Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Govt finds fake pre-flight medical certificates with crew

New Delhi: Instances of crew members getting fake pre-flight medical certificates have come to the notice of aviation regulator DGCA and action has been initiated against a doctor, the government told Lok Sabha on Monday.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said in a written reply that there have been instances of issuance of "fake pre-flight medical certificates to the crew members," which have come to DGCA's (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) notice.
"A doctor employed with one of the non-scheduled operators, during the period between February 23, 2014 and March 14, 2014, was falsely certifying that the crew were not under the influence of alcohol without conducting the mandatory breath analyser test...," he said.
02/03/15 Echo of India

AI sees 133 pending cases of indiscipline, mismgmt in ’14

New Delhi: As many as 133 cases were pending before the national carrier Air India with regard to indiscipline, mismanagement and corruption, among other complaints, in 2014, the government said today. Giving details of complaints  Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said there were 133 such cases pending last year.

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, he said that 60 “penalty/warnings” were issued in 2014 while charges were not established in 32 complaints. Last year, three cases were closed due to death, voluntary retirement or retirement of concerned individuals. The count of cases pending last year is way higher than 60 registered in 2013. The same was at just 28 in 2012.

Meanwhile, 255 penalty or warnings were issued in 2013, and the number was slightly lower than 261 seen in 2012. As on January 1, 2015, the national carrier had 11,860 employees excluding those working with its two subsidiaries — Air India Engineering Services Ltd and Air India Air Transport Services Ltd.
02/03/15 Free Press Journal

Air India pilots protest move to hire staff on contract

Mumbai: Air India, which has initiated the process to recruit 197 pilots on contract for its Airbus fleet, has come under severe criticism from its existing pilots for such recruitment as a bulk of its pilots are awaiting opportunities to upgrade from their existing positions.
The Air India pilots union which is recognised by the airline, Indian Commercial Pilot’s Association (ICPA), has written to the chairman of the airline, Rohit Nandan, and the minister of civil aviation, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, as well as other officials of the ministry raising their concern.
“Air India currently has more than enough pilots to fly its planes. While pilots with as many as 7-8 years of experience are not getting upgraded to command position, the airline is planning to bring in pilots from outside on a contract basis. This is wasteful use of resources when the airline is a lossmaking entity and has over Rs 40,000 crore of net debt,” said a senior captain with the airline.
Air India currently has 1,464 pilots in its ranks, while its fleet consists of about 110 aircraft. The airline wants to hire pilots on contract for its Airbus 320 fleet, consisting of 17 aircraft, some of which have been taken on lease.
02/03/15 Rhik Kundu/Financial Express

Air India begins procedure to recruit 197 pilots: minister

New Delhi: National carrier Air India has initiated the process for recruiting 197 pilots, taking into consideration its fleet augmentation plans and retirements that will happen in the next two years.
Air India had a strength of 1,464 pilots as on 1 February this year.
"In view of the fleet augmentation and the retirements to take place in the next two years, Air India has advertised for filing up of 197 vacancies," Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.
Last fiscal, the carrier hired just one pilot while there was no recruitment of pilots in 2013-14 period. Prior to that, two pilots were hired in 2012-13 fiscal while the number stood at 39 during 2011-12 financial year.
According to the minister, pilots are subjected to fly only within the applicable Flight Duty and Time Limitations (FDTL).
Necessary system has been in place, whereby, all operational situations are catered for exercising better
supervision and control, he noted.
02/03/15 First Post

Vistara to have fleet size of 20 aircraft by 2018

New Delhi: Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, today said its fleet size will be increased to 20 by 2018, from five at present. Phee Teik Yeoh, Chief Executive Officer, Vistara (Tata SIA) Airlines Ltd also said that the aviation industry in India is facing challenges such as high fuel cost and a high tax regime. “By April, we will have 6 aircraft and gradually increase to 9 by the end of this calendar year. Eventually, we will grow to 20 brand new A320 by 2018,” Yeoh told reporters in a press conference.

The airlines today launched its first flight from Hyderabad to New Delhi. Having started with its operations on January 9, with 68 frequencies weekly, Vistara now operates 164 flights in a week. According to Yeoh, all macro economic indicators are favourable to the growth of Indian aviation industry which is expected to grow at 9-10 per cent in FY16.

Replying to a query on challenges that the Indian Aviation Industry is facing, Yeoh said government should work on addressing the issues such as high aviation turbine fuel coast which is 40-60 per cent more expensive than other countries. He also said that government must remove the 5/20 rule — five years of flying experience, and a fleet size of 20 — for allowing domestic airlines to fly globally.
02/03/15 Siasat

Stranded Pakistanis arrive in Lahore after PM sends special flight to New Delhi

Islamabad: After Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took notice of over 200 passengers stranded at New Delhi Airport due to  some technical fault in a Gulf Air aircraft, a special flight was sent for their evacuation, which arrived in Lahore on Tuesday.
Gul Air’s flight GF-766, that took off from Bahrain at 4am on Sunday, was supposed to arrive at the Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport the same day at 9am. However, due to a thunderstorm, the aircraft developed some technical fault and had to be diverted to New Delhi. But passengers have since been stuck in India.
Speaking to Express News some of the passengers expressed their gratitude to India and the PM for their support and help in the situation.
“We were provided with hotel rooms and food and they took very good care of us. We did not even feel like we were anywhere else, it felt like we were in Pakistan and they (India) treated us like family,” another passenger informed.
03/02/15 Abdul Manan/Tribune

Stranded Pakistani passengers return home

Over 200 Pakistani passengers stuck in New Delhi after their flight was struck by lightning forcing the aircraft to land, returned home on Tuesday.

Their ordeal began when pilots of Gulf Air flight GF-766 were forced to land in New Delhi after the aircraft developed technical faults.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took notice of the incident on Monday and directed Shujaat Azeem the aviation advisor to arrange a special flight if needed to bring the passengers home.

The prime minister had also directed the Pakistan High Commission in India to look after the well being of the stranded passengers.
03/03/15 The News

Tough Time for Pakistan Passengers at IGI

New Delhi: Over 200 Pakistani nationals, who were stranded at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) here after their flight was diverted from Lahore due to technical snag, were forced to undergo a harrowing experience on Monday. The passengers, including children, had to  confine themselves to the plane for over eight hours and then in the lounge, with little food and facilities.

The Gulf Air flight GF766 was en route from Bahrain to Lahore with 214 passengers on Sunday evening. As they were nearing Lahore, the plane was apparently struck by lightning.

The passengers remained inside the aircraft  for over eight hours, before they were allowed to disembark on Monday morning.

Later, they were all asked to go and sit near Gate no 15 in the transit lounge, where they settled down. Feeling neglected by both the airline and airport authorities, the passengers had to scramble for food. After some of the passengers protested, they were given lunch at a restaurant and were given sandwiches later.
03/03/15 Devirupa/Indian Express

12,564 lost flyer baggages found last year, 4,909 returned

New Delhi: 12,564 passenger baggages and articles were found as lost properties from 67 airports, including the international airports in the country last year, of which 4,909 were returned to the flyers. The maximum number of such lost properties was reported from the Chennai airport, where the authorities found 3,386 lugagges/articles during the period between January-December 2014, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said in a written reply in Lok Sabha.  Of these, 857 lost properties were returned to flyers during the period.
02/03/15 PTI/Business Standard

Airports modernisation plan hits Airports Authority of India employee opposition

While the ministry wants to call it public private partnership (PPP), the AAEU is very sure it is privatisation of the airports that are being handed over to private parties for operation, management and development for 30 years, with the option of extending it to another 30 years on same terms and conditions.

On Monday, civil aviation minister Mahesh Sharma told Parliament there was no proposal to privatise airports in the country.

“However, based on the recommendations of Task Force on Financing Plan for Airports during 12th Five Year Plan period, set up by erstwhile Planning Commission, the government has initiated the process for undertaking operation, management and development of Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports through Public Private Partnership (PPP),” he told the Lok Sabha.

This was quickly refuted by AAEU’s general secretary Balraj Singh Ahlawat, who believes the manner in which the government was handing over the four airports for development, operations and management, it was as good as privatisation.
03/03/15 Daily News & Analysis

No Proposal to Privatize Airports

Delhi: Presently, there is no proposal to privatize airports in the country. However, based on the recommendations of Task Force on Financing Plan for Airports during 12th Five Year Plan period, set up by erstwhile Planning Commission, Government of India has initiated the process for undertaking operation, management and development of Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports through Public Private Partnership (PPP). Airports Authority of India (AAI) has issued Request for Qualification documents on December 30, last year. The Government has asked AAI management to evolve a mechanism for protection of the interests of the employees deployed at the above four airports.
02/03/15 Business Standard

Air India may find it hard to bridge budget deficit in 2015-16

New Delhi: Air India is likely to find it difficult to bridge the deficit of about Rs 1,800 crore in the next fiscal, executives said, reacting to the government's proposal in the budget to give the cash-strapped airline Rs 2,500 crore instead of theRs 4,277 crore it had sought.

"We were to get Rs 720 crore due from the last fiscal, which has also not been allocated. This is going to create a lot of pressure on us, as we will be left with no option but to raise money through debt and that is costly. We will need this money and will approach the government again," said a senior AI executive, who did not want to be identified.

According to the executives, about Rs 3,400 crore of the Rs 4,277 crore was to be used for servicing interest on loans for aircraft purchase, interest payments of the non-convertible debenture issue and other fiscal, guaranteed loans.
03/02/15 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Air India receives 19th Dreamliner

New Delhi: State-run carrier Air India today said it has taken the delivery of its 19th Dreamliner aircraft and plans to induct one more this month.

The aircraft, which was delivered to the carrier last week, would cater to the Delhi-Cochin-Dubai route of Air India, a release said.

As a part of its fleet expansion plans, Air India had placed orders for 68 aircraft with Boeing Company in January, 2006, including for 27 Dreamliners and 41 B-777s and B-737- 800s. It had taken the delivery of the first 787 Dreamliner in September, 2012.

The delivery of the 20th and 21st Dreamliners are scheduled to take place by end March and in June this year, the airline said.
02/03/15 Economic Times

Govt Receives 462 Complaints From Air Passengers Last Year :Ministry

New Delhi:  The government has received a total of 462 complaints from air passengers regarding issues such as poor service standards, hygiene and negligence of duties at country's various airports last year, the Lok Sabha was informed today.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said in a written reply that the highest number of complaints (60) were received at Ahmedabad airport, followed by Ranchi (37) and Rajkot (27) among the 48 domestic airports during the period between January-December 2014.

Improvement in standard of service and hygiene at airports is a continuous process and Airports Authority of India and private airport operators have taken necessary steps to improve the professional standards at the airports, Sharma said in reply to another question.

Airport Service Quality Survey and Customer Satisfaction Index Survey are carried out at airports to assess the service quality for further improvement, the minister said.
02/05/15 PTI/New Indian Express

Economic Survey gaffe stuns Sangh

Thiruvananthapuram: The NDA government's economic survey has referred to a stalled airport project in Kerala as a live one, shocking the local Sangh parivar that sees its success in blocking the plan as a feather in its cap.

The Sangh's efforts had led to the National Green Tribunal quashing the previous UPA government's environmental clearance to the private airport project at Aranmula, a Unesco Global Heritage Village in Pathanamthitta district, last summer. The Supreme Court later upheld the ruling.

An embarrassed state BJP has sought to cap the latest controversy by terming the economic survey citation a technical error. But a follow-up statement by the private promoter asserting the airport would be built has further enraged the project's Sangh opponents.

"We have requested finance minister Arun Jaitley to drop the remarks (on the project) from the 2014-15 survey report," said a statement from Kummanan Rajasekharan, senior Sangh pracharak and patron of the Aranmula Heritage Village Protection Council.

It referred to the green tribunal and court rulings to add: "(The) officials who prepared the report did not do so after examining all the papers. Hence the remarks... are unnecessary and irrelevant."
The tribunal blow to the project had handed the Sangh its first big victory in Kerala on the environment front, till then a Left preserve.
02/03/15 Ananthakrishnan G./Telegraph

Come April, Vistara to fly to Guwahati, Bagdogra from Delhi

Targeting more high-density traffic airports in the country, Tata-Singapore Airlines joint venture carrier Vistara today announced plans to launch services from next month to Guwahati and Bagdogra in the Northeast.

The announcement comes close on the heels of the airline entering southern India with the launch of air services to Hyderabad from the national capital.

The latest full-service airline, after state-run Air India and private carrier Jet Airways, Vistara currently operates across five domestic airports -- New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Goa and Hyderabad, which are all high-density traffic airports for one reason or the other.

Vistara will operate daily services from April 2 connecting Delhi with Guwahati and Bagdogra, the airline said in a release today.
03/03/15 PTI/Economic Times

Vistara to launch maiden services to northeast

New Delhi: Tata's full service passenger carrier Vistara Tuesday announced its foray into the northeast with the addition of Guwahati and Bagdogra to its domestic network.

According to the airline, it will commence services from April 2 on Delhi-Guwahati-Bagdogra-Delhi route.

"We've had lots of customers asking us to fly to the eastern India over the past month, so we're delighted to launch this new route in response to the customer demand," Vistara chief executive Phee Teik Yeoh said in a statement.

"The addition of this route reaffirms our commitment to promote regional connectivity in India, and contribute to the Government's efforts to boost trade and opening up development avenues for people in these regions."

The airline had earlier announced the launch of new services to Goa and Hyderabad from Feb 20 and March 1, respectively.
03/03/15 IANS/Business Standard

Singh injects first tranche of $81mn into Indian LCC Spicejet

Spicejet has secured its first tranche of fresh capital from new majority shareholder and promoter, Ajay Singh, a week after the Indian authorities gave their final approval to his acquisition of previous owner Kal Airways Pvt Ltd and Kalanithi Maran's 60.31% stake in the airline.

Of the original INR15 billion (USD243 million) promised by Singh in his original investment plan for Spicejet, INR5 billion (USD81 million) has now been received with outstanding employee salaries and back service taxes having now been serviced. A second tranche of INR4 billion (USD65 million) is expected later this week while the remaining INR6 billion (USD97 million) is due in April.
03/03/15 ch-aviation

Jet Airways does first on Twitter in India, unveils ‘#JetInstant’

New Delhi: Jet Airways, helmed by Naresh Goyal, today unveiled #JetInstant, a first of its kind online feature that enables guests to access information on airfares and flights in real-time through Twitter.
The customer-centric initiative is part of Jet Airwas’ strategy to simplify the travel experience and engage with guests on a real-time basis.
Jet Airways’ initiative has been developed in collaboration with Twitter and technology partner, TravelSpends.
Cramer Ball, Chief Executive Officer, Jet Airways said: “Innovation has always been a key feature in Jet Airways’ operating philosophy and #JetInstant is another pioneering customer driven initiative. By using digital and social media platforms, we will empower our guests with information that can help them plan their travel more efficiently and enhance their overall experience with Jet Airways.”
Arvinder Gujral, Director, Business Development, Twitter India and SE Asia, said: “Twitter always has and will continue to encourage innovation on our platform. This is a first for us in the field of aviation in India and we congratulate Jet Airways for their creative use of Twitter.”
03/03/15 Financial Express

Andal airport project now in final stage

Kolkata: Engineers and technicians from the communication, navigation and surveillance (CNS) wing of Airports Authority of India (AAI) began installing navigational equipment at Andal airport near Durgapur on Monday. This is the final component for the facility to become operational.

"The radio construction and development unit (RCDU) of CNS has reached Andal to install navigational aids necessary for flight operations. We hope to complete installation of all systems, including Visually
-enhanced VHF Omni-directional Range (VVOR) and Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), as well as flight calibration, by mid-March. Thereafter, the airport will be ready for operations subject to license from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)," AAI general manager (CNS-Eastern Region) B R Sena said.
Airport developer Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd (BAPL) has sought for permission to operate Airbus A320 or Boeing B737 (Category 4C) aircraft from Andal, christened Kaji Nazrul Islam Airport by Mamata Banerjee. But it can only make the final application after the airport is absolutely ready to handle flights.
03/03/15 Subhro Niyogi/Times of India

Bengaluru airport to get its first perishable cargo facility

Bengaluru: Air India SATS Airport Services, a joint venture between Air India and Singapore Airport Terminal Services, will have a 40,000-tonne per annum capacity perishable cargo handling centre 'AISATS Coolport' up and running at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in the next 12 months. The joint venture between Air India and the Singapore Airport Terminal Services (SATS), broke ground for Bengaluru's first fully-dedicated perishable cargo handling centre, spread over 60,000 square feet, the 'AISATS Coolport', at the KIA on Monday.
The facility, with a provision of about 135 kilo Volt Ampere (KVA) power supply for its operations through solar energy, a first for an air freight terminal in India. The AISATS Coolport will cater to a wide range of commodities such as pharmaceutical products, fruits, vegetables and flowers. The facility will be equipped with a drug controller lab testing facility, separate ripening zone, land-side truck-docks, warehousing and re-distribution centres, cold room facilities with different temperature zones and a testing facility according to the plant quarantine requirements for European Union and US-bound shipments.
02/03/15 Business Standard

Kingfisher Airlines fails to repay loan, SBI Cap confiscates properties

SBI Cap Trustee Company Limited, the wholly owned subsidiary of SBI Capital Markets Limited, has confiscated Vijay Mallya's defunct carrier Kingfisher Airline's office property in Mumbai. The investment banking subsidiary of SBI Capital, took possession of the property after Vijay Mallya failed to repay the debt to the value of Rs 6027.42 crore.

The company had issued a demand notice to the airline and its directors, on May 3, 2013 under Section 13 (2) of the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002.

"... Calling upon the borrowers, Kingfisher Airlines Limited...and the guarantors-- United Breweries (Holdings) Limited (UBHL) having registered office at UB Towers and Vijay Mallya residing in UB Towers to repay the amount mentioned in the notice being Rs 6,027.42 crores and interest thereon with 60 days from the day of notice," stated the notice issued on February 24, 2015.
02/03/15 Purba Das/Business Insider

Malaysia Airlines offers discounts, deals for events

Chennai: Malaysia Airlines offers discounts up to 30 per cent for travellers from India on its worldwide network. According to a press release from the airline, the travel validity is up to December 31, 2015.

Quoting its Regional Senior Vice-President, Azahar Hamid, the release adds, “With sporting events happening across the globe, we hope that travellers can take advantage of this sale and enjoy the games live.
02/03/15 Business Line

India's carbon emission increased by 1.57%: govt

New Delhi: India's total carbon emission rose from 15.39 million tonnes in 2012 to 15.63 million tonnes in 2013, marking an increase of 1.57 per cent, government told the Lok Sabha today but underlined that developing countries have no legal binding on reducing carbon emissions.

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati, who gave this information while replying to questions, said the rise in carbon emission was attributed to introduction of new routes for airlines and overall increase in aircraft movement.

At the same time, he said, "The total emission of 15.63 million tonnes in 2013 represent less than 1 per cent of India's anthropogenic emissions which is significantly lower than the corresponding global average of 2-3 per cent."

Though the overall aircraft movement and passenger growth have increased in 2013 in comparison with 2012, an overall decrease in carbon emission per aircraft and carbon emission per passenger have been observed, the minister said.
02/03/15 PTI/Business Standard

India Explores New Helicopter Options with Russia

At the recent Aero India show in Bangalore, Russian Helicopters held further talks with Indian officials about possible licensed production of the Mi-17 and Ka-226, following the agreement in principle by the heads of state last December. According to authoritative sources, the Russian side also offered to supply “an improved version of the Ka-31 with higher performance.” The Indian navy operates approximately a dozen of these ship-based airborne early-warning and naval surveillance rotorcraft.

“We and our Indian partners are in discussions on a follow-on contract for one more batch of the Mi-17V5,” said Alexander Mikheyev, general manager of Russian Helicopters. But, he added, “The Mil design house is working on new versions of the Mi-17 with improved hot-and-high performance, the key to further sales into India.” The company has already delivered 121 Mi-17s to India. The original agreement signed in 2008 specified 80 aircraft, but the Indians have since exercised three options, bringing to 151 the current total to be received. These helicopters are delivered in a customized Indian version, including a glass cockpit from Russian Avionics. India has more than 300 Mi-8/17s.
02/03/15 Vladimir Karnozov/AINonline

I have lost interest in everything I held dear: helping farmers, reading and watching TV

Pune: Dealing with death of a loved one is a Herculean task. But accepting and trying to understand the inexplicable disappearance of one's own can make for a torturous existence for those left behind grappling for answers and not finding them. For 44-year-old Pralhad Shirsath, whose wife Kranti was on that fateful Malaysia Airlines' flight MH370 which disappeared within an hour of its take off from Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 am on March 8, 2014, it is as if all his ties with life has been snapped. Kranti was on that flight to join him at Pyongyang, but never got there. He has since quit his job as the country head for Concern Worldwide, a multi-national NGO, in North Korea and returned home to take charge of his two school-going sons. A year later, his life is purely woven around them and scanning for information on what it was that plucked his partner of 19 years away from him and his children. This is his story.

Every morning when I wake up, the first thing I do is park myself before the computer and Google for any news or new theory doing the rounds on the MH370 that disappeared. There are various theories that keep popping up. I scan them for possible answers. We have no answers yet.

All we have are theories. We keep getting e-mails from the officials about the status of the investigations. But these mails offer nothing new. All they convey is the area covered by the search teams. I have no explanation to give our relatives or even my children, who keep asking me about the progress of the investigations. This was their question even as I left home this afternoon.

I have lost interest in most things I held dear earlier. I have stopped reading, something I was avid about. I barely watch television. I had a passion for helping farmers. My 11-year work life abroad was about deployment of technology in dairy and other farming activities to enhance productivity. I wanted to share my experience and expertise with my folks back home.
03/03/15 Mayuri Phadnis/Pune Mirror 

SilkAir plans to offer flights to Pune

SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines is planning to start operations to Pune. The airline already flies to eight destinations in India namely; Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram and Visakhapatnam- plans to expand its network to Tier II and Tier III cities in India.
Speaking about the new developments, Jagdish Ram Bhojwani, general manager- India, SilkAir said, “In terms of the existing range of fleets, we can only fly to the south market, but we will soon get our Boeing Max which will give us a range of six to six and half hours from Singapore. Pune will be the next target city for us. Pune is a city which has both MICE and leisure travellers. Moreover, travellers coming to Singapore from Pune have to take a flight from Mumbai, which becomes hectic.”
When asked about the date of operation Bhojwani added, “Pune does not fall under the India- Singapore Bilateral Agreement. From our side we have intended to start operations.”
With the reduction of fuel prices the aviation sector has undergone a major transformation. “We have announced a fuel charge reduction effective from February. Passing the benefits to our customer is our main objective.”
02/03/15 Akshay Kumar/Financial Express

Baby’s death forces Bahrain flight to land in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi: An 11-month-old Indian child died aboard a flight from India to Bahrain on Monday, according to a relative of the family.
When the infant showed physical discomfort, the Gulf Air flight from Kochi to Bahrain made an emergency landing at Abu Dhabi airport Monday morning, but she had already died, the relative, Ratheesh Kumar, told Gulf News.
The infant, Rishi Priya, boarded the flight with her mother, Aswani Binoy, early on Monday morning bound for Bahrain where the child’s father, Binoy Mundakkal, is working, Kumar said.
A senior official at Abu Dhabi Airport confirmed the incident. Ahmad Al Haddabi, Chief Operations Officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, told Gulf News: “The flight was given priority in the landing queue. The airport medical team was waiting at the gate. Unfortunately, the infant died. Her body was transferred to Shaikh Khalifa Medical City.” Al Haddabi added that the infant’s mother was assisted with a temporary visa and then transported to a relative’s residence in Abu Dhabi.
02/03/15 Binsal Abdul Kader/Gulf News

'Timeline not fixed for deciding aeronautical tariff at IGIA'

New Delhi: The government today told the Lok Sabha that AERA has not fixed a "definite timeline" for determining aeronautical tariff with respect to Delhi international airport for the five-year period from April 1, 2014.

The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) decides the tariff and other charges for the aeronautical services rendered at major airports, including that of Delhi and Mumbai.

AERA has issued a consultation paper for determination of aeronautical tariffs in respect of Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), Delhi, for the second control period -- April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2019.
02/03/15 PTI/Business Standard

Ahmedabad airport tops list of passeneger woes

Ahmedabad: Ahmedabad tops the list of airports that received highest complaints from air passengers last year, while Rajkot is on the third position, the Lok Sabha was informed on Monday. The Centre received a total of 462 complaints from air passengers regarding issues such as poor service standards, hygiene and negligence of duties at country's airports last year. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said in a written reply that 60 complaints, the highest, were received at Ahmedabad airport, followed by Ranchi (37) and Rajkot (27) among the 48 domestic airports between January- December 2014.

Sharma also informed the House that Kolkata airport has been declared as the best improved airport in Asia Pacific region by the Airport Council of India for two consecutive years (2013 and 2014). R K Singh, Director, Ahmedabad Airport, said, "I do not have information regarding the number of complaints. I will have to verify withour headquarters. Whatever complaints we receive through our public grievances department, we follow it up." Improvement in standard of service and hygiene at airports is a continuous process and Airports Authority of India (AAI) and private airport operators have taken necessary steps to improve the professional standards at the airports, Sharma said in reply to another question.
03/03/15 Ahmedabad Mirror

Pakistan International Airlines acquires property in Delhi without RBI approval

New Delhi: Pakistani carrier PIA purchased immovable property in the national capital without obtaining prior approval from the Reserve Bank, Parliament was informed on Tuesday.
Replying to a question on foreign companies acquired flats/offices in India without prior approval, Minister of State for Finance, Jayant Sinha said one case has come to the notice of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
“… a foreign company has acquired immovable property in the country without obtaining mandatory clearance from the RBI.
“The case relates to acquisition of six flats and a car parking space in New Delhi by Pakistan International Airlines,” Sinha said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.
03/03/15 PTI/Indian Express

Afghan national among two held for smuggling gold at airport

New Delhi: Two persons, including an Afghan national, were arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle into the country gold valuing over Rs 40 lakh at international airport here in two separate incidents.

In the first incident, an Afghan national was intercepted by customs officials after his arrival here on Sunday from Dubai. He had allegedly tried to clear gold weighing 844 gm out of the airport without declaring it, a press release issued by the department said.

The passenger was arrested and gold valuing about Rs 20.83 lakh was seized, it said.

In another case, a passenger was intercepted by customs officials after his arrival from Riyadh here yesterday.
03/03/15 PTI/Business Standard

Woman air passenger held for trying to smuggle gold bars

Mumbai: A woman passenger has been arrested at the Mumbai international airport for allegedly trying to smuggle 3.84 kgs of gold worth about Rs 94.94 lakh into the country from the UAE, a Customs official said today.

The passenger, Nitaben Desai, holding an Indian passport, was intercepted by the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) officials on suspicion after she landed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport here from Abu Dhabi on an Etihad Airways flight on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday, the official said.

A detailed examination of her baggage and personal search resulted in the recovery of 33 gold bars collectively weighing 3.847 kgs. The total value of the seized yellow metal is estimated to be Rs 94.94 lakh, the official said.
02/03/15 PTI/Business Standard

Monday, March 02, 2015

Budget 2015 clips struggling Air India's wings

Mumbai: The government has proposed to allocate Rs 2,500 crore to Air India in 2015-16, giving the ailing state-run carrier less than half of what it infused in the current fiscal.

The proposal in the budget, which has earmarked less than 60% of the amount sought by Air India, will impact cash flows and debt repayments at the carrier, a senior executive said. Industry experts welcomed the move, though, saying it's about time the government stopped cash handouts to the airline.

"Air India had asked for Rs 4,277 crore as plan outlay for 2015-16 and has been given only Rs 2,500 crore. For the current fiscal year (2014-15), the government put in Rs 720 crore less than what was earlier decided. We thought that would be adjusted in the allocation for 2015-16, but what has happened is quite a different story," said the executive, requesting not to be named. The airline needs Rs 2,400 crore for loan repayment alone this year, he said, adding, "Of course, there will be some savings from lower jet fuel prices, etc., but I am not sure that will be enough."
02/03/15 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

Tax pinch for flyers and new airports

Travelling by air will be costlier with the government increasing the service tax rate and withdrawing the exemption earlier provided on the construction of new airports.

Business class fares will go up 3.3 per cent with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announcing a reduction in the abatement of service tax on business class and first class fares from 60 per cent to 40 per cent. Service tax would now be payable on 60 per cent of the fare for business class.
This is in addition to the increase in tax rate from 12.36 per cent to 14 per cent. The higher tax rate will increase economy class fares, too, by 0.6 per cent.

According to a rough estimate, the increase in business class fare would be little more than Rs 1000 on an average fares between Mumbai and Delhi, an airline executive said.

All the three full service airlines - Air India, Jet Airways and Vistara - offer business class seating on domestic flights.
02/03/15 Business Standard

BAOA terms Budget disappointing for aviation sector

A body of business jet operators Sunday termed as "disappointing" the general Budget and said India cannot become the third largest aviation market by 2020, which it is aiming for, unless issues plaguing the aviation sector were addressed in an appropriate manner. General aviation industry is particularly disappointed with the proposed Budget, President of Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA) Rohit Kapoor said in a statement. "Prediction of India becoming the third largest Aviation industry by 2020 will only remain a dream if Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not address the woes of our sector, which cumulatively holds almost three times the fleet of all commercial airliners," Kapoor said, adding that regional and remote connectivity cannot take off in India unless larger issues were addressed.  The sector has largely been ignored by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his first full Budget, presented in the Parliament Yesterday, with most of the industry's demand remain unmet. BAOA, in its pre-Budget expectations had sought a complete re-look in the tax regime on import of general and business aviation aircraft on the ground that existing policy includes a countervailing duty which is illogical as there civil aircraft is manufactured in India.
02/03/15 PTI/Moneycontrol.com

Vistara to have fleet size of 20 aircraft by 2018

New Delhi: Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, today said its fleet size will be increased to 20 by 2018, from five at present.

Phee Teik Yeoh, Chief Executive Officer, Vistara ( Tata SIA) Airlines Ltd also said that the aviation industry in India is facing challenges such as high fuel cost and a high tax regime.

"By April, we will have 6 aircraft and gradually increase to 9 by the end of this calendar year. Eventually, we will grow to 20 brand new A320 by 2018," Yeoh told reporters in a press conference.

The airlines today launched its first flight from Hyderabad to New Delhi. Having started with its operations on January 9, with 68 frequencies weekly, Vistara now operates 164 flights in a week.

According to Yeoh, all macro economic indicators are favourable to the growth of Indian aviation industry which is expected to grow at 9-10 per cent in FY16.
01/03/15 PTI/Economic Times

Air India pilots union oppose hiring of commanders on contract

New Delhi: : Air India pilots' today opposed the hiring of commanders on contractual basis from open market for the national carrier's Airbus A320 fleet when a good number of regular co-pilots were awaiting to go up the ladder.

The union of Air India pilots, Indian Commercial Pilot's Association (ICPA) also termed the move as "dent on their morale" and demanded immediate withdrawal of the advertisement failing which, it said, could trigger industrial action.

The ICPA, in a letter to airline Chairman and Managing Director Rohit Nanadan, has urged for a uniform carrier progression for the pilots.
01/03/15 PTI/Economic Times

AAI team surveys airstrip in Odisha’s Steel City

Rourkela: A team of officials from Airport Authority of India (AAI) is on a visit to Odisha’s Steel City to assess the feasibility for upgrading the airstrip here.

The five-member team today visited the civil aerodrome here and held discussions with senior officials of the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) during their two-day tour.

The team led by N Makhija, Jt. General Manager reached Rourkela last evening and visited the airstrip, its 6000 feet runway, and surveyed the surrounding area.

Later in the day, they held discussions with a team of senior RSP officials led by PK Pradhan, GM, in-charge (P&A) and checked land documents pertaining to the airstrip.
01/03/15 Malay Ray/Odisha Sun Times

21 airports failing to take off

Mumbai: Maharashtra Airport Development Company Limited (MADCL) is finding it tough to maintain and run 21 of the 25 airports in the state. Only Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad airports are operational on a daily basis while the rest have no ongoing operations. The state government has decided to move a global tender to lure airlines into starting services in smaller airports.
To deal with the matter, the general administration department last week held a meeting with private airline companies. However, the companies have clearly told the government that they were not interested in starting operations in cities apart from Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad. Confirming the development, an official from the GAD said, “It is true that the companies were not willing to have services at smaller airports and, therefore, we have decided to float a tender, inviting more airlines to start services.”
There are various reasons why the smaller airports were not feasible for the airlines, the official said. The distances between some of the airports are very short like Nagpur and Gondia, which are not in use. The airports also have small runways that prevent big aeroplanes from landing. The airlines have no small aeroplanes to operate.
02/03/15  Shruti Ganapatye/Asian Age

24-hour ordeal for AI Express fliers

Muscat Passengers on Air India Express flight IX817 from Mangalore to Muscat via Abu Dhabi had a harrowing time in the UAE capital on Saturday after their flight got delayed by nearly 24 hours and reached here on Sunday due to a technical default.

There were 124 transit passengers at Abu Dhabi. Of these, 43 took the British Airways flight to Muscat on their own expense, three travelled by road and the rest arrived in the flight on Sunday, the airline said. Passengers complained that the airline had not offered them conveniences like hotel rooms or put them on other airlines for travel to Muscat.
02/03/15 Oman Tribune

Couple drags airline to DGCA for charging full fare toddler

A Kharghar couple have filed a complaint with aviation regulator DGCA against IndiGo Airlines for demanding full flight fare of Rs 9,000 for their two-year-old son. Nidhi and Sanjai Sharma claim that the airline had initially issued a confirmed ticket for their son, Krishna, on a Mumbai-Delhi flight after charging a standard Rs 1,000 fee for infant passengers.

But on the day of the journey, Feb 18, the staff asked Nidhi to produce Krishna's birth certificate to allow him to board the aircraft on the infant ticket. The complaint, sent to DGCA joint-director Lalit Gupta, alleges the airline did not specifically mention the certificate requirement when the Nidhi and Krishna's tickets were booked.

IndiGo, however, said that it had followed all rules and that the primary passenger, Nidhi, failed to bring the toddler's birth certificate, which is required under the aviation norms. Airlines charge only a nominal fee for infant passengers instead of the full fare. "IndiGo converted the infant ticket to an adult one and charged Rs 9,115 just because my wife was not carrying our son's birth certificate. The airline exploited the situation," alleged Sanjai, who works in a steel company. Sanjai was not travelling with his wife and son.
02/03/15  Aditya Anand/Mumbai Mirror 

Visa on arrival a game-changer for tourism industry

Finance minister Arun Jaitley's proposal in the budget to extend the visa on arrival facility to 150 countries from 43 at present in a phased manner is set to increase the tourist inflow and benefit the local industry manifold, experts said.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in 2014 reported a growth of 7.1% to 74.62 lakh compared with FTAs of 69.68 lakh in 2013, which was, in turn, a growth of 5.9% in 2012.

Peter Kerkar, director, Cox & Kings, said, "The extension of electronic travel authorisation (e-visas) to 150 more countries is a positive step for tourism as this sector contributes 7% of India's GDP and helped create more than 40 million jobs last year.''

Hari Nair, founder & CEO, HolidayIQ.com, a travel portal, said, "Visa on arrival being extended to 150 countries is a huge step for Indian tourism. In addition, tourism is a sector that is a beneficiary of improvements across multiple areas. The focus on areas such as infrastructure, skills development and rural development has the potential to provide a big tailwind for tourism."
02/03/15 Soumonty Kanungo/Praveena Sharma/Daily News & Analysis

Vistara spreads its wings to Hyderabad

Hyderabad: The newly launched Full Service Carrier Vistara has spread its wings to Hyderabad beginning operations in the city. The Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines joint venture first flew from Hyderabad to New Delhi on Sunday morning. Airline officials said they will consider adding more flights to Hyderabad as the fleet grows. Hyderabad is currently the only South Indian city it operates from with a weekly frequency of 14 flights on one side. The first Vistara flight from Hyderabad to the national capital took off at 9.15 am with the chief executive officer Phee Teik Yeoh and chief commercial officer Giam Ming Toh on board.

“Hyderabad is the first South Indian city we are flying to. Unlike other cities, the Aviation Turbine Fuel prices here make it cost effective. We came to Hyderabad before other cities in the south,” Phee Teik Yeoh said. Asked if the city could see more flights from Vistara, he said, “Why not? You will hear from us on that. We are going to release our summer schedule soon.” But it might not be until October before Vistara expands its schedule in Hyderabad.
02/03/15 Deccan Chronicle

Scientist challenges ancient flight theory

Bengaluru: Prof H S Mukunda, one of the five scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) whose study had debunked the concepts of Vaimanika Shastra in 1974, said he was tempted to end the controversy surrounding ancient Indian aviation technology last year by calling for a unique contest.
He was addressing a packed house at the South Zonal Educational Convention of the All India Save Education Committee (AISEC) here on Sunday.
“I will pay Rs 50,000 to anyone who can build an aircraft using the same concepts in the book (Vaimanika Shastra)... big or small, it does not matter, but it should have a sustained flight. I was tempted to say this at that time but refrained from doing so,” said Prof Mukunda.
Stating that the laws of science would be the same in ancient or modern times, Prof Mukunda said, “If it flies today, it could have flown yesterday. The most basic question ‘does it fly?’ needs to be answered.”
01/03/15 Deccan Herald

Emergency AI plane landing saves Russian

Mangaluru: An alert Air India pilot saved the life of a Russian passenger after he made an emergency landing at Mangaluru International Airport. It happened last Tuesday when Artur Izotov (47) suffered a stroke mid-air on flight A1668. The AI plane was on its way to Mumbai from Thiruvananthapuram.

Izotov was to go from Mumbai to Goa the same day. "The captain decided to make an emergency landing at 2.02pm after understanding the gravity of the situation," Air India said.

Air India station manager Nagesh Shetty told TOI: "All medical emergency requirements including an ambulance and a doctor were kept ready. After the A1668 landed the doctor visited the aircraft and examined the passenger. He was taken out in a wheelchair and shifted to an ambulance at 2.08pm."
01/02/15 Nyooz

Oman airport imposes new flight tax on passengers

Muscat: Flying from Muscat and Salalah will cost more from today (March 2) as the Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC) has introduced new charges for all departing passengers.

A circular, reference number OAMC/CEO/A-22/10/15, which was sent to all airlines operating into Muscat and Salalah airports by the OAMC, said that all international departing passengers will have to pay OMR8 and the transfer passengers will have to pay OMR1 as new passenger charges.

Stay ahead of the rest and download our free WhatsNews app for Apple, Android or Blackberry

"However, infants under the age of two years, aircraft crew on duty travelling in uniform with a valid airline identity card and domestic departing passengers are exempted from the charges," the circular said.
01/03/15 Times of Oman

Sangh Parivar, BJP in a spot of bother

Pathanamthitta: The inclusion of the Aranmula airport project in the Economic Survey of the Union government has landed the Sangh Parivar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State unit in a fix.

The Sangh Parivar and the BJP had been in the forefront of the agitation against the project saying that it would necessitate wanton conversion of the Aranmula Puncha (paddy fields and wetlands) and cause destruction of the heritage village of Aranmula.

The Sangh Parivar had taken up a mass campaign against the project, highlighting the recommendation to reduce the height of the holy mast of the ancient Sree Parthasarathy temple. The main election plank of the BJP candidate, M.T. Ramesh, during the previous general elections to Lok Sabha was that his party, if elected to power, would cancel all clearances given by the Congress government to the project.
02/03/15 Radhakrishnan Kuttoor/The Hindu

Anti-terror law fails to guarantee agencies will share information, ex-judge says

The former Supreme Court judge who headed an inquiry into Canada’s worst terrorism incident says the federal government’s new anti-terror legislation is flawed because it fails to ensure that CSIS and the RCMP share information on unfolding threats.

John Major says the crucial lack of co-operation between the two agencies that occurred before the 1985 Air India explosion is still a concern and that a security overseer is needed to ensure information-sharing takes place.
In his 2010 report into the disaster, he said a national security adviser with enhanced powers should be appointed to settle disputes and ensure intelligence is shared between the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and 14 other security agencies and departments. The Conservative government rejected that recommendation at the time.

“They may be entitled to do more than simple intelligence gathering,” he said of CSIS under the proposed new law. “If that’s the case, it can lead to other problems of overlap. The RCMP get a little annoyed and think, ‘Well, let CSIS do it.’ And CSIS doesn’t do it. When you have that many agencies involved, it’s a recipe for confusion unless there’s somebody steering the ship.”
01/03/15 Sean Fine/The Globe and Mail

First solar plane lands this weekend

New Delhi: Solar Impulse—the world’s only solar-powered aircraft—is set to arrive in India by this weekend.

It will be the second stop of the aircraft's maiden effort to circumnavigate the globe.
Though the Swiss aircraft was to arrive before Holi, the touchdown was postponed by a few days as sandstorms in the Gulf have delayed the trial run.

As of Sunday, the probable date for the aircraft's touchdown at Ahmedabad airport is March 7-8, sources told Deccan Herald.

The single-seater will take off from Abu Dhabi and stop at Muscat, Ahmedabad and Varanasi in India, Mandalay in Myanmar, and Chongqing and Nanjing in China.
Then, it will cross the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii and fly across the US, stopping in Phoenix, the Midwest and New York.

After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the aircraft's final legs will include a stopover in Southern Europe or North Africa before it completes the round-the-world flight at its final destination: Abu Dhabi.Solar Impulse will stop only for a night halt in Varanasi.
01/03/15 Deccan Herald

Lufthansa Airlines flight grounded due to snag

Chennai: : A Frankfurt bound Lufthansa flight with 180 passengers on board was grounded here today due to a technical snag, airport authorities said.

The flight was grounded just before take off when the snag was detected.
02/03/15 PTI/Economic Times

Abacus signs distribution agreement with Jet Airways

Mumbai: Abacus has announced a comprehensive partnership with Jet Airways (India) Ltd. that will broaden the Indian carrier’s reach while increasing its control over connecting segments. The new multi-year Distribution Agreement, which includes the latest Abacus Journey Data and Married Segment solutions, will assist Jet Airways in developing its own branded code-share connectivity. The airline’s network, currently serving 73 destinations and 22 international gateways, is extended with 18 code-share agreements and over 100 interline partners, according to a release.
02/03/15 TravelBizMonitor

Delhi: Rain affects flight operations at airport

New Delhi: Unusual rainfall has affected operations of flights at India's busiest and biggest airport Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in New Delhi. According to Delhi International Airport Limited, 34 domestic flights and three International flights have been delayed due to low visibility at the airport.
Visibility dropped at the airport significantly on Monday morning. It was at 800 meters and has gone up to 1500 meters.
02/03/15 IBNLive 

12.5 kg of Iranian saffron seized at Karipur

Malappuram: The Air Customs Intelligence wing at Calicut International Airport at Karipur seized 12.5 kg of high-quality Iranian saffron worth Rs.22.5 lakh from a Kasaragod passenger who arrived from Dubai on an Indigo flight on Sunday morning. The saffron was meant to be smuggled to Jaipur, where it would fetch nearly three times the cost.
02/03/15 Abdul Latheef Naha/The Hindu

US National With Satellite Phone Detained at Chennai Airport

Chennai:  A US national was detained by authorities at the airport here on Sunday after he was found in possession of a satellite phone.

David Paul was scheduled to take a flight to Mumbai this evening.
01/03/15 PTI/New Indian Express