Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kingfisher Airlines appoints Sanjay Aggarwal as its CEO

S.R. Gupte, Vice Chairman, will continue to Chair the Executive Committee of which Sanjay will become a member with immediate effect.

Kingfisher Airlines has announced the appointment of Sanjay Aggarwal as Chief Executive Officer

S.R. Gupte, Vice Chairman, will continue to Chair the Executive Committee of which Sanjay will become a member with immediate effect.

Sanjay’s most recent assignment was as CEO of Spicejet Limited which he successfully turned into profit. He has a good understanding of the Indian Aviation industry and the various unique business imperatives in India.

Prior to joining Spicejet, Sanjay was COO of Flight Options, the world’s second largest private jet provider. He also spent four years with Marriott International as Senior Director – Information Technology, Strategic and Operations Planning.

Sanjay has also worked for US Airways for six years and brings with him a unique blend of Airline and Hospitality experience which is the hallmark of Fly Kingfisher Airlines.

Source: India Infoline

Jolt to Mihan as AI cargo service grounded

NAGPUR: While chief minister Ashok Chavan is trying to push Mihan, there is another shocker awaiting the prestigious project. National carrier Air India is almost ready to dump its freighter services that were supposed to use Nagpur's Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport as hub. Announced in 2007, the project was to be launched by converting Air India's old Boeing 737s into freighters.

Air India was supposed to launch the cargo services connecting six major destinations through Nagpur. It would have greatly added to the appeal of Mihan. However, the cash-strapped Air India seems to have abandoned the plan. In fact, it has offered the reconfigured aircraft for sale. This development is another jolt to Mihan after the India Post recently discontinued its 'night airmail service'.

A local Air India official, requesting anonymity, said the company had planned to operate AI's reconfigured aircraft in phases from Nagpur. However, plans have not fructified and now management has decided to shelve the project.

Another official in Mumbai said, "AI plans to sell six Boeing 737-200 freighters which were converted for cargo operations in 2007," he said. Apart from these aircraft, the airline had converted four Airbus A 310-300 into freighters at a cost of $ 40 to 50 million. Now Air India Airlines has invited tenders to sell all these aircraft, he said. AI General Manager, corporate communication, Chandrakumar however denied that plans for freighter service were cancelled. He said the 8 aircraft on sale were 20 -years-old and the sale had no relation with the project.

"The project is in pipeline and a decision will be taken in board meeting," he said. AI's cargo head Anita Khurana said she was not aware of plans to sell freighter aircraft. However, she said that the freighter service from Nagpur was on hold.

Source: Times of India

Kingfisher to launch $250 million GDR issue

Kingfisher Airlines would launch a $250-million GDR issue shortly, and is also in the process of restructuring of its debt with a consortium of bankers, Chairman Vijay Mallya said today.

Speaking at the annual general meeting and later addressing reporters, the UB Group Chairman Mallya said the debt recast is expected to be completed in the "next month or so," which would be immediately followed by the GDR issue.

Stating that RBI has sanctioned the debt restructuring plan, he said the Airlines is currently working with the consortium of banks on recasting the entire debt.

"In broad terms, about 30 per cent of the total debt would be converted by banks into capital," Mallya said, adding, the UB Holdings which held its AGM earlier today, passed a resolution to convert Rs 735 crore of loans also into capital.

"There would be an interest reduction to an average of 11 per cent," he said. The Airlines would now have to make the repayment over a period of nine years, with a two-year moratorium.

Mallya added that the debt restructuring package also calls for Rs 900 crore of additional facility to be provided by the banks to the Airlines.

Once the debt restructuring exercise is completed, Kingfisher would immediately launch the $250 million GDR issue. "....We are completely committed to fund-raising (GDR issue) immediately after the bank restructure is over".

"...We are going to be in the US next week with some preliminary road-shows. We have already met a whole bunch of investors in the US, Europe, Hong Kong and Singapore...All of whom have expressed strong interest in investing in Kingfisher", Mallya said.

He said Kingfisher is now casting its net "further and wider" to make sure that when it launches the issue, there is sufficient investor interest to subscribe to it.

Clearly, Kingfisher has a clearcut direction and financial road-map which is it's working on, he said.

On alteration of debt-equity ratio after the debt recast exercise and GDR issue, Mallya noted that it depends on the price at which Kingfisher issued the shares.

Source: Business Standard

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Air-Traffic Growth Slows, Suggesting Peak Has Passed : IATA

Air-traffic growth slowed for a second month in August, suggesting that a recovery in demand for flights may have peaked, the International Air Transport Association said today.

The gain in passenger traffic eased to 6.4 percent compared with a year earlier, down from 9.5 percent in July and a high of 11.9 percent in June. The figure matches the lowest growth rate this year in January, with the exception of April, when a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland closed European airports.

IATA more than tripled its forecast for full-year airline earnings to $8.9 billion on Sept. 21, citing the strength of a recovery in demand, while cautioning that profit would fall back in 2011 as cuts to state spending sap consumer confidence.

“The rapid improvements that we saw earlier this year are behind us,” IATA Chief Executive Officer Giovanni Bisignani said in today’s statement, predicting “a tougher end to 2010 as government stimulus monies run out.”

Traffic grew fastest in the Middle East in August, rising 12 percent, with Europe expanding 5 percent, North America 5.3 percent and the Asian-Pacific region 6.2 percent, IATA said.

Cargo-traffic growth may have peaked in May, when it increased 34 percent, today’s figures suggest, with August’s advance of almost 20 percent the lowest increase since then.

“The bounce from restocking is over,” Bisignani said. “We do not yet see the strong consumer confidence needed to sustain the expansion with spending.”

Source: Bloomberg

SpiceJet Expands Domestic Network; adds Madurai

MADURAI: Low cost carrier SpiceJet on Monday expanded its domestic network by adding Madurai as its 20th destination and announced a fleet expansion programme over the coming years to meet the growing domestic demand.

The first flight with over 150 passengers from Chennai landed here this morning as the 'cultural capital' was included in the list of one of the major low-cost airliners in India.

The airliner will now operate services between Madurai and Chennai, connecting onwards to Delhi and Mumbai.

Company Director and CEO Kishore Gupta told reporters here that the airliner had placed orders for 30 new aircraft with Boeing starting delivery in 2014 as part of an "aggressive growth plan".

"We hope Madurai's good fortune will give us the launch that we want," he said.

Already having presence in three cities--Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai--in the state, SpiceJet was mulling adding one more city but that was yet to be finalised, he said.

Two flights will connect Chennai-Madurai daily and it will be connected to Mumbai and Delhi via Chennai.

International operations (Delhi-Kathmandu and Chennai- Colombo) were scheduled to start from October 7 and 9, respectively.

These sectors would be relatively easier in achieving break-even and expansions would be in place after consolidating the company's presence in this route, he said.

Chief Commercial Officer Samyukth Sridharan said the airliner currently operates 22 flights and said another seven flights would be added over the next 14 months.

As part of the expansion plans, SpiceJet Airlines would mull connecting cities such as Lucknow, Thiruvanathapuram and Indore, which were not on its destinations right now.

He said the airliner intended to increase its passenger strength from 65 lakh last year to 85 lakh this year.

He said that today's launch was a result of passengers' demand for connectivity to Mumbai and Delhi.

To a question on the Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds (FCCBs), Gupta expressed hope that it will be completed by the year-end, subsequent to which south Indian business magnate Kalanidhi Maran's stake in the company will go upto 37 per cent.

Source: The Economic Times

Air India to Implement SAP ERP Package for Better Efficiency

MUMBAI: The Air India Board on Tuesday approved the implementation of the SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) project.

The implementation of the ERP project is in line with the business objectives and strategy of the company for effecting a turnaround, a press release said here.

SAP is the largest provider of ERP solutions world-wide and has been preferred by more than 115 airlines.

SAP solutions support the core business of airlines in passenger services planning and development and also MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) functions.

The implementation of the SAP ERP package would help Air India in strategic decision-making, monitoring and control systems, the release said.

Besides, integration of key business functions in the erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India Airlines, the package would also help in seamless integration with other systems and ensuring availability and consolidation of critical data and information,

At the same time, the airline could aim for improved profitability by availability of real-time information on route network and profitability, it said.

It would also help in reduction in costs especially in inventories across various areas.

Source: The Economic Times

Kingfisher Trying to Rope in Former SpiceJet Official

MUMBAI: Vijay Mallya-owned private air-carrier, Kingfisher Airlines is in talks with a top former executive of the budget airline, SpiceJet to take him onboard and a final decision on the issue is expected shotly, sources said.

"The former Chief Executive Officer of SpiceJet Airlines, Sanjay Aggarwal, and Kingfisher Airlines' Chairman, Vijay Mallya are in touch for quite some time. A meeting between the two is slated for later this week," industry sources familiar with the development said here on Wednesday.

If the talks fructify, Aggarwal may be appointed for a top job in Kingfisher as early as October, they said.

Aggarwal, who is credited with flying SpiceJet into profit in FY 10, the first time since its inception in 2005, quit the job in July after Chennai-based media baron, Kalanithi Maran bought 37.7 per cent stake with a 20 per cent open offer, following the US investor deciding to offoad his stake.

If Aggarwal comes onboard, his immediate task would be to turnaround the debt-ridden, loss-making airline, sources said.

Aviation industry research and analysis provider, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) in its mid-year review of the domestic airlines in July this year had stressed on the need of CEO and COO in the airline.

"In order to ensure that the airline (Kingfisher) pursues a disciplined turnaround, a new organisation structure needs to be established with the induction of a CEO and COO," the report had said.

As on March 31, 2010, Kingfisher Airlines' debt stood at Rs 6,000-crore, the largest for any domestic private air carrier. Besides, the company posted a loss of Rs 1647-crore in FY 10.

Even in the first quarter of the current fiscal, airline posted a loss of Rs 187-crore.

Source: The Economic Times

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Compulsory pre-flight breath analyser test on cards

Pilots and cabin crew of all International and domestic flights operated by Indian carriers could be subjected to compulsory pre-flight breath analyser test as the civil aviation regulator seeks to make air travel safer.

A draft of the rules unveiled by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suggests that all crew of flights originating in India as well as foreign destinations should be subjected to pre-flight medical check-up for consumption of alcohol.

At present, only 60% of the crew, both cabin as well as cockpit, undergo random checks by scheduled operators. The drive is intensified only during festival season and New Year.

“For scheduled operators, this percentage shall be on a daily basis and for other operators like non-scheduled ones, air taxi operators, state government aircraft operators and private category operators, the percentage is be worked out on a 15-calendar day basis,” said the draft regulations.

The cabin crew will be subjected to the test twice during a flight. If any member tests positive, he or she will not be allowed to operate the flight.

Refusal to undergo the check-up will also be considered alco-positive, says the civil aviation requirements. Any member attempting to evade the test procedure by leaving airport premises before undergoing the complete test procedure will be considered to have tested positive,” the new proposal says.

The DGCA has also proposed tough action on those who fail to clear the breath-analyser test. “First-time offenders and any crew member refusing to undergo the medical check-up will be kept off-duty “and his license will be suspended for a period of three months.”

The licence of the crew will be “permanently cancelled” if they are tested positive during the pre-flight medical check-up for a second time.

In case an instructor or examiner or check crew tests positive, they will lose their rating for at least three years.
The civil aviation regulator has also proposed a post flight medical check on the crew, which should be done during their duty hours after disembarkation of passengers, and if found guilty their licence will be surrendered forthwith.

The Economic Times

Jet Airways inks Rs 283 crore deal with IBM

Jet Airways, country’s largest airline in terms of market share, on Tuesday announced a deal worth $62 million (approximately Rs 283 crore) for 10 years with IBM to outsource its business transformation and information technology services.

Under the deal, IBM will absorb IT employees of the domestic airlines, said M Shivkumar, senior VP, finance of Jet Airways.“The outsourced model will help us maximise our revenues.” said Mr Shivkumar. Nearly 45 employees of a 58-member IT team will be shifted to IBM. Some will be accommodated in other sections while a few people may leave Jet.

Jet Airways will look forward to leverage IBM's domain knowledge of the global airline industry and its technology leadership to meet the group’s business transformation objectives, the company said in a statement.

The Naresh Goyal-led company, was until recently using its inhouse technology to meet IT requirements.

IBM will now support Jet Airways with IT Infrastructure and application support services, including employee transition, data centre operations, central helpdesk support, server and storage operation.

The Economic Times

Air India Plans to dry-lease 4 Airbus A-330 aircraft

Air India is planning to dry-lease four Airbus A-330 aircraft to service some of its medium-haul international routes, airline sources said on Monday.

"The purpose of taking A-330 aircraft is to deploy them on medium-haul routes or on sectors which have 7-8 hours of flying, like Hong Kong," the sources said, adding "though we are leasing only four aircraft now, our actual requirement is that of ten of these planes."

Currently, the national carrier has two of these wide-body planes in its fleet which are operating on the Jeddah and Shanghai sectors.

The leasing period of the A-330s would be one-and-a-half year to two years, the sources said. Under the dry-lease arrangement, the lessor provides an aircraft without crew, insurance, ground staff, supporting equipment and maintenance, all of which has to be taken care of by the lessee.

The routes on which these A-330 aircraft would be deployed are being finalized, the sources said, adding that the delivery of these leased planes would have to be made between October 2010 and September 2011.

The decision to lease these Airbus planes came in the wake of delays in the delivery of Boeing 787 Dreamliners by the US manufacturer for which Air India has sought compensation.

Air India had placed orders for the delivery of 27 Dreamliner aircraft even when the project was on drawing board in 2006. It was to receive the first aircraft in 2009, which would now be delivered by 2013.

Following the delay in the delivery of B-787s, Air India has planned to take on lease ten A-330s, besides several A-320s and turboprop ATR planes to meet its requirements. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Now, Airlines Pay up for Hassling Fliers

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Following a DGCA directive, airlines have for the first time compiled figures for the number of passengers affected by delays, cancellations and denial of boarding passes despite arriving at the airport on time: A staggering 46,228 flyers in August alone.

And this isn't even a comprehensive list, for Air India and Jet, two of the largest domestic carriers, are yet to comply fully with the directive.

As a result of the findings, in a first, 13 of the 71 passengers who were wrongly denied boarding passes were compensated in the range of Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000, apart from a full refund.

The airlines, including Kingfisher, SpiceJet, IndiGo and Go Air, faced delays of over two hours in August. While the four airlines have a combined market share of 54.7%, Jet-JetLite and AI (domestic) that enjoy the remaining 45.3% domestic slice have not said how many of their flyers faced delays of over two hours.

Industry sources say these numbers could have crossed a lakh had the two majors, Air India and Jet, complied. Jet, like other airlines (except AI), admits to providing meals and refreshment to passengers inconvenienced by delays. Some said they put delayed passengers on other flights.

Similarly, 5,178 domestic passengers who were supposed to be airborne in August were left stranded by sudden cancellations. Kingfisher, SpiceJet and Go account for this collective figure. Interestingly, Jet and JetLite have told the aviation ministry that none of their passengers were affected by cancellations.

This despite the fact that DGCA figures show the overall industry flight cancellation rate was 3.1% last month. But JetLite and Jet topped this list with 10.5% and 6.6%, respectively, of their flights being cancelled. DGCA is going to seek an explanation from Jet on this.

And, finally, of all domestic airlines, only Kingfisher admitted to having denied boarding to 71 passengers. AI did not give any figure. Denial of boarding occurs when airlines overbook to make up for last-minute no shows. Kingfisher told the government that 13 such passengers were refunded and compensated while the rest 58 were accommodated on other flights.

Source : The Economic Times

Air traffic up 19.3 pc; Jet Airways leads

MUMBAI: Passengers carried by domestic carriers rose 19.3 percent to 33.9 million passengers in Jan-Aug with Jet Airways recording the highest market share among domestic carriers, government data showed.

Jet Airways and its budget arm, Jetlite, recorded a combined market share of 27 percent in August while Kingfisher Airlines had a 20 percent share of the aviation market. State-run Air India had a 18.3 percent market share and budget airline SpiceJet had a market share of 12.6 for the month, data from the federal civil aviation ministry showed.

Seat factors for August - historically a lean season for carriers - dipped for Jet and SpiceJet. Jet recorded a seat factor of 70.4 percent in August compared with 73.8 percent in July while SpiceJet's seat factor fell to 70.3 percent from 76.8 percent. Kingfisher recorded a seat factor of 80.9 percent from 79.3 percent last month, the data showed.

Source : The Economic Times

Thursday, September 16, 2010

SpiceJet's $2.7-b fleet expansion cleared for take off

Delhi based low-cost airline SpiceJet has been given in-principle approval by a Government committee to import 30 Boeing 737-800 aircraft. In July, the airline had signed an agreement with Boeing to purchase the 30 aircraft at an estimated value of $2.7 billion.

The airline's proposal for import of aircraft was among the several cleared by the Empowered Committee of the Ministry of Civil Aviation that gives airline operators permission to import aircraft. The Committee also cleared a proposal of IndiGo Airlines to import 14 A-320 aircraft during calendar year 2011-12. JetLite too has been allowed to import two Boeing 737-800 aircraft in November.

SpiceJet, which currently has 21 Boeing 737 aircraft, plans to induct 30 Boeing 737s over four years beginning 2014. The aircraft acquisition deal was announced shortly after the Sun TV chief, Mr Kalanithi Maran, acquired a 37.5 per cent stake in June.

“We expect domestic demand to grow at 16 per cent during the current year and to sustain a 12-14 per cent annual growth going forward in the medium term. This growth will necessitate significant capacity induction and the fresh order will ensure that the airline will remain in the growth story in the Indian skies,” the airline Director, Mr Kishore Gupta, had told newspersons after the deal for acquiring 30 aircraft was signed.

The low-cost airline reported a profit after tax of Rs 55.22 crore for the quarter ended June, 2010, compared with a profit of Rs 26.34 crore for the same quarter the previous year.

SpiceJet, which carried 54.46 lakh passengers during calendar 2009, has flown 37.25 lakh passengers during the first seven months of the current year.

The airline, which meets the Government requirements of having completed five years of domestic operations and having a fleet of 20 aircraft for starting international flights, has been permitted to start international operations. It plans to launch regular services to Dhaka, Male and Kathmandu. It also plans to expand its domestic network, officials had indicated in July.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

Kingfisher, BA enter code-sharing agreement

Kingfisher Airlines Monday said it has entered into a code sharing arrangement with British Airways (BA) under which both the carriers will use each other's flight network to and from India, Sri Lanka, Britain and Europe from Sep 15.

A code sharing agreement allows one airline to use another's flight code on its own ticket, thus allowing its passengers to travel on the other airline's flights. Such a move helps carriers to expand their network without actually incurring costs of deploying its own fleet.

"The codeshare with British Airways will mean that our guests from India will now be able to fly seamlessly to nine new European cities," said Vijay Mallya, chairman and chief executive, Kingfisher Airlines.

According to the airline, its code will be placed on nine BA routes from Heathrow to the British region and continental Europe, while BA's code will be placed on 11 domestic Indian routes and one route to Sri Lanka operated by Kingfisher Airlines.

This is the first time that BA has entered into a code sharing agreement with an Indian airline.

Jet to deploy no-frills planes on short global routes

The country’s largest private carrier by fleet size Jet Airways is ready to take on FlyDubai and Air AsiaX on short-haul international routes with the airline is readying strategies to deploy its no-frill arms JetKonnect and JetLite to counter the competition.

"Operating JetLite and JetKonnect on these routes is absolutely an option. We have three guns in our waist-holster," a Jet Airways official told FE. Asked if the airline had enough jets to be operated by JetKonnect and JetLite, the official said,"Aircraft is available. We can always lease it."

Jet Airways, JetKonnect, its all-economy, no-frills service, and JetLite have a combined fleet strength of 112 aircraft and operate over 500 flights daily. While JetKonnect and JetLite operate services for the price-conscious customers, Jet Airways serves the full-fare passengers. The airline launched JetKonnect to take on no-frill carriers like IndiGo and SpiceJet. After the global financial crisis hit the domestic industry, companies started tightening their travel budgets forcing employees to travel by low-cost airlines. This resulted into passengers shifting from full-fare carriers to budget airlines.

After the world economy started improving leading to demand for international travel some of the no-frill international carriers have launched very attractive fares. For example, Air Asia recently offered a promotional fare of Re 1 (plus taxes and other charges of Rs 475) on Delhi-Kuala Lumpur route. FlyDubai also announced cheaper fare on Lucknow-Dubai.

"With domestic airlines IndiGo and SpiceJet putting plans in place for foreign operation Jet may have to look for alternative model on Middle East and South East Asian routes," Amadeus India managing director Ankur Bhatia said.

Bhatia said that Jet would be able to compete with airlines like Air AsiaX only when they hub passengers in India and then disseminate them to other destinations. "Jet Airways has major advantage of strong and robust domestic network," he said.

Source: Financial Express

Jet Airways is the Most preferred airline for business class

In an awards ceremony held in New Delhi on 8 September, 2010, Jet Airways, the premier International airline of India, was declared the "Most preferred airline for business class". The event was hosted by Indian business channel CNBC AWAAZ and One Stop Shop, one of the country's fastest growing e-commerce businesses. This is the fourth year that CNBC AWWAZ has held the awards to honour the country's tourism ancillary and best in class travel.

The award was presented to Jet Airways representatives by India's Honourable Minister for Tourism Kumari Selija. In response to receiving the honour, Jet Airways said:

"The CNBC Awaaz Travel Awards 2010 are widely respected across the tourism and trade industry and we are delighted to receive this honour. At Jet Airways, we are committed to offering our guests the very best travel experience in the skies, and awards such as these stand testimony to the quality of our services and encourage us to further raise the bar in customer service excellence."

Jet Airways currently operates a fleet of 90 aircraft, including 10 Boeing 777-33 ERs and 12 Airbus A330-200s. Flight paths include the whole of India, as well as several International locations such as New York, Brussels, Johannesburg, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, and the UK.

From the UK, Jet Airways flies to and from several airports including Birmingham, Glasgow, London Heathrow, Belfast International and Manchester, with destinations including New York, Hong Kong, Calcutta, Delhi, Mauritius, and Bangkok.

GoAir eyes early A320 delivery, to fly more

Wadia Group-promoted low-cost carrier GoAir on Monday said the airline was in talks with Airbus to advance the delivery of 10 planes within a year. GoAir has an all-Airbus fleet comprising eight aircraft. The airline will add two new Airbus A320s in the next two months. It had ordered 20 Airbus planes in 2006 for $1.2 billion. The ten remaining aircraft are to be delivered by April 2014.

"We are hopeful that the delivery would be preponed by an year to March 2013," said Kaushik Khona, CEO, GoAir.

The airline also announced the addition of four new destinations — Patna, Pune, Leh and Lucknow — to its domestic network, signalling its intent to focus on mini-metros and Tier II cities.

Go Airlines had no plans to fly abroad as the airline did not meet the basic criteria of having a minimum fleet of 20 aircraft for launching international operations, Khona said. The company was hopeful of breaking even in another one-and-a-half years but did not have any plans for an initial public offering, he said.

The airline's focus was to strengthen the domestic network. At present, it runs 1,162 weekly flights connecting 19 stations.

Khona also criticised Air India's desicion to reduce fares on 48 domestic routes by 3-23 per cent. "All other airlines would feel the pressure and everybody will suffer because of this."

Source: Hindustan Times

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Low-cost airlines to buy 46 aircraft for R19,270 crore

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has approved purchase of 46 new aircraft worth $4.1-billion (R19,270-crore) by low-cost carriers SpiceJet, IndiGo and Jet Lite. Delhi-based SpiceJet, in which media baron and Sun TV chief Kalanithi Maran acquired a controlling stake in June, received in-principle nod by an empowered committee of the ministry to import 30 Boeing 737-800s.

The airline had in July signed an agreement with Boeing to purchase 30 aircraft for $2.7 billion (R12,690 crore).

IndiGo Airlines has been granted approval to import 14 A-320s, while JetLite has been allowed to import two Boeing 737-800s. The approval was given last week and deliveries are expected to begin in November. In total, Boeing will supply 32 planes and its European rival Airbus 14.

The orders also reflect the growing importance of low-cost carriers in the Indian market, who fly around half of all passengers in India.

Indian airlines carried a record 44 million passengers in 2009 and Boeing has said it expects that number to increase by eight to 10 per cent this year.

GoAir expands network

GoAir announced the addition of four new stations - Patna, Pune, Leh and Lucknow and two new Airbus A320 to its growing network.

The services on these new stations and new aircrafts would start from 2nd September for Patna and for Pune, Lucknow and Leh from 2nd October, 2010 onwards.

This move comes as part of GoAir’s growth strategy and to strengthen its existing network by having more than 1162 weekly flights connecting 19 stations. GoAir will now serve daily nonstop flight between Delhi and the four new stations.

Today, mini-metros, satellite towns and Tier II cities are where India is witnessing huge growth.

Education, business houses and service industries are mushrooming in these places. Pune has emerged as the educational hub, while Patna has established itself as a business hub and Lucknow has been known for its culture and is a vibrant city that is witnessing an economic boom.

Source: Indian Express

Air India Express cancels frequencies of flights to gulf

Air India Express' decision to curtail a number of flights on several routes, including the Gulf, was based on operational reasons and the frequency drop would be only 8 to 10 per cent, a senior AI official here said.

The cancellation of certain frequencies to the Gulf sector was done to rightsize the airline's due to commercial and operational reasons, Abhay Pathak, Air India's regional manager-Gulf, said.

Services to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Muscat and Kuwait have been affected by the decision. However, most of the cancellations are after the peak season beginning from September 20 to October 30.

"This is a response to the commercial demand and we have a back-up plan in place. Moreover we will be re-serving those frequencies in the future," Pathak said.

He said as the cabin crew are not supposed to exceed 1,000 hours of flying in a year, such a rescheduling becomes necessary.

Pathak also claimed that the changes in flight schedules will not affect the passengers as arrangements have been made to ensure "convenience".

"We will operate bigger aircraft if needed as this is also about consolidation of capacity," he said.

As a result of the curtailment, flights from Sharjah to Calicut and Thiruvananthapuram have been reduced from four to two while on the Cochin sector the daily Air India Express flight remains in operation as an alternative.

Air India Express operating from Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram will now operate six days a week and not daily.

Flights to Lucknow have also been reduced to three days a week from the normal four days and the Amritsar flight will operate six days a week.

The affected passengers are being called and informed of the cancellations and alternative rebooking or refund is being offered.

Source: Times of India

Air India to seek Cabinet nod for strategic business units

In its bid to speed up a turnaround, Air India would seek the approval of the Union Cabinet to operationalise its six Strategic Business Units (SBUs) when the government considers an equity infusion of Rs 1,200 crore into the ailing carrier.

The Civil Aviation Ministry, in a note to the Cabinet, is likely to seek approval for operationalising the SBUs relating to low cost airline, cargo, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), grounding handling, engineering and related business so as to enhance the airline's revenues.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs may take up the issue later this month when it also considers infusion of Rs 1,200 crore as equity, sources said. The government had in February infused Rs 800 crore as equity into the carrier.

The government is looking at equity induction in a phased manner based on the performance parameters of Air India, they said.

In 2007, when the erstwhile Air India and Indian Airlines were merged into the National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL), it was decided that the six SBUs would act as separate profit centres.

The NACIL, which wants to review all agreements with its 14 unions, is also likely to seek government's nod to start re-negotiations with the unions, two of which were de-recognised following a flash strike three days after the May 22 plane crash in Mangalore.

At present, there are 10 wage agreements signed between these unions and the management. The employees' unions say that the airline wage bill was 18 per cent of the total turnover as against a global average of about 22 per cent of total turnover for most international carriers.

Source: Economic Times

Emirates to order more Airbus A380 Aircrafts

The head of Emirates Airlines has said orders for the A380 jet from Airbus might not be enough, considering improving passenger demand in the region.

Emirates president Tim Clark has said the airline’s record A380 jet order of 90 aircraft should have been a lot bigger.

Emirates is the world’s biggest airline by international traffic and is already the number one customer for Airbus’s 517 seat plane.

Emirates Airlines has 12 Airbus A380’s in its fleet, with another three to be delivered by November.

Deliveries will then restart in September of next year.

Source: Philippines News.Net

Monday, September 13, 2010

Air India will Take Steps to Redress Grievances of Passengers: CMD

Air India has decided to take earnest steps to redress the grievances of its passengers, according to AI Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Aravind Jadhav.

Addressing a press conference after holding a detailed discussion with the representatives of Kochi International Airport Limited (CIAL), Leading Hotels and Travel Agents
' Association here yesterday, Mr Jadhav said the meeting of the high power committee of AI which was held under the initiative of P C Chacko, MP, discussed about the grievances of passengers, anomalies of operations of AI and Air India Express (IX) and remedial measures. Minister Jose Thettayil also attended the meeting.

The delay in operation and diversion of flights due to poor visibility and bad weather were considered as one of the main difficulties of passengers, he said and added that many IX flights had to be diverted from Kozhikode Airport during 0600 hrs 0900 hours regularly.

The AI decided to reschedule its flight timings in Kozhikode avoiding operations at 0600 hrs to 0900 hrs, he added.As passengers suffered serious problems due to delay of luggage, AI had decided to operate bigger aircrafts to carry all luggage in time.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bank of India loans to airlines under Rs 40 billion

State-run Bank of India's loan exposure to air carriers does not exceed Rs 40 billion, Executive Director M. Narendra told reporters on Wednesday.

The bank's FY11 credit growth so far was 21 percent, Narendra said on the sidelines of a FICCI conference.

Last week, the central bank had announced that it would allow banks to restructure their loan to the cash-strapped aviaton sector.

The Indian airline industry has been facing mounting debts due to the global downturn. However, the industry of late has been showing some signs of recovery.

State Bank of India Chairman OP Bhatt had also said that the bank's exposure to the aviation sector stood at Rs 3,000 - 4,000 crore and added that SBI was in talks with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to restructure its loans to airline companies.

(with inputs from agencies)


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Airlines cancel flights to Kolkata due to bandh

NEW DELHI: Airlines have cancelled their flights to and from Kolkata tomorrow in the wake of 24-hour long bandh call given by central trade unions to protest against price rise.

Kingfisher has cancelled 29 flights, including one international, while Jet Airways and its low cost arm JetLite have cancelled a total of 70 flights to and from the city.

Central trade unions and workers and employees federations have called the strike on September 7 protesting the rise in prices of essential commodities and petroleum products.

Both the airlines have cancelled their flights to and from Mumbai, New Delhi, Silchar, Bagdogra, Aizwal, Ranchi, Agartala, Bhubaneshwar, Guwahati, Patna, Chennai, Imphal, Vishakhapatnam, Bangalore and Port Blair.

Kingfisher has cancelled their Dhaka flight while Jet their flight to Bangkok.

Jet has preponed their Kolkata-Dhaka flight (9W-274) which would depart Kolkata at 5.30 am, while the Dhaka-Kolkata flight (9W-273) would remain postponed for tomorrow and will operate on Wednesday.

The flight would take-off from Dhaka at 0530 hrs and arrive in Kolkata at 0545 hrs (local time).

Apart from it, Jet has rescheduled their Delhi- Bagdogra-Guwahati-Delhi flight (9W-2285) which would depart Delhi at 11:15 am and arrive Guwahati at 01:45 pm.

Kingfisher has also rescheduled two of its flights, one from Bangalore and other to Hyderabad tomorrow.

The airlines has preponed the departure of its Kolkata-Hyderabad flight (IT 3434) which usually departs the West Bengal capital at 6:50 am would depart at 05:35 am.

Also its Bangalore-Kolkata flight (IT-3419), which originally departs Bangalore at 8.40 pm, will now take-off from there at 4.00 am on Wednesday and arrive Kolkata at 6:15 am.

"Guests are requested to note that there would be no transportation available to and from Kolkata airport while the bandh is in force," a Kingfisher spokesperson said in a statement.

The airlines have requested the passengers to contact their call centers to know about the status of their flights.