Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Philippines signs airport pact with GMR despite legal issues

Bangalore: Various ongoing legal issues notwithstanding, the GMR-Megawide consortium on Tuesday signed the concession agreement with the Philippines’ Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) for expanding the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
The concession agreement was signed after the consortium paid $320 million as upfront premium.
According to a statement from GMR Infrastructure, this marks the beginning of a transition phase before the operations of MCIA are formally handed over to GMR-Megawide later in the year.
After giving a bid of $320 million, the GMR-Megawide consortium had emerged as the highest bidder for the MCIA project in the international bidding process, which culminated in December. DOTC had formally issued the Letter of Award to the consortium on April 4.
23/04/14 Business Standard

Etihad audit indicates Jet Airways has 700-employee surplus

The indications are clear that after infusing equity of Rs 2,057 crore in India's second largest commercial airline, Jet Airways, last year, Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad is tightening its control over the Indian carrier, and scrutinising its cost structure to make it viable.
Sources in Jet said that in an audit - now a continuous process, undertaken by Etihad - the Abu Dhabi-based carrier conveyed to Jet that more than 700 of its 10,000-plus employees were surplus.
"Going by this number that has been conveyed to Jet by Etihad, the 40 employees who have been asked to leave is just the beginning, and a minuscule number," said a Jet employee who does not want to be identified.
A source at the airline indicated that the airline has not yet handed over termination notices to the 40 employees, although some media reports have said they were asked to leave. "These employees met the management, and... till date they have not been handed over the notices," the source said.
Jet Airways did not comment on specific details about the withholding of notices and the surplus number of 700. But its spokesperson said: "Jet Airways would like to categorically state that the services of no employee at Delhi have been terminated, apart from normal attrition, which is way below industry levels. In fact, the airline continues to recruit in areas like revenue management, cabin crew and pilots based on its operational requirements." He added that there has been a "realignment of the airline's cargo handling operations".
22/04/14 Manisha Singhal/Business Today

Etihad Names Managers Before Transition to Etihad Aviation Group

Etihad Airways announced a series of executive appointments, including the hiring of a former Air Canada manager to head operations as the carrier prepares for a transition into Etihad Aviation Group.
Rick Allen, formerly of Air Canada, was named senior vice president of operations, responsible for flight operations, guest services, crew resources, and operations logistics and standards, the airline said. Other posts at the national airline of the United Arab Emirates include the promotion of Chris Youlten to the new job of senior vice president for airport and network operations, reporting to the chief operating officer.
“The new structure marks the transition from a single entity airline to a wider global aviation group,” Etihad said in a statement yesterday. “It distinguishes the functions relating purely to Etihad Airways and those which support the growth and success of its subsidiaries, joint venture companies and equity partners.”
Etihad has built stakes in airlines including Air Berlin Plc, Air Seychelles Ltd., Aer Lingus Group Plc, Virgin Australia, Air Serbia and Jet Airways India Ltd., and is seeking regulatory approval to invest in Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline. The strategy feeds more traffic through Abu Dhabi, Etihad’s desert hub. Chief Executive Officer James Hogan is considering an investment in Alitalia SpA, the ailing Italian carrier.
22/04/14 Andrea Rothman and Deena Kamel Yousef/Bloomberg

Soon, you may be able to use your phone in-flight

Mumbai: You may soon be able to keep your mobile phone switched on during flight, with the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) mulling over a proposal to approve it by bringing in amendments in the present laws.
If the rule is implemented, the flyers can turn on their cell phones into 'flight safe mode', thus giving them the independence to work, play video games, listen to music, watch pre-loaded movies or even type their emails. The mails would, however, be sent only after the plane lands at the airport. This, aviation experts say, will give the passengers more time to work, read or play. "It has been a long-pending demand of the airlines," said a DGCA source.
The development will also bring respite to scores of travellers flying in the no-frill airlines, having no access to any form of entertainment during the flight.
23/04/14 Daily News & Analysis

Subramanian Swamy, Federation of Indian Airlines drag Tata Group-Singapore Airlines joint venture to court

Mumbai: The Federation of Indian Airlines and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy have now dragged the venture between the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines to court by appealing against the aviation ministry's recent nod to it.
While the FIA, a lobbying body of local carriers filed a fresh application on April 15, Swamy on April 20 filed an impleadment application on April 20 including the Tatas and Singapore Airlines in an earlier appeal against the government.
To implead is to sue in court in response to an earlier pleading. Swamy had in end February filed an application that the government had violated the FDI policy by allowing investment in a new carrier. That appeal was in relation to the Tata Group's venture with Malaysian carrier AirAsia.
The next hearing for the appeal is tomorrow. The venture got the NOC on April 2 and will now apply to the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation for an air operator's permit.
22/04/14 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

All airlines to operate from Hamad International Airport from May 27

Doha: Starting 9 am on May 27 this year, all airlines are set to operate from Hamad International Airport (HIA). The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued a circular yesterday, informing country managers of airlines of this decision.
It was announced earlier that 10 budget airlines would start operating from the new terminal from April 30. These include Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Iran Air, Air India Express, Yemenia Yemen Airlines, Pakistan International Airline, Nepal Airline, Syrian Airline and Pegasus Airline.
The airport is expected to handle around 8700 passengers per hour and up to 19,500 bags an hour. It will have the largest free span hangar, which will enable it to handle multiple aircraft configurations and a dual runway system built for the world’s largest aircraft such as the A380. Apart from a greater capacity to accommodate more flights and passengers, it will also have a wide range of facilities for passengers including retail and F&B outlets capable of serving over 90,000 meals a day.
The airport opening has been stalled several times in the past. The big launch scheduled for April 1, 2013 was cancelled in the last minute, as authorities said safety standards were not met.
22/04/14 Just Here

Air India to shift Pune-Dubai service to Sharjah

Pune: Air India Express, a low-cost airline subsidiary of national carriers Air India (AI), will shift its Pune-Dubai direct flight service to Sharjah from May 1 in view of the partial closure of runway at the Dubai International Airport.
"With partial runway closure at Dubai airport from May 1 to July 20, flights between Dubai and Pune, Amritsar, Lucknow, Trichy and Jaipur will operate to and from Sharjah," Air India Express said in a notice put on its website. The airline has advised customers to check their websites for detailed flight timings.
In an official release, Dubai Airports said all systems would undergo a comprehensive runway upgrade as part of the project to boost safety, service and capacity levels at the world's second busiest international airport.
23/04/14 Vishwas Kothari/Times of India

SpiceJet pips IndiGo to win punctuality race

Mumbai: Low-cost airline IndiGo has successfully sold its airline on its much touted marketing plank of ‘IndiGo Standard Time’. But recent data show rivals challenging its numero uno position.
Data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) show that in the months of December 2013 and January and February this year,  SpiceJet topped the on-time performance (OTP) ranking among all domestic airlines. The data for December and January was collected from the four metropolitan cities and Bangalore and Hyderabad.  In February, data from Chennai and Kolkata were not available.  IndiGo and Jet Airways took the second and third rank, alternatively, during this period. DGCA has not yet released the March data.
The data show SpiceJet fared better than the rest at Chennai and Kolkata airports with over 96 per cent on-time flights in December and January. DGCA did not provide the data of these two airports for February. IndiGo had a better OTP than rivals at Mumbai and Delhi during those two months.  OTP of airlines has been the lowest at Mumbai airport in recent months, as the  ongoing taxiway work is causing flight delays.
23/04/14 Business Standard

Cochin Airport plots ambitious duty free expansion at new international terminal

Cochin International Airport Ltd has begun work on its new international terminal, with completion expected by mid to late 2016. And the company has pledged an impressive commercial offer, including close to 40,000sq ft of duty free space. The expansion is in anticipation of rapid growth in passenger numbers. These hit 5.39 million in the latest financial year, up by more than +10% year-on-year.
The new terminal will measure 1,500,000sq ft with the capacity to handle 4,000 passengers during peak hours. This is the biggest expansion of the airport since it began operations in 1999.
Airport Director A.C.K.Nair said: “CIAL has decided on a major expansion considering the passenger growth. We started the construction of a new International Terminal and this is expected to be completed within 30 months. This terminal is to cater to the needs of at least the next 15 to 20 years. We are also creating more retail area in the terminal to maximise the commercial revenue.”
Alpha Kreol India, a joint venture with World Duty Free Group, has managed Cochin International Airport’s duty free business since 2002.
22/04/14 Dermot Davitt/Moodie Report

Bangalore students’ aircraft model wins in a field of 170 teams

Bangalore: Their aircraft crashed five times in a row. The worst part is this. It crashed just ahead of an aeromodelling contest, leaving its builders with only a few hours to put it together again.
The students built it in three hours straight, tested it in the morning and packed it before catching a Delhi-bound train in the afternoon. Their efforts paid off: they stood first in the national level aeromodelling competition organised by Boeing and five IITs.
Meet the trio from ACS College of Engineering, Bangalore who made the city proud by defeating 170 other teams in the National Aeromodelling Competition at New Delhi. Interestingly, the first runner-up position was also bagged by another Bangalore team (BMS College of Engineering).
Tabrez Nadvi, a third-year aeronautical engineering student from ACS was logged into Facebook and by chance, came across the aeromodelling competition page. He and his friends enrolled and stood third in the zonal level competition held at IIT Kharagpur.
23/04/14 Sridhar Vivan/Bangalore Mirror

Aero-bridge installed Biju Patnaik International Airport

Bhubaneswar: The Biju Patnaik International Airport has got the requisite permissions form the Air Authority of India (AAI) to build a lower area control centre (LACC) in its premises to have more control over flights. Sources said the proposed centre would ensure better control of aircrafts flying up to a height of 25,500 feet making air travel in them safer. “Earlier, the total control was with Kolkata. But under space harmonisation, we are now given the permission to have lower area control and approach control. Kolkata will control the aircrafts flying over 25,500 feet high,” said Airport Director Sharad Kumar.
23/04/14 Odisha Diary

Aviation Management Services looks to grow business through IPIndian Premier League

New Delhi: Flight support provider Aviation Services Management (ASM) which is providing flight support services to the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL Tuesday said it is using the mega-event to further penetrate the Indian market.
“As a leading player in flight support services, ASM is very excited to be associated with the IPL. We believe India is a very exciting market for us and being part of the IPL is allowing us an opportunity to showcase our services to a large cross section of potential clients,” said Vito Gomes, founder and managing director, Aviation Services Management.
22/04/14 IANS/Mizo News

Networkplay enters into an exclusive partnership with T3 IGI Airport

Mumbai: Delhi International Airport (Private) Limited and India’s leading digital media solutions company, Networkplay, have entered into a long-term partnership to create a first-of-its-kind Airport–TV Network within Terminal 3(T3) – Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), Delhi. Commissioned in the year 2010, T3 is the world’s eighth largest passenger terminal.
 The Airport-TV Network will air world-class HD-content to entertain, inform and relax the T3 traveller before they board their flight. Placed strategically to engage a captive audience, these TV Screens will offer world-class edutainment content to passengers, who spend between 40-90 minutes on an average, waiting to board their flights. The Airport-TV Network will air a good mix of short-form and long-form content, keeping in mind, the dwell time and content consumption habits of a premium traveller on the move. The Airport-TV Network covers over 125, 42-inch or more HD-Television screens located at ambient dwell opportunities within T3 near the boarding area, baggage reclaim area and at other captive locations.
22/04/14 India Television

Travel Agents Seek Support of Aviation Ministry

Kochi: IATA Agents’ Association of India (IAAI) national president Biji Eapen has pointed out that the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) has made it clear that ‘commission is a part of the fare’ and that airlines should determine the quantum and no amount over and above the tariff can be allowed. The MCA order, dated August 24, 2007, directed 5 per cent commission and adequate airway bill stock to all cargo agents by all the airlines.
The annual general meeting of IATA Agents’ Association of India (IAAI) has urged the MCA to support the travel agent fraternity in the country and ensure that due commission is paid to the agents by the airline companies.
Since the law does not distinguish between cargo and passenger sales agents, the ministry certainly can issue a similar order for passenger sales agents too, so that there is no discrimination between the two. The IAAI approached the ministry again, categorically mentioning that the ministry is deliberately silent on the issue.
22/04/14 New Indian Express

Bombay High Court shocked by Airports Authority of India's attitude in denying child-care leave

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court pulled up the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for not considering the plea of a woman employee who had sought child-care leave as prescribed by the government norms, to take care of her daughter who suffers from learning disability.
"We are surprised at the adversarial stand of the AAI ....We are shocked by the attitude of the AAI. As an employer you should have taken a sympathetic approach," said the division bench of Justices V M Kanade and Anil Memon.
The court was hearing a petition filed by S Mangala, Deputy General Manager (Aviation Safety), AAI, seeking implementation of child care leave norms recommended in the Sixth Pay Commission in 2008.
The Judges reserved the order after hearing both sides. Mangala approached the High Court after her request for leave for attending to her 12-year-old daughter was rejected.
22/04/14 PTI/Economic Times

Childcare leave: Bombay high court raps AAI for not being sympathetic to woman employee

The high court has rapped the Airport Authority of India (AAI) for not being sympathetic to an employee who had sought two years' childcare leave, as prescribed by the Union government, to take care of her 12-year-old daughter who has learning disability.
"We are surprised at the adversarial stand of the AAI.... We are shocked by its attitude. As an employer you should have taken a sympathetic approach," said justice VM Kanade.
A division bench of justices Kanade and Anil Memon was hearing a petition by S Mangala, AAI deputy general manager (aviation safety), seeking implementation of childcare leave as recommended in the Sixth Pay Commission in 2008.
Mangala approached the high court after AAI had rejected her request for childcare leave.
Ajay Khaire, the AAI counsel, argued that their policy did not include childcare leave. "We have increased maternity leave from 135 days to 180 days. But there is no provision for childcare leave," said Khaire.
Ravi Shetty, counsel for Union government, said that several public sector undertakings had their own policies and benefits for employees and did not follow Central government guidelines.
23/04/14 Urvi Mahajani/Daily News & Analysis

Chinese gangs implicated in India gold smuggling

Mumbai: A Dubai based Chinese mafia appears to be playing a key role in gold smuggling incidents, especially in South India, customs officials in India say.
Over the last few months, customs officials at the Rajiv Gandhi international Airport in Hyderabad, have detained more than 50 passengers and recovered approximately 80 kilograms of gold. On April 1, about 7.70 kilogram of gold was seized from two passengers by the Directorate of revenue intelliegence sleuths, which was the first instance to alert the investigating team about the role of the neighbouring nation.
"Though it sounds incredulous, investigators have come across enough evidence to indicate that Chinese gangs are hiring operators in other countries and smuggling gold into Hyderabad, Kerala and other Indian cities," said Kalyan Revella, Assistant Commissioner, Customs and Central Excise, at Hyderabad.
Revella said that his investigators had found passengers from Dubai, Singapore and Malaysia carrying illegal gold into Hyderabad. "During the course of the investigation, most of them disclosed that they had been handed the gold to smuggle into the city. They were to get a commission of $8,254 (Rs 500,000) per 1 kilogram," he said.
"Based on the confessions of detained passengers, we have investigated the cases and got some leads that some middlemen were hired by gangs based in China, who were targetting other gangs in Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai. The motive of the gangs is to smuggle gold to India, and the middlemen lure passengers by offering attractive commissions," Revella added.
22/04/14 Mineweb

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Employees at Jet Airways fear layoffs as airline embarks on cost-cutting spree

Mumbai: Employees of India's second largest carrier Jet Airways are fearing layoffs as the airline goes on an across-the-board cost-cutting spree to shore up its weak finances.
India's second largest carrier by marketshare may terminate the services of about 50-60 employees from Kolkata where it recently cut down on a score of flights, said an airline employee and a second person in the know.
"Jet recently cut about 20 daily flights from Kolkata. As a result some loaders, ground-handlers and members of cargo there will be asked to go," said the person who didn't want to be named.
A Jet spokeswoman didn't respond to queries.
They recently sacked 40 employees including cargo loaders and security personnel from Delhi.
Jet Airways spent Rs 484 crore on salaries and remuneration in the October-December quarter of this fiscal year, up 32 per cent on year. It grew the second most among operating cost items after aircraft lease rentals.
In that quarter, Jet posted a loss of Rs 267.89 crore from a net profit of Rs 85 crore a year earlier.
Sources said Jet Airways has been trying to cut manpower costs at almost each step of its operations.
22/04/14 Debabrata Das & Anirban Chowdhury/Times of India

Jet Airways to pull out of Vizag?

Visakhapatnam: Jet Airways withdrew its Vizag – Chennai flight on Monday. The airline was also said to be planning withdrawal of its flights to other destinations from Vizag by May 31. The Jet – Etihad deal seems to be working against the interests of Vizag, which forayed into international operations only a couple of years ago.
It may be recalled that the Dubai-based Etihad Airways acquired a stake in Jet Airways for over Rs.2,000 crore in April 2013. The airline was said to be keen on operating only on the trunk routes.
The airline is also downsizing its staff, and in Delhi alone, it reportedly sacked 40 employees and more layoffs were expected in the coming days.
The airline is planning to withdraw its flights to Kolkota, Mumbai and Bangalore . The airline was also said to have written to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) announcing its decision to vacate the rooms provided to it (Jet Airways) by June 20.
22/04/14 B Madhu Gopal/The Hindu

HC stays DGCA order grounding GMR crew, says probe will go on

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today stayed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation's (DGCA) order grounding 10 pilots and six cabin crew of GMR Aviation, which was being used by political leaders during election campaigning.
Justice Manmohan, however, refused to stay the show-cause notice issued by DGCA to the charter airline for allegedly violating the civil aviation requirement of pre-flight breath analysis of its pilots.
The court also said that the probe against the pilots, cabin crew and the doctor who had conducted their pre-flight medical test will continue and directed the airline and its pilots/crew to cooperate with the investigation.
It said the final report of DGCA will come into effect a week after it is passed by the authority.
DGCA, on the basis of a surprise inspection of the offices of GMR Aviation on April 14, had issued a show-cause notice the very next day asking why the airline's licence would not be cancelled for violation of air safety norms.
21/04/14 Business Standard

MH192 passengers all praise for captain

Bangalore: Most of the 159 passengers onboard the Bangalore-bound Malaysia Airlines flight MH 192, which turned back and made an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur on Monday morning after developing a technical snag, felt they had been blessed with a second life after the four-hour ordeal.
The passengers arrived in Bangalore on Monday evening in a brand new B737-800. Relatives of most had turned up at Kempegowda International Airport to receive the passengers. Many broke down on being united with their families. Some did not want to recollect the ordeal while others were philosophical. “I felt that I came close to death. I made the most sincere prayers in my life,” said one of them.
Most passengers were all praise for Captain Nor Adam Azim. Some went to the extent of calling him ‘God-sent’.
Rajkumar, a businessman from Bangalore, was returning home from a business trip to China. He recalled that passengers heard a blast-like sound during takeoff. Soon, the captain announced that there was a technical snag and they would be making an emergency landing in KL. “After two unsuccessful attempts that left passengers fearing for their lives, the captain skilfully landed the flight. By then, we had spent four hours in the air,” he said.
Another passenger, Devadas, who was accompanied by wife Shashikala, said, “Before the third attempt, the situation was very tense as the captain had announced that we were running out of fuel and this would be the last attempt. When he successfully landed the plane, all the passengers erupted in joy and relief.”
22/04/14 The Hindu

COMPAT upholds CCI order in IATA case related to a/c system

New Delhi: The Competition Appellate Tribunal has disposed of a plea seeking to restrain implementation of International Air Transport Association's (IATA) cargo accounts settlement system.
The tribunal has upheld fair trade regulator CCI's ruling that had rejected Air Cargo Agents Association of India's plea in this regard.
The Air Cargo Agents Association had sought an injunction against implementing IATA's Cargo Accounts Settlement System (CASS).
According to COMPAT order, dated March 25, respondent's learned counsel had submitted that CASS "was only a pilot project and was not compulsory at all and it was completely voluntary".
In its ruling in July 2013, Competition Commission of India (CCI) had said that airlines and agents are not mandated by IATA resolutions to participate in CASS.
21/04/14 PTI/Business Standard

Made in Hyd, gobbled in Mumbai

Mumbai: The biryani from Paradise Food Court, Hyderabad has a long day ahead of it. After being cooked, it will be double packed in foil, shipped off to the airport and packed again. On arriving at its destination, either Pune or Mumbai, the traditional Andhra rice preparation will makes its way to sundry homes.
Food by Air (Biryani by Air) is a delivery service that launched in Pune last year, and Mumbai in January. "Our idea is to get fresh food from anywhere in the country to the people who want it," says Mohan Rao, speaking of the cross-country takeaway service that delivers within six hours from time of placing an order.
Rao is from Hyderabad but based in Pune. The idea for the delivery came to him after repeated attempts to find authentic biryani. "What was available was an insult to the original Hyderabadi biryani," says Rao.
True to their claim, the mutton biryani from SG Cafe and chicken biryani from Paradise arrived piping hot. The long grain rice preparation was sealed in two foil packets, accompanied by packets of mirchi ka salan (a thick, slightly spicy gravy) that let out a light aroma of meat and spices when cut open.
22/04/14 Mumbai Mirror

Hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal lied about being a carrier pilot

New Delhi: High-flying hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal pleaded guilty last Thursday to charges of illegal campaign contributions to three US candidates via straw donors. His former buddies in the Indian Navy say he is also guilty of another, admittedly far lesser, offence: consistently lying about being a former Indian naval carrier pilot.
In several press interviews over the past few decades, Chatwal, 70, claimed to have attended naval flying school and flying from the India's first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. His former naval buddies, however, say Chatwal was a rookie pilot who failed to make the grade.
Vice Admiral (retired) Vinod Pasricha, a veteran carrier pilot first smelt a rat while researching his 2010 book "Downwind Four Green" on the navy's Sea Hawk fighter squadron. It was an aircraft type Chatwal would have flown off the decks of the Vikrant. Admiral Pasricha , however, did not find any mention of a carrier pilot named Chatwal. "There was no flying school in the navy (naval pilots then trained at the IAF's training school at Bidar). Chatwal joined the navy as a naval aviation cadet and was thrown out of flying after only about seven sorties."
Colleagues in Chatwal's 99th general duties pilot course at Bidar call him a high-flyer for his brazen self-promotion. During his Services Selection Board (SSB) interview in Dehra Dun in 1966, he told the GTO he had flying experience. When he failed to make the grade, he flew around 14 hours didn't make the solo grade, Chatwal joked he was talking about "flying kites."
Chatwal left the navy and moved to Ethiopia as a teacher where he also ran an Indian restaurant. He left Ethiopia after the collapse of the Haile Selassie dictatorship in 1974, moved to Canada and from there, to the US. The naval carrier pilot legend may have come handy to break into the US restaurant scene in the mid-1980s. Prominent US politicians including Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush Senior have been carrier pilots. Chatwal told Forbes magazine in 1987 that he was 'trained as a fighter pilot and assigned to India's only aircraft carrier, the Vikrant, in the mid 1960s.'
22/04/14 Sandeep Unnithan/India Today