Thursday, August 28, 2014

Flyers’ complaints on the rise: DGCA issues shape-up diktat to airlines

New Delhi: A large chunk of air travellers have been resenting problems relating to delayed flights and customer services of various airlines, though official data showed substantially less number of complaints in July compared to June.

The number of complaints received by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in July was 581 compared to 900 in June, official data showed.

Almost 30 percent of passenger complaints related to troubles with flight cancellations or delays, while about 25 percent of passengers expressed discontentment over customer services of various airlines, the July data showed.

The percentage of complaints about staff behaviour in July was 11.5 percent, compared with 7.9 percent in June.

While lost baggage complaints totalled over 18 percent in July, it was 23 percent in the previous month.

Officials said these complaints have led the DGCA to tighten the screw on airlines, especially on checking instances of rude or unhelpful behaviour of their staff at airports and in the aircraft.
28/0814 First Post

Govt open to allowing second airport within 150 km of an existing one

New Delhi/Hyderabad:  The Government is keeping an open mind on allowing a second airport to come up within 150 km of an existing one.

The current policy says that no new airport should be allowed within a 150 km radius of an existing airport.

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the rule was “infructuous” right from the beginning. Officials said the rule was brought in after discussions with private players who threw up the idea.

“We want the private sector to have the confidence if we want them to make long-term investments. But that should not become an impediment to other development. Then what are the legal implications? The overall look is one angle. The legal implications are another angle. Keeping these two in mind we have to see what is in India’s interest as ultimately a decision should be in the interest of the country,” the Minister told BusinessLine.

Asked whether the Ministry was undertaking a study on the rule, the Minister said there has to be a study as there was a need to examine all options and reasoning for taking a particular decision.
27/08/14 Ashwini Phadnis/Amit Mitra/Business Line

Air India’s Rs 100 ticket offer: Website remains down on second day

National carrier Air India’s website continued to remain down on Thursday, on the second consecutive day of its limited period offer on discounted tickets for Rs 100.
Just like day 1, the website on Thursday remained unavailable as clinking on its link showed a page with ‘The Service is Unavailable’ message making it impossible for the customers to book the ticket.
As the website continued to remain down, the customers willing to book a ticket fumed on the poor services. “When they can’t handle the response, why do they even announce such offers. Such a scheme is nothing but a mere eye wash to fool people. We tried logging on to the Air India website throughout the day through different systems, but our efforts yielded no results,” claimed Sahil Kapoor, working in a private firm in Hyderabad, who tried booking a ticket to Delhi for the coming week.
Air India’s website had on Wednesday crashed, perhaps due to heavy booking load following its offer. The website, hosted by National Informatics Centre crashed minutes after the offer started.
28/08/14 Indian Express

Air India offers Rs 100 fare till August 31 but website leaves consumers frustrated

New Delhi: Even as the state-run carrier celebrated ‘Air India Day’ on Wednesday with a promotional Rs 100 fare offer, its online booking website crashed within minutes of the announcement causing disappointment for the many hopeful passengers eyeing a good deal and the Air India website's service is still unavailable on Thursday.
Air India had announced discounted tickets offer for Rs 100 for a limited period to celebrate its merger with erstwhile Indian Airlines. Under the 'Air India Offer' — a scheme offering tickets for Rs 100 apart from all applicable taxes — tickets are being sold through the airline’s website exclusively for five days from August 27 to 31 for travel between August 27 and September 30 this year.
However, after few hours of the announcement of the offer, customers started facing problem in accessing Air India website with messages such as 'service unavailable' page.
"Air India expresses its sincerest apology to customers who tried to access our website during the last few hours. We are experiencing some technical problem with our servers and doing everything to minimise the amount of time necessary to restore our website," the airline posted on its Facebook page.
28/08/14 Financial Express

AirAsia offers 3 million promo seats across network

New Delhi: After spicejet, Air India and Indigo airlines, now AirAsia is offering big discounts on air ticket.

The Malaysian no-frills carrier has offered 3 million promo seats across AirAsia network from now till 31 Aug 2014.

Meanwhile, Indian flyers can now travel abroad as cheap as Rs 2,600. Ticket to Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia from Cochin can be booked at Rs 2,600 inclusive of everything.

While tickets from Chennai to Bangkok can be booked at Rs 3,200, Chennai-Kuala Lumpur tickets come at Rs 4,000; Bangalore to Kuala Lumpur at Rs 5,000 and Kolkata to Kuala Lumpur at Rs 4,000.

This offer is applicable for travel between March1, 2015 and October 24, 2015, bookings of which will be accpted till August 31, 2014.
27/08/14 Sameer Dixit/ZeeNews

Air India tops list of passenger complaints, SpiceJet second

New Delhi: Air India tops the list of passenger complaints lodged against Indian airlines in July this year, followed by no-frill carrier SpiceJet, official data shows.

Most air travellers, who have lodged complaints against the airlines, complained of problems relating to delayed flights and their customer services.

While Air India topped the list with the maximum of 213 complaints, it was followed by SpiceJet with 129 and IndiGo with 92. These carriers were followed by GoAir with 81 complaints and Jet Airways 61, the data for July showed.

The least number of complaints — three and two — were registered against new carriers AirAsia India and Air Costa respectively.

Officials said these complaints have led the DGCA to tighten the screw on airlines, especially on checking instances of rude or unhelpful behaviour of their staff at airports and in the aircraft.
27/08/14 PTI/Times of India

Govt move to set 35-year age limit for Air India crew to face legal test

Mumbai: The civil aviation ministry's move to cap the upper age limit for Air India cabin crew at 35 years is impractical and fraught with legal complications, airline's crew and lawyers representing them have said.
This is because about 70% of the permanent cabin crew are over 35 years. Also the airline will have to serve a legal notice before making any change in service conditions, they added.
Two weeks ago civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju gave a 26-point agenda to the airline to boost its performance in wake of competition. One of them is keeping age limit of cabin crew young to improve service standards and reduce delays. The minister suggested older crew members could be given ground duties.
However, crew members say the move is impractical and could lead to curtailing of operations if it is implemented immediately.
Air India has 3,400 cabin crew, 800 of whom are employees on contractual basis. The 800 contract employees are all less than 35 years of age. Of the 2,600 permanent employees - 800 cabin crew are more than 50 years of age, 500 are between 40-45 years of age and 1300 are below 40 years of age.
27/08/14 Aneesh Phadnis & Sharmistha Mukherjee/Business Standard  

Passengers cry foul as Kerala-Dubai airfares skyrocket

Dubai: Airfares to Dubai from the Indian state of Kerala have skyrocketed by more than four times from now until the first few days of September as a result of the end of summer vacations and upcoming Onam festival.

Return airfare from Kozhikode, Kerala, to Dubai has gone up from around Rs19,000 (Dh1,150) a few weeks ago to as much as Rs78,500 (Dh4,790) around Onam (September 9), leading passengers in Kerala scrambling to other airports in India for cheaper options.

A Keralite who’s landed a job in the UAE changed his travel plans after he was told the airfare from Kochi to Dubai is a whopping Rs80,000. The jobseeker opted to travel from Thiruvananthapuram to Mumbai, and from there to Sharjah, paying altogether Rs60,000, thus saving Rs20,000 (Dh1,220).

“All return air tickets from Kerala, especially from Kozhikode and Kochi are very high up to September 10. These rates are four to five times more than the normal rate during other seasons,” said Abdul Rasheed, a Travel Consultant.
28/08/14 VM Sathish/Emirates 24|7

Airlines fare hike to Gulf regions resented by Kerala CM

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today expressed strong resentment over the hike in airfare by airlines operating to Gulf regions and said the state's protest would be conveyed to the Union civil aviation ministry.

"The airline companies are creating an artificial demand for tickets by cutting down services and taking advantage of the Onam festival season," he told reporters during the cabinet briefing here.

"Kerala's protest in this regard will be conveyed to the Union Ministry for Aviation", he added.
27/08/14 PTI/Business Standard

Captain Gopinath plans new airline

Guwahati: Encouraged by the approach of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Captain Gopinath said that he was going to launch his new venture in airlines very soon. Capt. Gopi was here on Wednesday to launch his air-ambulance services in association with Luan Airways, exclusively for Northeastern states.
 Regretting that approach of the previous regime, which followed the policies dictated by existing airlines, was responsible for setback of the civil aviation sector of India, Capt. Gopi told reporters, “I would also like to make an appeal to the insurance companies of India to introduce some new product which can empower every Indian citizen to avail the facilities of air-ambulance for evacuation in case of medical emergency by paying a nominal annual premium.”
289/08/14 Deccan Chronicle

Air India wants Boeing to give more compensation for the grounding of Dreamliners

New Delhi: Perturbed by the recurring glitches in its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet, Air India's management has asked Boeing to compensate for the grounding of the aircraft due to these problems and the subsequent loss of revenue because of bad publicity. These compensations would be over and above the demand for initial deliveries not being as fuel-efficient as promised, which is being negotiated.
Air India (AI) asked for this compensation in its meeting with Dinesh Keskar, senior vice-president, Boeing India, in the beginning of August. "The faults with Dreamliners are just refusing to die and we are facing a lot of losses due to aircraft on the ground, adverse publicity in media that takes away a lot of our passengers. We have asked Boeing to compensate us for the same," said a senior AI official.

He added that an executive representing the AI management, in its meeting with Keskar, showed him a file that was a compilation of media reportage over Dreamliner glitches in India.
28/08/14 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Kingfisher Airlines should be given loan, other documents by Punjab National Bank: High Court

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today said that Punjab National BankBSE -1.70 %, which has served a notice on Kingfisher Airlines alleging that it has willfully defaulted in payment of dues of over Rs 770 crore, should give to the carrier copies of documents relied upon by the bank.
A bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru, which later decided to hear the matter tomorrow again, also said that the ailing airlines can be allowed to be represented by a lawyer in the proceedings to be conducted by the PSU bank against it.
The counsel for PNB said that airline had been provided with the copy of the loan and other related documents at the the initial stage itself and the demand of the relied upon documents now is a just "ploy" to delay the recovery proceedings.
"In any proceedings, you will have to supply the documents, to be relied upon in drawing an adverse inference, to the other side," the court said.
Earlier, the airlines had moved the court against PNB's notice alleging the carrier has willfully defaulted in payment of outstanding dues of over Rs 770 crore.
27/08/14 PTI/Economic Times

First Hajj flight from India arrives in Saudi Arabia

Jedda: The first Hajj flight from India carrying 235 pilgrims has arrived in Madinah in Saudi Arabia.
Air India flight AI 5001 arrived yesterday at Prince Mohammed International Airport in Madinah from Kolkata.
The pilgrims were received at the Prince Mohammed International Airport by India's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Hamid Ali Rao, Consul General of India, Jeddah BS Mubarak and other officials.
From the Saudi side, officials from Ministry of Hajj, General Authority of Civil Aviation and Airport Authority were present.
All pilgrims were provided Saudi SIM cards at their embarkation points in India.
28/08/14 PTI/Financial Express

ATC averts major accident at airport

Kolkata: A disaster was averted at the Kolkata airport on Wednesday morning when an alert controller spotted a pilot error in the nick of time and took immediate corrective action. The plane, a Boeing 767-200 aircraft, could have overshot the runway and plowed into the airport wall, leading to a major catastrophe had the controller not acted on time.

According to sources, a non-scheduled passenger aircraft belonging to Jet Aviation was flying to Kolkata from Bangkok. When it approached from the Barasat side to the north of the airport, the controller asked it to land on the secondary runway as repairs were underway on the primary runway.

The plane slowly descended for landing, but when it was around 7 nautical miles from Kolkata airport, it suddenly veered to the left and continued to do so further away from the primary runway, towards the heavily populated Narayanpur to the south-east of the airport. It was around 10.59am.
28/08/14 Times of India

Boeing, Airbus Vie for $2 Billion Air One Order in India

India’s Air One Aviation Pvt. is seeking $2 billion of jets to take on Singapore Airlines Ltd.’s (SIA) venture in the country, stoking competition in a market where carriers lost almost $10 billion in seven years.

Air One, among six companies that last month got initial approval to start airlines in India, is looking at Airbus Group NV’s (AIR) A320s and Boeing Co.’s (BA) 737s, its director Alok Sharma said in an interview yesterday. At list prices, 20 Boeing 737-900ERs cost $1.98 billion, although airlines typically get discounts.

“You can’t start with one plane and wait for another six months to get the next one,” Sharma said in his office near New Delhi’s airport, adding Air One plans to provide full-service flights from mid-2015. “The launch will be decided by availability of aircraft in a contiguous manner.”

Sharma, undeterred by one of the world’s costliest aviation markets, said he sees growing demand for air travel and reduced capacity because some airlines in India are struggling. Singapore Airlines -- partnering with the Tata Group -- plans to fly its full-service Indian venture Vistara this year. AirAsia (India) Pvt. began operating a low-cost carrier in June.
28/08/14 Bloomberg.com

Kerala Tourism inks MoU with GoAir

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Tourism Thursday inked an MoU with budget air-carrier GoAir, which has agreed to offer exclusive discounted fares to tourists visiting the state.

There was a symbiotic relation between aviation and tourism industries and there was already an agreement with Jet Airways, which brings in tourists to Kerala at discounted rates, Kerala Tourism secretary Suman Billa said here.

"Through this arrangement both parties benefit and we hope more airlines will come forward to have an agreement with us as it's going to be a win-win situation for both," Billa told reporters after the MoU was inked.

Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar, who was also present on the occasion, said tourists can book discounted GoAir tickets through 42 approved trade partners.

GoAir vice president Manoj Dharmani said the non-availability of liquor was not going to be a negative aspect as far as tourism industry is concerned.
28/08/14 IANS/daijiworld

JetLite pilots to lose seniority on Jet merger

In an unprecedented move in India’s aviation sector, pilots of JetLite, the no-frills carrier owned by Jet Airways (which will soon cease to exist) have been told that their previous flying experience will not hold any value as and when they are absorbed into the parent airline.
The move has created a lot of anxiety and uncertainty among JetLite pilots regarding their future. Jet Airways’ chief executive-designate Cramer Ball is scheduled to meet with JetLite’s 230 pilots on September 9 and shed further light on the company’s future plans.
Some pilots of the low cost-airline that Jet acquired from the Sahara Group in 2007 told FE on condition of anonymity that they may quit following the meeting, if the management’s explanation doesn’t satisfy them.
India’s third largest carrier by market share had said on August 13 that it will operate all flights under a single brand, Jet Airways, and the loss-making low cost carrier JetLite will cease to exist.
In an internal memo dated August 19, the company’s human resources department intimated JetLite’s pilots that they would have to resign and from their employment at JetLite and apply for a job with Jet Airways afresh. A copy of the memo has been reviewed by FE.
28/08/14 Indian Express

India should review airport regulatory model for investment

New Delhi: India's prevailing airport regulatory model has yielded "poor returns" for investors, global airports body Airports Council International (ACI) said today and sought its review to attract investment to develop aviation infrastructure in the country.

Asserting that transparent economic regulatory processes must be put in place in India, ACI Director General Angela Gittens said, "The current regulatory model has yielded poor returns for investors and this could stifle development of India's airports in the long run."

Gittens, who met top government officials including those from the Civil Aviation Ministry here, said India needed the "right" economic regulatory framework in place to encourage the development of the much-needed airport infrastructure.

The government should "review their approach towards regulation....India really needs to think about how much economic regulation is necessary," she told reporters.
28/08/14 PTI/Business Standard

MIAL, Oasis ink Rs 580-crore land development deal

Mumbai: Mumbai International Airport (MIAL), a GVK-led consortium that operates the Mumbai airport, has inked its first commercial property development deal worth Rs 580 crore for a 5.5-acre land parcel in GVK SkyCity, a mixed use development planned around Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport, with a Mumbai-based developer Oasis Realty.
This deal marks the start of monetisation of commercial real estate by the company, which forms part of its airport development plan. The parcel will have a potential of 1.166 million square feet of commercial development, GVK said.
The transaction, according to GVK, has been finalised at the rate of around Rs 106 crore per acre, and at about Rs 5,000 per square foot of built-up area.
Speaking to FE, Sanjay Reddy, managing director, MIAL said, "This is just the start of the monetisation process. There is a plan to have an overall commercial development of 22 million square feet, which will be undertaken in phases over a period of 10 years. This will include hotels, retail and commercial development". The company has set a target of about 2 million sq ft of monetisation by December 2014.
28/08/14 Financial Express

Nepal moves to establish shorter air routes to India

Kathmandu:  The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation on Wednesday formed a technical working group to discuss a range of airspace issues and create a favourable condition to open new cross-border air routes between Nepal and India.

The group is led by the deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) and includes senior officials of the Tourism Ministry. It will finalize Nepal’s agenda for opening more direct and shorter flight routes between the two countries.

The group will submit its report to the ministry which will forward it to the Cabinet. Subsequently, a meeting will be held with an Indian technical team, said Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at the Aviation Industry Management Division at the ministry. Nepal has proposed holding the first round of meetings with India in September and the second round in October.  
28/08/14 eKantipur.com

Malaysia Airlines planes 'flying empty' post MH17, MH370 air tragedies

New York: After suffering two major air tragedies, Malaysia Airlines flights seem to be having a tough time getting passengers on board as pictures posted on social websites show near-empty planes and deserted terminals.

Tweets of passengers traveling via Malaysia Airlines flight revealed desolate check-ins lines and deserted airplanes, with some even enjoying the extra space to lounge, New York Post reports.

One of the passengers and Twitter user, @WanPingCoombes, flying a Malaysia Airlines plane, posted a picture of herself along with her family on August 17 with the background showing a completely vacant plane.

Meanwhile, Julia Macfarlane, a kin of another Malaysia Airlines passenger took to Twitter to announce that her mother had safely flown on the struggling airline.
27/08/14 ANI/Daily News & Analysis

Five-hour haj flight delay forces Manjhi to fly back

Gaya: CM Jitan Ram Manjhi on Wednesday flew back to the state capital without flagging off the first batch of Haj pilgrims of the state as the inaugural flight was delayed by nearly five hours. Manjhi flew in shortly after 9am to flag off the first flight of Haj pilgrims scheduled for 10.50 in the morning. But the five-hour long delay forced the CM to fly back without performing the flagging off ritual. The long delay caused confusion and management problems at the airport. Quite a few pilgrims expressed resentment at the delay.

According to Dr Farasat Hussain, coordinator of health services to Haj pilgrims, said though the delayed departure of the pilgrims caused more inconvenience to the older pilgrims though doctors and para-medical staff remained in action mode to cater to their health requirements.

However, the CM individually met the pilgrims and offered them flowers and asked them to pray for the welfare of the state. Addressing the Haj pilgrims, volunteers and officials present at the airport, the CM promised to speed up the land acquisition work for the expansion of the runway to facilitate the landing and take off of A-310 type of planes with a passenger capacity of 250. On account of the existing shorter runway, only A-320 type planes with 140 seat capacity can make a safe landing and take off.
28/08/14 Abdul Qadir/Times of India

Security enhanced at Tiruchi airport

Tiruchi: Security has been ramped up at the Tiruchi International Airport consequent to an anonymous call received on Wednesday that Chennai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore, and Madurai airports would be blasted by ‘human bombs.’
The telephone call was made to the office of the Chennai Airport Director on Wednesday.
The in Chennai and they would target Chennai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore, and Madurai airports.
An alert was immediately sounded to the Tiruchi airport authorities who convened a special security meeting at the airport. Personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), city police, immigration, various airlines and other agencies participated in the meeting presided over by the Officiating Airport Director K.Jebaraj, airport sources told The Hindu.
The threat message was conveyed to the officials and contingency response measures to be taken by each agency were outlined at the meeting.
28/08/14 R Rajaram/The Hindu

Guwahati airport to soon have three more hangars

New Delhi: Guwahati airport would soon have three more hangars to park the growing number of aircraft operating from there, with the government today approving the swapping of land between the airports authority and a children's village of prominent NGO Save Our Souls (SOS).

The decision to swap 2,397 square metre land of the SOS village with equivalent land owned by the Airports Authority of India was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

An official spokesperson said the Secretary General of the SOS village has already given written consent for swapping of the village land with AAI land.

The land swap would facilitate the construction of the hangars at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport.
27/08/14 PTI/Economic Times

Bad weather hits seaplane trial landing at Gangapur

Nashik:  The trial landing of the proposed seaplane service between Juhu and Gangapur dam was postponed on Wednesday because of poor weather conditions in Mumbai. The maiden service of the seaplane began on Monday between Juhu in Mumbai and Pawana dam in Lonavala and will soon be extended to the backwaters of the Gangapur dam in Nashik.

"The inspection by the civil aviation ministry for the project is pending. Wednesday's landing was supposed to be the trial of the service," Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) managing director Jagdish Patil told TOI.

MTDC regional manager Pradnya Bade-Misal said the trail landing was postponed barely a couple of hours before the sea plane was supposed to take off from Juhu because of bad weather conditions. He, however, added that the trial landing would be done soon, but did not specify the date.
28/08/14 Sumita Sarkar/Times of India

After CIA, Tamil-speaking 'Lashkar Chief' Threatens Airport Director of Suicide Bombers

Chennai: Last time he was from the CIA. This time he has morphed into the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief. The man who placed a crank call to the Chennai Airport Director on Monday, gave a repeat performance on Wednesday, again at precisely 10 am.

Except this time he identified himself as Akhtar and went on to say that he was the chief of militant outfit Laskhar-e-Taiba.  "The person who received the call recognised his voice as the hoax caller from Monday and so alerted the law enforcement agencies as he transferred the call.

However, even he was surprised to hear a man who claimed to be a terrorist chief speaking in Tamil," said an amused airport source.

When the call was patched through, he apparently said that Pakistani suicide bombers had crossed Tambaram and were en route to Chennai and Tiruchy airports to cause destruction.

He warned them to save as many lives as possible.
27/08/14 New Indian Express

Over 500 kg of gold seized at Mumbai airport in five months

Mumbai: Gold worth Rs 3 crore was seized in three separate smuggling cases by Customs officials at Mumbai airport on Tuesday. With the latest seizures, the gold seized this month has crossed 100 kg. From April to July, the Customs had seized 405 kg of gold as compared to the 62 kg seized during the same time period last year.

In the first case, the passenger, identified as Khalou Asmae, a Moroccon national who had arrived from Dubai, was found to be carrying eight gold bars weighing about 8 kg and valued at Rs 2.08 crore. "The gold was concealed inside the pocket of her pants. She had worn a burkha over it. Her friend, from Egypt, who is the owner of gold, was also apprehended," said a customs official.
28/08/14 Manju V/Times of India

Man held for trying to smuggle 1 kg gold

Thiruvananthapuram: The Customs Air Intelligence Unit of Trivandrum International Airport intercepted a man who attempted to smuggle one kilogram of gold on Tuesday night.

The unit detained and later took into custody Noushad Kadavan (30) of Malappuram, who arrived from Dubai via Indigo flight 6E 38 at 5.15pm on Tuesday.

"The suspect, who was detained for questioning, exhibited violent behaviour toward nightfall, but was not cavity searched. It is suspected that he may have swallowed contraband. Following a court order, an x-ray was taken to determine the contents of his stomach. The x-ray revealed eight gold biscuits, worth Rs 25 lakh, in his rectum," said a source.
28/08/14 Times of India

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

After offering tickets for Rs 100, Air India website crashes

Mumbai: In order to celebrate its alliance with Indian Airlines creating National Aviation Company of India Limited, Air India offered its tickets for Rs 100 to passengers. But this resulted in major surge in traffic on the web portal www.airindia.com before the website eventually crashed.

The website went down, with a message on the website that stated 'Service Unavailable'.
The sale of these tickets will start from August 27 and close on August 31, a five-day booking for travel during the period of August 27 to September 30. However, the booking has to be done only through the airline's website, which is not accessible currently.

The base fare of tickets would be Rs 100 with added taxes and other charges extra starting Wednesday. The airline website has not been functioning since midnight of 27th August and was not functioning even when this report was published.

Air India will be celebrating its merger with Indian Airlines as 'Air India Day' on Wednesday where it will award meritorious employees of the airline.
27/08/14 Daily News & Analysis

Is Air India's Rs. 100 ticket only a publicity gimmick?

New Delhi: In a major technical fault, the website of Air India crashed on Wednesday just few minutes after they offered travelers huge discount on tickets. Actually, the company had availed its tickets for just Rs. 100 (excluding taxes) to its customers to celebrate its merger with previous Indian Airlines. The offer was valid for five days from August 27 to 31 for travelling between August 27 and September 30 and the tickets were availed over company’s official website. However, it now just appears to be a gimmick to gain popularity in the aviation industry.

The national carrier had availed discounts to mark August 27 as ‘Air India Day’ when they amalgamated with erstwhile Indian Airlines and became one Air India in 2007.

But the strange thing in the development is that was the company didn’t aware of the enormous traffic they will gain after availing their tickets for just Rs. 100?

In a bid to mark the occasion, the company launched ‘Air India Offer’ – a scheme offering tickets for Rs 100 apart from all taxes.
27/08/14 Shubhanshu Sharma/Parda Phash

Aviation battle breaks out in Bangalore

New Delhi: The newest battleground for India's airlines is Bangalore, not Delhi or Mumbai. The country's two busiest airports, which constitute over 35 per cent of all domestic traffic, hardly have any capacity left which is used by low-cost carriers. That's why low-cost carriers are making a beeline to the city often described as India's Silicon Valley. Since there is little differentiation in the market now, the full-service carriers are set to follow them.

It all started when AirAsia India, the most serious challenger for market leader IndiGo, decided to make Bangalore its hub of operations in the country. In addition, Bangalore in October last year became the hub for Air Costa, a regional airline that connects Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad to Vijayawada, and also flies to Jaipur and Ahmedabad in the north. Bangalore's growing importance is evident in the numbers: from June to the end of the year, as many as 64 more flights will connect the city to existing as well as new destinations. The airlines that plan to mount these additional flights include IndiGo and Jet Airways apart from AirAsia and Air Costa. Bengaluru International Airport Ltd (BIAL) claims the airport witnessed 12 per cent growth in traffic between January and May this year, the latest period for which the figures are available, compared to the same period last year. Overall air traffic in the country during the five months grew by 4-5 per cent.
26/08/14 Surajeet Das Gupta & Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

DGCA red-flags airlines with 1,500 passenger complaints of very poor service

Reality can be bitter and passengers of domestic airlines in India often face it. True that low air fares have prompted a spurt in domestic fliers. But behind the glitzy photographs of aircrafts and promises of customer satisfaction, it's really a world of unhappy fliers at the airports in Delhi and other major cities. Their awful experiences shred the tall claims made by the domestic airlines into pieces. Across the airlines, from Air India to Spicejet, it's the same story. And the numbers of such experiences are increasing by the day.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the national regulator, has been flooded with hundreds of complaints by travellers against domestic airlines that range from rude staff behaviour to abysmal customer services, poor handling of delayed flights to lack of access for persons with disabilities.

DGCA officials said they had received about 1,500 complaints during the two months of June and July, or almost "one complaint every hour". These complaints have forced DGCA to tighten the screws on airline staff.
27/08/14 Ankur Sharma/Mail Today/India Today

Sops likely for airlines flying to smaller towns

New Delhi: In an attempt to improve connectivity to remote areas, the Government plans to introduce a new category of 87 incentive destinations including Warangal, Vellore, Tuticorin and Hassan.

The plan includes offering concessions for operating to and from the incentive destinations.

Airlines will be given sops which include exemption from landing and parking charges, route navigation facilities charges,  passenger service fee, fuel throughput charges and any other charges levied by the Airports Authority of India.

These suggestions have been made in a draft on the revised policy on regional and remote area connectivity. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has invited comments from all stakeholders by September 4 before a final decision is taken.
26/08/14 Business Line

Aiming at cost-cutting, Jet Airways asks JetLite pilots to join its crew

In the service conditions however, the airline said "only flying hours logged on 9W (Jet Airways) aircraft shall be counted for the purpose of pilot movement with 9W for career progression," which means hours clocked on operating JetLite flights will not be counted.

"It is absurd that the flying hours we have put in on a Boeing 737 on JetLite will not be taken into account when we join Jet Airways. This means my junior in Jet will automatically be promoted much before me," he said. A Jet spokesperson said the induction "will open career opportunities not only for a command upgrade but also for exposure to flying international routes and also movement to wide body aircraft".

The issues point at the various complexities Jet will face in trying to turn around, integrate or shut down JetLite which has been bleeding the airline dry since it was acquired in 2007. Jet recently said that it will do away with the JetLite brand and its other low fare Jet Konnect brand and operate only as Jet Airways. But JetLite still has a separate balance sheet, a different AOP and a flying licence.
27/08/14 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

Air India notice to subsidiary's CEO seeks explanation for Faulty aircraft

New Delhi:  The Air India management on Tuesday issued a show cause notice to the CEO of its engineering subsidiary over the large number of faulty aircraft being grounded in recent days and unusually large delays caused by snags. The notice was issued to AI Engineering Services Ltd (AIESL) CEO H R Jaganath after last week saw as many as 10 planes — five Airbus A-320s, three to four Dreamliners and one other aircraft —being grounded on a single day.

"The problem of snags delaying planes has been worsening. Every day we have some flights being delayed due to snags not being rectified in time or plane being released for flight without the existing fault being rectified. While none of these are safety issues, they delay flight and inconvenience passengers. Given the gravity of the problem, we decided to issue the notice to the head of AIESL," said a senior official. AIESL was among the two subsidiaries carved out of AI, with the other being for ground handling.

Things came to a head last week when an unprecedented thing happened — two engine failures within a space of 10 hours. A 1989-era Airbus A-320 took off from Kochi for Delhi on last Thursday and got an engine fire warning within seconds of getting airborne. Thanks only to the commander's superb handling, the fully loaded plane returned to Kochi safely despite being way above the maximum landing weight.
26/08/14 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Tata Signs Aircraft Pact with Pilatus

Hyderabad: Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL)  said here on Tuesday that it has  signed a pact with Switzerland-based Pilatus Aircraft Ltd to manufacture and supply turbine-powered business aircraft Pilatus PC-12 Green Aircraft aerostructures from its facility in Adibatla in Hyderabad.

The agreement includes assembly of complete airframes for the aircraft, including integrated fuselage, wing, cockpit, ailerons, fins, and rudders.

Pilatus is currently supplying its PC-7 MkII basic trainer aircraft to the Indian Air Force as part of its contract for 75 such aircraft.

‘’The partnership is important in the context of Pilatus’ offset obligation resulting from the sale of the PC-7 MkII Training Aircraft System to the Indian Air Force,’’  Markus Bucher, CEO, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, said.

According to Pilatus, there are 1,300 such aircraft sold worldwide and the PC-12 NG is involved in executive transport, cargo, air-ambulance, airline, and government special mission applications.
27/08/14 New Indian Express

Seaplanes to reach Gangapur

Nashik: After Pawana dam in Lonavala, the next stop of the seaplanes taking off from Juhu in Mumbai will be Gangapur dam in Nashik.

The water resources department, Nashik, on Tuesday confirmed that the seaplane services would start in Nashik. "A nine-seater seaplane will land in the backwaters of the Gangapur dam. We are in the process of finalising an agreement with the engineers concerned. On behalf of the water resources department, the Godavari Mahamandal is engaged in the agreement process with the executive engineers," executive engineer of the water resources department Sunil Bafna told TOI.

Though the project for Nashik is in its nascent stage, the departments concerned are in the process of completing all formalities for the extension of the seaplane services to the city.

Bafna said there was definitely a plan for landing the seaplane in the backwaters of the Gangapur dam, but the date was yet to be finalised. "Once the agreement is done, we will have to seek environmental clearance. We can start the service only after getting the nod from the environment ministry," he added.
27/08/14 Times of India

Air India and Indian Airlines: The seven-year hitch

Mumbai: Seven years after the merger between Air India and Indian Airlines, there is little to celebrate, with the airline failing to achieve operational and financial parameters set out in 2007, reports Rhik Kundu in Mumbai. Weighed down by debt of R44,000 crore, it remains in the red with a loss of R5,388 crore in FY14 on the back of R5,199 crore in the previous year. Indeed, with a host of low-cost carriers winning over flyers, the airline's market share at the end of July was 18% compared with 19.8% in August 2007; only on a couple of occasions in the seven years has the share risen to above 20%.
During this time, Air India started several new routes including Delhi-Jeddah, but discontinued flying on routes such Amritsar-Delhi-London. In 2012-13, flights to Toronto were withdrawn.
27/08/14 Rhik Kundu/Financial Express

Airlines need to discuss high taxes on ATF with govt: AirAsia

Chandigarh: Stating that higher taxes on aviation turbine fuel should be brought down to boost the country's aviation sector, no-frill carrier AirAsia India today asked all airlines to have a discussion with the government on this issue.

"All airlines need to have strong discussion with the government together. We are doing a bit and we constantly have discussion on (with the government) on how tax on fuel needs to be waived or dropped down," AirAsia India CEO Mittu Chandilya told reporters here.

He said from the discussions he is hopeful that "there will be a relooking at it".

AirAsia India today announced commencement of its direct flight to Chandigarh from Bangalore from September 5.

He said that airlines in India is not a "profitable business", saying that the government support is required for aviation sector to grow.
26/08/14 PTI/Business Standard

Chennai airport gets another hoax call, checks intensified

Chennai: For the second time in two days the Airport here received a bomb threat call today, following which security was intensified and checks carried out at over 20 areas in the premises, police said.

The office of the Director of Chennai Airport received a call at around 5.30 a.m. today, stating that a 'human bomb' would explode there, they said.

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and police were immediately alerted and intensive checks carried out in over 20 spots within the airport premises, including the cargo section, but the call turned out to be hoax, they said.
27/08/14 PTI/Business Standard

Air India plans to reintroduce Mangalore - Kuwait operations

Mangalore: Plan to reintroduce operations from Mangalore to Kuwait is taking shape. The flights that were cancelled ostensibly due to lack of leased aircraft on part of Air India Express is now all set to restart in the Winter schedule of the national carrier. Air India Express authorities have indicated the same affirmatively in their official e-mail sent to Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel. The flight will operate on the Bahrain-Kuwait-Mangalore route.

K Shyam Sundar, chief executive officer of Air India Charters Ltd, in an email communication to MP, has confirmed that the company has plans to reintroduce operations from Mangalore International Airport (MIA) to Kuwait.

"As I informed you over phone on Friday evening, it has been planned to reintroduce the link between Mangalore and Kuwait three times a week effective 27 th October 2014, i.e from the start of the Winter 2014 schedule. The routing of the flight will be Mangalore- Bahrain - Kuwait - Mangalore. The flight from Mangalore to Kuwait has been planned to be operated on Monday, Wednesday and Friday departing from Mangalore at 7.30am and reaching Kuwait via Bahrain at 11.15am (local time). In the return direction the flight from Kuwait to Mangalore will operate non-stop leaving Kuwait at 12.15pm local time and arrive into Mangalore at 19.25 hours local time," Sundar informed the MP through email.
26/08/14 Vinobha KT/Times of India

Jet-Etihad Airways deal: SC seeks Centre reply on Swamy's plea

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday sought Centre's response within four weeks on pleas by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking Cabinet note concerning Jet-Etihad Airways deal and copy of the transcript of tapped telephonic conversation of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia in which she had allegedly talked about civil aviation sector.

A bench comprising justices H L Dattu and S A Bobde asked Additional Solicitor General L Nageshwar Rao who accepted the notice on behalf of the Centre to file response on Swamy's application.

The bench also asked the Centre to respond to Swamy's plea seeking copy of communication of April 9, 2013 of Ministry of External Affairs to Ambassador of United Arab Emirates on the issue.

Swamy has filed petition seeking to quash the deal on the ground that it was against public interest as there has been squandering of natural resource i.E. The sky and air space.
26/08/14 ZeeNews

Russia Plans to Supply India With A-50 Aircraft – Aircraft Company

Moscow: Russia and India plan on signing a contract to supply India with A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft, Beriev Aircraft Company General Director-General Designer Igor Garivadsky told journalists Tuesday.
“We plan on signing a deal with the Republic of India to deliver the A-50 aircraft,” Garivadsky said.
The A-50 aircraft are intended to detect, track and determine the origin of air and surface targets, as well as conduct surveillance, command, control and communications functions for command posts of automatic control systems, and give guidance in hitting air and surface targets.
The planes have a maximum take-off weight of 190,000 kilograms (419,000 lbs) and can fly for four hours straight without refueling, carrying up to five flight crew members.
Earlier, it was reported that Indian troops had arrived in the Russian city of Lipetsk to participate in the Aviaindra 2014 joint air force exercise, which is to take place from August 25 to September 5.
27/0814 RiaNovosti

IndiGo plans daily direct flight between Vizag and Delhi

New Delhi: IndiGo will start a direct daily flight between Vizag and Delhi and a third daily flight between Vizag and Hyderabad from October 10.

The decision to start the flights, which will see IndiGo consolidate its position as the largest operator from Vizag with seven daily departures, was announced following a meeting with Civil Aviation Minister, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and representative of airlines here on Tuesday.

At the meeting, the Chief Minister said the State is favourably considering a proposal to reduce the sales tax on aviation turbine fuel to about 1 per cent.
26/08/14 Business Line

Manipur presses for int’l air services

Guwahati: The Manipur government has asked the Centre to launch international air services from Imphal airport to Bangkok via Mandalay and Kunming.

Manipur parliamentary secretary for tourism and sports Mairembam Prithviraj told the Union minister of tourism, Sripad Yesso Naik, to take up the matter with the civil aviation ministry.

Speaking at the national conference of tourism ministers in New Delhi recently, Prithviraj said the Imphal airport has been converted into an international facility. Union minister for finance and defence Arun Jaitley was also present.

Organized as part of the government's 100 days' action plan, the objective of the conference was to initiate high-level discussions on important issues faced by the tourism industry.
27/08/14 Times of India