Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Heads may roll at Air India after delays last week, one in 5 aircraft on ground

New Delhi: The story is becoming repetitive. Air India network reports massive delays and passengers take to social media to vent their ire for severe delays and clubbing of flights. The airline says frequent engine failure of its Airbus fleet has lead to grounding of 20% of the fleet strength.

This, coupled with Diwali rush on some days and inadequate loads on other days, has lead to flight delays, clubbing two or more flights or even advancing some flights.

Extension for Air India boss. PTIExtension for Air India boss. PTI
But the story does not end there. It now transpires that the airline is helpless in getting the engine manufacturer to compensate it or bear the costs of engine trouble with the fleet because at the time of buying these aircraft, no performance guarantee was sought from the manufacturer!

A senior official in the ministry of civil aviation told Firstbiz that such a guarantee would have ensured that the manufacturer bears the cost of repairs - some accounts suggest that Air India is facing fund shortage to get all engines back to working condition.

Perturbed over delays, minister Ashok Gajapati Raju Pusapati has already pulled up Air India top brass, directing engineering officials to fix the engines and get the entire grounded fleet air borne by March next year. Or heads will roll.
28/10/14 By Sindhu Bhattacharya/FirstBiz

Air India violates flying norms, puts lives of passengers at risk

New Delhi: In the news yet again for wrong reasons, India's state air carrier Air India has been accused of flouting civil aviation guidelines and putting lives of hundreds of passengers at risk everyday.
A month before the Unites States aviation watchdog Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the agency that downgraded India to Category 2 of safety standards, is scheduled to come to India for an audit, reports reveal that Air India has been violating the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) norms.
The data from several voluntary reports of Air India's Delhi-Sydney and Sydney-Melbourne-Delhi flights shows the crew members were made to fly for 17-18 hours and perform two consecutive landings without the prescribed rest period.
Many of the crew members had lodged complaints regarding the matter and listed out the risk of being incapable of swift action in case of an emergency due to tiredness.
According to the latest Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) guidelines, Series J Part 1 effective from June 14 2014, an international operation with flight time between 11-14 hours, the flight duty time limitation cannot exceed beyond 16 hours a day.
28/10/14 Priyanka Dube/CNN-IBN/IBN Live

Aviation Minister asks DGCA to probe into cheap airfares scheme

New Delhui: Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has asked director general of civil aviation Prabhat Kumar to investigate whether airlines have been misleading flyers by offering discounted fares.
A top ministry official told MAIL TODAY that carriers would soon have to submit to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data on discounted tickets offered in the past one year.
Raju has taken note of a complaint by Chennai-based Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) to DGCA alleging that discounted fare schemes were a gimmick as tickets were not available at the mentioned price.
APAI had alleged that these offers were merely a marketing stunt by airlines aimed at free publicity. APAI founder and national president D. Sudhakara Reddy wrote to Kumar that many of the discounted tickets are either sold out when a flyer tries to book a seat or the special offers do not exist.
29/10/14 Sanjay Singh/Business Today

DGCA rule changes leading to delay in launch, says Vistara

New Delhi: Full-service carrier Vistara, a joint venture between the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, said that changes in rules by the aviation regulator with regards to the final approval process for new airlines is leading to delays in starting its commercial operations. The airline is likely to start flying only from around January next year, four months behind the original plan for a launch in September 2014.
“There is an approval process that every new airline needs to go through and we are also following the same process. It is however taking a little longer time than we anticipated. As a team we are quite focused and concentrating all our energies towards operational readiness,” Vistara said in a response to an email query. “There have been some new developments with respect to Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) guidelines and we are working to swiftly comply with the same,” the company added.
Vistara, a full-service carrier which applied for the air operators’ permit (AOP) to the DGCA in April right after receiving a no-objection certificate from the civil aviation ministry the same month, already has two Airbus A320 aircraft parked at the New Delhi airport. The AOP is the final leg before any new airline can start commercial operations.
29/10/14 Roudra Bhattacharya/Financial Express

Vistara likely to receive flying permit by Nov end

New Delhi: Vistara — the joint venture of Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines — may be able to take to skies by the end of this year, as it expects to receive its air operators’ permit from the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) by the end of next month.

Sources in DGCA said the airline had only recently imported two aircraft into the country and unveiled the livery on the first. Vistara is now in the process of readying itself for base audits and to conduct proving flights as required by the regulator before it can secure its permit.

A senior DGCA officer said: “There are few processes which remain to be completed. The airline has to conduct proving flights and demonstrate its preparedness to start commercial operations. If they are able to meet all requirements, we may be able to issue them a permit by the end of November.”

According to industry sources, Vistara was looking at commencing operations on October 15 to commemorate J R D Tata’s flight from Karachi to Mumbai on the same date in 1932.
29/10/14 Sharmistha Mukherjee/Business Standard

Launch of Tata-SIA's Vistara delayed, likely to start flying in January

New Delhi: Full-service carrier Vistara, a joint venture between the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, said that changes in rules by the aviation regulator with regards to the final approval process for new airlines is leading to delays in starting its commercial operations. The airline is likely to start flying only from around January next year, four months behind the original plan for a launch in September 2014.
"There is an approval process that every new airline needs to go through and we are also following the same process. It is however taking a little longer time than we anticipated. As a team we are quite focused and concentrating all our energies towards operational readiness,” Vistara said in a response to an email query. "There have been some new developments with respect to Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) guidelines and we are working to swiftly comply with the same,” the company added.
Vistara, a full-service carrier which applied for the air operators’ permit (AOP) to the DGCA in April right after receiving a no-objection certificate from the civil aviation ministry the same month, already has two Airbus A320 aircraft parked at the New Delhi airport. The AOP is the final leg before any new airline can start commercial operations.
29/10/14 Roudra Bhattacharya/Financial Express

JetLite pilots threaten strike over forceful transfers

New Delhi: Jet Airways’ plan to merge its low-cost brand JetLite with itself seems to be facing turbulence. The new JetLite pilots union, JetLite Welfare Association (JLWA), has threatened mass resignations and strikes from this week because the Jet management is now invoking a bond in the contract of some pilots to force them to join the airline under “unacceptable” terms.
The development comes even as Jet faces major flight delays, especially for flights out of Mumbai, due to acute pilot shortage and inability to absorb JetLite pilots under favourable terms. The situation could get worse for the Mumbai-based full-service carrier if the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) decides to act on a previous suspension notice served to 129 of its pilots for flying without mandatory certification — a decision is likely this week.
“In the last few weeks, we met senior members of the Jet management, including CEO Cramer Ball and group executive officer Hameed Ali. They said they are sympathetic towards our problems and will give us a better offer for joining Jet. However, they are going ahead with forceful transfers to Jet. For some junior pilots, there is a bond of R12 lakh in the contract, and this is being used to force them to join Jet,” a JLWA office bearer said. Jet Airways did not reply to an emailed questionnaire till the time of going to press.
27/10/14 Roudra Bhattacharya/Financial Express

Tata-Airbus submit joint bid to make IAF transport planes

Tata and Airbus have submitted a joint bid to replace Indian Air Force (IAF)'s ageing fleet of 56 Avro aircraft with Airbus' C295 transport planes. If the combine wins the bid, European aviation giant Airbus would supply the first 16 planes while the remaining 40 would be manufactured and assembled by Tata Advanced Systems (TAS) in India. The deal will include undertaking structural assembly, final aircraft assembly, systems integration and testing and management of the indigenous supply chain. The tie up follows a detailed industrial  ssessment and stringent evaluation of the Indian private aerospace sector by Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) which concluded with the selection of TAS as the Indian Production Agency (IPA)  exclusive partner for this prestigious programme, according to a statement released by Airbus. The Avro aircraft were first inducted by IAF in the 1960s. ADS Executive Vice President (Military Aircraft), Domingo Urena Raso, said, "We firmly believe that, in the C295, we have clearly the best aircraft to replace the IAF Avro fleet and, in TAS, we have secured the cream of the Indian private aerospace sector as our partner for this project".
28/10/14 PTI/moneycontrol.com

1,000 stranded for hours as Air India flights delayed

Mumbai: About a thousand Air India passengers booked on flights to Delhi, Ahmedabad and Goa were stranded at Mumbai airport for hours after their flights were delayed on Monday evening.

With festive season travel still on, all flights were fully booked. To cater to the crowd and to combine certain flights, since October 26, the airline has been deploying wide-bodied aircraft like the 330-seater Boeing 777s instead of the 180-seater A320s. An Air India flight to Delhi, which was to depart at 7pm, left around 10.15pm, another to Ahmedabad, also operated with a Boeing 777, took off around 9pm, over an hour-and-a-half late. The flight to Goa was more than two hours late. "The Delhi flight had many passengers who had connecting flights to Hong Kong and Singapore. The airline was trying to accommodate them on other flights but most did not make it," said a media professional, a passenger on board AI's Mumbai-Delhi delayed flight.

An Air India spokesperson attributed the delays to various factors. "When a flight gets delayed due to an engineering problem or other issues, the schedule gets disrupted. The aircraft arrives late to operate other flights too."
27/10/14 Times of India

India, Vietnam agree to improve air connectivity

New Delhi: India and Vietnam have agreed to work towards improving connectivity between the two countries, via both air and maritime. In a joint statement issued by the two nations after a meeting between the respective Premiers at New Delhi, India and Vietnam have resolved to encourage more airline companies to commence operations between the two. Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister of Vietnam, is on a two-day visit to India.

During their meeting, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tan Dung emphasised the importance of connectivity between India and Vietnam, and welcomed the code-share agreement between Jet Airways (India) Ltd. and Vietnam Airlines, leading to the decision by the Indian carrier to commence flights to Ho Chi Minh City from November 5, 2014. The two Ministers expressed hope that Vietnam Airlines would also commence flight services to India shortly. They also urged airlines of both countries to further operate flights between Indian and Vietnam. They agreed to promote maritime connectivity between the two countries and ship-building cooperation.
28/10/14 TYravelBizMonitor

Rajasthan to have intra-state air services to religious and other tourist spots soon

Jaipur:  In order to utilize and develop the 16-air strips across the state and provide air connectivity to religious spots, the state government on Tuesday signed an MOU with a company to facilitate air travelers.

Vasundhara Raje, Chief minister in her budget speech 2014-15 had promised to get helicopter and other services to the intra-state religious places and tourist spots.

At the state secretariat principal secretary,civil aviation Ajeet Kumar Singh signed an MOU with CEO of OIS aerospace private limited(aviation company) BL Thakral to start the service soon in the state.

"Our aim is to facilitate air passengers in getting connectivity to the religious places and tourist spots where there is no air connectivity.Thus, for these places the said company will provide helicopter and other services. The modalities on the fares and packages would be worked out soon," said a senior officer with the government.
28/10/14 Ashish Mehta/Times of India

Air Costa offers flat discount of Rs 999 on tickets

Mumbai: Vijayawada-headquartered regional airline Air Costa today offered a flat discount of Rs 999 to customers across its flights for a limited period in winter months.
The flat discount offer of Rs 999 is applicable for economy and economy plus tickets on all flights across the airline's network, Air Costa said in a release.
Incidentally, Air Costa rolled out the discounted tickets a day after the air passenger body APAI sought a ban by the aviation regulator DGCA on such schemes, terming them as "non-existent."
The booking of tickets under the five-day winter special offer commenced today for the travel period of October 27 till March 28 next year, the release.
The discounted fares are not applicable on bookings made for infants and groups.
28/10/14 PTI/Economic Times

Soon, boarding gate details on flight tickets

Ahmedabad: Like Delhi and Mumbai, soon people booking flights from Ahmedabad airport will have their boarding gate numbers printed on their tickets. The air traffic controller (ATC) at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport is planning to start parking allocation system for regular flights operating out of the city airport.

The new system will not only save time of passengers but will also help airlines to station their flights according to the assigned gate numbers and fasten the ground operations.

"When someone books a ticket from Delhi, he is assigned terminal and gate number on the ticket itself at the time of booking whereas in case of Ahmedabad, gate numbers are assigned sometime before departure. The allocation system will help us manage the movement of flights more regularly in addition to saving time," said an ATC official.
28/10/14 Piyush Mishra/Times of India

India to manufacture commercial aircraft

Kolkata: India is well set to manufacture its own commercial aircraft, the prototype for which is currently under preparation.

G Ashok Kumar, joint secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, revealed at a press conference in Hyderabad early this month: “The specifications for the prototype of the aircraft will be revealed in four months.

“The Indian government will partner with private sector companies on this venture.”
28/10/14 Shekhar Niyogi/TTG Asia

CPM chief whip demands more flights for Tripura

Agartala:  Protesting against Jet Airways' withdrawal of its last flight from Agartala airport on Sunday, CPM's chief whip in the Lok Sabha, Jitendra Choudhury, sought more flights for Tripura and inclusion of Agartala in Alliance Air's northeastern cities circuit.

Under the viability gap funding (VGF) arrangement, North Eastern Council (NEC) has signed an agreement with the ministry of civil aviation recently to help Alliance Air run ATR flights in five northeastern cities. Agartala, however, does not feature on the list.

Before leaving for South America as part of the Indian Goodwill Delegation of Parliamentarians, Choudhury said private airlines, though not directly regulated by the ministry of civil aviation, should look beyond profits. The Agartala airport is estimated to generate the second-largest air traffic in the northeast after Guwahati's Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, he said.
28/10/14 Times of India

Indian Hajis stranded for 80 hours as aircraft held up in Fujairah

Jeddah: Indian Haj Mission’s flawless and excellent services for the pilgrims got tainted with the 11th hour mess caused by the country’s national carrier Air India that resulted in pilgrims being stranded for nearly 80 hours in Jeddah.

Indian Haj committee pilgrims bound for Goa and Guwahati on board the last two departure flights from the Haj terminal of Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport are stuck in the city for three days due to ‘non-availability of flight.’

Saudi Gazette came to know from reliable sources that the mess ensued following Air India’s act of subcontracting flight service to a Fujairah-based company, which does not possess adequate number of aircraft and crew.

After a long wait of 80 hours, 235 pilgrims bound for Goa on Air India Flight AI 5086, which had been scheduled for Oct. 25, finally took off at around 9.30 p.m. on Tuesday. The plane for Guwahati, scheduled for Oct. 26, will leave on Wednesday evening after the return of the AI 5086, according to Firoz Khan, manager of Air India.
28/10/14 Hassan Cheruppa/Saudi Gazette

TripFactory all set to tie-up with 4 new airlines

Mumbai: TripFactory, travel technology platform, is planning to partner with four new airlines. Recently, the company has partnered with Air Costa, SpiceJet and GoAir. The company also has plans to strategically invest in technology tools, to enhance performance of the platform.
When asked about new tie-up plans with airlines, Vinay Gupta, founder and CEO, TripFactory.com, said, “We have been expanding very quickly. We have entered into an alliance with some really good partners. Our relationship with airlines not only helps the carrier to growth their ancillary business but for customers also it helps to get the widest range of choice at much affordable price. It is a win win situation for all stakeholders. We already have partnerships with Air Costa, SpiceJet and GoAir to power their holiday products. We are in the process of integrating with four other airlines which should go live this fiscal.”
When asked about more details on the four airlines he revealed that the airlines could be from the subcontinent, though not necessary Indian carriers.
28/10/14 Akshay Kumar/Financial Express

Air India signs code-share pact with Air Astana

Air India, which is a part of the Star Alliance, officially announced here today that it has entered into a 'free flow' code-share pact with Kazakhstan's national carrier Air Astana to expand its presence in the fast growing CIS aviation market. A 'free flow' code-share arrangement gives marketing access to the operating carrier's inventory and allows it to market seats independently of the operating carrier. The agreement, which is subject to regulatory approvals, was signed by Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rohit Nandan and Air Astana Vice President for Sales Worldwide Richard Ledgerin New Delhi yesterday, according to an Air India release issued today. "As a state-run airline and Star Alliance member carrier Air India feels honoured to enter into this code-share agreement with Air Astana. This agreement has enabled Air India to reach out to the CIS and eastern European market," the release quoted Air India CMD as saying about the tie-up.
29/10/14 PTI/moneycontrol.com

Air Costa signs MoU with VietJet on tapping biz opportunities

Mumbai: Regional carrier Air Costa today said it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Vietnamese largest budget airline VietJet to initiate discussions on exploring future business opportunities including a possible code-share arrangement with the latter.

The signing of MoU took place during the "India-Vietnam Trade & Investment forum", which was organised by the three prime industry bodies- CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM- in New Delhi and it coincided with the ongoing visit of the Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Tan Dung to India, Air Costa said in a release.

"The agreement targets exploring opportunities such as code sharing, partnership and financial collaboration," Air Costa chairman Lingamaneni Ramesh said.

VietJet flies between Vietnam's major cities -- Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Noi, Hai Phong, and Da Nang besides key Asian destinations such as Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul, and Busan.
28/10/14 PTI/Economic Times

Civil Aviation Ministry to switch to electronic office; plans to move documents to intranet

New Delhi: The civil aviation ministry is switching to an electronic office by moving all of its files to the intranet, an exercise that it expects to not only speed up its work but also make it more accountable.

The ministry plans to work out details of implementing the first of its kind move in the country this week and a pilot programme may start in a fortnight, officials said.

"The Prime Minister's directive is to clear files fast and that files should not stay with any officer for more than three days. We plan to make our office completely electronic and move all files on the intranet. The implementation strategy will be discussed in a meeting this week," said a senior civil aviation ministry official, requesting anonymity.

The plans marks a departure from the current practice of moving files manually from one office to another, which makes it very difficult to keep track of the time the officers take to clear the files. Although the ministry has a system to track the whereabouts of each file, it is not updated most of the times.
29/10/14 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

Flydubai Set For Mumbai Launch

Low-cost-turned-premium carrier flydubai marks one of the most significant route launches in its five-year history this evening when it starts five-times weekly flights to Mumbai.

Tonight’s inaugural flight is scheduled to depart Terminal 2 at 2240 and arrive in Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 0300 local time.

Business class return fares start from Dhs2,500 and round trip economy fares are priced from Dhs925.

While flydubai won’t be able to compete with Emirates’ six-a-day schedules to Mumbai, its arrival provides new competition and executives with a more affordable premium travel option. Emirates’ return business fares are currently priced AED4,295.

Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai, said it is committed to serving the market “with affordable and reliable travel options.”
28/10/14 Gulf Business

Goa govt to seek more space for aircraft parking at Dabolim

Panaji: Facing shortage of parking space for aircraft at the Dabolim airport, Goa government will seek the Centre's help to get additional space at the Navy-operated facility in the state.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who will be in Delhi tomorrow, said he would meet the officials of Civil Aviation and Defence ministries to demand more space at the Dabolim airport for parking of aircraft.

"We need more parking space as airline companies, like Air Asia, want to convert Goa into their hub. They are ready to start two flights from Goa in the morning," Parrikar said, adding that their plans have been halted because of inadequate parking space for aircraft.

"They need space for their aircraft for night halt. Right now we have a problem in providing the space to them," he said.

The Dabolim airport is a part of Indian Navy's base INS Hansa.
28/10/14 Business Standard

HAL seeks initiative to upgrade Jeypore airstrip

Bhubaneswar: The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at Sunabeda in Koraput district has requested Biju Patnaik Airport director to expedite upgrading of the airstrip at Jeypore into a full-fledged airport to facilitate transportation of aircraft engines by air.

The engines are currently being sent to Visakhapatnam by road and from there flown to different defence air bases.

"It is a cumbersome process and takes up a lot of time. The nearest airport is at Visakhapatnam and military transport aircrafts fly the engines to their destinations," said HAL additional general manager (helicopters and services) S Pandit.

This has been the practice since HAL was set up here for manufacturing turbo jet, other aircrafts and helicopter engines. The HAL has manufactured more than 1,000 aero engines till now.
28/10/14 Times of India

Meghalaya Govt scouting land near airport for Piskot export

Kolkata: The Meghalaya government will write to the West Bengal government requesting for land near the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport to build a integrated packhouse with storage capacity for the export of Piskot, a vegetable highly nutritious and rich in minerals.

Principal Secretary, Community and Rural Development Department, Government of Meghalaya K N Kumar said here today that the NSCBI airprot served the purpose being the only international airport close to Meghalaya.
28/10/14 Press Trust of India/The Sangai Express/E-Pao

Biju Patnaik International Airport organizing the Vigilance Awareness Week

Bhubaneswar: Biju Patnaik International Airport, Airports Authority of India, Bhubaneswar is organizing the Vigilance Awareness Week from 27.10.2014 to 01.11.2014. The theme this year, as decided by Vigilance Directorate, is “Combating Corruption- Technology as an Enabler”. The day began with the ceremonial lighting of the lamp, followed by the Oath Taking Ceremony, in which all the employees pledged to contribute their sincerity, honesty and loyalty in providing world-class services to the countrymen.
28/10/14 Odisha Diary

2 Indian cities among landing stops planned by Swiss aviators

Payerne (Switzerland): Ahmedabad and Varanasi are the two Indian cities among the dozen landing stops planned by two renowned Swiss aviators for their round-the- world trip on a solar-powered aircraft in March next year.

"If we get the permission from the Indian authorities, we will be landing in Ahmedabad and Varanasi during the first- ever round-the-world flight on a solar powered aircraft in March 2015," Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg told a visiting team of Indian reporters at a military facility here.

56-year-old Piccard, who completed the first non-stop flight around the world in an air balloon in 1999, said he and his team were hopeful of getting permission for landing in the two Indian cities.

"The discussions are ongoing with various authorities including Director General Civil Aviation, Ministry of External Affairs and Civil Aviation Ministry and we are hopeful of getting the permission," he said.
28/10/14  Press Trust of India/Business Standard

Now, airport trash bags too under 'gold' scanner

Kozhikode:  Customs officials at Karipur Airport, which has emerged as one of the top four hotspots for gold smuggling into the country, now have a new headache in the form garbage gold.

With smugglers depositing contraband gold in garbage bags inside flights and retrieving them later, possibly with the help of garbage clearing staff, customs have been forced to take the unprecedented step of conducting x-ray scans on trash bags in flights arriving from the Gulf.

Customs officials said Karipur airport could possibly be the only airport in the country where garbage bags and even food trolleys have to be scanned through the x-ray machine for hidden gold.

The decision was taken following intelligence inputs, which proved right as officials seized 2 kg of gold from one such bags from an Air Arabia flight last week.

"Smugglers had recently tried abandoning gold inside aircraft toilets and other places. To make our system foolproof, we now scan trash bags coming from flights," said customs assistant commissioner Lokesh Damor.
28/10/14 Times of India

Monday, October 27, 2014

350 commercial pilots flying skies with invalid licences

New Delhi: Indian airlines currently have almost 350 commercial pilots flying the skies with lapsed or invalid licences due to their failure to appear in exams that have to be given after every few months to remain eligible to operate in the cockpit.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is now contemplating action against the heads of training department of these airlines, while asking the carriers to complete the required training of pilots in a time-bound manner.

"All Indian carriers — Jet, Air India, SpiceJet, GoAir and IndiGo (in this order)—have some pilots who have not completed all checks required to keep their flying licences valid. While Jet and AI have 131 and over 100 such pilots, respectively, the three low cost have almost 100 cases. Now, we have written to AirAsia India and Air Costa to tell us if they too have any such pilots," said a senior official, adding that in all there would be over 350 pilots with invalid licences.
DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar is learnt to be contemplating action against the training heads of airlines, just like he had ordered removal of Jet's training chief last month after 131 pilots of that airline were found to be flying even after expiry of validity of their last pilot proficiency check (PPC). This test is required to be given every six months and Pilots are not supposed to fly without a valid PPC. The action will be decided when the data from all airlines comes in.
27/10/14 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Air India faces turbulence again as 33 more pilots quit

The government-owned, loss-making Air India is once again facing attrition as 33 pilots have left the airline this year.

Some of them deserted the national carrier and joined other airlines without even tendering their resignations, notwithstanding the strict rules on bond liabilities.

From January to October this year, 14 pilots have left from the Delhi range of Air India, eight from Chennai, six from Mumbai and five from the Kolkata range.

Between September and October, 11 pilots have called it quits. Most of the pilots who have either resigned or are seeking retirement are those who fly A-320, B-787 and A-330 aircraft. Air India is already facing a shortage of pilots, which the airline has mentioned in a recent communique to the directorate general of civil aviation. "All pilots who are leaving have to serve a notice period. If anyone leaves before notice period, action will be taken," Air India executive director, public relations, Anil Mehta told dna.
27/10/14 Hakeem Irfan/Daily News & Analysis

DGCA to crack down on airlines over pilot test

New Delhi: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is examining
whether airlines are carrying out the mandatory proficiency checks for pilots as per norms after it came to light that Air India and Jet Airways have pilots without valid licences.

As per DGCA norms, airlines will have to undertake such tests every six months. The aviation regulator is now planning to take action against erring operators after it found that many of them are not conducting such tests.

The Pilot Proficiency Test is required for maintaining the validity of a pilot's licence. The licences become invalid if such tests are not conducted in six months time. Earlier also, pilots had to undergo two tests but the first test could happen within eight months.

Officials said the fresh move comes amid incidents of airlines failing to renew licences and allow pilots to fly planes without necessary documents.
26/10/14 Deccan Herald

Flight delays plague Air India, furious passengers take to Twitter, FB

New Delhi: Passengers travelling on the Air India network faced difficulties all of last week as many flights got delayed - some beyond two hours - or were clubbed with other flights.

This also lead to offloading of some pre-booked passengers. Social media was flooded with angry reactions from passengers - instances of flight delays were largely on the Delhi-Mumbai route, the busiest domestic route for airlines, and the worst delays were seen over the weekend.

This morning, a Delhi-Lucknow flight was delayed beyond two hours and a passenger tweeted: "Monday morning blues. Air India delays departure of 7 am flight to Lucknow by 2 hours. Airline staff have no answer when asked why".

Another harried passenger took to Facebook last night, saying her flight, AI 688 Delhi-Mumbai, was scheduled for 6.30 am but was later clubbed with a 7 am flight. "When I was coming from Mumbai to Delhi, my 9 pm flight was re-scheduled twice to 11.40 pm".

Five flights were rescheduled/clubbed with other flights from Delhi yesterday, six each were re-scheduled or clubbed on Saturday and Friday.
27/10/14 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post

Setback for Jet Airways as ally Etihad drops plan to lease its 3 Boeing aircraft

Mumbai: Jet Airways' foreign equity partner, UAE-based Etihad, has dropped its plan to lease three Boeing 777 aircraft from the airline, putting the domestic carrier in a difficult situation, sources said.

These aircraft, B 777-300 ERs, were with the Turkish Airlines and have recently come back to Jet Airways after completing the lease period, an airline source told PTI here.

"Etihad had earlier sought to lease these aircraft as it wanted to deploy them on its international network. However, it has now indicated to the airline of not doing so," the source said.

Jet Airways now may deploy these planes in its long-haul operations, they said, adding that this is a big set back to the airline which is already grappling with several other issues including problem from its pilots.

Jet Airways did not respond when its comments were sought on the issue.
27/10/14 First Biz

Passengers turn unruly as AI Mumbai-Riyadh flight delayed for 8 hrs

Mumbai: Air India Mumbai-Riyadh flight passengers sparred with airline officials on Saturday after they were delayed by eight hours. Some of the 230 passengers turned unruly and abused airline staff over the inconvenience.
Flight AI 921, which was scheduled for a 1pm departure, was rescheduled to 5pm as the incoming Riyadh-Mumbai flight departed late. The flight was further delayed due to air traffic congestion over Mumbai and then again as the Boeing 777 had an engineering requirement. It finally departed at 7.50pm, but not before the airport witnessed some ugly scenes.
An Air India spokesperson said the airline took care of its passengers and provided them lunch.
But airport sources said there were many passenger complaints. "Some were unhappy over the quantity of lunch. It was not possible to give extra to those who asked for it," said a source. The incident once again highlighted a common problem faced by the airline.
26/10/14 Times of India

Fund Crunch Hits Karaikal Greenfield Airport Project

Karaikal: The Karaikal Airport Private Limited project is now lying dormant for more than three years owing to severe fund crunch.
The Union government had rendered the in-principle approval for the Karaikal private airport limited on February, 2011. Likewise other formalities such as the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Puducherry government and clearance from Airport Authority of India (AAI) except for the environmental clearances were obtained by the Coimbatore-based Super Airport Infrastructure company.
Though Super Airport Infrastructure asserted that the airport construction works at Karaikal would commence by the first quarter of 2014, even after half the calendar years have passed, not even a rubble has moved in the vast 350 acres of land acquired towards the construction of Karaikal Greenfield Airport at Nedungadu commune of Karaikal enclave.
Severe fund crunch for raising a minimum of Rs 100 crores to commence the construction works including a shorter runway of 1.2 kilometre stretch was noted as the reason and options for the private firm to generate fund through private investors from Puducherry, TN and even from France has failed to yield positive results so far. Karaikal airport private limited was vowed to be the first of its kind airport to handle the entire operations except for security arrangements which would be manned by the UT government, and for the air traffic control tower which would be operated by AAI.
27/10/14 S Deepak Karthik/New Indian Express

GoAir takes off, triggers fare war

Bhubaneswar: With the operation of GoAir flight services starting from the city today, air passengers now have more options before them when they plan their travel.

The introduction of the service is also having an impact on airfares between Bhubaneswar and other major cities in the country.

GoAir has started four flights from Bhubaneswar to Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta and vice-versa.

On the first day of its operation, the new flight service has forced other operators to reduce their fares considerably and in the coming days the fares are expected to go down even further, as there seems to be multi-pronged competition among the service providers to woo passengers.

A search by The Telegraph for a flight on October 29 from different travel sites has revealed that airfare from Bhubaneswar to Delhi is hovering between Rs 4,000 and Rs 6,500, while earlier it used to be between Rs 6,500 and Rs 8,000.
27/10/14 Sandip Bal/Telegraph

Banks Study Options To Recover Loans From Kingfisher Airlines

Prrivate sector banks, which have shied away from tagging Kingfisher Airlines chairman Vijay Mallya a "wilful defaulter" as some key public sector lenders have done, say that they are exploring "all options" to recover their loans.

At least two banks, the third largest private sector lender Axis Bank and the south-based Federal Bank, have said they have not classified KFA, Mallya and his senior officials as wilful defaulters.

Being declared a wilful defaulter means a person can be forced to stand down from any corporate posts and it may limit the fundraising prospects of his or her businesses.

"We have not classified them as wilful defaulters as yet," Axis Bank executive director in charge of corporate banking V. Srinivasan said.

The exposure, declared as bad loan long time back, is very small, he said, adding that the bank had an exposure of Rs 50 crore to the airlines that has not flown since October 2012.
27/10/14 Businessworld

UCO Bank identifies Kingfisher Airlines as wilful defaulter

Kolkata: UCO Bank has joined the growing list of lenders to have identified grounded Kingfisher Airlines as a wilful defaulter for non-payment of dues. However, the bank is yet to formally declare the company a wilful defaulter.

“We have identified Kingfisher Airlines and its corporate guarantors as wilful defaulters. We are in the process of sending them a notice,” a senior executive of the bank told Business Standard, requesting anonymity.

The state-run bank has lent over Rs 300 crore to Kingfisher Airlines. The airline has borrowed about Rs 6,500 crore from a consortium of 17 banks. According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s guidelines, a wilful default is an entity that has the capacity to repay its dues but chooses not to do so, or uses the borrowed money for purposes other than those for which a loan was availed of.

Typically, banks have an internal committee, which examines cases of wilful defaults. The credit monitoring or recovery departments submit their reports on borrowers deemed to have defaulted willfully to this committee.
28/10/14 Business Standard

New guidelines soon for privatisation of airport operations

Hyderabad:  The Centre is in the process of finalising guidelines for bringing operations and management of some airports under the Public-Private-Partnership model, Civil Aviation Secretary V Somasundaram has said.

These operations are currently under control of Airports Authority of India.

Somasundaram also said that the five airports selected to be developed under "no-frills airports" category would be operational in the next two years.
"That model (under PPP) is mainly developed for the metro cities. The remaining airports are not in metro area. These are in medium cities. For these airports we may need a revised model because we will not have the kind of volume which Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore have. So we are working on that," Somasundaram said.
26/10/14 PTI/Economic Times

Surprise as Maharaja Keeps Fliers Tweet-dated

Chennai: One of the most compelling complaints that passengers who fly Air India is that when there is a delay, their staff at the airport just don’t seem to want to talk about it. This has led to several passenger outbursts and protests, over the years, usually needing complimentary meals and glib talking to calm their frayed nerves. All of this has turned around swiftly in the last five days, ever since the State-run airline has reinvigorated their Twitter account @airindiain.

Passengers who have access to the airline’s Twitter account on the microblogging site have found that updated information is now available quicker than at the airport counter. “Whenever there is a delay with Air India, unlike other airlines, they do not update the estimated time of departure immediately. It is done every one hour or so and the counter staff are quite rude and ask us to look for updates on the board,” said Rajkiran V, a photographer who has had some bad luck with the airline. “When I was flying home for Deepavali, I was bored after a delay was posted and tweeted them angrily and was quite surprised to get an updated response.” Another such incident was met with some Twitter respite when passengers on AI 571 from Chennai to Mumbai were waiting for over six hours on Saturday night - no information was given to them as their flight was simply ‘delayed’. Thankfully, when a passenger Harin Sheth asked them about the four-hour delay on Twitter, pat came the answer with a valid reason - “The flight will depart only at 1.30 am because of a delay with the incoming flight.”
27/10/14 Daniel Thimmayya/New Indian Express

GoAir launched its daily flights from Bhubaneswar airport

Bhubaneswar: The GoAir, a low-fare airline, launched its daily flights from the Biju Patnaik domestic airport here on Sunday. The GoAir’s maiden flight from Bhubaneswar to New Delhi took off at 8.45 am while its second flight for New Delhi is scheduled to depart from here at 7.25 pm to reach its destination at 9.50 pm. While another flight of the company left for Mumbai at 11 am from here, one more flight of the airline departed for Kolkata at 6.30 pm on Sunday. The airline’s operation was formally inaugurated by Bhubaneswar Airport Director Sharad Kumar. Kumar said that with the launching of the GoAir’s operations, the domestic flight operations at the Bhubaneswar Airport have increased to 40 flights daily which include up and down flights.
27/10/14 Odisha Diary

Finally, Mangalore-Kuwait flight takes to skies again

Mangalore: Bringing much joy and relief to scores of Mangaloreans, the Mangalore-Kuwait Air India operations finally resumed on Monday October 27, with the first flight of the season taking off from Mangalore International Airport at 7.30 am.
Mangalore South MLA J R Lobo, Karnataka minister Roshan Baig, MLC Ivan D'Souza and MP Nalin Kumar Kateel along with several organizations and individuals had put in continuous efforts to reintroduce the Mangalore-Kuwait flight service which had been stalled for almost a year.

Speaking to media persons, Lobo, who boarded the flight to Kuwait along with his wife, said, "Mangalore-Kuwait flight service had been stopped for almost for a year. Eight months back when we raised this issue in the Vidhana Sabha, our state government held talks with the central government and the answer we got was that Mangalore was very poor in financial investments and there were not many flight services and therefore reintroduction of the Mangalore-Kuwait flight service was not possible.
27/10/14 Daijiworld.com

High alert at Bhopal airport

Bhopal: Bhopal's Raja Bhoj airport has also been put on a high alert along with other major airports in the country following an anonymous letter to Airports Authority of India that warned Air India flights would be targeted.

Station manager, Raja Bhoj airport Rakesh Bahri said, "We are always on toes. Still, after the alert, security has further been beefed up."

Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), police and other security agencies are keeping a constant vigil at the airport premises. Security at Bhopal airport perimeter entrance has also been tightened.
27/10/14 Times of India

Hyderabad intl airport on social media

Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) has started windows on social media. It is now accessible on Facebook along with Twitter and YouTube.
“Passengers and other stakeholders will now get updated information on new services. Passengers can now remain connected and have access at all time to information on special offerings, retail options and duty free shopping at the airport,” a press release said here on Sunday, quoting S G K Kishore, Chief Executive Officer of GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited.
26/10/14 Business Line

Chennai students’ copter to aid rescue efforts

Chennai: Recent natural disasters that affected lives across the world inspired a group of engineering students to develop an unmanned copter to expedite rescue efforts .

A team of 18 students of SRM University have designed the device, equipped with an automatic face and person recognition system. This would help identify a victim trapped in a disaster, even in the difficult terrains.

The copter, which can fly up to 50 metres high and travel 3 km, is fitted with a video camera. Sobin Santhosh, a final-year aerospace engineering student, who led the team, said they had read about how it took days to rescue flood victims in some places. “The copter will help complete rescue operations faster.”
27/10/14 The Hindu

Gold worth 3.55cr seized at airport

Mumbai: About 14kg of gold worth Rs 3.55 crore was recovered over the weekend, said Air Intelligence Unit officials of the Customs department, adding that many had tried new, ingenious means to smuggle the precious metal, said .

On Friday, a six-month pregnant woman, with infant in tow, was arrested at the international airport for smuggling gold concealed in her undergarments, said Customs officials.

A senior Customs officer said that the recent seizures were remarkable in terms of quality and quantity of gold .
27/10/14 Vijay V Singh/Times of India

Gold in CPU seized from Gulf expat

Yet another Indian national was arrested upon arrival from the Gulf at an airport in India for trying to smuggle gold, even as officials in India have raised alarm bells.

Smuggled gold worth more than Dh3 million was seized from various airports across the country in the past three days.

In the latest incident, an Indian was arrested at Thiruvananthapuram airport on Sunday morning (October 26) carrying 3.5kg of gold hidden inside a desktop CPU.

This was the second such arrest at the airport within a week. According to customs officials, this year alone about 56kg of smuggled gold has been seized from travellers, mainly from the Gulf.

Gold smuggling has been on the rise in India during recent months. Indian officials have directed all customs staff operating at both airports and sea ports to be vigilant against gold smuggling. A total of 1,780 cases of smuggling gold valued at around Dh281.7 million have been registered across the country by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and customs department between April and August 2014.
26/10/14  Joseph George/Emirates 24|7

Gold worth 3.55cr seized at airport

Mumbai: About 14kg of gold worth Rs 3.55 crore was recovered over the weekend, said Air Intelligence Unit officials of the Customs department, adding that many had tried new, ingenious means to smuggle the precious metal, said .

On Friday, a six-month pregnant woman, with infant in tow, was arrested at the international airport for smuggling gold concealed in her undergarments, said Customs officials.

A senior Customs officer said that the recent seizures were remarkable in terms of quality and quantity of gold .
27/10/14 Vijay V Singh/Times of India