Saturday, April 18, 2015

Maharashtra government meets Air India, Airports Authority of India to fast-track regional air connectivity

Mumbai: Continuing its efforts to fast-track air connectivity within Maharashtra, the state government recently held a meeting with representatives of national carrier Air India (AI) and Airports Authority of India (AAI). A similar meeting was held last month with private airline operators.

Civil aviation sources said the meeting was chaired by chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya. The state had a couple of years back formed a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to oversee the spread of aviation development in Maharashtra.

"AI said it is has no issue starting flights for centres which are commercially viable. However, the airline insisted that if the revenue falls below a certain limit, then government will have to chip in with some subsidies," said the source having direct knowledge of the development.
18/04/15 Shahkar Abidi/Daily News & Analysis

Fighter jet makers see opportunity post India's downsized Dassault Rafale deal

India's move to buy only 36 Dassault Rafale combat jets has signalled New Delhi's decision to scale back purchases of high-end fighters from France.

And foreign combat jet makers now see a multi-billion dollar opportunity in India's move to slash purchases of high-end aircraft, as it could free up cash for any future purchase of fighter jets, including mid-range planes.

Sweden's Saab and America's Lockheed Martin are set to re-pitch their Gripen and F-16 fighters as the kind of lighter, single-engine aircraft that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said the Indian Air Force needed to rebuild its fleet, Reuters reported.

Saab was proposing to establish "fully-fledged production" of the Gripen in India alongside a local partner.
17/04/15 M Rochan/International Business Times

Intra-State Aviation Plan: Norms Vanish into Thin Air

Bhubaneswar: Air passengers’ interest apparently does not mean much to the Odisha Government which has thrown all safety norms to the wind while seeking to introduce intra-State air connectivity soon.

Gaping loopholes mar the tender floated by the General Administration (GA) Department to invite operators for offering flights between different cities like Bhubaneswar, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Rourkela and Jeypore as safety issues have been given a complete go-by.

The tender, which was uploaded on Centre for Modernising Government Initiative (CMGI) website on April 5, does not make any mention of technical parameters that a prospective operator must have to fly small aircraft on a commercial basis to three sectors of the State.

Although the column on bidders’ eligibility mentions technical and financial capability, it completely forgets to outline the technical bidding parameters. All that the tender document seeks from the bidder is if it is in possession of non- scheduled operators permit (NSOP) or NOC from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA). The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, under the Ministry, uploads the NSOP or NOC granted to various operators as well as the status of applications on a quarterly basis.
18/04/15 New Indian Express

Seven Air India Express flights rescheduled

Mangaluru: Air India Express has rescheduled seven flights between Mangaluru and Dubai and Mangaluru and Doha on Friday and Saturday.

It is in view of grounding of an aircraft at Mumbai and the subsequent late availability of the aircraft, an Air India release said.

Flight number IX 822 from Doha to Mangaluru, which was to arrive here on April 16 at 5.05 p.m., would arrive on April 17 at 7.30 a.m.

Flight IX 813 from Mangaluru to Dubai, which was to leave here on April 16 at 11.10 p.m., would leave on April 17 at 8.30 a.m.

Flight IX 814 from Dubai to Mangaluru would arrive at 4.45 p.m. on April 17 instead of the scheduled time of 7.30 a.m. the same day.
17/04/15 Sahil Online

Airport holds mock drill after Khajuraho plane snag incident

The primary runway of the city airport was shut for over four hours on Friday afternoon due to a mock drill session. A few flights are said to have been affected by the exercise, though airport officials denied any major delays.

The drill comes in the backdrop of evacuation of 59 passengers earlier this week after a Jet Airways plane was stuck at the runway of Khajuraho airport because of problem in the landing gear.

According to airport officials, the mock drill exercise started at 11.02am and lasted till 2.09pm. A Jet Airways aircraft was used for it; representatives from other airlines acted as observers. Several agencies, including the local police, CISF, DGCA, immigration, customs, fire department and hospitals, were also involved in the session.
As per the plan, the aircraft's pilot called up the ATC asking for permission to land as he suspected hydraulic failure in the engine. However, during landing, communication between them disconnected and the plane skid off the runway. Soon, an Emergency Response Cell (ERC) swung into action, sending an SMS alert to all authorities concerned regarding the incident. At stake were the 75 on board. The rescue mission started and ended only after evacuation of all passengers and crew members on board.
18/04/15 Daily News & Analysis

Vistara launches app with features like mobile check-in

Vistara on Saturday launched its user-friendly mobile app with features such as easy mobile check-in, quick and real-time flight status, joining the bandwagon of airlines offering their customers the topnotch experience with updated technologies. The mobile app, launched on the completion of 100-days of the new airline which is a joint venture between India's Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, comes packed with an array of features for customers to enable self-servicing, Vistara said in a release. At present the app has been launched for Android users, who can access it through Google Playstore, Vistara said, adding soon it would be available on iOS and Windows platforms as well. "It is delightful to see the way customers have embraced Vistara and appreciated the value proposition.. I couldn't be more proud than today to see the resplendent milestone of 100 days being achieved. I would like to wish the Vistara team many more such glorious days," Vistara Chairman Prasad Menon said.

SpiceJet to add two Muscat-Ahmedabad flights

Muscat: Muscat: SpiceJet, the second largest low fare airline in India, will fly two additional weekly flights on the Muscat–Ahmedabad sector, taking the total frequency to five flights a week.

The additional flights are effective from May 13. The additional flights are now open for booking at a promotional offer fare of  OMR39 all-inclusive for the Muscat-Ahmedabad flight.

The two additional flights will depart from Ahmedabad every Wednesday and Sunday at 11 p.m. and depart from Muscat every Thursday and Monday at 1.10 a.m. Through Ahmedabad, passengers can connect to and from the Muscat flights from Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai, among other Indian cities.
17/04/15 Times of Oman

Critically ill patients forced to wait for hours at airport as govt agencies battle out over petty issues

New Delhi: Red tapism and lackadaisical attitude of various agencies are hampering emergency medical evacuation of passengers at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA). Several passengers allege lack of coordination among the Customs department, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), immigration officials and airlines, which ignore inconvenience meted out to flyers who seek immediate medical attention.

Ill passengers many a time had to wait for hours in the airport owing to the "ego issues" of these agencies. Recently, a passenger - Vijay Sallan - had to wait at the airport for hours due to procedural delays even though he was suffering from chronic migraine. Though he was given initial medical treatment, the airline staff said he was not fit to travel. Following this, wheelchair-bound Sallan went to the medical room of Terminal 3 and requested airlines executives to allow him to leave, according to sources.
18/04/15 Ankur Sharma/India Today

Operation Rahat: Air India crew narrate experience of conducting evacuation flights

Mumbai: In the wee hours of August 1, 1990, Air India (AI) cabin crew member Shirin Bhanot* landed at Kuwait International Airport, then checked into the Crowne Plaza Hotel with colleagues. A day later, Iraqi Republican Guards overran Kuwait and eventually sparked the Gulf War. What was to be a two-three day layover became an 18-day stay for Bhanot and the flight crew.

"I saw troop movement from my room and Kuwaitis leaving in droves. Shops were looted. There were curfews," says Bhanot, who retired after 33 years of service. "We were asked not to watch TV or use lights that filter from under the door. We later learned it was because Iraqi Republican Guards were staying in the hotel."
Meanwhile, over 1100kms away on August 13 that year, Margaret D'Lima and Rita Nair stood on the stepladder of the Airbus A300 at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan. Air hostesses with erstwhile Indian Airlines (IA) – now merged with Air India – they were two of the first lot that brought thousands of Indian and foreign evacuees to India. The month-long rescue effort, during which an estimated 111,000 people were flown from Amman to Mumbai, culminated into the biggest evacuation drive by a civil airliner. It's a Guinness Record that still stands.
18/04/15 Roshni Nair/Daily News & Analysis

Indigo launches Dimapur - Kolkata flight

Kolkata: IndiGo has launched its maiden flight from Dimapur to Kolkata recently. The same aircraft will operate to Delhi and connect Dimapur and Delhi (via Kolkata). With the launch of this sector, IndiGo announced Dimapur as its 33rd domestic and 38th overall destination. Chief Minister of Nagaland T. R. Zeliang was present at the commencement of the flight, along with  Member Legislative Assembly, Imtiwapang and IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh. The inaugural flight from Dimapur took off with 116 passengers on board.
17/04/15 TravelTrendsToday

Aranmula: Petition filed against KGS

Kochi: Former land owner K J Abraham Kalamannin has filed a petition in the Kerala High Court alleging that in the purchase of the land for the Aranmula airport project, K G S Group embezzled Rs 30 crore.

According to the agreement, KGS group bought 232 acre land from Kozhancherry Charitable Education Society, where K J Abraham was the chairman,  for Rs 52 crore. Out of this, the group is yet to give 30 crore.
17/04/15 Kaumudi Online

Honoured to be in Time’s top 100 list: Aviation tycoon Tony

Panjim:  Tony Fernandes, who co-founded AirAsia, said his inclusion in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential persons was a tremendous honour for him.
“It’s a tremendous honour to be included in Time’s top 100 list – I was shocked when I first received the news but I am very proud and humbled,” Fernandes said. “This has been a challenging year but my entire career has been about challenges and with every obstacle, we learn and become even better,” he added.
He said he felt that they were taking forward strides. “I am excited about the future,” he said.
Against all odds, Fernandes unleashed an unprecedented boom in air travel in Asia and the ASEAN region, connecting communities and cultures while providing a tremendous boost to the region’s economies. Innovative product offerings and creative marketing turned the once-staid industry on its head.
“I also want to thank my staff across all of my businesses in AirAsia, Tune Group, QPR and Caterham for standing by me through it all, for the tremendous support and hard work. Together, we will continue to disrupt the market,” he said.
With a vision to democratize air travel, Fernandes co-founded AirAsia in 2001 with partner Kamarudin Bin Meranun, purchasing the then loss-making AirAsia from its Malaysian owner for a token one Ringgit ($0.30) along with over $11M in debt.
18/04/15 Herald

Air Canada to resume Toronto to New Delhi flight after 10 years

Bengaluru: Ten years after scrapping flights operating between Toronto and New Delhi, Air Canada plans to resume the service starting from this winter, the chief of the airlines company told the visiting Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.The President and CEO of Air Canada, Calin Rovinescu, met Modi during his formal meeting with business leaders of Canada. Rovinescu informed Modi about the plan to restart the air service to New Delhi. Air Canada is one among the 27-member Star Alliance, an airline grouping that includes Air India.Air Canada was forced to stop its services to New Delhi in 2005 after the company incurred loss due to poor performance on the route.Rovinescu, on the side-lines of Modi’s announcement of visa-on-arrival facility for Canadian nationals, said “this will be very helpful”, both for travelers and the airlines, to expand their business in India, which is one of the growing aviation markets in the world.
17/04/15 Dileep Thekkethil/American Bazar 

Jet Airways introduces Chopard amenity kits on international flights

Mumbai: Jet Airways (India) Ltd. has introduced amenity kits from the Swiss brand, Chopard for First Class and Premiere guests on select international flights. The amenity kits contain cosmetic and comfort items, including a hand cream, lip balm (stick), hair brush, eye mask, and cabin socks, as per a release. The First Class amenity kit also doubles as an after-use tab case allowing guests to store their personal handheld electronic device, such as a tab.
18/04/15 TravelBizMonitor

Churchill to lead anti-Mopa agitation

Margao: Former PWD minister Churchill Alemao intends to lead the anti-Mopa agitation and turn it into a rallying point for the masses of South Goa.

This became clear when he announced that a public meeting, primarily over the Mopa issue, and including several other issues, would be held at Lohia Maidan, Margao, on May 1.

The meeting would be held under the banner of Goa Public Forum of which Alemao is the convener.

Protesting the environmental clearance for Mopa airport; protesting a censor board for tiatr; demanding official status for Roman script in Konkani language; unconditional confirmation of grants for English medium primary schools; protesting the hike in water charges, are among issues listed in the agenda of the meeting.
18/04/15 Times of India

Hope take-off: Jet may resume Ahd flight

Bhopal: After a lull, there is good news for air travellers from Bhopal. Jet Airways is likely to resume its flight connecting state capital with Ahmedabad in next couple of weeks. The bad news is no new airline is willing to start operation from Bhopal at least this year.

State's initiative to rope in new airlines to make Bhopal a central hub by reducing VAT on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) failed to attract airlines. Last year, after scrapping up flight connectivity to Chennai and Hyderabad the last casualty was the Ahmedabad-Raipur flight services. Consequently, Bhopal airport was left with connectivity to only Mumbai and Delhi with nine daily flights. At present, only Air India and Jet Airways are operating from Bhopal airport.
18/04/15 Ramendra Singh/Times of India

Haj committee holds talks with CIAL team

Kochi: The State Haj Committee members on Friday held discussions with the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) officials about the measures to be taken in the wake of the decision to shift the Haj flight services and camp to the Cochin airport.

The committee members inspected the land owned by the CIAL adjacent to the airport. The airport company promised all cooperation in setting up the camp and associated facilities at a suitable site.
18/04/15 The Hindu

Parking fees raised at Biju Patnaik International Airport

Bhubaneswar: Parking fees at Biju Patnaik International Airport have gone up. The parking duration against the token has also been reduced. As per the revised fee structure, cars will now have to pay Rs 55 for two hours against the earlier fee of Rs 40 for four hours. Two-wheelers would now pay Rs 15 against Rs 10 earlier, tempos, mini-buses and SUVs would pay Rs 60 against Rs 45 earlier and heavy vehicles like buses and trucks would cough up Rs 70 against Rs 50 earlier.
17/04/15 Odisha Diary

Three kg gold bars worth Rs 1.5 crore seized

Chennai: Gold bars, weighing three kgs, which were hidden beneath a seat of an Air India flight from Dubai, were seized today, airport officials said.

The gold bars, worth about Rs 1.5 crore, were found hidden under the seat of the flight, they said.
17/04/15 PTI/Business Standard

Over 6 kg gold biscuits seized at Kozhikode airport

Kochi:  In two separate instances of gold smuggling, customs authorities seized 6.4 kg of gold at the Kozhikode international airport on Thursday from passengers arriving from the Gulf.

Both the passengers, arriving from Abu Dhabi and Muscat, hail from north Kerala. They had concealed the smuggled gold in the form of biscuits inside the battery chambers of emergency lamps.
17/04/15 Business Line

Gold worth Rs 1.55 cr seized from passenger

Tiruchirappalli: Customs officials have seized seven kgs of gold from a passenger who arrived here from Singapore, airport sources said on Saturday.  The passenger, identified as M Nawazkhan, was arrested last night after gold worth about Rs 1.55 crore was found in his possession, they said.
18/04/15 Times of India

Friday, April 17, 2015

Many MPs want government to regulate air fares; Ministry of Civil Aviation 'averse'

NEW DELHI: Even as sharp movements in air fares continue to raise concerns, the Ministry of Civil Aviation is "reluctant" to regulate the ticket prices on grounds that any such move would be against free market principles.

Currently, airlines have been allowed to fix fares on their own depending on supply and demand.

Sources said that more than 100 Parliamentarians have written to the Ministry raising concerns over the movement of air fares over the past six months and most of them are in favour of regulations to control the prices.

Parliamentarians, cutting across party lines from various states, including Jammu and Kashmir, northeast India and Andaman and Nicobar, have been raising concerns about the matter from time to time, source added.
16/04/2015/PTI/Economic times.

France may divert its order to meet India's demand for Rafale

PARIS/NEW DELHI: France is likely to divert its own military's production order for Rafale fighter jets to meet India's "urgent" requirement for 36 warplanes.

French defence sources said modalities are being worked out and nitty-gritty will be finalised once Indian and French government start talking in detail.

Government owes around Rs 600 crore to Air India for VVIP travel

NEW DELHI: Government owes around Rs 600 crore to Air India for using its aircraft for travel of VVIPs.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has taken up the issue with various ministries regarding the pending amount related to the services of Air India aircraft availed for such VVIP travel.

According to official sources, Ministries of Home Affairs and External Affairs, among others, have accrued "Rs 500-600 crore" dues till March 31.

"These are dues to be paid to Air India for using aircraft for travel of VVIPs," a source said.

Air India is surviving on a bailout package approved in 2012.

SpiceJet Requests Deferment on Payment of Dues: Report

Budget-carrier SpiceJet has sought a deferment of three years on the payment of dues of Rs 211 crore to AAI though sources said that the airport operator is disinclined to entertain the request after the airline received a recent infusion of funds.

The airline has also requested the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to waive the interest against these dues on account of payment of charges towards landing, parking and other support services availed by the carrier.

The dues in question run for a period of 18 months.
16/04/2015/Press Trust of India/profit.ndtv

Whistle-blower Air India trade union leader 'victimised'

Over 150 employees of Air India and its two sister concerns got together here on Thursday to protest the alleged victimisation of one of their trade union leaders and whistle-blower.
L.S. Sibu, officer-apron in the ground-handling department of Air India at Trivandrum Airport and regional secretary of the Aviation Industry Employees Guild, was transferred to Hyderabad early this month. But he is yet to join duty there.
"The only reason that we can attribute to this decision of the management is because Sibu turned a whistle-blower and brought out in the open several issues relating to the manner in which the Air India management has been working," an Air India employee, who took part in the protest, said on the condition of anonymity.
The employees of Air India, Air India Air Transport Services Ltd and Air India Charters Ltd also decided to submit a representation signed by them to the prime minister, civil aviation minister and other top officials requesting them to cancel Sibu's transfer.
16/04/2015/Big News Network(IANS)/bignewsnetwork.


Jet Airways plane's landing gear broke off on touchdown on April 13; engineers had to transport salvaging equipment by road.

A team of Air India engineers from Mumbai on Thursday removed a stalled Jet Airways plane from the runway of Khajuraho airport in Madhya Pradesh, three days after the aircraft's landing gear broke off on touchdown.

The airport was closed for flights after the April 13 incident and this complicated the salvaging operation. All the heavy equipment needed for the task had to be transported by road as no plane could land at the airport with the Jet Airways' Boeing 737 lying on the runway. The equipment weighed up to 7 tonnes.
17/04/2015/Aditya Anand/Mumbai Mirror.

Air India aircraft purchase: Supreme Court seeks probe report from CBI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today asked CBI to apprise it of the status of its probe, if any, into alleged irregularities in purchase or hiring of 111 aircraft for Air India that had cost about Rs 70,000 crores to it during the tenure of Praful Patel as the Civil Aviation Minister.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and justices R K Agrawal and Arun Mishra gave two weeks time to CBI for filing a fresh status report in the case.

The court's direction came when lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), referred to a response received under RTI, of the Civil Aviation Ministry that it cannot part with information on purchase of aircraft as CBI was looking into it.
15/04/2015/PTI/Economic times

DGCA plans financial audit of airlines

NEW DELHI: As losses of airline's mount, the aviation regulator is planning to conduct a financial audit of Indian carriers to check if their poor fiscal health is not affecting safety of passengers. A senior directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) official said the audit could start next month itself.

The DGCA has conducted these audits in the past too. The audit conducted in 2011-end identified Kingfisher as a distressed airline, which eventually shut down in October 2012. In this audit, the regulator asks Indian carriers to submit their financial details and answer a list of questions like if they are buying spares or cannibalizing planes and if they are paying salaries in time. An airline with "substantial findings", read which is proven to be in financial distress, has two options — either operate a smaller fleet with full safety or shut down.
16/04/2015/Saurabh Sinha/timesofindia

AirAsia India setting up hub in Delhi

Nearly 10 months after its launch, budget carrier AirAsia India is looking to enter into its rival and the country’s largest player IndiGo’s territory, setting up a hub in Delhi with plans to induct two more A320s.

The airline’s decision to enter a highly competitive market could also be because of the need to take a pie of a lucrative sector in an attempt to shore-up its week bottomline.

The airline is expected to hire at least 60 crew members, including 20 pilots, as part of the plan.

In an internal note to its staff, AirAsia said it will be setting up a hub in Delhi and invited applications from captains and first officers interested in taking a transfer to Delhi.

Opening a base in the North might be a prudent thing to do for the airline which has so far confined itself to a hub in Bengaluru.

For long haul flights, especially from the North, having the crew stationed around the hub makes sense instead of ferrying them back and forth.

For example, Delhi-Bengaluru is best served with morning departures from either destination, mirroring the direction at the same time. This ensures better service for the corporate clients. This will require AirAsia India to park an aircraft overnight at Delhi, necessitating a base. Bengaluru will continue to be the home base.
15/04/2015/K Giriprakash/The Hindu Business Line.