Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SpiceJet suffers Rs 2.5 crore daily revenue loss; staying afloat big challange

New Delhi: Amid flight cancellations, the cash-strapped SpiceJet could well get sucked into a swirling financial turbulence. The loss-making airline is teetering on the brink of a crisis, with a daily revenue loss of close to Rs 1.5-2.5 crore – a conservative estimate worked out by dna – due to cancelled flights. Its accumulated losses, as of March 31, 2014, stand at Rs 2,500 crore. Last quarter, its losses were Rs 310 crore.

The losses on flight cancellations can touch Rs 15-25 crore by November 30. The company has announced it will cancel 50 flights everyday till that date.

This revenue loss is computed on the basis of an average fare of Rs 3,000- 4,000 per passenger.

Considering that the airline is already grappling with a working capital problem, this depletion in revenue could hit its operations further and force it to cancel more flights, unless it is able to raise capital quickly.

However, its cost will not go down much since its fixed costs – staff, airport charges equipment, etc – remain the same. It will save fuel cost, which constitutes over 40% of an airline's operating cost.
25/11/14 Praveena Sharma/Daily News & Analysis

Stranded flyers left high and dry: SpiceJet's cancellation spree may hit its future

Low-cost carrier SpiceJet  may have been in news for their fund-raising plans, but the airline has also been making headlines for canceling and re-schedules flights due to a sudden shortage in aircraft.

Irate passengers have been taking to Twitter after being alerted by the the airline of cancellations:

A journalist with Firstbiz who was to fly with SpiceJet on Thursday  was also at the receiving end when she was told just 48 hours  prior that her connecting flight on a journey to Lucknow had been cancelled and that too via an SMS. After a 30  minute wait, she finally managed to get through to the call centre, and a tweet directed at the airline only met with the response that a customer care representative would get in touch with her 'shortly'. The call centre finally confirmed her ticket for part of the journey, but she was forced to book the connecting flight on another airline and that too last minute.
The large number of cancellations on the airline are primarily as the number of  daily flights being operated have been trimmed down by 50.

SpiceJet had said last week that a new flight schedule has been put in place for this week as some Boeing 737 aircraft from its fleet had to be returned. At its peak fleet strength in July this year, SpiceJet had 35 Boeing 737s and 15 Q400s. As on 18 November the airline had 26 operational aircraft.

COO Sanjiv Kapoor had told Firstbiz yesterday that the airline expects to see six Boeing aircraft return to its fleet later this week.
25/11/14 FirstBiz

DGCA directs Raipur airport authorities to control bird activity

Raipur: A team of Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which inspected the Swami Vivekananda Airport on Monday, a fallout of the incident of a buffalo straying at Surat airport recently, has pointed out at heightened "bird activity" around the runway and advised the authorities to take preventive steps to avoid a bird hit.

According to sources a three-member team of DGCA conducted a detailed inspection of the airport's runways to check for fencing to prevent entry of stray animals into the sensitive take-off and landing areas. While the fences were found to be in order, the team found "too much bird activity", which could cause a "hit", said sources.

The inspection was fallout of the Surat incident where a stray buffalo came in the path of a Spice Jet aircraft that was taking off. The accident, though averted, had exposed the safety standards at the airports.

Sources said, following the incident, the DGCA, on the directions of the Civil Aviation ministry, had compiled a list of 18 airports in the country that face 'wildlife hazard'. Subsequently inspections are being carried out at all the identified airports and the authorities are being advised to take adequate steps to ensure safety.
25/11/14 Anuja Jaiswal/Times of India

IAF may assemble PC-7 trainer aircraft

Nagpur: : The Indian Air Force (IAF) is all set to take up the job of assembling one more aircraft at its base repair depot (BRD). After taking up the work for assembling Mi17 helicopters at the Chandigarh BRD, IAF may soon take up the work for Pilatus (PC-7) trainer aircraft being procured by the country. Earlier, there were plans to have an independent manufacturing set-up, but as it did not work out, the task has come back to IAF.

This is closer to the aim of IAF making its own aircraft. Recently, IAF has been firming plans in this direction for which assembling can be the first step. It can also help it in developing reverse engineering techniques, said a source involved in the process. There are chances that the BRD situated at Coimbatore may be assembling the PC-7s. The BRDs come under the IAF's maintenance command, which is based at Nagpur.

At present, it is the Bengaluru-based PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited which does the chunk of assembling or manufacturing for IAF. Doing the job directly is likely to make things smoother and IAF will be both the maker and user of the equipment, the source said.
25/11/14 Shishir Arya/Times of India

Can old airlines weather the storm?

The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), formed some eight years ago in 2006, had Air India, Jet Airways, IndiGo Air, SpiceJet and Go Air as its members. It recently, lost its founder-member in Air India. The Federation had resisted the issue of licences to Air Asia and Tata SIA by protests to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). And when the issue of 5/20 rule was talked about, they made a hue and cry that this should not be waived and that all new airlines must complete five years of domestic service before being allowed to fly on international routes, provided they have a fleet of 20 aircraft, "as per rules" in force.

That was the rule then. Now it might change. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has not succumbed to this pressure by the Federation and had stated that 5/20 rule does not exist in any country across the world!

Now the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has released a white paper, which says "there is no logic in the policy (rule) of government that required airlines to operate local service for five years and have a fleet of 20 aircraft before being allowed to fly to foreign destinations".
25/11/14 Ak Ramdas/moneylife.in

Investigation Into Buffalo Breach at Airport Reaches Conclusion

An investigation to find out how a buffalo ended up undetected on an airport runway as a jet was about to take off and to prevent such an incident happening again has reached its conclusion: build a better wall.

Two weeks after a Boeing Co. jet with 146 people on board crashed into a buffalo on the runway while preparing to takeoff from Surat airport in Gujarat, officials there say they are now working to reinforce part of the boundary around the airfield.

The 737-800 aircraft, part of Indian budget airline SpiceJet Ltd’s fleet, rammed into the buffalo that had wandered into Surat airport in Gujarat earlier this month.

“After investigations, it was decided to build a 300-meter boundary wall to replace an iron fencing,” Pramod Thakre, the recently-appointed director of Surat airport, told India Real Time.
He said the airport has a 12.5 kilometer-long boundary wall, except in one 300-meter-portion where the buffalo would have likely wandered through onto the runway.
25/11/14 Santanu Choudhury/Wall Street Journal

West Asian airlines to be hit if smaller towns are off limits

New Delhi: Plans of West Asian airlines Emirates, FlyDubai and Qatar Airways to expand operations in India may be affected by an aviation ministry proposal to restrict foreign carriers from adding new flights to airports beyond Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Airlines like Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Lufthansa now fly to Jaipur, Kozhikode, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Goa, Lucknow and Pune.

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju Pusapati was quoted in a recent media interview as saying foreign airlines had grown because they served destinations beyond the metros. Raju said the government would allow foreign airlines to operate out of hub airports at the six metros but Indian carriers could fly out of any international airport.

While the government will not review points of call already accorded to foreign airlines, it is unlikely to grant them new seat entitlements or points of call beyond the six metros. It hopes this will allow Indian airlines to realise their growth potential.
25/11/14 Business Standard

Flawed and disappointing

After five and a half months of the new government coming to power, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced a draft aviation policy. Besides the Airport Infrastructure Policy of 1997, India is yet to produce a cabinet approved Civil Aviation Policy though draft policies have existed for over last 25 years. Now, we have yet another half baked four page draft document.

After enunciation of the economic importance of civil aviation, the ministry has made certain announcements. The proposed corporatisation of Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited is a good sign as it will bring in greater efficiency and transparency.

However, there is no mention of hiving off and corporatising air traffic management, which has been on the anvil for some time and has been recommended by the Naresh Chandra Committee on the ‘Road Ahead’ as far back as 2002. Further, there is no mention of converting the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) office into a Civil Aviation Authority – a much needed catalyst for an efficient DGCA – that was approved by the last government. This is a step backwards.
25/11/14 Sanat Kaul/Deccan Herald

IIM-B to roll out course in Aerospace and Aviation Management

Mumbai: The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) is rolling out a course on Aerospace and Aviation Management. The part-time certificate programme, called General Management Programme for Aerospace and Aviation Executives (GMAE), is aimed at working professionals from the aerospace and aviation sector and will be launched on December 1.
It is being offered by IIM-B in partnership with Toulouse Business School (TBS), France. This is the first such course in aerospace and aviation management by a premier business school in the country at a time when Indian and foreign companies are showing growth opportunities in aerospace value chain, and as players in developed economies look forward to cut costs and improve efficiency.
Participants who complete the GMAE programme will be eligible to pursue the aerospace MBA being offered by TBS. Aerospace MBA is a two-year programme delivered by both faculty members from TBS and IIM-B together with industry experts from aeronautics, aviation, space and defence.
25/11/14 Rica Bhattacharyya/Economic Times

Congress to move court against airport renaming

Hyderabad:  Angry at the Centre's decision to name the domestic terminal at Shamshabad airport after iconic Telugu leader NT Rama Rao, the Congress party on Sunday said it will soon move court against it.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who is also in-charge of the party's Telangana affairs, steered a coordination committee meeting here on Sunday, after which he told reporters that the party could no longer keep quiet on the controversial issue. "We are actively considering moving court against the move to name the domestic terminal. There is only one building and one terminal, so how can it have two names?" Singh asked.

Telugu Desam Party leader and Union civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju had 'restored' NTR's name to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) by ordering that the airport's domestic terminal would be known as N T Rama Rao domestic terminal.
But the move has created ruckus with regular protests both at the airport and at the assembly. While chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said there was no point in having two names for one airport, the Congress leaders have are directly criticized the move.
25/11/14 Times of India

Navy Has Land For Golf Courses, Not For Airport Expansion, Rues Cong

Panaji : If the Indian Navy has surplus land to build golf courses, it can certainly offer some land critical for the extension and upgradation of the Dabolim airport, state Congress president Luizinho Faleiro said Monday, adding to the controversy over building a second airport in Goa.

Addressing a press conference here, the newly-appointed state Congress chief said the Indian Navy was being unreasonable in allotting 12.5 acres of land for Goa’s only airport, reports IANS.

The land is required for upgradating and increasing passenger handling capacity of Goa’s only international airport at Dabolim, 30 km south of Panaji. The airport is operated by the Indian Navy. “If the Indian Navy can have space for a golf course there, then why can’t they allocate more space for extension of the airport,” Faleiro said. Faleiro demanded the state government put on hold efforts to start another airport at Mopa, 50 km from Panaji, and instead upgrade the existing Dabolim airport.
25/11/14 Free Press Journal

Passenger Traffic to Singapore Doubles

Hyderabad: The number of travellers from Hyderabad to Singapore more than doubled from 83,000 in 2010 to about 1,69,000 as on September 2014, according to Changi Airport Group, which runs the Changi Airport in Singapore.

Interestingly, Singapore is the second top destination for Indians next only to Dubai and the passenger traffic as on September 2014 between Singapore and India stood at 3.4 million.

India is the seventh largest market for Changi and has 12 city links and operates 380 weekly flights across eight airlines.
25/11/14 New Indian Express

Monday, November 24, 2014

SpiceJet says in early talks with investors for fresh capital

New Delhi: SpiceJet Ltd is in "exploratory and preliminary stage" talks with investors about raising fresh capital that it needs to return to profitability, the budget airline said in a regulatory filing on Monday.

SpiceJet, which this month reported its fifth consecutive quarter of losses, has been trying to raise fresh capital for much of this year. It said in May it was in "advanced" talks for capital infusion but no deal materialised.

"We wish to clarify that a few parties have approached us and evinced interest in making investments into SpiceJet Limited (the "Company"), as the Company has been exploring various options for raising fresh capital," the airline said.

The talks are at an early stage so it would be improper to comment on the specifics of any possible stake sale, it said.

Shares in the carrier were down 2.37 percent by 3:45 p.m. following the statement, against a 0.58 percent rise in the Sensex and erasing some of Friday's gains when SpiceJet stock jumped 15 percent after news channel CNBC TV18 said an investment was imminent, citing sources.
24/11/14 Reuters

SpiceJet hopes to stay afloat as Marans zero in on potential investor

SpiceJet's promoters, the Marans of Sun Group, may have finalised an investor for the ailing airline. A source told Firstbiz this morning that a deal, which could see an infusion of up to Rs 1,500 crore in tranches into the airline, has already been agreed upon.

Global aviation consultancy CAPA has estimated that SpiceJet needs $250 million or close to Rs 1,550 crore and then further continuous flow of capital in the near term.

The SpiceJet management has said many times in the past that it is in talks with multiple investors and needs to get recapitalised — it needs to bring down sticky costs, expand its fleet and tie up working capital to continue in the bleeding Indian aviation industry.

If a deal does happen, it can only be good news for the beleaguered SpiceJet. Earlier, the airline's promoters were in talks with some foreign airlines and private equity investors.

A SpiceJet spokesperson merely said “While the company is exploring various options to further capitalize, we are unable to comment on specifics at this stage”.
24/11/14 Sindhu Bhattacharya/FirstPost

SpiceJet fleet thinning down

New Delhi: Low cost carrier SpiceJet claimed to have 26 Boeing 737s operational in its fleet on Tuesday — down from a summer high of 35. But in just five days, or by Sunday, the airline admits that its Boeing fleet has depleted by two more and is down to 24.

On Tuesday, COO Sanjiv Kapoor had said that the airline's daily flights were down from 345 in the summer to 300. But with two more planes not flying now, the cancellations have grown. While the LCC claims 50-odd flight reductions, industry sources say its actual fleet flying and number of daily flights being operated on them may be much lower—causing hardship to flyers who booked in advance.

"We are revamping the fleet to come out stronger and shed unfavourable contracts and unwanted aircraft. We are doing this as part of turnaround process ... (Our) schedule reduction is about 50," Kapoor told TOI on Sunday, while claiming that the airline's Boeing 737s fleet will grow to about 30 by year-end.
Aviation authorities are closely watching the crisis deepen at SpiceJet which needs immediate infusion of funds to survive.
24/11/14 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

SpiceJet's sudden flight cancellations earn travellers' ire

Mumbai/New Delhi:  After bringing cheer to a dispirited travel market with flash sales this year, SpiceJet's sudden spate of flight cancellations have earned it the ire of the passengers. The airline's call centre and travel companies selling its tickets have been inundated with calls from angry passengers who have received text messages informing them that their flights have been cancelled. "The calls have increased manifold in the last one week.We are trying our best but have had to abandon some of them. The network has been jammed too," said a SpiceJet customer care executive.

Anand Murthy, a journalist in Chennai booked a flight to Guwahati in September to attend his friend's wedding.Three days prior, Murthy got a text message on his phone saying the flight had been cancelled and he should contact the customer care to re-book.

Murthy couldn't reach the customer care and posted it on the airline's Twitter page.He promptly got a call in two hours, but the next flight available for rebooking was a week after the wedding. "I opted for a refund but the amount wouldn't be a fourth of the price I would have to pay for the last-minute booking of an alternate flight. I had to cancel my trip," said Murthy.
22/11/14 Anirban Chowdhury & Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

New rules may let domestic carriers fly abroad sans curbs

New Delhi: The civil aviation ministry is looking to scrap restrictions on Indian carriers that want to start overseas services, a move that will benefit new entrants such as Tata-SIA joint venture Vistara but may displease existing airlines IndiGo, Jet Airways and others.

"You have limited them by laws like 5/20," civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati said in an interview, referring to the rule that Indian carriers should have been flying for five years and have 20 planes to be eligible for starting overseas operations.

"Allow them. Indians are capable people and they have proved this off and on." He likened the norm to a "reservation kind of a system" that keeps small players out and said the ministry was developing a formula to replace the eligibility rule.
24/11/14 Mihir Mishra/Times of India

Vistara Airlines launch held up due to flying permit delay

Mumbai: Tata-Singapore Airlines promoted full-service carrier Vistara will now be able to start operations only next year due to delay in grant of scheduled Air Operator Permit (AOP).

The airline had applied to the DGCA for the permit in April and had planned to launch services by September.

"Vistara has still not received the AOP and even if it gets it in the days to come, the airline will take at least a month to launch," industry sources told PTI.
"Besides, any airline looks for few initial bookings before the launch and as of now there is a total silence from the airline on this front," they said.

"We are in the final phase of securing the air operator's permit (AOP). We are working with the regulator to complete the remaining process expeditiously and look forward to launch our services soon after receiving the permission," a Vistara spokesperson said in a statement.
23/11/14 PTI/Economic Times

Tripura slashes 4% VAT on aviation fuel

Agartala: The Tripura government has slashed Value Added Tax (VAT) on the Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) by 4% with immediate effect on Saturday.

The move is aimed at attracting more private airlines and at the same time give relief to the passengers from paying exorbitant air fares.

Finance secretary Ashutosh Jindal said chief minister Manik Sarkar has decided to reduce VAT on ATF from the existing 22 % to 18 % at the meeting of the council of ministers headed by the CM.
With the decision, ATF price in Agartala has now become lowest among all northeastern states and Kolkata, he said. He added that at present Kolkata, Guwahati, Imphal and Mizoram have been collecting 20 % VAT on ATF.
23/11/14 Times of India

Indian women pilots soar past global average

New Delhi: Ground realities may be harsh for women in India, but they're still determined to conquer the skies.
Almost 600 of the 5,050 pilots in Indian airlines are women, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). At 11.6%, this is way above the 3% global average estimated by the International Society of Women Airline Pilots.
India is also seeing a steady rise in women pilots annually. The last five years saw 4,267 commercial pilots' licences being issued, of which 628 or 14.7% went to women.
Ground realities may be harsh for women in India, but they're still determined to conquer the skies.
Almost 600 of the 5,050 pilots in Indian airlines are women, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). At 11.6%, this is way above the 3% global average estimated by the International Society of Women Airline Pilots.
24/11/14 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

DGCA to give Air India Dreamliners ILS category II certification to fly in light fog


New Delhi: Air India's Dreamliners are having a race against time to get prepared for Delhi's winter fog. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is all set to give instrument landing system (ILS) category II certification to the Boeing 787, allowing it to land ins hallow fog.
But whether the most crucial Cat III B certification — which lets aircraft land in dense fog — happens this winter or not remains to be seen.
"We will give Cat II certification soon and then each pilot will have to do 50 landings on this to go to the next step of Cat III. Let's see if that can happen this winter," said a senior official.
While the fog in Delhi may still be some time away, poor visibility in the foreign destinations where AI Dreamliners fly is already creating problems for its flyers.
24/11/14 Saurabh Sinha/Economic Times

Shimla airport to resume operation soon: Virbhadra

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Monday said flights from the Shimla airport would resume soon with the renovation of the airstrip.

The Jubbarhatti airport near Shimla has been shut since September 2012.

The chief minister said the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has also conducted a survey near Kandaghat in Solan district, located adjoining the national highway 22, for setting up a new airport, which would facilitate landing of bigger aircraft.

“But before that, the Jubbarhatti airport would resume operation,” he added.
24/11/14 Mizo News

Air India left 50,000 of flyers stranded in October

Mumbai: Air India appears to have touched a new low in October as more than 50,000 of its passengers were hit by flight delays. It's an abnormal number as, on an average, across all Indian carriers, including Air India, around 25,000 passengers are affected due to delayed flights each month.

A total of 62,011 passengers who booked domestic and international flights on Indian carriers were hit by flight delays beyond two hours in October. Of these, 50,773 belonged to AI alone, stated Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data. In September, a total of 24,250 passengers were hit and 18,346 were AI passengers (see box). The trend was the same for the earlier months with AI contributing the highest percentage of passengers hit by flight delays.
The national carrier, which is the third largest airline in terms of domestic market share, flew around 17 lakh passengers, domestic and international included, that month. So, three out of every 100 passenger who flew AI were stranded at airports during the busy Diwali festive season travel. In comparison, only 0.2% of passengers who booked on private carriers were hit by flight delays in October.
24/11/14 Manju V/Times of India

Shia team stopped at IGI

New Delhi: A six-member Anjuman-e-Haidari delegation headed for Iraq was detained at IGI airport on Monday morning. Initially, immigration officials stopped the team on the basis of a 'look out circular' issued by the intelligence bureau. However, they were not allowed to board the flight even after they showed officials their travel documents and a letter from the external affairs ministry.
"Security agencies are scuttling efforts to bring back people who joined ISIS," said Shia leader Maulana Kalbe Jawad Naqvi.
24/11/14 Times of India

MH370 mystery will soon be solved, chances of debris washing up in Indonesia?

Kuala Lumpur: The man in charge of co-ordinating the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 believes the mystery will soon be solved, according to mirror.co.uk.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau crash investigator Peter Foley expects debris from the Boeing 777 to start washing up in Indonesia soon, reported Mirror UK.

It is nearly nine months since the Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared on the way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. For the first 10 days the search now concentrated on the southern Indian ocean focussed on the South China sea.

A team of 180 people have been working full time on solving the mystery and Peter Foley said: "Something is going to wash up somewhere on the beach, most probably in Sumatra.
"We've had many people handing things into the local police.

"We send it off to Boeing and they identify it, but as yet we haven't positively identified anything from the aircraft.

"Things in the ocean take a long time to come ashore."

At the high priority search site two vessels are still working around the clock using 'side-scanning' sonar equipment. Crews of up to 40-people man the ships working in shifts to ensure the search never pauses.
24/11/14 Deccan Chronicle

Air India ‘needs strong foreign partner’

New Delhi: Air India can no longer remain under Government ownership and must be privatised with a strategic airline partner, says a white paper on the Indian aviation Industry prepared by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).
“A strong foreign airline should be inducted as a 26 per cent and eventually 49 per cent strategic partner,” the paper says. “As Air India has turned around and emerges as a viable and competitive airline, the Government can further divest its stake to 26 per cent with the balance 25 per cent being held by private Indian interests or other stakeholder public sector units.”
It further recommends the setting up of a council for the future of the airline and establishing a plan within six-to-nine months, outlining the circumstances under which the privatisation will be possible as also the structure of the privatisation model.
23/11/14 Ashwini Phadnis/Business Line

India hopes to reverse flight safety rating

New Delhi: India’s hope to reverse its downgrade of safety ranking by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) soon after the US agency’s inspection in December may come a cropper.

The FAA is non-committal on upgrading India to Category 1 soon, saying its reassessment may take several months. A team from the FAA will examine the progress made by India between December 8 and 12, ten months after it downgraded India to Category 2, which has ten other countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia and Curacao.

The downgrade came as India could not achieve satisfactory on two counts – insufficient number of flight operations inspectors and airworthiness officers do not have required training to handle all types of aircraft.

India now says that it has recruited more Safety Inspectors and imparted proper training and expects a positive outcome of the inspection by January.

However, the FAA is non-committal. “The FAA will begin a reassessment of India’s Civil Aviation Authority in December, which may take several months,” an FAA spokesperson told Deccan Herald in an email from the United States.
23/11/14 Shemin Joy/Deccan Herald

Aviators firm to provide air ambulance services


Bengaluru: Indian national operator Aviators Air Rescue Ltd will provide air ambulance services across the country using Airbus helicopters in partnership with the US-based Air Medical Group Holdings Inc, the company said Monday.

"We have recently signed a tripartite agreement with Airbus Helicopters and Air Medical Group to offer helicopter emergency medical services in the country using three Airbus-built EC 135 T3/P3 choppers from last quarter of 2015," the city-based Aviators said in a statement here.

The agreement envisages training pilots and medical personnel for the services to state governments, rescue groups, private hospitals, clinics and state-run and private firms through an annual subscription.

"Our objective is to provide top-notch air medical services on par with similar operations in Europe and the US, with the support of Airbus and Air Medical Group, which are leaders in their respective fields," Aviators managing director Arun Sharma said in the statement.
24/11/14  IANS/Business Standard

Now, one ID card per group enough at Indian airports

New Delhi:  A complaint from a family of four that was denied entry to an Indian airport because only the father had an identity document has led to a change in procedure.

Now only one person in a group will need to have an ID, said Arvind Ranjan, DG of the Central Industrial Security Force, which handles security at 59 airports in the country. This will add to passenger convenience and help reduce congestion. The decision was reached after consultations with Intelligence and security agencies.
Ranjan said this was a "reasoned interpretation" of earlier instructions by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS). Other changes are under way in the area of airport security. "We are putting a personality profiling system in place to detect suspicious passengers at the entry," Ranjan said.
24/11/14 Aman Sharma/Economic Times

Copter to ferry pilgrims for Panchkoshi ‘parikrama’

Vrindavan: A helicopter service will be launched on December 4 to ferry pilgrims on a " parikrama" (circle) of the holy town in just eight minutes. The Agra-based Jet Star Charter and Helicopter Services will use the helipad developed for President Pranab Mukherjee when he visited Vrindavan to lay the foundation stone of the world's tallest Sri Krishna temple on the Akshay Patra campus.

Yogesh Singh Choudhary, director of the company, said initially the chopper service would be available for a quick "parikrama" of the town but later, if the UP government permits, service to Agra could be extended.
The fare fixed for a trip is Rs 2,700 per person for conducting a "parikrama" of the Panchkoshi.
On foot, it takes about four hours to complete the 15-km "parikrama".
24/11/14 Times of India

5/20 policy clips wings of Indian carriers: Assocham

New Delhi: The rule that requires Indian airlines to complete five years of domestic operations and have a fleet of 20 aircraft before starting services abroad has prevented the carriers from claiming their rightful share in international passenger traffic, according to an industry body.

A white paper released by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) on the civil aviation industry says there’s no logic in this provision, which is popularly known as the 5/20 policy.

The policy was introduced by the Manmohan Singh Government in December 2004. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government has indicated that it wants to review the policy.
23/11/14 Business Line

Small airports unable to afford CISF security

New Delhi: The country's security establishment is concerned about revenue becoming too much of a constraint for airport security at a time when there is a heightened threat to smaller air strips in tier 2 towns that are guarded by local police having little expertise this area.

Lathi-wielding policemen were seen chasing away dogs from the runway at Surat airport after a plane ran into a buffalo there on November 6 in what was a close shave for passengers. The Surat administration has now asked the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to station Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel there to provide security.
CISF provides security at 59 airports, including India's biggest facilities. Juhu airport in Mumbai, a hub for private flights and helicopter operations, only has unarmed guards and a demand for CISF presence has been hanging fire for the last three years. There are about 30 airports that are waiting to hand over security functions to the CISF, a senior government official told ET.
24/11/14 Aman Sharma/Economic Times

Air Works India forms JV to start MRO services in Nepal

New Delhi: High taxes on maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) activities in India has made Air Works India Engineering focus on growing international business. The company has formed a joint-venture with Nepal-based Yaksa Investment, 'Air Works Nepal', which will provide aviation maintenance services to international airlines and domestic operators from Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu. Air Works India is also exploring possibilities to start to satellite line maintenance stations in Myanmar and Bhutan over the next few years.
Sanjeev Munjal, vice-president (strategy and M&A), Air Works India Engineering Pvt Ltd, said, "The commencement of operations in Nepal in is line with our overall expansion plans to start aviation engineering services' ventures in neighbouring countries where availability and quality of MRO services is not up to international standards. We are also examining possibilities to start operations in Myanmar and Bhutan."

While Air Works will extend its technical capabilities from India to facilitate operations in Kathmandu, Yaksa Investment will secure clearances from local regulatory authorities. Air Works will provide line maintenance services on ATR 42/72, Airbus 320/330 and Boeing 737/777/787. Commercial operations in Nepal are expected to commence by March/April 2015.
24/11/14 Sharmistha Mukherjee/Business Standard

Joint Working Group to Resolve Conflicts at Bengaluru Airport as Second Runway Opens

Bengaluru: The Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), Indian Air Force (IAF) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) are jointly working on resolving possible airspace conflicts when the second runway at the KIA becomes operational.

To keep pace with air traffic growth, the Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) has started work on a second runway at the KIA. Operations from the second runway, located south of the existing one, may impact training at the Air Force Station, Yelahanka.

Transport and helicopter pilots are trained at the Air Force Station. It is one of the most active air bases in the country and also the venue for the biennial Aero India air show.

“Operations on the second KIA runway may impact helicopter flying, which is conducted north of the Air Force Station runway,” sources told Express.

A Joint Working Group (JWG) comprising the IAF, HAL and BIAL representatives has been formed to identify and resolve all airspace conflicts. The issue had been discussed at the JWG meetings earlier.
24/11/14 Ramu Patil/New Indian Express

Demand for aircargo complex gets louder

Visakhapatnam: For the pharma units of north Andhra, delay in developing air cargo complex here for their products is turning into a bitter pill to swallow The sector has attracted heavy investment in not only at Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City, Parawada, but also at Pydhibheemavaram, Ranasthalam, Nakkapalli, and Vizianagaram making north Andhra the pharma hub of Andhra Pradesh.

“We can get testing lab, cold storage and customs clearance here instead of sending our consignments to Hyderabad for despatching them to the United States, Europe and other destinations giving us a freight, time and cost advantage,” JNPC CEO Lal Krishna told The Hindu.

He said the turnover from JNPC, which was around Rs.6,000 crore, could be doubled in next four to five years if air cargo facility is provided at Visakhapatnam International Airport.

After cyclone Hudhud dealt a body blow to various units at JNPC, normal production began on November 10. At present, 54 are under operation and 20 under construction at domestic and SEZ area. So far the total investment made was put at over Rs.7,000 crore.
24/11/14 Santhosh Patnaik/The Hindu

Flight attendants refuse to work beyond duty hours

Mumbai:  Air India's troubles with getting their flights to depart on time seem to have much to do with the manner in which they schedule their flight attendants' duty.

While the aviation regulator's norms dictate that a flight attendant should not be rostered for more than 1,000 hours of flight duty in a year, the national carrier seems to be doing just that. "Around 30-40 of the 400 flight attendants based in Delhi who work on narrow-body aircraft such as A320 and A319 are currently being rostered for flight duty though they have crossed the maximum 1,000 hours-a-year duty limit," said an airline source. These are the flight attendants on AI's domestic network and on flights to Singapore, Bangkok, Islamabad, Kathmandu, among others. Several of them refuse flight duty as it amounts to violating DGCA norms, said the source and added that it was one of the reasons for AI's flight delays.

On the other side are flight attendants who can be legally rostered for flying, but the airline does not do so. "Even a cursory glance would reveal that those in charge of crew-scheduling punish some flight attendants by consistently rostering them on all-night flights with three to four take-offs/landings. The favoured lot gets flights from Delhi to Bangkok and Singapore with night halts," the source added.
24/11/14 Manu V/Times of India

Air India doesn't spare even the Chief Minister of Maharashtra

When it comes to ending VIP culture, Air India could turn out to be an accidental champion. For, not only did the airline’s officials make Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis wait for a flight on Friday night, they waited till 20 minutes after the plane’s scheduled take-off time to inform him that it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Authorities from the national carrier then made the CM who had to get to Delhi urgently and his convoy rush to T2 to take another flight, which was also delayed by 14 minutes. The reason the first flight was delayed was that the pilot was not available, despite AI officials knowing that Fadnavis was going to be travelling on it. On Friday, Fadnavis had checked in and was waiting to board AI 605, which was scheduled to depart for Delhi at 9 pm. At 9.20 pm, he was informed that the flight would not be taking off anytime soon. He was not told when the flight would take off. An airline official confirmed that the assigned pilot, Amit Karunakaran, could not report for the flight, which was supposed to fly with 161 adult passengers including the CM two infants and six crew members, as his mandated rest period was not over.
24/11/14 Neha LM Tripathi/Mid Day

SMC to demolish all cow sheds from 10 km area of airport

Surat: Surat Municipal Corporation ( SMC) has issued notices to 19 owners of the cowsheds located within 10 km area of the Surat airport. All 19 cowsheds would be demolished once the notice period expires.

After the buffalo episode that took place in Surat airport some 20 days ago, the illegal cow sheds have come in focus. After a buffalo hit an aircraft which was taking off on the runway of Surat airport, resulting in private airline cancelling all its flights flying to and from Surat, local administration on its part has become active to rectify the image of the city.

Four days ago, five such cowsheds located in Vesu area of the city were demolished. However, the allegations which were laid on the officials said that they were not bothered about the airport but were taking this chance to demolish those cow sheds that are located nearby the plum lands of some developers.
23/11/14 Himanshu Bhatt/Times of India

Army wives want Cheetah, Chetak helicopters phased out

Mumbai: A group of women, who are wives of Army officers who fly and service the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, want phasing out of these archaic flying machines that have been involved in 191 crashes over the past two decades.

They plan to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to submit their petition seeking replacement of these machines.

According to the Indian Army Wives' Agitation Group, the 191 crashes have claimed 294 lives. On an average, there are three to four Army Aviation accidents every year.

The last crash happened on October 1 when a Cheetah belonging to the Army Aviation crashed in Uttar Pradesh's Bareilly district, leading to the death of two pilots and an engineer.
The Army still has 120 of these machines. Some of these copters, that crashed in the high altitudes of Jammu and Kashmir's Siachen, have been untraceable along with the officers on board.
24/11/14 Ganesh N/Mail Today/India Today

Airport Naming Row: Purandeswari Flays TS Leaders

Kurnool: Former union minister D Purandeswari criticised the members of Telangana Legislative Assembly for their comments over the naming of domestic airport in Hyderabad after former chief minister NT Rama Rao at a BJP meeting held at Yammiganur town in the district on Sunday.
Speaking on the occasion, she said that NT Rama Rao was a national leader who fought for the development of Telugu culture and the comments made by Telangana legislators will hurt the sentiments of Telugu people. “Though, they have the right to express their opinions over the central government’s orders, the comments made by them will bring down Telugu language, culture and history to a new low” she added.
Yammiganur YSRCP leader Devendra Goud and industrialist Narahari Reddy joined in BJP on Sunday. On this occasion, the party has organised a meeting and held a massive rally in the town.
24/11/14 New Indian Express

Lucknow, Varanasi airports scanning tourists for Ebola

Lucknow:  The two International airports in Uttar Pradesh—Lucknow and Varanasi—have come on the radar of the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA), days after a passenger was found inflicted with Ebola virus at Delhi airport. The authority has issued fresh instructions to conduct rigorous checking of foreign tourists for possibility of virus threat.

While Lucknow airport, being located in the state capital, receives a number of flights from New Delhi and Mumbai, the Varanasi airport receives foreign tourists. Sources said passports of foreign passengers are being checked thoroughly to ascertain the nationality and if found from any of the west or South African countries they are made to go through an isolation cell for checkup.

The development comes a couple of days after a team from DGCA made surprise visit to the two airports to inspect the precautionary arrangements the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has taken. Sources at the Lucknow airport said the team inspected some aircraft which landed from Delhi and Mumbai.
24/11/14 Times of India

UP govt to take two aircraft on rent for ‘VVIPs’

Lucknow: The UP government has decided to take on rent two highly-advanced set of flying machines to provide a more luxurious air travel to VVIPs including Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. These aircraft will be Falcon 2000 and Hawker 900XP or their variants.
The state government presently has five aircraft including two aeroplanes and three helicopters. These aeroplanes include Hawker and V200 which are five to 10 seater. The choppers include Agusta, Bell 412 and Bell 230. Among these aeroplanes, only Hawker is jet propelled whereas V200 is turbo-propelled that can fly with speed of maximum 600-km per hour.
Officials said that the government is planning to sell Bell 230 (1995 made) as it has completed its flying life span and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav often prefers Bell 412 to fly within UP. Official said that another helicopter is urgently needed for reserve in the fleet.
24/11/14 Lalmani Verma/Indian Express

MIA improves ranking in customer satisfaction survey in round II

Mangaluru:  Mangaluru International Airport (MIA) at Kenjar near here has every reason to cheer. In the latest customer satisfaction survey - round II (July to December) conducted by an external agency on behalf of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), MIA has improved its position from 14 in round I for first six months of this year (January to June) to eight in the latest survey, which is published on AAI website www.aai.aero.

MIA got 4.65 points out of a maximum of five to be ranked eight. Raipur with a score of 4.75 is ranked first on a five point scale in 53 airports to be ranked number one. Chandigarh (4.72), Coimbatore (4.72), Bhubaneswar (4.70), Trichy (4.70), Dehradun (4.68) are ranked second to sixth respectively. Incidentally, Udaipur and Mangaluru have identical survey scores of 4.65 each, but Udaipur pipped Mangaluru on higher facilities score.
24/11/14 Jaideep Shenoy/Times of India

Airlines eye tech partners to tap customer data

Airlines are seeking to work more closely with travel technology companies to mine customer data for ways to generate more revenue beyond ticket sales, emulating other industries already using such methods.
While retailers have implemented ever more ingenious ways to make better use of customer data, both online and offline, many airlines have been slower off the mark, only recently looking to harvest more profitably wealth of information provided by their frequent-flyer loyalty schemes.

"Revenue from the ticket is barely covering costs these days," Uwe Klenovsky, commercial director of Thomas Cook Airlines, said at the CAPA World Aviation Summit in Antwerp. The International Air Transport Association ( IATA) forecasts that global airlines will achieve a net profit margin of only 2.4% this year, higher than 2013 but a long way from the 10% margins in the 1960s.
24/11/14 Times of India

Agartala airport to be made international airport

Agartala: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has completed preliminary work to upgrade Agartala airport as an international airport to boost the region’s connectivity with Southeast Asia, an official said on Monday.
“The prime minister is likely to lay the foundation for upgrading the Agartala airport on December 1. However, his programme would be finalised in a day or two,” a top official said.
He said: “The Tripura transport minister accompanied by top state government and AAI officials has visited the Agartala airport on Sunday to supervise the proposed ceremony to be held at the airport in connection with the foundation stone laying.”
The prime minister, during his four-day visit to northeast region, is scheduled to visit Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.
24/11/14 IANS/Gulf News

NTR's name for RGIA terminal decided in '99: Naidu

Hyderabad: A day after the Telangana assembly passed a resolution opposing the decision of the Union civil aviation ministry naming the domestic terminal at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport after N T Rama Rao, both the TDP and Congress staged protests in the city.

Former TDP minister Motkupally Narsimhulu sat on protest at NTR Ghat at Necklace Road against the Telangana assembly's resolution. Andhra chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Union minister Sujana Chowdhary and MLAs E Dayakar Rao and A Revanth Reddy expressed their solidarity with him.

Naidu said that Shamshabad international airport was launched during the TDP regime and recalled that the party had announced in 1999 itself that the domestic terminal would be named after NTR. He said the AP government would take steps to respect and install the statues of Telangana leaders like Komaram Bheem, Chakali Ilamma and PV Narasimha Rao in the new capital of Aandhra Pradesh.
23/11/14 Times of India

2 kg of gold seized from air passengers

Trichy:  Immigration authorities at the international airport here caught more than 2 kilograms of gold from four passengers on Saturday night, estimated to be worth crores of rupees.

The passengers were reportedly attempting to smuggle the gold by hiding it inside toners and cartridges of printers. They had been carrying identical parcels, put in gift boxes. The officials found cartridges and toners when they opened the boxes during a routine check. However, closer inspection that gold bars were sealed inside it.
24/11/14 Times of India