Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review of 150km radius limit for second airport

New Delhi: The restriction on having a second airport within 150km radius of an existing one may soon go, paving the way for Indian cities to have multiple airports in the future. The aviation ministry is examining if the barred distance can be reduced to 100km, if not lower.

However, whether this proposed change benefits metros with PPP airports like Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore remains to be seen. The concession agreements with private developers are tilted in their favour and not the flying public. "In these metros, the private developer has to be on board for having another airport in the vicinity," said a senior ministry official.

In fact to avoid such lop-sided PPP agreements in the future, aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju has issued instructions to have a public-private model in place which concerns of all stakeholders are taken into consideration. The order issued by Raju's office for says: "Consultation should be help prior to entering into PPP agreements and views of stakeholders (government agencies; airport operators; airlines; passenger associations and travel operators) should be given due consideration before finalizing these agreements."
16/09/14 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Civil aviation ministry's second airport policy review may change IGIA fate

The civil aviation ministry is conducting a review of the policy that bars a second airport within a distance of 150 km, the scrapping of which could have a dramatic effect on Delhi airport as construction of another facility in its neighbourhood, say in Greater Noida, could divert significant amount of traffic.
"This 150 km clause is regressive and would crop up as a hurdle for the growth of nofrills airports in the country and harm our plans to improve regional connectivity. Internal discussions on the same have begun with an aim to do away with it," said a senior ministry official who did not want to be identified.
According to the current norms, no other airport can come within that distance of the GMR-run Delhi airport unless the growth in passengers justifies this. Airports in Hyderabad and Bangalore also cannot have another airport within a 150 km radius.
16/09/14 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Jet Airways, Qatar Airways offer steep discounts on business class

Mumbai: The price war in the skies has spread to the business class. Jet Airways and Qatar Airways are offering huge discounts in a desperate bid to take on Emirates and Singapore Airlines whose recently started A380 flights are scooping passengers in big chunks. Jet Airways is offering all-inclusive one-way business class fares to London at just Rs 28,382 from Delhi and Rs 27,727 from Mumbai, which are just onefourth of usual business class fares and almost half of regular economy fares.
The offer is effective for bookings between September 16 to 18 for travel between October 16, 2014 and July 31, 2015. Under the same offer, one can fly to Singapore in business class at just Rs 18,672 from Delhi and Rs 18,282 from Mumbai, about one-third of normal fares. Jet, however, clarified that none of these fares are valid on flights that operate via its new international hub Abu Dhabi. The airline made Abu Dhabi its global hub after selling 24 per cent stake to Etihad last year.

Earlier in the day, Qatar Airways wrote to travel agents offering an up to 25 per cent discount on all its 130 direct and indirect destinations from India on economy, business and even first classes on bookings made till September 17 for travel between September 21 and June 15, 2015. Industry experts said poor demand has forced airlines to this.

"Demand is a problem. Business class seats for many airlines have been going empty or half full at best," said an industry watcher who didn't want to be named. "What's more, the oncoming festive season never means the same spurt for business class as it does for the back end of the flight." Further, the 500-plus-seater A380 jumbo jet services started by Emirates and Singapore Airlines have made a dent in the market.
16/09/14 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

2015 New Year Sale: SpiceJet Offers Tickets for Rs 699

As a part of the 2015 New Year celebrations, SpiceJet has come up with another three day sale starting on Tuesday with domestic flight fares as low as Rs 699,
The "Early New Year Sale" as the airline calls it, is applicable for one way travels between 16 January 2015 to 24 October 2015 and the sale offer will be available till 18 September 2014 midnight. The bookings are limited and are available on a first come first serve basis.

"The sale is applicable only on bookings made on www.spicejet.com, online travel portals and through travel agents. The sale is not available at SpiceJet's Sales and Reservation Centre or at our Airport Ticketing Offices," the SpiceJet release said adding that the sale does not include booking for infants and groups.
The fare on offer does not include taxes and is also non-refundable and non changeable, except for the taxes and fees.
16/09/14 Neha Singh/International Business Times

Daily discount schemes a hit: SpiceJet fills more seats than any other airline in August

New Delhi: The almost-daily fare discount schemes and an improved cabins seem to be working for SpiceJet, at least in terms of aircraft loads. For the third month in a row, SpiceJet has managed to fill more seats on its aircraft than any other domestic airline with August load factor at 82.5 percent. This means it managed to fill almost 8 in 10 seats.

In part, this is due to capacity reduction SpiceJet initiated earlier this year but the occupancy of its aircraft is ahead of every other airline also thanks to discounted tickets. This morning, it again announced an advance sale where tickets can be booked starting at Rs 699 one way, excluding applicable statutory taxes. This is lower than a third AC class train fare, and reason enough for people to rush in with bookings - the only catch is that the fare excludes taxes and that tickets sold under this scheme are non-refundable and cannot be amended.
16/09/14 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post

Indian Airlines Oppose Regional Connectivity Plan

Indian domestic airlines have voiced opposition to a Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) draft policy on regional and remote connectivity that permits nonscheduled (charter) companies to fly regular service to remote destinations under code-share arrangements with scheduled carriers. Under India’s Route Dispersal Guidelines, domestic airlines must to fly 10 percent of their capacity to identified underserved areas.

In a meeting called by MOCA to debate the draft policy, airlines plan to suggest establishing a regional connectivity fund in line with international practice. The plan would involve charging every passenger a fee, used for subsidizing airline operations for flights to 87 destinations mentioned under the guidelines clause.

The Business Aviation Operators Association (BAOA) has recommended that regulators change the current definition of nonscheduled operators to scheduled commuter airlines for those who propose to operate with an approved timetable. “We have recommended state governments to provide facilities, including security; that is a big cost to operators in codeshare…The major challenge is to release the policy,” said BAOA secretary R.K Bali.
15/09/14 Neelam Mathews/AINonline

Vinod Rai's new book highlights deep mess in Boeing 777 sale

New Delhi: Former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Vinod Rai has referred to two stories broken by Mail Today in April to highlight the deep mess in the aviation sector in his controversial book The Diary of the Nation's Conscience Keeper-Not Just an Accountant.

The book refers to the Mail Today stories about Air India's (AI) Boeing 777s that were purchased for a staggering Rs 1,300 crore apiece and expected to serve the national carrier for 25 years. However, they were sold at a dirt-cheap price in a distress sale to Etihad Airways just five years later.

The chapter on civil aviation opens with, "If the above statements are true, why did we make the purchases and within five years of the delivery of the aircraft, sell them at roughly Rs 427 crore each to Etihad Airways after having purchased them in 2005 for Rs 1,300 per aircraft? How did our assessment go so horribly wrong? Have we held those responsible accountable? Indeed, will we ever be able to so? When will we learn from our mistakes?" Rai told Mail Today in an exclusive interview on Monday, "An inquiry is needed into the issue. Some kind of a post-mortem is required as to why the decision got so horribly wrong."
16/09/14 S.P.S Pannu & Sanjay Singh/Mail Today/India Today

Opening the Pandora’s Box- What Went Wrong with Air India?

The explosive revelations by Vinod Rai, former head of CAG, on Air India's expensive acquisition of aircrafts, has once again opened a Pandora's box and revealed two distinct things. In the first place, it revealed how in the name of policy decisions, some of the most blatant and bizarre decisions were taken which were not in the interest of the nation but invariably they were in the interest of some vested interests. Secondly it also revealed why organizations like CAG need more of enforcement power to correct the anomalies.
What Really Happened with Air India?
However those who thought that the buck with UPA stopped with only the Coal Block allocation scam and the 2G scam, the saga of how the then Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel literally forced the Air India Board to increase the size of the order for new planes from 28 to a whopping 68 planes at a total cost of Rs 50,000 crore, proved that more surprises are awaiting with respect to suspicious cases of wrong doings during UPA regime. The Air India deal for 68 aircrafts was financed with a back breaking 97% debt proportion, good enough to make a company perpetually bankrupt and mired in debts.
This decision was taken during UPA-1 regime. Not only Air India was made to buy 40 more planes than its original requirement for 28 planes, in the same time Indian Airlines, later named as Indian was also buying 43 aircrafts. While Air India was buying from Boeing, the Indian orders were for Airbus.
Did it help Air India to go for such deals with 97% debt?
In other words, the two state owned carriers were together made to buy 111 aircrafts and then they were merged into one entity thereby creating duplicity of fleet. The merger of Indian and Air India was not just ill conceived but was done in haste without any proper revival plan for the national carriers in place. Today the combined entity named Air India Limited which runs Air India, is in a mess and is one of the worst performing PSUs of the country.
While the former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has been trying to justify his act by stating that it was a collective policy decision, the biggest question that remains unanswered is what kind of a policy decision would allow a company to buy aircrafts which are not needed and that too with a 97% debt component? The Air India deal for huge number of aircrafts certainly, it seems, ended up benefitting many but not Air India.
Brand New Planes bought and then sold off in a few years' time?
If one looks at the kind of planes that were purchased, it included several Boeing 777-200 Long Range intercontinental aircrafts as well as 27 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The shocking thing is that Air India hardly had much use for so many long range planes and eventually it sold 5 of those aircrafts to Etihad Airways.
Now the question is which sensitive organization in rational sense would buy brand new aircrafts and then sell them at one-fifth of the price unless the case is of the company being forced to buy the planes by some vested interests? Something equally shocking is the fact that even when so many intercontinental planes were being bought by Air India, the Ministry was handing over lucrative overseas flying rights to foreign players instead of getting them utilized by Air India.
16/09/14 Pathikrit Payne/One India

Systems failure in Air India

What do some senior bureaucrats do when they hang up their boots? Like Vinod Rai, former Comptroller and Auditor General, they assign to themselves the task of pointing out the warts in a system they lived with for decades. (Whether they should have done so earlier, or rather, been permitted by the system to do so while in service, is a moot point.)

In his book, Not Just An Accountant, he talks about how one-time aviation minister Praful Patel “nudged” Air India to take a decision to acquire aircraft.

Rai is certainly not the first to point to shenanigans in the workings of this airline. Jitendra Bhargava, who spent close to 30 years in Air India, has also alluded to interference by various government functionaries in the Maharaja’s functioning.

Rai talks about a board meeting called in Mumbai early in 2004 to take a decision on Air India acquiring aircraft, something the airline had not done in more than two decades. As the board members walked in they were handed additional agenda items, including one which said that the number of aircraft Air India wished to acquire was to be increased from under 30 to 58.

Some members protested, saying they were not against ordering more aircraft but wanted an analysis of the airline’s financial capacity to bear the same. They were, however, told to clear the proposal without expressing doubts. The meeting was adjourned without a decision.
15/09/14 Ashwini Phadnis/Business Line

Airport privatisation: Govt seeks more views

New Delhi: Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapati Raju has directed fresh consultations with state and central government organisations, airport and airline operators, passenger associations and travel operators before finalising the model concession agreement (MCA) for the construction and operations of airports in the country on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis. In a letter dated September 11, the minister’s office said, “With regard to the Concessionaire Agreement concerning PPP, for construction/operation of airports in the country, which may be entered in the future, the HMCA desires that a broad based consultation should be held with the following – relevant states and central government organisations/agencies, airport developers/operators, airline operators, representatives of passengers’ associations, representatives of travel operators.”

The minister desires that the consultation should be held prior to entering into PPP agreements and the views of the stakeholders should be given due consideration before finalisation of the agreement, the letter notes. A senior official in the ministry who did not wish to be identified said, “The aim of holding the consultation process is to ensure transparency. We want the terms and conditions to be clear and minimalise grievances of all stakeholders.”
16/09/14 Sharmistha Mukherjee/Business Standard

Aviation minister to meet airline CEOs to re-look at two major regulations in the sector

Mumbai: The Narendra Modi government is all set to change or at least, question two major regulations in the aviation sector.

First, the rule that no second airport can come up within 150 kms of an existing airport. If media reports are to be believed, this number could be reduced to 100 kms. The only exception to this is the Navi Mumbai Airport that was sanctioned by the UPA government.

Second, the government might take a relook at the rule that an airline has fly for five years domestically and have a 20-aircraft fleet to get the permission to fly on international routes.

Mint reported that the Aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju has called for a meeting of CEOs of various airlines to discuss their opinion on the issues.
16/09/14 ANI/Daily News & Analysis

KFA Default Delays Startups' Aircraft Purchase Plan

Bangalore: Startup carriers are having tough time getting aircraft from leasing companies in view of the default in payment by grounded Kingfisher Airlines of Vijay Mallaya.

Air Pegasus, a Bangalore-based airline, has been trying to get 3 ATR 72/500 aircraft to begin operations in South India for over eight months now.

“The delay is not because of us or DGCA, it is because of KfA,” Shyson Thomas, Managing Director and CEO of Air Pegasus, told Express. The airline had planned to start services by March next year.

“Nobody is willing to lease aircraft after Kingfisher Airlines’ problems,” Thomas said. Lessor companies are now demanding many more sureties before a deal is completed.

“They have asked for a security deposit of 10 months and the personal guarantee of all directors in the company,” he said. The company had to pay $1.1 million as deposit which works up to 10 months deposit, though the earlier requirement was only 2-3 months security deposit, he said. Kingfisher Airlines, its promoter Vijay Mallya and three directors have been named ‘wilful defaulters’ by United Bank of India for non-payment of loans.
16/09/14 Sharan Poovanna/New Indian Express

Air India to axe more loss-making routes

New Delhi: State-owned Air India (AI) aims to substantially cut the number of routes not meeting variable costs, to reduce these to 19 per cent of its overall network by the end of the current financial year.

The carrier, which operates about 480 daily flights in the international and domestic sectors, had brought down the number of routes not meeting variable costs to 38 per cent of its network by the end of 2013-14, from 60 per cent.

A senior official said, “We have completely withdrawn flights not meeting ATF (aviation turbine fuel) costs. While there would be flights in which we would not be able to generate operational profits, we are looking at meeting cash costs on 81 per cent of our network by the end of this financial year.”

Chairman and Managing Director Rohit Nandan is daily monitoring the route economics. The analysis is also being done at the board of directors every week.

AI registers variable cost losses on 19 routes, six of which are international ones. The domestic ones include Mumbai-Kolkata and Delhi-Bangalore; the international ones include Delhi-Sydney and Delhi-Milan.
16/09/14 Sharmistha Mukherjee/Business Standard

Lenders, tax sleuths vie for first right of recovery from Vijay Mallya

Mumbai: Consortium of fourteen banks has challenged revenue dept's attachment notice before Karnataka HC A consortium of 14 banks fighting to recover money they have lent to Vijay Mallya-promoted Kingfisher Airlines has challenged an attachment notice the service tax department issued against the liquor baron in the Karnataka High Court to recover tax dues. Now it's for the court to decide the first right of recovery between secured lenders and sovereign dues.
The revenue department, a couple of months ago, claimed the first right to recover dues by attaching the Kingfisher House in Mumbai, six aircraft and two helicopters, besides freezing bank accounts of the defunct airline.

It filed a petition with the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) in Mumbai and in Bangalore where banks, led by the State Bank of India, are fighting to recover their dues from Kingfisher Airlines. While 17 banks have lent more than .
16/09/14 Maulik Vyas/Economic Times

Global carriers announce massive discounts in India; Tigerair offers Rs 10 base fare to Singapore

New Delhi: Initiating a fare war on global routes, Qatar Airways and Singaporean budget carrier Tigerair today announced massive limited-period discounts hoping to corner a chunk of the Indian travel market share.

While Tigerair announced a special one-way base fare of Rs 10 only to Singapore for Indian passengers to commemorate completion of decade-long operations, Qatar Airways launched a global promotional offer of up to 25 per cent savings on its tickets to over 140 destinations across the world.
Tigerair's Rs 10 one-way fare offer to Singapore would be applicable only on round trip tickets from India, under which the fare could be as low as Rs 7,499 including taxes, the airline said in a statement here.

The Qatar Airways' promotional fare tickets under its three-day 'The World is Yours' global sale would have to be bought between today and Wednesday for travel from September 25 till June 15 next year", the airline said in a statement.

The discount of up to 25 per cent is being offered for return travel in all classes for travel from India via its Doha hub, a Qatar Airways statement said, adding that there were limited seats on offer subject to availability.
15/09/14 PTI/Economic Times

SpiceJet tops flight occupancy figures for the third straight month in August

Mumbai: Low fare carrier SpiceJet topped flight occupancy figures in the industry for the third straight month in August, although it ceded second position to Jet Airways after ousting it in July.

The carrier managed on average to fill 82.5% of its flights during the month, according to figures from DGCA. In comparison, market leader IndiGo just managed to fill 74.8% of its flights.

SpiceJet has been filling its planes by dint of its repeated offers of rockbottom fares across its network. The airline's rationale as explained recently by its COO Sanjiv Kapoor is that "it's a crime to fly empty seats"

SpiceJet in July posted industry-best load factor figure 79.4% during July. In June too, it had the industry's highest seat occupancy levels at 81.4%.
16/09/14 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

Lufthansa A380 loses to Emirates at Mumbai again

Just what is going on at Mumbai airport? I ask because, yet again, Lufthansa appears to have lost out in its bid to launch A380 service to this major Indian city.

As we reported recently, Lufthansa was intending to launch A380 flights to Mumbai from the start of the winter timetable on October 26.

At the same time, Emirates would "downgrade" its existing A380 service to a more modest B777-300ER.

But in a change of tack, Mumbai appears to have reversed its decison. Emirates will now continue its daily A380 flight throughout the winter while Lufthansa will still operate its B747-400 on the route, reports the Times of India. When Business Traveller checked both airlines’ schedules we found the latter had been revised.

Why the change? Neither airline(s) nor airport will provide comment to UK media at the time of writing. But it appears the airport is favouring Emirates over Lufthansa.

In which case, this would be considered unprecedented as major international airports are not supposed to show any favouritism to foreign carriers.

And it's not the first time this has happened to Lufthansa at Mumbai. Earlier this summer, for example, Lufthansa announced it would upgrade its daily Mumbai flight from a B747-400 to a more modern B747-8.
15/09/14 Business Traveller

Revealed: The best time to buy airline tickets!

A new travel study has claimed that weekends are the best time to purchase airline tickets.
 Steven Puller, an associate professor of economics at Texas A and M who specializes in industrial organization, "there's been this industry folk wisdom that says Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to purchase airline tickets, but we couldn't find any systematic analysis to back that up,” claims the report.
Thus quite contrary to the common belief, he claimed that the best time to buy airline tickets is during the weekends.
The reason being, airlines are more likely to discount fares on Saturday and Sunday.
15/09/14 Dailybhaskar.com

Decks cleared for Navi Mumbai airport

Mumbai: The Centre has approved the much-delayed Navi Mumbai airport. Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju recently gave the go-ahead for inviting tenders and also cleared a proposal for airlines to hold 26% stake.

In giving the nod, the Centre has stressed on high-speed connectivity between the proposed airport and the existing one in Mumbai. "There will be a lot of transfer of traffic. Unless connectivity is quick, the other airport may not be viable," said a senior ministry official.

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) will have a maximum passenger handling capacity of five crore per annum once the domestic arm of the new terminal II is built by next year. This will not be sufficient as Mumbai's air traffic movement touched 3.3 crore last year. Though CSIA will prove inadequate for Mumbai's air traffic requirement within three years, the Navi Mumbai airport will be far from complete by then.
15/09/14 Times of India

First batch of state Haj pilgrims flies out of Chennai

Chennai: The first batch of 450 Haj pilgrims from the state flew out of the city on Monday evening. At Chennai airport, the only departure point in the state, the Airports Authority of India has made special arrangements for the 3,000 pilgrims from the state, a majority of them from Vellore district, who will fly out in seven flights until September 27. Foreign exchange counters have been set up, shamianas erected and drinking water facilities and foreign exchange counters have been opened.

The pilgrims who left on Monday had undergone an orientation programme on dos and don'ts and told that anyone staying back in Saudi Arabia after the pilgrimage could be liable for prosecution by the authorities there.
16/09/14 Daniel George/Times of India

Was MH370 plane crash actually suicide by pilot?

London: The pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 killed himself and passengers by switching off oxygen supply in what is the sixth example of such a suicide, an aviation expert has suggested.

Ewan Wilson, head of Kiwi Airlines, believes Zaharie Ahmad Shah planned mass murder — locking his co-pilot out of the cockpit, depressurising the cabin and shutting down all communication links before turning the plane around, Daily Mail reported Monday.

Having examined all other possibilities, Wilson insists that Shah, 53, is responsible for the deaths of the 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board the doomed Malaysian Airlines flight, which disappeared on March 8.

The MH370 flight was a scheduled international passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing that disappeared on March 8, 2014

Wilson was scheduled to tell British aviation experts Monday that there have been five other suicide flights in recent times, as he travels from New Zealand to Birmingham for a meeting, according to a Daily Express report.
15/09/14 indiLeak

Seaplane service: Sai devotees to reach Shirdi temple in just 45 minutes from Mumbai

New Delhi:  Devotees can't stay back when their beloved himself wants them to pay a visit. This holds true for the devotees and followers  of Sai Baba.
By Sai's grace, devotees can now  travel to Shirdi within few minutes from Mumbai. Now, devotees can take Baba's blessing and take Nasik's Shani Shinglapur darshan in mere 45 minutes.
This 45 minutes travel between devotees and Baba has become possible with the help of a sea plane. This sea plane not only flies high in the sky and runs on  the ground but it also dives deep in the sea.
It's great news for baba's devotees. At one moment the devotees would be in there home planning their trip and in next 45 minutes they would be taking baba's blessings.
To give importance to pilgrimage, Mumbai's Mi-Air has taken out the flight from Juhu Airport's to Shirdi's Mula damn.
This seaplane will start its journey from Juhu's Pawanhansh Airport covering Essel World, Golden Pagauda crossing  Badlapur's Barvi damn to reach Holy place Trambakeswar. After this, it will head towards its final destination Mula Damn.
15/09/14 India TV 

GMR to set up aerospace training centre; to follow Moroccan model

Hyderabad: The GMR group is planning to set up an aerospace training centre in Hyderabad on the lines of the one established by Morocco.

With the help of French multi-national firm Safran, the group has sent a team to the African country to study the model adopted by it. It has sought the help of Telangana Government in this regard.

P S Nair, Chief Executive Officer (Corporate – Airport Sector), who is a member of the team, has said that the company would like to play a leading role in setting up the training institute. He said that it would approach the Government to seek its assistance in establishing the institute.

Talking to media on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of the Aeronautical Society of India here on Tuesday, he said that all the players in the ecosystem must take part in the initiative.
16/09/14 KV Kurmanath/Business Line

No more drunk diving for parachutists: DGCA

Mumbai: Concerned about the risks associated with skydiving and the lack of a regulatory mechanism to prevent fatalities resulting from improper safety measures and reckless behaviour, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has formulated guidelines for adventure sports enthusiasts signing up to take the plunge. The governing body has made it mandatory for skydivers and parachutists to be affiliated with organisations approved by the DGCA and follow a prescribed safety protocol.

"Parachuting and skydiving activities have predominantly been carried out under the supervision of the Army and the Air Force, using civil aircraft as permitted by Indian Aircraft Rules, 1937," DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar said. "But in the past few years the number of civilians skydiving is increasing and unlike foreign destinations India has no guidelines in force."

These norms will cover adventure sports companies as well. The DGCA has stressed that these operators adhere to rules concerning the training and licensing of personnel and equipment engaged in such operations. "We have given the companies till October 12 to provide us feedback on the guidelines," a senior DGCA official said. The rules will become effective soon after industry reactions are collated.
16/09/14 Aditya Anand/Mumbai Mirror 

Air India leasing two Thai B767s for Hajj charters

Air India has wet-leased two B767-200(ER)s, HS-JAE (msn 24324) and HS-JAF (msn 24325), from Thailand's Jet Asia Airways (JF, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi) for use on Hajj charter flights ch-aviation can exclusively reveal.

The aircraft join two others, N253MY (msn 23974) and N770JM (msn 24145), on lease from US-based carrier, Dynamic Airways (2D, Greensboro).
16/09/14 ch-aviation

Odisha Govt bid to start flight service from Rourkela

Rourkela/Bhubaneswar:  To resume regular flight service from Rourkela airstrip, the state government on Monday asked the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) officials to submit a fresh proposal, official sources said. RSP is the custodian of the airstrip in the Steel City.

Chief secretary Gokul Chandra Pati chaired a meeting in Bhubaneswar in this regard. Representatives from the Airports Authority of India, director of Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar, RSP, Sundargarh district administration and members of Rourkela Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Rattended it. Increasing the length of runway of the airstrip was discussed. The existing runway is 6,000 feet.

"The RSP and the RCCI are keen to start flight operations from the airstrip. We have to wait for the response of fight service operators," Biju Patnaik International Airport director Sharad Kumar told the media.
16/09/14 Times of India

Ananth Kumar takes chartered jet, Amit Shah awaits delayed flight

Bhopal: Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah asked Union ministers and party leaders to travel by regular airlines so they can stay connected with the common man. But ministers who visit Madhya Pradesh do not seem to have comprehended that message correctly.

On Sunday, Union minister for chemicals and fertilisers Ananth Kumar was here to attend various functions ranging from a cardiologists' seminar, a felicitation at the state BJP office to a religious programme at the CM House - the official residence of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. At the end of his one-day visit, Ananth Kumar took a chartered flight from Bhopal to Bangalore. Sources at the Raja Bhoj International Airport said Ananth Kumar flew out in a Simm Samm Airways small jet at 9:30 pm. Sources also said that two other Union ministers who also made short trips to the state recently took the chartered flight return trip.

In sharp contrast, however, was BJP national president Amit Shah who visited the state for a day. Shah landed in Indore airport by a regular morning flight on Saturday morning and headed to Mandleshwar, a distance of 80 kms by road, to meet bereaved family members of RSS functionary Bhiayyaji Joshi who lost his brother Gajanand on September 1. From there he travelled to the Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain travelling for 132 km by road. In the evening, he was scheduled to return by the Mumbai-Bhopal-Delhi Indian Airlines flight.
15/09/14 Suchandana Gupta/Times of India

SilkAir adds supplementary flights from Bangalore to Singapore

Bangalore: SilkAir, the regional full-service carrier of Singapore Airlines, today said it would operate with variable frequency from Bangaore to Singapore upto five times weekly from December 14, 2014 to January 18, 2015.

Apart from flying on select weekdays, the airline will also fly on Sundays to match the anticipated travel demand, a press release from Silk Air said.

Furthermore, travelers from Bangalore will get to fly the airline’s latest aircraft – the new Boeing 737-800 from October 2014. The new aircraft features a 162-seat configuration, with 12 Business Class and 150 Economy class seats.
 16/09/14 Net Indian

Air France flights to Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai cancelled on account of strike

New Delhi: Air France flights from Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai to Paris were cancelled on Monday and could be affected till September 22 following a strike call given by several of the airline's pilots' unions.

The strike has been called to protest the airline decision to shift jobs and operations to low-cost carriers so that the airline is in a better position to face competition. On the first day of the strike, the airline said it expects to operate 48 per cent of its flights.
15/09/14 Business Line

Goa politicians gripe over Rs 345-crore new airport terminal

Panaji: Once vaunted and an object for appropriation of cheap brownie points for Goa's political parties while it was being constructed, Goa's 10-month-young new airport terminal, built at a cost of Rs 345 crore (USD 56.5 million), is suddenly "nobody's child".

The still shiny new airport building at the Dabolim International Airport, Goa's only aviation facility that functions from a military base, has now become a political hot potato for the opposition Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for being badly planned, tardy, smelly and of defective construction standards with several loose ends and even "unsafe".

Inaugurated last December, Congress legislator Mauvin Godinho claims the airport is shockingly unplanned and disaster prone.

"It is most shocking that they have built the parking bay for aeroplanes near fuel dumps. Who plans like this? There are so many planes parked there during peak hours and they are in danger in case of an accident. The navy (which controls the airport) should have been a bit humane and have more concern for civilian needs," Godinho told IANS.
16/09/14 ZeeNews

ibis Delhi Airport opens its doors at Aerocity

ibis-the international economy hotel brand of Accor  has opened at Aerocity, the 43-acre hospitality and commercial precinct near Delhi International Airport. ibis Delhi Airport is the ninth ibis hotel in India with the largest inventory of 316 rooms. To celebrate the opening of ibis Delhi Airport, the hotel has launched a bold online campaign ‘Pay What You Want’ so customers choose how much they would like to pay for their room.

The online campaign will allow business and leisure travellers to sign up as members and pay what they want for stays until September 21, 2014 need to extend the timeline. The promotion is for one-night’s stay only and has been introduced to delight customers who are seeking value accommodation.

ibis Delhi Airport has introduced new features to suit the needs of the Indian traveller. The hotel features a heated swimming pool, a Sweet Bed by ibis™ and larger meeting spaces with break-out sessions for the business traveller. Spice It, the signature multi-cuisine restaurant at ibis Delhi Airport, will offer the Great Indian Breakfast, which is an eight-hour non-stop breakfast concept starting 4 am to 12 noon. These adaptations reflect the hotel’s commitment to providing high quality services, customised to the needs of its local clients.
16/09/14 HospitalityBiz

Travel agents dupe businessman of Rs 17,500, give him fake tickets

Chandigarh: A travel agent and his woman employee have been booked for charging Rs 17,500 from a city based businessman for air tickets between Chandigarh and Chennai and giving him fake tickets. The accused, Pankaj Kumar and Neha have been running their travel agency in Sector 47 for a long time.

The businessman, Shakti Singh of Sector 32, was scheduled to attend an important business conference in Chennai between February 9 and February 13. He met Pankaj through a common friend days before the business conference. Shakti was informed that his tickets have been confirmed and two tickets, including the return ticket had been delivered to him. But at the last moment, when he was going to board a Jet Airways flight on February 9, he was told his tickets had been cancelled.
15/09/14 Times of India

5 held for duping youths by promising them jobs

Aurangabad: The Kranti Chowk police have arrested a gang of five people for allegedly duping scores of youths from across the country to the tune of lakhs of rupees on the pretext of promising them jobs with the Airport Authority of India.

Police suspect that the arrested accused are part of an inter-state gang that has allegedly cheated several youths using the same modus operandi.

The incident came to light last week after one of the youths who had paid over Rs 3,000 to the fake firm. When he cross-checked the offer made by the firm with the airport authorities, he found it to be fake.

The arrested accused have been identified as Rahul Rathod of Kajali village in Nagpur district, Virendra Singh Diwan Singh of Sonipat in Haryana, Sumit Kumar and Krishnadhar Mishra of Wardha and Kapil Gautam, a resident of New Delhi. The accused were produced before a local court on Monday that remanded them in police custody till September 19.
16/09/14 Times of India

Monday, September 15, 2014

After SpiceJet, Jet Airways, AirAsia India Join Fare War

AirAsia India is offering fares as low as Rs. 1,290 under a special promotional offer.  This offer is applicable on bookings till September 21, 2014, and travel period between September 16, 2014 and March 31, 2015.

Meanwhile, Jet Airways is also offering promotional fares on tickets purchased before September 16, 2014. This offer is valid for travel in economy class on flights within India operated by Jet Airways and JetKonnect and travel period between October 7, 2014, and January 15, 2015.

Under AirAsia's offer, tickets from Bangalore to Chennai and Kochi and vice versa start from Rs. 1,290. On Bangalore to Goa and vice versa, the promotional fare starts from Rs. 1,690.

AirAsia India recently added Jaipur and Chandigarh to its network- its first foray into north India. Under this same promotional offer, Bangalore to Chandigarh and Jaipur and vice versa tickets are priced from Rs. 3,490.

Budget carrier SpiceJet had announced a discount sale offer with fares starting from an all-inclusive Rs. 1,999 for specific routes on its domestic network.
15/09/14 NDTV

Why Indigo survived while Air India fumbled

Air India vs. Indigo is a favorite case study in management schools. In 2004, when Air-India was piling up aircraft with a capex of around Rs 38,000 core, its private sector competitor Indigo was entering into long-term contracts with Airbus Industries so that deliveries could be staggered into the future to suit its needs.

A long term contract not only protects the price line for the buyer even if it contains a price escalation clause but also ensures that equipment, grounded or flying, are not piled up unnecessarily. There cannot be a greater waste for a commercial organization than unused capacity.

An army man can rest in his barracks but an aircraft cannot be made to idle in its hangar.

The aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus dance to the tunes of bulk purchasers in a buyers’ market but as the ex-CAG Vinod Rai wonders, curiously, it was the other round with India.

We procured more than 100 aircraft in one go under the outright purchase mode raising the eyebrows of civil aviation experts as well as those of financial experts.

A bulk purchaser can dictate his terms like Indigo did. A long term contract is win-win for both the buyer and the manufacturer--the former increases his fleet incrementally as the tribe of flyers increases and the latter keeps his production planning and plant going.
15/09/14 S Murlidharan/First Post

MH370: Why do top Indonesian police say they know what happened but M'sian cops 'play dumb'

One of the strangest things about MH370 was the insistence of the government of Malaysia in the wasting of search resources over a South China Sea search when it knew on the morning of its disappearance that the flight had recrossed the Malaysia Peninsula to the north of the entrance of the Straits of Malacca.
There are several reasonable observations to be made about reports in Indonesia that the ‘truth’ about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is known at a senior level in its police force.
But first, the report.
It says in effect, “we know what happened but are reluctant to say what that was.” Which in the courteous secrecy of much commentary in SE Asia, means “we’re not going to embarrass the neighbours, but they are on notice that we know.”
If we take note of the context in which the police official spoke, it was to urge Indonesia’s fastest growing (and scariest) airline Lion to invest in experienced, trusted, knowledgeable and presumably incorruptible police and security officials to prevent criminal acts against its operations.
However we also need to be extremely cautious and non-commital as to whether the official really does know what happened to MH370, a Boeing 777-200ER with 239 people on board, that took off from Kuala Lumpur on 8 March for Beijing and disappeared as a transponder identified flight some 40 minutes after departure on a five hours 50 minute gate-to-gate trip.
Satellite data indicates that it flew for at least seven hours 38 minutes, and came down in the southern India Ocean, about 1800 kms southwest to west of Perth, where a very well equipped deep sea search is about to deploy towed side scanning sonar devices following the recent mapping of the ‘priority areas’ by bathymetric surveys.
MH370 may have crossed the northern tip of Sumatra near Banda Aceh on its way to southern oceanic oblivion. It should have been visible as a primary object on Indonesian military radar. It could have been visible to Australia’s JORN long range radar, which was invented for the sole purpose of studying aircraft movements between much of Indonesia and Australia.
15/09/14 Malaysia Chronicle

Tab battery sends Mangalore airport into a tizzy

Bangalore: : High drama prevailed at Mangalore International Airport when a Kerala passenger set to board a Sharjah flight was detained with suspicious baggage on Saturday night. A flurry of checks was carried out throughout Sunday before security agencies cleared him in the evening. Airport sources said Abdul Khader, 29, resident of Muttamkunnil Shiriyar in Kumble of Kasargod district, reportedly obliged a neighbour's request to carry a set of books for her brother who stays in Sharjah. What Khader didn't realize was that the book parcel also had a tablet with faulty battery and a bottle of liquid to treat an infection. When Khader proceeded for security check at the Mangalore airport to board the Jet Airways flight 9W352 at 11.15pm on Saturday, CISF personnel found a suspicious packet in his luggage. Since Khader didn't know the contents of the parcel sent in by his neighbour, he couldn't provide a coherent answer.

He explained an 'exposed circuitry' — the faulty battery of a tablet which aroused security personnel's suspicion — as part of a parcel of books. Mangalore City police chief R Hithendra told TOI that the security personnel subjected his luggage to a thorough check. What fuelled their doubts was a bottle of liquid next to the object. On closer examination, CISF personnel concluded that it was the faulty swollen battery of the tablet. And the bottle of liquid turned out to be hydrogen peroxide used to clean infected wounds.
15/09/14 Jaideep Shenoy/Times of India

Delhi-based MSD Aviation gets no-objection certificate to launch cargo airline

New Delhi:  After providing initial approvals to six airlines to operate national and regional passenger services since coming to power in May, the new government has issued a no-objection certificate to a Delhi-based company, MSD Aviation Pvt Ltd, to launch a cargo carrier.

"The airline will now have to apply to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation for a permit," a senior civil aviation ministry official said. Getting an NOC is the first step towards launching flight operations. MSD Aviation now has to apply to the aviation regulator for an air operator's permit, complete all necessary requirements and satisfy the DGCA of its capability to operate.
The company is in the business of leasing flight crew internationally, according to information on its website. An executive at the company said it could share its plans only after getting a formal approval letter from the ministry.
15/09/14 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Hope for safety rating lift

New Delhi: Officials of America’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are expected to review the steps taken by India to improve flight safety.

The FAA had downgraded the country’s aviation safety rating to Category 2 in January after the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) failed to resolve the concerns flagged off by the US agency.

“We would like India to be Category 1 as soon as possible. We invited them (the FAA) to visit the DGCA for a review in September or October, when our team went to the US and made a presentation to them last month,” civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said while highlighting the ministry’s achievements in the past 100 days.

He said the FAA team would be visiting India and “I am sure India will return to Category 1”.

The FAA had done two safety audits and had found deficiencies on over 30 counts.

One such area is the lack of a technical manpower such as flight inspectors, a large number of whom have now been recruited.

On the regulator serving show-cause notices to 131 pilots of Jet Airways for not clearing the necessary tests, the minister said the DGCA would not compromise on safety.

“There can be no compromise on safety. The DGCA is expected to act according to the law and they are doing it,” he said.
15/09/14 Telegraph

Sawaikar panel to take up airport issue with Centre

Panaji: South Goa BJP MP Narendra Sawaikar, who heads the Dabolim airport advisory committee, will take up the issue of the Indian Navy holding on to airport land, with both the state and central governments.

The continued reluctance of the Indian Navy in Goa to hand over land for the expansion of the Dabolim airport has irked the delegation of Goan MLAs that accompanied Sawaikar on an inspection visit of the new airport terminal building.

Accompanying Sawaikar were Goa environment and forest minister Alina Saldanha and local MLAs Carlos Almeida (Vasco) and Mauvin Godinho (Dabolim).

The team was irked to see that the layout at the building was very haphazard. Saldanha told TOI that the passengers have complained to her that the various facilities for the passengers are located at different places; while the check-in counter is on one floor, the security is at another place and the immigration is somewhere else. This forces passengers to walk up and down repeatedly before boarding the flight. When this was pointed out to the airport director, he repeatedly said that the layout was such because of "constraints of space."
15/09/14 Times of India

DGCA given 30 days to prove disabled not harassed

New Delhi: The court of the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities (CCPD) has asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to reply within 30 days, with proof, that people with disabilities are not being harassed or humiliated at airports and that security personnel have been sensitized towards them. The court wrote to DGCA after a person with locomotor disability claimed he was harassed and humiliated at Hyderabad Airport.

TOI had reported that on February 23, Dr Satendra Singh, who was travelling from Hyderabad to Delhi, was asked by security at Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport to remove his leg brace during frisking. Singh, who teaches at the University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi University, has post-polio residual paralysis and uses a knee-foot-ankle-orthosis (KFAO) also called a caliper or brace, for support.
15/09/14 Manash Pratim Gohain/Times of India

Robert Vadra likely to lose ‘no-frisk privileges’ at airports

New Delhi: Standing in the queue for pre-embarkation security checks at airports might soon a reality for Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s industrialist son-in-law, Robert Vadra.

Current rules entitle Vadra to the exemption when he is travelling with ‘SPG protectees.’

Alongwith Vadra, several others might soon lose the VIP tag that exempts them from being frisked at the country’s civil airports, as the Civil Aviation Ministry is working on a new list of VVIPs exempt. According to media reports, 10 categories are likely to be removed from the current list.
15/09/14 Amrit Mann/Deccan Chronicle

On-site rehab of airport slums shows Cong’s desperation to win back voters

Mumbai: Stung by Congress’s rout in Mumbai’s Lok Sabha constituencies that are dominated by slums, the Prithviraj Chavan-led government in Maharashtra has made a final and desperate attempt to woo the slum dwellers, considered to be a loyal votebank of the party for decades, ahead of the October 15 Assembly elections.
Just three days before the model code of conduct came into force, the Congress-NCP government issued a notification declaring its intent to undertake in-situ rehabilitation or on-site rehabilitation of the 90,000-odd families settled on the fringes of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
The rehabilitation of the slum dwellers in the flats, now proposed to be built on the airport land, has been a long-standing demand of the residents, whose stiff opposition to being moved elsewhere has until now stymied all plans to free up the 276 acres they occupy within the severely space-constrained airport.
15/09/14 Manasi Phadke/Indian Express

Jet passengers stranded after 3-hour delay

Indore: A Mumbai-bound evening flight of Jet Airways S24387 was delayed by three hours owing to technical snag at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Terminal, Mumbai on Sunday.
The flight, which is scheduled to arrive at 4.05 pm and depart by 4.50 pm from Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport, Indore, arrived three hour late at 7.05 pm due to technical glitch. 145 passengers were left stranded at the airport. Few passengers booked tickets in another flight.
15/09/14 Times of India

Global vendors give a miss to defence min’s $3.5-bn aircraft project; deadline extended

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) plan to replace the ageing Russian transport aircraft, Avro, has hit another airpocket with no global vendor showing interest in bidding for the $3.5-bn project. This has forced the defence ministry to extend the deadline for seeking price bids to October, the fourth extension in the last 18 months.
This will be the first time India will see a private consortium come up in a military aviation. Until now, the military aviation business has been dominated by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL). Senior officials told FE that “a request for proposal (RfP) was issued under ‘buy and make’ Indian to foreign vendors in May, 2012. The RfP makes it mandatory for them to select an Indian partner from the private sector.”
The IAF has to acquire 56 transport aircraft to replace its ageing Avro fleet. In a tender issued on May 9, 2012, the defence ministry had bypassed PSUs like HAL and said new aircraft will be produced by Indian private sector firms.
The tender was issued to eight foreign vendors, including Swedish Saab, Russian Ilyushin, European Airbus Military-Casa C-295, Italian Alenia C-27J Spartan and Brazilian Embraer, and they will have to find an Indian partner to produce 40 aircraft within India.
15/09/14 Huma Siddiqui/Financial Express

Now, 10K Reasons for Airport Staff to learn Hindi

Chennai: Signing documents and reports in Hindi might just become a fad among airport employees here, especially if they could get some extra cash. In a move imposed by the Airports Authority of India’s Hindi Implementation Committee recently, all non-Hindi speaking employees are in contention for a Rs 10,000 cash award, if they can manage the simple task of writing or even signing in Hindi, as many times.

“This was instituted a short while ago and will run for the period of this financial year. Most people cannot learn to write in Hindi so quickly, but signing will be quite easy,” said an AAI official, as there is renewed interest on the eve of Hindi Week. “Effectively, lot of employees have been told that one sign in Hindi will fetch them one rupee,” the official added.

Much like most incentives given under the Rajbhasha Adhiniyam (Official Languages Act 1963), three persons will be eligible for the ‘award’ with the only requirement being that their counters must clock 10,000 words or more. At the meeting held recently, AAI’s regional executive director (Southern Region) captain Deepak Shastri said, “Several non-Hindi speaking officials with AAI have gone to other airports, learnt the language and returned with renewed confidence and are even writing in Hindi. It must not be looked at like a rule or exam, only then will it be effective.”
15/09/14 Daniel Thimmayya/New Indian Express

Air travellers take to mobile apps to get best out of flash sales

Mumbai: Air travellers are increasingly shifting to mobile applications from the desktop to book tickets, a trend that underlines the growing demand for smartphones and mobile Internet and, interestingly, is driven by the growing number of flash sales offered by airlines.

"Right now, there are 8,500 to 10,000 tickets sold via mobile applications every day. Two years back, the number was zero," said Samyukth Sridharan, president and chief operating officer of Cleartrip. "This shows the increasing number of customers who have access to the Internet via mobiles. It also in a way shows we are getting tech-savvy and that there is a growing faith on the powers of the Internet. Compare this to a few years earlier when our biggest worry was doing credit card transactions. Cleartrip gets 30 per cent of its total searches on its mobile while the rest comes from desktop. Last year, the ratio was 12: 88.

Similarly, actual transactions on mobile have risen to 35 per cent from 20 per cent last year. Cleartrip gets 3 million searches every month, or 100,000 a day. As of last week, roughly 2.2 million consumers had downloaded its mobile application. For others, the story is similar. Makemytrip, India's biggest online portal, said in its latest annual report that its mobile customers soared more than 14 times in two years to 327,892 till March 2014. It had a total of 3.2 million users of its mobile application as of end June.
5/09/14 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times