Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Indian carriers may not get leeway on flying abroad

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is unlikely to lift restrictions on domestic airlines to launch international services anytime soon.

According to the current norms, Indian airlines are required to have at least five years of operational experience and a fleet of a minimum of 20 aircraft (known as the 5/20 rule) for starting international services.

A senior official in the civil aviation ministry said, “There is a lot of opposition from domestic airlines, as most of them meet the current requirements for flying international. They have said restrictions are now being considered for removal taking into account the interests of newer ventures. We are examining all aspects. Internal consultations are on.”
Abolition of the 5/20 rule was scheduled to be cleared by the Cabinet before the electoral code came into effect on March 5 this year. However, the meeting was cancelled putting on hold the possibly the last policy change considered by former Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh.

The abolition of 5/20 rule is being opposed by Federation of India Airlines (FIA), which had earlier this year shot off a letter to Civil Aviation Secretary Ashok Lavasa, saying: “Considering that all airlines have in the process of fulfilling their obligation incurred substantial losses through domestic operations, it would be unacceptable for the government to now consider revising the policy by the removal of the 5/20 rule in order to benefit the international airlines' joint ventures, which are under consideration and approval.”
23/07/14 Business Standard

Tata-SIA gets ready for proving passenger flights in September

New Delhi: Tata-SIA Airlines has told the aviation regulator that it would be ready to conduct a demonstration in September to prove that it can operate passenger flights, an official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.

Its plan to carry out the proving flight in mid- or end-September means the joint venture between the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines would miss its initial target to launch flight operations on September 1.

Tata-SIA representatives conveyed the plan on the proving flight to the DGCA on Monday. "They have told us that the proving flight can be conducted either in middle or end-September and they are expecting their first aircraft in the first week of September," said the DGCA official. An airline spokesperson confirmed the development.

Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group, owns a 51% stake in the joint venture to operate a full-service airline. Singapore Airlines holds the remaining 49%.
23/07/14 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

India's Jet eyes profit by 2017 with boost from Etihad

New Delhi: Jet Airways, India's second-biggest carrier, forecast Wednesday a return to profit in three years through cost-cuts, route-sharing with new partner Etihad Airways and restructuring of hefty debt. The publicly traded airline, which has not posted an annual profit since 2007, has been struggling in an overcrowded market beset by cut-throat fare wars, high fuel costs and shoddy infrastructure.
"The game plan is in place, it's now about delivery," Jet Airways' new chief executive Cramer Ball told reporters in New Delhi. "It's a three-year plan -- 2015 we will reduce losses, 2016 we will consolidate and 2017 we'll have profitability," he said.
Ball was speaking at the airline's first news conference with Etihad since India cleared in May the fast-growing Abu Dhabi airline's purchase of a 24-per cent stake in the Indian carrier for 21 billion rupees (US$330 million). Jet's shares jumped over five per cent on the turnaround plan before retreating slightly to trade up four per cent at 266.35 rupees.
Ball, an Australian, said Jet was already profitable on international routes which contribute 43 per cent of revenues, a figure he projected would rise to 63 per cent by 2015. All major Indian airlines, except leading carrier IndiGo, have been haemorrhaging money but analysts say the sector has a brighter future longer-term thanks to a fast-growing growing middle class.
23/07/14 Channel News Asia

Jet Airways chairman says looking to restructure debt, talking to bankers

New Delhi: Jet Airways Ltd said the country's No. 2 airline by market share will look at selling planes and restructuring its debts as it tries to find ways to end the losses that have plagued it for years.
"We are looking at a lot of consolidation (of our fleet)," Jet's Chairman Naresh Goyal said at a press event in New Delhi on Wednesday. Goyal said the carrier is talking to its bankers without giving details of the discussions.
Like all but one of India's major airlines, Jet is losing money fast, beset by high costs, low fares and cut-throat competition in its domestic market.
23/07/14 Business Today

Six more airlines to spice up Indian aviation menu

New Delhi: Several more new airlines are likely to fly in the Indian sky in the coming months with the government giving flying licence to four of the six companies which had sought permits for launching scheduled, private or charter air operations.
While AirAsia India, Ligare Aviation Limited, Quickjet Cargo Airlines and LEPL Projects Limited have been granted the Air Operator’s Permit (AOP) or the flying licence, the two pending cases are those of Tata-SIA Airlines Limited and Air Pegasus Limited, minister of state for civil aviation G. M. Siddeshwara has said.
While AirAsia India has started its operations, Tata-SIA Airlines, a 51:49 joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, has announced plans to launch flights by September-end or October.
Recently, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which is in the process of examining Tata-SIA’s application for grant of AOP to launch a full-service carrier, recently dismissed objections from the Federation of Indian Airlines against it. The approval for an AOP, when granted, would be subject to the orders of the Delhi High Court in a case challenging FDI in new Indian carriers.
23/07/14 Asian Age

Jet Airways and Etihad Airways: Committed to grow India's Aviation Industry

Jet Airways, India’s premier international airline, and Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, have outlined plans to reinforce their long-term commitment to the growth of India’s economy and aviation industry, including a major new turnaround strategy for Jet Airways to return to profitability in three years.

The two airlines have been codeshare partners since 2008 and their relationship was strengthened in November 2013, after Etihad Airways received approvals to acquire a 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways, marking it the first investment by a foreign carrier in India’s airline industry.

The wide-ranging partnership has numerous advantages for travellers, including enhanced connections across the world through an expanded codeshare agreement, and reciprocal ‘earn and burn’ rights and tier level recognition on the JetPrivilege and Etihad Guest frequent flyer programs.

Jet Airways and Etihad Airways also stand to benefit from cost savings and synergies in areas such as fleet acquisition, maintenance, product development and training, and continue to explore collaborative purchasing opportunities for fuel, spare parts, insurance and technology support.

Supporting the partnership, the Jet Airways Board recently approved a three-year business plan to reshape the airline and secure its long-term future. The plan incorporates a series of critical measures that lay the foundations for a return to profitability, such as long-term network, fleet and product developments to optimise the airline’s domestic and international operations.
23/07/14 E Turbo News

Less flight inspectors led to safety downgrade, says govt

New Delhi: The prime reason for US aviation regulator FAA downgrading India's aviation safety ranking was lack of sufficient number of regular flight inspectors, rendering DGCA's safety oversight ineffective, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday.
To overcome the downgrade, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has completed actions on six of the seven findings of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Minister of State for Civil Aviation G M Siddeshwara said while replying to questions on the issue.
DGCA also created 75 new posts of flight operations inspectors (FOIs) of various categories, of which 35 have already been filled, he said referring to the remaining finding of the FAA.
The FAA had lowered safety ranking of India to Category II from Category I which the country has been holding since 1997.
22/07/14 PTI/Business Standard

‘Air India-Indian Airlines merger almost complete’

New Delhi:  The merger between Indian Airlines and Air India is almost complete, Minister of State for Civil Aviation G.M. Siddeshwara on Tuesday said in the Rajya Sabha. “Out of the 226 issues, on which integration action was initiated, 204 have been completed and integration action is in progress on 17 other issues. Five issues are pending because of court cases,” Siddeshwara said in his reply in the Upper House of Parliament. Report Cogencies.
“To a large extent, level mapping and seniority merger of the two erstwhile airlines have been completed. The draft revised basic pay and allowances in respect of the different categories of employees of the merged entity have been displayed on the intranet and the same could not be implemented due to on-going court cases,” the minister said.
23/07/14 Free Press Journal

India’s Avro Replacement Could Be Problematic

The new Indian government has issued the request for proposal (RFP) for 56 transport aircraft worth an estimated $2 billion, to replace the Indian Air Force’s aging Hawker Siddeley 748M twin turboprops, known as Avros. The final date for submission of bids is August 28. The contract is expected to be awarded in late 2015 or early 2016.

The candidates will likely include Alenia with the C-27J, Antonov with the An-32, and Airbus Defence & Space with the C-295. However, a decision on whether Alenia can bid is pending, after the controversial sale of AW101 helicopters by fellow Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland was halted. There are also concerns about Antonov, from war-torn Ukraine. Should the C-295 end up the sole bidder, the project might be shelved unless the Indian Air Force seeks special approval from the MoD.

This is India’s first private sector-only project, in which government-owned companies cannot be a lead partner. In this case, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) can be a tier-one supplier. The successful bidder is to deliver 16 aircraft in flyaway condition in 24 months and manufacture 40 in an Indian partner’s facility by 60 months, with all to be delivered within 120 months of contract signature.
22/07/14 AINonline

Emirates becomes 2nd airline to operate jumbo A-380 to India

Mumbai: Gulf carrier Emirates became the second airline to operate jumbo A380 aircraft to India after Singapore Airlines, with the commencement of its first daily flight to Mumbai from Dubai.

Emirates flight EK-500 took off from Dubai International airport at 21:55 hours (local time) yesterday and arrived at city’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport (CSIA) at 02:30 am (local time), a release said here today.

The return flight EK-501 took off from Terminal 2 of the CSIA at 04:30 am (local time) and arrived back at Emirates Terminal 3 in Dubai at 06.00 am (local time), it said.

“Mumbai was one of the first destinations on our route network when we launched in 1985. So it is quite fitting that the city becomes our 29th A380 destination. In addition to this, we will continue to operate the four daily services to the city,” Emirates’ senior vice president for commercial operations (West Asia and Indian Ocean), Ahmed Khoory, said.
22/07/14 PTI/Free Press Journal

Bihar and Jharkhand to get new airports as air travel increases

The Union Civil Aviation Ministry has identified Gaya and Raxaul in Bihar for development of airports. The ministry has also selected Jamshedpur and Deoghar for development of airports in view of the growing number of air travellers across the country.
Both places in Bihar have immense potential to emerge as viable airports. In fact, Gaya already has a functional airport where Air India flights as well as those from foreign countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Myanmar operate regularly.
An Airbus-320 can land at the Gaya airport. There are now plans to develop it so it can handle the rush of tourists, especially the Buddhist pilgrims, who come to Bodh Gaya.
Raxaul does not have a functional airport as of now. During the 1962 war against China, an airport was made in the small sub-divisional town along the Nepal border for the Indian Army aircraft to land, but it has remained unused for years now.
Raxaul, however, has good potential since it is located on the border with Nepal. On the other side of the border lies Birganj. The local residents have to come to Patna, located more than 200 km away, to catch a flight to Delhi or Kolkata.
23/07/14 Giridhar Jha/Business Today

Centre clears revised norms for new airport bids in record time

Mumbai: After nearly a decade of delay, the Navi Mumbai airport project has finally taken off. The civil aviation ministry has set the process of inviting tenders for the airport's construction into motion by clearing the revised tender document Cidco had prepared.
The new government moved swiftly to okay the document, and what could not be accomplished in years was done over a weekend, officials said. The plan to construct the Navi Mumbai airport was first mooted in 1998. In 2000, the project cost was pegged at Rs 5,000 crore. Today, it is Rs 14,575 crore. In early 2013, Cidco had submitted the initial draft of the tender document they had prepared for inviting bids. In March this year, they submitted the revised draft to the UPA government. Then, on Friday, they met the new civil aviation minister and resubmitted the revised draft. Cidco babus were in for a surprise when three days later, on Monday, the ministry cleared it.
The revised document has brought significant changes. For one, under the old draft, airlines could hold a maximum of only 10% stake in the private consortium that bid for the airport. Now the airline stake has been capped at 26%.
23/07/14 Chittaranjan Tembhekar/Times of India

Air India suspends flights to Kullu till August 31

Manali: Air India has suspended its flights to Kullu-Manali Airport at Bhuntar till August 31 due to poor visibility in the area due to rainy season. The adventure tourism fraternity of the region is disappointed as hundreds of foreigner tourists are visiting Kullu everyday for adventure activities.
"Air India has announced to stop its services on Delhi-Bhuntar route from July 22 to August 31," director, Kullu-Manali Airport, Y K Sharma, said. He added that an Air India aircraft had to return from Bhunter on Monday after it could not land due to dense fog over the surrounding mountain peaks. "Landing on the small airstrip surrounded by mountains and river becomes very risky during monsoon season. Pilots have to deal with Larji hill before entering the Bhunter valley and the hill remains covered with dense fog most of the time," he said.
It is peak adventure tourism season in Himachal and thousands of high-end tourists from abroad are reaching here for trekking and mountaineering. Most of the tourists prefer to travel by flights to reduce travel time. Air India was the only airline which was operating daily one sortie between Delhi and Bhunter.
23/07/14 Suresh Sharma/Times of India

Sins of omission clip wings of Visakhapatnam airport

Visakhapatnam: Not appointing a regular Director for nearly 10 months, not bringing to use the integrated cargo complex even after spending about Rs.60 lakh on it and, to top it all, transferring more officials speaks volumes of the apathy of the officials towards Vizag airport.

The traffic crossed the 10-lakh mark to register 10,38,958 passengers during 2012-13. Air India launched the first international daily flight to Dubai via Hyderabad and Silk Air launched its direct flight to Singapore thrice a week during 2012. The traffic marginally declined to 10,13,689 during 2013-14 due to the over six-month long Samaikhyandhra agitation.

When Vizianagaram MP P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju was appointed Union Minister for Civil Aviation in the Modi Cabinet, people of the region felt that the Vizag Airport would be put on the fast track of development.

At the maiden Cabinet meet held in the city on June 12, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had promised to develop Vizag as an IT capital, tourist and medical hub, cinema capital and to develop the Visakhapatnam International Airport by freeing it from defence control, if necessary.
22/07/14 B Madhu Gopal/The Hindu

Unique talent: Air hostesses to turn pilots at AirAsia

Mumbai: In his latest visit to India, AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes pointed to an airhostess and announced the company will help her "realise her dream" of becoming a pilot. By his side sat AirAsia India CEO Mittu Chandilya, a former model, and among the audience was India finance chief Vijay Gopalan, who has previously sung for and acted in Tamil movies.

While, AirAsia India's fate in a turbulent sky of cut-throat competition is unknown, its quirky hiring has certainly caught the industry's attention. "It's true AirAsia has made some unusual choices," said Manish Sabharwal, chairman of staffing firm Teamlease Services. "This is something that AirAsia does globally too, and a different pair of eyes always makes things interesting," he added. Out-of-the-box appointments across the board have been integral to the AirAsia story, almost as much as its aggressive fares.
Bo Lingam, Air Asia's chief of operations, Kathleen Tan, its former regional commercial director, and Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia, have all joined the airline from Warner Music International, the music company that Fernandes quit as Southeast Asian regional vice-president to launch AirAsia back in 1993. The airline abounds with stories of ground staff elevated to the levels of cabin crew and pilots.
23/04/14 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

DoNER approached for aviation council in NE

Guwahati: The College of Aeronautical Engineering (CAE), based in Guwahati, has sent a proposal to the Union DoNER ministry for the creation of a Northeast Aviation Council. This, it hopes, will give an impetus to the aviation industry in the region and help it prosper.

Addressing a news conference here on Tuesday, Bikrom Singha Lahkar, chief trustee of CAE, said many airlines in the northeast are taking a handsome amount as subsidy from the North Eastern Council, ministry of home affairs and the state government, among other agencies, but despite this, the aviation industry in the region is in a pitiable state.

"Modern aviation can play a huge role in health, tourism and disaster management. Industries are still underdeveloped in the northeast. Daporijo, Lastahar, Kamalpur, Khuwai, Pasighat, Rupsi, Teju, Turiyal and Zero airfields are not operational. Out of 22 airports located in northeast, only 11 are considered fully operational. We need to change this scenario as soon as possible and this can be done only with due attention from the Centre and assistance from the state governments," said Lahkar.
23/07/14 Times of India

Dynamic Technologies set for a lift on orders for aircraft parts

The commercial aircraft manufacturing business is a rarefied zone. It has two thrones, occupied by Airbus and Boeing. While these two companies assemble an aircraft, they source parts from outside. Even that sourcing space is a rarefied zone, with hierarchies. A company enters tier-two when it starts supplying to a subsidiary of Airbus or Boeing, which vets those parts before moving them on. It's a place for aspirants.
Tier-one is for those who have made it: companies that supply parts directly to Airbus and Boeing. It's a place where the promise of bigger, continuous paydays is palpable. It's a place where Dynamatic Technologies touched down with Airbus three months ago, with an order of $300 million (Rs 1,800 crore), giving this Rs 1,589 crore Bangalore-based engineering company new wings to realise an old dream of being a player of substance in the aircraft manufacturing business.
In the last six months, Dynamatic has also bagged a 600 crore order from Boeing and a Rs 1,500 crore order from Bell Helicopter. That's a total of 3,900 crore, to be executed over 10 years, to go with the Rs 2,000 crore of orders its aerospace division already has. Not bad for a company that, two decades ago, was a blueprint of passion in a small garage in Bangalore.
22/07/14 Jwalit Vyas/Economic Times

Service quality at Chennai airport up, survey says

Chennai: The Airports Authority of India may be struggling to maintain Chennai airport, but passenger satisfaction with the new terminals seems to have improved.

An airport service quality survey conducted by Airports Council International shows customer satisfaction index improved for April-June quarter when compared to the first quarter of the year. The airport has been ranked second after Kolkata for quality of service among 11 public sector airports in the country.

The airport has scored 4.30 points on a scale of five when compared to 4.10 in the January-March quarter. Global ranking too improved from 114 to 56.
"The survey shows there is an improvement in quality of service. We are not saying the airport is good. The service may not be perfect but we are managing the terminals well within the constraints," said an AAI spokesperson.
23/07/14 Times of India

India Still Negotiating Dassault Jet Purchase, Defense Minister Says

New Delhi: India is still negotiating a long-delayed purchase of fighter jets from France's Dassault Aviation.
India initially agreed to the purchase of 126 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault in 2012 but the purchase has been stuck in negotiations which still continue, Defense Minister Arun Jaitley said in a response to a question in the upper house of Parliament Tuesday.
"The process of negotiation with the vendor, Dassault Aviation, for procurement of medium, multi-role combat aircraft is on," he said without giving any date by which the negotiations might end.
India in recent years has become the world's largest importer of weapons as it tries to modernize its military.
The South Asian nation depends on imports from countries like Russia, the U.S., France and Israel for most of its arms requirements, but placing orders can sometimes take years.
22/07/14 Santanu Choudhury/Wall Street Journal

Charges dropped against Sikh for carrying Kirpan to airport

New York: A US court here has dismissed criminal charges against a Sikh man for carrying a kirpan to a city airport.

The New York City Port Authority Police Department in May had issued a criminal summons in May to Maninder Singh for carrying two kirpans through security checkpoint at the John F Kennedy International airport here.

The summons had charged Singh with violating city federal rules, which prohibit carrying of knives with blade lengths of four inches or more.

Singh had faced a USD 300 fine as well as imprisonment of up to fifteen days.

The Queens Criminal Court dismissed the criminal summons after rights group Sikh Coalition's staff attorney Gurjot Kaur represented Singh during a hearing at where Kaur explained the religious significance of Singh's kirpans and the peaceful nature of his religious practice, the Sikh Coalition said in a statement.

Kaur also argued that the law in question provides many secular and recreational exemptions, including exemptions for individuals who carry knives for fishing, hunting and camping purposes and for members of the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts.
23/07/14 PTI/Zee News

Delhi Airport launches India's first Pet Travel Information and Facilitation Desk

New Delhi: Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) has launched a Pet Travel Information and Facilitation Desk at Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here, the first such facility in the country.

The desk, Pet Fly, takes care of various hassles related to travelling with pets, includng handling and fulfilling regulatory clearance procedures, a press release from DIAL said.

 “Being pioneer in India for introducing unique experiences to our passengers, DIAL wanted to take a step further by ensuring better and professional facility for the comfortable journey of your pet," DIAL CEO I Prabhakara Rao said.

To send the pet, a passenger has two options-  either the pet can be sent through cargo or it can be booked on excess baggage ticket with the airline.
22/07/14 NetIndian

Indian arrested after he’s mistaken as being part of fake passport ring

Abu Dhabi: An Indian businessman travelling to Istanbul from Abu Dhabi was mistakenly arrested as a suspect in a fake passport racket bust, XPRESS has learnt. He landed in jail for reportedly giving directions to three men travelling on fake passports.
Kamala Kannan, 42, was on a visit to the UAE when he was arrested at the Abu Dhabi airport on July 11. He was supposed to board Etihad Flight EY0097 to Istanbul at nine in the morning.
He was later released on July 18 after the court found him innocent.
“I cannot believe my fate. All I did to end up in jail was to help three men, who happened to be from my native place, with directions inside the airport after the immigration check,” Kannan from Chennai, India told XPRESS.
All the three men were later found to be travelling on fake passports, and are currently in jail.
According to him, after he cleared the immigration check, three men approached him and asked for directions to Gate 39. “They were also from Chennai, and since we were all travelling to the same destination, I readily helped them with directions,” said the businessman.
23/07/14 Anjana Sankar/Gulkf News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

6 Indian airlines one step closer to taking flight

In a move that is being touted as a boost for the aviation sector and airline travel in the country, the civil aviation ministry has reportedly given no-objection certificates for three national airlines and three regional airlines in one month.
According to a Mint report, the new minister for civil aviation has given no-objection certificates to Air One Aviation, Zexus Air and Premier Air to become national airlines; and Turbo Megha, Air Carnival and Zav Airways to start regional operations.
All the airlines had applied for the no-objection certificates between 2012-13.
The airlines now have to approach aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for an airline licence if they are still keen on beginning operations.
22/07/14 First Post 

Govt identifies 50 locations in smaller cities for new airports

The government has so far identified 50 locations for developing new airports in smaller cities and towns across the country, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, GM Siddeshwara informed the Lok Sabha.

It may be noted the Indian government has outlined plans to develop 200 low-cost airports in 20 years, mainly to connect tier-II and tier-III cities. The development of new airports in smaller cities and towns is part of the government’s efforts to encourage air travel in the country.

In the Union Budget 2014-15, Finance Minister Arun Jaitely had said that the proposed new airports will be developed in smaller cities and towns and the Airport Authority of India (AAI) will build the airports through public private partnership (PPP) process.
The locations for the new airports include cities in various states including Kadapa, Tirupati, Vijayawada and Warangal in Andhra Pradesh; Along, Daparizo, Pasighat and Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh; Jorhat, Rupsi and Silchar in Assam; Gaya and Raxaul in Bihar; Bilaspur and Raigarh in Chattisgarh; and Daman and  Diu in Daman & Diu.
21/07/14 VCCircle

Why the govt’s plan for 6 new airlines, 50 small airports is just lip service

The government has paid enough lip service in recent weeks on creating airport infrastructure, boosting regional connectivity and enhancing competition among existing airlines. It has been speaking of setting up hundreds of no-frills airports in tier II and tier III towns, offering incentives for regional airline startups and getting jet fuel taxation down. But on the ground, a lot of work in terms of policy formulation and tying up loose ends remains to be done.
Just yesterday, Minister of State for Civil Aviation GM Siddeshwara said in the Lok Sabha that his ministry has so far identified 50 locations with potential for small airports in various states. But how will these airports be set up in the absence of a blueprint for no-frills airports, which has not even been approved by aviation regulator DGCA?
Will state governments be asked to share costs of security, water and electricity? And what about traffic potential at remote locations? A ministry official had earlier indicated that no-frills airports which cost just Rs 70-80 crore will be constructed in areas which fall in the tourism circuit or backward areas where connectivity needs to be boosted.
Similar short-sightedness seems to have driven the ministry to approve six new airlines in the last one month. An article in Mint newspaper today mentions Air One Aviation Pvt. Ltd, Zexus Air and Premier Air which eventually want to become national airlines. And Turbo Megha, Air Carnival and Zav Airways which want to operate as regional airlines.
22/07/14 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post

Over Rs 5,840 loss for Indian airline industry in 2012-13: Govt

New Delhi: The Indian airline industry suffered a total operating loss of over Rs 5,840 crore, including over Rs 3,159 crore of Air India, in 2012-13, Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

However, the losses to Air India as well as the private carriers have shown a declining trend since 2009-10 till 2012-13.

IndiGo was the only airline to have reported profits during this period, barring 2011-12 when it made a loss of about Rs 88 crore, Minister of State for Civil Aviation G M Siddeshwara said in reply to questions.

Air India's operating loss was Rs 3,373 crore in 2009-10, Rs 4,087 crore in 2010-11, Rs 5,537 crore in 2011-12 and Rs 3,159 crore in 2012-13.

The private carriers -- Jet Airways, JetLite, SpiceJet, GoAir, IndiGo and now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines -- reported a total loss of Rs 3,733 crore in 2009-10, Rs 2,902 crore in 2010-11, shot up to Rs 7,272 crore in 2011-12 and again slided to Rs 2,682 crore in 2012-13.
22/07/14 PTI/ZeeNews

AI loss Rs 800 cr in sale of 5 Boeing 777 to Etihad

New Delhi: Air India made a loss of Rs 800 crore in the books, in the sale of five Boeing 777 aircraft to Etihad Airways as these aircrafts had depreciated in the books over 20 years, Lok Sabha was informed on Monday.
However, the national carrier generated a surplus of over $25 million after prepayment of aircraft loan and saved a further $5 million per month towards loan and interest repayment, Minister of State for Civil Aviation G M Siddeshwara said in reply to a question.
“The five planes were sold to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad at a price of $336.5 million,” he said. Referring to the losses, he said, “based on the book value of these planes, book loss on sale of these five aircraft would be approximately Rs 800 crores as the aircraft had depreciated in the books over a period of 20 years while the loans were amortized over a period of 12 years".
“However, the national carrier generated a surplus of $25.735 million after prepayment of the Aircraft loan when the national carrier sold these five B777-200LR aircraft,” he said. “Further, a saving of $5 million per month was generated towards loan and interest repayment, resulting in improved cash flow,” he said.
22/07/14 Deccan Herald

Govt approves site clearance for Dholera Airport Project in Ahmedabad

New Delhi: The government on Monday approved the site clearance for Greenfield international airport project at Dholera at Ahmedabad in Gujarat, a move that could see more international standard airports in the country.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Shri G.M. Siddeshwara Monday informed the Lok Sabha of the approval of the site clearance for the Dholera Airport project in Ahmedabad.

The project is being developed by the Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board in 2014.

Besides this project, the Taj International Greenfield airport project proposed at Hirangoan, Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh is presently under the preliminary scrutiny, a press release by the government stated.

The Airport Authority of India (AAI) had recently upgraded Bhopal, Indore and Raipur airports to international standards and the Government has initiated the process of declaring these airports as international airports.
21/07/14 ZeeNews

Kishtwar to have a small airport

New Delhi: Minister of State for Civil Aviation, G.M. Siddeshwara informed Lok Sabha on Monday that the union government has so far identified 50 locations with potential for small airports in various states, an official statement said.

The statement included Kishtwar district of J&K state as one of the potential locations for a small airport.

“Kadapa, Tirupati, Vijayawada,Warangal in Andhra Pradesh, Along, Daparizo, Pasighat, Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh, Jorhat,Rupsi,Silchar in Assam, Gaya, Raxaul in Bihar, Bilaspur, Raigarh in Chattisgarh, Daman, Diu in Daman & Diu, Bhawanagar, Jamnagar, Kandla, Keshod in Gujarat, Hisar, Karnal in Haryana, Kishtwar in J&K, Deoghar, Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, Belgaum,Hubli in Karnataka, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, Akola, Amravati, Jalgaon, Kolhapur, Solapur in Maharashtra, Jharsuguda in Odisha, Ludhiana in Punjab, Bikaner, Kishangarh, Kota in Rajasthan, Thanjavore in Tamil Nadu and Agra, Allahabad, Bareilly, Faizabad, Kanpur, Meerut, Moradabad and Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh,” the statement gave the names of the potential locations.
21/07/14 Kashmir Life

Aviation security chief post vacant since November 2012

In a shocking admission, the government on Monday informed Parliament that “the post of commissioner of security (civil aviation) has fallen vacant since November, 2012, after superannuation of the previous incumbent of the post on October 31, 2012” and that “this vacant post could not be filled up due to reasons attributable to administrative and procedural delays”.
The commissioner of security (civil aviation) referred to as the COSCA heads the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and is the top-most official dealing directly with aviation security in the country.
However, the government said that the joint commissioner of security (civil aviation), BCAS, is holding additional charge of the post of COSCA. “Since then, this ministry has been taking strenuous efforts to fill up the post of COSCA in consultation with the ministry of home affairs and the UPSC,” the government said.
In other written replies to Parliament, the government informed that the sale of five Boeing B-777 aircraft to UAE-based carrier Etihad for about $336 million reflected a “book loss” of `800 crores as the five “aircraft had depreciated in the books over a period of 20 years ...”.
22/07/14 Asian Age

Major Air Disaster Averted at Kochi International Airport

Kochi:  A major air disaster was averted on Monday after an Indigo flight from Bangalore to Kochi pulled away in the last minute after it was about to land outside the runway at the Cochin International Airport, Nedumbassery.

 The Indigo flight 6E-407 carrying around 150 passengers attempted to land at least three times before pulling away, according to passengers. In one attempt, the flight went 100 feet outside the runway, said a passenger. Heavy rains, which hampered visibility at the airport, was cited as the reason for the incident.

The flight finally landed on the fourth attempt at 2:30 pm, after encircling the area for about 20 minutes.

Sensing that passengers were getting restless after the flight aborted the landing twice, the pilot made an announcement that due to water-logging and heavy rain the aircraft was unable to land and an attempt would be made again.

Thereafter the aircraft almost came 100 feet above the ground, way off the runway before the pilot powered the flight back to the sky.
22/07/14 New Indian Express

Pilots warned as Chennai airport runway turns slippery

Chennai: Pilots have to be extra careful from now while landing at Chennai airport, especially on rainy days. The problem of a slippery runway has re-surfaced. Airports Authority of India (AAI) has informed airmen in a notice that the friction co-efficient of the main runway at Chennai airport has gone “below the notified value of 0.34 and is liable to be slippery when wet.”

“If friction co-efficient is below 0.34, it is dangerous when runway is wet. The DGCA should stop operations in wet conditions,” said aviation expert Capt A. Ranganathan. The friction coefficient reduces when the rubber from the aircraft tyre gets deposited on the runway. It could potentially lead to skidding of the aircraft. To improve friction coefficient, the milling work to remove rubber deposits should be done.

“Currently the friction coefficient level on the main runway at Chennai airport is slightly less than 0.34 at the intersection. It is around 0.32 to 0.34. As per the laid down safety procedure, remedial action is being taken. Due to continued operations at the airport, the balance work will be completed on Tuesday during the maintenance period between 2.30 pm and 4.30 pm,” said Chennai airport assistant general manager (PR) Harbhajan Singh.
22/07/14 S. Sujatha/Deccan Chronicle

No joy rides for the minister and bureaucrats of the ministry of civil aviation

No joy rides for the minister and bureaucrats of the ministry of civil aviation as the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has rejected their request for a trip in inaugural direct Air India flight to Moscow.
Air India on Monday had its formal launch at Domodedovo International Airport (DME) Moscow. As per the ministry's plan, the first direct Dreamliner Flight that took off from Delhi on Saturday to Moscow was to carry the minister for civil aviation A Gajapathi Raju, MoS GM Siddeshwara, Secretary Ashok Lavasa and three joint secretaries from the ministry.
The ministry had written to the PMO seeking a political clearance for the trip. The letter went to the PMO about a fortnight ago. However, two days before the tour, top sources said, the PMO denied the political clearance.
The ministry did not receive any formal denial. "But it was conveyed to us on Thursday that no one including the minister would board the flight. Sending a formal denial letter would have caused more embarrassment to us," said a senior officer at the ministry of civil aviation on condition of anonymity.
Only three persons — chairman of Air India Rohit Nandan, DGCA director Prabhat Kumar and a director — were allowed to take a new flight to Moscow.
22/07/14 Daily News & Analysis

Ex-Air Sahara chief gets nod for new airline

New Delhi: It is raining airlines now. After Tata Sons' JVs with Singapore Airlines and AirAsia, smaller players are now aiming for the Indian sky too.

Alok Sharma, the face of Air Sahara till it was sold off to Jet Airways in 2007, has been given a no objection certificate (NOC) by the aviation ministry to start a regional airline. He plans to start a full service airline Air One in the first quarter of next year. Along with Air One, two other startups have been granted NOCs to start airlines.

"Our paid-up capital for the airline is well over Rs 100 crore. We are going to have a fleet of either Boeing 737 or Airbus A-320 aircraft. Due to obvious business reasons, it will not be possible for me to divulge all our plans. All I can say at this stage is that it will be a full service airline India will be proud of and that it should begin flying by next March," Sharma, who left Sahara in 2010, told TOI. He claims the new airline has nothing to do with the group.
According to industry insiders, armed with this NOC, Sharma will now aim to get a foreign investor, most likely an airline, to begin operations under a joint branding.
22/07/14 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Maharashtra government looking for aviation partner

Mumbai: The state government is looking for an aviation partner to start short-distance air travel within Maharashtra. It wants to connect Aurangabad with Jalgaon, Pune with Kolhapur and Nanded with other parts of Marathwada to facilitate foreign tourists and industrialists. It is also keen on allowing government officials to use the air service to attend official meetings, to ensure passengers for the aviation partner.
Dr P.S. Meena, principal secretary, general administration department (GAD), said, “As a progressive state, Maharashtra has 22 small and four international airports. We want to connect small but developed towns with flight services to boost their economy.”
“Jalgaon, Akola and Nanded airports have night-landing facility. Hence, flights can land even at night. A small plane with a capacity of 50 passengers can land at these airports,” he added.
Referring to the travel itinerary of foreign tourists who typically visit Ajanta in Jalgaon district after taking in the sights of the Ajanta-Ellora caves in Aurangabad, Dr Meena suggested that a small aircraft could drop them at Jalgaon in the morning and later bring them back to Aurangabad in the evening. Similarly, tourists visiting Kolhapur and Solapur for the Mahalaxmi and Tulja Bhavani temples, respectively, could be flown from Nanded in the morning and flown back in the evening. Small aircrafts could connect small towns with international airports located in the metros.
22/07/14 Vivek Bhavsar/Asian Age

SpiceJet, Jet, Kingfisher owe R500 cr in unpaid fees to AAI

New Delhi: Private airlines Spicejet, Jet Airways (and subsidiary JetLite) and Vijay Mallya’s grounded Kingfisher owe state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) almost R500 crore in unpaid airport usage fees and penal interest on the base amount.
According to information submitted in Parliament, Kingfisher tops the list with R172.69 as of June 30, 2014, followed by Spicejet’s R110.86 crore and the Jet Group’s R93.07 crore. The total amount of penal interest raised on these private airlines during the last three years and the current year, works out to R115 crore approximately.
?Interest on delayed charges is levied by AAI @ 12% per annum on traffic charges as per its approved credit policy. Penal interest is charged due to delay in the settlement of the bills. Security deposit is being taken from the private airlines and in cases where delay persists, besides encashing the security deposit, the defaulting airlines are put up on cash and carry basis,” a statement made by the civil aviation ministry said.
It added that in case of Kingfisher, which has closed its operations, a case has been filed in the Mumbai High Court.
22/07/14 Financial Express

Air India Generates a Surplus of 25.735 million US Dollar

Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Shri G.M. Siddeshwara informed that Air India generated a surplus of US $ 25.735 million after prepayment of the Aircraft loan when the national carrier sold five B777-200LR aircraft. Further, a saving of US $ 5 million per month towards loan and interest repayment was also generated, resulting in improved cash flow. However, based on the book value of the aircraft, book loss on sale of these 5 aircraft would be approximately Rs. 800 crores as the aircraft had depreciated in the books over a period of 20 years while the loans were amortized over a period of 12 years.

Air India has sold five B777-200LR for a consideration of US $ 336.5 million to Etihad Airways by following the due process and with the approval of the Competent Authority.
21/07/14 Business Standard

Air India CMD Rohit Nandan may get a 2 year extension

Air India's Chairman and MD Rohit Nandan could get a two-year extension. His current term expires next month but sources tell us the Minister of Civil Aviation P Ashok Gajapathi Raju has already recommended the two-year extension for Nandan. The final decision will be taken by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet.
If Nandan's term is indeed extended, it would perhaps be a clear signal that the Narendra Modi government wants to make sure loss making Air India is out of the red, without having to take the privatisation route. Nandan is credited with improving the performance of the loss making airline and making sure Air India becomes a member of Star Alliance on its second attempt.
Though Air India has not stuck to the turnover and loss projections of the Turnaround Plan earlier devised by the government, it has been improving its performance steadily.
21/07/14 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post

10 pilots found tipsy in pre-flight checks till July 14: Govt

New Delhi: Ten pilots were found tipsy in pre-flight checks and have been grounded in the first six months of this year, Lok Sabha was informed today.

Since 2011, a total of 99 pilots, including the 10, have been grounded for testing positive in the pre-flight medical examination for alcohol consumption, Minister of State for Civil Aviation G M Siddeshwara said in reply to a question.

While 17 of them tested positive in 2011, the number shot up to 41 in 2012, 31 in 2013 and 10 till July 14 this year, he said.
21/07/14 PTI/Business Standard

DGCA Makes Post-flight Alcohol Test Mandatory

New Delhi: Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has made post-flight alcohol tests mandatory for crew of Indian carriers on international routes when they land in the country.

Pre-flight breath analyser tests are mandatory for pilots and cabin crew for domestic flights as well as international flights.

But, to carry out post-flight alcohol tests, airlines required posting medical staff at each international station they were operating. "This was, however, an expensive proposition for airlines. It was found that many times these tests were not conducted as the medical staff wasn't there," a DGCA official said.

"We have now made post-flight checks on incoming international flights mandatory for all Indian carriers when they land in India. The punishment for crew caught drunk in such tests would be similar to those caught drunk in pre-flight checks," the official added.
21/07/14 Aviation Pros

GoAir mulls setting up MRO facility at Nagpur

Nagpur: Wadia Group-controlled GoAir today said it is mulling setting up an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at Nagpur, a top airline official said.

"We are looking at the new government's policy for the aviation sector before taking a final call on the MRO issue," GoAir chief executive Georgio De Roni said after announcing the second non-stop flight service to Kolkata from Nagpur, scheduled to take off from July 23.

At present, the airline operates one daily morning flight to Kolkata, which then proceeds to Patna.

GoAir will be acquiring 72 new aircraft over the next seven years and the MRO will serve the purpose of maintenance of its aircraft, he said adding that the plan to set up the facility at Nagpur is due to its geographical location.
21/07/14 PTI/Business Standard

Mid-air crash blamed on systematic flaws

A woman who died in a mid-air collision had noticed flaws in the aviation industry and was trying to make changes, according to her father.
Flight instructor Jessica Neeson, 27, and student Patricia Smallman, 64, died on July 6, 2010, after their Cessna 152 collided with another aircraft near Feilding's Taonui Aerodrome.
The second plane, flown by learner pilot Monaj Kadam, landed safely. He gave evidence at an inquest in 2011 before returning to India. The latest inquest was completed in Palmerston North today.
Several witnesses provided statements to Coroner Tim Scott who also heard testimony from Captain Gary Parata. Captain Parata, an expert on mid-air collisions, gave his view of why the incident occurred.
"There's almost never one single cause that can be attributed ... it comes down to systematic issues."
A report by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission stated the two Cessnas likely collided at approximately 1400ft, as they both ascended.
Ms Neeson was about to begin teaching Mrs Smallman an overhead rejoining manoeuvre (which must be done at 1500ft) while Mr Kadam was beginning a solo flight.
Flight Training Manawatu flight instructor Apurva Bhatia was assigned to Mr Kadam that afternoon, and monitored his radio calls. She said Mr Kadam had been scheduled to fly at 3.30pm but went instead at 2.45pm.
After pre-flight checks, she returned to an office overlooking the runway and received radio calls during Mr Kadam's take-off and as he climbed past 700ft.
Moments later she heard a distress call.
"I heard 'Mayday Mayday engine failure', I then heard screaming and then nothing else," Ms Bhatia stated. "On hearing the call ... I recognised the voice as being Jessica."
21/07/14 By Alecia Rousseau of the Manawatu Guardian/New Zeland Herald

Why Bangalore may struggle to become an aviation hub

Mumbai: On July 3, AirAsia's CEO Tony Fernandes said he wants to make Bengaluru an international aviation hub like Dubai. The comment, unlikely backed by a firm operational plan, nevertheless shows AirAsia's ambitious plans for India.
India has so far failed to utilise its potential to become a hub due to policy paralysis and high costs. But Fernandes is hopeful that will change.
The Malaysian carriers's local unit has already shifted a large part of its operations and staff to Bengaluru from Chennai and later has ambitions of flying from there to nearby foreign locations.
Bangalore has already given enough incentive to AirAsia to make the move from Chennai. Last month, it got approval from the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority to more than halve airport tariffs for what it calls a "home carrier". The discounts are also applicable to the international operations of the carrier. The move is seen as directly helping AirAsia although the airport hasn't specified it.So does Bangalore have what it takes to be a hub? It's got the basics right:
It is one of the fastest developing in India, being the base of most IT companies operating in the country as well as the choice of many other global giants making their way into it. A recent ASSOCHAM report said one global company moves to Karnataka every week.
21/07/14 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

AAI officials to meet Minister

Chennai: The brass of the Airports Authority of India has been called for a meeting with Minister for Civil Aviation P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju to discuss the shortcomings in the Chennai airport complex and propose remedial measures, said official sources.
Of all the country’s major airports, Chennai, Srinagar and Kolkata have been facing public ire for poor housekeeping. In Chennai, a tortuous modernisation project along with staff issues has resulted in a number of discomforting factors for passengers such as limited seating and dirty floors and bathrooms.
When contacted, Chennai airport director H.S. Suresh said they had not received any communication from the Ministry.
“Probably the letter was sent to the AAI office, which will be sent to us after a couple of days,” he said.
As far as Chennai is concerned, regular incidents involving falling of glass panes and the occasional collapse of false ceiling panels are complaints that have to be addressed, airport sources acknowledged.
22/07/14 Sandeep Dixit/P Oppili/The Hindu

Air India resumes Delhi-Moscow flights after 15 years

Mumbai: Air India Ltd. has restarted non-stop operations between Delhi and Moscow, Russia after a gap of 15 year, with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The national carrier is currently offering promotional fares on this route in both directions, as per a release. The service on the Delhi-Moscow route was suspended 15 years ago due to operational reasons.

The service on the Delhi-Moscow-Delhi sector will be available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Flight AI-155 will leave Delhi at 0155 hrs to arrive in Moscow at 0615 hrs, while the return flight will leave Moscow at 0820 hrs as AI-154 and reach Delhi at 1530 hrs.

To mark the resumption of services, a function was held at Domodedovo International Airport (DME), Moscow, which was attended by the members of the Federal Assembly of Russia, State Duma; Dorokhin Pavel Viktor, Deputy Chairman, State Duma’s Committee on Industry; H E P S Raghavan, the Ambassador of India to the Russia Federation; and the Director of DME Airport Authority, among others.
22/07/14 TYravelBizMonitor

Egypt Air to operate three weekly direct flights to Delhi

Cairo: In a bid to boost tourism, Egypt's flagship carrier Egypt Air will start operating three weekly direct flights between Cairo and Delhi from October, adding to its four flights to Mumbai.
Indian Ambassador to Egypt Navdeep Suri signed a MoU on launching direct Egypt Air flights between Delhi and Cairo with the Egyptian Minister of Civil Aviation Hossam Kamal and the Egyptian Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou last week.
The agreement came as Egyptian Ministries of Tourism and Aviation are trying to boost tourism by increasing flights to many cities and capitals and connect them directly with Egyptian cities.

Egypt Air will start operating three weekly non-stop flights between Cairo and Delhi from October.
"India has good relations with all world countries especially with Egypt as both people have similarities in history and civilizations," Suri said.
21/07/14 PTI/Economic Times

Midwifing new aircraft

With no discernible hand at the tiller, the defence ministry seems directionless and inept. The caretaker minister, Arun Jaitley, appears to have neither the time nor the experience to chart a bold, new direction. Mr Jaitley's first defence Budget is his predecessor's last Budget, a token hike of two per cent failing to mask the resemblance. Worse, the new government's first big acquisitions are marked by a familiar lack of planning and direction, suggesting that the old, blinkered officialdom calls the shots in South Block rather than a new, visionary leadership.
On Saturday, the Defence Acquisition Council, the apex decision-making body that the minister chairs, cleared acquisitions worth Rs 21,000 crore. This includes an Rs 11,897-crore project for 56 transport aircraft to replace the obsolescent Avro-748 (given the rupee's fall since when the project was sanctioned, the eventual cost would be closer to Rs 14,000 crore). Former defence minister A K Antony told Parliament in 2012 that this aimed to "encourage development of the Indian private sector in aircraft manufacture". His blunt-speaking Indian Air Force (IAF) chief then, N A K Browne, said the aim was to develop a competitor to Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL).
The international vendor that wins the Avro-replacement tender must choose an Indian private company to build 40 aircraft, while delivering the first 16 off-the-shelf, all within eight years. The favoured contenders are European multinational Airbus Defence and Space, Antonov of Ukraine and Alenia Aeromacchi, all of which have aircraft that meet India's specifications. The Tatas, Larsen & Toubro or the Mahindras could be chosen as the "Indian Production Agency".
21/07/14 Ajai Shukla/Business Standard

Holii store launched at Chandigarh airport

Holii has opened its 4th airport outlet at the Chandigarh airport. The store located at the departure gate of the airport displays the brand’s unique and bright range of Holii bags and accessories.

The selection of products for airports differ from a regular store and certain product categories like travel bags, laptop bags, iPad sleeves, cross-bodies have to be constantly available at airport stores which involves a special collection creation just for airport stores. Along with a big travel collection, the store showcases Holii’s complete range of products such as handbags, clutches, wallets and small accessories. Holii’s other airport outlets are at Bangalore international airport, Hyderabad international airport, Delhi international airport and Delhi 'domestic airport.
22/07/14 Fashion United

US Flyer with Sat-phone Undergoes Marathon 'Inquiry'

Chennai: An American tourist who was on her way back home after visiting India, was detained at the Chennai airport after CISF guards found a satellite phone in her luggage.
As the import and carrying of satellite phones is deemed illegal by customs and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, she was handed over to the airport police and various intelligence agencies have been conducting an inquiry since Saturday night.
Finally, late on Monday night, sources said that the major portion of the inquiry was “done with” and after a little paperwork, she would be allowed to leave.

A police official at the airport confirmed that Margot Greer Elizabeth (27), was handed over to them with the phone - and ever since she has been speaking with officers from CB-CID and other divisions.

According to the police, she had arrived in Chennai after touring Singapore and a few other Asian countries, a week ago. “At the time of her entering the country, we do not know how they allowed her to enter with the satellite phone, but during her return flight to Chicago, the CISF found and handed her over to us,” said Airport S2 Police Station inspector.
22/04/14 Daniel Thimmayya/New Indian Express

Gold biscuits worth Rs 2 cr seized in Chennai airport

Chennai: Gold biscuits worth Rs two crore allegedly being smuggled have been seized from a passenger who arrived from Singapore at the airport here.
The gold, totally weighing six kg, was recovered by Customs Air-Intelligence unit sleuths in the baggage of 24-year old Fairose Khan of Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu, who arrived here last night, airport officials said today.
22/07/14 PTI/Business Standard