Monday, March 02, 2015

Budget 2015 clips struggling Air India's wings

Mumbai: The government has proposed to allocate Rs 2,500 crore to Air India in 2015-16, giving the ailing state-run carrier less than half of what it infused in the current fiscal.

The proposal in the budget, which has earmarked less than 60% of the amount sought by Air India, will impact cash flows and debt repayments at the carrier, a senior executive said. Industry experts welcomed the move, though, saying it's about time the government stopped cash handouts to the airline.

"Air India had asked for Rs 4,277 crore as plan outlay for 2015-16 and has been given only Rs 2,500 crore. For the current fiscal year (2014-15), the government put in Rs 720 crore less than what was earlier decided. We thought that would be adjusted in the allocation for 2015-16, but what has happened is quite a different story," said the executive, requesting not to be named. The airline needs Rs 2,400 crore for loan repayment alone this year, he said, adding, "Of course, there will be some savings from lower jet fuel prices, etc., but I am not sure that will be enough."
02/03/15 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

Tax pinch for flyers and new airports

Travelling by air will be costlier with the government increasing the service tax rate and withdrawing the exemption earlier provided on the construction of new airports.

Business class fares will go up 3.3 per cent with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announcing a reduction in the abatement of service tax on business class and first class fares from 60 per cent to 40 per cent. Service tax would now be payable on 60 per cent of the fare for business class.
This is in addition to the increase in tax rate from 12.36 per cent to 14 per cent. The higher tax rate will increase economy class fares, too, by 0.6 per cent.

According to a rough estimate, the increase in business class fare would be little more than Rs 1000 on an average fares between Mumbai and Delhi, an airline executive said.

All the three full service airlines - Air India, Jet Airways and Vistara - offer business class seating on domestic flights.
02/03/15 Business Standard

BAOA terms Budget disappointing for aviation sector

A body of business jet operators Sunday termed as "disappointing" the general Budget and said India cannot become the third largest aviation market by 2020, which it is aiming for, unless issues plaguing the aviation sector were addressed in an appropriate manner. General aviation industry is particularly disappointed with the proposed Budget, President of Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA) Rohit Kapoor said in a statement. "Prediction of India becoming the third largest Aviation industry by 2020 will only remain a dream if Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not address the woes of our sector, which cumulatively holds almost three times the fleet of all commercial airliners," Kapoor said, adding that regional and remote connectivity cannot take off in India unless larger issues were addressed.  The sector has largely been ignored by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his first full Budget, presented in the Parliament Yesterday, with most of the industry's demand remain unmet. BAOA, in its pre-Budget expectations had sought a complete re-look in the tax regime on import of general and business aviation aircraft on the ground that existing policy includes a countervailing duty which is illogical as there civil aircraft is manufactured in India.
02/03/15 PTI/Moneycontrol.com

Vistara to have fleet size of 20 aircraft by 2018

New Delhi: Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, today said its fleet size will be increased to 20 by 2018, from five at present.

Phee Teik Yeoh, Chief Executive Officer, Vistara ( Tata SIA) Airlines Ltd also said that the aviation industry in India is facing challenges such as high fuel cost and a high tax regime.

"By April, we will have 6 aircraft and gradually increase to 9 by the end of this calendar year. Eventually, we will grow to 20 brand new A320 by 2018," Yeoh told reporters in a press conference.

The airlines today launched its first flight from Hyderabad to New Delhi. Having started with its operations on January 9, with 68 frequencies weekly, Vistara now operates 164 flights in a week.

According to Yeoh, all macro economic indicators are favourable to the growth of Indian aviation industry which is expected to grow at 9-10 per cent in FY16.
01/03/15 PTI/Economic Times

Air India pilots union oppose hiring of commanders on contract

New Delhi: : Air India pilots' today opposed the hiring of commanders on contractual basis from open market for the national carrier's Airbus A320 fleet when a good number of regular co-pilots were awaiting to go up the ladder.

The union of Air India pilots, Indian Commercial Pilot's Association (ICPA) also termed the move as "dent on their morale" and demanded immediate withdrawal of the advertisement failing which, it said, could trigger industrial action.

The ICPA, in a letter to airline Chairman and Managing Director Rohit Nanadan, has urged for a uniform carrier progression for the pilots.
01/03/15 PTI/Economic Times

AAI team surveys airstrip in Odisha’s Steel City

Rourkela: A team of officials from Airport Authority of India (AAI) is on a visit to Odisha’s Steel City to assess the feasibility for upgrading the airstrip here.

The five-member team today visited the civil aerodrome here and held discussions with senior officials of the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) during their two-day tour.

The team led by N Makhija, Jt. General Manager reached Rourkela last evening and visited the airstrip, its 6000 feet runway, and surveyed the surrounding area.

Later in the day, they held discussions with a team of senior RSP officials led by PK Pradhan, GM, in-charge (P&A) and checked land documents pertaining to the airstrip.
01/03/15 Malay Ray/Odisha Sun Times

21 airports failing to take off

Mumbai: Maharashtra Airport Development Company Limited (MADCL) is finding it tough to maintain and run 21 of the 25 airports in the state. Only Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad airports are operational on a daily basis while the rest have no ongoing operations. The state government has decided to move a global tender to lure airlines into starting services in smaller airports.
To deal with the matter, the general administration department last week held a meeting with private airline companies. However, the companies have clearly told the government that they were not interested in starting operations in cities apart from Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad. Confirming the development, an official from the GAD said, “It is true that the companies were not willing to have services at smaller airports and, therefore, we have decided to float a tender, inviting more airlines to start services.”
There are various reasons why the smaller airports were not feasible for the airlines, the official said. The distances between some of the airports are very short like Nagpur and Gondia, which are not in use. The airports also have small runways that prevent big aeroplanes from landing. The airlines have no small aeroplanes to operate.
02/03/15  Shruti Ganapatye/Asian Age

24-hour ordeal for AI Express fliers

Muscat Passengers on Air India Express flight IX817 from Mangalore to Muscat via Abu Dhabi had a harrowing time in the UAE capital on Saturday after their flight got delayed by nearly 24 hours and reached here on Sunday due to a technical default.

There were 124 transit passengers at Abu Dhabi. Of these, 43 took the British Airways flight to Muscat on their own expense, three travelled by road and the rest arrived in the flight on Sunday, the airline said. Passengers complained that the airline had not offered them conveniences like hotel rooms or put them on other airlines for travel to Muscat.
02/03/15 Oman Tribune

Couple drags airline to DGCA for charging full fare toddler

A Kharghar couple have filed a complaint with aviation regulator DGCA against IndiGo Airlines for demanding full flight fare of Rs 9,000 for their two-year-old son. Nidhi and Sanjai Sharma claim that the airline had initially issued a confirmed ticket for their son, Krishna, on a Mumbai-Delhi flight after charging a standard Rs 1,000 fee for infant passengers.

But on the day of the journey, Feb 18, the staff asked Nidhi to produce Krishna's birth certificate to allow him to board the aircraft on the infant ticket. The complaint, sent to DGCA joint-director Lalit Gupta, alleges the airline did not specifically mention the certificate requirement when the Nidhi and Krishna's tickets were booked.

IndiGo, however, said that it had followed all rules and that the primary passenger, Nidhi, failed to bring the toddler's birth certificate, which is required under the aviation norms. Airlines charge only a nominal fee for infant passengers instead of the full fare. "IndiGo converted the infant ticket to an adult one and charged Rs 9,115 just because my wife was not carrying our son's birth certificate. The airline exploited the situation," alleged Sanjai, who works in a steel company. Sanjai was not travelling with his wife and son.
02/03/15  Aditya Anand/Mumbai Mirror 

Visa on arrival a game-changer for tourism industry

Finance minister Arun Jaitley's proposal in the budget to extend the visa on arrival facility to 150 countries from 43 at present in a phased manner is set to increase the tourist inflow and benefit the local industry manifold, experts said.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in 2014 reported a growth of 7.1% to 74.62 lakh compared with FTAs of 69.68 lakh in 2013, which was, in turn, a growth of 5.9% in 2012.

Peter Kerkar, director, Cox & Kings, said, "The extension of electronic travel authorisation (e-visas) to 150 more countries is a positive step for tourism as this sector contributes 7% of India's GDP and helped create more than 40 million jobs last year.''

Hari Nair, founder & CEO, HolidayIQ.com, a travel portal, said, "Visa on arrival being extended to 150 countries is a huge step for Indian tourism. In addition, tourism is a sector that is a beneficiary of improvements across multiple areas. The focus on areas such as infrastructure, skills development and rural development has the potential to provide a big tailwind for tourism."
02/03/15 Soumonty Kanungo/Praveena Sharma/Daily News & Analysis

Vistara spreads its wings to Hyderabad

Hyderabad: The newly launched Full Service Carrier Vistara has spread its wings to Hyderabad beginning operations in the city. The Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines joint venture first flew from Hyderabad to New Delhi on Sunday morning. Airline officials said they will consider adding more flights to Hyderabad as the fleet grows. Hyderabad is currently the only South Indian city it operates from with a weekly frequency of 14 flights on one side. The first Vistara flight from Hyderabad to the national capital took off at 9.15 am with the chief executive officer Phee Teik Yeoh and chief commercial officer Giam Ming Toh on board.

“Hyderabad is the first South Indian city we are flying to. Unlike other cities, the Aviation Turbine Fuel prices here make it cost effective. We came to Hyderabad before other cities in the south,” Phee Teik Yeoh said. Asked if the city could see more flights from Vistara, he said, “Why not? You will hear from us on that. We are going to release our summer schedule soon.” But it might not be until October before Vistara expands its schedule in Hyderabad.
02/03/15 Deccan Chronicle

Scientist challenges ancient flight theory

Bengaluru: Prof H S Mukunda, one of the five scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) whose study had debunked the concepts of Vaimanika Shastra in 1974, said he was tempted to end the controversy surrounding ancient Indian aviation technology last year by calling for a unique contest.
He was addressing a packed house at the South Zonal Educational Convention of the All India Save Education Committee (AISEC) here on Sunday.
“I will pay Rs 50,000 to anyone who can build an aircraft using the same concepts in the book (Vaimanika Shastra)... big or small, it does not matter, but it should have a sustained flight. I was tempted to say this at that time but refrained from doing so,” said Prof Mukunda.
Stating that the laws of science would be the same in ancient or modern times, Prof Mukunda said, “If it flies today, it could have flown yesterday. The most basic question ‘does it fly?’ needs to be answered.”
01/03/15 Deccan Herald

Emergency AI plane landing saves Russian

Mangaluru: An alert Air India pilot saved the life of a Russian passenger after he made an emergency landing at Mangaluru International Airport. It happened last Tuesday when Artur Izotov (47) suffered a stroke mid-air on flight A1668. The AI plane was on its way to Mumbai from Thiruvananthapuram.

Izotov was to go from Mumbai to Goa the same day. "The captain decided to make an emergency landing at 2.02pm after understanding the gravity of the situation," Air India said.

Air India station manager Nagesh Shetty told TOI: "All medical emergency requirements including an ambulance and a doctor were kept ready. After the A1668 landed the doctor visited the aircraft and examined the passenger. He was taken out in a wheelchair and shifted to an ambulance at 2.08pm."
01/02/15 Nyooz

Oman airport imposes new flight tax on passengers

Muscat: Flying from Muscat and Salalah will cost more from today (March 2) as the Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC) has introduced new charges for all departing passengers.

A circular, reference number OAMC/CEO/A-22/10/15, which was sent to all airlines operating into Muscat and Salalah airports by the OAMC, said that all international departing passengers will have to pay OMR8 and the transfer passengers will have to pay OMR1 as new passenger charges.

Stay ahead of the rest and download our free WhatsNews app for Apple, Android or Blackberry

"However, infants under the age of two years, aircraft crew on duty travelling in uniform with a valid airline identity card and domestic departing passengers are exempted from the charges," the circular said.
01/03/15 Times of Oman

Sangh Parivar, BJP in a spot of bother

Pathanamthitta: The inclusion of the Aranmula airport project in the Economic Survey of the Union government has landed the Sangh Parivar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State unit in a fix.

The Sangh Parivar and the BJP had been in the forefront of the agitation against the project saying that it would necessitate wanton conversion of the Aranmula Puncha (paddy fields and wetlands) and cause destruction of the heritage village of Aranmula.

The Sangh Parivar had taken up a mass campaign against the project, highlighting the recommendation to reduce the height of the holy mast of the ancient Sree Parthasarathy temple. The main election plank of the BJP candidate, M.T. Ramesh, during the previous general elections to Lok Sabha was that his party, if elected to power, would cancel all clearances given by the Congress government to the project.
02/03/15 Radhakrishnan Kuttoor/The Hindu

Anti-terror law fails to guarantee agencies will share information, ex-judge says

The former Supreme Court judge who headed an inquiry into Canada’s worst terrorism incident says the federal government’s new anti-terror legislation is flawed because it fails to ensure that CSIS and the RCMP share information on unfolding threats.

John Major says the crucial lack of co-operation between the two agencies that occurred before the 1985 Air India explosion is still a concern and that a security overseer is needed to ensure information-sharing takes place.
In his 2010 report into the disaster, he said a national security adviser with enhanced powers should be appointed to settle disputes and ensure intelligence is shared between the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and 14 other security agencies and departments. The Conservative government rejected that recommendation at the time.

“They may be entitled to do more than simple intelligence gathering,” he said of CSIS under the proposed new law. “If that’s the case, it can lead to other problems of overlap. The RCMP get a little annoyed and think, ‘Well, let CSIS do it.’ And CSIS doesn’t do it. When you have that many agencies involved, it’s a recipe for confusion unless there’s somebody steering the ship.”
01/03/15 Sean Fine/The Globe and Mail

First solar plane lands this weekend

New Delhi: Solar Impulse—the world’s only solar-powered aircraft—is set to arrive in India by this weekend.

It will be the second stop of the aircraft's maiden effort to circumnavigate the globe.
Though the Swiss aircraft was to arrive before Holi, the touchdown was postponed by a few days as sandstorms in the Gulf have delayed the trial run.

As of Sunday, the probable date for the aircraft's touchdown at Ahmedabad airport is March 7-8, sources told Deccan Herald.

The single-seater will take off from Abu Dhabi and stop at Muscat, Ahmedabad and Varanasi in India, Mandalay in Myanmar, and Chongqing and Nanjing in China.
Then, it will cross the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii and fly across the US, stopping in Phoenix, the Midwest and New York.

After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the aircraft's final legs will include a stopover in Southern Europe or North Africa before it completes the round-the-world flight at its final destination: Abu Dhabi.Solar Impulse will stop only for a night halt in Varanasi.
01/03/15 Deccan Herald

Lufthansa Airlines flight grounded due to snag

Chennai: : A Frankfurt bound Lufthansa flight with 180 passengers on board was grounded here today due to a technical snag, airport authorities said.

The flight was grounded just before take off when the snag was detected.
02/03/15 PTI/Economic Times

Abacus signs distribution agreement with Jet Airways

Mumbai: Abacus has announced a comprehensive partnership with Jet Airways (India) Ltd. that will broaden the Indian carrier’s reach while increasing its control over connecting segments. The new multi-year Distribution Agreement, which includes the latest Abacus Journey Data and Married Segment solutions, will assist Jet Airways in developing its own branded code-share connectivity. The airline’s network, currently serving 73 destinations and 22 international gateways, is extended with 18 code-share agreements and over 100 interline partners, according to a release.
02/03/15 TravelBizMonitor

Delhi: Rain affects flight operations at airport

New Delhi: Unusual rainfall has affected operations of flights at India's busiest and biggest airport Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in New Delhi. According to Delhi International Airport Limited, 34 domestic flights and three International flights have been delayed due to low visibility at the airport.
Visibility dropped at the airport significantly on Monday morning. It was at 800 meters and has gone up to 1500 meters.
02/03/15 IBNLive 

12.5 kg of Iranian saffron seized at Karipur

Malappuram: The Air Customs Intelligence wing at Calicut International Airport at Karipur seized 12.5 kg of high-quality Iranian saffron worth Rs.22.5 lakh from a Kasaragod passenger who arrived from Dubai on an Indigo flight on Sunday morning. The saffron was meant to be smuggled to Jaipur, where it would fetch nearly three times the cost.
02/03/15 Abdul Latheef Naha/The Hindu

US National With Satellite Phone Detained at Chennai Airport

Chennai:  A US national was detained by authorities at the airport here on Sunday after he was found in possession of a satellite phone.

David Paul was scheduled to take a flight to Mumbai this evening.
01/03/15 PTI/New Indian Express

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Budget 2015: No major relief for struggling aviation sector, say experts

New Delhi: Indicating that the Budget had failed to give any relief to the ailing aviation sector, industry experts today said that the domestic aviation sector will continue to struggle for another year.

"Overall, nothing to write home about. India's troubled aviation sector will continue to struggle for another year," global consultancy KPMG partner and India head of aerospace and defence Amber Dubey said.

The beleaguered industry's long pending expectations of tax rebates on jet fuel, Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) services, airports and general aviation have been ignored yet again, Dube said, adding a higher service tax will enhance airfares and the loss of MRO revenue, jobs and taxes to Sri Lanka, ASEAN and gulf countries will continue.
Terming ad silver lining government's proposal to unveil a comprehensive Bankruptcy Code in the current fiscal, which aims at improving the ease of doing business environment in the country, Dhiraj Mathur, executive director at global consultancy PwC said that had government taken such a step earlier, some airlines would have been flying today.
28/02/15 PTI/Economic Times

Aviation gets a flat deal as allocation nosedives

New Delhi: Budget 2015-16 has been a mixed bag for the Indian aviation sector. Air India has been provided Rs 2,500 crore as against its request for ?4,277 crore.

The funds have been provided despite Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s comment that the Centre will look at disinvestment in loss-making units and some strategic disinvestment. The airline’s net loss came down to Rs 5,389 crore in the last fiscal compared with Rs 5,490 crore and Rs 7,559.74 crore in financial year 2013 and 2012 respectively.

The Budget provides RS 80 crore to the Airports Authority of India, of which Rs 22 crore has been earmarked for the new Greenfield airport coming up in Pakyong, Sikkim.
28/02/15 Business Line

Budget 2015: Flying is going to be costlier?

New Delhi: Flying is going to cost marginally more in the next financial year thanks to the hike in service tax rate from 12.36% to 14%. Airlines and travel agents say that the hike will be up to 2% of the ticket price. Which means, a Delhi-Mumbai ticket costing Rs 8,000 will cost about Rs 150 more. The impact on business and first class travel will be more due to high base fares which would lead to heftier hikes.

Travel portal Yatra president Sharat Dhall said, "The increase in service tax will result in small increases in the prices of flights, hotels and holiday packages."

Amber Dubey, partner and India head of aerospace and defence at KPMG, said: "The beleaguered aviation industry's long pending expectations of tax rebates on jet fuel, MRO, airports and general aviation have been ignored yet again. Higher Service Tax will enhance airfares.... India's troubled aviation sector will continue to struggle for another year."
28/02/15 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Union budget 2015: Air travel becomes costly

New Delhi: First and business class air travellers would find flying costlier from the next fiscal with an almost 2 per cent hike in service tax rate proposed in the general budget, which also earmarked Rs 2,500 crore for ailing Air India in 2015-16.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today announced hike in service tax from 12.36 per cent to 14 per cent for travel by air in first and business class in the Budget, making it costlier.
The total plan allocation for the Civil Aviation Ministry stands at Rs 5,360.95 crore and its non-plan expenditure estimated at Rs 621.50 crore.
Air India has been allocated Rs 2,500 crore as equity infusion during the year.
Saddled with a massive Rs 40,000 crore debt and combined losses of Rs 36,000 crore till last fiscal, the airline is surviving on a government bailout package, announced earlier.
As part of a turnaround and financial restructuring plan approved by the government in 2012, Air India will get equity infusion of Rs 30,000 crore till 2021.
28/02/15 PTI/Financial Express

Budget 2015: Aviation sector largely ignored by Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: Aviation has been largely ignored in the Union Budget for 2015-16, as most of the sector's demands such as giving airlines infrastructure status and bringing down taxation on MROs have been ignored. Besides, air travel in business class or first class could get more expensive as the rebate available earlier has been reduced.
Also, it remains to be seen if the announcement by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that this Government may look at divestment or strategic sale of loss making PSUs could have any implication for the ailing Air India. For 2015-16, Jaitley has provided only Rs 2,500 crore against the airline's demand of Rs 4277 crore. Air India's net loss came down to Rs 5,389 crore in FY14 compared with Rs 5,490 crore in FY13 and Rs 7,559.74 crore in FY12.
Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI
In the Budget, Rs 80 crore has been provided to the Airports Authority of India, of which Rs 22 crore has been earmarked for the new Greenfield airport coming up in Pakyong, Sikkim.
Amber Dubey, partner and India head, aerospace and defence, KPMG, termed the Budget as a disappointing day for aviation. He lamented that long pending industry demands of tax rebates on Aviation Turbine Fuel, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul services (MRO), airports and general aviation have been ignored.
28/02/15 First Post

Budget delivers a mixed bag for aviation, Air India gets Rs 2,500 cr

New Delhi: The Budget has delivered a mixed bag for the Indian aviation sector. Air India has been provided ?2,500 crore as against its request for ? 4,277 crore.

The funds have been provided despite Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announcing in his Budget speech that the Government will look at disinvestment in loss-making units and some strategic disinvestment. The airline’s net loss came down to ?5,389 crore in the last fiscal, compared with ?5,490 crore in financial year 2013, and ?7,559.74 crore in FY12.

Budget 2015-16 also provides ?80 crore to the Airports Authority of India, of which ? 22 crore has been earmarked for the new greenfield airport coming up in Pakyong, Sikkim.

The decision to increase the service tax to 14 per cent will see flights becoming more expensive.
28/02/15 Business Line

Jet fuel prices raised by 8.2%

Mumbai: State oil marketing companies hiked the price of jet fuel by 8.2%, the first such increase since last July while the rates of non-subsidised LPG was increased by Rs 5 per cylinder on firming international oil rates.

Price of aviation turbine fuel (domestic) in Delhi was increased to Rs 50,363 per kilolitre from Rs 46,513 per kilolitre. The price revision came into effect from Saturday midnight.

In February the jet  fuel price was slashed 11.3%. In January, jet fuel price was reduced  by 12.5% and between October and December last year,  prices declined 11%. Jet fuel price came down  to factor decline in crude oil price.

Fuel costs account for about 40% of an airline’s operating expenses. Domestic airlines pay more for fuel than their regional peers, owing to state and central levies.

For airlines, hit hard by high fuel costs for much of 2013 and the first part of last year, the drop in jet fuel prices will mean lower operating costs and improved profitability.
01/03/15 Business Standard

Govt withdraws service tax exemption for greenfield airports

Mumbai: The government has withdrawn service tax exemption provided to construction of greenfield airports. This will make construction of new airports at Navi Mumbai and Goa more expensive.

In his budget speech finance minister Arun Jaitley announced the withdrawal of exemption to construction, erection, commissioning or installation of original works pertaining to an airport or port.
"Till now there was an exemption on paying service tax in construction of greenfield airport. With the exemption withdrawn developers would have to pay tax on consultancy, technical services or hiring of labour from contractors. This could push up the construction costs by as much as 4%," remarked a senior executive from a private company engaged in airport development.
28/02/15 Business Standard

More Money in Maharaja’s Pocket, Pvt Carriers Feel Let Down

Bengaluru: Relief for the struggling aviation sector was restricted to state-owned assets and plans. Though major players in the industry have been seeking relief to ease the burden of mounting losses, the Union Budget had little to offer to private carriers.

The Budget allocated `2,500 crore to feed the ‘insatiable appetite’ of national carrier, Air India. This is part of the `30,000 crore phased fund infusion into the carrier till 2021.

Though discounts for economy classes have been aplenty in recent times, first and business class passengers will now have to cough up 2 per cent more as service tax. Though various states continue to oppose the current GST provisions, aviation companies continue to post losses as Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) is taxed heavily, which  accounts for  nearly 40% of the operational costs.

“Disappointing day for aviation. It’s as if aviation is not even a consideration. It’s wrong image as a ‘playground of the rich’ makes it a low priority item,” Amber Dubey,  partner and India head of aerospace and defence at KPMG said.
Desi carriers  have to look for Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) outside India as well as higher taxes.  Though MRO spend is expected to grow to about $1.6 billion (spending each year) in the next 10 years from the current market size of about $700-800 million, it still remains largely unexplored.
01/03/15 Sharan Poovanna/New Indian Express

Post-budget, flying becomes costlier for non-resident Indians

Muscat: Non-resident Indians (NRIs) will have to pay more for their tickets as the Indian government hiked marginally the service tax on airfares in its union budget for the financial year 2015-2016, on Saturday.

According to the budget, flying is set to become marginally dearer in the next financial year thanks to the hike in service tax from 12.36 per cent to 14 per cent, but it will be applicable only for tickets purchased in India.

Airlines officials and travel agents say that the hike will be nearly 2 per cent of the ticket price.

Which means, a Kochi – Muscat one-way economy fare costing around OMR199 on an airline on Saturday, will cost around OMR4 more.

The impact on business and first class travel will be more due to high base fares which would lead to heftier hikes.
28/02/15 Rejimon K/Times of Oman

Union Budget 2015-2016 encouraging, says SpiceJet

SpiceJet comment on Union Budget 2015-2016 "The vision for the double digit growth is very encouraging. The budget appears to lay a roadmap for lower taxes, simplification of process and ease of doing business and investment in infrastructure sector. The proposed bankruptcy law which I expect will be akin to Chapter 11 provision present in US will help unshackle massive investments which are stuck in stalled projects. The FM's thrust on reducing subsidy leakages, increasing transparency with use of technology and minimizing the circulation of black money will go a long a way in improving the economy. Plug and Play Projects, re-look at the PPP framework, reduction of litigation, introduction of MUDRA bank, social sector schemes, Pension funds, make this year's budget a budget of ideas and if implemented well should lead to great growth in the Indian economy.
28/02/15 moneycontrol.com

Budget deals a blow to Gannavaram airport expansion

Vijayawada: Even as the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the district administration are gearing up to commence development works at the Gannavaram airport, the “Centre’s apathy” towards the key project has left everyone shocked. The Centre’s “indifferent approach” will have a bearing on the State, which is all set to present its annual budget. Incidentally, Andhra Pradesh is heading for a deficit budget of Rs. 16,000 crore.

The plans to take up expansion works reached a crucial stage, with the district administration leaving no stone unturned to convince farmers in handing over their lands.

A series of meetings had already been conducted with farmers in this regard, and Union Minister of Civil Aviation P. Ashok Gajapati Raju and Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu had instructed officials to expedite works in the wake of increasing passenger patronage post-bifurcation.
01/03/15 M. Srinivas/The Hindu

Aranmula airport figures in Centre’s Economic Survey

Pathanamthitta:  The proposed international greenfield airport at Aranmula has been included in the Economic Survey of 2014-15 presented by the Union government before Parliament.

According to a statement issued here on Saturday, KGS Aranmula International Airport managing director Gigi George said the proposed Aranmula airport had been included in the list of greenfield airports planned in the financial year 2015-16.

According to Mr George, Mopa in Goa; Navi Mumbai, Shirdi and Sindhudurg in Maharashtra; Shimoga, Gulbarga, Hassan, and Bijapur in Karnataka; Kannur and Aranmula in Kerala; Durgapur in West Bengal; Pakyong in Sikkim; Datia/Gwalior (cargo) in Madhya Pradesh; Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh; and Karaikal in Puducherry, are the other greenfield airports planned as part of the major initiatives to augment better airport infrastructure across the country, as per the Economic Survey.
01/03/15 The Hindu

Business class air travel gets expensive with service tax changes

Mumbai: Flying in business and first class will be get costlier with union finance minister Arun Jaitley tweaking the service tax structure on premium travel.

Jaitley announced a reduction in abatement in service tax on business class and first class fares from 60% to 40%. "Consequently, service tax would be payable on 60% of the value of fare for business class," the minister said in his budget speech.

All the three full service airlines - Air India, Jet Airways and Vistara – offer business class seating on domestic flights.

Read our full coverage on Union Budget
The reduction in abatement is in addition to increase in service tax rates from 12% to 14% which will make all air tickets costlier. Service tax is levied on both economy and premium cabin tickets.

The aviation sector was also expecting relief in form of lower taxes on jet fuel and maintenance repair and overhaul units; the government, though, did not consider the demand. On the positive side, Air India will receive Rs 2,500 crore of equity infusion this year. The national carrier had asked for infusion of over Rs 4,200 crore.  The airline will use the funds largely for debt repayment.
28/02/15 Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

Budget dampens hopes of developing Vijayawada airport

Vijayawada: The hopes of denizens in Vijayawada were dashed after the Centre apparently failed to provide adequate budgetary allocations for developing the Gannavaram airport on par with the international airports.

Even as Airports Authority of India (AAI) and district administration are gearing up to begin the airport development works, the “Centre’s apathy” towards the key project has left everyone shocked. The Centre’s “indifferent approach” will have a bearing on State Government which is all set to present its annual budget. Andhra Pradesh is said to be heading for a deficit budget of Rs.16,000 crore.

The plans to take up expansion works reached a crucial stage with the district administration leaving no stone unturned to convince farmers in handing over their lands. A series of meetings were already conducted with the farmers in this regard and Union Minister of Civil Aviation P. Ashok Gajapati Raju and Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu instructed officials concerned to expedite the work in the wake of increasing passenger patronage after bifurcation.
28/02/15 M Srinivas/The Hindu

38 Pilatus Trainer Aircraft to Be Bought From Switzerland

New Delhi: Government today cleared the purchase of 38 additional Pilatus basic trainer aircraft for the IAF from Switzerland and nominated state-run Goa Shipyard to manufacture 12 mine counter-measure vessels (MCMVs) for Rs 32,000 crore.

It also decided that future requirements of the trainer aircraft would be met by state-run HAL which would be given adequate orders for its HTT-40 plane to be commercially viable.

The Defence Acquisition Council, which met today, also okayed the purchase of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for the Indian Air Force to replace the one which had crashed in March last year killing five service personnel, including four officers, near Gwalior.

Chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, DAC decided to seek more information on the proposal to purchase at least 15 US-2i amphibious aircraft from Japan.

No decision was taken on the bid by Airbus-TATA consortium to replace the ageing Avro transport aircraft fleet of the Indian Air Force.
28/02/15 Outlook

Air India Express to add new flights from Oman

Muscat: More Indian cities will be connected by Air India Express, the low-cost arm of the national carrier of India, Air India from Muscat.

Speaking to Times of Oman, B B Kulkarni, country manager of Air India and Air India Express, said that they are planning to add a few more destinations from Muscat.  "These destinations will be added once they lease new aircraft," he said.

It was learnt that Air India Express may add Lucknow and Amritsar to its growing network from Muscat. While Oman Air currently flies to Lucknow, there are no direct flights to Amritsar which is home to Sikhism's holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, one of India's most serene and humbling sights.

"No time period has been fixed but we are planning to add Lucknow while a route study for an Amritsar-Muscat flight is under way," added Kulkarni.
28/02/15 Times of Oman

FAIRcraft of a fighting spirit

A sortie with the MIG4 or lockheed martin’s F-16 keeps suman sharma agile. She is a force to reckon with. With a tenacity and singleminded focus on the task ahead, she soars high
She was the first woman to co-pilot the mighty Russian-made MiG4, and the first civilian to fly Lockheed Martin’s next generation fighter aircraft F-16. Journalist and writer Suman Sharma made a fleeting appearance at the Aero India 2015, to co-pilot Bell’s 407 GX on the second day of the show.
Her petite frame is clad in a biker jacket and boots and it’s evident that this woman is tough as nails. All her life, she has broken past these limitations, making a name for herself in the male-dominated world of defense aviation. “In our patriarchal society, chauvinism raises its ugly head in almost every sphere.”
She has been mocked, isolated and even sabotaged as she fought her way to her first sorties. Even so, she consigns all this to the fringes — Suman’s first priority is to stay physically and mentally agile at all times — with her kind of work, there is no other choice.
28/02/15 Darshana Ramdev/Asian Age

VIP Culture Hurts This Elderly Couple at Udaipur Airport

Mumbai: NDTV has been campaigning against the VIP culture in the country - a culture that separates the ordinary man from the person in a position of power, but when a 67-year-old wheelchair patient is denied entry into the VIP lounge at an airport, it's a matter of concern for everyone.

Murli Mehta and his wife Bharati reached the Maharana Pratap Airport in Udaipur a few hours before their flight's scheduled departure to Mumbai, but were denied access to the VIP lounge which is barely used.

"These facilities should not be for important people, they should be for importance needing people. People who are senior citizens, differently abled, sick people, pregnant women need this. Public money has gone into this and it is for us," said Mr Mehta, adding that it is also a matter of self-esteem for people suffering from disabilities.
When asked, airport authorities told the family that they were sorry but could not help as the lounge was only for VIPs.
28/02/15 Nikita Niraj Arora/NDTV

Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia to trial new flight tracking system

Sydney: Indonesia and Malaysia will lead a trial to enhance the tracking of aircraft over remote oceans, allowing planes to be more easily, Australia’s transport minister said on Sunday.

The announcement comes one week ahead of the anniversary of the disappearance of flight MH370, which vanished last year on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. No trace of the plane has been found.

Airservices Australia, a government-owned agency that manages the country’s airspace, will work with its Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts to test the new method, which would enable planes to be tracked every 15 minutes, rather than the previous rate of 30 to 40 minutes, Australian Transport Minister Warren Truss said.

The trial is expected to use satellite-based positioning technology already on board 90 per cent of long-haul aircraft that transmits the plane’s current position and its next two planned positions, said Airservices Australia chairman Angus Houston, who helped lead the search for MH370.

The trial would boost the frequency in which planes would automatically report their position, allowing air traffic controllers to better track them, Houston said.
01/03/15 AP/The Hindu

Kerala Bizmen get Wings to Make Money

Kochi: If time is money, business tycoons in Kerala are making the most of it by flying. And they are doing it by acquiring private jets so that they could speed up their travel and save some precious time. “Owing to a slowdown in the aviation sector in 2014, there were only seven private aircraft acquired by the corporate sector last year. Of that, three aircraft were acquired by businessmen based in Kerala,” said Captain Koshy Varghese, Director of Operations, K-Air, an aviation consultancy and aircraft sales company. It is the only firm of its kind based in Kerala. “The main hubs of aircraft sales operations are Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. The level of demand for such aircraft from Kerala used to be relatively low. However, we have been recieving increasing requests for feasibility studies regarding the purchase of aircraft and setting up of helipads in the corporate consultancy sector,” he said.

These coporate bigwigs are reaping great benefits by saving time by travelling in air. “In a period of expansion, the private aircraft could be used by corporates for increasing productivity. It allows the top officials to have an increasing flexibility in their travel arrangements. For example, it takes at least five hours for a businessman based in Kochi to travel to a showroom in Calicut by road. In comparison, they can reach their destination by air within one hour. The same goes for their factories or offices located in other states or even countries,” he said.
01/03/15 Vaisakh E Hari/New Indian Express

Miniature airplanes fly high

Vijayapura: The airport in Vijayapura may take years to be operational, but on Saturday, about 15 flights took off here in the presence of hundreds of onlookers.

The only difference was that that these airplanes were remote-operated and miniature models of the big aircraft that flew in the sky at Ambedkar Stadium.

The district administration had arranged the aeromodelling show as part of the ongoing Navaraspur Utsav here.

A Belagavi-based institution, Aerosport Hobby Centre, had brought to the city these different types of airplanes whose manoeuvring skills were displayed at the event. The models included Drone or Hexacopter, which was gaining popular for aerial video recording, Controlled-Line aeronautic, a small plane whose flight is controlled using the tread, Disk flyer that resembles a flying saucer, and Electric Flying and Low-winger.
01/03/15 Firoz Rozindar/The Hindu

Donor’s heart transported to HAL airport in record time

Bengaluru: In yet another successful green corridor facility, the city traffic police transported a donor's heart from Victoria hospital to HAL airport on Saturday in a record time of 11.33 minutes.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic East) B. Rajendra Prasad, who escorted the ambulance carrying the heart, said 18 officers including three ACPs, six inspectors and eight sub-inspectors were deployed for the job.

Zero clearance was arranged for 15 km from Victoria Hospital to HAL via Market, SJP Road, Town hall, Hudson Circle, Kasturba Road, M.G. Road, Trinity Junction and Airport Road.

The ambulance which started from 12 p.m. from the hospital took 11.33 minutes to reach HAL Airport, from where the heart was taken to Hyderaband on a chartered flight, Mr. Prasad said.

All traffic junctions on the route were put on alert and the staff at the control room was monitoring and directing the movement of traffic to create a smooth route for the ambulance.
28/02/15 The Hindu

Trolley woes at Imphal International Airport

Imphal: Passengers traveling to different destinations on Saturday afternoon were in for a rude shock when they discovered that there was not a single trolley outside the departure terminal area to be used for carrying luggage inside while checking-in at the Imphal International Airport.
Many passengers had to wait for minutes wondering where the trolleys had disappeared.
Later, it was found out that the trolleys had been shifted to the arrival section and kept there for use by passengers arriving from other destinations.
It was also learnt that those responsible for bringing back the trolleys after use at the arrival terminal had not taken adequate measures to ensure relocating the same.
01/03/15 E-Pao

Anti-Naxal operations: Government hires 2 private choppers for military sorties

Raipur: The government has hired two helicopters from a private firm to provide air support to security forces deployed in the jungles of Chhattisgarh and its border areas which are hotbeds of Maoist activities.

The much-awaited deployment of these air assets has come after more than a year of hectic efforts to find more helicopters for troops tackling Left-wing extremism (LWE). CRPF has inked the deal for leasing two private choppers which will not only carry troops for reinforcements but also evacuate battle causalities and supply arms and rations. A team of two Bell choppers has been based at Jagdalpur in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, which is among the worst Naxal violence-affected areas, for operations under the command of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the lead force for combating the LWE challenge.
"Two private choppers have been hired on contract for aiding the forces in anti-Naxal operations. The flying machines have begun operations and will be based in south Bastar," a senior officer said. The private firm which is providing the choppers has experience of operating in the Maoist-affected zones, albeit for ferrying civilians and VVIPs.
01/03/15 PTI/Daily News & Analysis

Man held for gold smuggling

New Delhi: A man has been arrested at the international airport here for allegedly trying to smuggle into the country gold valued at about Rs 50 lakh.

The passenger was intercepted yesterday by customs officials after his arrival from Doha here.
28/02/15 PTI/Business Standard