recently. But its wide-body aircraft operations to Europe and beyond have remained unchanged.

Now it would appear that the Manchester-Mumbai route (operated by a wide-body A330-200) is about to be cancelled.

Earlier today Airlineroute said that bookings for this service were not possible “on/after March 23”.

When Business Traveller checked the Jet Airways website this afternoon, the final direct flight was shown for travel on March 22.
19/03/19 Alex McWhirter/Business Traveller

Boeing 737 Max to dent SpiceJet, Jet Airways earnings? Is Indigo clear winner here? Analysis of this aviation situation

Mumbai: Boeing 737 Max family which was launched to become a success story of their maker and change the way a passenger travels through air, has now started to give sleepless nights to the aviation industry across the globe. Back in India, the impact of this Boeing 737 Max has emerged to be a serious business dampener, after two fatal plane crashes carrying 737’s Max 8 jet. The 737 Max 8 was the first to take off in the Boeing’s 737 Max family, and this engine which spells out classic body, spacious seats, LED inside roof, silent engines and highly advanced system has now become least favorite. Reason pilots are finding it difficult to fly, and two crashes have cost many lives. This has led many customers ban the Boeing 737 Max jets, with that said, domestic airlines SpiceJet and Jet Airways are among them. Now because SpiceJet and Jet Airways have quite a hefty number of 737 Max, the grounding will put an effect in their earnings. While these two airlines will be struggling, it is now clearly expected that another airline namely Indigo will be a winner with more passenger growth and hence good profit ahead.

Two airlines,  first Lion Air Flight 610 in October 29,2018, and second Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302  on March 10,2019, crashed just few minutes after take off resulting in with no survivors. Similarities between these two crashes were that, both crashed within few minutes of take off, both pilots struggled to gain altitude, both planes ascended and descended several times before nosediving.

While the investigations are still going on of both the airlines, Boeing 737 Max has been grounded from countries like like China, South Africa, Morocco, Poland, Ethiopia, Singapore, Indonesia, Netherlands, Mongolia, Argentina, Cayman Island,  Iceland, Ireland, France, Malaysia, Germany, Oman, UK and India have grounded this jet.

In India, SpiceJet and Jet Airways alone have 116 and 125 of Boeing 737 Max 8.
Jal Irani and Vijayant Gupta analysts at Edelweiss Securities said, “We expect yields to remain strong as on the supply-side not only would Boeing 737 Max additions remain frozen in the foreseeable future, JetAirways has permanently sold 16 of its owned planes in addition to short-term grounding by lessors.”
19/03/19 Pooja Jaiswar/ZeeBiz

Govt tells airlines to increase capacity to keep fares from spiraling

Airlines have been advised by the government to increase capacity to keep a check on spiralling air fares, official said on Tuesday.

A meeting was held between the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and all the airlines on Tuesday.

A senior DGCA official said the government did not issue a directive, but advised airlines to increase capacity and keep fares in check.
The regulator is undertaking sector-specific reviews on price hike.

The government has already advised domestic airlines not to go in for predatory air fare pricing as several 737-MAX aircraft were grounded due to safety reasons in the wake of a plane crash in Ethiopia.

India suspended operations and overflight permission for all Boeing 737-MAX aircraft in India from 4 p.m. on last Wednesday.

Since March 14, air passengers have faced the grim prospect of high air fares and fewer flight choices as several airlines cancelled operations for a number of reasons, including the grounding of the Boeing 737-MAX aircraft.

Industry insiders pointed out that with no short-term relief in sight, some sectors will continue to see a rise of more than 100 per cent in last minute bookings.

Operations of airlines like SpiceJet and Jet Airways have been hit due to the government's decision on last Wednesday to join a global grounding of 737-MAX aircrafts following a crash in Ethiopia.

In India, SpiceJet and Jet Airways operate 17 Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft -- Spice (12) and Jet (5). A part of Jet's fleet has already been grounded due to other reasons.

Apart from SpiceJet, financially challenged Jet Airways has already grounded more than 40 aircraft due to non-payment of lessors' dues. The Jet Airways Group operates a fleet of 123 aircraft.
20/03/19 IANS/News Minute

Kitco to set up new terminal building at Imphal airport

Thiruvananthapuram: Kitco Ltd, the premier public sector technical consultancy organisation, has secured the project management consultancy (PMC) contract from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for setting up a ₹600-crore integrated terminal building at Imphal International Airport in Manipur.

The new terminal building and ancilliary facilities are for developing Imphal Airport, managed by the AAI. It is being developed as an Intra-Regional Hub with facility for round-the-clock operations. Once the project is commissioned, the airport will be suitable for landing of ‘C’ type aircrafts like A-320 and A-321 in all weather conditions.

The PMC, bagged by Kitco through competitive bidding, aims at concept-to-commissioning basis construction of a new integrated terminal building conforming to GRIHA 4 Star Rating, control-cum-technical block, apron link and taxiway, construction of new control tower, parking bays for A-321, B-737-800 and Q 400 type of aircraft, two taxiways, car park, and perimeter roads.

Kitco has made considerable progress in the preliminary work at the airport including site surveys, soil investigation, concept presentation, and stake holder consultation.
19/03/19 The Hindu

Drama in the skies

You could call the action that unfolded on August 10, 1991, a milestone moment for Indian aviation all right — but with a difference. Aviation played a big part in it although the event itself was not directly related to aviation.

The person behind the developments on that day was Amrita Ahluwalia, an air-hostess with Indian Airlines, who saved a 10-year-old child from marriage with an elderly Arab. The child was being taken from Hyderabad to Delhi by an Indian Airlines flight, for onward journey to the Gulf.

Ah, yes, of course, you might say, as you recall the Ameena Begum incident. Almost 28 years after the event that jolted the nation’s conscience, what is this former air-hostess busy with?

BusinessLine caught up with Amrita for a chat.

Post-retirement, Amrita comes across as the same bubbly person who greeted passengers on Indian Airlines flights with her pleasing Namaskar and smile. Settling down, but not before plying us with some fresh home-made biscuits, Amrita relives the highs and lows of her 38-year-long career with Indian Airlines.

There are happy moments, there is also the pain and angst that she had to go through, be it when she broke the child bride racket, better known as the Ameena case, or during some rough phases in her career. There were also health issues, her battle with cancer, and going through chemo and radiation sessions, which left her speech with a slur.

We seek to know a little about her early years, how did she get into aviation? “I was born into a middle-class family in Haryana, my father, a farmer, hailed from Sialkot in Pakistan, so I have one leg there,” she says. “My mother, a teacher, had a strong influence on my life. My elder brother, who was in the Air Force, was my inspiration. If there was one thing I wanted to do from childhood, it was to become an air-hostess.”
In 1977, Amrita saw an advertisement for recruitment of air-hostesses. Those days, the recruitment was region-wise. “I got selected and, after training, inducted into Indian Airlines”.
20/03/19 V Rishi Kumar/Business Line

Embraer’s E190-E2 displays capabilities in India

New Delhi: As part of its tour around the region, Embraer’s E190-E2 commercial jet will be making a stop in New Delhi. Sporting a shark livery to represent the aircraft’s ‘profit hunter’ status, the aircraft will offer Embraer’s guests a closer look at the world’s quietest, cleanest and most efficient new-generation single-aisle aircraft.
 “We are proud to bring this aircraft to the region for the second time to show the amazing capabilities of the E190-E2,” said Cesar Pereira, Asia Pacific Vice President, Embraer Commercial Aviation. “The E190-E2 offers airlines the benefit of lower operating costs and is capable of achieving similar costs per seat of larger re-engined narrowbody aircraft, with significantly lower costs per trip. We have also received a lot of positive feedback about the aircraft performance, low fuel consumption, sleek and modern interior and low cabin noise and we are excited to show it to a wider audience.”
Delivered to its launch customer in April last year, and now operated by two airlines Norway’s Wider√łe and Kazakhstan’s Air Astana, the E190-E2 has gained a reputation in the industry for having met all its milestones ahead of schedule, and with final specifications better than the originally expected.

The E-Jets E2’s value proposition in the Asia Pacific region is its ability to enable airlines to sustainably develop more routes secondary or tertiary cities. These are routes that can potentially bypass the major metro airports such as Manila, Jakarta, Bangkok, New Delhi and Mumbai which are heavily congested.  This enables airlines to achieve sustainable growth without being constrained by infrastructure bottlenecks, while offering passengers improved services with more non-stop flights.
Embraer forecasts a demand for 10,550 new aircraft with up to 150 seats worldwide, worth USD 600 billion, over the next 20 years, more than 3,000 of which will origin from the Asia Pacific region, including China.
Embraer is the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial jets with up to 150 seats. The Company has 100 customers from all over the world operating the ERJ and the E-Jet families of aircraft. For the E-Jets program alone, Embraer has logged more than 1,800 orders and 1,400 deliveries, redefining the traditional concept of regional aircraft by operating across a range of business applications. The first-generation E-Jets are operated by 70 airlines in 50 countries. This includes all the mainline US carriers, KLM, Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, Tianjin Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Japan Airlines and Mandarin Airlines.

The E-Jets E2 is the most efficient family of aircraft in the single-aisle market burning up to 10% less fuel than its direct competitor. The E190-E2 brings also more flexibility with maximum range of up to 5,300 km or about 1,000 km longer than the first-generation E190.
In January 2018, as the aircraft neared the end of its flight test campaign, final results showed that the aircraft is better than its original specification and even more efficient than other single aisle aircraft. In fuel consumption, the E190-E2 proved to be 1.3% better than originally expected, which represents a 17.3% improvement when compared to the first-generation E190. In terms of pilot transition, pilots of the first-generation E-Jets will need only 2.5 days of training and no full flight simulator to fly an E2.
Flight test results also confirmed the E190-E2 to be better than its original specification in takeoff performance in hot-and-high conditions as well as short field takeoff.
 E190-E2 also becomes the aircraft with the longest maintenance intervals in the single aisle market with 10,000 flight hours for basic checks and no calendar limit in typical E-Jets utilization. This means additional 15 days of aircraft utilization in a period of ten years compared to the first-generation E-Jets.
20/03/19 Embraer/PRESS RELEASE

Film on Kandahar hijacking in the pipeline

Mumbai: It will be 20 years since India witnessed the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 in 1999. A film is being planned on the infamous hijacking that saw the then Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, secure the release of 176 passengers and crew in return for the release of terrorists, most notably Masood Azhar of the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group.

Producer Sarita Patil has acquired the rights to IC-814 pilot Captain Devi Sharan’s book, Flight Into Fear: The Captain’s Story, that was co-authored by Srinjoy Chowdhury and Captain Devi.
19/03/19 Cinestaan

AI flight grounded for four hours due to technical snag

Surat: Passengers travelling to Sharjah were stranded at Surat airport for four hours after the aircraft of Air India Express developed a technical snag during take off in the early hours of Tuesday.
 Official sources said Air India Express flight, which operates direct flight between Sharjah and Surat, arrived at Surat airport from Sharjah at about 1.10am.
In the return journey, the aircraft developed a technical snag at the tarmac and the pilot decided to return. The flight was grounded for almost four hours and it took off at about 5.30am.
 A passenger, who was travelling to Sharjah, said, “All passengers had boarded the aircraft and it was ready for departure when the problem in the engine was detected. Attendants in the aircraft asked the passengers to keep seated, while the problem was sorted out.”
20/03/19 Times of India

How much money is Air India losing due to closure of Pakistan airspace?

The closure of airspace by Pakistan for all international flights has hurt Air India the most. The national carrier is reportedly losing Rs 3 crore every day due to re-routing or cancellation of its flights to the UK and the US. The losses roughly sum up to more than Rs 60 crore for Air India ever since Pakistan closed its airspace post the IAF attack on February 26.

India and Pakistan had ordered for closure of their respective airspaces, shutting down various domestic airports after the hostilities between the neighbours over the Pulwama attack that led to the killing of 40 CRPF personnel. However, India opened its airspace within hours post the IAF strike while Pakistan is still hesitant and has only partially opened its airspace.
The decision by the Pakistani government, according to, has hit almost 400 flights that use its airspace on a daily basis.

Air India has cancelled or diverted a majority of flights that it operates to the US and the UK using Pakistan airspace over the last 20 days, DNA reported. The national carrier operates 66 such flights every week to Europe and 33 to North America, according to CNN Traveller.

Air India has also suspended its flights to Birmingham due to the Pakistani government's decision describing it as "extraordinary circumstances." There are six such flights from New Delhi and Amritsar in a week.
The flight duration, as a result of re-routing, has also gone up by at least three hours. This has put an additional revenue burden due to additional fuel usage and more work for the airline crew. India's national carrier has consequently ordered its inactive staff to report to overcome the crisis.
A majority of the flights whose routes have been diverted due to Pakistan's airspace closure have been directed to Mumbai which has resulted in air traffic congestion. In fact, it was recently reported that the congestion almost led to a mid-air crash. A timely collision warning saved the airlines from crashing.
19/03/19 Bismah Malik/IBTimes

Jaipur: Holi rush leads to surge in airfares

Jaipur: People who took flight to places including Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Delhi and other parts of the country from Jaipur on Tuesday to celebrate Holi with their family and friends had to pay almost four to five times the regular airfare.
Air operators attributed it to the extra load factor and also to the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX which urged them to arrange for extra aircraft. As per the apps selling airlines tickets and agents supplying them on Tuesday, the fare of Jaipur to Mumbai was ranging from Rs 23,000 to Rs 26,000 per passenger.
“On Monday, for current booking, it was from Rs 23,000 to Rs 26,000. However, for Tuesday, it is showing Rs 4,500 to Rs 6,000,” said a travel agent dealing with different airlines on Tuesday. Likewise, for Ahmedabad a ticket booked almost a week in advance costs nearly Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,600 but for Monday the price of the ticket even in advance booking was Rs 4,500 to Rs 6,200.
“There is no regulation on their fares. Since, we have no options left, we pay what is sought by these airlines and other Apps selling the air tickets,” said Rishabh Toshniwal who was leaving for Mumbai in the afternoon.
 Meanwhile, airfares have been skyrocketing also due to the groundings of the planes by major airlines. The Boeing 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia has also added to the woes of the aviation industry. After the crash, countries all over the world have been grounding their Boeing 737 MAX planes. SpiceJet is one of the carriers affected by it. “The airline had to withdraw 12 aircraft due to this,” said a travel agent.
20/03/19 Times of India

35 airlines confirmed for inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India & Africa forum

More than 30 airlines have confirmed their participation at the inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India & Africa – co-located with Arabian Travel Market 2019 and taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday 30th April and Wednesday 1st May.

Senior network planning teams from a wide range of legacy and low-cost carriers including Emirates, Etihad, China Southern Airlines, Jordan Aviation, Air Asia, flydubai, Gulf Air, Oman Air and Azerbaijan Airlines as well as SpiceJet and Air India are among those already registered.

In India, which has one of the world’s largest aviation industries, more than 678,000 flights departed from its top five airports in 2018 – with these airports possessing the capacity to manage 118.07 million passengers, an additional 12.32 million passengers when compared with figures from 2017, according to data published in the latest ANKER report.

Nick Pilbeam, divisional director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, said: “Despite rising fuel costs and unstable Rupee exchange rates, which has led to the Rupee losing around 14% of its value against the US dollar over the last 12 months, 2018 has been an exciting year for India’s aviation market.

“The country has recorded the world’s fastest growing domestic aviation market for the past three years, according to IATA, with domestic air passenger traffic registering a healthy 18.6% growth in 2018 underscoring the country’s vast market potential.”
20/03/19 Arabian Aerospace

One more IndiGo flight between Mangaluru and Bengaluru from April

Mangaluru: IndiGo airlines is going start one more flight from the city to the capital Bengaluru from the month of April.

IndiGo, which is the on-time performer of India, is adding 14 new flights to its fleet, based on the experience of its customers. This includes the Mangaluru - Bengaluru route also.

The new flight will leave Bengaluru at 7.30 am in the morning and will reach Mangaluru at 8.40 am. It will depart from Mangaluru at 9.40 am and reach Bengaluru at 10.30 am.

IndiGo is going to start its maiden flight service in the sectors of Chennai-Raipur, Hyderabad-Gorakhpur and Kolkata-Gorakhpur. Additional flights will be added to the existing routes of Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru-Udaipur and Bengaluru-Chennai routes. All the new services will begin from the month of April.

The press release of the airlines says that the customers, who wish to plan their trip, may book their tickets on, the official website of the airlines.
19/03/19 daijiworld

SC Appoints Amicus Curiae to Examine Ban on Spray of Disinfectants in Aircraft, Calls Issue Important

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has agreed to examine the validity of a complete ban on spray of disinfectants in aircraft while passengers are on board, terming the issue as important.

It has appointed senior advocate Meenakshi Arora as amicus curiae in the matter, while also requesting Attorney General KK Venugopal to depute a law officer on the next date of hearing for clarifying the Centre’s stand.

“Since the issue which has been raised is of some importance, we request the learned Attorney General for India to nominate a Law Officer to assist the Court,” said a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud in an order last week.

The Court was examining an appeal moved by IndiGo Airlines, which has challenged orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and consequent directions to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). By its order in August 2015, the tribunal had directed the DGCA to ensure that no disinfectant fumigation is carried out inside a plane when any passenger is inside.

IndiGo repeated pleas seeing modification of this order were rejected by the NGT. Most recently, in October 2018, the green panel had dismissed yet another application by IndiGo, stating that none of the airlines were able to show that such a spray is not injurious to human health.
20/03/19 Utkarsh Anand/CNN-News18

All planes, choppers booked for poll campaign

Mumbai: With canvassing for the 2019 general elections in full swing, it's a "houseful" notice outside most companies hiring out small fixed wing aircraft and helicopters for campaign purposes, aviation industry players said.
Top politicians of various parties covet choppers as they afford ease of mobility and access to the country's remotest corners, and small planes which can land on short airstrips.

Flying at average 100-140 nautical miles per hour at a height of between 2,000-3,000 feet, helicopters are the favourite as they help politicians reach out to the maximum constituents during the campaign.

Unlike many developed countries, there are not many choppers or small planes available for hire during poll season and the charter companies go in for the pre-election 'kill'.

According to the Western Chapter of Rotary Wing Society of India (RWSI) President Captain Uday Gelli, there are around 275 registered civilian helicopters in the country.

These include choppers owned by the central or state governments, corporates, public or private sector undertakings, and those that are privately-owned -- leaving around barely 75, mostly with the charter companies, for election purposes.
19/03/19 IANS/Economic Times

Man caught at Indian airport 'with live human embryo in suitcase'

A man has been arrested after he was allegedly caught attempting to smuggle a live human embryo into India.

Authorities in the country say they discovered the man, a Malaysian national, carrying the embryo in a special container hidden in his suitcase at Mumbai‘s airport last Friday.

The man reportedly admitted he had previously made several similar smuggling runs.

He then led officials to an IVF clinic in Mumbai which is now being investigated as part of a possible smuggling ring.
The clinic has denied any allegations it is involved in smuggling.

Rebecca Gonsalves, representing the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the agency investigating the alleged smuggling operation, told Mumbai’s high court on Monday that several text messages were found on the man’s phone suggesting the clinic was the intended place of delivery, according to The Times of India.

However, Dr Coral Gandhi, an embryologist who runs the clinic, denied the allegation.

Her lawyer, Sujoy Kantwalla, said she “does not import embryos as part of her business”, the Indian Express reported, and he blamed “a conspiracy hatched by persons which may include competitors”.
19/03/19 Samuel Osborne/Independent

Kolkata: Three persons held with fake passports from airport

Kolkata: Three individuals have been detained by the immigration buraeu officials at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) Airport with fake passports.

The detained individuals were identified as Rafika Khatoon, Noor Kaida Khatoon and Kallol Mitra.

The detained women reportedly were from Rohingya community. They were ready to board in a Kualalumpur-bound flight at around 11.30 pm.

The bureau suspected that the detained persons entered India illegally from Bangladesh and made the passport in a fraudulent manner.
Their passports and boarding passes were seized and complain was lodged at the NSCBI police station.
19/03/19 UNI/India Blooms

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

India government asked banks to save Jet, avoid bankruptcy

New Delhi: India’s government has asked state-run banks to rescue privately held Jet Airways without pushing it into bankruptcy, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to avert thousands of job losses weeks before a general election, two people within the administration told Reuters.
The finance ministry has in the past year sought regular updates from the banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), on Jet’s financial health, the people said. In recent months, the banks have provided weekly updates about a revival plan and also sought government advice, the people added.

“Top officials at the finance ministry seek regular updates on the issue,” said an official at one of Jet’s lenders, who did not want to be identified as discussions are private.

Details of the discussion between the finance ministry and bankers on bailing out Jet have not been previously reported.

New Delhi has urged state-run banks to convert debt into equity and take a stake in Jet in a rare move in India to use taxpayer money to save a struggling private-sector company from bankruptcy. The two people plus one more source, however, said this would be “transitory” and lenders could sell the stakes once Jet revives.
The government has also nudged its 49 percent-owned National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) - created to invest in stalled and new infrastructure projects - to buy a stake in Jet, a separate government source said.

Saddled with more than 1 billion dollars of debt, Jet is struggling to stay aloft. It has delayed payments to banks, suppliers, employees and aircraft lessors - some of which have begun terminating lease deals.
19/03/19 Aftab Ahmed, Aditi Shah/Reuters

No Salary In 3 Months, Flight Safety At Risk: Jet Airways Engineers

Cash-starved Jet Airways on Tuesday alleged that non-payment of salaries had adversely affected its members'' psychological condition, which puts the safety of the airline''s flight operations at risk.
In a communication to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Jet Airways Aircraft Maintenance Engineers' Association (JAMEWA) sought the aviation regulator''s intervention in recovering the dues, saying the management's failure to keep its commitment of clearing their salary by March had "shaken" their faith in the company.

Jet Airways has nearly 560 engineers to maintain its fleet of over 100 planes. The JAMEWA claims representing around 490 engineers.

"As of now, three months'' salary is overdue to us," the association said in an e-mail to the DGCA. "It has been arduous for us to meet our financial requirements, which has resulted in adversely affecting the psychological condition of engineers at work and therefore, safety of public transport aircraft being flown by Jet Airways across India and the world is at risk."

"We request you to kindly intervene and direct Jet Airways to clear our dues and pay us our salaries on time in future to enable us to continue deliver safe aircraft," the JAMEWA said in the letter dated March 19.

Copies of the communication have also been e-mailed to the Prime Minister's Office, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu and the ministry's secretary.
Jet Airways' engineers, pilots and senior management have not been paid for January and February, besides 87.5 per cent of their December salary is also due.
The engineers' association said while the senior management was finding a resolution to be in the business, "we who inspect, troubleshoot and certify the public transport aircraft are in tremendous stress due to no-payment of salaries on time, since last seven months".
19/03/19 PTI/NDTV

Naresh Goyal's personal ambition holds Jet Airways back from resurrection; is slow death awaiting India's once favoured airline?

We live in interesting times. Over the years, several Indian airlines' liveries have slipped into oblivion. From low-fare pioneer Air Deccan in both its avatars (low cost and regional) to Kingfisher, Sahara, Damania, ModiLuft, NEPC and more.

And now, it is Jet Airways which is coming close to a grinding halt the second time around. Back in 2013, when they had a financial crunch, the Middle East carriers were on a high note, and FDI in Indian aviation was enabled at right about the time when Jet Airways needed the fund infusion.

For Jet Airways, in their Silver Jubilee year, the airline is battling with what is their biggest existential crisis at the moment. What started about six months ago as a default on paying salaries to employees has now translated into a full-blown crisis which continues to throw new surprises every day for all the stakeholders, including employees, customers and other.

Almost half the airline’s fleet is grounded, customers find out about flight cancellations last minute, and the airline is not able to do much for them. Naresh Goyal’s word was taken seriously for the first few months till it was not an issue that was connected to the lenders. The airline was still flying, albeit with hiccups. But now, he is unable to keep his word on the timeline of resolution for this situation. For instance, he assured employees that by 18 March the situation would ease up. On 18 March, he extended the deadline sine die, stating it was taking time to make things work.

At the heart of the salvage of the airline is the continued desire of the airline’s current promoter, Naresh Goyal, to hold on to the airline in some capacity or another. I empathized with him last year, after all, Jet Airways is all he has to show for his life’s work. But now, it looks more and more like his personal ambition is holding the airline back from resurrection. He is playing hardball, but so is everyone else. And then when he had almost lost it all, he came around with an offer to invest Rs 750 crores in the airline to hold on to the promoter status.
29/03/19 Ajay Awtaney/First Post

Air India worst-hit by closure of Pakistan airspace, loses over Rs 60 crore

New Delhi: Closure of Pakistan's airspace has not only affected hundreds of passengers across the globe but also several airlines around the globe.

Reports suggest that Air India has been affected more than any other airline due to the closure of Pakistan airspace, with a loss of more than Rs 60 crore as of March 16.

Pakistan announced general closure of its airspace on February 27, the next day after Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out an airstrike targeting a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot.

Flights of several airlines around the world have been either re-routed or cancelled, with as many as 400 flights being affected on a daily basis. Out of all the airlines, Air India is one of the worst-hit airlines.

Air India flies 66 weekly services to Europe and 33 to the US, reports said. Since the routes mostly fly through Pakistani airspace, majority of these flights had to be either cancelled or diverted.

Air India flights travelling west can no longer fly over Pakistan's airspace and need to swing south across Gujarat and then cut across the Arabian sea to reach their destinations in Europe and North America.

The most problematic flights for Air India are flights between India and the US east coast - Washington, New York, Newark and Chicago.

This has resulted in Air India, an airline which was already surviving on government bailouts, to incur heavy revenue losses, a spokesperson said.

Other airlines such as private carriers SpiceJet and Jet Airways have also been affected as they to cancel their flight between Delhi and Kabul.
19/03/19 India Today

Pakistan keeps airspace closed over fears of India attack

Pakistan has restricted its airspace indefinitely over fears India will launch another attack, forcing international airlines to take costly and time-consuming detours.

“This is a matter of national security. There can be no compromise,” a senior Pakistan government official told the Financial Times. “I realise this is a problem [for airlines] but Pakistan’s security must come first.”

Another senior government official said an air strike by the Indian military in northern Pakistan last month had “definitely” prompted the move to close the airspace. A day after the Indian strike, Pakistan’s air force fired at two Indian fighters.

“We are still concerned that the Indians may go for another adventure as Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi tries to get votes to win the election,” the official said, referring to India’s national poll, to be held over seven weeks from April 11. “Our reading is that the Indians are still thinking of attacking Pakistan in the name of targeting terrorist locations.”

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, has also voiced fears of an imminent attack. On Friday he told a gathering near Peshawar that “there is a need for Pakistanis to remain vigilant”.

He added: “We are repeatedly asking India to have bilateral trade and resolve the issue of Kashmir through talks but, unfortunately, a political party in India wants to win the election by spreading hatred.”
The airspace closure is affecting about 800 commercial and cargo flights a day, said Mark Martin, founder of aviation company Martin Consulting, who estimated that the shutdown has already cost airlines and airports more than $1bn.
19/03/19 Financial Times

Jet passengers stranded at Abu Dhabi as airline cancels flights

New Delhi: Passengers have been stranded at Abu Dhabi airport, finding it tough to return over the sudden cancellation of flights by Jet Airways.

The cash-strapped Jet Airways, which has been forced to ground over 50 per cent of its fleet due to non-payment of amounts outstanding to lessors, is regularly grounding aircraft as it unable to pay the lessors.

"Jet Airways has cancelled all their flights from Abu Dhabi with immediate effect from March 18, 2019, due to operational reasons, further to the short notice of flight cancellation, HUB (Abu Dhabi) may face a minor disruption," said Etihad in a statement.

The cancellation comes on the day, which was set by founder and Chairman Naresh Goyal to announce an update on the resolution plan.
On Monday too, following the similar pattern, Jet Airways informed BSE that four aircraft were informed to be grounded due to non-payment of amounts outstanding to lessors.
Earlier, cash-strapped Jet Airways pilots' union had written to the government, seeking its help in recovering their pending salaries along with the accumulated interest.
19/03/19 IANS/daijiworld

Are you 'covered' if flight is cancelled?

For families with children summer is a preferred time to travel as schools and colleges are closed for the annual vacations. And given that summer is just around the corner, it's time for many to plan for holidays.

But this year one uncertainty worrying travellers is the possible cancellation of flights. Indian airline companies have seen a spate of flight cancellations due to various reasons. If you are worried about what will happen to your flight, read on to know your rights as a traveller.

According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) website, in case of a flight cancellation, the airline is bound to provide you alternate travel opportunities at no additional cost, if you so desire. The airline is required to refund the ticket in case the traveller is not willing to travel on its alternate or subsequent flight or another airline's flight.
According to the DGCA's website, "If you have already reported at the airport to undertake journey on original flight and waiting for the alternate flight, the airline is bound to provide you meals and refreshments."

Recently, tour operator Cox & Kings had to shift some passengers of SpiceJet to alternative flights by issuing fresh tickets on a different airline, and SpiceJet gave full refund on cancelled flight, said John Nair, head, business travel, Cox & Kings.

But any losses suffered by the traveller due the delay or cancellation are not compensated by the airline. Neither does the airline provide any compensation for hotel stay since they inform passengers in advance of the delay or cancellation and not at the last minute, Nair said.

But travellers will not be entitled to any compensation in case you don't accept alternate travel arrangements offered by the airline or when the cancellation occurs due to extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the airline.

According to the DGCA's website, an airline is required to provide you information on cancellations of your flight as far in advance as possible of the scheduled time of departure. If you have not been informed at least three hours in advance about the cancellation of your flight, the airline is liable to provide you compensation.
"To get timely information on flight cancellation, please ensure that your contact details are provided to the airlines at the time of booking,'' the DGCA website says.

Travellers will not be entitled for compensation on account of cancellations and delays caused due to extraordinary circumstance(s) beyond the control of the airline, such as: natural disaster, civil war, political instability, security risks, insurrection or riot, flood, explosion, government regulation or order affecting the aircraft, strikes and labour disputes causing cessation, meteorological conditions, cancellations and delays clearly attributable to Air Traffic Control (ATC), slowdown or interruption of work or any other causes that are beyond the control of the airline, but which affect their ability to operate flights on schedule.

Travel insurance is another way travellers can ensure their losses on account of flight cancellations are taken care of, to some extent. Insurance covers flight cancellations/delays and missing connecting flights. This is subject to the sum insured and limits mentioned in the policy for loss of personal accommodation, travel charges paid or contracted to be paid by the insured.

"Insurance will pay for trip delay claims which were caused due to both airlines cancelling or rescheduling the flight due to some natural disaster. However, it will not pay for delay caused due to flight missed by the insured due to his or her own fault,'' says Bhaskar Nerurkar, head-health administration team, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance.
19/03/19 Priya Nair/DNA

SpiceJet may have to shell out more for leasing aircraft

SpiceJet, which grounded 13 Boeing Max 737 planes, may have to shell out more for leasing aircraft as rentals have shot through the roof.
The grounding of over 300 of Boeing 737 Max 8 planes across the globe, following two crashes, has sent aircraft lease rentals soaring, according to airline insiders.
Two senior executives of different domestic airlines, who spoke to DNA Money anonymously, said post the decision by most carriers around the globe to not fly the Max 8 planes till the fault in its software was fixed has led to a scarcity of Boeing planes in the market.
One of them said this crunch in availability of Boeings has bloated aircraft rental costs.

Following two air crashes, which involved Boeing 737 Max 8, in less than five months aviation authorities of many countries – India, China, Australia, UK, Germany, Indonesia and others – have ordered grounding of the Max 8.

One of the airline executives DNA Money spoke to, said all the carriers, which have grounded Max 8 aircraft would be looking to lease planes to continue their flight services.Even SpiceJet is reportedly considering hiring planes to operate the flights for which it has already sold tickets.

"SpiceJet will reach out to airlines and lessors for available capacity," he said.
According to reports, SpiceJet may wet lease planes to continue its services. Acquiring planes on wet lease means getting the aircraft along with crew (both pilots and cabin crew) and is usually from an airline. Dry lease involves only aircraft.
According to the an executive, the rentals for aircraft aged five years or more were currently "roughly" starting from "$350,000-$400,000 per month". This, he said, was higher than the rentals for similarly aged planes before the grounding of Max 8s.
18/03/19 Praveena Sharma/DNA

DGCA denies reports on calling airlines' meet today to discuss airfare rise after flight cancellations

 Aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has on Tuesday denied reports that appeared in media on Monday that it convened a meeting of airlines on Tuesday to discuss the airfare rise in the wake of flight cancellations by Jet Airways.

Quoting DGCA sources, ANI reported that the news about the meeting with airlines was wrong.

"There is speculative news in media that DGCA has called all airlines to discuss on airfare hikes due to major Jet Airways flight cancellations and Pakistan airspace closure. This news is wrong," ANI reported.
On Monday, a government official was quoted as saying by PTI that the DGCA called a meeting on Tuesday noon to discuss with airlines the upward spiral in airfares as Jet Airways continue to ground its aircraft and cancel a significant number of flights.

According to the official, after the DGCA grounded all 12 of SpiceJet's 737 Max aircraft on 13 March following the Ethiopian Airlines crash, that killed 157 people, the problem of rising airfares in Indian market has "aggravated".
"DGCA has called a meeting at Tuesday noon to discuss the airfare rise because of significant number of cancellations done by Jet Airways in the last few weeks," the government official told PTI.
19/03/19 First Post

India's civil aviation minister calls for emergency meeting on Jet Airways

New Delhi: India’s civil aviation minister has called for an emergency meeting about Jet Airways Ltd as the cash-strapped carrier struggles to make payments to its creditors and has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights.

The minister, Suresh Prabhu, has asked the civil aviation secretary to call for a meeting to discuss grounding of flights, advance bookings, cancellations, refunds, and safety issues, if any, at Jet.
19/03/19 Reuters

Rising Jet Airways cancellations triggers call for ban on advance bookings

Increasing flight cancellations at Jet Airways have prompted Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) to demand that the airline be barred from any advance bookings, according to a report by The Economic Times.

The cash-strapped Jet has cancelled flights to several international and domestic destinations including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Dammam, Kochi and Nagpur.

Jet Airways will be operating merely 45 planes from March 19 as it has grounded close to 64 percent of its 124-strong fleet as of December, sources told the paper. This has affected its operations in various routes including Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad.

"Jet Airways usually accounted for 12-15 percent of our total sales. Now, it's come down to 2-5 percent," an executive at a travel portal told the newspaper.
Owing to the inconvenience caused to passengers due to these groundings, Industry watchers and experts said the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) should stop advance bookings. "Jet shouldn't be allowed to do the advance booking with fancy offers when a situation is going from bad to worse," D Sudhakara Reddy, President, APAI, tweeted.
"Past experience shows gullible passengers lost hundreds of crores when Paramount, Kingfisher and SpiceJet collected money in the name of advance booking. When schedules were disrupted or aircraft grounded, passengers lost all their monies," he added.

South Indian carrier Paramount Airways, which started flying in 2005, folded in 2010, while Kingfisher Airlines, founded by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, started in 2005 and shut down in 2012. SpiceJet was on the brink of getting shut in 2014 but managed a turnaround.

15 small towns get linked to Mumbai by air under central govt’s scheme

In a move to strengthen air connectivity within Maharashtra and further connect cities in the state by air nationally, the Centre has approved six routes from Mumbai to cities in the state and nine routes from the financial capital to regional pockets across the country.
 Also, 15 routes involving other cities in Maharashtra, including Pune, Nagpur and Nashik, have been cleared. Among airlines, the major gainers are SpiceJet, Alliance Air, IndiGo, TruJet and Star Air (run by the Ghodawat family), to whom the routes have been awarded under the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik) scheme.
However, they will get non-prime or non-day time slots, because of congestion at Mumbai’s airport. Star Air, launched by Kolhapur-based educationist Sanjay Ghodawat, will connect Mumbai and Nagpur with Belgaum, besides connecting Mumbai with Kolhapur, and Hubli with Pune. The airline owns and operates two 50-seater aircraft (Embraer 145) on the Bangalore-Hubli and BangaloreBelgaum routes.
 “Within a few months our passenger load factor has touched 60% and we expect to reach 90% once we sign an agreement with aggregators such as MakeMyTrip and Cleartrip,” said Ghodawat (64), an engineer who operates educational institutes with nearly 15,000 students in Kolhapur and Sangli. the country’s top politicians during poll campaigns.
 In the last Union cabinet meeting before the general election’s announcement, 30 routes for various airlines were approved. Mumbai got the most, 15, followed by Nashik, Pune and Sholapur. According to sources, the routes will soon be “formalized”. Additional infrastructure at some of the regional airports is almost ready, they said.
19/03/19 Chittaranjan Tembhekar/Times of India

East West Freight Carriers Limited wins Excellence International Cargo Award 2018 from Air India

East West Freight Carriers Limited (EWFCL) is India's leading air freight forwarding Companies and WOS of Bullish Bonds & Holdings Limited. EWFCL has won the Excellence International Cargo Award 2018 from Air India. A strong, customer-focussed approach and the constant quest for top-class quality have enabled EWFCL to win the Excellence International Cargo Award 2018 from Air India. The award is a testament to the quality service(s) and the confidence that EWFCL exude through their experienced team.

The award was handed over to Mr. Mohrammed Shafi and Mr. Mohammed Ajaz Directors of East West Freight Carriers Limited.
19/03/19 Equity Bulls

Low cost carrier SpiceJet on Tuesday said it has become a member of global airlines' grouping IATA.

SpiceJet is the first Indian budget carrier to join the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has over 290 airlines as members.

"The IATA membership is also significant on account of SpiceJet's plans to rapidly expand its international footprint," the airline said in a statement.

The membership also allows SpiceJet to explore and grow its collaborations with international member airlines of IATA through interlining and code shares, enabling to seamlessly expand the network options for its passengers infuture, it added.
19.03/19 PTI/CNBC TV18

Jet Airways stops flights to 5 destinations from Indore

Indore: There is bad news for frequent flyers of city. The debt-ridden Jet Airways shut down its four fights operating between Indore-New Delhi and New Delhi-Indore from Monday. The airline withdrew flights from city to five destinations in last 20 days including Chennai, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi.

The decision to stop Indore-New Delhi and New Delhi-Indore flights was sudden, which caused panic among the passengers who had booked their tickets. Saddled with heavy debts, Jet Airways is unable to make lease payment of aircrafts and salaries of its employee. It was operating for destinations including New Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Chennai, Bengaluru and Jaipur.
19/03/19 Manish Upadhyay/Free Press Journal

Flyers Alert! IndiGo, Jet Airways stir competition: New flight, heavy discounts on offer

IndiGo and Jet Airways have stirred competition just a few days ahead of Holi. IndiGo which is the largest airline in terms of market share, has launched new flights between Kolhapur, Hyderabad and Tirupati with fares starting at an all-inclusive price of Rs 1,999. On the other hand, Jet Airways have unveiled flight deals with fares starting to lowest Rs 1,165. Apart from this, Jet is also giving family pack offers. Here's what you need to know about these two airlines latest offers.

On its official website, the airlines said that these non-stop flights will commence with effect from 12th May 2019. Passengers who want to fly from May 12th can now book their tickets through the IndiGo's official website. At Indigo, the introductory fare on Hyderabad-Kolhapur and vice-versa route is offered at Rs 1999, Tirupati- Kolhapur at Rs 2999. 

Jet Airways:
The airline has also prepped with a host of discounts for its customers. The company offers the trip at starting price of Rs 1165 on somewhat 37 destinations within India. However, the offer is available only for economy class and also on one-way journeys.
Apart from this, the airline gives an enhanced travel experience to 19 international destinations, as well as a host of exclusive benefits like zero cancellation fees, JP Miles bonus, EMI on next flight booking among other offers.
Additionally, there is also 10% off on 4 or more guests per booking. Hence, if you are planning to travel this month or upcoming ones, then make sure you are aware of the above-mentioned offers given by Jet Airways and IndiGo.
18/03/19 ZeeBiz

New baggage service for Indian airlines from UAE airport

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi airport has announced a special service for passengers in Indian airlines travelling from UAE.

Indigo travellers can now remotely check-in their luggage via the 'City Terminal Check-in' service - allowing them to avoid the hassle at the airport and check-in quickly.

The service, which started on March 10, needs to be availed 24 hours before the time of the flight.

Other India-based airlines on the list include Air India, Air India Express and Jet Airways.

Maarten de Groof, Chief Commercial Officer of Abu Dhabi airport, said that the airport welcomes all travellers of Indigo Airline, inviting them to visit the City Terminal Check-In to facilitate their travels.
19/03/19 Wam/Khaleej Times

Airline to pay Rs 45,000 compensation to passenger

New Delhi: A consumer disputes redressal forum here has directed Air India to pay Rs. 45,000 as compensation to a passenger who missed his connecting flight to Phoenix allegedly due to a delay in a New Delhi-Los Angeles flight.
Directing the airline to compensate the complainant, the consumer forum said, “The undisputed facts remain that the flight at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport was delayed and consequently the connecting flight could not be boarded by the complainant. It is also not disputed that (UA) authorities did not allow the complainant to board the flight and [Air India] reissued a ticket.”
Further, it was alleged that the luggage was sent via a different flight, without the complainant on board the particular flight.
Holding the airline guilty, the consumer panel said, “Holding the opposite party [Air India] to be guilty of deficiency in service, we award a sum of ₹40,000 in lump sum for mental and physical agony faced by the complainant beside litigation cost of ₹5,000.”
19/03/19 The Hindu

US airlines asked to pay CA $600 for flight delay

Vadodara: The USA-based United Airlines has been asked to pay $600 to a city-based chartered accountant, who alleged that he had suffered huge losses due to delay in its flight to Newark.
 The chartered accountant (CA) Sanjeev Shah had moved the district consumer forum claiming that he suffered losses of Rs 17 lakh as his flight to Newark from Mumbai was delayed by more than 24 hours on October 14, 2016.
 Shah is a frequent traveller to the US for business purposes. As the flight could not take off twice, Shah was accommodated on an alternate flight the next day.
 “The passengers were made to sit in the aircraft at 11 pm and they were informed at 4.30 am that the flight would not take off. Next day, the passengers again boarded the flight, but at 3.30 am they were told that the aircraft crew’s shift is over and a new set of crew was awaited,” said Shah’s lawyer Jaideep Verma.
 19/03/19 Jay Pachchigar/Times of India

Man held with live cartridges at Jaipur airport

Jaipur: A man was caught at the Jaipur Airport carrying six live cartridges and a magazine on Monday afternoon. Dinesh Kumar was to take the flight from Jaipur to Surat and had checked in with firearms in his luggage.
He was handed over to the police and the preliminary probe revealed that he has an arms licence. However, firearms are not allowed on board private airlines and Kumar’s questioning is on. The airport authorities caught the firearms when the luggage was scanned.
Lakhan Singh, SHO, Sanganer police station told TOI, “Kumar was supposed to take the afternoon flight to Surat but was stopped when the cartridges were found in his luggage. He did have a licence, so it is not a case of illegal transportation of firearms.”
 According to the rule, no one can carry any firearms or even toy replicas on board the flight. Kumar is a businessman from Surat who had travelled to Jaipur for some work.
19/03/19 Times of India

Patient stranded at JKIA after being ejected from plane to India

A patient scheduled to travel to India for specialised treatment has been left stranded at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) after she was ejected from the plane.
Wangari Ndumia, 25, was whisked out of a flight together with her sister after differences emerged on her fitness to fly.
While her sister, Ann Ndumia insisted that she was in a stable condition to board the plane that was making a stop in Abu Dhabi before connecting to Delhi, India, the officials of the airline claimed she was not fit.
This is despite the two having boarded the plane, already seated and was just waiting for the flight attendants to allocate her sister a favorable seat with enough leg room.
However, as soon as all the passengers had boarded, a call was made and what followed was the security officers directing them to leave the plane.
Ann said this was the second time they were being denied a chance to travel. The first time was on Tuesday where the airline also did not allow them to check in.
“And they (airline) refused to refund us the cash we paid a total of Sh116,870,” said Ann, almost breaking down.
According to an email seen by The Standard addressed to a local booking agent, Prudential Travels the airline laid blame on the agent.
“For all medical reasons travel you ought not to issue tickets before medical clearance with a fit to fly remark,” read the email in part from the airline.
It added: “Kindly note your ticket was within 24 hours we cannot cancel, only airport taxes can be reversed and credit note issued under the same passenger names. No cash fund is given on Air Arabia. You may cancel the inbound flight.”
After this mail, Ann said she was forced to go back to the same agent to try a secure another flight, which she said, she was instructed to add Sh50,000 more. She only had Sh25,000 and so  reached an agreement that she will pay the rest once she is back from India.
This is when the agent booked another flight with a different airline that was scheduled to depart on Sunday 2:15pm via Abu Dhabi before connecting to Delhi.
This time round, the agent had all the papers right including a medical certificate signed by Dr Diane Mclvor of Etihad.
On the flight ticket too it was indicated that she was a medical case described as ‘wheelchair all the way seat-confirmed.’
But as soon as the plane was already boarded, Ann and her ailing sister, whose right leg is being held together with screws due to massive loss of bones, were instructed to leave the flight.
18/03/19  Graham Kajilwa/Standard

Nigeria: Air Peace to Operate Direct Flights to India

There are indications that Nigeria's biggest airline, Air Peace may begin direct flights to India from Lagos.

This was made known by the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Abhay Thakur, who disclosed that the domestic carrier had been approved by the federal government to operate direct flights to India under the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) signed with the Asian nation in January.

Thakur, said Air Peace was chosen when the BASA was signed between the two countries, aimed at liberalising commercial services between Nigeria and India. Both countries have been engaged in bilateral trade since the 1960s.
In the principle of reciprocity two airlines may be designated, each from one country and the two under the commercial agreement would endorse the number of frequencies the airlines would operate to one another's country.

BASA agreements allow the designated airlines of the two contracting countries to operate commercial flights that cover the transport of passengers and cargoes between the countries.
The High Commissioner said, "We had the bilateral air services agreement that was signed in January, we already have the approvals accorded to Air Peace by the government of Nigeria and the approvals by the government of India are currently in the process and we hope we can start direct flights sooner than later.
19/03/19 All Africa

SpiceJet passengers to get more flight options; budget carrier becomes IATA member

Budget carrier SpiceJet has become a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), it announced on Tuesday. With this, it has become the first Indian low-cost airline to join the association. “The IATA membership is also significant on account of SpiceJet’s plans to rapidly expand its international footprint,” the airline said in a statement.

The membership, which is enjoyed by over 290 airlines worldwide will help SpiceJet to grow its connections with other airlines through interlining and code shares, enabling to seamlessly expand the network options for its passengers in future, it added.

Meanwhile, airfares have been skyrocketing followed by the groundings of the planes by major airlines. Along with this, the Boeing 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia has also added to the woes of the aviation industry. After the crash, countries all over the world have been grounding their Boeing 737 MAX planes. SpiceJet is one of the carriers affected by it. The airline had to withdraw 12 aircraft due to this.
Previously, SpiceJet had announced 12 new international and domestic flights. Effective from 31 March 2019, these flights will begin operations on 15 April.

With this, the airline also added six new flights under Modi government’s scheme UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik). Kishangarh-Ahmedabad-Kishangarh, Lakhimpur-Guwahati-Lakhimpur and Jaipur-Amritsar-Jaipur were given to the airline under the third round of allocation of routes for regional connectivity scheme. In this bidding, SpiceJet emerged with the most number of routes awarded.
19/03/19 Prachi Gupta/Financial Express

NRI caught with Rs 15 lakh in Canadian dollars at Chandigarh airport

Mohali: Police caught a Canadian NRI while allegedly trying to smuggle 29,100 Canadian dollars worth Rs 15 lakh approximately at the Chandigarh international airport on Monday.
 Harmohan Singh arrived from Delhi in an IndiGo Airlines flight. He was to visit his relatives residing in Sector 38 Chandigarh.
 Deputy superintendent of police (DSP) H S Bal said, “We had specific information regarding a man on board Indigo Airlines flight from Delhi carrying undisclosed Canadian currency. When the flight reached Chandigarh and the person de-boarded, he was detained and asked to disclose if he had undisclosed money in possession. When he refused, he was frisked and police found 10,000 Canadian Dollars from his pocket and 19,100 Canadian Dollars hidden inside his vest. The Income Tax department was informed, and the seized cash was handed over to them for further action.”
 19/03/19 Times of India

Monday, March 18, 2019

All eyes on Naresh Goyal, as his deadline to Jet Airways' pilots expires today

Amid grounding of operations at Abu Dhabi airport, an unhappy partner in Etihad Airways and increasing unease among its pilots, all eyes are on Jet Airways' founder and Chairman Naresh Goyal as his self-imposed deadline to announce an update on the resolution plan gets over on March 18.

Patience is running out among the distressed airline's senior pilots, many of whom have been approached by IndiGo and GoAir. Some of them attended 'roadshows' conducted by IndiGo last week in Gurugram and Mumbai and may decide on their future course depending on what Goyal has to tell them.

"Tempers have gone up after an aircraft maintenance engineer lost his son for want of funds," said a senior executive.

Jet Airways' pilots and engineers have not been paid part of their December salary, and those of January and February.
On March 1, Goyal had written to the airline's pilots, appealing for 'continued support' and assured them that the senior management will provide an update on the resolution plan by March 18.
18/03/19 Prince Mathews Thomas/

Talks between Jet’s lenders and Etihad sour; Jet cancels Abu Dhabi flights

Mumbai: The deal to rescue Jet Airways has hit an air pocket. Lenders have told Jet’s strategic partner Etihad Airways that if it is unable to accept the terms to revive the troubled airline, it should exit so that a new investor can be brought in.
Meanwhile, Jet has cancelled all flights to Etihad’s hub in Abu Dhabi, said two people in the know. The destination became Jet’s hub after it sold stake to the Gulf carrier in 2013. One of them said it was due to shortage of aircraft but it also underlines souring of talks between the two parties.
Etihad, saddled with losses and unsure of the resolution plan and its probable outcome, is understood to have said that it could exit at a price of Rs 150 a share.
“This could well be pressure tactics but it has not gone down well with the government and the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), which was planning to invest. But the question is, where is the buyer even if Etihad offers to sell its stake?” said a person familiar with the developments.
Etihad owns 24% of Jet, which closed at Rs 234.95 on Friday on the BSE. Bankers and the Etihad management have put forth their views just ahead of a March 18 deadline cited by Jet founder chairman Naresh Goyal to employees for a decisive update on the revival plan. An Etihad team will be coming to Mumbai this week to discuss the matter, which is heading toward breaking point, according to the people cited above.
Etihad is yet to chip in with the required contribution of Rs 750 crore. Lenders, led by State Bank of India, are ready to infuse a like amount as ‘priority debt’ to keep the airline flying for the next six months. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier is said to have approached the UAE Federal National Council before taking a final decision, said a second person in the know. There was no response from Etihad to ET’s emailed questionnaire till the time of going to press.
18/03/19 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

Ethiopian Airlines black boxes show 'clear similarities' to Lion Air crash: Ministry

Ethiopia said on Sunday that the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed 157 people had "clear similarities" with October's Lion Air crash, according to the initial analysis of the black boxes recovered from the wreckage of the March 10 disaster.

Both planes were Boeing 737 MAX 8s, and both crashed minutes after take-off after pilots reported flight control problems. Concern over the plane's safety caused aviation authorities worldwide to ground the model, wiping billions of dollars off Boeing's market value.

Investigators are trying to determine why the aircraft plunged into a field shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, searching for possible similarities to an October Lion Air crash that killed 189 people.

"It was the same case with the Indonesian (Lion Air) one. There were clear similarities between the two crashes so far," Ethiopian transport ministry spokesman Muse Yiheyis said.

"The data was successfully recovered. Both the American team and our (Ethiopian) team validated it. The minister thanked the French government. We will let you know more after three or four days," he told Reuters.

In Washington, however, U.S. officials told Reuters that the US Federal Aviation Administration and US National Transportation Safety Board have not validated the data yet.

When investigators, after reviewing black box data, return to Addis Ababa and start conducting interpretive work, the NTSB and FAA will assist in verification and validation of the data, an official said.

A second source said little information had been circulated between parties about the contents of data and voice recordings.

It was not clear how many of the roughly 1,800 parameters of flight data and two hours of cockpit recordings, spanning the doomed 6-minute fight and earlier trips, had been taken into account as part of the preliminary Ethiopian analysis.
18/03/18 Reuters/DNA

DGCA Calls Meeting With Airlines On Tuesday To Discuss Rising Fares

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has called a meeting on Tuesday noon to discuss with airlines the upward spiral in airfares as Jet Airways (India) Ltd. continue to ground its aircraft and cancel a significant number of flights, a government official said. According to the official, after the aviation regulator grounded all 12 of SpiceJet Ltd.’s 737 Max aircraft on March 13 following the Ethiopian Airlines crash, that killed 157 people, the problem of rising airfares in Indian market has “aggravated”.
Cash-strapped Jet Airways on Monday said it grounded four more planes, taking the number of aircraft that are non-operational due to non-payment of lease rentals to 41.
Etihad Airport services, in a notification to its passengers on Sunday, said, “Jet Airways has cancelled all their flights from Abu Dhabi with immediate effect from March 18 due to operational reasons.” The airline has a fleet of 119 planes, according to its website.
For last few weeks, passengers have been venting their ire on social media as Jet Airways’ flight cancellations have increased gradually due to rising number of grounded aircraft. Grappling with financial woes, the carrier has been looking at ways to raise fresh funds.
The company had earlier said it is actively engaged with all its aircraft lessors and are regularly providing them with updates on the efforts taken to improve the liquidity.
On March 8, Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal wrote to Etihad Airways Group CEO Tony Douglas seeking an urgent funding of Rs 750 crore and also warned that any delay in fund infusion might result in its grounding of the carrier. He had said more than 50 of the aircraft are grounded amid increasing arrears of vendors and salaries to a section of employees.
18/03/19 PTI/Bloomberg Quint

One more Jet flight from Bhuj suspended

Reeling under massive financial crisis, the Jet Airways on Saturday announced suspension of one more flight from Bhuj in Kutch. The decision comes days after it suspended another flight from the same place. Passengers who had booked a seat on the Saturday noon flight said they were not given any reason for the abrupt cancellation of the flight.
They were offered a choice between taking refund or opt for flight adjustment from Rajkot or Ahmedabad. However, they would have to reach either of these places on their own. The authorities reportedly announced that the morning flight would be suspended till March 31. Vimal Shah, MD of Happy Holidays, a travel agency in Bhuj, expressed surprise at the decision. He said, "Jet Airways was getting good response. Most of the times, all seats would be booked. Now, we are left with just one direct flight, that too up to Mumbai."
 He was referring to the Air India flight that operates once a week, on Monday. It is a 65-seater aircraft. Naresh Maheshwari of Madhapar said, "Many of my relatives are in Africa and the US. Air travel is the only option for us, but even that is gone. Now we will have to travel up to Ahmedabad or Rajkot, which is timeconsuming as well as tiring."
 It is noteworthy that Bhuj has had an aerodrome since before Independence. In 1923, Tata used to operate flight on the Karachi-Bhuj-Mumbai route. Sources pointed out that trains connecting Bhuj with Mumbai are always fully booked and that it is extremely difficult to book a ticket during winters, festivals and summer holiday.
In an official statement, a Jet Airways spokesperson said, "Jet Airways has undertaken and continues to make proactive adjustments to its flight schedule keeping in mind the likely, yet interim non-availability of some aircraft in its fleet in the foreseeable future. The airline has kept the regulator (DGCA) as well as its guests informed of these changes. Guest compensation had been handled in line with defined regulatory guidelines (CAR), including alternate choices being offered for re-accommodation on alternate flights or applicable refunds as per the situation. The airline regrets the inconvenience caused to its guests."
 18/03/19 Kulsum Yusuf/Ahmedabad Mirror

Jet Airways India Ltd grounds additional 4 aircraft

An additional four aircraft have been grounded due to non-payment of amounts outstanding to lessors under their respective lease agreements. As mentioned earlier, the Company is actively engaged with all its aircraft lessors and regularly provides them with updates on the efforts undertaken by the Company to improve its liquidity. Aircraft lessors have been supportive of the Company's efforts in this regard.

The Company is also making all efforts to minimize disruption to its network due to the above and is proactively informing and re-accommodating its affected guests. The Company also continues to provide required and periodic updates to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in this regard.

Shares of JET AIRWAYS (INDIA) LTD. was last trading in BSE at Rs.234.95 as compared to the previous close of Rs. 236.9. The total number of shares traded during the day was 654344 in over 7017 trades.

The stock hit an intraday high of Rs. 240.4 and intraday low of 232. The net turnover during the day was Rs. 154231673.
18/03/19 Equity Bulls

Dubai flights diverted after heavy rain, passengers stranded

Dubai: Hundreds of passengers were stranded on Sunday night after several flights were not allowed to land at the Dubai International Airport (DXB) and were diverted to other airports due to unstable weather.

One passenger, who took EK573 from India's Kolkata to DXB, was supposed to have landed past midnight but the flight was diverted to Muscat, and then finally to Al Ain, where the passengers were stuck on the runway for four hours.

"The reason given to us was that DXB 'was too busy to let us in'," the passenger told Khaleej Times.

"More than 50 people on board have missed their connecting flights," added the Dubai resident.

A fresh set of crew was allocated to operate flight EK573 which continued to Dubai International Airport and arrived after a 6-hour and 45 minutes delay.

"Emirates apologizes to all affected passengers for any inconvenience caused but the safety of our passengers and crew is of the utmost importance and will not be compromised," an Emirates spokesperson told Khaleej Times.

Emirates said: "Adverse weather in Dubai during the night on March 18 caused the diversion of Emirates flight EK060 (Hamburg to Dubai International Airport) to Dubai World Central, and Emirates flight EK573 (Kolkata to Dubai International Airport) to Al Ain International Airport.
18/03/19 Angel Tesorero/Khaleej Times

In India, most complaints by flyers are about harassment by airline staff

Most complaints filed by air passengers in the Civil Aviation Ministry's grievance redressal system relates to behaviour of airline staff and harassment of flyers, according to an official document.
'Loss of baggage' category in Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring system (CPGRAM) has received second highest number of complaints from air passengers, showed a Ministry document accessed by PTI.
The document shows that while 3,524 complaints were received in CPGRAM in the category of 'harassment of passengers/ staff crew behaviour', the number of complaints that were received in the category of 'loss of baggage' was 1,822.
The category of 'ticketing/fare/refund' received third highest number of complaints. It recorded 1,011 grievances as yet.
The CPGRAM is an online system with an objective of "speedy redress and effective monitoring of grievances" by ministries or departments or organisations of central government.
17/03/19 PTI/Economic Times

Airlines, others owe TIA more than Rs 2 bn

Kathmandu: Airline companies operating in the country and business enterprises and government offices operating inside Tribhuvan International Airport are yet to clear dues of more than Rs 2 billion to TIA, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal — the aviation sector regulator of the country.

Presenting a report on dues at a meeting of Public Accounts Committee of the Legislature-Parliament today, CAAN stated that a number of airline companies, along with government offices and business enterprises inside TIA, were yet to clear their dues under headings including rental fee, landing charge, parking fees and airport development fund.

Airline companies that have not yet cleared dues to TIA include Nepal Airlines Corporation, Himalaya Airlines, Air India, Air Arabia, Air Asia, Bhutan Airlines and China Eastern Airlines. Department of Customs, Hotel Radisson and a few government agencies operating inside TIA are also yet to clear their dues.

According to officials at TIA, Nepal Airlines alone is yet to pay almost Rs 340 million to Nepal’s only international airport, while Air Asia and Air India have not cleared Rs 560 million and Rs 150 million, respectively.

“Nepal Airlines has been clearing its dues in instalments, while other airline companies have been asked to clear their dues as soon as possible,” said Raj Kumar Chhetri, general manager at TIA.
18/03/19 Himalayan Times

400 flights affected daily due to Pakistani airspace closure, Air India worst-hit

Eighteen days after the closure of its airspace following Indian airstrikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot, Pakistan is yet to allow all flights to cross its borders.

Pakistan had shut down all of its airports and had completely closed its airspace following the airstrikes for five days and has now partially opened its airspace. It is, however, only allowing flights bound for its own cities and has not given permission to airlines to use its airspace to cross over to another country.

According to data from international flight tracker, around 400 flights are affected daily and Air India is the worst-hit of the airlines due to this, The Print reported.
The public carrier operates 33 flights a week to the US and 66 to Europe, most of which have had to be diverted or cancelled, the report said.

Air India spokesperson Praveen Bhatnagar confirmed that "flight timings have been increased by over three hours”.

Both the diversion in routes and cancellation of flights has hit Air India's revenue.

A Business Standard report last week estimated that Air India was losing Rs 3 crore every day.

While Bhatnagar confirmed that the company is losing revenue due to this he said the loss has not been calculated.

“We are definitely undergoing a loss in this situation, but we haven’t calculated how much we have lost financially since 27 February," he said.
17/03/19 DNA

Rentals up post Max crisis, Jet's lessors of grounded Boeing 737 in talks with SpiceJet

New Delhi: Several of Jet Airways’ grounded Boeing 737s (not Max but previous generation) could soon be flying for SpiceJet. Over 50 of the cash-strapped airline’s aircraft, a mix of turboprops, narrow and wide body, have been grounded by unpaid lessors beginning last month.
Barring a handful, lessors have not deregistered these aircraft from Jet’s name, repossessed and flown them out of India.
 “On Saturday, three companies that leased Boeing 737 NG (new generation, not Max) to Jet and grounded them for non-payment met SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh. The aircraft are in India and in terms of processes it is easier to deregister them from Jet’s name and lease them to SpiceJet so that they can start flying the planes at the earliest,” said sources.
 Globally 371 B737 Max aircraft were grounded last week following fears over its safety after two crashes within 5 months, one in Indonesia and other in Africa, that claimed 346 lives. SpiceJet, which has up to 205 of the planes on order, had to ground 12 B737 Max.
 Apart from these, the future delivery schedule of the rest of the planes is also uncertain now, affecting the low cost carrier’s growth plans. This has led to a spurt in demand for B737 NGs.
 17/03/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

SpiceJet offers flight cancellation respite

With several SpiceJet flights to and fro Bengaluru being cancelled after an order of the Ministry of Civil Aviation to ground the Boeing 737-8 from flying in Indian airspace, the airline has offered some respite to passengers whose flights have been cancelled.
 The airline has said that its customers can choose an alternate flight or opt for full refund for cancelled flights or advanced flights by 60 minutes or more and postponed flights by 120 minutes or more. “We truly regret the inconvenience caused due to changes to your flight. You can change the time and/or date of the flight that has been cancelled/rescheduled, at no additional cost,” the airline said.
 SpiceJet has asked its passengers to check on their updated flight status via “”. The passengers have to give their PNR number, email, name, origin and destination city on the website to choose an alternate flight or opt for full refund. SpiceJet has said that is rationalising and optimising the use of its Boeing 737 NG and Bombardier Q400 aircraft to address the current situation and minimise inconvenience to its passengers.
 “A majority of passengers affected as a result of these cancellations have been accommodated by SpiceJet on alternate flights. Additionally, the airline is also offering passengers the option of a full refund, changing the flight/date of travel, or even change of destination (to nearest alternate airport); all this without any cancellation charges or any fare difference,” the airline said.
 18/03/19 Bangalore Mirror

How India’s low-cost airlines, once dismissed by Naresh Goyal, became his nemesis

In 2005, Naresh Goyal had written off low-cost airlines. The reasoning provided by the founder and chairman of India’s oldest private carrier was that since most Indian cities don’t have a second airport, all airlines end up paying the same operational charges. Thus, the economy players don’t have any significant advantage over their full-service rivals.

Fourteen years later, his Jet Airways is reeling under a mountain of debt and 12 straight loss-making months in its war with no-frills carriers.
The Mumbai-based firm has defaulted on bank loans. Its lenders are reportedly in talks with UAE’s Etihad Airways, which owns a 24% stake in Jet, for a turnaround plan widely expected to result in Goyal parting with his majority stake.

Such an exit would mark the ignominious end of a storied journey.
Goyal was born in the northern state of Punjab in 1949. He moved to New Delhi at the age of 18 to work with his uncle as a sales agent for Lebanese International Airlines. During this period, he earned less than Rs2,500 ($33) a month and slept in the office.

He learned the ropes of the travel industry on this and his next few jobs. Seven years later, with money from his widowed mother, he launched his own agency, Jetair, which would later represent Air France, Austrian Airlines, and Cathay Pacific in India.

His dream of launching his own airline was up against India’s then nationalised aviation industry, which had only one state-owned domestic carrier, Indian Airlines.

In 1991, though, the tide turned in his favour when the government began liberalising the economy. Two years after India allowed private players in the sector, Jet Airways flew its first aircraft.
With its superior service quality, Jet soon set itself apart from Indian Airlines. Within two years of its launch, the number of passengers it carried more than doubled to 1.5 million.
18/03/19 Kuwar Singh/Quartz

SpiceJet may have to shell out more for leasing aircraft

SpiceJet, which grounded 13 Boeing Max 737 planes, may have to shell out more for leasing aircraft as rentals have shot through the roof.

The grounding of over 300 of Boeing 737 Max 8 planes across the globe, following two crashes, has sent aircraft lease rentals soaring, according to airline insiders.

Two senior executives of different domestic airlines, who spoke to DNA Money anonymously, said post the decision by most carriers around the globe to not fly the Max 8 planes till the fault in its software was fixed has led to a scarcity of Boeing planes in the market.

One of them said this crunch in availability of Boeings has bloated aircraft rental costs.

Following two air crashes, which involved Boeing 737 Max 8, in less than five months aviation authorities of many countries – India, China, Australia, UK, Germany, Indonesia and others – have ordered grounding of the Max 8.

One of the airline executives DNA Money spoke to, said all the carriers, which have grounded Max 8 aircraft would be looking to lease planes to continue their flight services.

Even SpiceJet is reportedly considering hiring planes to operate the flights for which it has already sold tickets.

"SpiceJet will reach out to airlines and lessors for available capacity," he said.

Airlines mostly do not own aircraft. They order them from an aerospace company and then sell and lease back the planes from lessors like B&B Air Acquisition, BOC Aviation and others.

According to reports, SpiceJet may wet lease planes to continue its services. Acquiring planes on wet lease means getting the aircraft along with crew (both pilots and cabin crew) and is usually from an airline. Dry lease involves only aircraft.

According to the an executive, the rentals for aircraft aged five years or more were currently "roughly" starting from "$350,000-$400,000 per month". This, he said, was higher than the rentals for similarly aged planes before the grounding of Max 8s.

A second executive said last year the average rentals for planes above five years was around $200,000-$250,000 per month.

"Depending on the age of the aircraft, it (lease rentals) should not be more than $400,000 a month. Older aircraft of 5-6 years old would be $200,000-$250,000 per month. If it is starting from $350,000-$400,000 per month, it is on the higher side," he said.

"One thing is certain, aircraft leasing cost has increased due to the shortage of aircraft in the market after countries have stopped flying of Max 8s in their airspaces," said a senior official of local airline.
18/03/19 Praveena Sharma/DNA

Terminal illness: How passengers have been hit by flight cancellations

Over the past few weeks, the struggle for survival at Jet Airways, shortage of pilots at IndiGo Airlines and the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes at SpiceJet have resulted in scores of flights being cancelled. Passengers are vexed by the inconvenience and rising airfares. Things could deteriorate if the proposed financial salvage of Jet Airways fails and IndiGo’s operational troubles prolong.

Indeed, 2019 could prove worse than calendar 2018, when there was a sharp spike in the number of domestic air passengers affected by flight cancellations. From about 1.68 lakh in 2017, the number of passengers impacted shot up by more than 80 per cent to 3.08 lakh in 2018, according to data from aviation regulator DGCA.

From about 1 in every 1,000 in 2017, the number of domestic passengers affected by flight cancellations in 2018 rose to more than 2 in every 1,000. This number shot up to 3 in every 1,000 in January 2019 and is certain to have increased in February and March 2019 when the woes at Jet, IndiGo and SpiceJet manifested.
The overall cancellation rate of scheduled domestic airlines has been increasing — from an average of 0.7 per cent in 2017 to 1.11 per cent in 2018 and to 1.81 per cent in January 2019. The sharp jump in impacted passengers in 2018 was primarily on account of IndiGo, the country’s largest airline. From about 52,000 in 2017, the number of passengers affected by IndiGo’s cancellations jumped more than three-fold to 1.75 lakh in 2018. Nearly 6 out of every 10 impacted passengers in 2018 were IndiGo customers, up from 3 in 2017.

Among the reasons for this deterioration were the airline’s ongoing troubles with its A320neo aircraft and the grounding of some of these planes last year. Also, Air India, AirAsia India and Vistara saw a 50-75 per cent jump in the number of affected passengers. In contrast, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir improved their performance with the number of impacted passengers 5-30 per cent lower in 2018 compared with 2017.
17/03/19 Anand Kalyanaraman/Business Line

Madhu Mathen is new Inflight Services ED of Air India

Thiruvananhapuram: Air India has appointed Madhu C Mathen, General Manager (Commercial), as its Executive Director (Inflight Services).
The appointment of Mathen would be for a period of three years from the date he assumes charge of the post, and it can be extended by one year or his retirement, whichever is earlier, a notification by Amrita Sharan, director (personnel), Air India, said. After a four-year stint in marketing and product management at the Bengaluru-based pharmaceutical firm Indian Herbs, Mathen joined Air India in 1992 and has held key positions, including Regional Sales Manager, Southern Region, based in Chennai, Regional Manager Australasia based in Sydney and most recently General Manager Marketing at Air India headquarters in Delhi.  Madhu Mathen is widely acknowledged to be the architect of Air India’s Australia operation turnaround. As General Manager Marketing, Mathen was in charge of distribution for Air India’s global network.
18/03/19 New Indian Express

Chinese national arrested for flying drone over Kolkata's Victoria Memorial

Kolkata: A Chinese national has been arrested in Kolkata for allegedly flying a camera-fitted drone over the Victoria Memorial and clicking aerial photographs of the iconic monument, the Kolkata Police said on Sunday.

The monument is situated close to the Fort William, the Eastern Command headquarters of the Indian Army.

The arrested person, identified as Li Zhiwei, was first spotted by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) on Saturday and was later handed over to the Kolkata Police. He has been sent to police custody till March 25.
"Zhiwei, 34, a resident of Shenzen City in China, was caught red-handed by the on duty CISF personnel while he was flying a drone fitted with a camera inside the premises of the Victoria Memorial and clicking photographs of the monument from all directions with the help of a remote control and his mobile phone without any valid permission," the police said.
He was handed over to the Hastings police station on Saturday evening along with a brown coloured drone and a remote control.
18/03/19 Zee News