Thursday, November 27, 2014

Air Asia space jam has other airlines worried

Pune: With Air Asia set to launch in Pune, the airline has already hit a snag. The airline's ticketing office will probably be outside the airport terminal. This has got other airlines worried that they too will have to move their offices outside, which goes against safety standards.

For the convenience of commuters as well as visitors, airport authorities had launched a restaurant at Pune Airport in October. For optimum utilisation of space, it was proposed that part of the restaurant would be used for ticketing counters. However, this was cancelled, considering that the airline would be inconvenienced.

According to sources, since Air Asia is new to the city, they cannot take a stand against the airport authorities and hence have no choice but to accept all their conditions. Air Asia will be beginning their operations from December 17.

Currently, all ticketing counters are located between the arrival and departure gates and the offices are housed within the airport terminal building. The Airline Operators Committee has pointed out that it will create great inconvenience if they are shifted outside, as this will allow outsiders easy access to the counters.
27/11/14  Sukirt Gumaste/Pune Mirror

Taneja Aerospace signs contract to upgrade MiG-29s

Nagpur: Pune-based Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Limited (TAAL) has bagged the contract for life cycle upgradation of MiG-29 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF). TAAL competed with much bigger players like Tatas, L&T and Punj Lloyd among total eight bidders to get this deal worth over Rs 12 crore.

The deal signed on Wednesday is being dubbed as the first of its kind, because so far only smaller jobs like manufacture of spares or other allied services were outsourced by the IAF. Never before has a private company been involved in retrofitting of an entire aircraft. Till now, this was the sole domain of defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

TOI had reported in December last year that seven private players had evinced interest in the aircraft upgrade contract. They had responded to the request for information (RFI) floated by IAF for upgrade of MiG-29s and AN-32. The latter is a transport aircraft while the MiG-29 is known to be among the best air defence planes with the IAF.
27/11/14 Shishir Arya/Times of India

Will provide helipad sites near stations: State to HC

Mumbai: The state government on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that it accepted the proposal to provide sites for setting up of helipads near local railway stations to provide relief operations to injured people.
“We accept the statement made by the Joint Secretary Urban Development Department (UDD) in the affidavit,” said Justices A S Oka and A S Gadkari.
Rajan A Kop, Joint Secretary, UDD, filed the affidavit in response to the request made by the Central Railway (CR) to provide 14 additional helipads beyond the existing helipads for evacuation of injured persons to hospitals to carry out rescue and relief operations due to incidents or accidents.
“The state government in-principle agrees to designate additional sites for use as helipads and for that matter proposes to issue directives under Section 154 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, (MRTPA) 1966 to permit use of layout open spaces, parks, gardens and recreational grounds towards helipads in case of emergency. I submit that the government will take a decision in this regard in two weeks,” stated the affidavit.
27/11/14 Ruhi Bhasin/Indian Express

Vietnam-India flight brings new wave of tourism

Vietnamese tourism agencies sought to capitalize on new air traffic from India by bringing a delegation over to study the market.
A source from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) said they have cooperated with Vietnam Airlines and private Indian carrier Jet Airways to fly representatives from 22 leading Indian travel agencies and a group of journalists to Vietnam between November 23 and 29, Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon Online reported.
The daily Ho Chi Minh City and Mumbai/New Delhi route, which transit in Bangkok, opened on November 5 following a codeshare agreement between Jet Airways and Vietnam Airlines.
Insiders said the service will help raise arrivals from India ten-fold in just a few years.
Only 10,000 passengers arrive, on average, each year.
VNAT and the Indian Embassy in Hanoi will hold a conference on Saturday, November 29, with members of the hospitality industry in both countries, the news site said.
27/11/14 Thanhniem News

Bombay high court stays probe order against MIAL

The Bombay high court (HC) has stayed an Andheri metropolitian court order to file an FIR against the Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL) and probe allegations that the GVK-led consortium had accrued Rs 5,880 crore worth of undue benefits.

MIAL, which was represented by a team of lawyers including former union minister Kapil Sibal, had contended that the demand for an FIR was based on newspaper reports about a draft report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) alleging undue benefits, and that the lower court's order is of the nature of non-application of mind.

The complainant, Vishwas Bhamburkar, in response filed an affidavit on Tuesday challenging the stay order, claiming that the FIR was not based on just media reports, but on a CAG report which he has already submitted to the metropolitan court and to the police.
27/11/14 Shahkar Abidi/Daily News & Analysis

E-Visas at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport from today

Hyderabad: Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport will issue e-Visas to citizens of 43 countries from November 27 onwards.

Visitors from 43 countries, including Israel, Palestine, Germany and the US will be able to avail of the much-awaited electronic visa facility. However, the facility will not be available to people from countries like Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia.

In order to get an e-Visa, one would need to apply on the designated website along with the required fees. An electronic version of the visa will be granted with 96 hours. All arrangements have been made and the system will be operational at nine international airports Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Goa.

The e-Visa facility will be rolled out by Union home minister Rajnath Singh along with tourism minister Mahesh Sharma.
27/11/14 Deccan Chronicle

MH370: No hint of wreckage in spite of pursuit groups scouring 7,000 sq km ocean bottom

Beijing: The hunt for the wreckage of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has yielded no result despite constant efforts by search teams who have scoured over 7,000 square kilometers of the seafloor to find any trace of the debris, search authorities said.

China Daily reported Judith Zielke, chief coordinator of Australia's Flight 370 recovery efforts, as saying that families of those onboard would be updated with the latest search information on a regular basis.

During a press conference held in Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), Search Operation Coordinator Peter Foley said that according to the drift model, it was possible that wreckage of the ill-fated plane was washed ashore to the west coast of Sumatra 123 days after the crash.

According to Stuff.co.nz, eight months after the flight's sudden disappearance, the international squadrons of reconnaissance and fleets of frigates and icebreakers are gone.
27/11/14 ANI/Daily News & Analysis

ICRA upgrades rating of Jet Airways Rs 3,210-cr bank loan

New Delhi: Ratings agency ICRA today upgraded by a notch rating of Rs 3,210-crore loan facility given to Jet Airways based on improvement in cash flows.

The rating agency has upgraded the long-term rating assigned to the Rs 3,210 crore, fund-based bank facilities of Jet Airways to [ICRA]BB from [ICRA]C, a statement said.

"The rating upgrade takes into account the improvement in the liquidity and credit profile of the company, arising from improved operating performance as well as support from its strategic partner-Etihad Airways PJSC," it said.

The ratings reflect the strategic initiatives being planned by Jet Airways together with its strategic partner in reshaping its business so as to enable it to return to sustainable profitability and improve cash flows, it said.
27/11/14 PTI/Business Standard

SpiceJet says it has cleared tax dues for 2013-14

New Delhi: Kalanithi Maran-promoted airline SpiceJet has informed the civil aviation ministry that it has cleared all income tax dues for 2013-14 and service tax dues till today amounting to Rs 400 crore in the past three months - a key reason behind the low-cost carrier returning aircraft to lessors.

"The airline gave us a letter on Tuesday, informing us that it has cleared all government dues for FY14," a government official said.
SpiceJet had diverted money allocated for operational expenses to clear these statutory dues, said the official, who did not wish to be identified. "This led to a situation where the airline had to return aircraft since it could not pay the lessors. We have been informed that the situation is set to get normal once the airline gets equity infusion," the official added. The airline's fleet has come down from about 35 Boeing aircraft till June to 24, of which 22 are operational and two are grounded. This has led to a reduction of over 40 flights a day, from 345 a day in June. According to government officials, about Rs 70 crore is the interest component in the airline's total dues that it had not paid to income tax and service tax departments since EARLY 2013.
27/11/14 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

New system to check suspicious passengers at airport from Thursday

New Delhi: Stepping up its measures to check smuggling, a new electronic system will be in place from Thursday to keep a track on suspicious passengers.
The Indian Customs Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS), developed by the National Informatics Centre with the help of Directorate General of Systems under the Finance Ministry, will be inaugurated tomorrow at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here, official sources said.
The US-like system acts as an electronic database of all passengers, crew and other airline staff entering and exiting the international airport here, they said.
The APIS red flags suspicious passengers on the basis of their movement and other parameters and give a lead to customs officials for follow-up, the sources said.
27/11/14 PTI/ZeeNews

Air India is Reconsidering Plan to Sell Long-Range Jets

New Delhi: Air India Ltd. is reconsidering plans to sell more of the long-range aircraft which it rarely uses as its executives are concerned they could be accused of corruption if any politician claimed that the jets were sold at the wrong price.

The money-losing, state-run national carrier sold five of its eight Boeing Co. BA -0.02% 777-200 jetliners to Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways last year as it had decided it needed the cash and not the jets.

It got about 4.2 billion rupees ($69 million) per aircraft. The deal at the time was criticized by India’s former federal auditor and others who said Etihad had somehow been given a sweetheart deal at below market rates.
27/11/14 Santanu Choudhury/Wall Street Journal

Pune family's land claim makes Navi Mumbai airport lose ground

Mumbai: Yashwant Bivalkar’s bungalow in Pune is adorned with miniature models of tanks and artillery pieces and paintings displaying his keen interest in military and warfare. An architect and town planner by profession, he wanted in his early years to join the army but could not do so for medical reasons.
Bivalkar (67), however, is engaged in a battle of a different kind — bloodless but painstaking. He is locked in a legal dispute with the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) over compensation for a 157-acre parcel at Ulwe village near Panvel that was acquired four decades ago without his family’s consent.
The land in question is required for construction of the Navi Mumbai airport. Last month, Bivalkar won the first round of this battle when the Bombay High Court ordered Cidco to pay compensation to him and his elder brother, Gangadhar. According to the court’s directions, Cidco has to give the Bivalkars as compensation 12.5 per cent of developed land in the area; that is, about 20 acres of developed land, valued at around Rs 1,200 crore.
But Cidco, which is implementing the Navi Mumbai airport project, has challenged the order in the Supreme Court.
27/11/14 Aneesh Phadnis  &  Sanjay Jog /Business Standard

Bird Group enters airports lounge segment

New Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS): Travel industry major Bird Group Thursday entered the airport lounges segment under the brand name “above ground level” by opening its first two lounges at Kempegowda International Airport (KIAL), Bengaluru.
"Our lounges in Bengaluru will definitely bring a whole new level of comfort and convenience to travellers," said Rajat Maharishi, chief operating officer, Bird Catering and Lounges.
"Improving passenger experience has always been the key driver of Bird Group. The lounge is designed with seamless flexibility to allow guests to revitalize their mind and body."
27/11/14 IANS/daijiworld.com

2 kg of Gold Seized at Kochi Airport

Kochi:  Around two kilograms of gold was seized from a flight and a Tamil Nadu native was arrested on charges of carrying the consignment at Cochin International Airport Ltd by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence(DRI) on Wednesday.

The accused has been identified as Haneefa Sahib Aziz of Ramanathapuram district. According to the DRI officials, the gold was found inside the passenger seat of Silk Airways that landed in the early hours of Wednesday.

The officials seized the gold following a tip-off that gold is being smuggled in the flight.
27/11/14 New Indian Express

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Home minister's chopper loses direction in saranda forest, inquiry ordered

Ranchi: A major security lapse occurred with union home minister, Rajnath Singh on Wednesday when his private chopper lost its way in the Saranda forest, reportedly due to wrong coordinates provided by the district administration. The pilot was forced to hover over Saranda forest for around 15 mins after not being able to locate Badajamda, where his first election rally was scheduled and finally landed at Majhgaon, the scheduled location for second rally.

Taking the matter seriously, state BJP is lodging a complaint with the election commission of India and director general civil aviation (DGCA) about the potential threat home minister faced because of the situation that arose due to erroneous coordinates.

Former BJP MP and incharge for management of aviation services of the central leaders, Ajay Maroo said that it was because of wrong coordinates provided by SDO, Jagarnathpur; Singh's chopper failed to land on the ground at Badajamda under Nowamundi block of West Singhbhum district. "The pilot hovered above for around 15 minutes seeking direction from us as he failed to locate the programme venue or any helipad in the region," he said. Due to prolonged hovering the chopper ran short of fuel and was compelled to make a landing at second programme venue in Majhgaon.
26/11/14 Jaideep Deogharia/Times of India

Indian UAV maker off to a flying start

New Delhi: Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi blockbuster Interstellar might just have given a glimpse into the future when it showed the film’s protagonist chasing down an Indian-made drone.

Although the country is yet to manufacture large unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) like the ones used by the US in military combat, the first steps are being taken by both the industry and Government.

Om UAV Systems, a company started about a year ago, is one of those aiming for a head start in the business. As one of the companies to get a licence for manufacturing UAVs in India from the Telecom Ministry — spectrum is needed for flying the UAVs — the company has attracted investor interest. The company’s licence is for producing 100 drones.

The other players to get the licence are Dynamatic Technologies, Ashok Leyland, Taneja Aerospace and Aviation, Avaana Software and Services, Basant Aerospace and SasMos HET Tech. But so far only Om UAV has developed its own firmware—software that is specific to a hardware—which will help the company cut down costs.
25/11/14 Debabrata Das/Business Line

Vistara To Begin Services In India Only Next Year Due To Delay In Flying Permit

Tata and Singapore Airlines' joint initiative, Vistara, has been held back from starting its operation in India at least till the next year, owing to delay in the scheduled Air Operations Permit (AOP). The certificate is granted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which gives the go-ahead to conduct air transport services within or from India under the provisions of Rule 134 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937.

Since Vistara had applied for AOP in April, and the aircraft was spotted at the Mumbai airport, it was not a far-fetched idea to see the airline join the services around September this year.

According to a statement given by industry sources to PTI, the AOP has not been received just yet, and even if the same was to come today, it is expected that Vistara would need at least a month to get the operations running. This is because whenever a new airline is launched, a lot of work goes into filling up the booking as well as doing the ground work at various airports to and from which the flights will be operational. And it takes at least a month or so for getting all these done.
26/11/14 Arpit Verma/Gizmodo

Now caracal falls into the trap of forest department at Indore airport

Indore: After jackals, a wild cat was trapped at Indore airport by the forest department on Tuesday, taking total number of animals caught to six in one month. Apart from the wild cat species, caracal, three jackals and two other wild cats have been netted so far. These animals are a nuisance as they stray into runways posing threat to aircraft. SDO (forest) R N Saxena confirmed trapping of the caracal from grassland area of the airport. "We installed six cages in different areas of the airport and whenever an animal come inside to eat food kept as bait, they are caught in the cage. The operation will continue," said Saxena.
On October 24, a jackal had come between the tyres of a SpiceJet plane while it was taxiing on the runway. The flight was delayed and an inspection was launched.
26/11/14 Bagish K Jha/Times of India

Indigo to have flights to Dubai from Kozhikode, Bengaluru

New Delhi: Expanding its international network, budget carrier IndiGo today announced the launch of flights to Dubai from Kozhikode and Bengaluru from next year.

Besides, the airline would also add one more frequency on the most sought after Mumbai-Delhi sector from December 15, taking the total number of flights between the two metros to 15, a company release said.

The airline would also introduce a daily flight between Bengaluru and Dubai, it said.

Kozhikode would be IndiGo's 37th destination, the airline said, adding effective January one, the southern Indian city would be connected with a daily non-stop flight to Mumbai, Dubai and also to Delhi via Mumbai.
26/11/14 PTI/Economic Times

Wrong woman held, HC summons airport officer

Chennai: Sarah Thomas was detained by immigration officials at Chennai airport late last month on her arrival from Dubai, despite her protests that she had no case against her. The Kerala police then took her to Punalur in Kollam district in connection with a 13-year-old cheating case in which the accused was absconding.

It took four days and a notice from the Madras high court for police to realize that it was a bad case of identity mix-up, wherein Sarah Thomas had been mistaken for Sara Williams, the absconding accused in the cheating case. The innocent Sarah was released from prison, and the case closed. But it is payback time now.

A division bench of Justice S Tamilvanan and Justice T Mathivanan of the Madras high court on Tuesday summoned the senior immigration officer on duty at the time of her detention at the international airport. It asked the officer to be present before the bench at 10.30am on November 27 to explain his actions. Saying that he was at liberty to file a counter-affidavit, the judges warned that in case he failed to appear they would pass "appropriate orders".
26/11/14 A Subramani/Times of India

Dreamliner snag delays 160 AI passengers in city

Mumbai: There seems to be no respite for Air India flyers from long delays. Snag-prone Dreamliners have added to flyers' woes after crew shortage and an Airbus A-320 shortage had delayed flights in the past few months.

AI's Mumbai-Bangkok flight was delayed by almost five hours as the Dreamliner supposed to fly 160 passengers to the Thai capital developed a snag on Wednesday morning. Engineers spent hours trying to repair the aircraft. The airline then arranged for another Dreamliner, which took off around 6am.

Passengers complained of ''insensitive'' handling by the airline. A passenger said they spent hours at the boarding gate as there was no information when the aircraft would leave. "AI did not serve anything to the harried passengers, which included senior citizens and foreigners. At 5am, they sent few crates of water though there were many of us," said a passenger.
26/11/14 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Airline fines passengers for carrying excess cabin baggage

Muscat: After some passengers of an Indian airline were not allowed to board the flight for carrying excess cabin baggage, airlines have said that they should strictly adhere to the limit.

Saju Mathew, a traveller said, “Last month, I had to travel to Thiruvananthpuram. After receiving my boarding pass and immigration clearance, I bought some goods from the duty-free shops at Muscat airport. They weighed the goods bought from the shops along with my cabin baggage and it showed 12kg.

“The Air India Express officials asked me to pay fine for the extra 5kg. When I refused, I was not allowed to board the flight.”

Mathew said that the airline didn’t allow another three passengers to board the flight for the same reason on that day. “They missed their flight and had to reschedule their itinerary. We all were unaware that the goods bought from duty-free shops are also included in this 7kg limit.”

A senior official of a travel agency in Ruwi said, “Many travellers think that the 7kg limit excludes the goods bought from duty-free shops. This creates confusion and problems during boarding.”
25/11/14 Joseph Benny/Muscat Daily

Kochi airport handles record number of passengers in one hour

Marking the beginning of yet another peak tourist season in Kochi, the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) on Tuesday carried out the first turnaround operation of this season.
The international airport here on Monday handled a record number of passengers in a single hour, thanks to the German cruise liner AIDAsol that docked in Kochi on March 30. About 956 international tourists in three aircraft landed here from Germany during the day to board the luxury cruiser while a batch of about one thousand passengers who had disembarked from the ship, boarded their return flights from here.
The operations got off to a formal start as the first chartered flight from Frankfurt landed here by 9 a.m. According to the officials, all the guests had been taken straight to the Kochi port to complete the immigration and check-in formalities for boarding the ship, which departed to Colombo on Wednesday.
26/11/14 The Hindu

Flier held for gold smuggling bid at Ahmedabad airport

Ahmedabad: A man was arrested by Customs at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport here today for allegedly trying to smuggle in gold ornaments weighing 960 grams.

"Gopal Vyas from Chennai arrived here today from Sharjah by Air Arabia flight. He was trying to smuggle in gold ornaments, weighing 960.890 grams worth Rs 24,91,031, following which he was arrested," a statement issued by Customs said.

The jewellery was hidden in three purses Vyas was carrying in a corrugated box in his belongings.

"After examination of purses, 6 gold bracelets, a total of 24 rings (rhodium-plated) and a golden bar weighing 100 grams were found," the statement said.
26/11/14 PTI/Business Standard

All women gold smuggling gang busted at airport

Mumbai: Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) sleuths of the Mumbai airport customs busted an all-women gang and for the first time managed to nab the carrier, receiver and an airport insider who was helping smuggling out gold bars worth Rs 24 lakh on Wednesday.

The team working on specific information was monitoring the activity of Pooja Sonwalkar, a staffer of ground handling firm Celebi Nas for the last few weeks. At 4.50 am on Wednesday, the officials noticed Rubina Salim, a passenger arriving from Kuwait via Kuwait Airways flight KU 301, hand over a package to Sonwalkar, who was on ground handling duty. The gold was handed over to Salim by an unidentified person in Kuwait."An examination of the package after questioning revealed 9 gold bars of 10 tolas each weighing a little over 1 kg in weight," a customs official said. Salim, a housewife living in Veraval in Gujarat, gave away details of her crime immediately on being intercepted.

While Salim has been caught for the first time she admitted to having worked as a carrier and smuggled gold three times earlier this year. Sonwalkar admitted having cleared 20 different consignments of at least 17-18 kg of gold worth Rs 4.2 crore approximately from various carriers.
27/11/14 Mumbai Mirror