Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why rescue only Spicejet and not the entire aviation industry?

New Delhi: From all available indications, various arms of the Government have come together to prevent SpiceJet from dying. According to sources, the airline has said in its multiple presentations to officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and DGCA yesterday that it has enough money to take care of immediate payments and needs the Government to further provide it a soft loan of Rs 1,000 crore to tide over the present crisis. These sources said it has pleaded with the Government to either provide a direct loan or stand as a guarantor for the loan which can then be raised from banks. Separately, official sources had confirmed yesterday that the airline's total liabilities stand at Rs 2,000 crore, of which Rs 1400 crore must be paid off immediately to various stakeholders.

SpiceJet COO Sanjiv Kapoor denied reports that any sort of financial assistance has been sought from the Government though. He tweeted "No one has asked for a bailout. Please do not believe speculative media reports". He also said on twitter that "No financial plan submitted to DGCA today. Objective of meeting was to discuss financial impact of 30 day booking limit on the airline.Meanwhile, oil companies seem to have agreed to provide fuel for the next 7-10 days to SpiceJet despite the airline's dues. Sources said  the Airports Authority of India has also been asked to not seek payments before every flight for airport services. The decision to hold off any tough action on SpiceJet has been a political one, because it makes little sense any other way. Also, this largesse by the Government may be short lived as the airline has been given just 7-10 days to tidy things up.

It is all very well for the Government to come to the aid of a near bankrupt airline which employs over 5000 people and whose demise or even temporary suspension of operations will impact thousands of flyers apart from employees.

But the questions we want to raise are these: Why is the Government helping just one airline and not the entire aviation sector?

What prevents other airlines to now queue up for Government dole, citing similar circumstances? Why does the Government then not devise a bailout or assistance package for cash strapped Indian airlines instead of tackling this problem on a peace meal basis?
16/12/14 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Biz

Govt throws Rs 600 crore lifeline to SpiceJet, fliers protest cancelled flights

Mumbai: The ministry of civil aviation has stepped in with a six-point formula to bail out cash-strapped low cost carrier SpiceJet. The airline was on Tuesday denied fuel by oil companies across India after 16 flights from Mumbai alone were cancelled.

Among other measures, the government has requested banks and financial institutions to lend Rs 600 crore to SpiceJet, backed by a personal guarantee from airline chairman Kalanithi Maran.

"This should be paid immediately after securing the long-term investment, which will take around eight weeks to consummate," a senior ministry official said.

The airline would also be allowed to accept bookings up to March 31, 2015. Public sector oil companies would be requested to give credit for upto 15 days. On Tuesday, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) did not allow uplift of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to SpiceJet aircraft across airports, including Mumbai.

"Just as we do with other airlines, SpiceJet too makes payments once in three days," HPCL's general manager (Aviation) Rajneesh Mehta told Mirror. Mehta said he was unaware of the actual position of the airline as of Tuesday.

According to ministry officials, the daily off-take of the airline is about Rs 5 crore. This would amount to about Rs 75 crores for the 15-day period. As of Monday, the dues pending is only Rs 14 crore.
16/12/14 Mumabi Mirror

SpiceJet has a history of fight for survival

New Delhi: A fight for survival and desperate hunt for investors is nothing new for crisis-ridden SpiceJet. The airline traces its lineage to a JV formed by the S K Modi Group and Lufthansa back in 1990s.

Called ModiLuft, the full service airline was launched in 1993 around the same time when others like Jet, Damania, EastWest and Sahara Airlines took to the skies in the post-deregulation era. A dispute between the Modis and the German carrier saw the airline getting grounded around 1998.

That was the airline's first crisis in what now turns to be an unending quest for promoters and investors. In 2000, UK-based NRI Bhulo Kansagra bought into the airline. "They got Modiluft's lapsed licence revived and brought in a plane to start a full service airline called Royal Airlines," said a person long associated with SpiceJet.
Royal could not take off due to lack of investment.
Interestingly, around this time Kansagra and InterGlobe Group (holding company of IndiGo) were reportedly planning to launch the airline together.
In 2004, businessman Ajay Singh invested in the airline, which led to the formation of SpiceJet that began flying in 2005. InterGlobe also launched its airline IndiGo.
16/12/14 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

SpiceJet gets 10 days to raise funds or face end

New Delhi: The Centre has given a final chance to cash-strapped SpiceJet to survive, asking the low cost carrier to raise funds within the next 10 days, possibly from promoter Sun Group chief Kalanithi Maran, or face closure.

The respite came on Monday after the SpiceJet management, led by COO Sanjiv Kapoor and Sun Group CFO S L Narayanan, reportedly told aviation authorities it would shut "tonight or in 30 days" unless the Centre saved it fr-om payment demands of oil firms and airport operators.

SpiceJet told minister of state Mahesh Sharma that its immediate cash requirement was Rs 1,400 crore and the overall requirement (including long term) Rs 2,000 crore.
 "They have requested for some relief. We'll discuss that with seniors in the government, other ministries like finance and oil and take the issue up to the PMO. However, we have given no assurance to SpiceJet. We will take a final decision keeping wider interest of passengers in mind," Mahesh Sharma said.
16/12/14 Times of India

SpiceJet says it may shut operations if financial relief not extended

New Delhi: The endgame seems to have begun for SpiceJet. The government on Monday evening decided to give “temporary relief” to the cash-strapped low-cost carrier, allowing it “some more time” — possibly a week to 10 days more — as far as immediate recovery of dues is concerned.

This decision came after the airline told the civil aviation ministry it could fold up Monday itself unless it gets financial relief from the government, perhaps in the form of extended credit from state-owned oil firms and state-run Airports Authority of India.

Top civil aviation ministry sources said SpiceJet’s dues are around Rs 2,000 crore, and the immediate dues it needs to pay run to around Rs 1,400 crore. A senior SpiceJet executive said the airline will continue to operate its flight schedule.

The airline was asked by the government to submit a clear funding plan, and SpiceJet promoter Kalanidhi Maran could give some financial guarantees. Ironically, on Monday, as SpiceJet appeared in danger of folding up, another airline looked set to soar with Vistara, the Tata-Singapore Airlines joint venture, granted the flying permit by aviation regulator DGCA.
16/12/14  Sridhar Kumaraswami/Deccan Chronicle

SpiceJet asks employees to be positive, to restart flights from 4 pm

New Delhi: With the question of its survival hanging in the balance, embattled low-cost carrier SpiceJet on Wednesday morning sent an email to employees asking them to “be positive” and keep hope that its troubles will soon be sorted out.
The letter comes even as the airline hopes to restart operations from 4 pm today, after most of its flights were canceled for the second day in a row on being denied fuel uplift. Spicejet has Rs 14 crore worth of dues to oil marketing companies (OMCs), as part of Rs 1,400 crore immediate dues it needs to clear for airport charges and other vendors. Total dues stand at Rs 2,000 crores.
“Flight scheduled to depart on or after 4 pm today will operate. We apologize again for the disruptions,” Sanjiv Kapoor, COO, SpiceJet tweeted.
Incidentally, SpiceJet received a major bailout package announced by the civil aviation ministry on Tuesday, under which it got 15 days to clear Rs 200 crore dues to AAI.
16/12/14 Indian Express

Cancelled spicejet flights starnd 1000 passengers

Bengaluru: Around 1,000 passengers were stranded at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on Tuesday after 17 incoming SpiceJet flights and 19 scheduled to take off from there were cancelled. Among those stranded were senior citizens, children and the physically challenged.

Dr Nisarga, a cardiologist, missed a meeting in Hyderabad. His flight was scheduled for 8am. After announcing a delayed departure five times, the airline informed passengers the flight had been cancelled due to a shortage of fuel. "I was at the airport till 2.30pm. Can you imagine how difficult it is to wait for hours without food and drinking water?" the doctor said.

G Sheikh, whose flight to Indore was cancelled after he was sent several messages informing him about a delay, said: "The airline created problems for us flyers.... I managed to book a ticket on another airline."
16/12/14 Times of India

Six Indian carriers owe Rs 5,889 cr to AAI, 3 oil companies

New Delhi: Six Indian carriers, including beleaguered SpiceJet and now-collapsed Kingfisher Airlines and Paramount Airways, jointly owe a whopping Rs 5,889 crore to Airports Authority of India (AAI) and three state-run oil companies, RajyaSabha was informed today.

While Air India led the airlines in the outstandings to the AAI at Rs 962 crore, SpiceJetBSE 2.58 % owed the state-run airports body Rs 173.09 crore and Kingfisher Rs 172.69 crore, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said in reply to a written question.

GoAir had dues worth Rs 43.80 crore as on December 10, while IndiGo's outstanding was Rs 40.94 crore and Jet Airways' Rs 30.84 crore, he said.
16/12/14 PTI/Economic Times

Airline Owes AAI Over Rs 170 Cr in Parking Dues

Chennai: With Airports Authority of India’s (AAI) accounting mechanism working in full tilt to determine exactly how much Spicejet’s outstanding bill is, the figure they’ve arrived at is a shade over `170 crore.

Highly-placed sources in AAI confirmed that the sum owed by the airline had been accrued over the last two quarters, with residual bills and charges from smaller airports.
“There was a certain deposit that the airline had given us when they began services and once we took that into account, we realised that the dues had swollen to about `170 crore. These charges had been built up over the past few months, mostly in landing and navigation charges,” said the source speaking from AAI’s headquarter in Delhi.
Rather frighteningly, this is twice the sum that Kingfisher had defaulted on to AAI a little before their operations ground to a halt in 2012.  Airlines often clear their parking, landing and handling dues either on a monthly basis or quarterly, depending on their contract with AAI. Defaulting on fees often prompts notices or even stoppage of flight services, releasing them only on cash-and-carry mode.
16/12/14 New Indian Express

India's aviation safety mechanism likely to remain downgraded

New Delhi: India's aviation safety mechanism is likely to remain downgraded till March next year with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finding deficiencies on eight counts, it was officially stated today.

The American aviation regulator, which conducted a fresh safety audit of DGCA from December eight, is likely to determine India's safety rating in March 2015, almost a year after downgrading it from the top Category-I to Category-II.

The FAA team carried out a "full audit" to ascertain India's compliance of international aviation safety standards by focussing on "eight critical elements", Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said.

The elements cover a gamut of activities including those relating to legislation, regulations, technical personnel, training, licencing, certification, surveillance obligations, which are critical for aviation safety oversight functions, he said in reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.
16/12/14 PTI/Business Standard

Hundreds of passengers hit after Air India's check-in system fails

The flag carrier airlines of India owned by Air India, a Government of India enterprise, have faced a major technical glitch in their check-in system.

Hundreds of passengers across several city airports were stuck after the check-in system collapsed on 29 November 2014. The services were restored after about three hours.

The airline staff had to complete all check-in procedures and baggage transfer formalities manually due to the network glitch. Flights were delayed as a result, leaving passengers frustrated – many of whom claimed to have not been informed about the reason for the delays.

Among the affected airports were those in Varanasi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Guwahati and Imphal.

Industry insiders said because aviation is a technology-oriented industry, most of the process of flying has been computerized and such system glitches happen occasionally. Aviation technology giant Sita provides software systems to Air India for its check-in and other processes.
16/12/14 Ayush Gupta/SearchCIO.in

New Delhi plans for fourth runway

Almost 40 million passengers travelled through New Delhi’s airport in the past 12 months, according to Delhi International Airport Ltd’s chief operating officer Marcel Hungerbhueler.

The Indira Gandhi International Airport has undergone significant developments in order to accommodate bigger aircrafts such as the Airbus 380, and a bigger capacity of travellers.

The airport is home to three runways, and, as Hungerbhueler explained to Travel Today during a media tour of the operations and control centre, can accommodate up to 86 movements per hour.

The runway was built in 2009, and took the annual passenger movement from 16 million to 39.4 million this year, marking a 10% growth in passenger arrival in 2014.

The newest runway also took the movement capacity per hour from 32 to 75 on average.
16/12/14 Hannah Edensor/Travel Weekly

Fog hits flight movements

Indore : Dense fog at North Indian airports and at the city airport too leads to severely affect the flight movements at the city airport. Two flights were cancelled while rest of the flights was running delayed more than 4 hours.

For the first time in the current winter season the air passengers had to pass through the experience of flight delay due to the fog and low visibility. Like that of the low visibility at the other airports of the North India, the same went down to 20 meter at local airport, while minimum required visibility at the airport for a safe operation of the flights is 50 meter.

According to the airport sources, due to the delay of the morning flights, the other flights of the day could not compensate the delay and was flying delayed till late night. Jet Airways cancelled its flight no. JAI-791/92 Delhi-Indore-Delhi, which arrives at 7.20am from Delhi and fly back to national capital at 8.20am.
16/12/14 Free Press Journal

Visa on Arrival At Goa Airport To Boost Tourism

Panaji:  The Goa airport at Dabolim has issued 357 Visa-on-Arrival (VoA) within ten days of the commencement of this facility by the Centre, offering a glimmer of hope to the sagging tourism in the state, officials said today.

The VoA facility was launched by the Union Home Ministry on November 27. Soon after the notification, the Dabolim airport started the process of issuing visas from December 4.

A total of 43 countries have been extended this facility and Goa is one of the nine airports which has been selected for providing the VoA facility.

Of the total number, the highest number of 183 VoA has been issued to tourists from Ukraine followed by 154 to those from Russia. While 7 VoA have been issued to tourists from Germany, those from Jordan, Singapore and the US have been issued 3, 1 and 4 VoA respectively.
Foreign nationals from Australia, New Zealand, Israel and Philippines have also been issued VoA each as per data furnished by the Goa airport.
16/12/14 NDTV.com

Pravasi Diwas, VGGIS to choke air traffic

Ahmedabad:  Gujarat is bracing up to tackle parking problem of a different kind. As NRIs, political and business leaders fly into the city for Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas and Vibrant Gujarat Global Investor Summit (VGGIS), Ahmedabad's sky is likely to see traffic jams in the air between January 7 and 13.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) is gearing up to handle the extra load as thousands of VVIPs, NRIs and CEOs - many of them will travel in their private jets - from across the globe.

Ensuring adequate parking space at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport for private jets is turning out to be a big task. "Managing air traffic is a big issue. We are working out various strategies along with AAI to tackle it," said Saurabh Patel, minister for finance and power, who is in-charge of preparations for both the events.
16/12/14 Piyush Mishra/Times of India

Kerala HC notice to Centre on Air India employees' guild plea

Thiruvananthapuram: A division bench of the Kerala High Court has directed the central government to file an affidavit in two months' time over ground handling activities at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport.

The bench of Justice Thottathil B.Radhakrishnan and Justice Babu Mathew P. Joseph gave this direction Friday (released Tuesday) on a public interest litigation filed by T. Johny, who sought that the ground handling activities of Air India at the airport be handed over to the Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL).

The Aviation Industry Employees Guild, a union which represents the employees of Air India, has welcomed the directive.

L.S. Sibu, regional secretary of the guild, said the handing over of ground handling of Air India at the international airport here to Air India-Singapore Airport Terminal Services Ltd. (AISATS) was against the policy decision of the government of India.
16/12/14 IANS/daijiworld.com

Actor Arjun Kapoor slams GoAir for 'bitter' experience, carrier refutes charges

Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor and his companions reportedly had a bitter experience in a GoAir flight on Monday during their journey to Chandigarh for a promotional event.

Kapoor alleged that the airline staff not only goofed up with the gate number printed on the boarding passes, but were also rude and arrogant to his team, which included woman passengers.

The actor tweeted: "Ridiculous behaviour and inconvenience to the 100 other passengers... appalled at the ground staff men ashamed". In another tweet, he said, "Go air full of crap badly behaved staff loud and rude to women arrogant after ******* up gate number s on boarding passes".

The airline management offered a completely different version to the story. According to an airline spokesperson, Kapoor was traveling to Chandigarh with a group of 18 passengers. One among them reported late for the flight, while the others had already checked-in and boarded the plane. The airline staff expressed its inability to accept the last passenger after the close-out at the gate as it would have led to delay in the flight's departure, he said.
16/12/14 Shahkar Abidi/Daily News & Analysis

50 flights late, nine diverted due to fog

New Delhi: It was a day of disappointments for flyers at IGI. Over 50 flights were delayed due to fog and nine flights diverted, including an international flight from Frankfurt. Four flights of Jet Airways, meant to take off to domestic locations, were also cancelled although airline officials could not confirm the reason for the cancellations.

While Met officials ascribed the cause of diversion to the first spell of fog this season, the airport operator said they were for "airline operational reasons only". "Either the aircraft attempting to land at IGI early morning were not CAT-IIIB compliant or pilots of these flights were not trained in CAT-IIIB," said an official for DIAL, the airport operator.

R K Jenamani, director-in-charge of IGI Met, said the densest spell of fog arrived at the capital between 7.30 and 10am.
16/12/14 Times of India

Bad weather hits flights from Pantnagar airport

Haldwani/Pantnagar: Six out of eight flights from Pantnagar airport to Indira Gandhi International Airport were cancelled this month due to bad weather, technical snags and low visibility. Incessant rains across the state and snowfall in hilly areas have lowered temperatures.

Upgradation of the airport is also required to develop it as a model airport in the Kumaon region. The airport also need various equipments like CAT III, VHF Omni Directional Radio Range (VOR), which improve visibility in extreme weather conditions and help flights land safely, are still to be installed in the airport said the director.

"These systems will enable us to use complex high-intensity approach light systems which in turn will provide more clarity to pilots and ensure safe landing and hence no cancellation of flights due to bad weather resulting in low visibility on the runway," said BD Joshi, airport director.

Right now the airport is equipped with Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) and runway lights to encounter problem of low visibility which is inefficient during extreme conditions.
16/12/14 Times of India

7 flights diverted to Ahmedabad airport due to fog

Ahmedabad: As many as seven flights bound for Delhi, Jaipur and Bhopal were diverted to the city airport because of bad weather. Due to snowfall in the northern parts of country, there was fog over Delhi and Jaipur which had resulted in low visibility.

The flights which were diverted include Jet Airways' Mumbai-Delhi and Mumbai-Jaipur, Jetlite's Mumbai-Jaipur, Ahmedabad-Delhi and Mumbai-Bhopal, Indigo Airline's Mumbai-Delhi and Go Air's Mumbai-Jaipur.

All the flights had left for their respective destinations by evening after weather cleared in Jaipur, Delhi and Bhopal. The diversions were the first of the season.

In another development, two SpiceJet flights were delayed due to operational reasons on Tuesday. SpiceJet's Ahmedabad-Chennai flight carrying around 120 passengers scheduled for 5.55am left at 1.50pm after an eight-hour delay while SpiceJet's SG-15 Ahmedabad-Dubai was delayed by over five hours.
16/12/14 Times of India

No decision yet on airport building transfer

Nashik: No decision could be arrived at in a meeting of the state and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on the transfer of Ozar airport terminal building to the company on Monday.

Chief secretary Swadhin Kshatriya held talks with HAL officials over transfer of the airport terminal building to the company. HAL managing director S Subrahmanyam, additional secretary of the state's general administration department (civil Aviation) P S Meena and officiating chief engineer (Nashik region) of the public works department P Y Deshmukh were present at the meeting.

The new airport terminal at Ozar, around 20 km from the city, was inaugurated on March 3 by the then Union minister heavy industries and public enterprises, Praful Patel. The state and Ltd HAL have jointly upgraded the airport at a cost of Rs 84 crore. The state government has constructed the building at a cost of Rs 84 crore, while the land is owned by HAL. But the airport terminal building has not yet been transferred to HAL.
16/12/14 Times of India

Alliance Air introduces its first ATR 72-600

Air India’s fully-owned regional subsidiary Alliance Air today introduced its first ATR 72-600 aircraft into its fleet.

The aircraft, leased from Singapore-based leasing firm Avation, is the first out of five that the airline will receive until July next year. This brand new ATR 76-600 is configured with 70-seats, and will bring additional capacity to passengers flying on the regional network of the airline across the country.

Alliance Air currently has 4 ATR 42-320s among its fleet of regional aircraft. The outstanding performance of the ATR 72-600s make it the only 70-seat aircraft able to operate at each airport currently served by the airline. It also offers the lowest fuel-burn and seat mile cost on its segment. The aircraft is fitted with Pratt & Whitney 127M engines, and features a full-glass cockpit with the most modern navigation aid tools.

Mr. Rohit Nandan, Chairman, Alliance Air stated that “We are pleased to introduce into our fleet an aircraft which has clearly become the new reference among all regional planes. The ATRs have proven for years their reliability and their ability to bring our passengers to every destination of our regional network”.
16/12/14 Aviation Tribune

Kerala HC notice to Centre on PIL on airport ground handling

Thiruvananthapuram:  A division bench of the Kerala High Court has directed the central government to file an affidavit in two months' time over ground handling activities at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport.

The bench of Justice Thottathil B.Radhakrishnan and Justice Babu Mathew P. Joseph gave this direction Friday (released Tuesday) on a public interest litigation filed by T. Johny, who sought that the ground handling activities of Air India at the airport be handed over to the Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL).

The Aviation Industry Employees Guild, a union which represents the employees of Air India, has welcomed the directive.

L.S. Sibu, regional secretary of the guild, said the handing over of ground handling of Air India at the international airport here to Air India-Singapore Airport Terminal Services Ltd. (AISATS) was against the policy decision of the government of India.
16/12/14 IANS

Kerala may extend tourist visa-on-arrival to third airport

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is seeking to introduce tourist visa-on-arrival at Kozhikode, the third airport in the State to offer the facility.

It is currently the only State to have two international airports enabled under the scheme, an official spokesman said here.

Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi are among the nine where tourists from 43 destinations can get their visas enabled with electronic travel authorisation.

Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Goa are the other airports where the service is offered.

A 250 sq-ft holding area has been set up in the immigration section at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

Exclusive visa desks are manned by Intelligence Bureau officials. Special enclosures have been built for photographing visitors. Displays, signages and foreign exchange counters have been set up at the facility.
16/12/14 Business Line

Supertech ventures into aviation sector

New Delhi: Unfazed by turmoil in the aviation industry, real estate firm Supertech is readying plans to start a scheduled commercial airline services in the next couple of years.

Currently, it has started Air Charter services after receiving a non-scheduled operator permit (NSOP) from aviation regulator DGCA, Supertech chairman and managing director RK Arora told Business Standard.

“We have started offering chartering services for the last four months. We have one chartered plane right now and will add more soon. An investment of Rs 50 crore has gone into this new segment till now,” he said.

Noida-based realty firm is waiting for amendments in the existing policies and system before applying for a permit for a full airline, for which it needs to have a schedule operator license from DGCA. “There is a big demand in the aviation space, especially in Tier I and Tier II cities. And with government’s plan to set up airports at smaller cities, the demand is only set to increase in the coming times,” Arora said.
16/12/14 Mansi Taneja & Surajeet Das Gupta/Business Standard

Coast Guard spreads wings

Bhubaneswar: The Coast Guard today commissioned an air squadron at the Biju Patnaik airport to ensure effective surveillance on the Odisha coast.

But the airport, which got an international airport tag last year, did not find place in the country's draft aviation policy, triggering protest from the state government.

With an aim to ensure better security during the Nabakalebar (change of idols) festival of Lord Jagannath and his siblings in 2015, the Coast Guard is going to intensify its surveillance along the coast, especially in Puri.

"The government machinery will be mobilised to ensure terror-free Nabakalebar in sync with the inputs given by various intelligence agencies,'' said Coast Guard director general vice-admiral Anurag G. Thapliyal, who launched the air squadron at the airport.

The Coast Guard DG said: "The commissioning of the 743 squadron with two Dornier aircraft and the air enclave will help in not only providing safer maritime trade and shipping activities, but also safety for the olive ridley turtles along the Gahirmatha coast as the region is the biggest nesting ground for the turtles in the world.''

Coast Guard's 'Operation Olivia', a special move to save the marine biodiversity along the Odisha coast, has an interceptor ship and the efforts have already earned the Coast Guard a Greenpeace award for its conservation effort in 2008.
16/12/14 Bibhuti Barik and Subrat Das/The Telegraph

Monday, December 15, 2014

Vistara receives flying licence, to start operations soon

New Delhi: Air travellers will soon have more choice. The Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines (SIA) joint venture full service airline, Vistara, is all set to take the skies next month. The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) Monday gave Vistara the air operator permit (AOP, read licence) which now paves the way for what will be India's third full service airline after Air India and Jet, to take off.

Vistara's approval came at a time when struggling-to-survive SpiceJet has drastically cut its fleet and flights, leading to a surge in fares due to the ensuing demand-supply mismatch in the ongoing peak travel season. The Tata-SIA JV, which takes off after two aborted attempts in the past, is going to ease the supply crunch in coming months and also provide more international options for travellers as the government is all set to relax norms for Indian carriers to fly abroad.

Vistara CEO Phee Teik Yeoh said: "All our energies now are going to be concentrated towards fulfilling the Vistara brand promise. Our focus on customer service excellence coupled with unique product offerings will ensure seamless travel experience to our customers." It will soon make an announcement on the start of sales, routes and schedules.
15/12/14 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Vistara to announce schedule soon

New Delhi: Paving the way for launch of its flights, Tata-Singapore Airlines joint venture airline Vistara was Monday granted flying permit by aviation regulator DGCA, almost nine months after it applied for the licence.

The new full-service carrier would "shortly" announce its flight schedules and open ticket bookings, an airline official said.

Vistara currently has two leased Airbus A-320s in its fleet and plans to induct three more by March next year.

The new Delhi-based airline plans to connect Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Goa, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Jammu and Patna in the first year of its operations.

"I am delighted that we have successfully cleared the final requirement and secured the AOP (Air Operator's Permit). We are thankful to the Ministry of Civil Aviation for their support and guidance during the entire process," Vistara chief executive Phee Teik Yeoh said.
15/12/14 PTI/Zee News

Vistara will take to skies next month

New Delhi:  Air travellers will soon have more choices. The Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines (SIA) joint venture full service airline Vistara is all set to take to the skies next month. The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) gave Vistara the air operator permit (AOP, read licence) on Monday, paving the way for India's third full service airline after Air India and Jet to take off.

Vistara's approval came at a time when struggling-to-survive SpiceJet has drastically cut its fleet and flights, leading to a surge in fares due to demand-supply mismatch in the ongoing peak travel season. The Tata-SIA JV, which takes off after two aborted attempts in the past, is going to ease the supply crunch in coming months and also provide more international options for travellers as the government is set to relax norms for Indian carriers to fly abroad.
 Vistara CEO Phee Teik Yeoh said: "All our energies now are going to be concentrated towards fulfilling the Vistara brand promise. Our focus on customer service excellence coupled with unique product offerings will ensure seamless travel experience to our customers." The airline will soon make an announcement on the start of sales, routes and schedules.
15/12/14 Times of India

Indian private airlines suffering from financial stress

New Delhi: All private Indian airlines are suffering from financial stress as found in financial audits carried out in 2014 by aviation regulator DGCA, Lok Sabha was informed on Sunday.

Observing that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had conducted an audit of all airlines on the impact of financial stress on aviation safety, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said, "It has been found that all private airlines are in varying degrees of financial stress."

Replying to a written question, he said the findings of the audit have been discussed with officials of individual carriers. The airlines were asked to optimise their operations and reduce financial burden without compromising the safety of aircraft operations and take corrective steps to address the issue, the Minister said.

To another question, Sharma said the number of instances of flight diversions due to fog at the Delhi airport has grown from 36 in 2011 to 125 in 2014.

While the total number of diversions of both Indian and foreign airlines was 36 in December 2011, it rose to 51 in 2012, 72 in 2013 and 125 so far in 2014.

Of the 125 disruptions this year, 110 occured in January and 15 in February, he said, adding no analysis has been made regarding the losses suffered by airlines due to diversions or congestions at the airports.
15/12/14 IBN Live

Naveen urges Centre to include Bhubaneswar airport in aviation policy

Bhubaneswar: Dismayed at non-inclusion of the Bhubaneswar international airport in the draft civil aviation policy, chief minister Naveen Patnaik has urged the Centre to include it in the proposed policy.

“Despite the fact that the Union Cabinet had declared Bhubaneswar as an international airport, the policy does not provide for international airport at Bhubaneswar. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the state government have already spent public money on the construction of an international airport at Bhubaneswar. People in Odisha are dismayed at the exclusion of Bhubaneswar from the list of proposed international airports in the country”, Patnaik wrote in the letter to civil aviation minister A Gajapathi Raju.

“I would strongly urge upon you to include Bhubaneswar in the proposed policy as an international airport in the national interest. I eagerly look forward to a favourable response and for an appropriate amendment in the draft aviation policy”, he suggested. Odisha being a manufacturing, commercial and tourist centre is in need of urgent upgradation of the civil aviation infrastructure, Patnaik said. Private airlines are willing to operate international flights from Bhubaneswar considering its potential. “Bhubaneswar offers congenial facilities at the airport, quick transport, comfortable accommodation and clean ambience in the city. Developing the city as an important airlines hub would create significant business opportunities for everyone and give a new thrust to national development”, he stated.
15/12/14 Business Standard

Gulf Air resumes flights to Hyderabad

Hyderabad: Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, has resumed its direct services between Hyderabad and Bahrain.

Hussain A Rahman, Gulf Air Country Manager for India, in a statement said “Gulf Air has provided direct air services between India and Bahrain since 1971, catering to over 5 million Indian nationals residing in the Arabian Gulf region. With the resumption of our flights to Hyderabad, Gulf Air’s sixth Indian destination would further strengthen these longstanding ties between our two countries and offer our passengers convenient access to strategic business, trade and leisure destinations.”

Gulf Air’s five weekly flights between Hyderabad International Airport and Bahrain International Airport are operated with an Airbus A321 aircraft in a two-class configuration, featuring 8 Falcon Gold Class full flat-bed seats and 161 Economy Class seats.
15/12/14 Business Line

As SpiceJet seeks govt bailout, MoS says ‘no assurance’ -

New Delhi: Treading the path taken by Kingfisher Airlines, debt-laden SpiceJet, owned by the Chennai-based Sun Group, on Monday called for a bailout from the government. The airline approached the Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma, seeking urgent financial help to continue its operations.

Incidentally, the plea from SpiceJet came on a day when the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) granted the Air Operator Permit to the upcoming Vistara — the joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines — which would allow it to begin commercial operation in India.

As senior company officials of SpiceJet approached Sharma requesting “urgent relief”, the minister said that any decision on government support would be taken at the “highest level”. He said the airline’s request would be put before the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
15/12/14 Indian Express

SpiceJet seeks urgent financial help from govt

New Delhi:  Suffering a total liability of about Rs 2,000 crore, beleaguered no-frill carrier SpiceJet today approached the government and sought urgent financial help to run its daily operations.

Top officials of the airline met minister of state for civil aviation Mahesh Sharma and made the plea for "urgent relief".

The minister said any such decision could be taken by the "highest level" in the government and said the request of SpiceJet would be put up before the Prime Minister's Office and the ministries of finance and petroleum.
"No assurance has been given to them," Sharma told reporters after the meeting.  The meeting came hours after the airline officials met DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar and shared an operational plan, but sources in the aviation regulator said there was "nothing new" in it.
15/12/14 PTI/Times of India

SpiceJet gets some relief

New Delhi:  SpiceJet will continue with its current operations for the next 7-10 days. This follows a day of hectic parleys with SL Narayanan, Chief Financial Officer, Sun Group, which owns the airline, and Sanjiv Kapoor, Chief Operating Officer, SpiceJet, meeting Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and others and seeking relief.

Sources said the cash-strapped airline has been asked to find funds to get its operations back to normalcy. Earlier, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said the Government would take a decision based on the wider interest of passengers regarding SpiceJet’s request for relief.

The airline was to have submitted a recapitalisation plan by Monday and also clear dues of ?200 crore to the Airports Authority of India, else it would have to pay upfront for its operations from Tuesday. “SpiceJet has requested for relief. We will discuss within the Ministry and put whatever decision emerges before seniors in the Government. This will be done in the interest of passengers. No commitment or assurance has been given to SpiceJet,” said Sharma.
15/12/14 Business Line

SpiceJet's fate in India's hands as carrier seeks help

New Delhi: India's government will decide on the future of SpiceJet Ltd. after the budget carrier, which has canceled flights and delayed paying staff this month, sought state support amid concerns it may wind down operations.

A decision will be taken "considering wider interest of passengers," Mahesh Sharma, junior civil aviation minister, said in New Delhi Sunday. The airline has sought state relief and Sharma's ministry will seek opinions from the Prime Minister's office, finance ministry and the oil ministry, he said. A meeting Sunday evening between the company and government officials ended without any announcements.

The situation at SpiceJet, owned by media billionaire Kalanithi Maran, highlights the difficulties of airlines in India, where base fares sometimes as low as 2 U.S. cents have contributed to more than $10 billion in loss in the last seven years. Kingfisher Airlines Ltd., started by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, was grounded in 2012 after accumulating $1.4 billion of debt.
15/12/14  Anurag Kotoky/Bloomberg/Chicago Tribune

India interested in Russian Superjet

The Russian plane arrived to the Indian capital from Moscow on Dec. 12 specially for the presentation in order to allow the local officials and entrepreneurs see it with their own eyes and assess the prospects of the project.

«It's the first time that we arrived in India on a new version of Sukhoi Superjet 100 and had the opportunity to demonstrate it to our Indian colleagues. Before that, it participated in a number of air shows in India - in Bangalore and Hyderabad, - the head of the United Aircraft Corporation Mikhail Pogosyan told RIR. According to him, the presentation of the Superjet will foment Indian colleagues' interest to participate in the project of producing this aircraft in India.

To date, more than 30 Sukhoi Superjets 100 have been produced, and some of them purchased by the airlines of Mexico and the Southeast Asian countries. In the future the flight geography of Russian aircraft has good prospects for expansion.

«We are considering multifaceted cooperation with India: the provision of services, aviation equipment supplies as well as collaboration with the Indian industry,» - Pogosyan noted. He also added that the UAC is ready to continue its cooperation with the Indian public and private companies, including the establishment of joint ventures.
15/12/14 Russia & India Report

Odisha capital’s airport goes green

Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s Biju Patnaik International airport here today embarked on a plantation drive–‘Green Initiative’– to curb pollution and complement the beautification of the airport.
The campaign would be funded and managed by Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL).

“In our constant effort to improve, improvise and deliver the best-in-class facilities to our customers, Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd-sponsored ‘Green Initiative’ has been introduced here. The initial sponsorship for the next three years will include provision of 5,000 live plants of 94 different varieties, in and around the New Domestic Terminal Building (T1)” an airport official informed.

Speaking on the occasion, Manoj Kumar, DGM – AAI greeted all the dignitaries present and expressed his gratitude towards MCL and Odisha Forest Development Corporation(OFDC) for joining hands with Airport Authority of India(AAI) in raising awareness towards a greener and cleaner environment. This entire project will be maintained by OFDC, on behalf of AAI & MCL.
15/12/134 Odisha Sun Times

Jet Airways to benefit from new Abu Dhabi links to India

Jet Airways is expected to receive a boost from its newly introduced daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Goa and Lucknow in India.

The routes, introduced a month ago, are aimed at attracting tourists to the popular western city of Goa, and labourers to travel through Lucknow in the north, according to analysts.

Etihad Airways, which owns a 24 per cent stake in Jet, is also expected to benefit from the arrangement by bringing tourists from Europe, North America and the Middle East via its Abu Dhabi hub and flying them to Goa.

“This is a very good move for Etihad and Jet, as the peak season in Goa starts in November [and lasts] until February,” said Praveen Sahay, a senior research analyst at India-based Batlivala and Karani Securities.

For Lucknow, labourers working in the Gulf would usually commute to larger cities such as New Delhi to fly to Abu Dhabi. By connecting the two cities, Jet will also benefit from cheaper fuel and airport charges at Lucknow airport, said Mr Sahay.

Etihad’s partnership with Jet includes three pairs of arrival and departure slots at Heathrow Airport through a sale and leaseback agreement.
14/12/14 Shereen El Gazzar/The National

Bagdogra airport to install ILS shortly

Siliguri: Keeping in view of the recent delays and disruptions, Instrument Landing System (ILS) would be commissioned at the Bagdogra Airport soon said an airport official on Sunday.

“Very soon the flight operations at the Bagdogra Airport will not be hampered by fog or rain at the airport. Poor visibility, which leads to delays and disruptions, will cease to be an issue with the airport authorities installing the instrument landing system (ILS) — a combination of runway lights and radio signals that provides precision guidance to aircraft — to ensure that fights can operate even when the visibility is low,” airport director Rakesh Sahay said.

The land acquisition process for the same is already under way. “The land acquisition process is under process and the state government is cooperating with us to install the ILS, Approach Lighting System (ALS). We are hopeful that the system will come up soon,” said Sahay.
15/12/14 The Echo of India

Airports Authority of India colour codes to cheer up Hyderabad realtors

Hyderabad: The civil aviation Ministry will amend the existing building constructions norms of structures near the Begumpet airport with regard to time period taken to issue Non Obje-ction Certificates (NOC) for height clearance, bringing a lot of relief to property owners surrounding the airport.

In a letter to Malkajgiri MP Ch. Malla Reddy, minister for Civil aviation P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju has stated that to streamline the process, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has been directed to prepare Colour Coded Zoning Maps (CCZM) of Airports indicating heights permissible in different areas by different colours. This will eliminate the proc-ess of examination of each case, thereby reducing the time period involved in issuance of NOCs by AAI.

As per AAI norms, no structure above 30 metres can come up in the vicinity of a runway and an NOC from AAI is mandatory. A pilot needs sufficient visibility to be able to safely maneuver after take off or before landing during an enti-rely visual approach or in the visual segment of an instrument approach.

The Begumpet airport is fully operational with the Indian Air Force, flying schools, and chartered and VVIP flights using the runway. Residents complain that a chain of permission is needed for the construction of buildings in the vicinity of Begumpet airport. One has to approach the AAI for clearance in terms of building height and the NOC usually takes months.
15/12/14 Deccan Chronicle

'Rename airport as Tulunadu International Airport'

Mangaluru: The valedictory function of Vishwa Tuluvere Parba 2014 on Sunday saw Akhila Bharatha Tulu Okkoota demanding the ministry of Civil Aviation to rename Mangaluru International Airport into 'Tulunadu International Airport'.

In a resolution adopted on the third day of World Tulu Festival held in association with Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy at Sahyadri Campus in Adyar here, the Okkoota also demanded that the process of inclusion of Tulu in Schedule VIII of Indian Constitution should be expedited.

For this purpose, they asked the state government to set up a high-level committee headed by chief secretary.
 Other major demands in the resolution include objections to Yettinahole project, hazardous industries, revoke ban on Kambala, introduction of Tulu as third language in the curriculum of primary and high schools in undivided Dakshina Kannada district.
 The organizers of Tuluvere Parba, including honorary president D Veerendra Heggade, dharmadhikari of Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala, were planning to hand over the resolution with demands to chief minister Siddaramaiah. However, the CM, who was supposed to be the chief guest at the valedictory function of the fest, remained absent citing health reason.
15/12/14 Times of India

Bomb threat at Kochi airport

Kochi: A security scare was triggered at the Cochin International Airport Limited on Sunday following an anonymous phone call warning of a bomb blast at the airport. It eventually turned out to be a hoax with the police tracing the caller and arresting him a couple of hours later.

The call, received at the CIAL office around 6 a.m., claimed that a person would be landing at the airport with a bomb in his baggage. “Based on the message, a meeting of the bomb threat assessment committee was held and a decision to deploy the bomb detection and disposal squad and quick response teams in and around the airport was taken,” said A.C.K. Nair, Airport Director. The passenger and cargo surveillance system was intensified while the staff entering the operational areas were kept under a close watch.

The staff had been asked to report to the terminal manager on finding any unattended baggage on the airport premises.
15/12/14 The Hindu

Indian arrested for carrying drugs at Kuala Lumpur airport

Kuala Lumpur: An Indian has been arrested at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport for allegedly carrying 5.34 kilogrammes of illegal drugs worth USD 288,155.

The 27-year-old, who arrived here from Chennai by a Malaysia Airlines flight, landed in Customs Department's net upon his arrival at the airport.

"He was arrested after being found with a crystal-like substance which tested positive for Methamphetamine," Customs Department's director Datuk Chik Omar Chik Lim was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times on Monday.

The man's identity was not disclosed.
15/12/14 PTI/ZeeNews