Tuesday, January 27, 2015

With short-haul flights, Air Carnival joins the aviation race

Chennai: The buzz in the aviation sector may be far from over. At a time when older airlines are struggling to stay afloat, a new airline from Coimbatore is gearing up to take to the skies with its low-cost service.

Set to launch in April, Air Carnival, which is promoted by Coimbatore Marine College, or CMC group, that runs educational institutions in south India, will focus on short-haul routes where it can fly profitably, and where a vacuum has been created by large airlines such as Kingfisher and Paramount Airways folding up their operations.

The tentative break-even target has been set for 2017, says Manish Kumar Singh, chief executive officer, Air Carnival. Analysts say the airline's success will depend on careful route planning and its ability to take advantage of the troubles that have befallen SpiceJet. SpiceJet, which is in the throes of a financial crisis, is flying fewer flights in comparison to last year to save costs. As the market for air travel in southern states has been steadily growing, analysts feel, Air Carnival can make quick progress by stepping into the space that SpiceJet has left empty.

Aviation is not new to the CMC group. It has been associated with the sector since 2008 through its educational institutions that offer a multitude of courses in the subject. In 2013, the group set up Air Carnival Charter Services.
27/01/15 TE Narasimhan/Business Standard

UP Tourism shortlists three airline operators for intra-state services

As the deadline for enlisting operators for intra-state airline services in Uttar Pradesh (UP) ended last week, three airline companies have approached the State Tourism Department with interest to commence operations as per guidelines of the new Intra-state Aviation Policy announced by the government. The State Tourism Department has identified 12 routes to be covered through intra-state air operations.

According to Dr Shashank Vikram, Managing Director & Special Secretary, UP Tourism, the routes, which have been identified, include Agra, Lucknow, Varanasi, Meerut, Jhansi, and Khushinagar, among others.  “These operators have to fulfill the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) guidelines to start operations. We are hopeful of completing the process in the next one month,” he said. As far as infrastructure at these destinations are concerned, Dr Vikram said that UP has the highest number of airstrips in India.

Terming the intra-state aviation policy an open-sky policy, Dr Vikram said that various incentives are offered to operators who come forward to start operations. The state government has already announced reduction in VAT (Value Added Tax) on Air Turbine Fuel (ATF) from 21 per cent to four per cent. This is currently available for both scheduled and non-scheduled airlines, he added. Under the Intra-state Aviation Policy, the government would underwrite nine seats or 50 per cent, whichever is lower, to make operations economically viable. The government will offer Rs 20 per km for each empty seat under Viability Gap Funding (VGF), Dr Vikram added.
27/01/15 P Krishna Kumar/TravelBizMonitor

SpiceJet rescue plan: Second tranche of Rs 400 cr to come in by February 15

SpiceJet's new promoter Ajay Singh has invested the first tranche of Rs 100 crore over this weekend and now, the next important date in the airline's survival saga is February 15. As per the recapitalisation plan of Singh, which has been approved by the Ministry of Civil Aviation last week, three important investment related events are expected by then. Singh and a consortium of investors has promised a total of Rs 1500 crore investment in the cash strapped airline in tranches.

1) The second tranche of Rs 400 crore investment from Singh and company is slated to come in by February 15
2) Outgoing promoters, the Marans, are expected to complete conversion of some warrants for a total sum of close to Rs 300 crore by then.
3) Additionally, the Marans are also expected to pay close to Rs 370 crore in redeemable instruments in two tranches, the first of which is due by February 15. By this date, the Marans are to pay Rs 320 crore.
27/01/15 First Post

Ajay Singh invests Rs 100 cr over weekend, but lessors may hamper SpiceJet revival

New Delhi: Spicejet may be compelled to take 11 Boeing 737 aircraft on fresh lease from two airlines this week. Unending troubles with at least three different aircraft lessors may force the airline's incoming promoters to take this step, sources tell us.

Three different lessors have reportedly stuck to their demand to repossess 11 Boeing 737 aircraft which are currently with SpiceJet because of delays in payment of lease rentals. They have already petitioned aviation regulator DGCA on this matter since its nod is required for repossession. It is possible that they start taking back aircraft by the middle of this week, a source told Firstpost.
If that happens, SpiceJet's fleet will be severely depleted which is perhaps why the airline has been negotiating with a budget airline of the Gulf for leasing eight aircraft and also with another airline to get the remaining three aircraft. This could mean a temporary reprieve for the airline from paying current lease rentals but the leasing costs may go up in fresh contracts which may be forged in a hurry. Besides, this may throw a spanner in Ajay Singh's plan to expand the current Boeing fleet from 19 now to 26 quickly.
26/01/15 First Post

Amid SpiceJet turbulence, GoAir registered most complaints in last 3 months

SpiceJet may have clamped down operations, delayed and cancelled flights over the last couple of months, official data, however, shows that it is GoAir which has topped the list of number of complaints made by passengers against Indian airlines over the last three months.

The number of complaints registered per 10,000 passengers against GoAir stood at 6.2, 4.2 and 4.4 in December, November and October respectively, significantly higher than industry average of 1.6-2.1 recorded in the same period. In December, for one, the number of complaints per 10,000 passengers registered against SpiceJet were lower by 50 per cent when compared with GoAir at 3.1.

In terms of absolute numbers, last month complaints against SpiceJet did increased to 210 (from 142 in November and 121 in October) mostly on account of flight problems; but it is GoAir which overtook Air India (domestic) to record the highest number of complaints made by passengers. The national carrier had topped the list with 226 and 341 complaints registered against it in November and October respectively.
27/01/15 Sharmistha Mukherjee/Financial Express

Air India cancels New York flights as snow storm hits US

Mumbai:  Air India has cancelled two of its three non stop flights to the US, with blizzard hitting the country's eastern coast. A state of emergency has been declared in North East states of the US.

New York's JFK and La Guardia and Newark airport are impacted, with airlines cancelling hundreds of flights.

Air India operates non stop flights from India to New York, Newark and Chicago while Jet Airways operates one stop flight to Newark (via Brussels).

Air India sources said the airline cancelled its flights to New York and Newark on Tuesday. Affected passengers are being allowed to rebook on alternate dates or take the flight to Chicago without penalty.

The spill over of stranded passengers will continue till Friday as the flight occupancy is about 80% now, sources added.
27/01/15 Business Standard

2,300 flights cancelled as storm heads for US east coast

New York: Light snow began falling on the east coast on Monday morning, the first signs of a potentially historic blizzard that officials predicted would dump up to three feet in the coming day, snarling transportation.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a blizzard warning for New York City and surrounding areas between coastal New Jersey and Connecticut, beginning 1 pm EST on Monday and worsening overnight into Tuesday morning. It warned of two days of winter storms across the East Coast, from Pennsylvania to Maine.

Travel will be extremely dangerous, the service said, as strong, snow-filled winds reduce visibility to near zero.

Airlines have canceled more than 2,300 flights so far, according to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, with more than 600 alone at the three main airports serving New York City.
27/01/15 Reuters/Business Standard

PAF plane makes refuelling landing in India

A Pakistan Air Force (PAF) passenger aircraft made a refuelling stop at Lucknow on Sunday afternoon.

The Phenom-100 jet, which is used by senior civilian and military functionaries, was on its way to Singapore for inspection when it made the stopover at Chowdhury Charan Singh Airport, Lucknow.

The aircraft remained at the Indian airport for about 50 minutes before leaving for Singapore.

The rare stopover happening in the midst of continuing military skirmishes between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control and Working Boundary and the resulting tensions in ties was blown out of proportion by the media in both countries.

PAF spokesman Air Commodore Syed Muhammad Ali, talking to Dawn, said the break in the journey was planned.

The aircraft crew included five personnel, including the pilots.

“There was no emergency. There was a Pakistani aircraft movement, that is PAAF-854 from Rawalpindi to Lucknow (which) landed at 1201 hours yesterday and departed for Chittagong at 1252 hours,” Indian newswire Press Trust of India quoted Lucknow’s District Magistrate Rajshekhar as having said.
27/01/15 Dawn

Pakistan aircraft denied landing in Capital

An aircraft of Pakistan Air Force with five military personnel aboard was allowed for an emergency landing in Lucknow on Sunday night because the airport authorities in India turned down their request to allow its landing at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. This decision was apparently taken in view of the presence of US President Barack Obama in the national Capital.

The aircraft was on its way from Rawalpindi to Shah Amanat International Airport, Chittagong, in Bangladesh. The aviation authorities of Pakistan wanted its landing in New Delhi for refuelling.

The plane was there at Lucknow's Chaudhari Charan Singh Airport for about an hour. It resumed its journey after getting fuel at the airport.

It was only on Sunday that R.K. Srivastava, chairman of Airports Authority of India, was in Lucknow to inspect the airport.

If sources are believed, it is a routine matter for flights between Pakistan and Bangladesh to get refuelled in New Delhi. But this aircraft, PAAF-854, was diverted to Lucknow.
27/01/15 Mail Today/India Today

MiG-27 fighter jet crashes in Barmer in Rajasthan

Jodhpur: A MiG-27 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force on Tuesday crashed but the pilot ejected safely.
However, it was not immediately known if there was any casualty.Air Force sources said the crash occurred at about 15:10 pm.
The pilot ejected safely, a defence spokesperson said in New Delhi.The aircraft, which is used for ground attack purposes, took off from Jodhpur airbase and was on its way to Uttarlai air force station in Rajasthan.
27/01/15 Hans India

Etihad Airways changes flight schedules to benefit Indian subcontinent

Dubai: Etihad Airways has announced changes in its flights' timings between Abu Dhabi and North America from March, owing to the increasing demand of travel from the Indian Subcontinent.

The Abu Dhabi-based airways has announced the changes in the flight schedules between its Abu Dhabi hub and Chicago, New York and Toronto, starting from March 29 this year.

"Demand for travel between the Indian Subcontinent and North America continues to grow year-on-year and we are delighted to change our schedule in order to support this requirement and to increase the travel options for our guests," said Kevin Knight, Etihad Airways' Chief Strategy and Planning Officer.

The move is expected to provide convenient options for UAE passengers travelling to North America, enhance overall connectivity for flights to and from the Indian Subcontinent (ISC) and establish new connections to key markets such as Dhaka, Kathmandu, and Kolkata.
27/01/15 PTI/Economic Times

'It was the best time to enter the Indian aviation market'

Vistara, the Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines joint venture, has hit the skies after waiting in the wings for about 16 months. It believes that for a full service airline and value-based offering, its fares are “quite competitive” compared to other airlines. Phee Teik Yeoh, the CEO of Vistara, spoke to Deccan Herald’s Shemin Joy. Excerpts:

Two weeks into operations, how is the market responding to you?
We are delighted that our customers are responding positively to our product and service. At Vistara, customer satisfaction is a key priority and we diligently monitor feedback we receive from them. Each feedback coming in makes us optimistic of the customer confidence and even more determined to focus our energies on exceeding customer expectations again and again and win their loyalty.

There are some concerns that the Vistara fares are a bit high. How do you react to it?
We are closely watching the market dynamics since we started sales almost a month ago. Fixing fares is a complex and dynamic exercise and depends upon various factors. We aim to be disciplined in pricing as our strategy is determined by the unique value proposition we offer. We hope travellers in India find our fares, value for money. Since launch, we have received overwhelming response to our product and service and through our competitive fares we hope to reach out to more and more travellers to try our unique product and service propositions.
27/01/15 Shemin Joy/Deccan Herald

Mopa will add to a mere 4.2 million passengers in 40 years

Panjim: newThe devil is in the detail. And details is what the government never wants to publicly get into about the Mopa airport, former chief minister Parrikar’s most ardent love and interest and his successor Parsekar’s object of passion in his backyard of Pernem.
If the EIA report on Mopa combined with the response the Directorate of Civil Aviation has given in response with queries by potential bidders, there will be an additional passenger growth of a mere 4.2 million in the 25 years between 2020-2045, if Mopa and Dabolim airports are both operational. This amount to 42 lakh or an additional passenger load of a little over a lakh a year for both airports.
In the response to queries of Global Bidders for Mopa dated November 24, in possession of Herald (Query 15, Clause 1.1.1.), the Directorate of Civil aviation GoI states: “A new integrated domestic and international terminal opened in December 2013 at Dabolim with enhanced capacity between 6.5 and 7 million passengers per annum. If the present airport maintains its growth rate it could saturate its capacity within 5 years. (i.e. 2020). There is limited scope for further expansion due to unavailability of land” (the fact that land is available and can be got if there is serious intent is another story).
27/01/15 Herald

Express Industry demands domestic airlines to cut fuel surcharge

Following the sharp fall in global crude oil prices by nearly 35% over the last one year, the Express Industry Council of India (EICI), the apex body of companies providing express delivery services, have asked for an immediate withdrawal of Fuel Surcharge (FSC) levied by domestic airlines. Currently, domestic airlines in India charge between Rs. 13/- to Rs.16.50/- per kilogram as fuel surcharge.

The industry has also sought the intervention of the Civil Aviation Ministry and the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for an immediate redress of the current issue and the long term demand for the trade to have a transparent and market driven mechanism for determining such pricing.

Fuel surcharge on shipments is levied on a per kilogram basis and was introduced in May 2008 to mitigate volatility in fuel prices. Air Turbine Fuel (ATF) prices then was Rs. 58,387/kl (referenced to Delhi Airport) and the FSC was fixed by airlines at Rs. 5/kg for cargo shipments. "Currently, the ATF price is at Rs. 52,423/kl which is 10% lower than the 2008 price but the FSC charged is as high as Rs. 16.50/kg for the cargo shipments. In the past as well when fuel prices fell, airlines continued to increase their FSC. Airlines need to appreciate that FSC is purely a tool to mitigate volatility and cannot be part of cargo rates", said Vijay Kumar, chief operating officer, Express Industry Council of India.
27/01/15 My Iris

Another ordeal for Dimapur passengers

Dimapur-bound passengers were made to face another ordeal at Kolkata airport, when the departure was delayed thrice till finally, the flight was cancelled after they were kept in suspense for over six hours.
On Monday, passengers who had arrived at the airport hours ahead for departure at 12.10 p.m. were informed that the flight would take off only at 1.30 p.m. Later, just before boarding, they were again informed that departure was delayed to 2.30 p.m.
Finally, the passengers were allowed to board the plane and once inside, by 3 p.m. were informed that the flight was cancelled. The irate passengers refused to deplane and when asked for the reason for the cancellation, Air India officials explained that it was because there was no Instrument Landing System(ILS) to facilitate night landing and take off at Dimapur airport.
It was only after Air India officials gave a written undertaking to schedule a special flight on Tuesday at 10 a.m. did the passengers finally deplaned and later accommodated in a hotel by the airlines.
27/01/15 Nagaland Post

Alarms that keep beasts at bay

Puttur: How about recording alarm, distress and predator calls of animals and birds, and playing them back to keep beasts away and save the crops?

Chasing wild animals from farms is getting craftier and man appears to be attempting to beat the beasts at their own game. This is what emerged on the final day of a three-day farm machinery fair here on Monday.

“We have done it,” said Mahesh S.S., Chief Executive Officer, Grus Ecosciences, Bengaluru, who is also a member of an expert panel for birds — the National Bird Control Committee, under the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation. His group has developed devices that produce natural calls of animals and birds. One of them keeps away three species of monkeys and squirrels, wild boar, elephant, three spotted deer, sambar, fruit bats, rabbit and neelgai at bay. He told The Hindu that the group was developing another device to keep away bison and bear.

When beasts and birds hear the alarm — especially distress and predator calls — they sense trouble and stay away. What matters is the regional sound as you cannot get a foreign-made equipment and play it here, he said. “It is like me speaking to you in German,” he said.
27/01/15 Raviprasad Kamila/The Hindu

Flypast mesmerises spectators despite weather woes

New Delhi: Despite a heavily overcast sky and light drizzle, the flypast, which marks the culmination of the Republic Day parade, as usual mesmerised the spectators Monday.

The flypast had around 30 aircraft, a mix of surveillance, transport and fighter planes.

With US President Barack Obama as the Chief Guest, the flypast included three American aircraft acquired over the last few years - P-8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft, C-130J special operations aircraft and the C-17 Globemaster heavy-lift aircraft.

The flypast commenced with three Mi-35 helicopters in a vic formation, followed by three C-130J Super Hercules.

The P-8I came next flanked by two Mig 29Ks, the newly inducted Russian fighter jets of the navy in a victor formation.

The C-17 Globemaster was next, flanked by two Su-30s, followed by five Jaguar fighter jets in arrowhead formation.
26/01/15 IANS/ZeeNews

Mumbai-based Navy pilot, Commander Kasutubh Gosavi receives Shaurya Chakra

Mumbai: Commander Kasutubh Gosavi, a Mumbai-based Navy pilot, has been awarded the Shaurya Chakra for saving 15 lives during various helicopter search and rescue missions.

"During the month of July last year, the officer was involved in four separate gallant and courageous acts wherein he was successful in saving lives of 15 personnel in a short span of 16 days," an official statement said.

"On July 3, 2014, 842 Squadron was tasked to undertake medical evacuation of a patient who was suffering acute abdominal pain onboard MV Star Eagle.

"The officer whilst navigating through adverse weather, low visibility, rains and strong winds, winched up the patient after ascertaining his medical condition from doctor and successfully evacuated the Philippine national to base. The patient was subsequently transferred to hospital for immediate surgery thereby saving his life," the statement said.

On July 14, a distress message was received from MV Priyanka that the ship was grounded off Revdanda close to Mumbai and was listing dangerously, thereby endangering the lives of crew onboard.
26/01/15 PTI/Business Standard

Security Hold Area at Tiruchi airport to be modified

Tiruchi: Airports Authority of India (AAI) has proposed modification of the Security Hold Area in Tiruchi international airport to avoid congestion and increase passenger seating capacity.

Space constraint in the terminal building, especially in the Security Hold Area because of more passenger movements, had prompted the AAI to address the issue, Airport Director B.C.H. Negi said. Once modified, the Security Hold Area would accommodate around 350 passengers, instead of its existing capacity to hold 200 passengers.

Speaking at the Republic Day celebrations at the airport here on Monday, Mr. Negi said there was a definite upward trend in the number of passengers and the volume of cargo handled at Tiruchi airport this financial year.

Keeping this in mind, many development and expansion projects were undertaken to cater to the growth potential of the Tiruchi airport which was a fast-growing airport not only in the Southern region but also in the entire country.
27/01/15 R Rajaram/The Hindu

Two held, 40 tolas of gold and Rs. 2.50 lakh recovered

Hyderabad:  Forty tolas of gold ornaments and Rs.2.50 lakh in cash were recovered from two persons who were arrested by the Chaderghat police for their alleged involvement in a burglar reported at a businessman’s house in Kaladera in August.

According to the police, Syed Omer (23) and Syed Tariq Mohidduin (21) of Santoshnagar were arrested on January 16 for allegedly planning and taking away one kilogram of gold and other articles from the house of Md Abdul Raheem Khan.

“Syed Omer entered intot he house after breaking the lock while Tariq Mohidduin kept a watch on Abdul Raheem who along with his family members went to pick a relative at the RGI Airport. The duo then mortgaged the articles at two different banks, Detective Inspector Chaderghat, Dheeravath Hussain said.
26/01/15 Asif Yar Khan/The Hindu

Woman held for gold smuggling at Ahmedabad airport

Ahmedabad:The Air Intelligence Unit of Customs department on held a 38-year old woman for smuggling gold worth Rs 46 lakh at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International airport. The Vadodara based woman was caught with 1.6 kg of gold bars and jewellery concealed in her garments and purse.

According to sources, the woman is a first time carrier and chose to enter through Ahmedabad in a bid to escape Customs. This is the first such incident in 2015 of gold smuggling. Since January 2014, customs department alone has seized 56.42 kg of gold, worth Rs 15.6 crore and detained 65 smugglers at city's airport.

The woman had arrived in Air Arabia flight from Sharjah. "Around 8 Gold bars weighing little over 800 grams were hidden in her garments while 2 necklaces and 4 gold bangles were hidden inside her purse," said a Customs official.

Further investigation in the case is under progress. It has been over 19 months since centre imposed restrictions on gold imports. According to Customs officials, due to the huge price difference of gold between middle-east and India, most of the cases of smuggling have been detected on the Dubai-Sharjah-Doha route.
27/01/15 Piyush Mishra/Times of India

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cloud clears? SpiceJet to get Rs 1,500 cr by 30 April; regulatory approvals could be a breeze

Beleaguered sudget carrier Spicejet will get the equity infusion of Rs 1500 crore by April in 4 tranches, a report in The Economic Times said today citing the revival plan submitted by its saviour Ajay Singh.

The four tranches are as follows: Rs 100 crore on 25 January, Rs 400 crore on 15 February and Rs 500 crore each on 20 March and 30 April. The revival plan has been approved by the civil aviation ministry.

However, there is no clarity on which are the investors who will be pumping in the money. Earlier media reports had said Singh is likely to team up with other investors to revive the airline he had co-founded years ago.
Singh, who has been credited with coining the tag line Ab ki barr Modi sarkaar during the election campaign, had on 15 January given a Scheme of Reconstruction and Revival of the airline to its board. The scheme included transferring of ownership and management control of the airline from Kalanithi Maran and Kal Airways to Singh. This would mean sale of 53 percent stake to the new promoters.
After the company board accepted the revival plan, Firstpost had reported that Singh's revival plan included expanding the airline's fleet of Boeing aircraft to 26 from 19 now, immediately after taking over.
26/01/15 First Post

SpiceJet set to run 40% more flights this summer

Crisis-ridden budget carrier SpiceJet, hopeful of fund infusion from investors led by its former director and co-founder Ajay Singh, is likely to increase its flights by 40 per cent to a total of 280 in the coming summer schedule.

The airline had last week announced resumption of bookings for the summer schedule that starts from March 29 and runs till October 24.

The announcement came after aviation regulator directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) lifted restrictions on advance booking by SpiceJet.

Following initial approval to its revival plan by the nodal civil aviation ministry, SpiceJet is awaiting clearance from market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for a transfer of ownership without having to make a mandatory open offer to minority shareholders.
25/01/15 Nirbhay Kumar/mydigitalfc

Air Asia flight returns after 10 minutes in air

Bengaluru: An Air Asia flight from Bengaluru to Pune took off but had to return after remaining in the air for 10 minutes because of technical issues on Sunday afternoon, triggering panic aboard the aircraft.

Sources in Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) confirmed the incident but claimed that the aircraft was attended to and it left sometime later. CISF sources said there were no security issues and only a technical problem.

The flight I5 1424 was scheduled to depart at 1:15 pm. "But when we reached the airport we came to know that there is a delay of 110 minutes and no reasons were ascribed," a passenger, Chickpet businessman Abhishek Jain said.

The passenger said they were allowed to board the aircraft round 4 pm and the aircraft took off 30 minutes. "Ten minutes into the air, it was announced that the flight has some technical problems and the aircraft is returning to KIA," said Jain. According to Jain, there was panic on the aircraft but they were not allowed to come out for some time. There was also a marriage party that was headed for Sangeet in Pune.
25/01/15 Pavan MV & Arun Dev/Times of India

Jet Airways, Etihad Airways to celebrate Republic Day with attractive offers

Jet Airways, India's premier international airline, today announced a special offer on its domestic and international networks to mark India’s Republic Day. Etihad Airways, the strategic partner of Jet Airways, will also join the celebrations by extending the offer to guests flying on its network from India to the Middle East, Europe and the United States. The three day special fare offers up to 25 percent discount on prevailing lowest published fare and will be available for sale from January 24, 2015 to January 26, 2015.

The offer is applicable for Economy fares on Jet Airways’ domestic network with travel validity from March 1, 2015 to September 30, 2015.

On Jet Airways’ international network the offer is applicable on both Premiere and Economy fares. On Etihad Airways flights, the offer is applicable on Business and Economy fares. Travel validity of the offer on the international routes of Jet Airways and Etihad Airways is February 1, 2015 onward.
26/01/15 India Infoline

Chopper surveillance called off as US objects

Ghaziabad: The Uttar Pradesh government has junked the plan to carry out an aerial surveillance of Ghaziabad and Noida around Republic Day, after permissions were denied in view of the heightened security for US President Barack Obama.

"The plan to use a Pawan Hans helicopter for aerial surveillance of Ghaziabad and Noida has been stalled after US security agencies denied permission," said assistant superintendent of police Vipin Tada.

The state government had decided to carry out an aerial surveillance of the two cities from January 20-31 but Pawan Hans Ltd, the helicopter provider, failed to get necessary clearances from the concerned authorities.

"Unprecedented security arrangements have been put in place in and around the national capital in view of Obama's visit and no plane can fly within a radius of 400km of the Rajpath," Tada said. Airports as far in Jaipur, Agra, Lucknow and Amritsar may have to shut for few hours on Republic Day.
26/01/15 Times of India

Etihad alters flight schedule to better connect India and America

Etihad Airways has announced a number of schedule changes to the airline’s flights between its Abu Dhabi hub and Chicago, New York, and Toronto, which will start on Sunday, March 29, 2015.

The airline said move was to provide “convenient schedule options for UAE passengers travelling to North America, enhance overall connectivity for flights to and from the Indian Subcontinent, and establish new connections to key markets such as Dhaka, Kathmandu, and Kolkata”.

The new times also all connect with key Etihad Airways’ Indian Subcontinent destinations which include Colombo, Delhi, Karachi, Lahore, and Mumbai.
26/01/15  Emirates 24|7

Right this way, please

Nepal can look forward to a further boost in tourist arrivals from India following the Indian government’s decision to provide “leave travel concession” to government employees to visit Nepal and other Saarc countries.

Nepal’s tourism industry is naturally agog with anticipation as there are around 2 million government employees down south, and that’s a lot of potential tourists. India is already the largest source market for the country.

Last year, it sent 180,974 air travellers to the Himalayan republic.

According to the Tourism Ministry, the share of Indian visitors in Nepal’s tourism stands at 23 percent. Unfortunately, they are not known for staying long or spending much in Nepal, pointing to an area the tourism industry needs to work on.

In 2013, Indian tourists spent 8.67 days on average in Nepal, putting them among the shortest stayers in Nepal. Of the total Indian arrivals, 142,054 were first time visitors. More than 528,321 Indian tourists enter Nepal through eight border points annually.
26/01/15 Sangam Prasain/E-Kanipur

Scrap 5/20 rule, reduce taxation to make airlines turnaround

What is 5/20 in Indian civil aviation? Air Corporation Act of 1953 was repealed in 1994 which abolished the monopoly of Indian Airlines and Air India and allowed private airlines to operate in India.

However, Air India maintained its monopoly over international flights as no other airline was allowed to fly abroad. Slowly, domestic airlines led by Jet started demanding that they should also be allowed to go abroad. Since overseas fights involved a bilateral air service agreement between two countries, the airline of a country have to be designated in the agreement.

In order to enable private airlines to go abroad, some criteria was required and this was evolved as the formula of 5/20. This meant that an India airline could qualify for an international flight only if it has completed 5 years of domestic service and has 20 aircraft. This policy formulation was unprecedented as it was not found in any other country. It remains so even now.

Around the time the repeal of Air Corporation Act took place in 1994, the Ministry of Civil Aviation found that private airlines would not undertake unviable routes to regional cities which Indian Airlines was undertaking (after the demise of Vayudoot which is an airline owned by Air India and Indian Airlines) as part of their CSR.
26/01/15 Sanat Kaul/Deccan Herald

Ready to fly, but grounded

Bangalore: Imagine booking air tickets online and preparing to travel home, only to realise a few days before your journey that someone else has cancelled your ticket and used your hard-earned money to book a ticket for himself! This is exactly what happened to techie Rajeev Kumar Singh. He booked tickets online in August by paying Rs 21,000 for a round trip to Ranchi from Bengaluru for February 28 with wife and child. But when he tried to check the status of the flight last Monday, he was shocked to know that his ticket was cancelled by a stranger and another ticket was booked in the name of Shambhu Sinha from Delhi to Patna with his money. The techie complains that he has lost the fare and the flight authorities did not inform him of the cancellation.
Rajeev, 37, said, "I had plans to visit Ranchi with my family in February, and hence decided to book flight tickets online in August. I logged into the IndiGo web portal and booked the tickets by paying Rs 20,940 through my credit card, after which I duly took a print out of the tickets and filed them. However, last Monday when I tried to cross-check the status of my flight, I was shocked to hear from customer care that my tickets had been cancelled. They told me the tickets had been cancelled by a person named Shambu Sinha who had booked tickets to Pune from Delhi using my money.
26/01/15 Bharat A Patel/Bangalore Mirror

Maharashtra farmer who dreamed of flying starts a school for wannabe gliders

When he was a child, Govind Yewale would watch with wonder as paragliders took off from the Panchgani hills in Satara district of Maharashtra and land in their fields.

He always wanted to experience for himself what it would be to fly like the birds.

However, when an European tourist agreed to give him a joyride, Yewale’s flight of fancy took wings and paved the way for him to pursue a career in aviation adventure sports.

“The first flight is still etched in my memory. I was a bit anxious as we lifted off the ground but then, it was an exhilarating experience to be in the sky like a bird,” said Yewale, speaking by phone from the Rann of Kutch.
That 15 minutes in the air completed his dream to be air-borne. Two decades later, Yewale is among a handful of people in India to own a paratrike, a paraglider powered by an aircraft engine with a seating for two, and one of three who rents it out for joyrides.

The Gujarat government has roped him to fly tourists on his paratrike at the Rann Utsav in Kutch.

Yewale said: “Since December 1, 2014, I have already flown 1,200 hours on the paratrike at the Rann Utsav.”

Its popularity can be judged from the fact that each five minute ride costs about Rs 2,000.
25/01/15 Ganesh N/Daily Mail

Monkeys enter Chennai airport through roof

Chennai: On Sunday afternoon, passengers at Chennai airport were surprised to see two big monkeys in the departure hall of the domestic terminal.

The monkeys entered the terminal around 3 p.m., through one of the openings in the roof, sources said. At first, passengers were shocked but they did not panic as the monkeys did not harm them. The State forest department and fire service personnel were called in to capture the monkeys. After hours of struggle, one of them was caught later in the day.

Meanwhile, passengers posted pictures of the monkeys on Twitter and wondered how they had crept into the terminal.
26/01/15 Sunitha Sekar/The Hindu

Man Held with Live Bullet

Bhubaneswar: A fruit seller from Cuttack was arrested by the Commissionerate Police for possessing a live bullet here on Sunday.
The accused was identified as Pravat Kumar Debata (30), a resident of Balubazar in Cuttack.
Debata was detained by CISF personnel at Biju Patnaik International Airport after a scanner in boarding area of the airport terminal confirmed presence of the ammunition in Debata's trousers.
26/01/15 New Indian Express