Friday, October 21, 2011

Surat Upbeat Over SpiceJet Flight Plans

SURAT: There could not have been a better Diwali gift to the diamantaires in the world's biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat.

Come December, the diamond city is all set to get wings with SpiceJet planning to start intra-state flights connecting Ahmedabad and Surat with Saurashtra and Kutch.

For most of the diamantaires travelling to Antwerp thrice a month, the air connectivity between Surat and Ahmedabad planned by SpiceJet would give them direct access to international fights from Ahmedabad international airport. Instead of taking four to five hours long route from Surat to reach the Chattrapati Shivaji international terminus at Mumbai, the diamantaires can take a direct flight to Ahmedabad from Surat.

"Over 600 small and medium diamantaires from the city go to Antwerp for purchasing rough diamonds by boarding international flights from Mumbai airport. Now, the same traffic would be diverted to Ahmedabad with the start of inter-state flight services by SpiceJet," said Dinesh Navadia, president of Surat Diamond Association (SDA).

"For me and other diamantaires shuttling between Mumbai and Antwerp, this is a very important development. Catching an international flight to Antwerp from Ahmedabad will not only save time and money but more importantly it will ensure safety for the diamantiares as well," said a leading DTC sightholder.

With the diamond hub of Varachha and Katargam having a population of more than 10 lakh people, mostly diamond traders, workers and manufacturers, hailing from Saurashtra region, tens of thousands of people travel by train and road towards their hometown throughout the year.

In a survey conducted by a private airline company few months ago, there are 600 private luxury buses in the city that ferry more than 10,000 to 15,000 passengers towards different destinations in Saurashtra on a daily basis. The number of travellers from Surat increases manifold during the marriage and vacation seasons.

About 60 per cent of the passengers travelling by luxury coaches, mostly diamond manufacturers, can afford flying to their home towns spending anything between Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per head.

A senior officer with Airport Authority of India (AAI) said, "It seems SpiceJet authorities have completed all the formalities to start the inter-state air services in Gujarat. Surat and other small centres in Gujarat will be largely benefitted."

Chandrakant Sanghavi, regional chairman of Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), told TOI, "I am going to participate in the Ranotsav programme with my family and friends and we would be able to fly to Kutch."
Source: Times of India

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Can Nandan turn Air India around?

Mumbai: Air India’s chiefs all have a singular ambition when they take charge—turn the carrier into a viable business.

So too with Rohit Nandan, who took over as chairman and managing director of the state-run airline in August. Not the easiest of tasks, given that it has about Rs. 42,570 crore of debt, is expected to make a loss of about Rs. 7,000 crore this financial year and is battling for passengers at home and abroad amid a slowing economy. The recent history of Air India is replete with leaders who have failed in their bid to turn it around. Will Nandan’s fate be any different?

“I certainly don’t have a magic wand...but I am doing all basic things to attain operational efficiency and financial freedom,” Nandan, 54, said in an interview. “I have met at least 200 employees in the last few weeks and they are fairly positive about the airline.”

The Indian Administrative Service officer is reworking the winter schedule, reconfiguring aircraft, outsourcing non-core functions and meeting employees every week to boost morale.

Predecessor Arvind Jadhav, too, sought to achieve this through meetings and a series of letters explaining his vision for the airline that has at least Rs. 22,000 crore in accumulated losses. But he had to leave after alienating both employees and the government.

The government’s propensity to put bureaucrats in charge of the airline adds to the scepticism in some quarters.

“You need a qualified turnaround specialist to revive Air India,” said Hormuz P. Mama, an independent aerospace analyst. “You need rigorous cost-cutting measures to save Air India. With this bloated workforce (30,000 workers), it is difficult to turn around Air India.”

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GoAir expands to Kolkata, Ranchi and Port Blair

Leading no-frills carrier GoAir has added three new destinations - Kolkata, Ranchi and Port Blair (all from Delhi) - effective October 8, taking its overall destinations to 24.

The decision to add these three centres is a part of its growth strategy, a statement from the company said.

The airline currently connects 21 destinations, and operates 84 daily flights, or around 588 weekly flights, it added.

GoAir recently announced the purchase of 72 next- generation A320 NEO aircraft. The airline is inducting three new A320s between this month and April.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spicejet launches flights to Chennai, Hyderabad

Budget airline Spicejet has launched daily flights to Chennai and Hyderabad from here, as a part of its plans to connect 12 tier-II and -III cities across the country.
The services, which began on Thursday with the arrival of the first flight from Hyderabad, will be mostly operated by the airline's fleet of Q400 Nextgen Turbotrop aircraft, Spicejet CEO Neil Raymond Mills told reporters on Friday.
"Spicejet Airlines has been fast expanding its domestic footprint with Q400 Nexgen turbotrop aircraft from Bombardier. Its fleet addition aims at enhancing air connectivity to tier-II and III destinations including Aurangabad, Bhopal, Goa, Nagpur, Pune, Rajamundhry, Pune, Tirupati, Trivandrum and Vijayawada," he said.
The new services offer "affordable and competitive" rates to travellers, the airline official said.
The airline had placed orders for a total of 30 Q400 Nexgen which can accommodate 78 passengers and are widely accepted as an ideal short-haul flights.
Five aircraft have already been delivered and another two are expected by this month end.
The airlines had recently announced the addition of Tiruchirappalli as its 30th destination, he said.
Source: ZeeNews