12 killed as air ambulance crashes in Faridabad
FARIDABAD, May 25: A small aircraft with seven on board crashed into a colony in Faridabad's sector 22 around 10.45 pm on Wednesday, killing all on board. Five more persons were killed on the ground. The aircraft, a PC-12 with registration number VT-ACF, was operating as an air ambulance and initial reports indicated bad weather was the cause of the accident.
The plane fell on two houses in the middle of Parvatia Colony, near Jawahar Colony, NIT, and immediately burst into flames. There were five passengers and two crew members on board.
They included the 22-year-old patient, Rahul Raj, an attendant, two doctors, one male nurse, the pilot and co-pilot.
Those killed were Dr Rajesh, Dr Arshad, Captain Harpreet, co-pilot Manpreet Kataria, Ratnesh Kumar and male nurse Cyril.
Rahul Raj and his cousin, Ratnesh, are residents of Bettiah in West Champaran.
Rahul Raj had been admitted in the ICU at Patna's Jagdish Memorial Hospital and was on ventilator support, said Dr Harsh who had accompanied the team to Patna airport. Raj was being brought to Delhi for treatment at Apollo Hospital. His uncle, Anoop Kumar, told TOI that he was being accompanied by a cousin brother.
The aircraft was being operated by Air Chartered Services Pvt Ltd, which has an office in Defence Colony. It had taken off from Patna at 8.33pm and was expected to land in Delhi shortly after 11pm. Sources said that last time the plane was seen on the radar was at 10.45pm and the last contact between the pilot and ATC was when the aircraft was at a height of 11,000 ft.
According to sources, the aircraft had deviated from its path, possibly due to strong winds. At the time of crash, most aircraft landing at IGI airport were unable to stick to their paths due to strong winds.
Parvatia Colony is a densely populated area and officials were expecting casualties to rise. The flames from the houses could be seen from a distance of 1.5km and eyewitnesses said the fire was spreading to other houses. The area had been cordoned off and a huge crowd had gathered at the spot, making rescue work difficult for the police and fire personnel.
Air India pilots call off agitation
NEW DELHI, May 6: The striking Air India pilots relented on Friday night, putting an end to the 10-day-old agitation which caused much inconvenience to travellers and resulted in a loss of nearly Rs 200 crore to the ailing national carrier.
Emerging after the third day of marathon talks with officials of the Union Civil Aviation Ministry, the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA) said the strike was being called off from 10 p.m. on Friday following assurances by the Centre that all their demands would be looked into in a time-bound manner. All sacked and suspended pilots would be reinstated and the ICPA re-recognised, the ICPA office-bearers told reporters.
“We have got a lot of assurances from the government and we appreciate the intervention by the Civil Aviation Ministry. We have full faith in the government and all our pilots who were sacked or suspended are being reinstated,” ICPA general secretary Captain Rishabh Kapur said. All executive pilots who had joined the agitation would also resume their duties.
Capt. Kapur said the government had assured them that their demands of pay-parity and all other legitimate grievances would be considered by the Justice Dharmadhikari Committee under a strict time-frame. He said the Committee would give its report in November.
Philippine Airlines connects Delhi to Manila; inks pact with Air India
By Deepak Arora
Pix By Noyanika Arora
NEW DELHI, April 1: In a historic “first”, Philippine Airlines has commenced direct flights between Manila and New Delhi from March 27.
The airline brought a 100-member strong delegation to New Delhi to celebrate the launch of the new flight and belief on the economic success story of India.
The gala launch evening at the Taj Palace Hotel coincided with Philippine Airlines (PAL) 70th anniversary and underscores the storied past of Asia’s first airline.
Much to the delight of the invitees, the airline was gracious to show on two giant screens Cricket World Semi-final between India and Pakistan, showing that Filipinos share and care everything about India and Indians, including their love for cricket.
The New Delhi-Manila direct flight has come as a positive signal to the Indian Government’s gesture of giving “Visa on Arrival” to Filipinos from January 1 this year.
The first-ever direct flight between the Capitals of the two countries and ‘Visa on Arrival’ would boost trade and economic and tourism ties between India and Philippines, said Dr Lucio C Tan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, PAL.
Highlighting India’s emergence as one of the world's economic powerhouses with annual GDP growth averaging over 8 per cent, Jaime J Bautista, President and Chief Operating Officer of PAL, said India's booming economy has spawned a high-spending middle class of 350 million consumers that's growing by 20 million people every year, for which travel is a major aspiration.
In 2009, the President said about 8 million Indians traveled abroad, with 2 million of them flying to Southeast Asia.
But only a trickle of 32,817 visited the Philippines, far behind those who traveled to Singapore (726,000), Thailand (611,983), Malaysia (589,838) and Indonesia (150,000).
Bautista said PAL's direct flight of just six and a half hours to New Delhi aims to accelerate this traffic stream. Available would be more than 188,000 airline seats a year for Indian travelers to and from the Philippines.
The national carrier of Philippines is offering three direct flights to Manila and three flights routed via Bangkok to the US and 25 other international points and 20 domestic destinations.
Besides Indian winning the Cricket World Championship semi-final, the gala evening also witnessed a code-share agreement between PAL and Air India. A note to this effect was initialed by Arvind Jadhav, Chairman & Managing Director, Air India and Jaime Bautists, President & COO, Philippine Airlines.
Subhash Goyal, Chairman, Stic Group, the GSA for Philippine Airlines in India, said that this code-share agreement between the two national carriers was the fastest in the history of Indian civil aviation.
Air India CMD, Arvind Jadhav, said that this code-share would give us further access to the US market and South East Asia. Expressing his happiness over the code share with Air India, Jaime Bautists said it would boost our access to the growing Indian market.
Subhash Goyal hailed the ‘Visa on Arrival’ as a historic step that will build a bridge between the two countries. He hoped that the Philippines Government would also reciprocate and give ‘Visa on Arrival’ to the Indians.
Welcoming the direct flight between the two capitals, Ambassador of the Philippines Ronald B Allarey said he has been waiting for this for years. “I was one month old when PAL first flew to India in May, 1947,” he added.
Ambassador Allarey said the two countries have elevated their ties to strategic level during the recent Foreign Ministry-level bilateral talks. In the light of this development, he said greater connectivity would result in greater business opportunities and people-to-people contacts. He also promised to look into the “Visa on Arrival” issue for the Indians.
Describing Philippines a fairyland with 7,000 beautiful islands, Subhash Goyal described PHILIPPINES hospitality as “Perfect, Holiday, Islands, Lovable, Informative, Pleasure, Pleasing, Interesting, Novel and Enchanting.
Hailing the historic and cultural ties between the two countries, PAL Executive Vice President-Commercial Group Vivienne K. Tan said the airline will be targeting both leisure and business travelers and VFRs on the Indian route.
She said “the Manila-New Delhi route is in step with the government’s program to perk up the economy by bringing in more tourists in our country and serves as a vital air link between our two countries.”
On the expected load factor, Vivienne K Tan said that the airline is expecting an average load factor of 70 per cent to start with.
With the launch the direct flight to Manila, Glen Agustin, India Head of the Philippines Department of Tourism, said we hope to motivate tourists visiting our enchanting country and increase the number of Indian tourists from 34,000 in 2010 to 60,000 in the current year.
As one of the principal drivers of Philippine tourism, Agustin said PAL played a significant role in developing many of today’s world renowned Philippine tourist spots like Bohol, Boracay, Cebu, Davao, Laoag and many others.
Besides the direct flight to Manila, Enrique P Javier, Vice President (Sales), PAL, said we have tailor-fit the meals served onboard to distinctly suit the Indian palate. A third of the in-flight dishes are Indian, another third vegetarian, the remaining plate choices are between Asian and Western. Our resident chef is being assisted by a certified Indian chef, Satish Arora of Taj Sats Air Catering Limited.
Ms Cielo C Villaluna, PAL spokesperson, said the airline has placed in service Airbus 330 aircraft on the Indian route with a seating capacity of 302 seats – 42 business, and 260 economy seats.
She said PAL operates an all-jet fleet of 39 aircraft – five Boeing 747-400s, two Boeing 777-300ERs, four Airbus 340-300s, eight Airbus 330-300s, 16 Airbus 320-200s and four Airbus 319s. These aircraft are well maintained by one of the world's best maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service providers, Lufthansa Technik Philippines. The bi-class configured A320 and A319 jets make PAL the only Philippine carrier offering business-class service in the domestic market.
Today, the spokesperson said PAL transports an average of 26,000 passengers and 350 tons of cargo daily. For its fiscal year ending March 2010, PAL carried more than 9.22 million passengers.
On the future expansion plans, Jaime Bautista said the airline would gradually spread its wings to Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
The Philippines flag carrier first flew to India on May 3, 1947 when it was operating a Manila-Calcutta-Karachi- Cairo-Rome-Madrid-London flight on a pioneering DC-4 service making PAL the first Southeast Asian airline to fly to Europe. "That was originally a technical stop over and not the regular flight," added Bautista.
Philippine Airlines first took to the skies on March 15, 1941, making it Asia’s first airline. Since then, PAL has a rich, seven-decade history steeped in tradition and modernity. As the national flag carrier of the Philippines, PAL exudes the best of Filipino hospitality, representing the best that the Philippines can offer the world.
The President said PAL’s in-flight and ground services are continuously being enhanced, adopting technological innovations in anticipation of customer needs. Passengers can look forward to reliable schedule punctuality, thoughtful in-flight service, award-winning cuisine, and one of the industry’s most generous frequent-flyer programs in Mabuhay Miles.
Flight PR759 would depart Delhi on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3:00 AM and reach Manila at 12 noon (local time), while one-stop service flight PR753 via Bangkok would depart New Delhi on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 2.45 am and reach Bangkok at 8.25 am and Manila at 1:50 PM the same day.
On the return leg, the direct flight (PR758) would depart Manila every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 9.10 pm (local time) and arrive at IGI airport here at 1.10 am (local time) the following day.
The one-stop service via Bangkok (PR752) would depart Manila every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6.45 pm and arrive at the Thai capital at 9.05 pm the same day and Delhi at 1.10 am the following day.
Air India’s turnaround plan gets bankers’ support
NEW DELHI, April 8: With Air India announcing plans to become operationally profitable in four years, nearly 20 of its lenders today expressed support to it indicating that they were willing to consider recasting its entire Rs 40,000 crore debt.
At a three hour-long meeting here, the airline management made a detailed presentation on the plan saying it has set a target of enhancing revenues by Rs. 5,000 crore and slash costs by Rs. 4,000 crore per annum.
Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav shared with top executives of banks details of the turnaround plan and the financial re-structuring plan which aims to make the cash-strapped carrier operationally profitable by 2015, senior officials said.
The bankers would form “a small group from within the consortium to move forward in this matter”, they said.
The airline is saddled with a debt of about Rs. 40,000 crore of which Rs. 18,000 crore is working capital loans taken from a consortium of banks, while the balance Rs. 22,000 crore worth of loans is towards payment of new aircraft ordered.
“It was the first meeting that all the lenders had with the AI management. SBI Caps and Deloitte made a presentation and we have to get back to them with our views.
Hopefully, we will have the second meeting in 10 days,” said Bank of Baroda (BoB) General Manager Arun Tiwari.
SBI Caps was mandated last year by a consortium of nearly 10 lenders to thrash out a turnaround strategy for the ailing national carrier.
Asked about their response, another BoB officer N. Ramani said “almost 90 per cent of the proposals are fine with us and we are keen that the airline is back to good health.”
On whether the proposal is to recast only the Rs. 18,000 crore working capital loan, he said “this is not a piecemeal proposal. Whether working capital or other loans, these have to be serviced. We have no problem in restructuring the entire Rs. 40,000 crore debt of the national carrier because despite challenging times, they have not defaulted on a single payment to us so far.”
Observing that many more rounds of meetings would be held between the bankers and the airline management, Punjab & Sind Bank General Manager H.P. Singh said “once we lenders and the company management agree on the final proposal, it will go to the government and RBI and then we will have the turnaround plan rolling”.
Seeking the support of the consortium of bankers, Mr. Jadhav said the turnaround plan included equity infusion, conversion of short-term loans to long-term ones, reduction of interest rates, operationalisation of MRO and Ground Handling subsidiaries and resolving integration and merger issues.
The meeting was also attended by Civil Aviation Ministry Joint Secretary Prashant Sukul and officials of SBI Caps, aviation consultancy firm Deloitte and Syndicate and other banks.
The bankers’ support to Air India’s rejuvenation strategy would lead to expected approvals from RBI and the principal stakeholder - the government.
Mr. Jadhav said that “if we have to service our debt on our own, then we have to work with the financial institutions. The government and the FIIs have to be on the same page”.
The ailing national carrier had last month accepted a corporate debt restructuring package prepared by SBI Caps and vetted by Deloitte. The package was approved after several rounds of consultations with banks and the government.
Once finalised, the plan would be submitted to RBI for approval.
If the RBI agrees to the proposal, Air India will be able to reduce the interest rate on its working capital loans to 6-6.5 per cent from the present 12 per cent, thereby considerably reducing its debt servicing burden.
The airline has so far raised loans worth around Rs. 14,000 crore to fund aircraft purchases and is currently in the process of raising more money. The working capital loan was mostly extended by state-run banks like SBI, PNB, IDBI Bank and Syndicate Bank.
The working capital debt of Rs. 21,000 crore was borrowed at an interest rate of 12 per cent. The airline’s annual interest payment was Rs. 1,800 crore on a debt of Rs. 40,000 crore – Rs. 21,000 crore being working capital debt and the rest low-cost debt taken primarily to buy aircraft.
The airline has accumulated losses of over Rs. 15,000 crore. The carrier lost Rs. 2,226 crore in 2007-08, Rs. 7,189 crore in 2008-09, and Rs. 5,551 crore in 2009-10.
In the latest budget, the government has announced it would infuse Rs. 1,200 crore in the next financial year. Till now, the government has injected Rs. 1,200 crore and Rs. 800 crore in two tranches in 2009-10, raising the national carrier’s equity base to Rs. 2,145 crore.
Air India introduces mobile check-in
NEW DELHI, April 6: Check-in for Air India domestic flights are now at your finger tips. Air India has introduced Mobile Check-In facility for its domestic passengers from the six major metro cities viz. Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru with effect from April 7.
“Air India’s Mobile Check-In facility, which is being made available for all domestic travel from the six major metros, will be extended to other stations and international flights in a phased manner”, said the spokesperson of Air India. This new facility enables the passengers to check-in for their flights from their web enabled mobile hand sets by accessing URL http://flyai.mobi and follow the sequence wise instructions as given on the mobile screen.
Mobile Check-In is yet another product upgrade from Air India, which eliminates the queues at the airports and reducing the waiting time. Mobile Check-In is another facility for the passengers on the lines of Tele Check-In, Web Check-in, Self Check-In Kiosks, etc.
Stepwise procedure for Air India’s Mobile Check-In:
1. Open URL http://flyai.mobi
2. Select the desired option Check-in.
3. Provide the following details of booking (a) Booking Reference (5 digit PNR) and (b) Last Name.
4. The booking reference (PNR) along with the passenger name(s) and flight details will be displayed on the screen.
5. Select the flight number to proceed to Check-in.
6. Passengers will be promoted to select seat of their choice by clicking on the seat option.
7. If the passenger has an Advanced Seat Reservation (ASR) assigned, the seat number will be shown on the button, if not, the word “Select” is shown.
8. After selection of desired seat, passenger needs to enter mobile number and e-mail address for confirmation message delivery.
9. In the absence of a passenger’s frequent flyer information, he/she will be prompted to enter this, as part of the check-in process.
10. On completion of successful check-in, an SMS will be generated to the mobile entered by the passenger at the time of Mobile Check-in which will as (For eg):
“Checked in AI439 26FEB seat 06D. Collect Boarding Pass at airport [URL]
Using this URL the passenger can display the Boarding Pass with 2D barcode on his mobile. The boarding card on the screen display will have all required details of the passenger’s name, date & flight number, sector, boarding gate, boarding time, seat number, class of journey etc.
Only one passenger could check-in through a single transaction. However, in case of multi-passenger PNR, where more than one passenger has to be checked-in, each passenger would need to check-in separately.
Passengers with Check-In baggage may also avail this facility. However, they will have to hand over the Check-In luggage to the dedicated baggage drop off counter, before proceeding for security check and boarding.
Jatropha holds potential to be sustainable aviation fuel
WASHINGTON, April 6: There is a significant potential for sustainable aviation fuel based on jatropha-curcas, an oil-producing non-edible plant, says a study released by Boeing.
The study, led by Yale University’s School of Environmental Studies, has shown that if cultivated properly, jatropha can deliver strong environmental and socio-economic benefits in Latin America and reduce greenhouse gas emmissions up to 60 percent as compared to petroleum-based jet fuel.
“Research study like this is vital to helping developers to deliver better social, environmental, and economic sustainability outcomes from jatropha cultivation,” says Rob Bailis, assistant professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
The study, conducted from 2008-2010 and funded by Boeing, used sustainability criteria developed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels to assess actual farming conditions in Latin America.
Unlike previous studies, which used theoretical inputs, the researchers’ team conducted extensive interviews with jatropha farmers and used field measurements to develop the first comprehensive sustainability analysis of actual projects.
A key study finding identifies prior land-use as the most important factor driving greenhouse gas benefits of a jatropha jet fuel. It highlights that developers should pay particular attention to prior land use when deciding where to locate jatropha projects.
A second important finding is that early jatropha projects suffered from a lack of developed seed strains, which led to poor crop yields.
“The invaluable insights provided by this study will help our airline customers to better understand the sustainability of this potential jet fuel source,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes director of environmental strategy Michael Hurd.
Cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, jatropha-curcas, is a poisonous, semi-evergreen shrub or small tree. It reaches a height of 6 metres (20 ft) and is resistant to a high degree of aridity, allowing it to be grown in deserts.
Ground handling policy deferred again
NEW DELHI, April 1: The new airport ground handling policy, scheduled to come into effect from Friday, has been deferred once again, as airlines are not prepared to shift to the new system.
After meeting domestic airlines, the civil aviation ministry gave them four weeks to select ground handlers.
“The airlines have been given up to four weeks’ time to select ground handlers, who will replace their staff at airports. This means if they sign a contract on April 15, the policy is implemented for them,” according to sources in the Ministry.
Ground handling includes general administration, baggage, freight and mail handling, loading and unloading of aircraft and transport of crew, passengers and baggage, fuel and oil handling and catering services.
The policy aims at limiting the number of ground handlers to three at six major airports in the country — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Now, all airlines have their own staff for ground handling at these airports.
Of the three ground handlers, one will be Air India-Singapore Airport Terminal Services and the other will be the airport operator, in alliance with a ground handling partner. The third handler will be chosen by competitive bidding.
The ministry had proposed to introduce the ground handling policy from 2007, but the implementation has been delayed due to resistance from airlines, who say their unique selling proposition will be compromised, if they give ground handling to others.
After being deferred twice, the policy was to be implemented from January 1, 2011. But the Delhi High Court stayed the implementation following a petition form airlines.
Meanwhile, airlines have filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking a stay on it. The apex court is likely to take up the petition on April 4.
Air India (AI) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) would be the major beneficiaries of the new policy. Being the state-owned carrier, AI has the right to do ground handling at all Indian airports, while AAI will get additional revenue of at least Rs 350 crore each year, as the authorised ground-handling agencies nominated by it would start work at important airports like Chennai and Kolkata.
Air Indian Yuvraj Singh glitters in the Cricket World Cup
NEW DELHI, March 25: Air India today felicitated one of its own colleague, Yuvraj Singh, for his wonderful innings and for scripting India's victory in the much watched India-Australia world cup match at Motera stadium in Gujarat yesterday. The victory takes Yuvraj Singh to Mohali in Punjab where the next match is scheduled against Pakistan.
Complimenting Yuvraj Singh for bagging his fourth Man of the Match award in the current tournament, Mr Arvind Jadhav, Air India chairman and managing director, said: "We are proud of Air Indian Yuvraj Singh. All Air Indians wish to see our colleague in his best playing form and for creating more records."
Yuvraj Singh is one of many celebrated sports personalities who are associated with Air India. Wishing the Indian Cricket Team all the very best to win the remaining games of the tournament and to win the World Cup, Mr Jadhav also conveyed his greetings to others Air Indians in the team; including Captain M S Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina.
Yuvraj Singh, who joined Air India in 2001, is presently serving as Air India's Manager (Commercial) in Chandigarh.
Air India has over the years, played a stellar role in the promotion of sports and sportspersons in the country by recruiting and supporting budding sportsmen and women. Air Indians have performed remarkably in various sports and represented India in several international events including the Olympic Games. The airline has as many as 150 sportsmen and women on its rolls.
Air India wins two awards: Adjudged Best Airline MRO and Best Engine MRO
MUMBAI, March 23: Air India, the country's national carrier, has been adjudged as the BEST AIRLINE MRO IN INDIA and BEST ENGINE MRO IN INDIA.
The two prestigious awards were conferred on the company in a glittering function organized by Indian Aviation and Stat Trade Times at India's first international exhibition and conference on Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), held here from March 16 to 18.
"Clearly we are the leaders and have an unenviable record of servicing all types of aircraft, cargo and passenger, in the country," said a company spokesperson while emphasising the lead role that Air India's MRO facility would play in the growing Rs 1.17 billion crore MRO market. Air India was selected for the two awards by a jury consisting of experts including the editorial board of Indian Aviation.
The jury, while selecting Air India for the BEST AIRLINE MRO IN INDIA, highlighted the company for having "excelled in the entire range of services that are provided by an MRO facility. Air India has ensured maximum availability of airworthy aircraft without compromising on safety. The airline has also extended high technical despatch reliability, while also operating at an optimum cost in a competitive environment. Air India is also the only Indian airline to have received EASA certification."
The second award of being the Best Engine MRO in India was in honour of Air India for its "significant contribution towards servicing and overseeing the critical maintenance of aircraft engines." Air India, given the delicate and crucial nature of the task, has striven steadily in ensuring the highest standards of service and qualitative checks continuously.
The two awards were received by Executive Directors (Engineering) Air India, Mr. M N Rajgopal and Mr. S. Rotkar, respectively.
Recently, national carrier Air India has been ranked as the Most Trusted Brand in the Aviation sector in the country, in the Economic Times Brand Equity Survey 2010. This is for the fifth year that the airline has won the top honour.
Also, Air India was presented the Reader’s Digest Trusted Brand Gold Award for the fifth consecutive year in 2010.
SpiceJet sacks two pilots for fudging flying hours
NEW DELHI, March 19: After the sacking of four pilots of Air India, IndiGo and MDLR, two cockpit crew of SpiceJet have lost their job for fudging the flying hours to obtain commercial pilot licence.
The low-cost carrier terminated the services of Captain Anuj Kumar and First Officer Amit Mundra on Friday after their names appeared in the investigations into the fake flying licence issue.
Following investigations, the no-frill carrier has terminated the services of the two pilots with immediate effect, a SpiceJet spokesperson said.
“The pilots have been accused of misrepresenting their flying hours in order to obtain their licence from the regulator, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA),” the spokesperson said, adding that the airline would always comply with all rules governing the aviation sector and was committed to providing safe travel.
The fake pilot licence issue has assumed a worrying proportion after Parminder Kaur Gulati -- a commander with IndiGo was found faking her marksheet to obtain Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), which allows a pilot to become the commander of an aircraft.
Ms. Gulati was arrested by police after the DGCA filed a complaint against her, but was later released on bail.
The aviation regulator DGCA found four pilots -- two of IndiGo (including Gulati) and one each of Air India and MDLR -- guilty of faking their marksheets to get an ATPL.
Later, Captain J.K. Verma of Air India was also suspended and arrested following investigations into a complaint filed by the DGCA for forging marksheet to get licence.
In the backdrop of Mr. Verma’s arrest, Air India had set up a three-member committee to scrutinise documents of qualifications of pilots.
IndiGo’s Meenakshi Sehgal and Swaran Singh Talwar of MDLR have not yet been arrested.
Following this, the DGCA has launched a probe on 4,000 ATPL holders. Some more cases are learnt to have come to light and detailed investigations are going on.
Air India reaches 25 ton relief material to Japan; Operates Jumbo 747 to get back more passengers
NEW DELHI, March 18: In addition to augmenting flights with more seating capacity to bring back passengers from tsunami-radiation affected Japan, Air India has also carried approximately 25 ton of relief material to Japan on its two flights on March 15 and 16.
The relief material included two consignments each of 10,000 high quality blankets sent by the Government of India. "More such relief material, if made available, would be transported to Japan," said an Air India spokesperson.
To facilitate passengers, largely Indians, wanting to return from Japan, Air India has scheduled operation of a daily Jumbo Boeing 747 flight till Monday (March 21), having a capacity of 423 seats. These large capacity aircraft are in lieu of our scheduled Boeing 777-300 aircraft, which were earlier operating only on four days in a week. These special daily flights have started operating from Wednesday (March 16).
The flight AI – 306 will leave Delhi at 2300 Hrs and reach Narita (Tokyo) at 0950 Hrs (Local Time) on the next day. In the return direction, the flight AI – 307 will leave Narita at 1130 Hrs (Local Time) and arrive in Delhi at 1800 Hrs.
These flights are in addition to our scheduled operations to Osaka three times a week.
Passengers desirous of returning to India on these flights may contact our offices in Japan for reservations, facilitation and assistance.
Air India has also decided to waive off charges for re-booking, cancellations and refunds on all types of tickets for travel from/to Japan up to March 31.
Air India always lives up to its obligation as a national carrier, in fulfilling the social responsibility during calamities and natural disasters. The role played by Air India during the Gulf evacuation, Bhuj earthquake, Tsunami in Southern States and Andaman & Nicobar Islands and the recent snow fall in Leh in August 2010 etc are etched in the history of India.
Air India to operate Jumbo 747 to Narita
NEW DELHI, March 16: Air India will operate a daily flight to Tokyo from March 16 to 19, with a Jumbo B747-400 aircraft instead of the scheduled B777-300ER The B-747 has a capacity of 423 passengers. The flight will leave Delhi at 2300 hrs and reach Narita next morning at 0950 (local time). The return flight will have a quick turn round and leave Narita at 1130 hrs (local time) to reach Delhi at 1800 hrs (local time).
The airline has so far brought back around 900 passengers from Japan since the country was hit with earthquake and Tsunami.
In addition to the flight to Tokyo, Air India also operates three flights a week to Osaka which will continue to operate as per schedule.
Air India has also decided to waive off all penalties for re-booking, cancellations and refunds on all types of tickets for travel to/from Japan up to March 31.
Air India has always stood by to its social commitments and has met the expectations of its nationals whenever needed in any part of the world.
Air India Board approves constitution of independent Committee of external experts
MUMBAI, March 15: The Minister of Civil Aviation accorded approval to the proposal of Air India to constitute an independent Committee of experts under a retired Judge to look into the issues of pay parity and other related matters between the employees of the erstwhile airlines.
Accordingly, Air India, in the Board meeting held here today, decided to constitute an independent Committee of experts. The Committee will constitute the following: Mr Justice (Retd.) D.N. Dharmadhikari (Chairman); Prof. R. Dholakia, IIM Ahmedabad (Member); Mr. Rajeshwar Dayal, Director(Retd.) DPE (Member); and Mr. Syed Nasir Ali (Member Secretary).
The Committee will inter-alia examine the principles of integration across various cadres including determination of level mapping and seniority, suggest harmonized working conditions for various categories of employees, examine principles governing the retirement benefits, make recommendations with respect to the parameters of different productivity linked incentive schemes applicable to the employees to bring them in line with competition and other matters relating to harmonisation.
The Committee will also look into issues relating to common working conditions, adoption of industry related practices core to the integration process. The Committee will collect information from Unions, Management and other organizations relevant to the study.
The Committee will be based at Safdarjung Airport, New Delhi and is expected to deliver its report within five months.
Proposal to Allow Foreign Airlines to Invest in Civil Aviation is under Consideration: Dr. Nasim Zaidi
NEW DELHI, March 15: Dr Nasim Zaidi, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, in his keynote address at the India Aviation Meet organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) today, said that the Ministry of Civil Aviation has received a request from Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) regarding allowing of foreign airlines’ investment in India which is under consideration and a decision on this would be taken soon.
Elaborating on the overall contribution of the civil aviation to the GDP, he said that Ministry is launching the satellite accounting system to assess the actual contribution of the sector to the country’s economy.
Addressing Industry’s concerns, he said that the Ministry is well aware of the unfavourable fiscal environment affecting the viability of civil Aviation and the Ministry would take up the issue of recent hike in Service Tax with the Finance Ministry.
In the same vein, Ministry of Civil Aviation is taking up the issue of high taxes on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) and is in favour of including ATF under Goods and Service Tax (GST).
On the emission and environment related issues he said that there is a need to evolve a global approach under ICAO rather than following a regional approach which might hurt the aviation sector particularly in developing countries.
He also emphasized the need for India-specific measures to further strengthen Aviation sector in the country. The passenger traffic is expected to cross 180 million mark by 2015 and 300 million by 2020.
It is high time that an overall Regulatory Framework be further strengthened. In this direction, DGCA is gradually being transformed into a full fledged Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with adequate administrative and financial powers.
With regard to private sector investments in new airports, he said that Model PPP Concession Agreement is under consideration of the ministry. Further, 35 airports are planned to develop through Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework by Airports Authority of India (AAI). This would provide much-required connectivity to Tier –II & III cities in the country.
Earlier, Dr Vijay Mallya kicked off the India Aviation Meet. With almost 8.5% growth per annum, he was confident that not only would this continue, but he was hopeful that it would soon touch double digits.
Riding on the current growth momentum, civil aviation had also grown tremendously in the last 10 years. Domestic passenger has grown from 13.9 million in 2000-01 to 46 million in 2009-10 and international passenger from 14 million to 34 million.
He further added that while civil aviation sector has been unshackled considerably and successfully established a vibrant civil aviation industry, the next 10 years are going to be a litmus test for India. He specifically highlighted the following issues for the consideration of the government: Rising cost of the Air Turbine Fuel; Growing Airport Charges; Promoting Connectivity to Tier II and III Cities and the challenge of emission.
Ms Daniele SMADJA, Head of the delegation of the European Union to India and Bhutan expressed her confidence in the growth of Indian aviation industry – 18% p.a. in last 5-6 years. This would necessitate increase in aircraft fleet and would require an inclusive strategic approach.
Later, in CEOs’ perspectives on Aviation Industry in the next 10 years, Mr. Neil Raymond Mills, CEO, SpiceJet pointed the need for addressing the problem of acute talent shortage in Indian scenario immediately as its scope is bound to increase in future.
Captain G R Gopinath, CMD, Decaan 360 emphasized the need for developing a coherent and long-term vision for the Indian Aviation Industry. With almost all sectors of the economy recording unprecedented growth in last 3 years, it is high time that transport be regarded as an integral part of the economic growth. With less than 2.5% of the population accessing aviation as a means of transport, Policy Framers would do good to do away with knee jerk reactions which are not only inadequate but also harmful.
Mr. Willie Walsh, CEO of International Airlines Group and British Airways noted that Aviation sector is as much as a social cause as an economic instrument. While there was a need to control emission level, it should be on the basis of incentives rather than penalties, which, he said, only contributes in eliminating the much required capital for the industry.
Air India becomes First Indian airline to achieve IATA recognition for Ground Services
NEW DELHI, March 15: Air India achieved another milestone when it became the first airline, providing ground services in India, to earn the ISAGO (IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations) recognition. Air India had also been the first airline in India to clear the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) in 2003. The Quality Management System (QMS) unit in Air India ensured timely and successful registration of IOSA as well as ISAGO for Air India.
The ISAGO registration reiterates Air India’s commitment to achieve excellence in safety and quality standards in all spheres of aviation. ISAGO Compliance will reduce costs, enhance safety standards and ensure greater safety and quality standards.
ISAGO Audits were conducted by an IATA Auditor and by airline auditors from ISAGO. The Audit covered Headquarters’ Organisation & Management systems as well as the station’s Management System, passenger and baggage handling, load control, aircraft handling and loading, aircraft ground movement, cargo and mail handling.
Air India logs on to SITA passenger service system
MUMBAI, March 9: In yet another attempt towards making the national carrier Air India profitable, the company has upgraded its information technology platform with the help of European air transport IT provider SITA's passenger service systems. Air India said that it has also combined its IT platform with Indian Airlines, which would increase the bottomline of the company by 15 per cent.
The merged airlines now operate as a single unified carrier, Air India, paving the way for entry in to the Star Alliance in mid 2011.
Air India is also planning to foray on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to attract young customers.
Air India hopes to increase its revenue from online operations by 30% within 18 to 24 months.
"Our frequent flyer programme was weak but with the new IT platform we will be able to better it," said Arvind Jadhav, chairman and managing director, Air India.
Web Check-in facility for Air India passengers
NEW DELHI, March 9: Passengers travelling on Air India, can now avail of the Web Check-in (WCI) facility. It is a facility where the passengers can check-in themselves for Air India flights at their convenience from their homes/offices or any other location. All they need is a PC/Laptop having net connectivity and a printer. This is one of the salient features of the new SITA PSS Air India has migrated to.
The check-in window opens 48 hours before the scheduled time of departure for Domestic and International flights originating from the six metros. For flights originating from non-metro stations, the check-in window will be open 24 hours prior to scheduled departure of flights.
The passenger has to visit the Air India website, www.airindia.in and go to the web check-in page of the “Manage your Trip” option and follow the user-friendly guide.
Passengers travelling on domestic sectors are issued with boarding passes. The passengers can take a print out of the boarding pass and proceed directly to the security check at the airport, incase they are travelling with handbag only. Incase they have registered baggage, they will need to contact the Baggage Drop counter to deposit the baggage and collect the registered baggage tags.
Passengers travelling on international sectors are issued with a confirmation slip instead of a boarding card. At the airport, they will need to contact the dedicated Baggage Drop counter to get their baggage, if any, registered and to get the document verification done.
Air India operates 13 all-women crew flights across its network-international and domestic
NEW DELHI, March 8: Air India, for the second consecutive year, operated an Ultra long haul flight from Delhi to Toronto, to mark the occasion of International Women's Day.
Over the years, Air India has operated many flights, both on International and Domestic sectors, with all women crew. Last year, for the first time in the Aviation History, Air India operated the Ultra Long Haul flight from Mumbai to New York with all Women Crew to commemorate the same occasion.
Nasim Zaidi, Secretary, Civil Aviation, Government of India, flaged off, Air India's AI 187 on the Delhi-Toronto sector, operated by all-women crew at Hotel Centaur, near Terminal - 3 of IGI Airport, Delhi.
Flight AI 187 was the first of the thirteen all-women crew flights operated by Air India on March 8, across its domestic and international network, to mark the International Women’s Day.
Capt. Rashmi Miranda was the Commander and Capt. Sunita Narula, the First Officer on this commemorative flight. Mrs Harpreet A De. Singh, Head-QMS carried out a Line Observation Safety Audit. The flight will be despatched by Ms. Rashmi Verma.
The national carrier provides equal opportunities to women in all areas of its activity, including specialized technical areas and senior management. Women Pilots, Flight Dispatchers, Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, Safety and Quality Auditors, Cabin Crew, Doctors, Technical Officers, Simulator Maintenance Engineers, Ground Instructors for training pilots etc. all form part of a highly skilled, technically proficient team of women in Air India. Air India has a large contingent of 157 women pilots flying its fleet of wide and narrow body aircraft on international and domestic routes. Air India has more than 5300 women employees on its workforce.
Air India's scheduled flights with all-women crew on the domestic sectors on March 8, 2011 included AI 409/410 on Delhi-Patna-Delhi sector, AI-469 on Delhi-Raipur-Nagpur-Delhi route, AI-811/812 on Delhi-Lucknow-Delhi route, AI-603/604 on Mumbai-Bangalore-Mumbai sector, AI-569/167 on Chennai-Mumbai-Chennai, AI804/506 on Bangalore-Delhi-Bangalore sector, and Air India Express flight IX302 between Kozhikode and Mumbai.
India, Brazil sign air services agreement
NEW DELHI, March 8: India and Brazil Tuesday signed a bilateral air services agreement (ASA), intended to increase air-connectivity between the two countries, an official statement said.
'The new ASA has the potential to spur greater trade investment, tourism and strengthening the cultural exchange, besides bringing it in tune with the developments in the international civil aviation scenario,' the statement from the civil aviation ministry statement said.
According to the agreement, both India and Brazil would now be able to designate as many number of airlines to operate between both the countries.
'The designated airlines of each side are entitled to operate 21 services/week in each direction with any type of aircraft not exceeding the capacity of B-747 aircraft,' the statement said.
The new agreement supersedes the one signed earlier between the two countries Sep 12, 2006 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Currently, there are no direct air connectivity services between the two countries and the two respective national carriers too do not connect any cities in the two countries.
India, France discuss civil aviation cooperation
NEW DELHI, March 7: Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs and Civil Aviation Vayalar Ravi met Thierry Mariani, French Minister of State for Transport, Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing, to discuss the Indo-French civil aviation cooperation issues.
During the discussions, both sides agreed to move forward on the MoUs signed between the DGCA and Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the French side on aviation cooperation and hold the first steering committee meeting soon to lay down the agenda.
Air India is at present operating four frequencies per week on the Delhi Paris sector and Air France 21 services per week from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Both sides discussed possible investments of French companies into Greenfield airports as also further cooperation in the helicopter field and technical equipment for airports.
3000 stranded Indians evacuated by Air India
NEW DELHI, March 3: Air India has successfully brought back around 3000 stranded Indians from Libya till now. On 2/3 March Air India operated three flights from Delhi to Tripoli and back with one Airbus A-330 and two Boeing 747-400 aircraft.
All the three flights from Tripoli, AI-160, AI-180 and AI-170 landed back at Delhi in the early hours today. Air India evacuated more than 1000 Indians on these three flights bringing the total number of evacuees by the national carrier to around 3000 so far.
On 3/4 March, Air India will operate two more flights. Air India would continue to carry out the operations as required and under advice of the Indian government.
Air India evacuates around 2200 Indians
MUMBAI, March 2: Air India has successfully operated six (6) special flights so far to evacuate stranded Indians from Libya. These special “ferry” flights to Tripoli brought back around 2200 passengers to Delhi. While all flights took off from and landed in Delhi, the first flight had taken off from Mumbai on 26 February.
Stating this an Air India spokesperson said that three more flights have been sent to Tripoli and they would be returning late tonight or in the first hours of 3 March. He added that one B-747-400 and one Airbus A-330 have been deployed for the evacuation exercise.
Air India has always lived up to national expectations and fulfilled its social obligation as a national carrier whenever there has been an emergency situation. The spokesperson recalled Air India operations during the Gulf evacuation, Bhuj earthquake, Tsunami in Southern States and Andaman & Nicobar Islands and the 2010 flash floods in Leh
Air India would continue to carry out the operations as required and under advise of the Indian government.