Monday, October 20, 2014

Air India to get Rs 6000 cr capital infusion from Centre this fiscal

Visakhapatnam: State-owned Air India will get around Rs 3,000 crore more in the later part of this fiscal from the Government towards capital infusion and the ailing carrier is expected to make operational profits from the next financial year, a top official of the Ministry of Civil Aviation said.

V Somasundaram, Secretary of Ministry of Civil Aviation also said there is no proposal to build a Greenfield airport at cyclone-hit Visakhapatnam.

"Air India has a turnaround plan, under which a little over Rs 6,000 crore has to be infused this year. I think more than half of that has been given already. Another around Rs 3,000 crore will be infused by the end of the financial year," Somasundaram told PTI during his recent visit to Visakhapatnam.

National carrier Air India, which is sitting on a huge debt pile, is surviving on the Rs 30,000-crore government bailout package announced by the Government earlier.

"The problem was they (Air India) had lot of uneconomical routes and lot of loss-making operations. So during the last two to two-and-half years these have been reduced. They have been successful in bringing down the loss substantially. And by 2015 they are expecting to be profitable, that is next financial year," the official said replying to query on the operational profits of the air lines.
20/10/14 ZeeNews

22 hurt as SIA jet flies into severe turbulence

Mumbai: In the first incident involving an Airbus 380 in India, 22 people, including eight passengers, onboard Singapore Airlines' double deck aircraft sustained injuries after the jet flew into severe turbulence during its descent into Mumbai airport on Saturday night.

The incident highlights the importance of keeping seat belts fastened and secure during descent and climb phase of a flight.

Flight SQ 424 from Singapore to Mumbai with 408 passengers and 25 crew members on board touched down at 10pm, five minutes past its scheduled arrival time.

"About 30 minutes before touchdown, the aircraft seemed to have encountered inclement weather. The sudden turbulence threw some of the passengers off their seats, though the most hit were the flight attendants. There was some damage to some inside panels of the passenger cabin," said an aviation official.
20/10/14 Manju V & Sumitra Deb Roy/Times of India

Turbulence lands 8 Singapore airline passengers in hospital

Eight passengers and 14 crewmembers of Singapore Airlines (SA) flight SQ-424 were injured after the aircraft experienced sudden turbulence during landing at Mumbai international airport on Saturday evening.
The flight, with 408 passengers and 25 crewmembers on-board from Singapore, was scheduled to land at T2 at around 9.55 pm on Saturday. After the aircraft landed, the airport doctors and paramedics on duty rushed to attend to the injured. The passengers were shifted to Seven Hills Hospital in Andheri (East), while the airlines admitted 10 of their employees at Hiranandani Hospital in Powai. On Sunday, six of the eight passengers were discharged after their minor injuries were attended to. All the crewmembers were discharged as well.
Recounting the incident, Nanu Bhai Makwana, the husband of one of the injured passengers, Nirmalaben Makwana, told mid-day, “We couldn’t really understand what went wrong with the aircraft all of a sudden. She hit her shoulder on the ceiling and sustained injuries on her shoulder and stomach. My daughter and I were awake at the time. We had gone to Singapore to see my newly born granddaughter. We are from Gujarat and we were going to take a bus from Borivli at around midnight.
While the airline is paying for the treatment, we are quite upset after the incident. We did not want to end such a joyous trip in this manner. Diwali is in a few days and I don’t think my wife will get better by then.” Navill, son of another injured passenger, Turel Viraf, said his father sustained chest injuries but was doing better.
“Doctors have assured us that he will be discharged soon,” said the Dadar resident. Speaking to mid-day, Dr Bhuvan Dumeti, assistant general manager and spokesperson of Seven Hills Hospital, said, “Both the patients are stable. While Turel has some minor chest injuries, Nirmalaben has shoulder injuries and has hurt her abdomen. By tomorrow evening (Monday), the doctors will take a call when they can be discharged.”
20/10/14 Mid Day

IndiGo bets big on Indian economy with historic 250 plane order, but faces risks

New Delhi/ Paris: Almost four years ago a handful of people gathered in Airbus sales chief John Leahy's spacious country house outside Toulouse and argued long into the evening over curry and cigars.
Last weekend they met up again at a Parisian hotel for more haggling, with breaks taken at a nearby cafe where the informality of old business friendships mingled with hard-nosed negotiations typical of the aircraft industry.
The sum total of money discussed over these meals? About $40 billion at catalogue prices, and the bill was for 430 jets, all sold to the same Indian airline -- IndiGo, the low-cost carrier which has grown to become the country's biggest airline in eight years of operating.
Represented according to insiders by co-founder Rakesh Gangwal and President Aditya Ghosh, IndiGo has now made aircraft industry history twice in four years -- each time by placing record orders for Airbus planes, including last Wednesday's announcement that it will buy 250 A320neo jets.
The largest order in India's aviation history is IndiGo's most aggressive bet yet that Indian air travel is on the cusp of a huge expansion, and that the model that made it the nation's only profitable carrier will keep working as competition intensifies.
20/10/14 FirstBiz

AirAsia India to start flights on Delhi-Mumbai route

New Delhi: The Indian unit of AirAsia will soon start flights from big cities, changing its strategy of connecting smaller cities to take on competition which followed the airline wherever it went since launch of operations earlier this year.

AirAsia India, which started with connecting cities like Chennai, Kochi, Goa, Chandigarh and Jaipur from its hub in Bangalore, plans to start operations from key cities like Delhi and Mumbai. The airline had earlier announced that it wouldn't operate from these cities because of high airport charge.

"We had earlier decided to operate between smaller cities and develop markets but the competition is following us everywhere. Now, we have decided to take on competition in their big markets like Delhi and Mumbai by announcing our flights soon," AirAsia India Chief Executive Mittu Chandilya said.

Since its launch, AirAsia has been facing severe competition from other domestic carriers. Days after it announced Bangalore as its hub, other airlines ramped up operations from there. Competition followed it on the Bangalore-Jaipur sector too, launching new flights. Analysts say AirAsia's new strategy will help it grow faster in India.
20/10/14 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

IndiGo Displays Its Ambition With $40 Bn Bet On Indian Aviation Market

Almost four years ago a handful of people gathered in Airbus sales chief John Leahy's spacious country house outside Toulouse and argued long into the evening over curry and cigars.

Last weekend they met up again at a Parisian hotel for more haggling, with breaks taken at a nearby cafe where the informality of old business friendships mingled with hard-nosed negotiations typical of the aircraft industry.

The sum total of money discussed over these meals? About $40 billion at catalogue prices, and the bill was for 430 jets, all sold to the same Indian airline -- IndiGo, the low-cost carrier which has grown to become the country's biggest airline in eight years of operating.

Represented according to insiders by co-founder Rakesh Gangwal and President Aditya Ghosh, IndiGo has now made aircraft industry history twice in four years -- each time by placing record orders for Airbus planes, including last Wednesday's announcement that it will buy 250 A320neo jets.

The largest order in India's aviation history is IndiGo's most aggressive bet yet that Indian air travel is on the cusp of a huge expansion, and that the model that made it the nation's only profitable carrier will keep working as competition intensifies.

"IndiGo is showing us the level of confidence it has in its own sustainability, in the long-term growth of aviation and in the future performance of the Indian economy," said Harsh Vardhan, chairman at Delhi-based Starair Consulting.
20/10/14 Business World

Thermal scanner to boost airport’s defence against Ebola, MERS threats

Ahmedabad: With Ebola threat rising by each passing day, the expected arrival of Haj pilgrims from October 22 and NRI season beginning October 23, officials at city airport have stepped up preparedness to scan and detect passengers for Ebola or middle-east respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus.

A thermal scanner is expected to be installed at the international terminal by Monday to scan the passengers while protective gears will also be arriving from the Centre.

More than 5,000 people had gone for Haj from Ahmedabad last month and with MERS virus threat looming large, each pilgrim will be checked thoroughly. "In case of Ebola threat, arrangements are already in place to check the passengers arriving from West African countries manually since August. From now on, almost all the international passengers suspected with any symptoms will be scanned. The thermal scanner arrived at airport by Sunday evening," said an airport official.
20/10/14 Times of India

Air India flight develops technical snag; leaves passengers stranded for two days

New Delhi: Over 150 passengers of an Air India Express flight from Dammam to Kozhikode, scheduled on Saturday night, were stranded almost two days as the Boeing 737 aircraft developed a major technical fault.

A special aircraft has been arranged to fly the passengers from Dammam to Kozhikode via Mangalore tonight to reach India by tomorrow morning, officials of the Air India subsidiary told PTI from Kozhikode, adding that this plane would operate the scheduled flight IX-386.
They said men and materials have been flown to repair the hydraulic brake system of the Boeing plane which was grounded in Dammam.
20/10/14 PTI/Economic Times

AERA extends date for charging of tariff for Delhi airport

Mumbai:  The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) in an order dated October 14, 2014 has extended the date for charging of tariff for Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd (as per its order dated April 20, 2012) till the earlier of January 31, 2015 or the determination of tariff for the second five-year control period (which started on April 1, 2014).

The revenue collected by Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd (DIAL) during such period would be adjusted for the aggregate revenue requirement for the second control period.

AERA had earlier permitted extension of charging of tariffs fixed for DIAL till October 31, 2014, pending tariff determination, said an exchange filing from GMR Infrastructure.
20/10/14 Business Line

Thalassemic child not allowed to travel by SpiceJet, alleges father

Ahmedabad:  A 12-year old kid suffering from thalassemia major was not allowed to travel in SpiceJet flight from Ahmedabad to Chennai for Bone Marrow transplantation because of poor health conditions, alleged the father of kid here on Saturday.

However Spicejet officials claimed that the kid did not have 'Fit to Fly' certificate as per Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) norms.

"The boy was suffering from some bone marrow problem. He was not carrying fit to fly certificate. And later none of the single doctors had given him a 'fit to fly' certificate'. If he was not fit to fly as per the DGCA , how we can allow him for the air travel," said a senior SpiceJet official.

"My son Jignesh was not allowed to travel in a SpiceJet flight on October 16 as the officials of the airlines had denied the boarding pass to us saying my child is not fit enough to travel," said Kalu Antroliya, a resident of Kadegi village in Kutiyana tehseel in Porbandar and the father of the thalassemic child.
19/10/14 Piyush Mishra/Times of India

Air India proposes shift from sale and leaseback

New Delhi: Air India is proposing to shift from sale and leaseback to outright purchase of 15 of the 27 Dreamliner aircraft it has ordered, in a bid to save about USD 225-300 million as part of the turnaround plan.
A proposal to this effect has been sent to the government for approval, as the national carrier feels that the shift to the outright purchase system would provide a much better internal rate of return, airline officials said here.
While leaseback turns out to be more expensive in the long run, an airline does not get the benefit of the residual value of an aircraft after its lease expires as it is enjoyed by the lessor, they said.
Sale and leaseback is a financial transaction where one sells an asset and leases it back on a long term and continues to use it without owning it.
The sources said the redelivery cost (after the lease expires) of a widebody aircraft like the Dreamliners is very high at almost USD 20 million while for narrow-bodies it is about USD 10-12 million.
Such high redelivery costs would be avoided if the planes are owned by the company, the officials said.
20/10/14 Kashmir Reader

Passengers stranded at Saudi airport as Air India flight gets delayed by over 40 hours

New Delhi: Over 200 passengers were left stranded at the Dammam airport in Saudi Arabia after an Air India flight was delayed by over 40 hours.
The Air India flight slated to take off on October 18 was grounded due to technical snag. A part had to be sent from Tiruvananthapuram to be replaced.
The national carrier did not inform the passengers as of when the flight will take off. Angry passengers complained of having a harrowing time at the airport without any food or water.
20/10/14 Priyanka Dube/CNN-IBN

Muslim Bizman Alleges Harassment by Customs

Chennai:  A 65-year-old Muslim businessman, who flew in from Bangkok on Saturday night, alleged that he was strip-searched and harassed by a customs official at the airport. Jamal S, who hails from Mannady, said he had declared the flat-screen TV that he had brought from Bangkok and was past the customs counter when he was accosted by an assistant commissioner. “He was very curt and asked me to accompany him for a strip search. All the people who flew with me looked at me as if I was a smuggler,” said the elderly man. Enraged by what he believed is a gross violation of human rights, Jamal placed a complaint with the Airport Police.

Jamal is no stranger to run-in with enforcement agencies like customs. He has written several complaints to the authorities and says that he has pursued legal action against them, when he has found them errant in the past. “That is the reason why they targeted me this time,” he alleged. He had returned on a Sri Lankan Airlines flight UL 123, which had brought him from Bangkok to Colombo and then to Chennai.
20/10/14 New Indian Express

Air Passengers Get ‘Wet’ Welcome

Chennai: When the rain pounded the city over the weekend, passengers who arrived by air didn’t have to wait to exit the airport to be accorded a ‘wet’ welcome; they got that while pulling their bags off the conveyor belt. Several pieces of baggage that were taken from planes, tugged to the terminal and put on to the conveyor belts arrived soaked — testing the waterproof guarantee that most suitcase salesmen swear by.

“I was hoping to get to the parking lot and convince the prepaid taxi driver to swing close to the lane, so that the bag that had packets of expensive cashew nuts was safe,” explains T S Priyamvadha, a mother of a 23-year-old techie who currently works in Hyderabad. “But when the bag came off the conveyor belt, it was soaked almost like it had been sitting in the rain,” she adds disconsolately. Her cashew stash was safe thanks to the plastic casing it was in, but her laptop is acting up after being wet ‘in transit’. She placed a complaint with the airline counter, but doesn’t believe there will be any response.

Several others have been puzzled by this phenomenon of bags being wet, despite being carted in covered baggage trolleys. Producer Mukesh Mehta, who had faced a similar issue tweeted, “Chennai Airport has no facility to ensure that passenger bags Do Not get wet during rains when sent to and brought from aircrafts be careful.”
20/10/14 New Indian Express

Travelator at Chennai airport at least a year away

Chennai: At a time when international airlines are increasing their flights out of the city, and given Chennai airport’s reputation for being the third busiest in the country, it is still found wanting when it comes to passenger amenities.

A case in point is the travelator — a moving walkway — to connect the domestic and international terminals.

In a day, the airport hosts 30,000 passengers, and a good number of them move from the domestic to international terminals, carrying heavy luggage. Under the circumstances, the travelator could ease the strain on passengers.

Despite the idea being mooted as early as in 2009, and repeated assurances from officials, the facility has been a non-starter after two years of commissioning the new terminals. At present, a travelator of 150 metres connects the domestic and international terminals on the airside of the airport, past security check. But where the travelator could really help is at the point where passengers move between the terminals carrying heavy luggage.
20/10/14 Sunitha Sekar/The Hindu

Gold valued Rs 10.4 lakh seized at Mangalore International airport

Mangalore: The officers of Customs at Mangalore International Airport seized 384 grams of gold valued at Rs.10.46 lakh on Monday.

The gold was in the form of cut pieces of ten tolas gold bar concealed in the motor of a toy jeep and a toy dog, and in the form of silver colour paint coated cylindrical objects concealed in the wheels of a stroller suitcase.

The contraband was carried by the passenger, who arrived from Dubai.
20/10/14 Stanley Pinto/Times of India

Chartered flight security manager nabbed for Rs 3.5 crore gold smuggling

Mumbai: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has unearthed a gold smuggling racket thriving with the connivance of staff of service providers at Mumbai airport. Officials seized 13kg gold worth Rs3.5 crore from two passengers in two instances on Sunday.

Raids at the residence of Vikas Ambokar, security manager of a Mumbai-based real estate major having its chartered flight services, led to the recovery of Rs1 crore cash besides 20 pieces of gold jewellery. Officials said Ambokar, who has smuggled 200 kg of gold into the country on 15 occasions, is the kingpin of the racket operating since December.

Besides Ambokar, DRI has arrested security agent with a private airline Mahesh Mahadik, driver of a ground-handling agency Manish Jagtap and passengers Abdul Rahman and Ahmed Kunhi .
20/10/14 C Unnikrishnan/Times of India

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ferrying 19 lakh people, IndiGo retains top slot

New Delhi:  Domestic airlines carried 58.22 lakh passengers during September this year, an increase of close to 28 per cent over the 45.55 lakh passengers flown during the same period last year.

Releasing the latest passenger traffic data, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that the increase in the number of passengers was due to the on-going festive season. IndiGo, the Delhi-based low-cost airline, remained the market leader with 19.07 lakh passengers during the month followed by SpiceJet (10.82 lakh).

Jet Airways, with 9.72 lakh passengers, took the number three spot, ahead of Air India which carried 9.67 lakh passengers. September broke a six-month spell of Air India carrying more passengers than Jet Airways in the domestic market.
17/10/14 Business Line

AirAsia India profitable on 4 out of 5 routes: CEO

According to a report by Adith Charlie in The Hindu Business Line, Mittu Chandilya, CEO, AirAsia India, said that the airline is making profits on four out of the five routes it operates in the country. Bengaluru-Chennai is the carrier’s only loss-making route as it has to offer low fares amid high competition from other modes of transport.

“In this (Bengaluru-Chennai) route, the competition is high from buses, trains and other carriers. This is telling on our pricing,” Chandilya said, on the sidelines of the SITA India Aviation ICT Forum in Jaipur yesterday. The low-cost carrier currently offers services from Bengaluru to Goa (two daily flights), Kochi, Jaipur, Chandigarh, and Chennai.
17/10/14 TravelBizMonitor

Adding capacity too fast? IndiGo fills least number of seats despite being market leader

IndiGo managed to fill the least number of seats on its aircraft despite being the clear market leader in September. Last month saw almost all airlines increase aircraft occupancieis because of the beginning of the festival season. But IndiGo was pipped by SpiceJet, GoAir and even JetLite to have the lowest load factor last month among LCCs.
Only regional airline Air Costa and newbie AirAsia India had less seats occupied across their respective aircraft than IndiGo as far as LCCs go. Is IndiGo adding capacity too fast?
Every third domestic flyer took an IndiGo flight last month and the total number of passengers carried by this airline was almost twice that of SpiceJet. But SpiceJet had the maximum loads across its aircraft. As per data released by DGCA, IndiGo filled 77.9% seats across its aircraft while SpiceJet filled 85.9%, JetLite 82.7% and GoAir 82.3%. Air Costa stood at 76.4% while AirAsia India was at just 68.7%
IndiGo has managed to maintain its grip on market share throughout 2014 but aircraft occupancies have been behind others for several months now. Earlier this week, President Aditya Ghosh was quoted in media reports saying India is an undepenetrated market, after announcing a mega aircraft order.
IndiGo is buying 250 Airbus aircraft, it already has a 180 aircraft order pending - deliveries for which will begin only next year. So by 2026, it will have received 431 more aircraft. As of now, it has a fleet of 83 aircraft. Of the new arrivals, some will be used to replace existing aircraft but by far, IndiGo is looking to own one of the largest fleets in Indian aviation industry. Unless market growth keeps pace with IndiGo's ambitions, it may find the going a bit tough though.
17/10/14 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post

Indian aviation sector to be recertified post US demotion

For many players in India’s aviation sector, it is time to go back to basics. With an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) audit around the corner, sources say veteran airlines like Air India and Jet Airways and even new entrants like Vistara will have to go in for a re-certification reports CNBC-TV18s Sindhu Bhattacharya & Shereen Bhan. India's demotion to category-II safety status by the US Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year is both a boon and a curse. A boon, because the demotion has helped both airline companies and government agencies clean up their act, and rework the certification process by eliminating the many flaws that existed; A curse, because for many of these airlines, it means getting re-certified. This means a fresh look at almost every process at an airline, and applying for flying permits all over again. CNBC-TV18 learns that aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) wants to get this done before the next FAA audit, which could begin as early as December. To this end, sources say it has already begun rectifying one big problem - a shortage of flight operations inspectors. This puts Air India and Jet Airways, which have the most number of international flights, especially to the USA, first in the queue.
16/10/14 Sindhu Bhattacharya/moneycontrol.com

Alliance Air flying hours halve as 14 pilots leave

New Delhi: Alliance Air, a subsidiary of national carrier Air India, has witnessed substantial attrition as 14 pilots and many other staffers have left the company in the last few months, affecting the utilisation of its eight aircraft.

As per the fleet utilisation chart prepared daily, average hours each aircraft flies, which should be which should be at least 10-12 hours a day as per aviation guidelines, has come down to around six hours. On October 12, the fleet utilisation of the two aircraft was just around three hours.

Alliance Air thus adds to the burden of already indebted Air India, as all the air-craft are on lease and the company has to pay a premium of $ 1.75 lakh for every aircraft.

"If people are leaving and aircraft are not making profits, then the company should look into the matter and take action. It seems that nobody is bothered about it," a senior Air India official told dna, requesting anonymity.
17/10/14 Daily News & Analysis

IndiGo's aircraft deal is a great boost for the image of Indian business houses globally

Low-cost domestic carrier IndiGo has placed what is being billed as one of the top five aircraft purchase deals in aviation history. Its deal to buy 250 single-aisle planes from Airbus for $26 billion, with an option to buy 100 more, is significant for Indian aviation and for India's ability to impact global growth. The deal, on top of its firm orders for 100 current-generation A320s and 180 A320neos, also shows the high level of ambition that Indian companies are now displaying. Becoming global players, and achieving scale, will increase the impact that Indian companies have in the world market.
India, the ninth-largest aviation market, is projected to be one of the five fastest-growing markets by 2034. IndiGo's deal only underscores the bullishness in passenger traffic growth in the long term. The only profit making airline is slated to raise money through an IPO, and the strategy to acquire the same aircraft would bring down maintenance, overhauling and spare-part costs. GoAir had also placed orders for 72 similar aircraft in 2011, valued at about $7 billion.
17/10/14 Economic Times

Slugging it out: AirAsia, Vistara get set to battle for Delhi flyers

Perhaps sensing stiff competition from Vistara, the full service carrier which is a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, AirAsia has decided to commence operations from Delhi as early as possible.

According to a report in the Business Standard, Vistara has already booked six slots in Delhi while AirAsia has been offered three. With these slots, Air Asia will become the first no-frills carrier from Delhi which will not fly from the airport that has been earmarked for the low-cost airline.

On Wednesday, the first Airbus A-320 aircraft of Tata-SIA joint venture Vistara airline, painted with its logo and livery, landed at the IGI Airport, taking the carrier a step closer to its launch. The A-320 would have to begin test flights and undergo other regulatory checks before aviation regulator DGCA grants Vistara and its aircraft an airworthiness certificate and the flying licence or the Scheduled Operator's Permit (SOP).

Vistara plans to increase its fleet to 20 aircraft, including the latest A-320 neos, by the end of the fourth year of its operation . The airline plans to begin services in five cities, increasing the count to 11 within a year. It will have 87 weekly flights linking Delhi with Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Jammu, Srinagar, Patna and Chandigarh.
16/10/14 First Post

AI fliers stranded by snag, engine trouble

Pune: As many as 183 Air India passengers had a harrowing time after a technical snag delayed their flight for around 16 hours and then faced another shock after take-off when engine trouble grounded the plane again. The flight, delayed by a day, was yet to take off late on Friday evening.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials said they were contemplating action against the national carrier.
According to Air India authorities, the Pune-Delhi (AI 854) flight was supposed to depart from Lohegaon airport at 9 pm on Thursday. Passengers were told the flight was delayed by an hour as the Delhi-Pune flight had been delayed due to a technical snag. At 10 pm, they were told the flight will take off only at 12.30 am.
“At 12.30 am, we observed that pilots and the flight crew were leaving the premises. There was no announcement on part of the airline. When we inquired, we got to know unofficially that the flight will only take off on Friday as the defect could not be resolved. It was horrible on part of the authorities to keep us in the dark. Most of us were still at the airport till 3.30 am as there was no proper communication from the airlines,” said Anand Rekhi, a Delhi businessman visiting his home in Pune for polls.
17/10/14 Atikh Rashid/Indian Express

Emergency at Mumbai airport after AI flight develops wheel failure

Mumbai: Passengers on an Air India flight were shocked to learn that they were back in the city from where they had boarded the flight. The aircraft had to return to Mumbai airport after its pilot found out, 30 minutes before the scheduled landing at the destination, that the plane’s wheels were not functioning. The incident occurred on October 15 in Air India flight 657, which took off at the scheduled departure time of 10 am and was supposed to reach Coimbatore at 11.50 am. Around 11.20 am, the pilot tried testing the landing equipment, and to his shock, found that the wheels weren’t unfolding and coming out. He immediately informed the Air Traffic Control (ATC). Full emergency was declared for the flight, but it couldn’t land at Coimbatore, since the airport didn’t have the necessary systems to deal with a full emergency. “Chennai airport was one of the options for the aircraft to land, but due to congestion, Chennai had to be dropped and Mumbai airport was alerted for full emergency,” said a crew member on the flight. Ground staff at the airport attributed the incident to hydraulic failure. When full emergency is declared at an airport, fire brigades, ambulances, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), and airport as well as airline staff ready themselves for the landing of the aircraft.
17/10/14 Neha LM Tripathi/Mid Day

AirAsia's Mittu Chandilya in top flight

The Indian skies have turned into a boxing ring. The match is fierce: no punches are spared, and the support staff alleges foul play frequently. The pugilists are rippling with muscle. In its trademark red is AirAsia; and in elegant blue, IndiGo. The first is a global phenomenon; the second is the undisputed leader in India. At the break, the boxer in red removes his headgear and a chiselled face with bright eyes and sleek black hair is uncovered — a face made for selfies. This is Mittu Chandilya, 34, the CEO of AirAsia India, owner of the Bangalore franchise of Vijay Amritraj’s Champions Tennis League India, close friend of Bollywood hunk John Abraham and father of three boys.

So far, the blows have been evenly matched. Days after AirAsia announced Bangalore would be its hub, IndiGo ramped up its operations from the city. When the Bangalore airport announced that it will charge lower parking fees to those who make it a hub, others erupted in protest and took the matter to the courts. When AirAsia launched a service from Bangalore to Jaipur, IndiGo had its flight on the route ready. Thanks to rivals operating several new flights, AirAsia’s Bangalore-Chennai service is carrying loads that are well below projections. In Bangalore, the prime slots in the morning and evening have been bagged by IndiGo, leaving early morning and afternoon slots for AirAsia, which do not suit corporate travellers (they make up over two-thirds of all air travel in the country).
18/10/14 Surajeet Das Gupta/Business Standard

Azam denies carrying bullets, calls it conspiracy

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan on Friday refuted reports that prohibited cartridges were recovered from his hand bag at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Thursday.

He termed it a conspiracy to malign his image. "I only had a mobile phone and my reading glasses in my hand. I was not carrying any hand bag so where is the scope of bullets being recovered from my cabin luggage," Azam told reporters here.

In fact minister of state Sarfaraz Khan, who was travelling with Azam Khan, was intercepted at the airport after cartridges were found from his bag. The bag and the bullets belonged to Sarfaraz, who was questioned about it by the airport security.
Azam said he feared attack on his life after the TV channels flashed the news.
17/10/14 Times of India

Doppler weather radar impaired for over a year

Nagpur: The Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) at Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) here has been non functional for over a year due to non availability of certain spare parts like the integrated circuits and electronic boards. The chances of it becoming functional soon are negligible as these parts cannot be purchased directly by RMC and there is no annual maintenance contract (AMC).

DWRs can very efficiently predict fast evolving weather systems like thunderstorms, cyclones, cloudbursts etc. It is used both for aviation as well as non-aviation weather predictions. The radar made in China and procured from the SGS Weather and Environment Systems uses American technology and can generate information from 1 to 8km height from the earth surface in a radius of 500km. The Met Star model of the DWR was installed in February 2011 and it became non functional on September 2, 2013 and has since not been repaired for want of parts not available in the country as the equipment was imported from China.
RMC deputy director general PN Nandankar told TOI that the centre didn't have the power to purchase the parts directly. "We have sent many requisitions to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) over past 8-10 months but didn't get the parts," he said.
17/10/14 Snehlata Shrivastav/Times of India

Manglore airport to be shut at night for six months

Mangalore: The night flight operations at the Mangalore International Airport (MIA) would be suspended for six months from November 1 to take up works on the runway end safety area and parallel taxiway.

"There will be no flight operations at MIA between 11.30 PM and 7.30 AM for six months from November 1. Runways and its operations will be closed till April 30 next year. Airlines have rescheduled the flights accordingly," airport director J T Radhakrishna said.

The night operations would be closed down to take up works on the runway end safety area and parallel taxi way, he said in a release.
18/10/14 ZeeNews

AAI partners with SITA to upgrade airport services in India

Mumbai: More than 50 million passengers at 25 airports across India can now use SITA’s common-use self-service technology to check in at the airport. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has collaborated with the air transport IT specialist to deploy this new technology as part of its ongoing airport modernisation programme.
The AAI has also selected SITA to provide the baggage reconciliation system for 38 airports across India. The seven-year, multi-million dollar contract was announced at SITA’s India Aviation ICT Forum in Jaipur, India. SITA’s BagManager will deliver real-time information on baggage status, helping to resolve baggage issues quickly and efficiently. The comprehensive baggage management technology has been proven to reduce the number of mishandled bags by 10 to 20 per cent.
Sudhir Raheja, chairman, AAI, said, “Our airport modernisation programme is designed to provide better service both for passengers and airlines alike as air travel in India continues to grow. With passenger numbers expected to reach 450 million by 2020, we need to ensure we are operating as efficiently as possible. SITA’s baggage systems, common use technology, and self-service check in kiosks are flexible, convenient and will help establish a firm foundation for future growth.”
17/10/14 Financial Express

Cargo hub at airport soon

Bhubaneswar:  The civil aviation ministry is keen on setting up a modern cargo terminal at the Biju Patnaik International Airport here. If the hub is created, the airport will be able to handle 3,500 metric tonne (MT) incoming and 7,500 MT outgoing cargo per annum.

The airport authorities have submitted a proposal, mentioning the volume of cargo handled by two carriers - Air India and Indigo Airlines. "We are looking for a suitable site to set up of the hub. " airport director Sharad Kumar told TOI. The cargo centre might have a cold storage in future considering that certain cargo might need such facility, he added.

Assistant manager (technical) of the airport Pandurang Hari Bhangale said the Airports Authority of India will conduct a pre-feasibility study. "The officials will take note of present volume of cargo and see whether it can be increased substantially. With Go Air, another domestic carrier, starting operations from October 26, cargo volume will go up," said Bhangale.
17/10/19 Riyan Ramanath V/Times of India

Vizag airport becomes operational, Air India resumes flights

New Delhi: With cyclone Hudhud causing extensive damage to the Vishakhapatnam airport, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) restored all major navigational and technical services as Air India resumed flights from there today.

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju met Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman and discussed the relief, rehabilitation measures and the restoration work at the airport.

AAI officials, assisted by navy and NDRF personnel, carried out restoration work of all essential navigational aids and the runway on a war-footing through last night, enabling Air India's Delhi-Hyderabad-Vizag flight to land and take off this afternoon.
17/10/14 PTI/Economic Times

Air Costa plans to go pan-India by first quarter of next fiscal

Vijayawada-based regional carrier Air Costa plans to become a pan-India player by the first quarter of next fiscal as it looks to target smaller towns and cities. It is also looking to fly international routes by 2018.
Speaking on the occasion of its first anniversary, Ramesh Lingamaneni, chairman, said, "We are looking at operating pan-India flights by the first quarter of the next fiscal. We have submitted our application for securing a pan-India flying licence to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).’
The DGCA is expected to give its approval next month. It has extended the airline's operator permit (AOP) for another four years, from September 2014 to 2018, he said. To fund its expansion plans, Air Costa will be soon be de-merged from its holding company, the LEPL group, into a separate company. It is likely to explore an IPO as well.
17/10/14 BV Mahalakshmi/Financial Express

Ex-rulers of Kalyan win battle for Navi Mumbai intl airport land

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed the state's acquisition of 157 acres of land for the Navi Mumbai International Airport as "totally incorrect and baseless" and directed the City & Industrial Development Corporation Ltd. (CIDCO) to recompense the owners of the parcel. As per prevalent rates, the land is worth in the vicinity of Rs 1,500 crore.

The judges, A A Sayed and Anoop Mehta, held that the plot was transferred to CIDCO without the knowledge of the owners, the Bivalkars of Pune, from whom it was acquired in 1970. "The Collector was not empowered to handover possession to CIDCO without acquiring rights," the court observed.

The contentious plot, in Ulwe village near Panvel, was awarded to the Bivalkars, rulers of Kalyan in the nineteenth century, by the British East India Company. Since that time, several alterations were made to the nature of ownership of the plot.
17/10/14 Mubarak Ansari/Mumbai Mirror

Mysore airport stares at bleak future yet again

Mysore: While SpiceJet made Sankranti memorable a year ago by launching its flight services between Mysore and?Bangalore on the festival day on January 14, 2013, for the coming Deepavali, it has thrown in a wet blanket.

On October 25, when a flight takes off to Bangalore from?Mysore Airport at?Mandakalli on Mysore-Nanjangud Road, it would be the last commercial flight from Mysore. SpiceJet, the current service provider, has decided to withdraw the services from Mysore to Bangalore for a period of one year from October 26 to October 24 next year. With this, the airport is staring at a similar situation that had cropped up when Kingfisher abruptly suspended its services at the fag end of 2012.

“I received an email from the local authorities of SpiceJet on October 11, announcing the withdrawal of services between Mysore and?Bangalore, after the conclusion of its ongoing schedule on October 25. However, in the interest of the dedicated passengers, I have written to the operator to reconsider its decision,” Airport Director?C?Manjunath told Deccan?Herald on Friday.
17/10/14 Sreekantswamy B/Deccan Herald

All airports have equipment to detect Ebola: Govt tells HC

Mumbai: The Union government has informed the Bombay high court that all international airports in the country have been provided with thermal image scanners to detect the presence of 'Ebola' virus among passengers coming from African countries.

All the airports, including Pune and Nagpur airports where international flights land, have been provided with scanners to screen passengers for a possible Ebola infection, government counsel Rui Rodriges told the court on October 14. Taking his statement on record, a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka disposed of a Public Interest Litigation filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar alleging that India was not fully equipped to prevent the spread of the dreaded Ebola.
16/10/14 PTI/Times of India

Vizag airport becomes operational, Air India resumes flights

New Delhi/Visakhapatnam: Air India resumed flights from the port city on Friday as the Airports Authority of India restored all major navigational and technical services at Vishakhapatnam airport, which was badly hit by cyclone Hudhud.

AAI officials, assisted by navy and NDRF personnel, carried out restoration work of all essential navigational aids and the runway on a war-footing through last night, enabling Air India's Delhi-Hyderabad-Vizag flight to land and take off this afternoon.

An AAI official said vital navigational aids like the Instrument Landing System and Doppler Very High Frequency Radars were restored within 48 hours of the weakening of the cyclone.
17/10/14 PTI/Times of India

Lack of discipline and mass dumping leaves GVK-run Mumbai Airport's cargo terminal in shambles

Mumbai: Thursday, October 9, 3.30 PM. The narrow, dusty road to Mumbai airport's cargo terminal is lined with trucks as far as the eyes can see. Amol, a scraggly teenager, is asleep in a tempo he has been driving. Awakened, he says he has been in the queue since 4 in the morning. In almost 12 hours — that is, more than the time it takes to fly to any European destination — his cargo has barely moved one kilometre, and is still two trucks away from the entrance. Inside the gate, the queue scatters into several smaller lines, crawling to facilities that handle different kinds of cargo: general exports, perishable exports, imports, etc.
About 1,200 trucks come into the airport every day. But there is no order. Several trucks carrying light cargo sneak into a shorter queue actually meant exclusively for heavy vehicles carrying over 300 tonnes of freight. Some export cargo vehicles divert into the line of empty trucks waiting for import consignments. Many trucks are parked in a space not meant for parking.
17/10/14 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

‘Double standards on dual airport issue’

Murgao: United Goans Democratic Party vice-president Radharao Gracias criticized the new Congress state president Luizinho Faleiro for displaying double standards on the dual airport issue. He also called for the resignation of environment minister Alina Saldanha.

While addressing mediapersons on Friday, Gracias said that it was Faleiro who had supported the Mopa airport during the former Congress government's tenure, and that the project was ushered in with their efforts.

Gracias said that he did not know whether Faleiro had changed his mind now, but demanded that the latter, as the state Congress president, should make his stand clear and publicly oppose Mopa.

He added that the Congress partymen should also take to the streets if they really oppose the airport.
18/10/14 Times of India

‘CM resorting to divisive politics to justify Mopa’

Margao: Reacting strongly to the statements of chief minister Manohar Parrikar on the dual airport issue, Goans For Dabolim Only (GFDO) said that it was disturbing that Parrikar is resorting to "divisive politics" in an attempt to justify an unjustifiable second airport for Goa.

"Parrikar seems to have conveniently forgotten that construction of Mopa airport was certainly not on the BJP manifesto, relying on which, the people of both North as well as South Goa gave his party a mandate to form the state government," said Fr Eremito Rebelo, GFDO convenor.

In a statement issued on Friday, GFDO said they found it amusing that Parrikar was attempting to hoodwink the people that the two airports will be economically viable in Goa, with less than 4 million passenger annual traffic.

"Why then Bangalore with 13 million passengers per year and Hyderabad with 9 million passengers per year had to close down government airports citing economic unviability of two airports? Rebelo asked.
18/10/14 Times of India

Gujaratis in UK want direct flights to Ahmedabad

London: Gujaratis, who constitute nearly half of the Indian Diaspora in the UK, on Friday called on the new Indian government to launch direct flight routes between Britain and Ahmedabad.

The National Congress for Overseas Gujaratis in the UK made the representation at the ongoing Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in London today.

"Direct flights are a must for business to expand," said the group's secretary-general Mahendra Jadeja.
17/10/14 Zee News

CM asks Centre to expedite international flights from Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Terming the delay in beginning of the international flight operation from Odisha as "unfortunate," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday asked the Centre to take steps for early utilisation of facilities available at the Biju Patnaik International Airport here.

"...The failure to utlise the new terminal and the delay in the international flights from Bhubaneswar has not only adversly affected the economics of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) but also undermined the legitimate expectations of the people of Odisha," Patnaik wrote to Union Minister of Civil Aviation A Gajapathi Raju.

Stating that he had also written a letter to Raju on December 7 last, Patnaik said Odisha's chief secretary also wrote letters to the secretary of Civil Aviation Ministry several times.

Though the Centre declared Biju Patnaik Airport, Bhubaneswar, as an International Airport on October 30 last year, the operation of international flights is yet to start.
17/10/14 Zee News

IITians' drone may violate DGCA rules

New Delhi:  In a possible violation of a recent notice by the Director General Civil Aviation notification, IIT-Delhi students plan to fly a drone to videograph their annual festival Rendezvous.

Imposing a blanket ban on “unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)/unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)”, the aviation regulator had said it is in the process of formulating regulations for certification and operation of drones in Indian airspace.

“Till such regulations are issued, no non government agency, organization, or an individual will launch a UAS in Indian Civil Airspace for any purpose whatsoever," the DGCA said in the public notice issued on October 7.

Even before the aviation regulator had issued in the public notice, the organisers the festival on their Facebook page had announced their plans of using a helicam, a remote-controlled mini helicopter used to capture motion images using video, to film the festival that sees an average footfall of 60,000 people.
17/10/14 Pratik Kumar/Deccan Herald

Air India to shift Dibrugarh booking office

Dibrugarh: Air India is planning to shut down the city booking office at Jyoti Nagar area and has reportedly decided to shift all official activities to the New Terminal Building of the Dibrugarh Airport at Mohanbari, some 15 kms from here. The shifting is likely to take place on November 20, an Air India official, who did not wish to be named, told The Assam Tribune.
Citizens here have expressed their resentment over the development and have called upon the Air India authorities to retain the city ticket booking office in the present premises.

“The ticket booking office of the Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines at the old vintage bungalow at Jyoti Nagar here has become a part of the heritage of the historic city of Dibrugarh. So the same must be retained,” said Satyabrata Sarmah, secretary of the Dibrugarh Bar Association.
16/10/14 Assam Tribune

Bihar looks for new airport

Patna: The demand for an new airport with a lengthier airstrip has gained momentum after passengers of a GoAir flight had a close shave following another bird hit at Patna’s Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport.

The state government has written to the Civil Aviation Ministry to send a team of top officials, including those from the Airport Authority of India, to hold a meeting on an new airport here.

Bihar’s chief secretary has requested the civil aviation secretary to “send officials to hold discussions and visit prospective sites for development of an new airport for Patna.” The move follows Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s recent announcement that a new airport could come up near Rajgir, around 120 km from the State Capital.

It may be mentioned here that two days back, around 148 passengers on board a Delhi-bound GoAir flight (G8 144) had a narrow escape when the aircraft suffered a bird-hit while preparing for take-off on the runway.
17/10/14 Abhay Kumar/Deccan Herald

With seizures up, Indian gold smuggling loses its shine

Gold smuggling into India, the world's second-biggest consumer of the precious metal, is becoming more risky for couriers following a surge in seizures and less profitable for the gangs behind the practice. After being caught off guard by a jump in smuggling on the back of a hike in import duty last year, government agencies have stepped up seizures to the extent that couriers are demanding more money to carry in gold, according to customs intelligence officials and an industry analyst. At the same time, a drop in the gap between local and global prices is also mean there is less profit to be made by smuggling in gold, giving banks more business and higher revenue for a government struggling to rein in a fiscal deficit. "Gold smuggling was highly profitable....but now with the drop in premiums and tight security, legal imports are increasing," said Milind Lanjewar, additional commissioner of customs intelligence at Mumbai international airport. Seizures at the airport, one of India's biggest hubs, jumped almost nine fold to 604 kg in the period running from April to September 2014 against 70 kg in the same period a year ago.
17/10/14 Reuters/moneycontrol.com

SP spent Rs 100 crore on airport at Mulayam's village, 'wasted money'

Lucknow: Samajwadi Party governments have spent almost Rs 100 crore during its different tenures on the construction of a modern airport at Saifai, the native village of the SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh’s Etawah district, about 250 kilometres from here.

The revelation came in the reply to a query filed under the Right to Information Act (RTI) by a Lucknow based RTI activist Sanjay Sharma.

In his reply to the RTI query, Deepak Srivastava, the Principal Information Officer, Civil Aviation Directorate, said that Rs 9,249.42 lakh had been spent on the construction, beautification and renovation of Saifai airport so far.

On the query about the details of national and international flights arriving and departing from the airport, the official replied that there was no record available with the directorate in this regard.
16/10/14 Sanjay Pandey/Deccan Herald

Swamy’s plea to rename Madurai airport

Chennai: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to instruct the Civil Aviation Ministry to make an announcement that Madurai airport be known as Muthuramalinga Thevar International Airport.

In a letter to the Prime Minister on Thursday, Dr. Swamy said the renaming of the Madurai airport ahead of Muthuramalinga Thevar’s birthday (and death anniversary) on October 30 would set right the injustice meted out to the freedom fighter.

In 2001, he said, he had obtained permission of the then National Democratic Alliance government to rename the Madurai airport and to install a statute at the airport.

“But persons like Mr. P. Chidambaram, former Finance Minister, and others prevented Mr. Praful Patel [then Civil Aviation Minister] from announcing it,” Dr. Swamy claimed.
17/10/14 The Hindu

Vashu Bhagnani's Karachi airport set stolen

Vashu Bhagnani's upcoming film, 'Welcome' is in trouble again. After losing Rs 1.5 crore when Irrfan Khan opted out of 'Welcome To Karachi' at the nth hour, the filmmaker managed to cut his losses by coaxing son Jackyy to step into Irrfan's shoes. But now he's lost another Rs 1.5 crore to a burglary last week.

Vashu had recreated Karachi airport at Birmingham airport for the shoot. But before the wrap, the local transporters he'd hired took off with three truckloads of clothes, lights and props.
Following a police complaint, a part of the booty has been recovered. "Fortunately, a guy at the airport had clicked pictures of the drivers when they were driving awau with the loot and the cops managed to track them down. But I still staring at big losses," sighed V1ashu, speaking to Mirror from UK.
17/10/14 Vickey Lalwani/Mumbai Mirror

Peacock feathers seized at airport

Kochi: The Customs wing at the Cochin international airport seized about 25 kg of peacock feathers from two passengers on Thursday.

Two passengers, Paramasivam and Karuppayya from Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu, had come to the airport to take a flight to Kuala Lumpur. While their luggage was being screened ahead of check-in, officials detected suspicious items inside. On further inspection, four bags carried by them were found containing peacock feathers weighing 25 kg that were covered with plastic flowers and garlands.
17/10/14 Deccan Chronicle