Arabia starts daily flights from Sharjah to Mumbai
March 26: Air Arabia, one of the UAE's national airlines,
on Saturday started its daily flights from Sharjah to Mumbai
A one-way ticket from Sharjah to Mumbai starts from Rs 3000
excluding government taxes and surcharges. Fares will be
at least 15-20 per cent lower than other airlines.
would like to thank the Indian government and civil aviation
authorities for their role in facilitating our operations
and their invaluable cooperation in making this possible,"
Air Arabia CEO Adel Ali said. This latest destination has
increased the Air Arabia's reach to 12 countries and 16
destinations within the West Asia, North Africa and the
Air Cargo's plans
March 22: Crescent Air Cargo Services is planning to launch
dedicated cargo airline services. Capt Deepak Parasuraman,
Managing Director, said the company would operate non-scheduled
air cargo services in key domestic sectors connecting major
metros. The airline had already taken possession of one
Fokker F 50 aircraft of the three aircraft it had obtained
on outright purchase basis, Capt. Parusaraman said. Besides
the company would be buying two more aircraft on long-term
airline had tied up with Malaysian Airlines for getting
assistance on a whole time basis for flight operations and
training of its crew. For engineering support, it had entered
into an arrangement with Fokker Services Asia, Singapore,
the managing Director said.
confident of major orders from India
DELHI: Indian aviation is experiencing a very exciting time
in its history. The positive policy changes introduced by
the Civil Aviation Minister, Mr Praful Patel, and a shift
in preference for air travel in the past year has build
up great optimism for a revolution in Indian civil aviation
in the next few years. This has resulted in the public and
private airlines going for a quick expansion of their fleets.
UPA Government has given its nod to the public sector carriers,
Air India and Indian Airlines, to expand their fleet. Air
India plans to acquire 50 new aircraft and Indian Airlines
is to dry lease 12 wide-bodied aircraft for its international
operations beginning next winter. Indian Airlines is also
contemplating adding more planes to operate on short-haul
and regional routes.
proposed orders are in addition to Air India deciding to
acquire 18 Boeing 737-800s for use by its low-cost subsidiary,
Air India Express, that is to be launched in April this
year and Indian Airlines decision to acquire 43 Airbus A320s.
Both the orders are awaiting final nod from the Government.
India's new orders would comprise ultra-long range aircraft,
medium capacity long-range 350-seater planes and medium
capacity long-range 250-seaters. The airline has shortlisted
three types of long-range aircraft -- the medium capacity
Airbus 340-500 or Boeing 777-200 LR, the 350-seat Airbus
340-600 or Boeing 777-300 ER, and the 250-seat Airbus 330-200
or Boeing 787.
Senior Vice President Sales, Boeing, Dr Dinesh Keskar, is
bullish on the India market and expressed confident that
Boeing would capture the proposed orders of 62 new aircraft
from Air India and Indian Airlines. He said Boeing relationship
with Air India goes back to 1960 when it received the first
Boeing 707 and the airline introduced commercial jet travel
Keskar informed that the Boeing 737 has been the jetliner
of choice for new domestic operators since India's privatization
of the airline industry. "Jet Airways and Air Sahara
are prime examples of successful new airlines that have
chosen to operate Boeing 737 models." He said Indian
Government's decision to allow private domestic carriers
to fly international destination, till now reserved for
State-owned airlines, has further heated the international
Boeing, we are working with State-owned and private carriers
to provide the all-new 787 Dreamliner and the 777-200ER,
777-200LR and 777-300ER. These efficient, long-range twinjets
are a perfect solution to India's domestic and international
passenger market requirements," said Keskar. "Boeing's
family of products is clearly positioned to provide superior
economics for India's aviation market."
informed that Air India took the delivery of the first of
the three Boeing 737-800 aircraft from the company's airfield
in Seattle recently. This all-economy class configuration
181-seater aircraft taken on a leased arrangement paves
the way for its low cost airline, the Air India Express
(AIE), from April-end. AIE would be run by AI Charters Limited,
a subsidiary company of Air India.
India added the first of three new generations long range
Boeing 777 to its fleet in January and the aircraft was
deployed on the Mumbai-London sector. The Boeing 777 series
was being named after Indian ragas. The first aircraft has
been christened Megh Malhaar, a raga that depicts the magic
plane taken on lease has an operating range of 9,600 to
11,200 km and is equipped with highly integrated digital
avionics controlled by software. With the new addition,
Air-India now has a fleet of 35 aircraft. Two more such
aircraft will be inducted by March 2005. The Boeing 777
aircraft has a capacity of 276 seats - 12 first class, 49
executive class and 215 economy class.
feather was added to Boeing's cap when at the recently concluded
air show in Bangalore, India's newest airline, SpiceJet,
announced that it has ordered up to 20 Boeing Next-Generation
737-800 airplanes at a price tag of US $ 1.2 billion. SpiceJet
placed a firm order for 10 airplanes with an option for
ten more. First delivery is scheduled for 2006.
prior to the Boeing 737-800 aircraft order, SpiceJet had
been known as Royal Airways. Before it became Royal Airways,
the company was called Modiluft, a carrier that discontinued
operations many years ago. "Boeing's willingness to
work closely with us to meet all of our needs is an example
of Boeing's superb commitment to its customers," said
SpiceJet Board Director Bhulo Kansagra. "The superior
operating economics of the Next-Generation 737 are especially
important in light of continued rising fuels costs."
Delhi-based SpiceJet is expected to begin service in May
with three leased Boeing 737-800s.
Keskar said the low-cost carrier's order was the first major
business transaction to be done at Aero India in Bangalore.
"It is gratifying to partner with SpiceJet to help
them achieve profitability and provide reliable and comfortable
service," he said. "The 737, especially the Next-Generation
737, has played an integral role in Indian aviation."
Boeing 737-800 order to SpiceJet is seen as a strategic
move by the US manufacturer, which is competing head-to-head
with Europe's Airbus to sell aircraft in that market. Air
Deccan and Kingfisher, two Indian private airlines, had
already placed orders for Airbus' A320s. According to Airbus
spokesperson, Mr David Velupillai, the European aircraft
manufacturer could not fill an order for the low-cost carrier,
SpiceJet, at this time.
agents declare war on Air India
DELHI March 12: The travel agents have declared a war on
Air India for its proposal to reduce agency commissions
from the current level of 7 per cent to 5 per cent. In a
joint move showcasing solidarity, the three biggest travel
associations -- the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI)
and Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) and Indian
Association of Tour Operators (IATO) -- minced no words
to ask Air India to refrain from such a move.
leaders of the three association, Mr Balbir Mayal, President,
TAAI, Mr Zakkir Ahmed, President, TAFI, and Maj Murli Dhar,
Senior Vice President, IATO, said "we will suspend
sale of tickets of Air India if the commission is reduced."
Although Air India has not sent any formal letter to the
largest association, TAAI, or TAFI, it is learnt that the
public sector airline has postponed its decision to cut
the commissions from April 1 to May 1 to give more time
to the travel agents to adjust.
industry watchers are surprised at Air India's confrontist
move that has come at a time when it is the only airline
in the country that has posted operating losses in the fiscal
2003-04. While five of the six carriers -- Indian Airlines,
Alliance Air, Jet Airways, Air Sahara and Air Deccan ---
ended the year with operational profits, Air India reported
an operational loss of Rs 115.45 crore last fiscal, according
to latest statistics with the Directorate General of Civil
may be mentioned that travel agents are a force to reckon
with as they do over 95 per cent of airline bookings, which
account for sale of about Rs 20,000 crore annually.
Jagdeep Rikhy, Managing Director, Inter Skylinks, said that
about six month ago Star Alliance led by Lufthansa had tried
to bypass the travel agents and had unilaterally announced
cuts in commission to 5 per cent. "The travel agents
hit the leader and suspended sale of Lufthansa tickets.
Despite all the fire fighting like opening its own call
centers and ticket distribution centers, Lufthansa, in less
than a week, withdrew its order and restored 7 per cent
commission to travel agents unconditionally."
the case for higher commissions, Mr Balbir Mayal said unlike
foreign countries a travel agent in India gives slew of
services and benefits to the customers. He said such services
include impartial search, advice, consulting and support.
It also includes best value for money propositions for flights,
hotels and car rentals. Mr Mayal said the travel agents
also extend credit to consumers to the tune of Rs 10,000
crore leading to increased sales for the airlines. "We
employ over 4 lakh staff in sales and operation activities
on behalf the airlines. If commissions are cut, it will
result in loss of over 2 lakh jobs," he added.
the case for higher commissions, Mr Zakkir Ahmed pointed
out that travel agents invest crores of rupees in various
assets such as sales outlets and offices across the country,
computers, global distribution systems, cars and coaches,
and call centers and meet and greet booths. "We also
provide timely passport and visa services for customers
to ensure that every airline seat is utilized on the date
of booking. We also undertake all the risks associated with
payments collected through credit card and cheques and collection
of cash and ensuring its delivery to the airlines,"
said Mr Ahmed.
said agents handle around 100 million queries on annual
basis resulting in 25 million transactions to the benefit
of the airlines and the travel related industry. The TAFI
President said agents also assist airlines in curbing terror
and security hazards by "knowing the customers"
in much more intimate fashion than impersonal bookings engines
Mayal pointed out that agents were already suffering loss
in commission in absolute terms with the international airfares
dropping by over 50 per cent in the past couple of years.
For example, an economy class Delhi-London ticket has come
down to Rs 15,000 from Rs 50,000. Showing solidarity with
the airlines, the TAAI President said the agent community
had voluntarily accepted and implemented a reduction in
commission from 9 per cent to 7 per cent couple of years.
that time the differential amount of Rs 350 crore was immediately
converted and transferred back to the headquarters of the
foreign airlines and has been lost to the country every
year thereafter in spite of the same services being demanded
and provided by the travel agent community, he said. Mr
Mayal firmly said "any further reduction on commission
is completely unwarranted and untenable."
said commission cut would also aid unwarranted market domination
by major international airlines and the potential cartelisation
of fares, negatively impacting the cause of the Indian travel
customer. It is learnt that major international carriers
including Lufthansa and British Airways are in favour of
eliminating agency commission. However, these carriers are
waiting for the outcome of the agent-Air India confrontation.
to help breath life into Aviation Inc
DELHI: The higher allocation for the Civil Aviation Ministry,
including Indian Airlines and Air India, and keeping in abeyance
the withholding tax on lease rentals by another six months
are some of the highlights of the Finance Minister, Mr P Chidambaram's
Union Budget for the year 2005-2006.
Finance Minister has enhanced allocation to the Civil Aviation
Ministry by 62 per cent from Rs 1,473.1 crore in the current
fiscal to Rs 2,379.3 crore in the next fiscal. The allocation
for Indian Airlines alone has been increased by almost four
times, from Rs 215.62 crore to Rs 911.73 crore.
substantial increase in allocation would help the public-sector
Indian Airlines to meet the expenditure on acquiring 43 new
Airbus A-320 aircraft, price negotiations for which are now
in an advanced stage. Similarly, funds have also been marked
for Air-India so that Maharaja could also go ahead with its
fleet acquisition plan.
allocation for public enterprises also includes expenditures
planned by Airports Authority of India (AAI) for upgrading
Amritsar Airport and providing operational improvements in
various airports in the northeastern region, including Sikkim,
besides crucial areas like Jammu Kashmir, Leh and Lakshadweep.
Budget proposal to treat aviation turbine fuel (ATF) as deemed
export for international operations of designated Indian carriers
is likely to provide a level playing field to the public sector
and private carriers such as Jet Airways and Air Sahara which
are scheduled to begin flying abroad from April.
the move to declare ATF as deemed export for international
operations, the Civil Aviation Minister, Mr Praful Patel,
hoped that the Finance Minister sould take further steps to
make ATF cheaper even for domestic operations.
Finance Minister proposed amending the Central Sales Tax Act,
1956, to declare the sale of ATF to a designated Indian carrier
for its global operations as deemed to have taken place in
the course of the export of goods out of India, enabling them
to purchase the fuel without paying the CST. The ATF cost
now accounts for over one-third of the total cost of an air
ticket in the domestic sector.
Emirates Airlines vice-president for India, Abdulla Nasser
Abdulla Hussain, described the budget proposal on ATF as a
move in the "right direction." He said the move
to slash import duty on crude oil and listed fuel products
would reduce direct costs for airlines and operators which
should benefit the average passenger, if passed on."
Ankur Bhatia, Managing Director, Amadeus India Subcontinent,
said "overall, this is definitely a good budget for the
Indian economy. But specifically for the Indian travel and
tourism sector, the concerns in terms of accelerating airport
modernization plans and reduction of sales tax on ATF have
not been addressed adequately.
according to domestic airlines estimates ATF accounts for
25-30 per cent of their costs today - which inflates domestic
airfares considerably - the much anticipated reduction in
ATF prices would have served as a catalyst for bringing down
prices and thereby boosting domestic travel, he said.
with the growth Indian Aviation has seen in the last 18 months
averaging nearly 20 per cent, there is a lot of pressure on
the current infrastructure - which if not heeded to immediately
will become a bottle neck for further growth.
Mr Bhatia said "the government's decision to exempt withholding
tax (WHT) on leasing of aircraft or aircraft engines from
foreign companies, following request from Air India and Indian
Airlines is definitely a welcome move for the Indian aviation
is not only Indian Airlines and Air India but also Jet, Sahara
and Air Deccan and soon to be launched Kingfisher, SpiceJet
and AirOne which have heaved a sigh of relief by the suspension
of the lease tax as it reduces potential burden in a fiercely-competitive
environment where prices are under pressure and aircraft difficult
and expensive to lease. In the current year, it is estimated
that the domestic airlines would lease around 35 to 40 aircraft.
Deccan Managing Director, Capt Gopinath, said the suspension
of the tax would give a fresh lease of life to new carriers
who would opt for leasing route to acquire new aircraft. "The
new players have actually challenged the status quo and forced
air fares down and the Finance Minister's decision will help
in keeping costs under control by making leasing viable,"
incidence of lease tax for instance would have forced the
operator to shell out about US$ 450,000 on a mid-size plane
which would have otherwise attracted a monthly lease rental
of US $ 300,000.
Air India Managing Director, Mr V Thulasidas, said Air India
saved aound US $ 8.6 million in tax liability on the lease
of 13 aircraft as lease rental is treated a royalty. The airline
is expected to make similar savings in the coming year. Similarly,
its soon to be launched low-cost airline, AI Express, would
benefit from the suspension of the tax by checking the costs.
new Budget initiatives are expected to keep the airfares to
cruise at their present altitude. In fact, the industry feels
that entry of more aircraft would benefit air travelers as
the prices of air tickets would further slash and passengers
would get better product and better flying experience in the
days to come.
IPO oversubscribed 13.35 times
DELHI, Feb 25:The initial public offering of Naresh Goyal
promoted Jet Airways has been oversubscribed 13.35 times,
according to the data available on the NSE website. According
to the data, cumulative bids were received for a total of
23.05 crore shares as against the issue size of 1.72 crore.
The maximum bids (21.81 crore shares) were received at the
higher end of the price at Rs 1,125 while a total of 93.14
lakh shares were bid for at the cut-off price.
IPO, which opened on February 18 for bidding was oversubscribed
within 15 minutes of opening on the first day itself. Deutsche
Equities India Pvt. Limited, HSBC Securities & Capital
Markets (India) Private Limited, UBS Securities India Pvt.
Limited, Citigroup Global Markets India Pvt. Limited, DSP
Merrill Lynch Limited and Kotak Mahindra Capital Company Limited
were the lead managers to the issue.
Deccan's launches Delhi -Jammu flight
DELHI, Feb 23: Air Deccan, India's first and fastest growing
low cost carrier, has connected Delhi to Jammu from Wednesday.
The airline's Managing Director, Capt Gopinath, said "our
fares will be dynamic and will be a function of demand and
supply on any given route, therefore an afternoon flight maybe
cheaper than a morning or evening service. On lines of Western
zero- frill carriers like Ryan Air and Easy Jet, Air Deccan
has introduced dynamic pricing on its fares, here the meter
starts ticking at just Rs 500 for the early buyers, and climbs
upto 45 per cent of the regular airline fare at the top end
of the spectrum." Total number of Air Deccan tickets
sold at Rs 500 is 65,000.
said "it is our vision to build a world class Airline
that will 'empower every Indian to fly'. Air Deccan does so
by providing lowest airfares and connecting unconnected cities.
After connecting close to 28 airports, Jammu will be our 28th
destination." The flight would leave Delhi for Jammu
at 7.50 am and return from Jammu at 10.25 am. Capt Gopinath
said the Jammu flight would be a boom for pilgrims going to
Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. "We already have our helicopters
based at Katra, near Jammu , flying close to 400 piligrims
visitng Mata Vaishno Devi a day. We see a huge potential due
to the traffic that exists between Delhi and Jammu and our
aggressive pricing structure. The flights would add value
to the piligirms already utilizing us. If there is adequate
demand we wil introduce an evening flight too."
its inception in August 2003, Air Deccan has carried over
9,00,000 passengers. It has close to 100 flights a day with
a fleet size of three Airbus 320s (180 seater) and nine ATR
42 (48 seater). The airline has ordered 60 brand new aircrafts
(30 Airbus A 320 and 30 ATR 72-500) Air Deccan has many first
to its credit. Air Deccan was the first airline to introduce
100 per cent web enabled reservation system with e-ticketing
and 24 hour multi lingual call centre. "We also have
an option of 'Hold and Pay' wherein the passengers can book
the tickets through the call centre and make payments at one
of the authorized agents or at our airport counter, informed
Vijaya Menon, Head of the Corporate Communication, Air Deccan.
She said the call centre number for Jammu is 1600 44 7008
and for the rest of India is 39008888.
Vietnam direct flights this year
DELHI, Feb 8: The historic political and economic friendly
ties between India and Vietnam are auguring well for the aviation
and tourism sector. The two countries are likely to get connected
with direct flights sometime later this year. This became
evident during the recent visit of Mr Pham Vu Hien, Deputy
General Director, Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam.
his stay here, Mr Pham had talks with the officials from the
government and private airlines. In order to boost tourism
and trade between the two countries, he offered any Indian
carrier to fly to Vietnam picking up traffic from Bangkok,
Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. Indian private carriers, Jet Airways
and Air Sahara, which are hoping to commence flights to Thailand,
Singapore and Malaysia soon, are considering the Vietnamese
Vietnam Ambassador, Mr Tran Trong Khanh, said that the direct
flight would help boost tourism and expand economic cooperation
between the two friendly nations. At present the number of
Indians visiting Vietnam is small. But it would definitely
get boost due to direct air flights. In 1999, the number of
Indians who visited Vietnam was 4,600 and current figure stands
around modest 7,000.
Ambassador said Vietnam, which was scheduled to become a member
of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) this year, had recorded
a GDP growth of over 7 per cent successively for the past
few years. With a population of 81 million and an environment
of political stability and peace "recognised by the world",
Vietnam offered enormous scope for cooperation in trade, investment
and tourism, he said.
tap the Indian market effectively, the Ambassador said the
Vietnam Tourism Promotion Board is conducting a survey in
India to chalk out a marketing plan for the market.
its part, Mr Pham indicated that Pacific Airlines, one of
the Vietnamese air carriers, could commence operations to
India after it expands its fleet. Pacific Airlines is the
first share holding company in Vietnam aviation industry under
the new innovation of the government. At present, Pacific
has a fleet of two Airbus A-321s, one Airbus A-320, one Airbus
A-310 and one McDonnell Douglas MD-82 and one Boeing 737-
provides the domestic services to most important cities alongside
the country. In international market, it was the first airline
to connect Vietnam and Taiwan, a big hub in Asia. It also
has services to both Taipei and Kaohsiung with the reasonable
frequencies. To develop the tourist market to the central
of Vietnam, Pacific Airlines was the first and the only carrier
to fly to Hong Kong from Danang city, the destination of Vietnamese
culture, tradition and character. Pacific also offers seasonal
charter flights to some points in South East Asia and North
Asia and was ready to impulse them to the scheduled services
at the right time.
country's national carrier is Vietnam Airlines that serves
15 domestic locations and 22 major international cities. It
has a fleet of 36 aircraft.
Pham informed that as many as 28 airlines operate on 72 international
routes to and from Vietnam and Vietnamese air carriers operate
on 26 domestic routes. "The civil aviation in Vietnam
has increased at the rate of 15 to 17 per cent on average
during the last decade," he said.
the end of 2004, he said the total volume of passengers carried
by the Vietnamese and foreign air carriers was 8.7 million
that was an increase of 31 per cent compared with 2003 and
212,000 tonnes of cargo were transported showing an increase
of 13.8 per cent over the previous year. Of this, 5.4 million
passengers and 159,000 tonnes of cargo were for international
market. This was an increase of 36 per cent and 15 per cent
respectively as compared to the year 2003.
total volume of passengers carried by the Vietnamese air carriers
was about 5.8 million showing an increase of 30 per cent compared
with 2003. The market share of Vietnamese carriers accounted
for 46 per cent in terms of passengers and 32 per cent in
terms of cargo on international routes.
2004, Mr Pham Vu Hien said the throughput passenger yield
at the airports throughout the country was over 12 million
showing an increase of 30 per cent as compared to last year.
Of this 5.5 were foreign passengers. In the current year,
he said the Vietnamese and foreign airlines are expected to
carry 10 million passengers, of which 6.5 million would be
said Vietnamese Government has paid special attention to airport
infrastructure development with a view to serving to the best
possible the air transport operation. There are 22 airports,
including three international airports that are located in
Northern, Central and Southern region of the country.
recent years, Vietnam has intensified investment into airports
by improving and construction of taxiways, aprons, and passenger
terminals. "Many projects have been implemented or being
implemented at airports, aiming at enhancing their capability
to accommodate flights and increase the terminals' capacity,
especially at the three international airports of Noi Bai,
Tan Son Nhat, Da Nang and other local airports used for international
Pham said the international airports reflect world standards
and have a total capacity of 11 million passengers per year.
He said Vietnam has been pursuing flexible air transport policy
in order to encourage air carriers operating to Vietnam. "With
her location on the center of aviation link among southeast
Asian countries, modern airport infrastructure and stable
socio-political situation, Vietnam has become and continues
to become an attractive and safe destination for all air carriers,
including the Indian ones," said Mr Pham.
Industrie sets eye on India for selling A-380
DELHI, Feb 7: Airbus Industrie is setting its eye on India
for selling its brand new, most modern and spacious A-380
aircraft. "With the opening up of skies by the Government,
Indian private and public airlines would be looking for bigger
aircraft for long haul. Airbus A-330s and A-340s would be
best suited for them," according to Mr David Velupillai,
Regional Press Advisor of Airbus. He added at Indian airlines
could also consider buying A-380s in the long run.
Velupillai said the A-330s and A-340s were the best suited
for Air India, which is also in need of more planes to cater
to increasing number of destinations. Referring to the new
A-380 variety, he said the aircraft had much more space than
the Boeing 747 series. "It can land in any airport where
747s are capable of landing.
present in India, only Delhi and Mumbai airports are capable
of handling these two aircraft by parking them in a remote
bay with the passengers being ferried in a bus," he said.
a question about the company's talks for selling or leasing
aircraft to Indian Airlines, he said "we are in discussion
with Indian Airlines and they need the aircraft very badly.
We are confident that we have an aircraft which could be the
best for Indian Airlines," he said while responding to
a question. Asked
about the firming up of aircraft leasing market, Velupilli
accepted that the aviation market is becoming stronger after
a brief hangover of 9/11.
chopper service to Vaishno Devi a great hit
(Jammu and Kashmir), Jan 29: A pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno
Devi shrine has become quick and comfortable, thanks to reliable
helicopter service provided by Deccan Aviation from Katra
to Sanji Chhat. In its over two-year uninterrupted service,
Deccan has made the pilgrimage possible for those devotees
who could not have darshans either due to old-age and infirmity
or lack of time.
chopper service is popular with all the age groups. But, of
course, the aged and businessmen and the non-resident Indians
(NRIs) who are hard pressed for time make use of our package
that includes darshans and return to the base the same day,"
said Major Yoginder Kandhari, Chief of the helicopter operations
at Katra in Jammu and Kashmir.
Narula, a businessman from Delhi, was in concurrence with
sentiments of Major Kandhari. "I have been wanting to
visit the shrine and pay obeisance for a long time but could
not do so for lack of time. But thanks to the Deccan Aviation's
chopper service, I have had Mata Vaishno Devi's darshans,"
said Ashwani. Complimenting
Deccan Aviation, he said "the staff is courteous and
assists the passengers in having a quick and orderly darshans."
He said, "For me pilgrimage was a comfortable and memorable
Noyanika, who as a child was thrilled with the additional
advantage of a chopper ride, echoed similar sentiments. A
visually thrilled Noyanika said she took the helicopter, as
she had to return to school on Monday. "I, along with
my parents, made best use of the weekend to have darshans
of Mata Vaishno Devi, which I have been wanting to do for
a long time." Noyanika said she walked the three-km stretch
from Sanji Chhat to Mata Vaishno Devi Darbar but took a pony
ride on return.
Kandhari informed that Deccan Aviation was invited by the
Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board to commence its Katra -
Sanji chhat operations in November 2002. "The service
has been running uninterrupted for over two years to the delight
and satisfaction of thousands of devotees."
said the company has performed with admirable professionalism
towards its commitment to provide a service to match the very
best. "We have also been meeting the highest flight safety
standards by following rigorous maintenance and operations
of the highest order to match the trust of people. For this
we have picked up the very best pilots and engineers from
its first year of operation ending November 2003, Major Kandhari
said "Deccan carried 27,935 devotees. This figure jumped
to 38,683 in the second year ending November 2004 showing
a growth of 38.48 per cent. With a view to further enhance
its carrying capacity the company replaced its Bell 206 L
3 with two state of the art and more effective Bell 407 helicopters.
It is visualized that in current year there will be further
increase in passenger traffic by 25 per cent."
the outset, he said Deccan Aviation had to contend with indefinite
passenger response as earlier attempts by other operators
had failed to establish credibility as a dependable and worthwhile
means of visiting the shrine. "Deccan Aviation meticulously
analyzed the follies of the past and made quick amends to
arrive at an effective customer friendly formula, which to
date is working to the entire satisfaction of all concerned."
erstwhile passenger waiting area has been transformed into
a modern, air-conditioned waiting lounge. The ticketing and
reservation system has been streamlined to near perfection
with the appointment of a vast, countrywide network of agents.
"Today you can book your pilgrimage from the comforts
of your home, on the Internet," informed Major Kandhari.
has also introduced a number of packages in conjunction with
some of the best hotel properties in Jammu and Katra. In addition,
the company has also formalized a seamless package with the
Shrine Board that covers the entire ambit of requirements
of the Yatris, including air bookings, to and from Jammu,
hotel accommodation, helicopter flight to the shrine helipad
and return, night stay at the shrine and special darshan at
further improve the infrastructure at Katra Heliport, Deccan
Aviation, under the aegis of the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine
Board, is working on a project of constructing a hangar for
servicing and maintenance of the helicopters. "This facility
will obviate the requirement of ferrying the helicopters to
Delhi for their periodic maintenance," said Major Kandhari.
Rohit Kansal, Additional CEO of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board,
said "our endeavor is to provide all level of facilities
to the devotees to make his pilgrimage comfortable and memorable
one. The helicopter service is an endeavor towards that."
Aviation is India's largest and most versatile helicopter
charter operator in the private sector with a fleet of nine
helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft. Besides having a
nationwide presence with six bases, Deccan is also the first
Indian aviation company to have an ongoing joint venture overseas,
in Sri Lanka.
aircraft have been and are currently deployed to perform an
array of multifarious tasks from conveyance of political and
corporate VIPs, evacuation of casualties, geophysical surveys,
heliskiing, aerial photography, flower dropping at religious
functions, tourism to conveyance of pilgrims to places of
gets ready to receive world's largest plane A380