Thursday, January 29, 2015

IndiGo Joins Fare War With Rs 1499 Ticket Offer

Budget carrier IndiGo joined the fare war, after rivals SpiceJet and Jet Airways offered big discounts to woo travellers during low travel demand season.

IndiGo is offering fares as low as Rs 1,499 on advance bookings. For this IndiGo offer, bookings should be made 90 days before the travel date.

While Jet Airways has offered all-inclusive to-and-fro tickets on certain routes, starting Rs 4,459, SpiceJet put on the block half a million seats with ticket prices starting at Rs 1,499.

AirAsia India too has announced a discount fare scheme.

January-March and July-September quarters of the fiscal are traditionally low travel demand period in the country. So airlines roll out such discount fare schemes to woo customers.

According to travel portal, the domestic carriers seem to be now focusing on getting advance bookings while not ruling out a few more such offerings before the peak demand season sets in.
29/01/15 NDTV

Book AirAsia India flight ticket at just Rs 699

New Delhi: Joining the low fare race, budget carrier AirAsia India is offering a huge discount. It is offering tickets as low as Rs 699 (all-inclusive) on advance bookings. This offer is open till February 1, 2015 and is applicable for travel between August 3, 2015 and March 26, 2016.
Under the current offer, Bengaluru-Goa tickets are priced from Rs 1,099, Bengaluru-Chennai route are priced from Rs 699, Bengaluru-Kochi at Rs 899, Bengaluru-Pune at Rs 1,499, Bengaluru-Jaipur and Bengaluru-Chandigarh at Rs. 1,999. AirAsia India is an Indo-Malaysian low cost carrier. Announced on February 19, 2013, the airline is a joint venture with Air Asia Berhad holding 49% of the airline, Tata Sons holding 30% and Telestra Tradeplace taking up the remaining 21% in the airline. Budget carrier SpiceJet on Wednesday joined the low fare race in the domestic market putting on the block half a million seats with ticket prices starting at Rs 1,499 under a limited period promotional offer. The bookings under the three-day "Super Sale" offer can be made from today for a travel period between February 15 to June 30, SpiceJet said in a release.
28/01/15 Reetu Sharma/One India

Jet Airways, GoAir join the fare war

Mumbai: Jet Airways and GoAir have joined rival SpiceJet in lowering fares on advance bookings for travel in the next few months.

The two Mumbai-based carriers came up with the offer a day after SpiceJet, under its new promoter Ajay Singh, unveiled the first round of discounts for 2015.

Budget airline SpiceJet is offering 500,000 seats at a one-way fare starting at ?1,499 for a three-day period ending January 31.

Similarly, full services player Jet Airways is offering return tickets on certain routes starting at ?4,459 for travel till March 31.

For instance, flights on the Kochi-Mumbai route are starting at ?2,999, says the company’s website.

GoAir said it will offer discounted airfares to 22 cities for travel till April 15.

Flights on the Mumbai-Delhi leg start at an all-inclusive fare of ?2,999, according to the GoAir website.
29/01/15 Business Line

Rao govt wanted Tatas to start airline but backed out: Ratan Tata

Mumbai: The Tata Group's plans to launch an airline in the mid-1990s was scuttled despite the backing of then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao, Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus, said on Wednesday. Later, the government had backed out due to opposition from rival airlines, he said at an event to celebrate the launch of Vistara, a Tata Group-Singapore Airlines joint venture, which began operations earlier this month.

Tata recalled the plan to launch an airline was initiated after former group chairman J R D Tata met the then cabinet secretary and was informed of the government's desire to allow private airlines. "J R D Tata first came away quite excited, but told me 'we have been out of the airline sector for many years and it has changed; it's become very competitive. It has new technology and it is different from what it was when Air India was first started. So, let's go and get the best partner we can...and give the country a world-class airline'," Tata said. "That never happened." "J R D (Tata) would have been really proud of Vistara. I am sure wherever he is, he would be looking at us and be very pleased."
19/01/15 Business Standard

SpiceJet aims to expand network 30%, add 60 daily flights by April

New Delhi: Troubled low-cost carrier SpiceJet, under its revival plan, plans to increase its daily flights by almost 30 per cent to 280 within three months, Business Standard has learnt.

In line with this strategy, the airline is currently negotiating with foreign leasing companies to add six Boeing B737 aircraft to its fleet for the summer schedule – it currently has 20 B737s and 14 Bombardier Q400 aircraft.

“From 220 today, the airline will take its daily flights up to 280 in April. The fleet-planning division is looking into what will be the best option in terms of adding new aircraft,” a source said.

Promoted by Sun Network’s Kalanithi Maran, SpiceJet had 35 B737s in July last year, when it operated 340 daily flights, but the B737 fleet has now been reduced to 20, for saving on operational costs through returning aircraft to leasing companies. However, with fresh investments imminent after a deal was approved by the civil aviation ministry earlier this month, the airline is believed to again be negotiating to bring back the aircraft it recently returned. This is to gain a larger scale to help it achieve faster operational turnaround.
29/01/15 Roudra Bhattacharya/Business Standard

Ajay Singh’s second innings at SpiceJet to depend on how soon he can turn around the carrier

Mumbai:  Ajay Singh, who is having a second stint at SpiceJet, will face a radically different set of challenges running the budget airline now compared with when he took over the reins last in 2005-06.

SpiceJet, like the rest of the industry, was then hit badly by a steep rise in jet fuel price. Now, while crude oil price is down from its peak, SpiceJet has bigger problems of its own, such as the loss of faith among associates and vendors who weren't paid for months. This, experts say, will create constraints when the airline tries to scale up after receiving funds that the new promoter, Singh, has promised to bring. The other issue may be apathy from a government which may not be always patient with an airline which didn't pay taxes and was on the brink of closure.
30/01/15 Anirban Chowdhury/Ecobomic Times

Experts seek budgetary support for aviation sector

Mumbai:  Experts have asked the government to notify aviation turbine fuel as a declared good and lay a clear road map for sale of Air India among other measures to be considered in the forthcoming Union budget.

“The notification on declared good should be with immediate effect. It is much more prudent to generate tax from downstream goods and services than an industrial raw material (ATF). ATF in India is 55-60 per cent costlier than the Gulf and ASEAN region. The cascading effects of ATF taxes have brought ruin to the airline sector. ATF should have a uniform levy of 4 per cent across India,” said Amber Dubey, partner and India head of Aerospace and Defence, KPMG.

“The government should announce a clear road map for auction of Air India to the private sector. Else Air India will continue to bleed under increasing competition, falling market share and increasing costs. Low fare offers by the taxpayer-funded- airline distorts the market. The taxpayers’ funds should be used for development of the entire aviation sector and not just one player,” Mr. Dubey added.
29/01/15 Lalatendu Mishra/The Hindu

Airlines get a chance to revive flagging fortunes

New Delhi: The buzz among the optimists in the aviation sector is that some airlines could report improved results for the quarter ended December, numbers for which will be out soon. Both Jet Airways and SpiceJet, the two carriers listed on the stock market, have seen a sharp rise in their share price in the last one month. While Jet Airways has soared 30.5 per cent, SpiceJet, which is in the midst of changing hands from the Maran family to a group of investors led by Ajay Singh, has recorded a gain of 17 per cent. If aviation industry executives are to be believed, the current quarter will be even better - "simply rocking". Of course, given the troubled history of the industry, it means the airlines will break even or make some money, that too unless nobody launches a foolhardy tariff war.

The biggest contributor to the turnaround is the dramatic drop in the prices of aviation turbine fuel, or ATF, which constitutes 50-55 per cent of an airline's operating costs. As oil producing countries pump out huge quantities of crude oil, apparently in a bid to finish off the nascent shale gas sector, ATF prices have fallen sharply in the last four months: from Rs 67,500 a kiloliter in October to Rs 52,000 now, a drop of 22 per cent. In the December-ended quarter, ATF, on an average, was 14.3 per cent cheaper than the year-ago quarter. In the current quarter, the expectation is that it will be 24 per cent cheaper when compared to the same quarter of the previous financial year.
28/01/15 Surajeet Das Gupta/Business Standard

Air Kerala more keen to switch to Gulf flights at first opportunity

 Air Kerala, a proposed regional carrier, is likely to obtain the clearances and may launch operations in the middle of April.

The domestic air traffic is controlled upto 80% extent by IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir as members of the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), with Air India have left them a couple of months ago.  FIA are lobbying against the withdrawal or amendment to the 5/20 Rule that the Civil Aviation Ministry may introduce as this will give an unfair advantage to both Vistara and Air Asia India.

It is a question of time before this change is brought about.  In addition to Vistara and Air Asia India, a strong contender to support this move would come from Air Kerala when it begins its operation.  Practically, every single family in Kerala has at least one member of the family working in the Middle East and the expatriate population of Keralites is the largest segment of Indians in the region.  Air India will therefore face toughest competition from this new airline, which will start as a regional carrier, only to switch to Gulf flights at the first opportunity, when the rules are changed!

As was expected by the air travellers, the Tata-SIA partnered Vistara began its maiden flight on 9th January with its brand new A 320-200s with 148 passengers. It has three aircraft, which will expand to six by April.  Presently the flights are from Mumbai, Ahmedabad and New Delhi.
Because of the wintry conditions in the next few weeks Vistara has plans to start its flight schedules to cover new destinations like Goa, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune and Guwahati.  It may be remembered that Vistara is the only domestic airline that has 3 separate classes to meet the exacting needs of its customers.
29/01/15 moneylife

Malaysia declares MH370 an accident, airline to proceed with compensation

Putrajaya: A seven-nation investigation has failed to discover what happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 327 days after the plane disappeared over the South China Sea in one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries.

Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation says both safety and criminal investigations have been limited by a lack of physical evidence, particularly the plane's flight recorders.

"Therefore at this juncture there is no evidence to substantiate any speculations as to the cause of the accident," said Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the department's director-general.
Families waiting anxiously for any developments in the investigation were bitterly disappointed when Mr Azharuddin made the most comprehensive statement on the investigation in months.

The department formally declared the disappearance an "accident," a move that will open the way for the victims' family members to receive compensation.

'It is therefore, with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that, on behalf of the Government of Malaysia, we officially declare that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident … and that all 239 of the passengers and crew on board are presumed to have lost their lives," Mr Azharuddin said.
29/01/15 Lindsay Murdoch/Fairfax Media/Sydney Morning Herald

China asks Malaysia to fulfil obligations on MH370 tragedy

Beijing: China today asked Malaysia to fulfill its obligations of compensation to the families of MH370 crash victims and continue the search for the jet, hours after Malaysian officials declared the tragedy as an accident.

"At this moment of sadness, the Chinese government expresses its deep sorrow for the misery of those on board, and offers its profound sympathies and sincere condolences to their families," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

 Her comments came after Director General of the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation Azharuddin Abdul Rahman announced the status of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 as lost.

The Boeing 777 aircraft with 239 people, including 154 Chinese nationals and five Indians, on board disappeared on March 8, 2014, shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en-route to Beijing.

Azharuddin said passengers and crew of the flight were presumed dead and search remains priority.

29/01/15 PTI/Economic Times

NTSB issues new recommendations to find missing planes

Washington: Amid several recent high-profile incidents where planes have mysteriously vanished, the US aviation safety authority has issued new recommendations designed to help find wreckage faster and determine what caused crashes.

"Recent events have highlighted that recovering flight data can be costly and difficult when an accident occurs in a remote area, outside radar coverage," the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wrote in the letter to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Malaysian Airlines flight 370 remains the most notable recent missing plane and its disappearance has driven aviation authorities worldwide to consider changes to how aircraft are tracked.

The ill-fated Boeing 777 is thought to have crashed in the South Indian Ocean, far from land and far from radar coverage. Search crews continue looking for it, but so far have found no wreckage or sign of the 239 people on board. Malaysian government today declared the disappearance of Flight MH370 an accident, nearly 11 months after the mishap.
29/01/15 PTI/Business Standard

Air-India flying into turbulence

Secret agreement signed recently by the Air-India management headed by its acting Managing Director, Mr. D. S. Mathur, and the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) representing 462 pilots in the country’s international airline to grant them practically a non-flying allowance has sent shock waves in the organisation. The agreement, which seeks to give the pilots a hefty increase in flying allowance ranging between $65 an hour at the junior-most level to $107 for the senior-most, was shrouded in such secrecy that only Mr. Mathur and the IPG office-bearers were privy to it. Even the Ministry of Civil Aviation was kept in the dark.
29/01/15 Business Line

SpiceJet registers 400% rise in bookings; Jet Airways joins price war

New Delhi: Budget carrier SpiceJet on Thursday said that it has registered a massive 400 percent spike in its bookings on the first day of its Super Sale scheme, which offers fares as low as Rs 1,499 for a one-way journey on its domestic network.

Naresh Goyal-promoted Jet Airways also slashed fares a second time in a week to match with its rivals.

"400% increase in bookings on Day 1 of our first Super Sale of 2015! Win-win-win for customers, airlines, and travel ecosystem," Kapoor tweeted.

The airline, which had announced a series of flash sale offers last year notwithstanding criticism from the peer group and also the regulator, put on sale yesterday half a million seats for a travel period between February 15 to June 30.

Spicejet, after being in a financial distress for over a year, is currently in the process of change in the management control and ownership. Its promoter Kalanithi Maran had early this month announced that he would transfer his stake in the carrier to original founder Ajay Singh as part of the revival plan.
29/01/15 PTI/Zee News

Alarm bells ring for villagers of sleepy Varkhand

Varkhand: A buzz of activity near their houses has slightly disturbed their usual complacence. The row over the proposed airport had been distant, but now they sense that the earlier gamut of sequences is heading for a climax.

As a group of workers toil in the sun to raise a pandal for a public hearing on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) study on Mopa airport, dhangar families seem to continue with their daily chores, trying to gauge what the future holds for them.

"At least seven of our generations have lived here and gone to their heavenly abode," says septuagenarian Sonu Vithu Varak, a resident of Simeche Advan, Varkhand-Nagazar. The small hamlet lies on the southern fringe of the vast plateau.
 A grassy shrub land with sparse vegetation stretches out into the horizon. The peace and tranquility is only disturbed by the workers group.
29/01/15 Keshav Naik & Paul Fernandes/Times of India

Tension among villagers ahead of Mopa EIA hearing

Pernem: An air of suspense and slight tension prevails around Mopa plateau, as the hearing on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) study of the proposed Mopa airport draws near and a rift between villagers around it appears imminent.

The proposed Mopa international airport has drawn opposition among villagers of Varkhand-Nagzar, Mopa-Ugvem-Tamboxem, Chandel and Casarvarnem, but supporters of the project have also been quite vociferous in recent months.

Devendra Prabhudessai, convenor of People for Mopa, alleges that residents in seven affected villages are being instigated to oppose Mopa airport at the hearing. "They have been fed lies that they will lose their ancestral land, grazing lands, and springs. Some poor farmers may fall prey to their tactics," he says.
29/01/15 Times of India

HC defers hearing on Vijay Mallya’s plea on summon

New Delhi: Delhi High Court today did not hear liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s plea challenging summons issued to him by a trial court in several cheque-bouncing cases in which he has to appear on February 20.

Justice Sunil Gaur fixed May 8 for hearing of the matter after the counsel for the parties requested adjournment.

The trial court had summoned Mallya as an accused after GMR-led Delhi International Airport (DIAL), which operates the capital’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, had moved the trial court after a cheque amounting to Rs one crore issued by Kingfisher Airlines Ltd on February 22, 2012 was returned to them a month later containing the remarks “fund insufficient”.

DIAL filed four cases against Mallya for dishonor of cheques for a total amount of Rs 7.5 crore.

The airline had issued the cheques towards payment for services availed by them at the IGI airport here.
29/01/15 PTI/Financial Express

LCA Tejas achieves another accomplishment, starts after overnight soak in extreme cold

Jammu: Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas achieves yet another remarkable accomplishment.
"LCA Tejas achieved rare distinction with three consecutive start-ups of its engine after overnight soak in extreme cold around minus 15 degrees C conditions of Ladakh winter, that too without any external assistance," a Defence spokesman of the Northern Command said on Wednesday.

Starting the fighter aircraft under such extreme condition without any external assistance or heating is a technology challenge. The requirements become further stringent when the starting is to be done three times consecutively with a partially charged battery. Team LCA led by AERD and C of HAL, and members from ADA, NFTC, IAF, CEMILAC and DGAQA have succeeded in achieving this," Defenece spokesman of the Northern Command added.
"The team LCA has achieved a technological breakthrough," said P S Subramanyam, PGD (CA) and Director, ADA.
28/01/15 India Today

Navi Mumbai airport project gets new impetus

Mumbai: The Rs-14,000 crore Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) project has got a boost, with four national and international bidders now vying to bag the job of being the developer and operator for the greenfield airport.

In response to its Request for Qualification (RFQ), the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) has received applications from GMR Airports, a consortium of Hiranandani Group and Zurich Airport in Switzerland, MIA Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd and Mumbai International Airports Pvt Ltd (MIAL), the operator of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. GMR Airports Ltd is the operator for airports in New Delhi and Hyderabad while MIA Infrastructure is a company promoted Tata Realty and Infrastructure and French group Vinci Airports SA, the operator for Lisbon airport.
29/01/15 Indian Express

Tigerair scraps three-year inter-line pact with SpiceJet

New Delhi: Even as the ailing SpiceJet tries to turn the corner, Singapore-based low-cost carrier Tigerair has terminated its three-year inter-line agreement with the domestic airline in less than a year. The tie-up ended earlier this month, mainly because the revenue target could not be met, Tigerair’s director for sales and marketing, Teh Yikchuan, told Business Standard.

Tigerair, which had signed the agreement with SpiceJet in December 2013, sent a termination letter to the latter in December last year, with a 30-day notice period. Singapore Airlines, a 49 per cent stakeholder in India’s newest airline, Vistara, is also the largest shareholder in Tigerair with a 56 per cent stake.

“The SpiceJet inter-line has expired. The numbers are not exactly what we expected. There were not as many connecting passengers as we had originally hoped for, so we decided not to continue with it after about a year. There is a cost to maintaining the agreement; it did not make any sense for us,” Yikchuan said.
29/01/15 Roudra Bhattacharya/Business Standard

Kochi, Lucknow among 13 airports to be CAT III-compliant by July-end

Chennai: Flight operations from Kochi, Lucknow, Patna and 10 other airports getting affected due to inclement weather will become a thing of the past from July-end this year.

The Indian Met office, along with Airports Authority of India, will install CAT III equipment at these 13 airports. This process will be completed by July 31.
Training pilots

Senior officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, however, warn that for flight operations to go on smoothly even during poor visibility, airlines will have to train their pilots to fly in CAT III conditions.

Meanwhile, the domestic airline industry has been given another week to present its views to the Ministry of Civil Aviation on how the 5/20 rule can be reworked without affecting the interests of both existing and new airlines in the sector.

This emerged at a meeting that was attended by senior officials of most domestic airlines here on Wednesday.
28/01/15 Business Line

Birlas' Dakota aircraft, used in 1947 Kashmir war, flies into history

A 1946 Dakota aircraft, owned by B.K. Birla Group, and extensively used by G.D. Birla and his family members, is being dismantled in Madhya Pradesh's Ujjain.

The unused aircraft had gone under the hammer in July 2013. The auction was held following instructions of the Madhya Pradesh High Court to disburse the pending salary of former employees of Bharat Commerce & Industry (BCI).

The BCI that falls under the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs was shut down in 2000. Rajesh Sharma, general manager, Grasim Industries, Nagda in Ujjain district of the state, told mediapersons: "The parts of the plane are being dismantled by engineers of Dakota itself. Its parts will be taken to Gulbarga.

The bid for the aircraft was reportedly bagged by a West Bengal-based firm. This week, two years after the bidding, a team of engineers from Dakota started dismantling the plane that is standing on the Nagda airstrip once used by the Birla Group.
According to old timers, the Dakota aircraft took its last sortie from Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1990.
In all likelihood, the parts of the rare aircraft will be transported to the Kesoram Cement plant in Gulbarga district of Karnataka where it might find a home.
29/01/15 Anup Datta/Mail Today

Trichy airport project gets new impetus

Trichy:  By inviting tenders for the environmental impact assessment a month ago, the Airports Authority of India has given an impetus to the new integrated terminal building project at the Trichy International Airport.

The authority is expected to finalise a contractor to undertake the assessment work in a few days. The Rs 232-crore airport expansion project is yet to gain momentum though the Union civil aviation ministry gave its approval long back.

In a year, the airport handles around 11 lakh passengers though the current terminal has the capacity to handle only 5 lakh passengers.

Once the contractor is finalised, soil testing and other impact on environment due to the project would be conducted.
 Currently, the airport terminal stands in a 12,000 square feet area that can handle about 250 passengers at a time.  Speaking to TOI, airport director BCH Negi said, "The new terminal will be standing at an area of about 18,000 square feet and the total size of the terminal alone will be at 30,000 square feet."
29/01/15 Times of India

'Hawaizaada' to be screened for Aviation Minister

Vibhu Puri's directorial debut 'Hawaizaada' is about the achievement of an Indian, Shivkar Bapuji Talpade, who flew the first plane for 20 minutes eight years before the Wright Brothers.

We were told that Vibhu feels that it is extremely important that Shivkar Talpade is recognized for his efforts. Hence the director is very keen to host a screening? of his film? for the Aviation Minister of India. And following which, his team is trying to arrange a screening so that the aviation department of India can acknowledge Shivkar Talpade's contribution to India.

Vibhu has done a thorough research on Shivkar Talpade. In fact, he even met his family and went to Bhandarkar Institute in Pune to do an extensive research about him and his creation. Vibhu has encapsulated the life of Shivkar Talpade on screen and has recreated the era of 1895 brilliantly.
29/01/15 IndiaGlitz

Lohegaon Airport gets a self check-in kiosk, wi-fi facility

Passengers flying out of the Lohegaon Airport with minimal baggage now have a reason to smile as they don’t need to stand in a queue any more. The airport has got its first self check-in kiosk.

Union Minister for Environment and Forests (EoMF) Prakash Javadekar inaugurated the facility on Thursday. Passengers travelling with cabin baggage can directly check into the airport. Airport authorities said that this might save up to 10 to 15 minutes of every passenger.

Airport Director Manoj Gangal said, “The check-in kiosk has become functional from today. It would prove helpful in saving time of the passengers as well as reducing the load on the other kiosks as there is considerable proportion of fliers who carry cabin baggage and will use the self check-in kiosk. Internationally, all the airports have this facility. We have now initiated it on pilot basis and will launch more kiosks in the future.”

Javadekar said that the airport will need at least 4 to 5 such kiosks to meet the demands of over 1,500 passengers who use the airport daily.
29/01/15 Indian Express

India to hard sell Tejas, Dhruv at air show

India will showcase and try to hard sell its indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv at the air show here in February to prospective buyers from abroad, an official said Wednesday.

"Tejas will be on flying and static display at the Aero India Show here Feb 18-22 to solicit foreign buyers, as we have started producing them (fighters) for the Indian Air Force (IAF)," outgoing chairman of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) R.K. Tyagi told reporters here.

The defence behemoth will also display military and civil variants of Dhruv at the biennial international event where producers, buyers, users and other stakeholders the world over will participate in thousands.

The multi-role fighters, which are part of the first series production for induction into the IAF fleet soon, will be seen in action at the five-day aerospace event.

"We delivered the first aircraft (Mark-1 version) to the IAF recently (Jan 17). Prospective buyers will be briefed on the fighter's unique features and abilities in combat role," Tyagi said.
28/01/15 Web India 123

Aerobridge facility at Birsa Munda Airport soon

Ranchi: Services of aerobridge would be added to Birsa Munda Airport very soon. According to sources two aerobridges would start functioning from February 7.

It would be a huge relief to the passengers as they would be able to reach the aircrafts directly from the terminal building. With the installation of the aerobridges the passengers would not have board the buses or take the stairs to get on the aircraft. Work related to installation of the aerobridges is going on in full swing.

Airport director Raghabendra Raju said that the passengers would get the facility tentatively from February 7.

Airport sources said that the estimated cost for installation of the aerobridges would be about Rs 2 Crores. The aerobridges will conform to the requirements for Airbus and Boeing 737 and 800 aircrafts.

Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi receives footfalls of about 1000 passengers at day at an average. The passengers would reach the terminal building from the aircraft within 15 minutes of the arrival of the aircraft, sources said.
29/05/14 Avenue Mail

Aranmula in Colours: A Protest on Canvas

Kochi: The Aranmula Heritage Trust, thought up an innovative atyle to express its opposition to the Aranmula Airport project. They arranged a painting exhibition titled ‘Aranmula in Colours’ at TDM hall here. The exhibition showcases paintings of more than forty five artists. All these paintings have the same theme which is rural development.

The paintings were done during a three-day camp on the banks of Pampa river in Aranmula. Artists like Kanai Kunjiraman, Rimzon, Paris Mohan Kumar, Tenzing and Parthasarathy Varma took part in the camp. Each painting reflects the adverse effects of development on Aranmula and its natural beauty.

“The famous Aranmula mirror is using mud that is available only in that village. It is a specialty of Aranmula alone. Once the land is levelled, we will lose the special mud. Nature itself will be destroyed once such a largescale development takes place here,” said R S Nair, Executive director of the trust.
29/01/15 New Indian Express

Akshay to fly first,will wear bling later

In the past few weeks, speculations have been rife that Akshay Kumar's upcoming romcom, Singh Is Bling, has been shelved. However, Mirror has learnt that the Prabhudheva-directed film, co-starring Kriti Sanon, which was to flag off in January has been pushed to April as Akki is not happy with the way the script has turned out. And while that script is being fine-tuned, he's allotted the dates to the Raja Menon directed evacuation drama, Airlift. Producer Ashvini Yardi told Mirror, "Yes, we were to start early this year but we had to give away our dates so Akshay could complete his other film.

We are now starting in April and will make it in time for our October 2 release." Yardi however refused to comment on script changes. Meantime, Airlift which features Nimrat Kaur of The Lunchbox and Homeland fame as Akshay's leading lady, has been advanced by three months and will now go on the floors in Bhuj on February 21. The film revolving around the evacuation operation undertaken by Air India to rescue Indians trapped in Kuwait during the first Iraq war in 1990. Nikhil Advani, one of the producers on the film, confirmed this, saying, "Airlift is an ambitious project and will be mounted on a lavish scale.
29/01/15 Ankur Pathak/Ahmedabad Mirror

Huge haul of dried sea cucumbers, Trochus shells at airport

Port Blair: In a major haul of marine wealth, officials of the Forest and Fisheries Department stumbled upon a huge consignment of dried sea cucumbers and Trochus shells at the cargo section of the Port Blair airport today.  Consignment of about 150 kgs of dried sea cucumbers kept in three containers of 50 kg each and 666 kgs of Trochus shells in 11 containers were meant for some unknown destination.

According to Mr. Naveen Kumar, DCF (Wild Life), the Forester, Mrs Farida Bibi and the two Assistant Fisheries Guards namely Mohan Lal and Dilip Kumar became suspicious when the man who had brought the containers at the cargo section failed to give plausible answer about the articles inside the containers.  While the officials busied themselves in opening the containers, the unidentified managed to escape from the scene on some pretext.  Both the items fall under the schedule 39, 49 ( A – B) section, 50 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972  which prohibits killing them.

The Assistant Director (Fisheries), Mr. Arif Mustafa told this correspondent that the seized consignment of sea cucumbers was initially brought to the Fisheries office from where it was handed over to the Forest Department since the Wild Life laws are much more stringent and effective to deal with such illegal acts. 
29/01/15 Razia Begum/The Echo of India

Customs Air Intelligence Unit has a ‘golden run’

Tiruchi: There has been a quantum jump in the seizure of gold brought illegally at Tiruchi international airport this fiscal. A five-fold increase has been recorded this financial year in respect of the seizure of the yellow metal by the Customs Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) at the airport.

The rise has been witnessed in the number of cases booked and the quantity of gold seized from the illegal possession of air passengers at the airport from where overseas flights were being operated to Colombo, Dubai, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur every day.

Notwithstanding vigil at the airport, smugglers had adopted different modus operandi to conceal gold in a bid to avoid detection. This is evident from the string of seizures made by the AIU officials at periodic intervals.
29/01/15 The Hindu

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

SpiceJet heats up low-fare race

Heating up the low-fare race, budget airline, SpiceJet is offering five lakh air tickets at discounted rates in a three day sale beginning on 28th January, 2015.
SpiceJet has priced the tickets from Rs 1,499 onwards. The discount tickets are available for travel from 15th February to 30th June.

The airline has been operating a truncated schedule with 200-210 flights on a daily basis, with a 34-plane fleet. SpiceJet has got the green signal from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to sell tickets beyond March end.

SpiceJet is also going to see change in its management with the ex-director and founder, Ajay Singh taking charge of the airline. The air carrier has been witnessing steep losses, overdue payments and high debts.

The founder and Chief Executive Officer of, Vinay Gupta said, the offer from SpiceJet after a time-interval of few months indicates the airline is back on the track.

Adding further that the time period for which the airline is offering discount tickets covers the summer vacation, giving people a good opportunity to plan their holidays.
28/01/15 Delhi Daily News

SpiceJet, AirAsia India Offer 'Super Low' Fares

Budget carrier SpiceJet on Wednesday joined the low fare race in the domestic market putting on the block half a million seats with ticket prices starting at Rs 1,499 under a limited period promotional offer.

The bookings under the three-day "Super Sale" offer can be made from Wednesday for a travel period between February 15 to June 30, SpiceJet said in a release.

The offer comes two days after its competitor AirAsia India announced a discount fare scheme with a seven-day booking window period.

January-March and July-September quarters of the fiscal are traditionally low travel demand period in the country and so airlines roll out such discount fare schemes to woo customers and fill the seats.

"We are excited to offer our first signature promotion for 2015 to incentivise customers to try our enhanced schedule and reward early planners with great discounted fares. Such Super Sale offers are meant to sell in advance at attractive prices, seats that would otherwise be expected to go empty, thereby improving revenues," said Kaneswaran Avili, chief commercial officer of SpiceJet .
28/01/15 Business World

AirAsia India offers lowered advance fares

New Delhi: No-frills carrier AirAsia India has lowered its advance fares, offering its customers one-way ticket prices at as low as Rs 699 with a travel validity period lasting up to March next year.

The bookings under the three-day limited period offer commenced yesterday and are applicable to travel between August 3 and March 26, 2016, according to the airline's website.  As per advance purchase promotional offer, a Bengaluru- Kochi one-way journey is priced at Rs 899, a Bengaluru-Goa ticket is priced from Rs 1,099 while Bengaluru-Pune at Rs 1,499.

Bengaluru-Jaipur and Bengaluru-Chandigarh tickets are offered from Rs 1,999.
27/01/15 PTI/Economic Times

No consensus yet between govt and airline operators on removal of 5/20 rule

New Delhi: The government has given domestic airlines one more week to come up with final suggestions on the removal of the 5/20 rule and subsequent changes to the route dispersal guidelines (RDGs). This comes after a meeting between airline officials and civil aviation ministry officials on Wednesday failed to yield a consensus.

The 5/20 rule, which allows domestic airlines to fly overseas only after five years of operations and after they have a fleet of 20 aircraft, has long been a subject of contention within the industry. The aviation minister, P Ashok Gajapathi Raju has said the rule is archaic, and new airlines such as Vistara and AirAsia, are also batting for its removal.

But, incumbents such as GoAir and IndiGo, led by industry association Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), have said the rule should stay both because it has helped in developing regional air connectivity, and because its removal will give newer players an unfair advantage. Flying overseas will give new players access to cheaper fuel and higher paying passengers.

“Airlines have been given one more week to submit their response after they sought more time from us today,” a government official said, after a meeting attended by all seven carriers, Air India, Jet Airways, GoAir, IndiGo, SpiceJet, AirAsia and Vistara.
Both FIA and Vistara have already submitted their responses. “The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) on behalf of its member airlines strongly recommend that the current regime of 5/20 and RDG be continued as is, with minimal changes as recommended in the enclosed submission to ensure continued servicing of National Interests,” the letter sent by FIA to the ministry said.
28/01/15 Business Standard

Old carriers oppose easy overseas flying rights for new players

New Delhi:  All 'old' Indian carriers, including Air India, Jet Airways and IndiGo, have firmly opposed the aviation ministry's move to relax the rule that an Indian airline must be at least five-year-old and have 20 planes in its fleet as a pre-condition to fly abroad. The ministry called a meeting of all airlines on this 5/20 rule on Wednesday and gave them one more week to give their views on the issue.

"Aviation secretary V Somasundaran categorically told us Wednesday that 5/20 will have to go and we must now give our views on what the change should be like. Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju had earlier said that 5/20 will go. All old airlines have opposed this change as they suffered huge losses meeting the requirement of flying to uneconomic routes in remote areas for five years after which they got rights to fly abroad. The change is to benefit new players," said a senior official of an airline, who attended the meeting.

National carrier AI has also opposed this change. "UPA did massive damage to Indian carriers' interests in general and AI's in particular by giving massive flying rights to Gulf carriers. So much so that a leading Gulf airline is now called India's de facto national carrier.
29/01/15 Times of India

Airlines get a week more to file response on intl ops norms

New Delhi: Government today gave one week's more time to domestic carriers to file their submission on its proposed new norms for international operations and revision of route dispersal guideline (RDG).

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Indian airlines called by the government here today.

"The airlines sought some more time to file their response to the issue at the meeting. They have been given time for one more week to do so," a ministry official said.

The meeting was attended by all seven domestic carriers - Air India, Jet Airways, GoAir, IndiGo, SpiceJet, AirAsia India and Vistara.

Recently, the government had proposed to replace the 5/20 rule which makes it mandatory for airlines to have five years of domestic operations and a 20 aircraft fleet to become eligible for flying international.
    Besides, it had also proposed to revise the RDG which makes it compulsory for domestic airlines to deploy a certain percentage of their capacity in under-served areas in the North East, J&K and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
28/01/15 PTI/Business Standard

Flyers' body seeks uniform, customer-friendly fare structure

New Delhi: Charging the airlines with hiking the cancellations fee by a whopping 300 per cent in the last four years, flyers' body APAI today asked the government to direct the carriers to formulate a uniform, transparent and customer-friendly fare structure.

Air Passengers Association of India (APAI), in a letter to the Civil Aviation Ministry, also sought reduction in fuel surcharge by the airlines, which came into being in 2008 after the oil prices jumped to USD 147.02 per barrel.

"It is also pertinent to note that the cancellation charges levied by airlines have gone up by more than 300 per cent in the last 4 years and this must be addressed specially when they (the airlines) have special low-fare offers," the APAI letter said.

Some of the airlines in the country charge fee for cancelling a ticket which is as high as Rs 5000 for international travel and Rs 1,750 for a domestic journey.

Private carrier Jet Airways had recently announced waiving off the cancellation charges both for domestic and international tickets but only when done within a stipulated time.
28/01/15 PTI/Business Standard

4 players shortlisted for Navi Mumbai airport

Mumbai: GMR Airports, Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL), Hiranandani Developers along with Zurich Airport Developers, and MIA Infrastructure Pvt Ltd along with Tata Realty have been short listed by The City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd (CIDCO) for constructing the Navi Mumbai airport.

While nine national and international consortiums had expressed interest, these four have qualified for submitting the financial bids.

These four developers will submit their financial bids by August and CIDCO will select the final bidder by October. The first phase of the airport is expected to be completed by 2019 for 10 million passenger capacity.

MIAL, a joint venture of GVK Group, is already running the Mumbai airport. It has first right of refusal over the Navi Mumbai project. If another developer outbids MIAL and if the bid is within 10 per cent of the MIAL’s bid then MIAL can match the bid and become' the airport developer.
28/01/15 Business Line

CCTV network soon to watch 18.8-km Mumbai airport perimeter

Mumbai: Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd. (MIAL), the airport operator, has begun the tendering process for a CCTV network along the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport’s (CSIA) 18.8-km long perimeter.

The probability of US President Barack Obama’s arrival at the Mumbai airport during his just-concluded visit and increasing number of terror alerts issued for the “highly sensitive” airport has further pushed the project, officials said.

The need for a live surveillance at the outer perimeter was felt necessary for a a timely response to any intrusion that is picked by the Perimeter Intrusion Detection System (PIDS). These real-time visuals will support the blip on the Control Room computer of the PIDS and help Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) prepare a measured response.
“The airport is landlocked and has residential areas just abutting the airport wall, making it a sensitive area,” said an official from MIAL. “We are looking at installing 111 cameras along the perimeter,” he said. This network will be integrated with the currently operating PIDS.
28/01/15 Anjali Lukose/Indian Express

2nd innings for HAL airport?

Bengaluru: Will the city’s old HAL airport, closed for commercial airlines since May 2008, have a second innings next year?

R.K. Tyagi, who superannuates on Saturday as Chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, offered the hope yet again at a farewell news conference on Wednesday.

He said it is "fundamentally illogical" to close a working international airport that was handling 12 million passengers a year just because a new airport must come up. HAL had lost Rs 1,500 crore in revenue in the last six years.
29/01/15 The Hindu

Airlines body for uniform fare

Chennai: Air Passengers Association of India has urged the aviation ministry to ensure airlines have a uniform policy in air fare structure, which is passenger friendly and transparent.

The cancellation charges levied by airlines have increased by over 300 per cent in the last four years. This must be addressed when they have special low fare offers. “We are certain that the Ministry will formulate a policy by advising the regulator,” the association’s president D Sudhakara Reddy, said in a press release.

Some of the airlines are charging transaction fee and convenience fee that are totally unjustified. They relate to booking on the website for which they must offer a special reduction considering the fact that they have no one else to pay for issuing the ticket, the release said.
28/01/15 Business Line

Spice Jet needs to sort out its financial problems: Civil Aviation Minister

Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pasupati has said troubled airliner Spice Jet would have to sort out its financial problems, and added that the government could only help in the process.

"Their problem is financial. They have to get their books right. We will do up to only light hand holding. We are not going to take burden of it but we want to see airline survive and serve the Indian people," said Raju.

Earlier, an official release from Spice Jet stated that Ajay Singh, who helped found the airline in 2005, had agreed to buy a controlling stake from billionaire majority owner Kalanithi Maran's Sun Group.

He was expected to submit his plan, which could involve an investment of USD 240 million, by the end of January. The plan would need regulatory approval.
Majority owner Kalanithi Maran's Sun Group has reportedly been actively looking for an investor, with the airline losing money for the last five quarters.
28/01/15 ANI/Daily News & Analysis

Ajay Singh meets SpiceJet’s lessors, pilots assuring funding by next month

According to a report by Tarun Shukla for Mint, Ajay Singh, who plans to take over SpiceJet Ltd., has held talks with aircraft lessors in Singapore and pilots to reassure them that the airline is likely to get funds potentially by mid-February, addressing key constituents who could jeopardise the revival-in-the-making.

Kalanithi Maran and his KAL Airways Pvt. Ltd. are in the process of transferring their stake in the airline to Singh, a Co-founder in the airline that he exited in 2010, under a deal that has been approved by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India and is now awaiting clearance from stock market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Meanwhile, lessors at the cash-strapped airline have been getting restless. On January 23, Reuters quoted Bank of China Aviation’s Chief Executive, Robert Martin as saying that SpiceJet was “a very frustrating situation”. “Obviously, when we lease planes, we like people to pay us. And if they don’t pay us, then generally the way an operating lessor reacts is by moving its planes to somewhere else in the world,” he added.

Singh and fellow investors have promised the Aviation Ministry an investment of Rs 1,500 crore in the airline. The Ministry has allowed the airline to book tickets beyond March 2015. A Ministry official said lessors have been meeting regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) regularly seeking the return of 11 planes from SpiceJet. DGCA has taken legal opinion, and under the Cape Town Convention, which India is signatory to, the regulator may have to do what the lessors want, this person added.
27/01/15 TravelBizMonitor

DIAL floats Rs 1,762 cr bond to retire old expensive debt

Delhi International Airport (DIAL), a subsidiary of GMR Infrastructure (GMR Group), has raised $288.75 million or Rs 1,762 crore in its first foray into the international bond market. The proceeds would be used to refinance the current outstanding external commercial borrowing (ECB).

The company claims the pricing was done at a very competitive rate and will reduce the overall financial burden on the Airport by way of interest cost reduction and repayment holiday which will increase the liquidity.

The 8 year bond bears a 6.125 per cent interest rate and matures in 2022.

GM Rao, chairman, GMR Infrastructure, said in a statement, this deal marks the Group’s first foray into international bond market. The issuance buoyed by strong investor demand across geographies was oversubscribed many times over. That the deal has been concluded despite volatile market conditions in Europe shows the investor confidence in India under its strong and decisive leadership and the strong credit fundamentals of GMR Group and Delhi Airport.
28/01/15 Vikas Srivastav/mydigitalfc

SpiceJet needs to sort out its financial problems: Civil Aviation Minister

Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pasupati has said troubled airliner Spice Jet would have to sort out its financial problems, and added that the government could only help in the process.

"Their problem is financial. They have to get their books right. We will do up to only light hand holding. We are not going to take burden of it but we want to see airline survive and serve the Indian people," said Raju.

Earlier, an official release from Spice Jet stated that Ajay Singh, who helped found the airline in 2005, had agreed to buy a controlling stake from billionaire majority owner Kalanithi Maran's Sun Group.

He was expected to submit his plan, which could involve an investment of USD 240 million, by the end of January. The plan would need regulatory approval.
28/01/15 WebIndia123

Airlines' issues will be addressed in time-bound manner: Civil Aviation MoS

Mumbai: Invoking the Prime Minister’s vision of taking India’s story of heritage and culture through tourism globally, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Tourism and Culture and Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Government of India, said “It cannot be a one-way traffic when we talk of increasing tourism to India. It has to be a win-win situation for all of us.” He was speaking at the ‘Interaction Between Tourism and Airlines’ - a first-of-its-kind initiative by the Union Ministries of Civil Aviation and Tourism, and Federation of Associations of Indian Travel and Hospitality (FAITH), organised last week at Le Méridien New Delhi.

The high-powered meeting was attended by about 50 top national and international carriers and stakeholders from the industry, Secretaries of the two ministries, Additional Secretary, Additional Director General, Joint Secretary from Tourism, and other top officials from the two ministries.

The meeting was aimed at bringing tourism and aviation sectors closer and devising a ‘draft of working’ where both industries work together for the growth of Indian aviation and tourism, create opportunities for India tourism for stakeholders, and unleash the sector’s potential for the socio-economic development of the country.
28/01/15 TravelBizMonitor

Single-window Clearance for Cargo at Airport on the Cards

Chennai: The Customs Department in Chennai airport is planning to implement a single-window clearance for cargo, following the rescent announcement by the government.

Chief Commissioner of Customs S Ramesh said on Tuesday that the department was working with several others to get the work done.

The implementation of the measure would ensure high-ranking in doing business - a top priority of the government.

“The country is part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) so Customs procedures should be aligned with global trade,” he said.

The Customs Chief Commissioner was inaugurating a sensitisation programme on coordinated border management to mark International Customs Day 2015, here at the airport on Tuesday.

The main focus of the programme was to educate personnel on the requirements to be fulfilled before a consignment can be cleared.
28/01/15 New Indian Express

Food in high places

At 30,000 feet, the first to go are your taste-buds. Add to that the white noise — a steady, unvarying sound — inside the cabin distorting a passenger’s perception of food, and you can explain the notoriety of in-flight meals.

Though nearly 100 years have passed since food began to be served on flights, experts around the world are still tweaking their recommendations on what will work at altitudes that make even five-star meals taste ordinary. The fact that most dishes are pre-cooked and reheated does not make it any easier. 

In India, the arrival of Vistara — a joint venture between the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines — has seen the war for winning customer loyalties intensify with the meal tray turning into one of the crucial battlefronts. Before its launch on January 9, the youngest airline in India conducted extensive research on what would work and what may not. A survey found, among other things, that the food not only had to be healthy and different, but also presented well.  “Fliers wanted something different,” says Daman Pathak, Manager, In-flight Services and Standards, Vistara. During a visit to the flight kitchen, Arun Batra, Executive Chef of TajSats Air Catering, which handles in-flight catering for Vistara, showed BusinessLine how even a touch of paprika can add colour to the food served. The team at Vistara attended the biggest in-flight catering show in Hamburg, Germany, for ideas. Giam Ming Toh, the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, also gave inputs based on his interactions with fliers when he headed Singapore Airlines in India before joining Vistara.
28/01/15 Ashwini Phadnis/Adith Charlie/Business Line

GMR-backed Delhi International Airport raises $289 million via bond issue

Mumbai:  GMR Infra-controlled Delhi International Airport (DIAL) on Tuesday raised $289 million through a considerably oversubscribed bond issue, also the first high-yield paper in Asia this year, in a sign that global investors are now taking a fresh positive look at Indian infrastructure.

"It's a landmark development for the Indian infrastructure sector," said a senior GMR executive who didn't want to be named. DIAL issued the notes, of 7-year tenure at a fixed coupon rate of 6.125%. It entails a bi-annual interest payment. The bond offering attracted $5 billion interest from investors.

"This is the first USD bond offering for a marque infrastructure asset from India under the public-private partnership model and the first corporate high yield bond in Asia in 2015. The investor response was impressive, as the offering got several times oversubscribed and included several high quality investors, demonstrating the strength of the DIAL credit story and the interest by global investors in Indian paper," said Neville Fernandes, head of dept capital markets origination, Citi India.
28/01/15 Anirban Chowdhury & Arijit Barman/Times of India

Air India Dreamliner may take off again in February

New Delhi: When Air India inducted a Boeing 787 with tail number VT-ANI in 2012, no one could have imagined that the aircraft would end up being grounded and its parts used to keep other Dreamliners in the fleet flying. After 10 long months in the hangar in Mumbai due to various maintenance issues, the aircraft is likely to resume flying next month.

The national carrier, which is the thirdlargest operator of Dreamliners in the world, had ordered spares for the parts that were used in the other  aircraft, which have been delivered. The aircraft is now awaiting approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to take to the skies again. Air India received its first Dreamliner in September 2012 and currently has 18 of them in its fleet. There have been multiple issues such as windshield cracks, engine failures and gear issues with the aircraft ever since they were delivered.
29/01/15 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

DGCA yet to formulate regulatory mechanism for private drones

New Delhi: Even as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has banned use of drones for commercial purposes, it is yet to formulate a mechanism to regulate their operations in keeping with the associated security concerns.

The issue has gained significance particularly after a drone, being flown for recreational purposes, crashed into a tree in the White House lawns in the United States on Monday. It reportedly went undetected by the highly sophisticated radar system installed at the seat of power.

“The incident is, in a way, a confirmation of our concerns over approval for use of drones by private entities without having a regulatory mechanism in place,”said an official, adding that the commercial use of drones was banned last September by the DGCA citing air-space security reasons till a regulatory mechanism was devised.

Commercial use of drones was brought to the notice of the government after the Mumbai Police raised questions on a restaurant carrying out a test delivery of pizza to a customer using an unmanned aerial vehicle. Global e-commerce giant Amazon also had plans to use drones as part of goods-delivery mechanism.
28/01/15 Devesh K Pandey/The Hindu

Vijayawada-bound passengers stranded at RGIA

Vijayawada: Around 60 passengers were stranded at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) in Shamshabad for almost five hours on Tuesday morning owing to the delay in arrival of Vijayawada-bound Air Costa flight.

The flight (LB636) was scheduled to take off from RGIA around 11.35 a.m., but it did not arrive till afternoon, causing inconvenience to passengers, including some foreigners.

“The airline staff behaved irresponsibly and failed to provide proper information about the flight.
28/01/15 The Hindu

Indian flyers make Dubai world’s busiest international airport

New Delhi: With more than a little help from Indian travellers, Dubai has emerged the busiest international airport in the world. Dubai overtook London Heathrow last year, thanks to a growth of 9.3 lakh flyers to and from the India subcontinent — which was second only to the increase of 11.9 lakh flyers the Emirate saw in passengers to and from Europe.

Dubai International (DXB) handled over 7 crore international flyers last year, while Heathrow — which has been pipped for the first time ever — saw 6.8 crore international travellers. India played an important role in Dubai emerging as the busiest international airport. Dubai's Emirates operates the maximum flights among all foreign airlines that operate to India. It has 185 weekly flights to 10 Indian cities, with the number of weekly flights set to rise to 186 from March 29.
28/01/15 Times of India

HC issues notice to Centre, IB on Greenpeace activist’s plea against her offloading from plane

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notices to Union Home Ministry and Intelligence Bureau on a petition filed by Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai against her being offloaded from a London-bound flight at Delhi airport earlier this month. Justice Rajiv Shakdher also issued a notice to Immigration Department seeking its response. They have been told to reply in a week.
The court, meanwhile, has also directed the government agencies to take instructions on Pillai’s interim application seeking permission to travel to UK on February 11 for the same cause for which she was travelling on January 11 — to make a presentation before British MPs about the alleged human rights violation at Mahan in Madhya Pradesh.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Pillai, also requested the court to quash the lookout circular issued against her by the Home ministry.
29/01/15 Indian Express

On CM’s table this week: Pune airport project

Pune: The proposed international airport in Pune stuck on the drawing board for years will come up for discussion at a meeting convened by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis this weekend. The project has not been able to take off. A suitable site for the project has eluded the implementing agency.

Officials said that the Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) sent a request to the chief minister, who is also the chairman of MADC, to convene a meeting to discuss the issue. Land in Chakan, one of the probable sites, was later found to be not feasible by the MADC and it decided to look south of Khed Special Economic Zone (SEZ). That idea also ran into rough weather, and the hiccup pertained to some of the land falling under SEZ.

The delay has became an irritant for MADC officials. “We seem to be heading nowhere as of now. Discussions at the meeting may give some directions. Even as there are talks of a metro, BRTS, ring road and other projects, there has been no headway in finding a site for the airport project though sanction for other airports in the state is being granted,’’ said a senior MADC official.
29/01/15 Nisha Nambiar/Indian Express

Thirteen more airports to soon become CAT-III compliant

New Delhi:  Thirteen more airports in the country, including Amritsar, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Patna and Lucknow, will soon become CAT-III compliant, a step which will ensure seamless flight operations even during fog.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) along with Airports Authority of India (AAI) is carrying out the exercise which is expected to be completed by mid-February except for Jaipur Airport, a Civil Ministry official said today.

At present, only Delhi Airport is equipped with CAT-III technology.

The equipment installation work at the Jaipur airport will be completed by July 31, the official said.
28/01/15 PTI/Economic Times

Malaysia to release MH370 probe report in March

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia will release an interim report on the investigation into the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on March 7, a day before the first anniversary of the mysterious disappearance of the plane along with 239 people, including five Indians, on board.

Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said the country's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) will release the report which will focus on the investigation only. There is no conclusion on the status of the plane as the search for the aircraft is still on.

"I cannot reveal the details of the interim report but it will be on the investigation that has been carried out so far in search of the missing plane," Aziz told reporters.

"We have not concluded on the status of the plane, as the search is still on-going," he said.

The plane vanished over the Indian Ocean on March 8 last year with 239 passengers and crew aboard en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in what remains one of history's great aviation mysteries.
28/01/15 PTI/Business Standard

Flight occupancy touches 80 per cent at Gannavaram airport

Vijayawada: Thanks to the government’s announcement of the new capital, the occupancy ratio of airlines operating from Gannavaram airport has touched 80 per cent as against the previous 35 per cent.

Close to 1,000 passengers depend on as many as 16 services operated from the airport everyday, with the first taking off around 7.15 a.m. and the last landing around 9.30 p.m.

Airport officials said Air Costa, SpiceJet and national carrier Air India were operating daily services from the airport. Air Costa and SpiceJet cater to the needs of passengers with 67-seating capacity flights, while Air India’s A319 flight has 120 seats, airport officials said.

“The flurry of activity witnessed in the region is a reason behind the rise in occupancy ratio. Industrialists, real-estate businessmen and politicians have been regularly visiting Vijayawada for business inquiries. Representatives of multi-national companies are also coming to the city attend meeting with their local clientele,” officials said. According to them, Air India introduced services between Delhi and Vijayawada, facilitating passengers to reach the national capital in a few hours. Two other private airlines are conducting services to Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati and Bangalore.
28/01/15 The Hindu

Airline companies asked to start operations from Surat

Surat: In an attempt to increase flight connectivity from Surat, the airport authority here has started contacting top airline companies to come and set up their operations in the city.

Surat airport earned a bad name after a buffalo hit a SpiceJet aircraft during take off on November 6, 2014. A stray buffalo had ventured into the airport premises and reached the runway when the Delhi-bound SpiceJet flight was taking off in the evening.

SpiceJet decided to terminate its operations from Surat airport on November 8, 2014. It was operating flights to Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Varanasi, Goa, Bhubaneshavar and Thiruvananthpura from Surat.
28/01/15 Melvyn Thomas/Times of India

Trivandrum City forum seeks CM’s help for airport expansion

Thiruvananthapuram: The Trivandrum City Connect Foundation (TCCF), a platform ‘working towards a better Thiruvananthapuram,’ on Wednesday requested Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to accelerate land acquisition for the expansion of the Thiruvananthapuram airport.
Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman, TCCF, submitting a representation, said operational difficulties in maintaining two terminals at the airport were many. Some of the flights ply in both domestic and international routes, which meant they would have to travel from one terminal to the other, which took around 45 minutes.
It also blocked air space for landing and take-off of other aircraft. Moreover, the Centre had announced an international airport near Kanyakumari, which would further reduce the business at the airport here.
29/01/15 The Hindu

FL Technics Jets Enters the Indian Business Aviation MRO Market

FL Technics Jets, a global provider of tailor-made maintenance, repair and overhaul services for business aviation, is delighted to announce the start of cooperation with its first customer from India – B. G. Shirke Construction Technology Pvt. Ltd. Under the recently signed agreement, FL Technics Jets will support the customer’s business jet fleet with various spare parts and components supply solutions.

B. G. Shirke Construction Technology Pvt. Ltd., India’s largest precast concrete producer, operates a fleet of 5 aircraft, including two Hawker 800XP aircraft. FL Technics Jets will support the Indian company with routine and AOG spare parts supply solutions in the home country and abroad. The range of the supplied inventory will cover airframe, engines, landing gears, APU as well as other components and rotable materials.
27/01/15 AviationPros

Dispute over entry of MP’s wife at airport

Chennai: Commotion ensued at the Chennai airport as Rajya Sabha member and CPI national secretary D. Raja’s wife was allegedly denied entry into the domestic terminal by a CISF staff member.

Around 4.15 p.m., when Mr. Raja and his wife Annie Raja entered the departure hall of the domestic terminal to take the Air India flight AI 539 to New Delhi, the CISF assistant sub-inspector allegedly raised objections over his wife’s Parliament pass and ticket.
Mr. Raja said the guard at the gate couldn’t understand what was written on her document.  “Her pass says ‘spouse of D. Raja’. This is the manner in which spouses are issued Parliament passes. He could not understand this and behaved in an arrogant manner despite my attempt to explain it to him,” he said.
29/01/15 The Hindu

Air Revolver Lands 25-yr-old in Soup

Chennai: A 25-year-old Engineering graduate from Coimbatore was taken into custody by the police for ordering a ‘metal-body air revolver’ from a US-based firm. He has been remanded to judicial custody at the Puzhal Central Prison, however appeals have been made to dismiss the charges against him once it comes up for hearing, sources indicated.

“When the gun was found and flagged as a possible firearm, we took it for testing and the ballistics experts took some time over it. They found that it was a dummy revolver with a metal body, barrel and a firing pin, except for the fact that it wasn’t a live firearm,” said a police official.

Since the cargo wing at the airport, through which it was supposed to travel to Coimbatore, flagged it as ‘dangerous goods’, the police were pushed to take action.

“It was obvious that it was not a harmful gun, but given that it was metal bodied and capable of damage, we were forced to take him into custody,” he added.
29/01/15 New Indian Express

AAI nod for cargo terminal at Surat airport

Surat: Airports Authority of India (AAI) has given in-principle approval for setting up a cargo terminal at Surat airport to boost south Gujarat's industrial sector including textile, chemical, diamonds, horticulture and ancillary industries.

This has come as good news for the diamantaires investing in world-class Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB) project that is coming up at Dream City in Khajod. The cargo terminal is expected to ease the movement of precious cargo including diamonds, gold and jewellery from Surat.

Sources said that the proposal for setting up the terminal was pending with AAI for the last couple of years. It was after the infrastructural and other works at the airport being put on fast track following the recent buffalo-hit incident that the AAI gave an in-principle approval for the cargo terminal with a handling capacity of around 5,000 tonnes.
29/01/15 Times of India

Bangkok flyers land without luggage

Kolkata:  Around 230 passengers from Bangkok realized after landing in Kolkata on Tuesday that their checked-in luggage had been left at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The airline staff offloaded all the bags from the aircraft belly after 30 passengers had to be taken off the fight as they were carrying cabin luggage beyond the permitted limit. Sources said the errant 30 were stopped at the boarding gate and told that they would only be permitted to travel if they left the bulky hand luggage behind. An argument ensued and the 30 were detained.
28/01/15 Times of India

Varkhand gram sabha flays Mopa EIA report

Panaji:  A gram sabha of Varkhand-Nagzar panchayat in Pernem taluka criticized the environment impact assessment (EIA) report on the proposed Mopa international airport as a bogus one, not reflecting the ground realities on the vast plateau with a rich bio-diversity.

The meeting held on Monday and chaired by sarpanch Sanjay Tulasker discussed the EIA report, which has been sent by the government to the panchayats on the periphery of the proposed airport. The panchayat passed a resolution denouncing the EIA report as it had 'overlooked' even obvious facts about the fauna on the plateau. "No wild life has been shown as existing here except for some rabbits and domestic animals," a villager alleged.

The villagers also pointed out that during the peak of the monsoon season, more than 30 springs gush out from different parts of the plateau. But the EIA is silent about the rich sources of water. The EIA report has been prepared by the engineers India ltd (EIL) and supported by the state government.
27/01/15 Times of India

MADC to retender Mihan power purchase bid

Nagpur: Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) has been forced to consider retendering of power purchase bid for Mihan as only one supplier showed interest in the tender. The bids were floated early this month. Meanwhile, the final order issued by Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission has made it clear that Mihan power will be close to Rs 5 per unit rather than Rs 4.38 per unit.

At present, Mihan is being supplied electricity from power exchanges purchased on a day-ahead basis. MADC feels that this can't be a solution in the long term. "Power has to be purchased from a generator through a proper power purchase agreement (PPA). We plan to purchase on short term basis till June and on long term basis after that," managing director Tanaji Satre told TOI. He added that until the short-term PPA was signed MADC would continue to buy power from exchanges.

The MERC order has brought several facts to light. Even though Abhijeet Group has filed a petition seeking 57 paise per unit as transmission charges, MERC has asked it to file a separate petition. As MADC is not paying the charges at present, it has been asked to tell the Commission how it plans to pay the accumulated amount.
29/01/15 Ashish Roy/Times of India

No proof that Shivkar Bapuji Talpade flew world's first unmanned aircraft says Ayushmann Khurrana

Kolkata: Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana says they do not have any proof whether Shivkar Bapuji Talpade, on whom his next film 'Hawaizaada' is based on, flew the world's first unmanned aircraft. "We have no proof that he flew the first plane. We do not know if it was true or not but we should know that someone like him existed. The film is about a conspiracy theory," Khurrana told reporters here.

He is playing Talpade in 'Hawaizaada' which releases on January 30.  Directed by Vibhu Virender Puri, it is an inspiring story of the maverick Indian scientist-engineer who is believed by some people to have built and flown the world's first unmanned aircraft, eight years before the Wright Brothers in 1895.

"We were told that he flew the plane in Mumbai's Chowpatty in 1895. Hundreds of people including Bal Gangadhar Tilak were present that time. He could not get it patented as India was then a British colony. The media was controlled by the Britishers and so there were no reports. How come all inventions are made by the West?," Khurrana, 30, said.
He said very little is known about the life and personality of Talpade.

"It is very difficult to make a film on him. It is very easy to make a film on Gandhi, Mary Kom and Milkha Singh because we all know them. Here we don't know much about him," he said. The actor who has made his mark in films like 'Vicky Donor' and 'Nautanki Saala' said he has been playing the conventional urban guy in his recent films.
28/01/15 PTI/Deccan Chronicle

Mock drill at Odisha airport takes passengers by surprise

Bhubaneswar: Air passengers were taken completely by surprise as security personnel conducted an hour long mock drill at the Biju Patnaik International Airport in the Odisha capital on Republic Day to check security preparedness.
Both the ‘infiltrators’ were identified and taken down in the mock drill whereas five of the security staff of the airport got ‘injured’ in the process.

Central Industrial Security Staff (CISF) commandoes, Quick Action team (QAT) commandoes, Airport Authorities Staff, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, senior official of Odisha Government, Intelligence Bureau (IB), Odisha Police and Fire Department of Airport were part of the drill.

Two CISF personnel, posing as terrorists, entered the airport at 8:30 AM on January 26 and displayed their fake identity cards to gain entry to Terminal-1. They succeeded in getting their boarding passes and checked in as well.
28/01/15 Odisha Sun Times

Second monkey caught in Chennai airport

Chennai: The second of the two monkeys that entered Chennai airport on Sunday was finally caught on Tuesday.

After the two animals were seen in the departure hall of the domestic terminal on Sunday, a team of fire service personnel and State forest department officials managed to catch one the same evening.

On Monday, in an attempt to catch the other, they placed a cage with fruits in the terminal. But, the monkey refused to come anywhere near it.

Forest ranger S. Davidraj said, “So, on Tuesday, we put a one-and-a-half-year-old monkey in the cage with bananas, grapes and groundnuts. The animal in hiding finally came out at noon.”

The monkeys — one aged two and the other, two-and-a-half — are at the Velachery Rescue Centre now, he added.
28/01/15 The Hindu

AAI approves Chennai-Tiruchi radar data transfer

Tiruchi: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has accorded in principle approval for transfer of radar data from the Chennai airport to Tiruchi international airport.

The data transfer will enhance air traffic surveillance mechanism of the Tiruchi international airport which is not equipped with radar facility.

Airport sources said the AAI gave its nod for transfer of radar data in December as Tiruchi airport witnessed an increase in movement of flights over the years besides recording an upward trend in the number of travellers.

Tiruchi airport was equipped with advanced automation system allowing it to receive radar data from the nearby station — Chennai international airport — through the optic fibre cable mode.

The Tiruchi airport authorities have discussed with the BSNL for providing a dedicated leased line to enable transfer of radar data through OFC link.

A proposal seeking funds for providing a leased line for transfer of radar data has been forwarded to the AAI authorities.

One of the fastest growing airports in the country, Tiruchi, which is categorised under ‘Type-A’ airport, already has in place the next generation automatic dependent surveillance broadcast system.
28/01/15 R Rajaram/The Hindu

Kolkata police not to allow private drones

Kolkata:  Days after the Chennai police said that it was considering regulation of private use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), Kolkata Police banned any private use of UAVs or drones in the city. This comes in the wake of a private drone crashing into the White House compound in Washington D.C. on Monday.

“Private companies or private users are not allowed to use any kind of Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAVs) in the city. Only government agencies are allowed to take help of Unmanned Ariel Vehicles. The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will soon issue guidelines for regarding the use of UAVs,” Joint Commissioner of Kolkata Police (Headquarters) Rajiv Mishra told journalists.

The Mumbai police also imposed a ban on private use of drones or UAVs as it posed a security threat. The decision came after a pizza outlet used an UAV to deliver a pizza as a publicity stunt in May last year.
28/01/15 The Hindu

We filed 773 patents this year against two in 2012: RK Tyagi, HAL

State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, after contributing to the success of Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) and GSLV Mk III launch in 2014, is now taking steps to open an Integrated Cryogenic Engine Manufacturing (ICEM) facility at Bengaluru. The facility, which will focus on manufacturing, integrating and testing the Cryogenic Engine CE20 and Semi Cryogenic Engine SE2000, would  make HAL one among the technologically prudent companies across the globe. On the R&D front, the company, under outgoing chairman RK Tyagi, has done extremely well during 2014 by focusing on patents and intellectual property rights. Over the last three years, HAL has transformed itself into a technology company from a manufacturing company. The number of patents filed by HAL increased from 71 in FY13 to 209 in FY14 and to 773 in FY15. In an interview with FE’s Huma Siddiqui, Tyagi discusses HAL’s business plans. Excerpts:

Any updates on HAL’s exports?
In line with HAL’s mission to become a global player, exports have been identified as a key thrust area. HAL has entered the global market with a diverse portfolio of products and services in the aerospace sector. With the emerging opportunities in the aviation sector and the scope in expanding HAL’s business spectrum, exports are expected to reach new heights progressively.

HAL’s exports have seen a steady growth over a period of time and the company is aiming to consolidate its position by leveraging its capabilities. Major exports during the last one year includes, supply of additional Dhruv–Advanced Light Helicopter Mk III—to the Nepal Army, handover of a second Dhruv helicopter for the Maldives and mid-life upgradation of the first Do-228 aircraft supplied to the Mauritius Police Force, besides overhaul of aircraft/helicopters/engines, supply of avionics for Su-30 and MiG-29K/KUB and upgrades. Avionics items manufactured by HAL are fitted as original equipment on Su-30 aircraft supplied by Russia to other countries.
28/01/15 Huma Siddiqui/Financial Express

Come next winter, Chandigarh airport to cross fog hurdle

Chandigarh: Come next winter, flight operations at the Chandigarh airport will not get affected by dense fog and inclement weather as the Civil Aviation Ministry has announced to install the CAT-III equipment at the airport.

In an announcement made on Wednesday, the Ministry of Civil Aviation shortlisted the Chandigarh airport among 13 airports in India, which will be equipped with the CAT-III equipment for smooth operations even in dense fog.

At present, the airport is not equipped with any such instrument and the visibility is judged manually by the airport authorities. The demand for upgrading the ILS (Instrument Landing System) with the CAT-II or CAT–III equipment was pending since 2001.

The CAT-III equipment provides a runway visual range of about 700 metres under poor visibility conditions. The announcement has brought cheer for domestic airlines and will also be beneficial once international flights start from here. The first international flight is expected to start in April. The Chandigarh airport is expanding towards Mohali with a new international terminal.
28/01/15 Deepankar Sharda/Chandigarh Tribune

Customs seize Rs 100crore worth gold at Chennai airport in 2014

Chennai:  It was a year of gold rush at the airport in 2014. Air customs seized 365kg gold worth Rs 100 crore at Chennai airport till December 2014 as against the 113kg worth Rs 35 crore last year.

"The increase in seizure is due to high surveillance. We seized gold from passengers, from planes and airport building. More personnel will be inducted into customs at airport and cargo soon. Additional manpower has been sanctioned," said S Ramesh, chief commissioner of customs, Chennai, after inaugurating a sensitization programme for customs personnel and staff of other agencies organized to mark International Customs Day on Tuesday.

The airport is popular among gold smugglers because of the good connectivity to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Colombo and Dubai from where majority of the smuggled gold is sourced.
 Air customs have started to profile passengers, gather intelligence to bust smuggling rackets. "High checks were the reason for smugglers to abandon gold at waste bins and toilets at the terminal," said a customs official.
28/01/15 Times of India

Flyers caught with gold hidden in CPU, cooking pan

Mumbai: The airport Customs arrested two flyers and seized gold bars worth Rs 33 lakh from them at international airport on Wednesday. The two were trying to smuggle the gold in the country after concealing it inside a computer CPU and a cooking pan.

A passenger, Hiren Chauhan, was travelling on Indian passport and he was intercepted at the airport after in-line screening machine indicated that he had concealed gold in his baggage. During the examining the Customs officials recovered 10 gold bars, 116 GMs each worth Rs 27.88 lakhs from him.

Commissioner of Customs (airport) A P S Suri stated that Chauhan arrived from Dubai and he had concealed 1.11 kg gold bars inside a transformer of a desktop CPU.
29/01/15 Vijay Singh/Times of India

Funding for Mactan airport project OKd

Manila: Manila based Asian Development Bank (ADB), the region’s biggest aid provider, has thrown its support behind the upgrading of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), enforcing the legitimacy of the project that was hounded by controversies early on.

In a statement, ADB said it had approved a $75-million loan for the expansion and renovation of MCIA to boost passenger traffic at the country’s second-largest airport.

The project is expected to support inclusive growth in the Visayas region, the ADB said. Upgrades for MCIA is the first large scale public-private partnership (PPP) project awarded by the Aquino administration.

The financing for the project also includes debt of P20 billion ($450 million) from a consortium of Philippine banks composed of BDO Unibank Inc.; Bank of the Philippine Islands; Development Bank of the Philippines; Land Bank of the Philippines; Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. and Philippine National Bank.

The loan from ADB and cofinancing from the consortium of private banks will be provided to GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation, a consortium of India’s GMR Infrastructure Ltd and Philippine construction firm, Megawide Construction Corp., which won the bidding for the expansion and upgrade of the airport.

India’s GMR Infrastructure is the fourth largest private airport operator in the world, while Megawide is recognized as a local leader in the use of cutting edge construction technology.
28/01/15 Paolo G. Montecillo/

MD, Kuoni- India clears air about its B2C business unit ‘Exit’ decision

“It is business as usual at Kuoni,” stated Rajeev Wagle, managing director, Kuoni- India, in an exclusive with Express TravelWord. The recent announcement by the Kuoni headquarters (Kuoni’s board of directors and group executive board) based in Zurich to exit from its tour operating activities created a stir in the industry. The company has taken a decision to part with its B2C businesses and focus completely on the B2B and B2G business units namely Global Travel Distribution (GTD), Global Travel Services (GTS) and VFS Global. These core businesses already represent around 60 per cent of Kuoni’s current consolidated turnover. “The decision taken by the headquarters was clearly strategic to accelerate growth and profitability and take the other core business performing units to the next level of growth. M&As, ownership changes are a part of any form of business across sectors, the travel space being no exception,” mentioned Wagle, adding that the headquarters, based in Zurich, will start the formal process of seeking bids and tenders in the coming months.
28/01/15 Reema Lokesh/Financial Express