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Not a likeable story
he R K Tyagi Committee report on the YSR Reddy chopper crash that killed all five occupants including the Andhra Chief Minister is a horror story showcasing the terrible state of civil aviation in the hinterland and how feeble has been the response of the DGCA over the years. You can read the report on the findings of the Committee elsewhere in this issue. However, here is a briefer on the sorry state of affairs: “Engine was removed from No. two position and installed at no. one position after repair and modification at the manufacturer facility at Oakland. Reason for removal was not recorded in the logbook. There is No preservation / de-preservation entry for the storage period. Reason for removal is not given in any of the component removal entries in the logbook. Engine logbooks are not updated, as they have flown only on few occasions, but engine cycle has not been recorded. Snag register has not been maintained.” This is just the veritable tip of the iceberg. The state of affairs in the AP Civil Aviation Department, or for that matter, civil aviation departments across states, is a story of cronyism, favouritism and unbridled joy amongst governors and chief ministers in having their favourites ferrying them across towns and districts. The consequences are there for everyone to see. Some become glorified ADCs as was the case with Shashank Shekhar Singh, a straight forward pilot in the UP aviation wing who is now the state’s Cabinet Secretary. Mayawati adores him and the bureaucracy in the state hates him. Shekhar and his ilk will easily fly into the eye of storm, hire and fire to please their masters as did the two pilots in the Hyderabad tragedy. So how do you rein them in? Simple. Ruthlessly implement the rules, penalise the offenders, cancel their licenses and set examples of right and wrong. Alas, how do you expect the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to do that when
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
a commission of enquiry is needed to determine the level of rot within the DGCA! In the last one year Naseem Zaidi has been manfully slogging to right the wrongs. But the malaise is so deep that it will require resolute backing of the political masters. Unfortunately in all the hoopla of liberalisation and growth what Praful Patel, Minister, Civil Aviation has forgotten is that there can be no holistic civil aviation policy unless the regulator is in good health. There has simply been no effort to clean by the mess. There are numerous reports that are gathering dust: The Sunil Arora report (on the Madhavrao Scindia crash that made comprehensive far reaching recommendations), the Kaw Committee, Ajay Prasad Committee, Naresh Chandra Committee and what have you. There has been no attempt to implement them and improve affairs. So, where do we go from here. A straightforward way would be for the ministry to set a time frame and make sure that the changes are institutionalised. If it isn’t done, there will be more such disasters in the future and someday some wise man will force either the courts or parliament to hold the ministry accountable for what is its foremost function — the safe and fair practice of the civil aviation business in the country. There is a lesson or two in it for the Air Force too. Just some weeks back a DGCA enquiry held their pilots guilty in the near miss at Mumbai airport when a chopper in the President’s entourage would have slammed into an Air India airbus A320 readying for take off. Now in this latest report, the two pilots both from the IAF have been found wanting not just on technical skills, but for their entire persona. Maybe wearing a uniform doesn’t give you a Teflon coating and the IAF needs to take a close hard look at its training procedures. And thank you to R K Tyagi for a thorough report. Since he runs Pawan Hans, that’s in the chopper business, he must push, push and push to make sure that his recommendations are implemented. After all it was a chopper that hurtled into a hill, isn’t it?
Off the cuff
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Watch list out, Watch list — the key tool against terrorism — is highly imperfect, as experts of the subject say. This disclosure has come out after the security failure in a Detroitbound flight when a passenger boarded a flight with an explosive — Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PTN) — and got close to igniting it successfully in his seat. Experts say simple issues such as fickle spelling and incomplete data, as well as deliberate deception and uncooperative countries, all make it possible for a determined terrorist to slip across borders. Lists are valuable and are able to track individuals, says John Harrison, an aviation security specialist at Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies. “But you don’t want to put too much emphasis on these lists. It’s an overstatement to say, OK, now we are safe,” he adds further. Analysts say human intelligence, information-sharing and data analysis are also vital to stop terrorists. To resolve the problems related to lists which are often overlapping nations are coming up with passenger profiling. The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the names of 14 countries that would face enhanced security measures including full body inspection, scrutiny and behavioural-based profiling. The passenger profiling by El Al, Israel's national airline, has been successful and major component of its security success. Security officials from the airline question passengers and screen them based on their answers and backgrounds. Passengers considered a potential risk are taken aside for further questioning and thoroughly searched.
ARE THE GOOD TIMES BACK? p36 With some figures, predictions and analysis, we bring to you an overview of the airline industry performance in the year gone by. Domestic as well as international carriers scored fairly well and posted good results, especially in comparison to a disappointing 2008. We also highlight what lies in store for the current year.
Mumbai High Court has questions to ask of the NareshMallya dostana plus the LCCs are coming. CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
Will the Singapore Airshow add to improving aviation outlook? A special report.
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contents ARTICLES NEWS VIEWS EDITS INTERVIEWS CLIPPINGS PROFILES NEWS DIGEST
CRUISING HEIGHTS Volume IV No 10
Editor-in-Chief K SRINIVASAN Managing Editor
TIRTHANKAR GHOSH Consulting Editor
Capt G R Gopinath, the pioneer of low-cost airlines in the country, charts the journey he took to give shape to his dreams. Exclusive excerpts from his book, Simply Fly.
The greater merger mess. R Krishnan’s incisive analysis of the monumental Maharaja conundrum.
PRIYANKA SAXENA Special Correspondent (Mumbai)
ROOHI AHMAD Reporters
JASLEEN KAUR, SREYA SHANDILYA, PUNIT MISHRA Art Director
BHART BHARDWAJ Design
RUCHI SINHA, PRADEEP JHA, SHIV Photo Editor
H C TIWARI Director
RAVI SHARMA (Mob. 9650433900)
Jet has started twittering and air tickets are available in post offices, Etihad's tech-seva for its fliers and British Airways is 80 now and many more.
RAJIV SINGH Regional Sales Manager (South)
KARTHIK K. V. (Mob. 9880209405)
Senior Manager (Marketing)
VARUN MALHOTRA (Mob. 9871866651/9650433099)
The cutting edge prepaid taxi cab management system has been implemented at IGI airport. Is the way forward in transport management?
Asst. Manager (Corporate Affairs)
AMIT SINHA (Mob. 9650433099)
JAYA SINGH (Mob. 9650433044)
And the aviation award goes to… Tom Cruise. Apart from movies, Cruise is cruising high in the sky. Check it out!
Great hopes and greater ambitions to fulfill in 2010. Will it be ‘the’ year for the logistics sector? An analysis.
Cover Design: Ruchi Sinha
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
RENU MITTAL Editorial & Marketing office: Newsline Publications Pvt. Ltd., D-11 Basement, Nizamuddin (East), New Delhi -110 013 , Tel: +91-11-41033381-82
All information in CRUISING HEIGHTS is derived from sources we consider reliable. It is passed on to our readers without any responsibility on our part. Opinions/views expressed by third parties in abstract or in interviews are not necessarily shared by us. Material appearing in the magazine cannot be reproduced in whole or in part(s) without prior permission. The publisher assumes no responsibility for material lost or damaged in transit. The publisher reserves the right to refuse, withdraw or otherwise deal with all advertisements without explanation. All advertisements must comply with the Indian Advertisements Code. The publisher will not be liable for any loss caused by any delay in publication, error or failure of advertisement to appear. Owned and published by K Srinivasan 4C Pocket-IV, Mayur Vihar Phase-I, Delhi-91 and printed by him at Nutech Photolithographers, B-240, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase-I, New Delhi-110020.
Periscope 4-5 March 2008.qxd
Still not enough!
“Demand continues to improve, but we still have a lot of ground to recover.” GIOVANNI BISIGNANI, Director General, IATA on recent steep rise in corporate business air travel.
Positive outlook “I hope things will stabilise in 2010 and flying will once again be the preferred choice of travel for people.” PRAFUL PATEL, Minister, Civil Aviation with a belief that the worst was over for the global aviation industry.
LETTERS TO EDITOR
The cover story, Manna from the heavens (January 2010) was a nice read. The CSR activities by airline operators in India truly deserve media attention and your magazine must be congratulated for that. The altruism of airline operators has long been understated especially in the context to India. In fact, even today very few airline operators can boast of CSR activities. Nevertheless, the few who have taken such initiatives are carrying it forward briskly and in good spirit, especially the foreign ones. Our domestic carriers should take a cue from foreign ones for then only will the true spirit of altruism be achieved in India. Keshav Dutt, Patiala
Illustrations: Rajeev Kumar
Wait for Ace (January 2010) made some startling revelations about the Aryan Cargo Express. As a matter of fact, Capt Mukut Pathak has taken a giant leap into the world of Indian cargo operations. Pathak's dream to conquer the international market is indeed praiseworthy. I think, in the future Pathak's Aryan Cargo Express would make a name for itself amidst all the competition as his vision is clear. He has played a safe bet by launching Aryan Cargo Express especially in these turbulent times. However, it would not be easy for him to sail as more cargo companies are coming to India. Raghupati Raghav, Chennai
“Now, I can ask private equity players my kind of price for better valuation of the company, as the market and the economy are in a revival mode. I can even time when to bring investors on board.” With equity markets reviving and boosting industry valuations, CAPTAIN GR GOPINATH on resuming talks with private equity players to part finance his airline cargo business.
Flying high “We are confident that Jet Airways is on a growth curve, and our continually improving results in November and December 2009 serve to further re-confirm this.” NIKOS KARDASSIS, CEO, Jet Airways on increase in domestic passenger traffic.
I wanna fly! “We have already got the permission to import one Avro RJ85 aircraft for our regional operations. The plan is to connect Srinagar, Leh, Ranchi, Patna and some other points of Himachal Pradesh from Delhi.” KOUSTAV M DHAR, CEO, Jagson Airlines on returning to the skies.
Grounded again (Chocks Off, January 2010) revealed serious problems about the Ground Handling Policy in India. R Krishnan made a serious introspection into the present Ground Handling Policy in India. The new Ground Handling Policy to be implemented has been hanging for a long time. The Ministry of Civil Aviation on its part should develop a foolproof PPP model so that new Ground Handling Policy should not be grounded again. Ram Kailash, Haridwar All correspondence may be addressed to Editor, Cruising Heights, D-11 Basement, Nizamuddin (East), New Delhi -13, OR mail to email@example.com.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
Alcohol policing “The onus of doing this test is with airlines. We will be conducting random tests to see if this is being done or not without any exception. Ultimately we will move towards 100 per cent check for all flights.” DR NASEEM ZAIDI, Director General, DGCA on making alcohol test of pilots mandatory on international flights.
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Online check-in is in
British Airways won in the customer service category, followed closely by Singapore, Lufthansa, Emirates and Virgin. Lufthansa was unanimously chosen as the world’s greenest airline; the runner-ups were Singapore, KLM, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic. Top of the wishlist of the survey respondents were speed in security checks, check-in and immigration processes. Strangely, 82 per cent of business travellers still do not want mobile phones to be allowed on board.
Business travellers are a finicky lot. Airlines have been trying to figure what pleases these fliers and what do not. A recent survey of 2,400 business travellers by the Business Travel & Meetings Show, which took place in London in the beginning of this month, has brought out some interesting facts: The online check-in is the ‘innovation of the decade’; followed by Wi-Fi, flat beds, notebooks and the Eurostar. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa were voted as business travellers’ top five favourite airlines.
LOOKING GLASS We passengers are hijacking this flight — never mind that you haven’t been able to take off due to the fog...
This is Gandhigiri of a different kind!
Please, no copycat! “We would have come out with a separate brand. But since we have the Air India Express (lowcost), we will expand under that brand rather than coming out with a Konnect-kind of concept.” ARVIND JADHAV, Chairman and Managing Director, National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL) on the decision to drop no-frill service idea and to remain focused on Air India Express.
Oops! “It could be delayed by three months.” JADHAV on the issue of joining Star Alliance and integration of software systems between Air India and Indian Airlines.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
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As fuel prices touch the stratosphere, airlines owners get edgy. It’s like walking on hot coals: they are cutting costs, dropping routes and wondering what to do next
CRUISING HEIGHTS The right stuff, all the time, on time Get your copy today. Call +91-9650433044 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org India’s best known aviation monthly from Newsline Publications Pvt. Ltd.
Off the Record
OFF THE RECORD
tary Bharat Bhushan to attend the issues related to AAI’s aircraft acquisition. For Bharat Bhushan this could well be his last big act at the Civil Aviation Ministry. This low profile officer who has in the last 12 months shown that he is a true government nominee by raising tough questions in the AI board, has been promoted as Additional Secretary and will soon move to another Ministry. Those in the know believe that this Kerala cadre officer is likely to move to the Petroleum Ministry. At least that’s the grapevine in North Block. The Cabinet Secretary thinks highly of his administrative skills and believes that he must get his teeth into a real meaty assignment in keeping with his experience. As a representative of the government, Bharat Bhushan had no qualms in admitting that Air India was in trouble, asked questions of many of the decisions taken earlier and stopped many in their tracks. The decisions to hire Booz Allen, the Accenture misadventure, the HR conundrum have all come under the scanner thanks to his stand on the board. Anyway that’s all a matter of record now as he prepares to move. **** **** ****
More stories from Air India C
hartered Accountants enjoy a chequered existence. Like private secretaries and chauffeurs, they somehow end up sharing confidences with the boss and slowly but surely make their way into the satellite of navratnas around him or her. Our friend Venkat is no different. He is a hard working, nut and bolts account man
who has been at the call of two former CEOs at Air India-Vasudevan Thulasidas and Raghu Menon. Both swore by him and took his counsel seriously. Now a third, the present Chairman and Managing Director Arvind Jadhav too seeks his advice on a variety of issues. These days, Venkat is in the US along with Jadhav and Joint SecreCRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
eanwhile there is much discussion on the story that the government may look at demerger. While the Ministry of Civil Aviation has denied vociferously, the fact of the matter is that there is a note circulating in the PMO that talks about a domestic and international wing independent of each other under a holding company, unified board and single balance sheet. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee doesn’t want to give assets to AI. It’s an idea that has many takers and some believe that even the PM isn’t averse to it. In fact Manmohan Singh is so taken in by the presentation skills of Arvind Jadhav that he belives he can help turn AI around under this formula. There is also a suggestion that if AI retires, AI replaces and if IA retires, IA replaces. In other words don’t tamper too much with the personnel and let the tide flow. Will it work? That’s a matter of debate. **** **** ****
fter more than two decades, the baritone that has been synonymous of the Maharaja all these years will finally bid adieu to Air India. Jitendra Bhargava who started as a journalist and found his calling in Public Relations retired at the end of January. A classic dyed in the wool professional who knew his a’s from his o’s, Bhargava will be hard to replace. He can pick the phone and talk to any editor and reporter across the board anywhere in India. Most importantly, he kept
Off the Record
OFF THE RECORD himself abreast of developNow it is nobody’s argu- table can take decisions that can’t be ments, is knowledgably about ment that Lalchand is not a questioned. the aviation business, can read competent worker. In fact, he **** **** **** and write with panache and is a committed and hard inally what happened at the meeting take on AI detractors in any working soul whose only between Arvind Jadhav and Rahul face off. Sadly the same can’t aim is to provide good servbe said for most of his team. ices to the passengers. But Gandhi is something that only one of the So what’s JB going to do? that’s not the point. Is Jadhav two can tell us. From what we know, According to him, chill for a suggesting that amongst the Rahul takes a keen interest in matters of few months, plan a book on vast reservoir of employees aviation, was on the Standing Committee AI and then get back to the in Delhi, he doesn’t have on Transportation and so it should come Bharat Bhushan business of writing and Public another Lalchand? Are they as no surprise that he finally met up with Relations. Watch out for the book. JB all so incompetent that he needs to keep Jadhav. Unconfirmed reports suggest that says he isn’t going to vent his spleen, but going with a superannuated bloke? he sure is going to write a no hold barred So you have a situation where the Rahul, a creature of power point presentations, is taken in by Jadhav’s honest appraisal of AI. board level directors of the view of AI and believes he Good luck and best wishes to the good man! Air India and the Executive must get the time he needs to Directors are drawing less **** **** **** rescue the airline. The last than what Lalchand is now t its last board meeting, Air India going to be drawing. And all time someone tried to meet decided that their pointsman at Del- these ED are being told to the Congress leadership was hi airport, Lalchand, who was given a tighten their belt. If somewhen Vishwapati Trivedi, contract employment at a much lower one decides to go to court, the then Indian Airlines pay to his last drawn salary — would Jadhav will be hard pressed Chairman offered a bouquet now be given enhanced emoluments and to defend his vociferous to Sonia Gandhi when she that the difference in the pay would be interjection on behalf of was taking a flight out of K M Chandrasekhar reimbursed from the day he was appoint- Lalchand or the board’s Delhi. Months later, IA ed on contract. Amongst those who decision to ratify his desire. merged with AI. There are vociferously pleaded his case was the It’s a misnomer that a few wise men and plenty more stories but that will have to CMD Arvind Jadhav. a women sitting around a conference wait till March!
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CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
A tall wish list
irline operators and airport operators are always at logger heads as far as various airports related charges are concerned. The situation is no different in India where both private airlines and privately managed airports are coming of age. It was thus quite interesting to note that the apex bodies of both the airlines and the airports at least make common cause on one issue — designate Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) as “declared good” to attract uniform sales tax of four per cent across the country. Cheaper fuel could mean cheaper fares and hence more passengers which is good for both the airlines in terms of yields and for airports in terms of charging user fee among other things. In its pre-budget memorandum to the Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), besides demanding the declared good category for ATF, which incidentally accounts for not less than 40 per cent of airlines operation cost, also favoured declaring civil aviation as core infrastructure so that the civil aviation sector could get tax and other benefits. Besides seeking a reduction in airport charges, the Federation wanted the government to take steps to reduce the impact of their foreign exchange outgo on account of purchasing aircraft spares which is a major expenditure that occurs frequently. Since all airlines have been suffering first from high fuel prices and later on
account of economic recession, they have sought immediate rescue measures through an indirect fiscal stimulus, if it could be called so. In contrast, private airport operators, represented by Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO) submitted a detailed pre-budget memorandum to the Finance Ministry. It must be pointed out here that while in FIA, which is largely dominated by private airlines, the state owned Air India is a member, the state owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) is not a member of APAO though the latter is apparently trying to enlist AAI’s support by wanting to confer on it the status of Associate Member. But at the same time it needs to be stated that the name of the association “Private Operators" itself rules out any possibility of forging close link with AAI which in any case so far has shown no interest in APAO. So now look at the pre-budget memorandum of APAO. The pre-budget proposal for fiscal 2010-11 (Union Budget is being presented on February 26, 2010) has sought action at three levels — Customs, Central Sales Tax and Income Tax. APAO, under the Customs head has demanded that the baggage runes should enhance the duty free allowances of incoming international passenger from the present Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000. Justifying this demand APAO said this was necessary because of the steep depreciation of the rupee and also the government should permit each of the
43.846 MILLION PASSENGERS FLY IN 2009
DELHI AIRPORT: The departure lounge in good old days
arriving international passenger to bring three litres of liquor and additional two litres of wine. At present the baggage rules permit only two litres of liquor or wine or a combination of both, but not exceeding two litres. In a lighter vein we would like to say the choice should be between customer getting a kick or the customs giving them a kick. The logic of this demand of APAO is that it will promote tourism, benefit passengers and most importantly prop up the revenue of duty free shops at airports and therefore benefit the AAI and Private Airport Operators. APAO noted that under the List 20 there are some goods that are imported for airport development. While the government by virtue of a customs notification reduced the peak rate of tariff from 12.5 per cent to 10 per cent on a range of goods falling under the List 20 somehow goods imported for airport development was kept out and still
JetLite (3.277 million), GoAir (2.061 million) and Paramount (0.83 million).In December, 2009, the domestic airlines carried a total of 4.487 million passengers. Of these, Kingfisher accounted for 0.935 million, Jet Airways 0.852 million, Air India 0.82 million, IndiGo 0.684 million, SpiceJet 0.579 million, GoAir 0.232 million and Paramount 0.064 million. The percentage share of the various airlines in December was Kingfisher 20.8 per cent, Jet Airways 19 per cent, Air India 18.3 per cent, IndiGo 15.2 per cent, SpiceJet 12.9 per cent, GoAir 5.2 per cent and Paramount 1.4 per cent. IndiGo had the highest seat factor in December at 90 per cent, followed by Paramount 88.7 per cent, SpiceJet 88 per cent, GoAir 86.1 per cent, Jet Lite 81.6 per cent, Kingfisher 80.2 per cent, Air India 79.7 per cent and Jet Airways 78.2 per cent.
India’s domestic airlines flew a total of 43.846 million passengers in 2009 as against 40.773 million passengers in 2008, an official press release said. Of these, private sector airline Kingfisher carried 10.483 million passengers, followed by Jet Airways (7.846 million passengers), Air India (7.682 million), IndiGo (6.103 million), SpiceJet (5.446 million),
DELHI AIRPORT: Circa 2006
ETHOS PLOTS AIRPORT EXPANSION
Ethos Swiss Watch Studios is planning to develop an Indian airport network after opening an outlet at Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport Terminal 2. The company’s first airport store opened in 2008 at the new Bengaluru International Airport, followed in October last year by a store at Delhi T1, Domestic Departures - described by the company as India’s
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
attract peak tariff rate. This anomaly should be corrected and peak rates should be brought down for the class of goods used for airport development and they should be eligible for concessional customs duty of five per cent. The items include navigational and communication aids, airfield crash fire tenders and other fire fighting vehicles, flight inspection system, runway marking and pavement testing machine, baggage conveyor system, aerobridges, ground power units etc. The list includes 28 items in all which are used for airport development. As per government rules and relevant customs notification X-ray baggage inspection system and parts thereof are eligible for NIL basic customs duty subject to fulfilment of stipulated condition in the said notification. Strangely that notification dated March 1, 2002 prescribes that import of such X-ray baggage inspection system should be by government or its authorised person for anti-
first watch store in a domestic terminal. Then came the opening of its Departures duty free unit at Delhi T2. The Ethos stores at domestic terminals focus on popular and fashion brands whereas at international terminals, Ethos carries the full range of Ethos brands. The company said that it carries a range of almost 45 Swiss brands such as Omega, Tag Heuer, Rado, Seiko and others. THIEF DRIVES OFF WITH TRACTOR AT ‘HIGH-ALERT’ IGI
A thief managed to drive away a tractor belonging to SpiceJet airline. More than a
smuggling or CISF, Police Force, CRPF, NSG of SPG for bomb detection and disposal. APAO has stated that import of X-ray baggage inspection system at airports is for security purpose and security is a Sovereign function (Reserved Activity) as per State Support Agreement (SSA) with Ministry of Civil Aviation and import cost is met out of Security Component of Passenger Service Fee ( or PSF which you see in your ticket) . However, since import is not directly undertaken by the above specified agencies but by respective Airport Operators, duty concession is not available though money is being paid out of funds of Government of India only. APAO therefore demanded that not only should the scope of items covered under Nil Duty be expanded beyond the X-ray baggage inspection system but this facility should also be extended to incorporate import by respective airport operators subject to certificate by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The list of security items that needs to be included besides X-ray system, are explosive detectors, bomb/suspect luggage containment vessels/units, robots for handling of bombs or suspected baggage, parameter of security intrusion system and accessories, access control system, hydraulic bollards, bomb barriers and cameras for CCTV. All these items are bought as per specifications laid down by BCAS, MoCA and GOI. APAO wanted the finance ministry to issue instructions so that
custom EDI system is amended to allow use of SFIS scrips for payment of customs duties under the Project Import Scheme as under the foreign trade policy, airport operators are eligible for Served from India Scheme (SFIS) scrips. In the central sales tax - APAO said that though the airport sector is an important infrastructure like telecom, electricity generation and distribution and mining, it is not included as one of the eligible categories which can issue concessional Form C because of which purchase of goods for airport development attracts higher sales tax resulting in increased cost of project which is not in public interest as any increase in project cost ultimately translated into higher passenger fees. In view of this the relevant section of Central Sales Tax Act 1956 should be suitably amended to permit airport sector also to issue Form C. Besides airport operators as stated earlier sought the classification of ATF as declared goods. As for income tax - APAO said the security component of PSF collected from passengers should not be assessed to income tax as it related to funds that were collected by the airport operators on behalf of the GoI in a fiduciary capacity. Further these funds (security component as distinct from facilitation aspect of PSF) can be used only for meeting the security related expenditure incurred on security of the airport and consequently the passengers. This security component money is used for reimbursing salaries, benefits and other expenses of security agency deputed at airport (presently CISF), buying security equipment and incurring other expenditure relating to provision of security.
week after this January 19 incident, police are yet to make headway in the case. Airport police said an unidentified person had driven away with the red Mahindra tractor parked at terminal 1D. Though CCTV cameras were placed at the spot inside IGI from where a tractor was stolen, they were reportedly only “partially” functional at night. That is the reason why no clear images have emerged of the driver who made off with the vehicle.
configuration used in its upper class, the same as first or business classes on other carriers. Virgin, founded by Richard Branson, holds the patent and design rights for the flatbed seating system in several countries, including in the UK. “We are currently pursuing Jet in the UK courts for jointly developing a seat with manufacturer Contour, which infringes Virgin Atlantics patent,” Anna Knowles, head of public relations at Virgin Atlantic, wrote in an email. “Any actions which Jet takes in India will have no impact on these UK actions.”
VIRGIN DRAGS JET TO COURT
Virgin Atlantic has filed a case in a UK court charging Jet Airways (India) Ltd with infringing its patent on flatbed seats for the Premium class. According to reports, Jet Airways had earlier objected to a patent claim filed in India by Virgin for the design and technology of the seats and the so-called herringbone
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
Low Cost Explosion!
AS subsidiary of Saudi National Air Services has announced that it will launch its low cost operations between destinations in India and Saudi capital of Riyadh from Nedumassery (Kochi) and Karipur international airports with effect from April 2010. Maria Aangelika Hanne, chief commercial officer, NAS said at a press meet that the low cost airline using brand new Airbus A320 with 180 seats will initially operate seven weekly services to Nedumbassery/Karipur. It will be the first LCC to operate from Saudi Arabia to India. The other carrier Saudia is a full service carrier operating bigger wide body aircraft like B747 jumbo on the India sector. According to Hanne, NAS will later start services from Saudi Arabia to Trivandrum, New Delhi and Mumbai. NAS currently is successfully operating dozens of flights from Mumbai and Karipur during the Haj time. The airline will focus now on religious
passengers and migrants from Kerala and tourists from GCC countries who seek low cost medical treatment in India. NAS Air was launched in February 2007 and saw nearly 80 per cent growth in passenger traffic in 2009 over the previous year. Early estimates show that NAS Air ferried 1.5 million passengers in 2009 and earned $120 million in revenues. In the current year 2010, NAS Air anticipates passenger traffic to exceed two million and revenues reaching $ 240 million. As on date it has eight A320s and should be adding three more shortly. Its launch of India services will substantially increase its aircraft utilisation rate and also net higher revenues. Besides the expected entry of NAS, it is also known that flyDubai, an LCC from the emirates launched its low cost services to number of destinations in India with it’s A320s. However the global meltdown and apprehension expressed by MoCA (Ministry
SEA PLANES AT LAKSHADWEEP
The Government of Lakshadweep has asked Pawan Hans to explore the possibility of getting one of the two seaplane operators in Maldives to do a demonstration to the government authorities for the use of seaplanes for carrying inter-island passengers. The administration is also facilitating commercial operations of seaplanes by providing them jetty and other facilities and also providing subsidy for any vacant seats in their eight- seater seaplanes.
of Civil Aviation) which had earlier given permission to the flyDubai led to the postponement of the India services. With signs of improvement in the global economic climate, it is just a question of months before flyDubai also begins its services to India. That the skies to India will get even more crowded follows the official announcement by yet another LCC, this time from Abu Dhabi, which incidentally is the richest emirate in the UAE and even helped Dubai stave off an economic and financial crisis. The one from Abu Dhabi will be the third LCC from within the UAE as the first one to launch was Sharjah with its Air Arabia that has done very well and even emerged as the third most important foreign airline to India in terms of passenger traffic carried. Kuwait already has its Jazeera Airways while Saudi Arabia has yet another Sama Airlines. The Middle East’s low fare airline sector has witnessed biggest growth in the civil aviation industry and is likely to expand further on fresh competition. In 2009 flyDubai joined the group and was to fly to India. However, for political reasons it suspended its services. But soon one expects flyDubai to launch its services to India as it already has the rights. This low cost carrier from Dubai is already in the process to acquire 54 Boeing 737-800s.
GMV TO DEVELOP GAGAN RECEIVER ALGORITHM
Raytheon has awarded a new contract to GMV to develop a prototype algorithm to mitigate ionospheric effects on users of India’s GAGAN (Global Positioning Satellite-Aided Geosynchronous Augmented Navigation System). The algorithm will detect ionospheric depletions in the magnetic equatorial region, providing data that may be used in GNSS receivers processing signals from GAGAN, a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) under development by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Airports Authority of India. GAGAN will provide satellite-based navigation for civil aviation across South and East Asia. The program is currently in its final operational phase, incorporating critical navigation components. Meanwhile, Raytheon has said it will continue to provide assistance to the Airports Authority of India in its ongoing investigation into the interruption of the air traffic management system at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. The interruption of the air traffic management system appears to have been caused by a manual procedural error. Fortunately, Raytheon’s AutoTrac III system, currently in “shadow” mode
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
(L-R) Naresh Goyal and Vijay Mallya
No relief for ‘Dostana’
he Bombay High Court refused to grant interim relief in a petition filed by Kingfisher Airlines and Vijay Mallya, Chairman, Kingfisher Airlines against the Competition Commission of India (CCI) which had ordered a preliminary inquiry against Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways
alliance announced by Mallya and Naresh Goyal in their dostana back in October 2008 during the first India Aviation show at Hyderabad. The Kingfisher counsel told the Bombay High Court that the provisions of the Competition Act 2002 which came into force in May 2009 was not there when the alliance was forged. Therefore it could not be applied retrospectively in October 2008 when the two airlines finalised the deal. The alliance was to help the two airlines to rationalise their routes and provide improved standards of services besides pool their engineering
awaiting implementation at the airport, was quickly put into service to mitigate the impact on flight operations.
NAVY SEEKS ENCLAVE AT MOPA AIRPORT
resources. Soon after the Competition Act came into force in May 2009, the CCI had in August 2009 asked for an inquiry against the alliance based on a preliminary finding that there existed a prima facie case and hence the matter should be referred to Director General Investigations and Registration. So far the industry observers say they have not seen the real intent of the alliance coming out in the open for various reasons. Independently the two airlines have been struggling after posting losses of Rs 1,600 crore by Kingifhser and Rs 1,030 crore by Jet Airways in the last fiscal 2008-09 and might make some marginal profits or should we say operating profits in the current fiscal 2009-10 due to a pick up passenger traffic with effect friom October 2009 which means six months or second half of the fiscal that will end on March 31, 2010. Jet Airways has already got relief by way of an approval from the Government to raise $ 400 million from mainly FIIs. Mallya on the other hand is still exploring various banks. Recently it was heard that Mallya had managed to raise Rs 200 crore from UCO Bank which was on top of Rs 500 crore credit he managed to secure from SBI. The only silver lining for both Kingfisher and Jet is their stocks have risen in value after the recent GDP numbers and economic indicators were announced by the government.
Sanjay Srivastava, has not committed itself on the issue. Sources said that the committee will call a representative of the Navy as a special invitee to its next meeting, which is yet to be scheduled. Sources in the committee confirmed the Navy’s request made at a meeting with the joint secretary of civil aviation, who is also a member of the committee, in New Delhi in October last year. AVIATION MINISTRY OFFICES TO CO-ORDINATE WITH NSG SET-UP
As a quid pro quo for allowing a civilian enclave at Dabolim airport, the Navy has asked for land at the proposed Mopa airport to set up a naval enclave. However, the seven-member Mopa airport steering committee, chaired by chief secretary
The Civil Aviation Ministry has decided to set up nodal offices in all the five cities where the National Security Guard (NSG) has its hubs. It has asked Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Airports Authority of India (AAI) to appoint officers in the five cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai to co-ordinate with the NSG in case the security forces need aircraft to reach the place where a terror attack takes place. “The idea is that a plane should be airborne from any of the five cities within 45 minutes from the time a demand is received from NSG,” said a senior government official, who did not wish to be identified. The nodal offices would co-ordinate with security agency to facilitate fast movement of forces.
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YSR Crash: First rate report
n a record of sorts, the R K Tyagi Committee set up to investigate the YSR crash (the then Andhra Chief Minister Y S R Reddy’s and all three other occupants on board lost their life in this crash on September 2) has submitted its report in three months plus and within two days of the record being submitted to the ministry, it was on its website. One official said, “It is a reflection that the government acknowledges and accepts the report and is working to implement it.” Here are some of the committee’s key findings of the four member committee (After from Tyagi, other members of the committee included Sanjay K Bramhane, Maneesh Kumar and Captain Irshad Ahmed): The poor judgment shown by Pilot Capt S K Bhatia and Co-pilot M S Reddy is among the significant causes. The helicopter was not airworthy when it was released for flight on September 2. Severely indicts the government owned
VICTIMS OF THE TRAGEDY: (Clockwise from top left) Principal Secretary P Subrahmanyam; Chief Security Officer A S C Wesley and pilots Captain M S Reddy and Group Captain S K Bhatia: (left) The bodies of Chief Minister Y S R Reddy (inset) and other deceased (see red circle) being lifted from the accident site.
Andhra Pradesh Aviation Corporation Limited (APACL) for not being technically qualified to carry out helicopter operations. The helicopter did not have a proper electronic location transmitter, which could have pinpointed the location of the crash site Tyagi must be complimented for a thorough and comprehensive review of the tragedy and the magnitude of their investigation can be assessed from the number of people and the agencies that the committee contacted and interviewed to arrive at their conclusions. Amongst those who assisted were: with Airports Authority of India (AAI), Indian Air Force (IAF), Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), National Aeronautical Laboratories (NAL), Bangalore and Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratories (DMRL), Hyderabad. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) provided help for certain analysis with Central Forensic Science Laboratories (CFSL), Hyderabad. India Precision
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Lightning Network, New Delhi provided technical inputs about the electric charge scenario of the areas around the site on the day of crash. The help of various International Agencies like Transport Safety Board (TSB) Canada, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)USA, Bell Helicopters, Goodrich, Rolls Royce were taken for Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) downloads, engine and Electronic Control Unit (ECU) analysis, etc. Elaborating on the probable cause of the accident is, the committee concluded that: Accident occurred due to loss of control resulting in uncontrolled descent in the terrain at a very high rate of descent due to entry into severe down draught. The other contributory factors were: The crew flew in Instrument Flying condition though flight plan was cleared for Visual Flight Rules (VFR). Crew noticed a snag and was engrossed for vital six minutes before the impact in searching for the relevant checklist from
the Flight Manual. This distracted their attention from the prevailing poor visibility weather conditions thus leading to the loss of situational awareness. Both pilots of the twin-engine Bell 430 helicopter, which crashed in the Rudrakodu Hills, never thought it fit to return to Hyderabad or divert the copter to a nearby location despite the inclement weather. They were hopeful of some improvement after they crossed the Krishna River at 9.20 am, 42 minutes after take-off from Begumpet airport but the weather never cleared. Five minutes later, there were repeated ‘callouts’ from the co-pilot “Go Around,” thereby indicating some problem — a hill feature in the vicinity. Technical data gleaned from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) or the ‘black box’ during the last 14 seconds showed that the rate of descent was over 10,000 feet a minute, pointing to failure of critical systems — the main rotor and the power turbine were going too fast while the torque was dropping. Terrifyingly, the first big blunder, as discovered by the committee, was the chopper flying in torrential rain and entering thick clouds. The Bell 430 was supposed to fly under visual flight rules, which means the pilot must have clear visibility of 3km in front, 1.5km on top and 2km below. It is not supposed to enter clouds and if there are clouds on the path, it must return or land. What did the probe discover — the chopper flew into charged cumulonimbus clouds, with lightning “in the heart’’. When choppers fly in humid conditions, pilots often get false indicators. In this case, the pilots got unexpected variation in transmission pressure — the energy being generated by engine and transmitted across the chopper for keeping its various parts operational. As per rule book, in such a situation, pilots have to refer to
the flight manual and see why the indicator is coming. “This process should take 15 to 20 seconds. In the ill-fated Bell 430 this process took six minutes, right before crash,” sources said. “Crew noticed a snag and was engrossed for vital six minutes in searching for the relevant checklist from the manual. This distracted their attention from prevailing poor visibility weather conditions,” the report says. Apparently, a severe downdraught was encountered by the helicopter and it impacted the hills killing the Chief Minister, his two aides and the pilots. In fact, lightning location data revealed a storm centre that appeared to be in the helicopter’s path at the time of the disaster. It took over 24 hours to locate the debris as its Emergency Locater Transmitter (ELT) was not tuned to 406 mega hertz so that it could be picked by satellites. The probe panel has stressed on this point in the report, following which the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) recently conducted a one-time check of ELTs of over 900 aircraft and choppers in India. Sources said ELTs in almost 125 flying machines — 90 aircraft and 35 choppers — were not tuned to this frequency. DGCA rules clearly mandate that every plane or chopper in India meet this condition by
R K Tyagi, CEO, Pawan Hans has done a thorough job of investigating the YSR chopper crash.
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January 1, 2005. These planes and choppers are learnt to belong to glitterati, tycoons and the power brokers of the country. And, much worse, some to the air charter companies, who should know better. As a matter of form, all aircrafts (fixed wing and rotary) have two frequencies on their ELTs — 121.5 and 406 mega hertz. While the first one can’t be located by satellites the 406 frequency is bang on target. All ELTs must have both the frequencies. But in the YSR chopper, it wasn’t tuned on. The DGCA decided to give all violators time till March 31 to get their ELTs in order The report is also a shocking revelation in which state government run their air wing (another classic is Uttar Pradesh where a one time flier is now the state’s Cabinet Secretary and lords over civil servants): “Record reveals that earlier both the pilots on deputation from Indian Air Force were engaged in the act of one upmanship and despite the adverse entries, were able to prolong their stay in the organisation beyond the permitted deputation period. They were able to influence the decision making process even at the highest level in the State. They were also involved in various procurements and also like helicopter procurements without adequate knowledge about the subject. Even selection of AMEs for the training on new helicopter was not appropriate as the AMEs (Aircraft Maintanance Engineers) under state were overlooked. This did not promote a healthy culture in the organisation and indicates lack of involvement and poor knowledge of personnel in-charge of state aviation set up.” There have been 54 helicopter crashes in India since 1990, a depressingly high casualty rate given that there are just about 250 of them flying today. If this country needs to stop this terrible record, then every organisation with an aircraft must get this report and the earlier Sunil Arora report (on the Madhav Rao Scindia crash) if they wish to not join the statistics.
Hold it! You are on camera The new management has worked out an efficient system to prevent what used to be a nightmarish experience for visitors to the city
queue. However, many clever passengers take little time to sense that the number system is no longer in operation. Therefore, they ignore the queue and catch a taxi even before it can park itself on the bay and head for their destinations. A K Bhattacharya in the Business Standard (Wanted: A watchdog for airport services)
ne of the first impressions a visitor forms about a city after landing there is the manner in which he has to deal with its public services. An airport is the first intermediary that oversees that interaction. The new management at Delhi airport recognised this elementary fact and worked out an efficient system to prevent what used to be a nightmarish experience for visitors to the city — catching a taxi for which service passengers have already made the payment. That simple and effective system has now fallen apart. Taxis no longer wait in the numbered bays. Nor do passengers get numbers, corresponding to the bays, on their pre-paid taxi receipts. Mercifully, there is still a
The prepaid taxi service at Indira Gandhi International Airport, in my opinion, is the ultimate ‘pain-in-thebackside’ for travellers. On December 21, 2009, I landed from Muscat at around 9 pm and the experience I had was nightmarish. The service is supposed to be run by cops (Delhi Police)
New taxi management system is a pioneering benchmark
Tanmoy Chakrabarti, Vice President and Head, Tata Consultancy Services talks about the state-of-the-art prepaid taxi cab management system. How did TCS get involved in the project? We were given the problem by the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and the Delhi Police. So, we devised the complete solution and went back to them. If you really want to link the taxi driver and the passenger then there has to be some standards that would be fitting to the modern airport. Have the concerned personnel been trained? Yes, an adequate training has been done to various levels: first, there are
the men who are at boom barriers — the entry boom barrier and the exit boom barrier. Then, there are people who are on prepaid taxi counters in terms of issuance of computerised receipts that are going to be on stateof-the-art thermal printers. The whole objective is to really modernise and streamline the whole process of prepaid taxi cab management system. And with that endeavour, TCS has provided the end-to-end execution of the project for DIAL. This can be inducted at other airports too. There is a huge potential involved and this can be the pioneering benchmark for other airports to also adopt this system in future. The Hyderabad Airport has now got an organised
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radio taxi cab management system and so has the Bangalore which has the two new airports but the same system can be implemented at Mumbai or Kolkata or some of the other international and domestic airports which have a high number of passengers. The objective is to securitise… Again it's an example of how technology can enable the operations, streamline the work flow and help in the security system. Are there offers from other airports? Not yet. Delhi is going to be the first equipped with such kind of prepaid taxi cab management system. This is a completely pioneering concept and very futuristic.
Troubled by reports of mismanagement and security failures, Delhi airport's prepaid taxi system is in for a hi-tech makeover. Scripted and implemented by Tata Consultancy Services, the new system will be able to track misdemeanours by errant taxi drivers with the few clicks of a mouse, reports Tirthankar Ghosh. who only dole out receipts after charging rounded off fares for the farthest point of any area where one wishes to travel. After that the traveller is left to fend for himself clutching his receipt and pushing his trolley trying to find out where the hell to board the taxi from. I was told that the taxi would be available outside Exit No.2 but when I reached that point I found that taxis arriving were already occupied. Enterprising travellers had made a beeline right up to the taxi stand and grabbed the cab there. I found that there were no takers for short distances and foreigners were being given preferential treatment by touts and hangers-on who were helping them find their cabs in the hope of a hefty tip. There was no cop in sight to regulate this chaos... This was the first time I tried to take a prepaid cab from the airport and it will surely be the last. From Bishtblog (Prepaid taxi woes at IGI airport)
Are there any other systems that TCS is developing for airports?
By the time cases of rape, missing people will appear in print, Delhi airport would have installed and implemented a hi-tech system that will manage the prepaid taxis We have very specific airline and airport practices and we are working on other areas of integrated airports security like encrypted voice communication system across all stakeholders at airports. The TETRA technology, for example, allows all airport stakeholders like catering company, fullers, airlines, ground handlers, cargo, logistics, airport company, airport staff, etc to have secure encrypted communication among themselves, in their groups and as well as during an emergency when they can all line up on the same channel and speak to each other. Imagine the productivity gain of the entire workforce of the airports because in todayâ€™s situation during an emergency when each one start calling on their mobile phones, the network will be jammed. The TETRA technology that is prevalent around the world is secured end-to-end encrypted communication. We are offering the technology to AAI on a service basis: we are not
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The two instances cited above are only an indication that getting a prepaid taxi has been a pain. Imagine the plight of single women travelling to faroff destinations in the capital late at night. These problems and the coming Commonwealth Games in October this year, set Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna on a mission: a foolproof pre-paid taxi system that would also take care of the security of passengers. By the time this appears in print, Delhi airport would have installed and implemented a unique hi-tech system that will manage the prepaid taxis. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a worldclass IT services provider, has worked out the prepaid taxi cab management system for the Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL). Brainchild of the Delhi Lt-Governor, the IT major was called in when many cases of rape, people missing, people being looted or exploited were reported. As TCS Vice President and Head at Delhi, Tanmoy
asking AAI to buy it. We will invest in the technology, set it up and run it but they will pay us let's say per handset per month for the next ten years. So, the system is ours and the customer gets the benefit for usage and pays only for the usage. Do you feel there is need for more IT in the infrastructure? IT is one of the elements of the infrastructure. We can enhance the infrastructure efficiency. I think AAI is planning a very ambitious modernisation programme across all its airports. You have to involve IT that is today a very essential part of any modernisation programme: whether it is radar, instrumental landing system, emergency response system, radio communication system, the financial accounting system, baggage handling or even the parking management system â€” every segment of the airport involves technology.
TECHNOLOGY Chakrabarti, put it, “It is a pioneering activity… and the technology is, perhaps, unique and used for the first time in the world.” The technology that Chakrabarti mentions is biometrics and its “objective is essentially to cover the security of the passengers who are taking prepaid taxi cabs from the airport. The technology establishes a link between a passenger, the taxi and the taxi driver.” Biometric screening is being increasingly used to ensure security. In London, for example, workers at the 2012 London Olympics construction sites, have to go through two stages of biometric screening — palm and facial recognition — before starting work. And in Israel, where security holds top priority and the country most international aviation officials look for foolproof techniques to ensure safer air travel, a biometric security system for outbound passengers was recently launched. The system designed for the pre-paid system will entail a biometric check of all taxi drivers who are associated with the prepaid taxi system in the airport, whether they are from the domestic or the international terminals. A taxi has to get into a bay to pick up a passenger only after crossing a boom barrier that will operate with the swipe of an ID card. In addition, there will also be a physical identification check and a biometric fingerprint evaluation. At the same time, the number of the vehicle will be captured by the elaborate system. Meanwhile, the passenger who wants to avail the prepaid service has to register at one of the two counters at the airport terminal exit. The registration will entail two receipts: a passenger’s copy and a taxi driver’s copy. On the passen-
ger’s copy of the receipt, a bar code will contain information about the passenger: name, destination, date, time, etc. After a passenger gets into the taxi, at the exit point of the bay, the taxi driver will have to validate his biometric fingerprint to establish that he is the taxi driver mentioned on the ID that he had swiped earlier. The taxi number will then be captured in the system just before the boom barrier opens. Also the bar code on the passenger’s receipt will be read linking the passenger with the taxi number and the taxi driver. In the event of a mishap, the police — who will be partnering DIAL to ensure that the system works properly — will be able to track down the taxi and the driver in a couple of clicks. The system has completed the registration process of all taxi drivers who are associated with the prepaid service system and there are around 1,800 drivers for more than 3,200 taxis. This one-time registration has been done with the Delhi Police doing a background check of all taxi drivers. A multi-layered filtration process eliminates those with criminal or other records. Once the police clears the drivers, their biometric fingerprints are captured on the ID card that is issued to them. “It is to modernise and streamline the whole prepaid taxi cab management system that we have been working,” says Tanmoy Chakrabarti. Such a system befits a modern airport and that is why TCS feels it can be inducted in other airports. “There is huge potential involved and this can be the pioneering benchmark for other airports to also adopt this system in future. The same system can be implemented at Mumbai or Kolkata
The prepaid taxi stand at Delhi airport
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or some of the other international and domestic airports which have a high number of passengers,” he says. Other than the prepaid taxi system, TCS has a slew of technology aimed specifically for airports. “We have very specific airline and airport practices,” mentions Chakrabarti. TCS is working on areas of integrated airports security through the TETRA technology which allows all airport stakeholders like catering company, petroleum, airlines, ground handlers, cargo, courier, logistics, airport company, airport staff to communicate with each other over a secure encrypted channel. This will be useful when regular communication channels break down during an emergency. Chakrabarti points out that during times of crisis — a hijack, for example — the first communication channels to be affected are those used by mobile service providers (who hasn’t heard of: “All lines on this route are busy. Please try after sometime.”) In addition, the VHF-UHF channels used by the lawenforcing agencies can easily be tapped into. “If you have global TETRA communication system around all the airports, then you can imagine the cost-saving because all the calls would be going through the network at no cost. Along with the huge cost-saving potential, what users would get would be crisp, clear audio quality in addition to fully secured and encrypted communication,” says Chakrabarti. Similarly, TCS has a security system for airports. Chakrabarti explains, “Today, you have a traditional x-ray machine, CISF jawans checking the bags; there are three to four men to check one person at a time… We are talking about a system which has got very robust multiple gates with multiple barrier systems that will check not only for metals but chemicals, nuclear material and other stuff that can go through the present security system. This integrated system will save time and cut down on the huge number of staff deployed to do this exercise.” Indeed, as flying becomes more prevalent and queues become longer, the need to optimise and be able to handle large number of people within the given constraints of space and time become essential. With the new systems in place, the country’s airports could well be on the road to achieve world-class standards. Chakrabarti admits that while brick and mortar infrastructure may be lacking on many fronts, IT — that is everywhere from radars to catering in any airport — can be made more efficient.
AAI focus 2.qxd
AAI: Special Focus TAKE
OFF V P AGRAWAL Chairman, AAI
he proverb that 'Time flies' is so very 'true'. One year has passed so swiftly since I have been at the helm of affairs of this esteemed organisation, which is a congregation of multifaceted professionals. As we are on the threshold of turning a new leaf in the annals of Airports Authority of India's (AAI) history by ushering in 2010, I thought it prudent to get across to you, so as to enable us to jointly take stock of the situation. Well, the year that we have just said 'Adios' to, has indeed been the most turbulent year in the history of the aviation industry, as no one was spared from the 'Global Economic Meltdown'. AAI being no exception experienced its share of the tremors of this horrid phenomenon. I must compliment each one of you for having faced it 'Up Front', which got manifested in marginalising the illeffects of the recession. Your unflinching dedication and devotion in shouldering/discharge of responsibilities has unequivocally proved beyond any shadow of doubt that we at AAI have meticulously followed the maxim: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going". That is exactly what we did during the meltdown phase. A word of caution Continued on page 63
Mr V P Agrawal, Chairman, AAI is presenting Final Dividend cheque to Mr Praful Patel, Minister, Civil Aviation and Mr Madhavan Nambiar, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.
AAI pays dividend despite economic slowdown irports Authority of India is a Miniratna Category-1 PSE of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and it has been making profit since inception. For the financial year 2008-09, in spite of economic slowdown, AAI earned a revenue of Rs 4185.95 crore and profit before tax of Rs 1115.72 crore and profit after tax Rs 689.21 crore and has paid Dividend of Rs 137.40 crore to the Government of India, comprising Rs 100 crore as Interim Dividend and Rs 37.40 crore as Final Dividend. In the process of modernising its airport terminals, passenger facilities, air traffic and navigational aids, AAI spent a sum of Rs 2547.57 crore in the year 2008-09 which is also the highest capital expenditure incurred so far. Cheque for Final Dividend of Rs 37.40 crore was presented to the Minister of Civil Aviation by Mr V P Agrawal, Chairman, AAI in the presence of Secretary, Civil Aviation. Other senior officials of Ministry and AAI were also present.
Kalyanmayee: Building a healthier community n a widely welcomed step, AAI Women’s Welfare Association, Kalyanmayee has undertaken the restoration and management of a community centre at Pakyong, Sikkim, where AAI is setting up a Greenfield airport for operation of ATR-72 type aircrafts.Kalyanmayee President, Archna Agrawal, inaugurated the centre recently. Describing her Pakyong visit as “exciting and very welcoming”, Archna Agrawal feels there lies immense potential for development in the destination. “Once we decided to open the airport in Sikkim, our chairman suggested that we should go take a look at the place and see if we can do something for the local people there,” she said. It was here she
realised that there is a lot to be done. After all the government alone cannot do everything. The people of Pakyong wanted the existing ‘Community Health Centre’, which was barely operational, to function efficiently. “We were disappointed to see that the Community Health
Archna Agrawal inaugurating the community health centre at Pakyong, Sikkim.
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Centre had no management, no staff and no doctors. The Sikkim government had almost given up on it despite their best efforts. It was at this juncture that the Kalyanmayee ladies volunteered to make this Community Centre operational 24x7 by managing the coordination of the centre. It is now our responsibility to see that doctors, staff and amenities are made available all the time,” she said. The upgradation is taking place in two phases, of which, first phase of renovating the building has already started. A similar initiative is being planned for Raipur where the Kalyanmayee team has taken upon the task of upgrading an Old Age Home. Work on the Raipur project will start in February 2010.
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ON THE BALL: V P Agrawal, Chairman, AAI alighting from the Authority’s Turboprop aircraft after visiting one of the airports under his control.
Chairman inspects FIU n November 21, 2009 Mr V P Agrawal, Chairman, AAI visited Flight Inspection Unit (FIU) at Safdarjung Airport to familarise himself with the operations involved in undertaking calibration task of navigational and landing aids installed at various airports. The FIU has been entrusted with the responsibility to monitor, verify and certify the operational performance of all the Navigational/Landing Aids by carrying out flight calibrations of these facilities on a regular basis as stipulated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The Chairman also desired to be updated with the requirements and status of various upgradation activities of avionics fitted on the FIU aircraft and the impediments, if any, faced by the management in implementing the plans. Mr Bhattacharjee, GM (RCDU) who was officiating in the absence of Executive Director (FIU), along with Captain R Johar, Chief Pilot (CP) and other officers/aircrew of FIU, received the Chairman at the FIU hangar. The CP, while briefing about the navigational and landing aids, escorted the Chairman to inspect the AAI fleet comprising a King Air 350 and two Dornier 228 aircraft.
The Chairman was then taken into the King Air, the latest acquisition of AAI, where the CP informed the activities that entail in flying whilst on calibration task. The Chairman was also told about the systems in the cockpit, including the glass cockpit, its operations, FMS, Map Display Unit that is extensively utilised in carrying out calibration, MFD (Multi Function Display) and PFD (Pilot Flight Display). Mr KK Sharma DGM (Com), the leader of the flight inspectors who work in flight and carry out the calibration of the aids, apprised the Chairman about various ongoing upgradation activities of Avionics in the AAI’s fleet. The progress on activities towards incorporation of Interference Detection System (IDS) in the FIU fleet and FIU’s preparedness to acquire Ground Base Augmentation System (GBAS) and Area Navigation (RNAV) capabilities to meet the requirement of future air navigation standards set by ICAO was explained to the Chairman. He also explained the state-of-the-art Automatic Flight Inspection System (AFIS) on board the aircraft through which Flight Calibration of Radio Navigational/ Landing Aids installed at airports across the length and breadth of the country are carried out.
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Due emphasis was laid/highlighted on the feature of AFIS, wherein it generates all reports in air on board of the aircraft, thus totally eradicating the time loss that used to occur in the earlier system. The advantage of the system is that if the calibrated aids’ performance is unsatisfactory or outside the laid down norms then the necessary corrections/rectifications to the equipment can be made and the presence of the aircraft at the station could be gainfully utilised by carrying out an additional calibration flight rather than wait for the report to come from Delhi, the base of FIU, and then carry out the corrections/rectifications and then request of recalibration. It would be appreciated that this was not only in conformity with the saying “Time is Essence” but also, entails wasteful and avoidable expenditure by deploying the aircraft on flight from base to the concerned station and back. The Chairman was also apprised of the advantage that has since accrued to AAI as an outcome of inducting the King Air 350 with AFIS on board for now FIU has the wherewithal to undertake the calibration of radars from an altitude of 35,000 ft and also calibration task of Leh and Port Blair airfields.
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AAI: Special Focus
AAI readies to upgrade Mysore Airport he Mysore Airport is located about 10 km from Mysore city and is a Fair Weather Airport, having two runways, 05-23 and 09-27 orientation with a small Terminal Building constructed decades ago which was used for scheduled flight operation by Vayudoot with Dornier Aircraft, operated till 1990. The possible, profitable air routes circuits are 1) Mysore-Chennai-Mysore 2) Mysore-Hyderabad-Mysore 3) Goa-Mysore-Cochin 4) Mumbai-Bangalore-Mysore.
Upgradation and modernisation of airport infrastucure Government of Karnataka (GoK) had requested AAI to develop the existing airport at Mysore. An MoU was signed between Government of Karnataka and AAI on October 6, 2005 to upgrade this airport for operation of ATR-72 Aircraft in Phase I and subsequently for wide bodied, aircraft like B-737/A-320 in Phase II. As per this, GoK has to provide additional land free of cost and free from encumbrances apart from providing free water, electricity and security for initial five years. AAI shall bear all expenditure in connection with operation, management and maintenance including repairs of any facility to handle ATR-72 type of aircraft operations. Accordingly, AAI Board has accorded approval for Rs 69.29 crore for undertaking the project. Originally, AAI had 298 acres of land in this airport. As per MoU, GoK has handed over additional 175 acres for the Phase I of the project. AAI has projected additional 330 acres of land free of cost and encumbrances from GoK for Phase II works, out of which GoK has already handed over AAI 188 acres of land on the other side of the National Highway for extension of runway in Phase II. AAI has undertaken construction of runways, taxiway, apron, perimeter road, boundary wall, drain etc as a part of Phase I at a cost of Rs 29.36 crore on December 13, 2006 with completion period of 15 months. This project was completed well ahead of time on March 12, 2008. The
salient features of the work undertaken include: Construction of Rigid Runway (09-27) of size 1740 x 30m with PCN 15/R/C/W/U to sustain 22 tonnes of maximum take off weight suitable for ATR-72-500 type of aircraft along with 60 x 30m blast pads and runway safety area of size 90 x 150m on both ends of runway. Taxiway of size 225 x 23m. Apron for parking of three ATR-72-500 of size 135 x 100m with power-out configuration and a link taxiway with appropriate fillets at junction points to runway 09-27. Peripheral road of length 6310m and width 3.6m for jeeps Operational security compound wall 8990m. Leveling and grading of ground for 150m basic strip. The construction of building works for an amount Rs 29.01 crore was undertaken with following salient features: Construction of fully centrally air conditioned new modular Integrated Terminal Building for 75 arriving and 75 departing passengers at a time with a scope for future expansion with essential amenities for passengers and airlines such as check-in counters, conveyor belt for departing baggage and a arrival conveyor in the baggage collection area, adequate toilet facilities for passengers and physically challenged persons, adequate number of signage, public address system, fire alarm system, adequate natural and artificial
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lighting inside the Terminal building and car park for 150 cars. Construction of new Technical Block cum Control Tower and Fire Station. This seven-storey building is with control tower table and other equipments as per the requirements of ATM and CNS Directorates 11 new staff quarters, along with Community Hall and Shopping Complex have been constructed. PAPI at both ends of runway 09-27, lighted landing 'T', lighted wind sock, aerodrome rotating beacon, taxiway edge lights, and apron flood lights. Navigation Aids and Communication Systems has DVOR, DME with DVOR, VHF AMTx/Rx (main and standby) walkie talkie base station, walkie talkie sets and other associated communication systems, Hot lines, DVTR (tape recorder) etc, EPBAX, Flight information display systems, Security equipments (X-BIS, DFMD's, HFMD's etc.) and P A System Fire and Safety Equipment include two CFT's, one ambulance, fire extinguishers, fire alarms and fire detection system in all the buildings. Fuel facilities are not presently available at airport but Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has given the consent to provide ATF on wheel on demand.
Rajeev Kumar Gupta, incharge of Mysore Airport, has 19 years of experience in airport infrastructure development works at different airports. A graduate in Civil Engineering, Gupta did his Masters in Business Administration. He has been managing various aspects of project management including co-ordination, design, post project maintenance and interfacing with customers.
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AAI welcomes â€˜Partners in Progressâ€™
WELCOMING PARTNERS: V P Agrawal, Chairman, AAI;( to his left )S C Chhatwal, Member (Finance), AAI and other senior officials of AAI at Vendors Meet 2010, held at Delhi.
AI conducted its Maiden Vendors Meet on January 2010 at its Corporate Office situated at Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan, Safdarjung Airport, New Delhi. As it is known, Airports Authority of India being a premier organisation for providing Airport Operations and Air Traffic Services across the length and breadth of the country, has embarked upon major infrastructure development works at 55 of its airports, so has to meet the challenges that have emerged with the phenomenal growth that has occurred in the aviation sector in the last decade. AAI not only took on modernisation of its building infrastructure but also has taken leap in ushering state-of-the-art equipment in the Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) facilities, so as to be at par with the global standards thus ensuring safe and seamless transition of aircraft movements. AAI has also launched upon the GAGAN (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation System). Mr V P Agrawal, Chairman, AAI, whilst welcoming 30 major vendors, who have been entrusted with the modernisation programme declared as 'Partners in Progress' and gave a brief resume on the necessity of entering into an Integrity Pact. To substantiate his concern, he apprised all present that in the year 2001-02, AAI had a capital expenditure to the tune of Rs 319 crore whereas, the situation in the current fiscal year 2010-11, we are planning to incur a capital expenditure of Rs 3,380 crore, which is more than ten fold. Hence, he solicited the cooperation of
all the partners in progress to be frank and come out openly with the problems, if any being faced, so as to enable us to better the system for the larger interest of the country. The vendors on their part played an active role and expressed their opinions freely and frankly, wherein they expressed their satisfaction on the fair play being done by the present day management of AAI. However, few irritants which as per the perception could be resolved were brought out. The issues which could be clarified by the officials of AAI were done and other valuable suggestion/issues of the vendors have been taken note of for consideration at the appropriate level and initiation of corrective action. The meeting was also graced by the IEM ( Independent External monitors), Mr K Ardhanareeswaran, Ex-Secretary, Government of India and Ex-Chairman, AAI, Mr M K Kaw, Ex- Secretary, Government of India, and Mr R C Rekhi, Exmember, IAAI, who have been nominated by the CVC to oversee the procedure and practices being followed in AAI. The IEMs desired to know from the vendors why no complaints have been forwarded to which the vendors replied that there were no complaints as such and hence the need did not arise. The IEMs expressed their satisfaction whist noting the fair play being conducted by the AAI and also the satisfaction level of the vendors. It was also unanimously agreed that the meeting will be held biannually for the benefit of all concerned.
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would be in order, as it has been observed that success is closely followed by complacency. Therefore, we have to safeguard ourselves from this dreaded ailment, especially in view of the fact that in 2010, our dreams of providing world-class airports would get translated into reality, as most of the projects would culminate in this calendar year. Having said that, I suppose it would be easier to comprehend that the real danger which is not only looming large at our doorstep but has also to be adequately countered in the right earnest way i.e. lower standards of maintenance of the jewel of an asset created at our airports. It ought to be appreciated that sub-standard maintenance would jeopardise the wellconceived/executed plans and thus, convert the whole exercise into futility, which we can ill-afford at any cost. Well, a word of appreciation and our gratification with regards to the sacrifices and contribution made by the families in
THE CHENNAI AIRPORT: Artistic impression of the airport which is undergoing modernisation and upgradation. these tiring times, would be in order. I have not an iota of doubt they have stood by us like the 'Rock of Gibraltar', thus, allowing us to perform relentlessly and more importantly in ungrudgingly accepting the austerity measures that the management per force had to take recourse to. I suppose it would be apt if I were to update you with the management's plan to rekindle the "Grievance Redressal Machinery" to not only infuse the desired degree of 'synergy' in the system but also to give due cognizance to the genuine and inordinately delayed cases. I close this note, wishing you and each member of your family "A Very Happy and Prosperous 2010 where all your wishes get fulfilled!" God bless each one of you.
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B R Krishnan
efore I sat down to write this column, a close friend in the aviation industry rang up to ask when would I stop Air India bashing. My response was when did I ever bash Air India. He said some officials are unhappy with what I wrote in the recent past. I said everyone is entitled to his quota of happiness or unhappiness and in any case I never attacked individuals in my long journalistic career. But if people want to take objection to any objective assessment of a situation then perhaps I could not help. Since I am now going to make yet another objective assessment of Air India in my column, I would like to say in advance that this column is not intended against anyone. If someone feels hurt then it’s his own problem. The year-end was not bad for Air India. In December 2009, Air India’s domestic seat load factor rose to 79.7 per cent and market share to 17.5 per cent. I don’t have the figures of seat factor and market share for Air India’s international
Convert NACIL into a holding company with
NACIL-A and NACIL-I as separate functional units Write off the merged entity’s losses Fix responsibility for taking such an ambitious aircraft acquisition plan which has become a huge financial liability Defer the aircraft acquisition plan to reduce the debt burden on NACIL Review all agreements for leased aircraft and take appropriate action Grant of bilateral rights despite Air India’s “earnest plea” to check unrestricted entry of foreign airlines. The standing committee said NACIL’s turnaround was not possible by shifting the burden of the crisis on the employees and blaming them for the ills of the company. Thus the recommendations it made if followed could help re-establish NACIL. The committee’s recommendations seem to
The merger that went wrong There are serious discussions to close down Frankfurt Hub and if possible set it up at Paris. Additionally, there is also a move to set up a new domestic base or hub at Delhi 32
For over two years now, news on the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines has been making waves for all the wrong reasons. They open hubs, only to close them later; they announce policies, only to discontinue them — its high time Air India does something right… operations. However, I must congratulate Air India management for this achievement at a time when other full service carriers also reported rise in seat factor but not necessarily in market share. In sharp contrast to LCCs, domestic full service carriers continue to be in financial trouble be it Jet Airways or Kingfisher Airlines. I have left out Air India as it is the focus of my column. The Parliamentary Committee in its lates report released to media in the third week of January 2010, said the decision to merge Air India and Indian Airlines was taken due to irrational and misplaced policies of the Union Government and without the required homework and consultation. The Committee then let off its gems in the form of recommendation which are as follows: The entire aircraft acquisition of Air India and Indian worth Rs 45,000 crore be funded by the Union Government as a one time soft loan AT THE AIRSHOW: An Air India Boeing 777 aircraft at the Indian Aviation Airshow held in Hyderabad in October 2008.
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suggest that all the problems NACIL is facing are due to factors and persons outside the airline and not from within. The fact is this is not so because there are a number of areas where the outsiders cannot do anything. What can anyone do if Air India cannot ensure on-time performance as a matter of routine instead of celebrating it like the weekly celebrations — Traffic Week or Vigilance Awareness Week etc, courteous service which is reserved only for the VIPs, attracting and ensuring higher loads, scientific system of yield management, etc. The list can go on. But if I do that then I will be accused of Air India bashing. Why am I saying this? Simple! The Chairman of Air India in his first press conference held in Delhi in August 2009 said that a team has been set up which would continuously monitor on-time performance. I always thought ensuring on-time performance was inseparable from airline management ethos. None separates bone from flesh or DNA from ones body to get things right. Perhaps this may seem too harsh a comparison but that’s how one has to respond in extraordinary times. In all fairness to Arvind Jadhav who took over in May 2009, Air India had already made it a fait accompli for him when it started its Frankfurt Hub from March end 2009. This brilliant idea envisioned a flight from Delhi to Chicago via Frankfurt and another from Mumbai to Newark again via Frankfurt. This so called scissor like operations was expected to facilitate Newark bound passengers from Delhi and Chicago bound passengers from Mumbai to switch planes in Frankfurt. In these days of seamless service it introduced seams and that too at a cost to Air India as those at Frankfurt airport who provide ground handling to Air India began charging for each such passenger transfer as part of its handling at the rate of nearly $45 to 50 per passenger. Before Air India got into Frankfurt mode, it abandoned
its traditional connection to Paris from Delhi and left it with Air France. In fact much of this traffic was later captured by Delta and after it withdrew by Air France. Now I am told there are serious discussions to close down Frankfurt Hub and if possible set it up at Paris. Additionally, there is also a move to set up a new domestic base or hub at Delhi. Air India management is thinking of using Delhi as the base for its major part of Boeing 777 fleet. To the uninitiated, I must tell that during early 90s when Air India was seriously toying with the idea of acquiring Medium Capacity Long Range (MCLR) aircraft for its fleet renewal programme, the then Air India management had identified Delhi airport as the place for basing its MCLRs which could be either Boeing 777-200s or A340s. In any case that acquisition plan finally saw the light of the day only in 2006 and actual induction started from Dec 2006 for Indian and 2007 for Air India. It may be mentioned here that the agenda paper for MCLR fleet acquisition for Air India was tabled before the Air India Board meeting in June 1995. This was already a time when Air India began seeing tough times which culminated in the Maharaja then making an all time high loss of over Rs 427 crore in 1996-97. In August 1993, Air India received its first brand new sky-phone enabled Boeing 747-400 soon received five more. The next few years were again that of adjustment etc before the NDA government headed Atal Bihari Vajpayee decided to sell it. But for various reasons including the opposition from Air India unions, left parties, from Congress and rival airlines the sale of Air India was sabotaged and later abandoned. So much so that Singapore Airlines which had teamed up with Tatas to bid for Air India suddenly withdrew citing too many political risks. Once they withdrew, even Vajpayee lost interest, Air India began to drift from one cloud pocket to another. It was only after UPA-I came to power that serious efforts were made to revive the aircraft purchase plan which was given the final seal of approval by the Union Cabinet in September 2005 in the case of Indian Airlines and early 2006 for Air India with substantially enhanced number of planes for Air India. That was the time when the Indian economy was on take off to nine per cent GDP growth and the environment was right for big airplane acquisition. On the hindsight all kinds of committees can say that the fleet purchase plan was too big. But who ever anticipated such a deadly global economic meltdown which saw 150 year old institutions such as Lehman brothers simply disappearing. See the contrast today with the economies in most part of the world slowly coming back to life and Indian companies posting good financial results. It is common to see financial results of Q3 of fiscal 2009-10 of most companies showing a huge rise year on year basis. This is also true of airline business in India
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Are regulatory issues different when it concerns human passengers and different when it concerns other cargo even though the pilots in both the aircraft are human beings? 33
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Most economic estimates suggest that India’s GDP will grow by 7.5 per cent in 2009-2010 and rise to 7.75 per cent or eight per cent in 20102011 and nine per cent from 2012 onwards 34
where profits and loads have made reappearance. LCCs have even begun seeking fresh capacity addition. Most economic estimates suggest that India’s GDP will grow by at least 7.5 per cent in 2009-2010 and rise to 7.75 per cent or eight per cent in 2010-2011 and nearly nine per cent from 2012 onwards unless the US economy does something seriously foolish in the name of disciplining its financial sector and impacting the rest of the world badly. Back in the August 2009 press conference, it was said that Air India would launch its LCC version soon and that Indian part of NACIL would even transfer five A320s to Air India Express. Now we are told that it was not launched because of many issues. As per news reports, Arvind Jadhav told the Mumbai press in the first week of January 2010, “We would have come out with a separate brand. But since we have the Air India Express we will expand under that brand rather than come out with a Konnect kind of concept.” He further said that the LCC concept will work in the short term but not in the long term. But is it not true that the customer wants on-time performance and quick clearance at the airport which was what precisely offered by LCC and so finds the customers sticking to LCC fares? I was told by my contact that Air India Express was not allowed to use IC’s A320 aircraft by DGCA because its rules stipulated that the airline operator must have full maintenance back up by way of engineers. There should be a designated GM Engineering in the rolls of the concerned airline. It cannot be that one airline operates and another maintains the aircraft which was unacceptable to the DGCA. The only exemption DGCA gave was to some IC flights to Bangkok and Singapore on behalf of Air India as this had been granted approval historically. As per existing rules no such exemption had been given to any airline. What this means is that Air India Express is a subsidiary of Air India and therefore they can cohabitate but should Indian want to cohabitate with Air India Express then it is No, No, Sir! I am unable to understand the logic of government giving special exemption under the various provisions of the Companies Act to write off the losses of merging entities at the time of Air India-Indian Airlines merger while denying similar exemption in the case of merger and take over in private airlines. Hence, why could not NACIL use the good offices of Ministry of Civil Aviation to convince the DGCA? It is worth noting that Air India Express as a subsidiary of Air India gets its engineering done by the latter. This is because the issue of differing Air Operators Permit does not arise. However, Indian Airlines has a different Air Operators Permit and therefore its aircraft cannot go to Air India Express without the Key EngiCRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
neering Person to take responsibility. This is the same in the case of Indian with Alliance Air. In fact I could not get much clarification on this. After all did not Indian transfer its older Boeing 737-200s to Alliance when its brand new A320s began arriving. As we all know most of the flying staff in Alliance Air was on contract as is true with Air India Express. If nobody anticipated this kind of technical hitch before the merger and during the merger, it is no wonder that they were hit after the merger. Now we are told that Air India management wants to shift all the engineers in its roll to the new SBU to cater to its MRO for both normal maintenance, airframe maintenance and Engine maintenance including overhaul. This would mean shifting nearly 7,800 staff to the MRO or Engineering entity. If done it would be in line with what the original merger consultant Accenture had recommended in end-2006 and the Board of NACIL had been so constituted. It is also decided to shift the entire cargo business of the airline to the de facto though not de jure defunct Alliance Air. But the entire MRO story has a hugely improbably scenario and would require separate piece. Maybe, next month. I only hope no regulatory issues will come in the way of transferring the cargo planes of erstwhile Air
WILL THIS SHIFT TAKE OFF?: Air India is going to transfer its Airbus A310 to its subsidiary Alliance Air.
India like A310s registered with Air India being shifted to Alliance Air subsidiary of Indian Airlines. Are regulatory issues different when it concerns human passengers and different when it concerns other cargo even though the pilots in both the aircraft are human beings? While this may sound silly I still believe it is necessary to get clarity on this issue instead of dismissing it as a regulatory thing. Then what about the statements in the past (from August 2007) when it was said that the legal merger had been completed and that only merger of minds and personnel in the two organisations remain. If indeed the legal merger had taken place, then how come the airline hit a regulatory block? Unaware that new complications would arise, we mentioned in our earlier edition that much after the legal merger, the legal name of supposedly extinguished entities still remains. This was apparently done to revive any of the merged entity should the situation in the near future warrant as is now being seemingly hinted by Standing Committee recommendations in terms of reviving NACIL-A and NACIL-I under a Holding Company. (Veteran journalist and long time aviation watcher R Krishnan is Consulting Editor at CH. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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THE GOOD OLD TIMES: A view of Delhi airport three years back when the aviation boom was at its peak and everyone was scrambling to get into the airports and airline business.
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ARE HAPPY DAYS HERE AGAIN?
IS THE AVIATION INDUSTRY — WELL ITS NOT AS ‘HOT’ AS worldwide — on a revival mode? More important, is Indian aviation on the come2007, BUT THE FIGURES FOR back? It will be difficult to give a straight THE THIRD QUARTER OF 2009 answer considering that many of the problems that have been plaguing the industry conHAVE BEEN THE MOST tinue to be present with different elements plaguing different regions in intensity. ENCOURAGING SINCE THEN. According to IATA, travel growth is supposed to be returning in developing economies such as Asia JET AIRWAYS IS BACK IN THE and South America while large developed markets like BLACK AND THE OTHER Europe and North America continue to remain soft. IATA has stated that in response to collapse in demand; total kiloAIRLINES HAVE ALL NOTCHED meters made available on international markets were cut by around seven per cent from early 2008 levels. The upturn in RECORD LOADS IN THE travel demand allowed recovery in load factor from mid-2009. WINTER SEASON The tight supply-demand conditions in turn allowed airlines to reduce availability of cheaper fare categories and average passenger R KRISHNAN REPORTS fares rose from mid- 2009 though they remained well below the levels of 2008. Even the business class passengers preferred to travel economy ON THE OPTIONS AND that showed an uptrend. To feel the full impact, the actual economic recovery has to boost THE POSSIBILITIES employment and consumer incomes, said IATA. Globally, airline equity prices FOR THE AIRLINE measured by Bloomberg World Index rose 11 per cent in December to yield a full year 2009 growth of 25 per cent over the start. Asia-Pacific airlines, where BUSINESS economic recovery is most visible, were the strongest performers and were up by 35 per cent during 2009. US airlines ended 2009 where they began while European IN 2010
airlines stock went up by 14 per cent. But in terms of profitability all the airlines were underperformers. However, the airlines used financial market strength to raise considerable cash reserves and during 2009, a total of $25 billion of cash was raised from issuing new debt and $5 billion from new equity. The third quarter financial results for almost 100 major airlines showed a small profit of $900 million (third quarter means July-August-September of a calendar year unlike in India where it is October-December as it forms part of April-March financial year) which was an improvement over Q3 in 2008. The projection is Q4 will be seasonally weak and so the full year net loss will remain as predicted at $11 billion in 2009. An important element which needs to be factored in while making any projection for year 2010 which is already 31 days old is jet fuel prices or what we call in India the ATF. The global average jet fuel prices ended 2009 at $88 per barrel on an average. This was 44 per cent higher than the start of the year though on an average in 2009 aviation fuel prices were lower than the average for 2008. A saving grace in 2009 was there was excess refining capacity. Globally, despite signs of returning travel and freight demand, airlines continued to be extremely cautious about capacity. The utilisation of aircraft seats was very different in the first half of 2009 compared to its second CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
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COVER STORY half. The demand slumped much faster than capacity could be cut in early 2009 causing severe slump in load factors. However, further capacity cuts and an upturn in demand allowed airlines to restore load factors back to 2007 highs during the second half of 2009. Unfortunately, the capacity was partly cut by flying fewer hours leading to lower aircraft utilisation which to some extent offset the benefits of higher seat utilisation. While IATA did not make any projection for the future, the fact remains that high fuel prices continued to impact the economics of global aviation. The world crude prices today are not moving below $85 per barrel and according to a study by the International Energy Agency (IEA) global oil demand in 2010 will reach the highest level since 2007 with rising consumption led by faster growth in emerging economies in Asia. The Paris based IEA adviser to 28 top industrial economies stated that the year 2010 will see demand rising by 1.4 million barrels per day as against a contraction in demand during 2008 and 2009 which was originally led by shooting global crude prices which rose as high as $140 per barrel in June 2008. Then it began to slide down from September 2008 and even came down to below $70 per barrel before rising to $88 in 2009 end. With the green shoots of economic recovery appearing in the US as well
The yields and the trend one noticed all around in terms of rising fares will need to be sustained. But then it will restrict traffic growth. So the choice cannot be to carry more people and fall sick
piceJet announced its Quarter3 (Q3) (October-December 2009) results which showed its profits soaring to the best ever of Rs 108.9 crore as compared to net loss of Rs 17.9 crore in the Q3 of previous fiscal in 2008. Spice saw a 55 per cent growth in traffic numbers year on year basis and revenues showed a 37 per cent increase. Its revenues in Q3 2009 rose 23.7 per cent to Rs 653.3 crore, riding on higher load factor The overall demand in the domestic industry has been strong during the last six months. While industry demand was up 30 per cent in the December quarter 2009 versus 2008, SpiceJet has seen a 55 per cent rise in traffic in the same period. This clearly demonstrates that consumers have appreciated our service enhancements, improved connectivity, low cancellation rates and high on-time performance. Announcing the Q3, FY 2009-2010 results, Sanjay Aggarwal, Chief Executive Officer, said, “The aviation industry has taken a turn for the better and we believe SpiceJet has outperformed others
on all parameters. The aviation growth in India will be driven by low-fare carriers like SpiceJet. Consumers have displayed their confidence in our brand, product and service mix. This is the best business model for India’s value conscious consumers. Our strong quarterly results demonstrate our commitment to enhance customer experience and the dedication of each employee in making SpiceJet India’s most preferred airline.” According to Aggarwal, Indian aviation has taken a turn for the better and SpiceJet is looking forward to a good year ahead. SpiceJet’s market share has seen a significant increase despite no major capacity induction during this period, moving up to 12.5 per cent during OctDec 2009 from 10.5 per cent during the same period last year. This has been possible due to better aircraft utilisation. “SpiceJet has consistently carried more passengers per departure than any of our competitors during this period, clearly indicating customer preference in our favour,” said Aggarwal.
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et Airways has posted its first profit in three quarters as it carried more passengers, ruthlessly trimmed costs and took advantage of lower fuel prices and rising income from leasing planes(Rs 106.43 crore as opposed to Rs 17.44 crore the year before). It made a profit of Rs 105.80 crore for the quarter ended December 31 (Q3) from a loss of Rs 214.18 crore. The last time profit crossed Rs 100 crore was in the March quarter of 2006. In a way, Jet’s recovery reflects the recovery in the airline business as a whole. “There was a strong recovery in operating margins. High seat occupancy, high yields and various cost initiatives led to a lower break-even seat factor,” said Saroj K Datta, Executive Director, Jet Airways who has been with the airline since its inception and has a total 48 years of industry experience. “We are cautiously optimistic about economic growth and its relative impact on the air travel market,” he added. Jet Airways, which required seat occupancy of 77.8 per cent to breakeven during the reporting quarter, scored 80 per cent occupancy. The required seat occupancy, or break-
as much of Europe and Japan, it is possible that the consumption will rise even more sharply in 2011. When seen against virtually nil expansion in global oil refining capacity, one can safely assume that Jet Fuel prices will only go up and up as the airlines will have to choose between flying healthy or flying to fall sick. Obviously the yields and the trend one noticed all around in terms of rising fares will need to be sustained. But then it will restrict traffic growth. So the choice cannot be to carry more people and fall sick. While these may be in the realm of future possibility, what does this hold for Indian aviation which became the darling of international aviation industry, be it manufacturers or airlines and who all rode on India’s three year average nine per cent GDP growth in 2005, 2006 and 2007 before the fall to over five per cent in 2008 and over 6.5 per cent in 2009 and a likely 7.5 per cent in 2010. The rising GDP is already getting reflected in increasing domestic passenger traffic as evident from figures released by the DGCA. During the calendar year 2009, domestic air traffic rose by 7.8 per cent compared to 2008. The total number of passengers carried by domestic airlines in 2009
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BACK IN THE BLACK even load factor of the airline, was 71.6 per cent in the December quarter of last fiscal, when it posted 66.2 per cent. Domestic yields have risen by 24 per cent and international yields by nine per cent said K G Vishwanath, Vice President, Commercial Strategy and Investor Relations. However, revenue in the December quarter was down 6.4 per cent to Rs 2,722.68 crore on account of capacity rationalisation on international routes.
Meanwhile Jet Airways’ low cost brand — JetKonnect — that had given flight to the Naresh Goyal full-service carrier’s revenues during the downturn in the aviation sector in the last two years may be at phased out the no-frills brand from 2011 as business travel makes a comeback. Another reason for the gradual killing of the brand, he said, was increased focus on its second low-cost brand JetLite, which is being operated by its subsidiary JetLite Airlines. “We are meeting the targets for the same (business class seat sales) and we are now contemplating to phase out JetKonnect from the mar-
was 44.51 million compared to 41.27 million in 2008. The traffic in 2008 actually fell compared to 2007 when the total passenger carried was 42.85 million. The revival in 2009, if one could say so, began only in the last quarter that is OctoberDecember 2009. The jet fuel prices had more or less stabilised at lower levels compared to their average high levels in 2008. At one stage the Indian domestic carriers had to steeply cut fares to get passengers back along with severe cuts in both routes and capacity. But as we said, with the economy and GDP beginning their upswing, pay rise and new hiring marking the corporate revival there
ket,” a Jet official told the DNA in Mumbai. Apparently, the Naresh Goyalowned airline is undertaking a massive re branding exercise for JetLite, which will involve replacing old aircraft of the budget airline’s fleet with new ones. “We will be replacing out 5-6 of our JetLite aircrafts in the coming year and these will be the newer aircrafts with winglets,” said the official. He said once the planes join the fleet, Jet will promote the JetLite brand more aggressively and slowly smother the JetKonnect brand.”. Responding of email queries on the subject from DNA, a Jet Airways spokesperson did not comment on the phasing out of the JetKonnect brand but confirmed replacement of six old aircraft with new ones this year. “The older aircraft are being redelivered as their lease terms expire this year, and we don’t wish to extend the lease terms. Therefore, in order to maintain a younger fleet we are considering inducting newer aircraft in place of those being redelivered,” she replied. As per ministry of civil aviation data, in December Jet and JetLite market share was 19 per cent and 7.2 per cent, down from 19.5 per cent and 7.5 per cent, respectively, in November. was a positive impact on the air travel both in terms of leisure and business travel. If you look at daily newspapers the number of advertisements for holiday visits to destinations in the South East and Far East Asia besides Europe and the US has risen tremendously. So we can safely say that the general mood in favour of travel is returning surely but cautiously. After all as we said, in the last quarter October-December 2009 domestic air traffic rose by 34.8 per cent to 4.5 million from 3.3 million in the same quarter of 2008 which incidentally was the highest growth recorded in 2009. According to travel trade industry, the figures are look-
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COVER STORY ing good for January 2010 as well. In terms of market share, Jet AirwaysJetLite combine clocked an average of 25.4 per cent in the year 2009 followed by Kingfisher Airlines with 23.9 per cent, Air India at 17.5 per cent, IndiGo at 13.9 per cent and SpiceJet 12.4 per cent followed by GoAir and Paramount Airways. But in terms of seat load factor, LCCs dominated with IndiGo at 90 per cent, SpiceJet 88 per cent, JetLite 81.6 per cent, Paramount at 88.7 per cent, Kingfisher Airlines 80.2 per cent, Air India 79.7 per cent and Jet at 78.2 per cent. On some days during the holiday season in December ‘09 the economy class fares soared to as high as Rs 17,000 in select metro sectors. Early indications suggests that India’s $14 billon airline industry may be moving away from the crisis proportion losses it made in the last three years. As for the current fiscal 2009-10 it is possible they could be making operational profit and at best even some very small marginal profits. This confidence comes from the fact for instance that Jet Airways witnessed a 53 per cent growth in domestic and 28 per cent in international traffic in December 2009 and expects to hold on. Jet’s average seat factor on the international flights was as high as 84.9 per cent during the month. It will be very difficult hazard any guess on numbers. But does this all mean that the worst is over and the Indian domestic carriers can look forward to profitable days. Again we believe it will be very difficult to hazard a guess while it is true that in term of deployed capacity there was a rise by 30 per cent over the year mostly at the level of low fare carriers. Significantly, nearly 65 to 70 per cent of seats offered on the domestic
ingfisher Airlines’ losses in Q3 2009 was Rs 419.9 crore, just about the same as in Q3 2008. Kingfisher attributed its losses to exceptional items amounting to Rs 100 crore including the cost of grounded aircraft and redelivery due to pre-mature termination of airplanes on lease and forex losses of Rs 116.8 crore. In the run up to Q3, Kingfisher saw a 31 per cent increase in its domestic traffic after cutting its capacity by 17 per cent. It posted a seat load factor of 80.2 per cent the highest in its history. The company has posted a two per cent increase in net loss to Rs 420 crore for the third quarter. The airline has also posted a five per cent decline in total income to Rs 1,370 crore. Kingfisher
says ATF (aviation turbine fuel) prices rose by 20 per cent during calendar 2009, leading to more payout of taxes. Kingfisher has debt of Rs 6,000 crore, a leverage of around 15 times. It is in the market to raise Rs 1,000 crore in the near future, either through a rights issue or one of global depository receipts. The company said it had managed to stem its operating losses to Rs 77 crore during the third quarter as against a loss of Rs 297 crore during the corresponding period last year. The airline will launch a door-todoor express cargo service ‘Kingfisher Express’ soon. The planned same-day express cargo service will be available in over 30 cities, with a minimum parcel size of 8-10kg.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
sector by Jet Airways and Kingfisher is on their low cost or fare carrier. In 2009, Jet and JetLite together carried 111.23 lakh, Kingfisher Airlines 104.83 lakh, Air India (domestic) 76.82 lakh, IndiGo 61.03 lakh, SpiceJet 54.46 lakh, GoAir 20.61 lakh and Paramount 8.3 lakh passengers respectively. Overall, during the year 2009 an additional 3.07 million passengers flew. Kapil Kaul, CEO of CAPA for India, and the Middle East however feels that the Indian domestic carriers are still going through a difficult phase as air fares continue to rule below the operation cost and the fierce competition among carriers was coming in the way of raising fares to realistic levels. During 2008-09, Air India made a loss of Rs 5,446 crore, Kingfisher Airlines Rs 1,602 crore, Jet Airways Rs 1,032 crore, SpiceJet Rs 352 crore and GoAir Rs 22.50 crore. While the Government has already approved the first tranche of Rs 800 crore in equity support to Air India, it has also cleared Jet Airways request for raising $400 million from FIIs. It may be mentioned here that Jet Airways had been wanting to raise $400 million for the last nearly two years but did not - soon after it finalised its plan, the global meltdown happened the aviation sector wasthe most batered worldwide. The share prices of Jet Airways which was issued at Rs 1,150 per scrip at the time of its IPO in early 2005 fell to as low as Rs 150. Obviously placing its scrip with the FIIs would have meant parting with far more to get the much needed $400 million as compared to what it may now have to do when its share prices have reached over Rs 500. Back of the envelope calculation suggests that Jet Airways promoter Naresh Goyal will have to place just one third of his
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shares today as against what he would have had to pledge a year ago. This is a clear indicator of the mood of the Indian aviators and their request for Lift Kara De seems being answered by an expanding domestic economy and which is in line with what is happening in Asia and South America both in terms of economy as also the relevant or respective aviation business. Yet another rosy patch for India is that its exports which were in the negative range after a lull of nearly ten months have made a strong come back posting double digit growth in September and October 2009 and continues its upward path. This has also stirred the travel business and business travel. There are already rumours that much of the shift in seating capacity of full service carrier like that of Jet and Kingfisher to LCC mode may now halt as rising business and may see the return of the business class passengers. The only odd man in this crowd is Air India which had announced in August 2009 that it will soon start its own version of LCC in October 2009 and has now said that it will not happen because of regulatory reasons. We are hearing of Paramount Airways expanding its network to include new towns in the East and West India. As M Thiagarajan, Managing Director, Paramount Airways said, “With passenger numbers rising, it seems our bad times are getting over. As yields are directly proportional to passenger numbers, our yields are up by 25 per cent and we are set to see good quarterly figures”. Paramount is now looking to lease dozen 70 seater turbo-prop planes to connect destinations like Cooch Behar in West Bengal, Pondicherry, Mysore, Salem, Bellary etc. Paramount is also looking at making its
According to IATA, carriers in AsiaPacific, Europe and North America recorded year-on-year decline in passenger demand of 5.6 per cent, 5.0 per cent and 5.6 per cent respectively in 2009. Asia-Pacific carriers stand out as benefiting most from the year-end upturn with an 8 per cent year-on-year improvement in December. This reflects their 35 per cent contribution to the year-end rise boosted by the significant economic upturn in the region. By contrast, European carriers saw a 1.2 per cent decline and North American carriers declined by 0.4 per cent. While both North American and European carriers saw demand improvements in the first half of the year, the second half was basically flat. According to IATA DG Giovanni Bisignani, DG, IATA, “The industry starts 2010 with some enormous challenges. The worst is behind us, but it is not the time to celebrate yet. Adjusting to 2.5-3.5 years of lost growth means that airlines face another spartan year focused on matching capacity carefully to demand and controlling costs.”
Yet another rosy patch for India is that its exports which were in the negative range after a lull of nearly ten months have made a strong come back posting double digit growth in September and October 2009 and continues its upward path CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
presence felt in Jharkhand and Megalaya. As he said the airline will connect more metros to smaller cities in the next two months. Already in the past two months Paramount has added around 200 flights to its network. By March 2010, the airline has set to fly 2500 flights a month and going to increase its capacity by three more jets in addition to the five Embraers it is already operating. SpiceJet is planning to raise $75 million from the market to fund its fleet and expansion of its route network. It will also shortly invite bids by March from manufacturers for new aircraft. Already the LCC has applied to the government to fly foreign routes like Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka etc. For this it needs more aircraft. The last of the Boeing 737 NGs for which it had placed orders more than four years ago will be delivered by 2012. So what is it going to be again Boeing or it will move the Airbus way. We don’t know, but from the observations made in the past by SpiceJet bosses, the entry of European narrow body cannot be ruled out. As for profitability, SpiceJet CEO Sanjay Aggarwal feels it is indeed possible for his carrier to make a profit in the current fiscal 2009-10 as the loads have begun to show sharp pick up from October 2009 onwards and even yields were on the upswing. Only JetLite seems to be still having some problem which is more to do with the legal dispute between Jet Airways and Naresh Goyal with the erstwhile Air Sahara and its promoter Subroto Roy. Soon after Jet bought Sahara, the deal got into problems with regard to the balance money that had to be paid in installments by Jet to Sahara and which did not happen. Soon the issue reached courts where it now lies. There are strong rumours that Sahara has allegedly filed attachment notice against Jet’s aircraft which has made it things slightly difficult whenever Jet decides to lease its aircraft to fight excess capacity phenomenon in the Indian market. If this excess capacity issue dissolves with a strong pick up in the market then even this issue may get sorted out. An indirect fall out has been the decision by JetLite, which is what Air Sahara became after take over by Jet Airways, to defer deliveries of nine Boeing 737-800 aircraft by three years as part of its “capacity rationalisation”. The delivery of these aircraft was originally scheduled between 2010 and 2012. These have now been delayed to 2012 and 2015. Overall, if the economy swings, fuel prices hold low, the Indian aviation can once again have a ball like the one in 2006 and 2007. Should that happen then even the sufferers like Mallya’s Kingfisher can rise above water and Air India reduce its burden on a scared exchequer.
AIRSHOW TO BOOST AVIATION SECTOR
In its second edition, the Singapore Airshow, scheduled to take place this month comes at a time when the Asian region has proved to the world that it remains comparatively untouched by the global recession and that aviation continues to grow — albeit at a modest pace. A report.
t (aviation) is (to overcome) the tyranny of distance,” said the venerable Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew while speaking to aviation leaders from across the world during the 2008 Singapore Airshow. He might have had his own country in mind but he was referring to Asia in general. The senior statesman pointed out that liberalisation in the aviation sector would come as more countries realised that aviation was the lifeblood of economies. The latest edition of the show, scheduled to take place between February 2-7, 2010, comes at a crucial juncture in the Asia-Pacific region’s aviation sector. While on one hand, the gloom of recession is yet to fade away and on the other are signs of hope. The Singapore show will add excitement and dynamism to the industry. There
The Singapore show will add excitement and dynamism to the industry. There is hope all around stemming from the fact that Asia's mid- to long-term prospects remain positive CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
is hope all around stemming from the fact that Asia’s mid- to long-term prospects remain positive reminding one of Lee Kuan Yew’s words when he had mentioned that the industry was poised to grow strongly in Asia. “I see tremendous growth in Asia,” he had said, “the Chinese will have 200 airports by 2020, and 500 by 2050. They have discovered that despite roads, railways and waterways, air transport provides more connectivity, particularly to the interior regions of the country.” Similar growth, he had said, had also been noticed from India. The Singapore show then will showcase the vitality of Asia in the aviation sector. Though the economic downturn may have slowed the growth of the global aerospace industry, it has not diminished it. Asia’s aircraft fleet size has been projected to grow to 25,000 by 2030 from the 16,500 today. In addition, maintenance,
Glimpses from the 2008 edition of the Singapore Airshow; (left) Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong inaugurating the Singapore Airshow 2008.
repair and overhaul (MRO) revenues from the region is expected to triple from its current $22 billion figure by 2030. Part of this growth can be attributed to the growing economies and demands of China, India and other ASEAN countries, causing air traffic, aircraft fleet and aerospace MRO revenues to rise. These encouraging trends provide the essential ingredient for the growth of Singapore’s aerospace industry: last year, the city-state’s aerospace industry had a total output of $5.1 billion. Perhaps, what is more important is that Singapore has made smart investments in its capabilities — probusiness environment, highly skilled workforce, aerospace MRO, manufacturing and R&D — providing it enough muscle to become a strong aerospace hub and play a vital role in the global aerospace industry. The show will see the participation of more than 800 exhibiting companies from over 40 countries. Among them will be 62 of the top 100 global aerospace companies, such as Boeing, EADS, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Rolls-Royce. Countries like Switzerland, New Zealand, Russia and Romania have
The show will see the participation of more than 800 exhibiting companies from over 40 countries. Among them will be 62 of the top 100 global aerospace companies CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
confirmed their inaugural presence. This edition of the show will see leading aerospace players in the country that have been taking advantage of the facilities offered by Singapore to showcase their products. Rolls-Royce, for example, announced in July 2009, that it was keen to set up a Wide Chord Fan Blade (WCFB) factory. The hollow titanium WCFB is an essential aircraft component which requires a sophisticated and complex manufacturing process. Another industry leader, helicopter manufacturer — Eurocopter has decided to move its Eurocopter South East Asia (ESEA) regional headquarters to a stateof-the-art facility in Seletar Aerospace Park (SAP) in the third quarter of 2010. With the presence of acknowledged leaders in the global aviation sector, the Singapore Airshow is looking forward to a sizeable number of visitors who will be able to revisit past exhibitors: at least 80 per cent of them will be return exhibitors from the 2008 edition of the show. Among the pavilions will be a novel addition: the Green Pavilion. It will reflect the aviation industry’s commitment to tackle the challenges of climate change. Exhibitors can
FOCUS expect to find innovative green products and services as well as ground-breaking initiatives and ideas that balance best business practices and environmental-friendly considerations. On the cards, is also an India Business Forum, meant only for those keen to initiate and promote aviation business links with India. The show has created enough interest to lead Jimmy Lau, Managing Director of the Singapore Airshow and Events, to say that he was “quietly optimistic that some of the vendors, including the two major plane makers Airbus and Boeing will make key announcements during the show…I am hoping the announcements will centre around new acquisition, purchase as well as new alliances forged in the market place. I would also expect some airlines to accelerate aircraft delivery as supposed to the past year-and-a-half where deliveries were deferred.” The Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit (SAALS) 2010 will be held simultaneously with the airshow. A collaborative effort of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), International Air Transport Association (IATA), Ministry of Transport (MoT) and Singapore Airshow & Events (SAe), it will be the only event of its kind in the industry that will bring together high level participants from regulators, private sector, the government and airline operators. Highlighting the critical challenges faced by the aerospace industry, SAALS will focus on the theme, “Battling the Crisis, Shaping the Future”, reflecting the conference’s emphasis on pertinent issues created by the global economic slowdown ranging from environment, liberalisation and security challenges to salient, strategic trends facing the region. In addition, there will also be the Asia Pacific Security Conference (APSEC) 2010 that will present excellent opportunities for defence officials, military personnel and aviation industry leaders to exchange views and address concerns relating to ‘The Evolution of Military Power in the 21st Century’. APSEC 2010 is co-organised by the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and SAe. Held in conjunction with the Singapore Airshow, it will be a new conference that will take a look at the New Challenges in Aerospace Technology & Maintenance Conference (NCATMC). The conference, jointly organised by the Singapore Institute of Aerospace Engineers (SIAE) and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), aims to cultivate the sharing of knowledge and expertise by professionals within the aerospace community. One of the key highlights of this year’s airshow will be the launch of the Hosted
EX W inf
800 exhibiting companies from 48 countries, a comprehensive mix of civil and military exhibitors 59 of Forbes top 100 aerospace companies participated Over $13 billion in sales of aircraft and related equipment announced during show days A further $2.6 billion was generated from contracts for facilities and
The Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit (SAALS) 2010 will be held simultaneously with the airshow and will highlight the critical challenges faced by the aerospace industry CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
other services 43,827 trade attendees from 112 countries, including 240 delegations from 61 countries. Guest list included CEOs from major airlines, Air Force chiefs and transport ministers. Some of the Indian companies that participated in the 2008 show: BhraMos Aerospace, Centre for Technology Extension & Cooperation, Defence Research & Development Organisation, ISRO Headquarters, TATA Advanced Materials Ltd, Aarjay International Private Limited, Triveni Hi-Tech Pvt Ltd and Aeromag Asia
Buyer Programme organised by Singapore Airshow, in collaboration with International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) and the Association of Aerospace Industries Singapore (AAIS). The programme aims to bring together key procurement decision makers from global airlines, airports, MRO companies and OEMs/ODMs, seeking to fulfill their buying needs, with leading manufacturers and suppliers. In addition, exhibitors can also look forward to the first-ever Business Forums where top aerospace buyers, high-level executives from government agencies and industry leaders share valuable insights and strategic guidance on how to tap business opportunities in the key markets of China, India and the Middle East. “With the economy showing signs of a recovery, the long-term outlook for the global air travel market looks set to recover. We are optimistic that the recovery will see a more sustained growth by the first quarter of 2010 when the Airshow is staged and we are well-poised to leverage on these opportunities when the upturn takes off,” said Jimmy Lau.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
AIR CARGO & LOGISTICS
FREIGHT FORWARDERS AND CARGO CARRIERS ARE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT 2010. WILL LADY LUCKY SMILE AT THEM? ANSWER LIES IN THE FUTURE ONLY
To fire up the cold chains sector in India the government is coming up with new policies to boost it
As India is among the fastest growing auto markets in the world, the Indian automobile industry is driving the cargo sector too
Last in first out.qxd
LAST IN/FIRST OUT
Indian logistics needs to be more technology-driven ONLY around 10 per cent of work is outsourced by shippers in the Indian Logistics Industry. There is, in fact, a huge potential to improve productivity and hence the growth. Perhaps, what is even more important is that less than one per cent of the industry is organised and there is a lack of industry-wide standards, processes and established technology solutions that create an opportunity to establish the benefits of technology. These were the findings of a recent report from Kale Consultants, technology solution provider to the airline, logistics and travel (ALT) industry. The report, Technology
Adoption Index for the Logistics industry (TAIL), covering 235 companies, points out that only 0.26 per cent is spent on IT against the global standard of two to three per cent. This low spend is among the several reasons for the high cost of running logistics businesses in the country. The inaugural TAIL study offers an indepth view of the state of technology adoption in the logistics industry. Vineet Malhotra, Global Head-Marketing, Kale Consultants Ltd, pointed out that the Technology Adoption Index for Logistics had emerged as a reliable basis for measurement of the degree of technology adoption in logistics.
A LARGE portion of fresh produce goes to waste due to inadequate storage and processing facilities. According to industry analysts, with integrated cold chains and supply chain management, the country can save Rs 75,000 crore annually by cutting 30 per cent wastage of perishable horticulture produce, besides garnering additional export revenue of Rs 25,000 crore. At the Cold Chain Summit 2009, organised in December by the CII,T Nanda Kumar, Agriculture Secretary, said that the industry had to come forward with investments.The private sector’s involvement in warehousing and logistics had to be stepped up, he said. Globally, more than 72 per cent of food sales occur through supermarket stores. In India there are 12 million outlets.The
C-17 Globemasters coming to India THE country defence services have signed an agreement for ten new C-17 Globemaster cargo planes with Boeing.The US-based aircraft manufacturer announced that India had planned to buy the Globemasters, each worth at least $200 million, to replace its fleet of old Russian aircraft. Jerry Drelling, Boeing spokesman, said that India sent the request to the US government for the acquisition of the ten aircraft last year but “the finalisation of the agreements can take years”, he added. The C-17 has a payload of 77 tons and requires a runway of only 915 meters to take off. Boeing has delivered 193 C-17s to the US Air Force and has also sold them to Britain, Canada,Australia, Qatar and a NATOled consortium of 12 nations. “It’s been a good start to the year for the C-17 programme. We are very excited about this project.The final assembly of the C-17 takes place at Boeing’s Long Beach plant near Los Angeles, which employs 5,000 workers.The aircraft takes about ten-and-ahalf months to finish,” said Drelling.
The global economy will continue on a recovery path. The massive and unstoppable shift in economic importance, away from America and especially Europe, towards the East (China and India), which should by now surprise nobody, will still catch some unaware and unprepared.
Chief Cargo Officer, Swiss International Airlines on how cargo industry will shape up in 2010.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
Indian retail sector is estimated to have a market size of about $180 billion but the organised sector represents only two per cent share of this market. A strong retail front-end can also provide the necessary fillip to agriculture and food processing and other industries. To accelerate and develop a roadmap for cold chains sector in the country, the government had set up a taskforce in association with the CII. Based on the recommendations of the taskforce, the Central Warehousing Corporation has been designated as the nodal agency to take action for the setting up of a Special Purpose Vehicle for cold logistics, creation of an integrated multipurpose commodity complex and to develop software for commissioning of IT-based management system.
Back to good
TIMES? After having braved a low phase of economic downturn in 2009, the air cargo sector like others is now sensing a stage of recovery and even a shift to the second quadrant on a growth graph. If lady luck smiles at them, 2010 will usher in better times that the sector badly needs. A report from Tirthankar Ghosh. f 2009 was a year when the world moved ever so slowly, 2010 will be different, according to stakeholders in the Indian air cargo sector. A brief recap of 2009: While top domestic air cargo and logistics majors lost business, start-ups waiting on the sidelines had to delay their launches. Saddled with whopping losses, First Flight Couriers Ltd — the
second-largest courier in the country — was forced to abandon its cargo airline plans. Reason: the company had selected an ATP freighter that was unable to lift the expected tonnage. On its heels was logistics major Gati, which had tied up with Air India. The company saw losses mounting as it continued with its freighter business. Crescent Air Cargo Services Pvt Ltd, that had planned to run Crescent Air, shut down its operations, again due to accruing losses. Waiting in the wings was Aryan Cargo Express and Captain GR Gopinath’s
Jude Fonseka Chief Executive Officer Deccan 360
about while Aryan Cargo Express has planned its launch in March-April this year. What then makes 2010 so different? The focus will be on capacity building. As Madhavan Nambiar, Secretary, Civil Aviation put it to the delegates at the second India-US Aviation Partnership Summit held in Washington (December 79, 2009): “Capacity building is a vital need for Indian organisations. Through projects under the Joint Aviation Steering Committee and the Aviation Cooperation Programme (ACP), I am sure both countries would proactively execute the activities identified in supporting civil aviation objectives. Some significant initiatives are
“Our prediction is that both domestic and international sectors will move upwards, but on international, it will be lane specific”
Deccan 360. Of these, Deccan 360 is up and
controller training, Air Traffic Flow Management planning, capacity analysis of India’s airspace and cooperation in establishing proper regulatory framework. Sharing of
FLYING HIGH: Indian logistics industry is hopeful in 2010 as there are predicitions of growth in the year.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
CARGO information, knowledge and harmonisation of systems will result in aviation appropriate solutions in the best interests of the industry and the country. Adoption
A brief recap of 2009: While top domestic air cargo and logistics majors lost business, start-ups waiting on the sidelines had to delay their launches
READY FOR EXPRESS DELIVERY: Elevated Transfer Vehicle (ETV), the state-of-the-art cargo handling equipment positioned by AAI at the metro air cargo terminals.
of best international practices is the best way forward.” To begin with, the country’s top airport infrastructure provider, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) that manages 126 airports, which include 11 international airports, 89 domestic airports and 26 civil enclaves at
military airfields, is upbeat. V P Agrawal, Chairman, AAI, talking to C RUISING H EIGHTS pointed out that the “past one year has indeed been challenging and exciting”. Having just completed his first year as the head of AAI, Agrawal has steered the government-controlled organisation through the
economic recession and even managed to implement a few of the planned projects of upgradation and development of airports. He said, “In this period (the last year) the seed of modernisation that we had sown started to germinate and the projects at 21 airports (nine non-metro
“An upward growth trend is visible” V P Agrawal, Chairman, Airports Authority of India (AAI) is optimistic about the prospects of the air cargo sector and discloses AAI's plans on development of cargo infrastructure. :How has 2009 been for air cargo and how have Indian airports handled the recessionary trends? : There has been an upward trend in International cargo at the rate of 11 percent in 200708. Though upward trend continued in 2008-09, there has been a decline of 0.3 per cent due to recession.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
With a positive trend of growth at an average of 7.5 per cent, the domestic cargo, in 2008-09, showed a decline of -2.8 per cent. Cargo revenue showed a decline trend of 18 per cent at two major airports viz. Chennai and Kolkata. This decline was basically due to system improvements resulting into the faster clearance of cargo. During this period recession was also one of the factors for decline in cargo revenue.
With the situation looking up, how is AAI gearing up? What are the new moves/plans as far as infrastructure is concerned? In Chennai, Phase-II of cargo complex has been implemented. Under this Phase-II we are creating storage / processing area of 15,600 sq m. On the basis of area available,
and 12 other airports) were completed.” As for air cargo, the airports under the AAI — the list does not include the five privately-held airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Cochin — handled in 2009, 1.14 million tonnes of exports and 0.54 million tonnes of domestic cargo. In 2007-08, the figure was 1,715 (in thousand Metric Tonnes). The AAI chief mentioned that there had been an upward trend in international cargo over the last few years from 2005-06: averaging 11 per cent per year. He also said in 2008-09, due to the recession there was a decline of 0.3 per cent. Domestic cargo, on the other hand, also showed a positive trend averaging 7.5 per cent per year till 2007-08 from 2005-06. In 2008-09, it showed a decline of -2.8 per cent. Now that the situation was looking up, AAI was
Cargo-tonnage at all airports in India (Quantity wt. in ‘000’ MTs.) Year
International Quantity %age change 920.15 11.7 1021.26 11.0 1146.75 12.3 1149.92 0.3
2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
Domestic Quantity %age change 477.15 5.9 529.64 9.5 568.23 7.3 552.06 -2.8
Total Quantity 1397.30 1550.91 1714.98 1701.98
%age change 9.3 11.0 10.6 -0.8
Source: CP&MS, AAI
geared up to tackle growth. Agrawal said that the AAI had planned out major projects in two of the metro airports under its command: Chennai and Kolkata. The AAI was also moving ahead to create Centres for Perishable Cargo (CPC) at Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Amritsar and Kolkata: something which the country lagged behind in. Agrawal went on to mention that though “perishable cargo had not
the existing cargo capacity for import and export is 3, 63,712 MT. against the demand of 2,19,562 MT. AAI is going to add Phase-III, admeasuring an area of 26,000 sq m increasing the capacity by 5,01,890 MT. This capacity will be sufficient to handle the cargo up to the year 2019-20 (Source: CP&MS Report on Capacity Measurement Survey). Phase-III of cargo complex at Chennai will have ASRS (Automated Storage and retrieval System) with 7,000 storage bins having a capacity of 1.3 MT each. This facility will be increasing efficiency, accuracy and less human interventions. In Kolkata existing cargo storage / processing area in Phase-I is 21,906 sq m with a capacity of 1, 25,000 MT against the existing demand of 41,000 MT. The existing facility will suffice upto 2019-20. Hence, there is no requirement / proposal to add any further infrastructure at this stage. Old cargo terminal with an area of 4,000 sq m has been converted into separate exclusive domestic / courier terminal in the last quarter of 2008.
“I would attribute 2010 as a year of reinvention for both business as well as business practices”
Sesh Kulkarni President UT Worldwide
shown any appreciable growth, the present
Introduction of ASRS at Kolkata Cargo Complex followed by Chennai Cargo complex is to increase the capacity on the same lines. In case of other cities, the cargo being handled departmentally, on the airports at Amritsar, Indore, Lucknow, Guwahati, Coimbatore and Port Blair. The area available at the existing cargo terminals is sufficient to meet the existing / future demands for next five years.
India still lags behind in storage and transportation of perishable cargo. What are the specific plans AAI has worked out for perishables? AAI has established Centre for Perishable Cargo (CPC) at the Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Amritsar and Kolkata airports after having arrangements with APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority). Though perishable cargo has not shown any appreciable growth, however, the present facilities yet to be utilised to its full
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
facilities were yet to be utilised to its full potential
potential and will meet any future requirements for handling of perishable cargo at these airports. At some of the airports, the share of perishable cargo is very small. Therefore, walk-in cold rooms have been installed at Guwahati, Coimbatore, Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Goa, Srinagar.
Have any new facilities been planned for the Nagpur hub cargo-wise? The cargo terminal at Nagpur Airport is being taken over by MIHANS. All the future facilities, if any, will be created by them. What are the targets for 2010 — air cargo-wise, domestic and international? As per the study and projections, there will be cargo growth of six per cent in the year 2010-11. Subsequently, cargo growth of eight per cent in international sector and six per cent in domestic sector has been taken to find the future growth up to 2016-17.
CARGO (Special Business Units) separately from the beginning of coming financial year,” said. The new unit handling cargo operations would offer logistics services for doorto-door deliveries and is expected to generate Rs 2,000 crore of revenues in a year. Freight forwarders who had a bad 2009 are keen to break out. According to Bangalorebased Sesh Kulkarni, President of UT Worldwide, and a prominent member of the Bangalore Air Cargo Club (BACC), 2009 gave most companies a good chance of introspecting and knowing the strengths of their teams. “As we embark on establishing the difference between the chalk and the cheese, it will create a flutter in the trade and it would be interesting to see how companies will deal with cheese internally and how
Cagro Revenue (Rs in Lacs) till September 2009 EXP
CURRENT F.Y.(2009-10) IMP TOTAL
PREVIOUS F.Y.(2008-09) IMP TOTAL
and would meet any future requirements for handling of perishable cargo at the airports”. With the major upgradation process underway, the air cargo growth that AAI was looking forward to in 2010 was around six per cent. Agrawal said, “As per our study and projections, there will be cargo growth of six per cent in the year 2010-11.” A growth of eight per cent on the international sector and six per cent on the domestic sector had been worked out till 2016-17 when the total tonnage (in thousand metric tonnes) of cargo moved would be 2,790 MT. he optimism of the AAI has rubbed off on other operators too. The government-run Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), which had decided to set up air freight stations quite some time ago, has now decided that two such air freight stations of the seven planned would be set up by April. In fact, CONCOR has tied up with Cargo Services Centre for air cargo handling, warehousing and cargo security services. Private operators too are ready to fly high. One of the rare outfits who
have braved the recession is home-grown express major Blue Dart. Anil Khanna, Managing Director, Blue Dart Express had commented way back in May, 2009 in an interview to a financial daily that the outlook for the air express industry in 2009 could be described as extremely challenging. “These are tough times...We believe that these inconsistencies will bottom out with the revival of the economy.” But the company kept to its expansion plans, conceived in 2007 and opened a new warehouse at the Hyderabad airport in December and is well ahead in its plans to set up another at Delhi airport. In addition, the company is all set to improve and enhance its existing aviation network, especially in the NorthEast region of the country. However, it is holding back as far as inducting more freighters in its sevenstrong Boeing fleet. With the $625 million domestic express cargo market forecast to grow at 20 per cent over the next five years, Capt G R Gopinath, who started his Deccan 360 last year, had been looking around to expand but had stopped short because of a lack of funds. He has decided to
sell 25 per cent stake in his Deccan 360, now that the markets had revived and the valuation of his enterprise had reached around Rs 800 crore. Deccan 360 boss had abandoned talks in September 2009 due to low valuations. According to insiders, privy to the talks with European and US investors, Deccan 360
Anil Khanna Managing Director Blue Dart Express
“These are tough times...We believe that these inconsistencies will bottom out with the revival of the economy”
plans to hire 5,000 staffers in the next five years and also appoint 100 franchisees. A troubled Air India has taken the decision to hive off its ground handling and cargo operations into separate business units. Arvind Jadhav, CMD, Air India, said at a recent press conference, “We already have three registered companies that will operate the three SBUs
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
companies will identify cheese externally knowing very well that cheese (quality) is always in short supply.” However, having done the differentiation, 2010 will be a ‘Year of Hope’ and “we are particularly very excited as there is some sanity which is building around in the system. While not everything has fallen in place, but the strength of Indian domestic economy and the course corrections
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JET SET GO: Cargo sector worldwide is keen to recover the losses and move forward.
done by various countries and industries has brought to the front - some realistic expectations. We think that 2010 will be a better year than 2009 and we foresee growth,” said Kulkarni. He went on to add, “I would attribute 2010 as a year of reinvention both for business and business practices. Our industry is not very matured on all these fronts, but I guess, the writing is on the wall, and the companies which are here to stay, will have to look at this.” A step further, Jude
Fonseka, CEO, Deccan 360, observes that the yields have already improved on some sectors as much as 25 per cent. “This is due to two reasons” he says, “the capacity has been pulled creating pleasure on yield upwards and generally markets have pricked up as well.” He adds, “Our prediction is both domestic and international sectors will move upwards but on international it will be lane specific for a while.” Perhaps, the most optimistic of the lot is Capt Mukut Pathak, whose ACE
is ready to start operations in three months. Speaking to CRUISING HEIGHTS, he projected, “What we feel about the market is that in the months of January, February and March 2010, there will be more consolidation of rates. The yields will improve. The over-capacity which is in the market would even out and then from the month of April 2010 onwards, we will hit the lean season. In that lean season, we do not expect the yields and rates to fall as it did in 2009. The real rise will be seen
Cagro Tonnage (Wt. in MT.) till September 2009 EXP
CURRENT F.Y.(2009-10) IMP TOTAL
PREVIOUS F.Y.(2008-09) IMP TOTAL %Change
Coimbatore 1042.53 Nagpur
Indore Amritsar Totals
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
from July-August 2010 onwards and we expect that January-March 2011 onwards we will reach the same point we were in
As for air cargo, the airports under the AAI, handled 1.14 million tonnes of exports and 0.54 million tonnes of domestic cargo in 2009 2008. If you look at the last 10-12 months in the air cargo industry, the drop in air cargo has been so severe that it has gone down to the levels of 2005. So, the industry has to first recover, go back to the peak of 2008 and then the real rise will start.”
Cargo Jottings New:Cargo Jottings New.qxd
CARGO JOTTINGS Nagpur hub: A story with hiccups WITH the target to handle 0.87 million tonnes of cargo and 14 million passengers, the first multimodal express delivery services (EDS) hub at Nagpur is expected to be completed by 2010. But, a recent study by the Planning Commission of the integrated logistics sector that Delhi was better suited to be developed as a cargo hub has put a question mark on the Rs3 bn project of the Maharashtra Government and the Maharashtra Airport Development Company Ltd (MADC). The study, however, has not affected the government's decision. According to the plans, the Nagpur airport will have a captive power plant and a road terminal on 60 hectares with parking space for 1,000 trucks. There are likely to be 14 godowns in addition to the space dedicated to private players for developing their own warehousing facilities. The airport is centrally located and well connected by road, air and rail. A recent survey by the Indian Council
for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), along with the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, of 133 express companies, 90 clients and 25 freight forwarders was aimed to understand the feasibility of Nagpur as an express hub. The survey found that the express industry preferred operating on a “hub and spokes” model. While the civil aviation ministry is trying to develop Nagpur as a hub, the newly proposed Act, Courier Imports and Exports (Electronic Declaration and Processing) Regulations, 2009, is restricting trans-shipment. In a bid to make Nagpur more attractive as a hub, the ministry has proposed a five-year exemption from all airport and navigation charges for both domestic and international airlines.
Alliance Air undergoes reformation ALLIANCE Air, regional airline subsidiary of Air India, is attempting to become a full cargo operator. The airline mooted this proposal at a review meeting held with top brass of the civil aviation ministry. This is one of the options that the airline is looking at to restructure itself. The airline has expressed its interest to convert Alliance Air into a full cargo operator. At present, Alliance Air provides road feeder and handling services; in addition to personnel services to over 110 international airlines. On domestic front, the carrier mainly flies over 300 weekly flights on over 40 routes mainly in the non-metro cities. The airline also focuses on northeastern regions. With Alliance Air, the government wanted to ensure better air connectivity on non-profitable routes. However, once it fully becomes a cargo entity, connectivity to faraway cities would be limited, as regular airlines have limited exposure in these markets. Alliance Air has about 20 aircraft, a mix of Boeing 737-200, ATRs and CRJs.
DHL India has a new Country Manager R S Subramanian has been appointed as Country Manager for DHL Express India. Prior to taking over this role, Subramanian was Vice President - Rest of South Asia (RoSA), where he was handling DHL Express operations in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan. Subramanian, in his role as VP, RoSA, has been instrumental in delivering excellent results in terms of performance and revenues through an economically challenged year.
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Cargo Jottings New:Cargo Jottings New.qxd
Indian car and cargo industry are moving hand in hand THE automotive industry could be the ray of hope that the air cargo sector is looking forward to. Not without reason: India is among the fastest growing auto markets in the world today with a burgeoning passenger car market and a high interest market for automakers the world over. In fact, India exported more than 350,000 passenger cars in comparison to 235,000 by China. Today, the Indian automotive industry is emerging a winner leading experts to predict that more than 50 per cent of the growth in the automotive sector will occur in emerging markets through 2015. To top it all, India will be at the forefront of this trend, playing an increasingly prominent role in the global industry. In fact, the automotive sector is expected to contribute 10 per cent of its GDP by 2016. The latest auto expo in Delhi saw Japanese car giants Toyota and Honda showcasing their global compact models, specially created for the Indian market. Perhaps, what is important for the air cargo industry is that India is also emerging as a quality component manufacturing base with the advantage of low production costs. Today, Honda, for example export crucial components from its new plant in the Rajasthan to its headquarters in Japan. Even Hyundai and Suzuki have established India as their export hubs. With the
German carrier agent starts Indian innings CISMAT, the Frankfurt-based general sales and service agent, is opening its new offices at 11 Indian airports this year. It is the first international expansion for the early 2009-founded German cargo sales agent. Hiran Houx, owner of Cismat GmbH announced a 50-50 joint venture with Vinod Seth, founder of Mumbai-based Allied Aviation Pvt Ltd. The new offices under this JV will be opened at Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Cochin, Trivandrum, Calicut, Coimbatore, Kolkatta and Ahmedabad. On the start, Houx said, “The transport market in India is recovering rapidly from the global downturn, offering plenty of opportunities in the years ahead. Therefore, we figured that the time was ripe to join forces with a reliable and renowned local partner and invest in a thriving business.” “Regarding the Indian market we are in advanced negotiations with some airlines from Europe, Middle East and North Africa,” he added.
US programme for secure shipment THE US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has designed a programme called the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP). The CCSP is a voluntary programme designed to enable vetted, validated, and certified supply chain facilities to screen air cargo prior to Air cargo security checks are going to be delivering the cargo to more strict. the air carrier. The CCSP will create additional screening capacity and provide a practical, effective opportunity for screening to occur on individual pieces of cargo prior to consolidation. According to this new strategy if cargo is delivered unscreened to an airline or
Automile sector is playing the role of catalyst to speed up the Indian logistics sector.
changing automotive landscape in India, there will be a need for closer collaboration between the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and Logistics service providers. Experts have pointed out that the automotive logistics industry will have to keep pace and grow hand in hand with the automotive industry and accommodate all the challenges.
Indirect Air Carrier (IAC), then it must be screened regardless of content. There are no exemptions based on cargo type; therefore, any piece that is moved via passenger aircraft must be screened or it does not fly. Indian exporters and freight forwarders like others have to be aware of these regulations to send shipments to USA. The TSA is mandated by Congress to ensure 100 per cent industry compliance by August 1, 2010.
AAPA’s endeavour to maintain safety records The air transport industry maintained its excellent safety record in 2009, making it one of the safest years in aviation history. Globally, for the year 2009 as a whole, there were 12 major accidents involving large western-built commercial jets, nine of which resulted in a total of 414 fatalities. The number of major accidents was 25 per cent less than the average for recent years. With over 25 million commercial flights operating annually worldwide, the result reflects an Andrew Herdman average loss rate of one major accident for every two million flights. Andrew Herdman, Director General of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said, “Flying is recognised as the safest form of travel, and maintaining the industry’s excellent safety record is always our number one priority. The major Asia Pacific airlines are amongst the safest in the world, with levels of safety performance fully comparable to their counterparts in Europe and North America.” “In 2010, AAPA will continue to work with regulatory agencies and other stakeholders to further strengthen regulatory oversight and safety management procedures, to meet the expected future growth in travel demand. Safety is founded on close collaboration. As part of these efforts, AAPA will be organising an Asia Pacific Aviation Safety Seminar (APASS 2010) in Manila, Philippines in September 2010,” he added.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
How about a low-cost airline? In these extracts from his book: ‘Simply Fly — A Deccan Odyssey’, Capt G R Gopinath recounts how he set up the country's first low cost airline. His only objective: enable the common man to fulfil his dream of flying.
e inducted the Pilatus and busied ourselves building the helicopter service network. A wind of change had begun to waft across India. People expected change and novelty; they had begun to expect better standards of goods and services. This applied to our helicopter business too. Customers wanted different, better and more. Chandrababu Naidu was quite succinct in his articulation of this altered consumer mindset. He posed this question to me: ‘Why must a helicopter be a one-off service? Why not start a regular service to Vijayawada?’ Naidu had given the lead and other politicians took the cue. They began asking for regular helicopter flights to their constituencies, typically second and three tier cities like Hubli, Belgaum, Vijayawada, and Rajahmundry. It was not possible to accede to their requests because of the cost dynamics. The deal would not work out. But the proposal, however, got me thinking. Rahul Singh Rawal, one of our young pilots, brought me an old survey of India map. The map was drawn by British surveyors and is still used by the Indian Army and Air Force. Rahul identified a small airfield on the map located near Palani in a place called Dindigul. That came as a pleasant surprise! I asked Rahul to travel to the airfield marked on the map and undertake a ground recce. Having arrived there he called me to report excitedly that the airfield actually existed. ‘It looks fine to me,’ he went on. ‘There are one or two anthills on the field.’ That was great news for Deccan, and the chief minister. This is how we discovered an airstrip in Dindigul. Now that we had helicopters and the
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India was on the march and a leap of faith was required. If India was to become a developed economy, its middle-classes should be able to travel by air between cities CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
Pilatus, our operational reach had become extended. We began an advertisement campaign that featured a girl and a helicopter on an island, presumably a remote one. It showed the girl fishing on the island with the helicopter in the background. The copy simply said: ‘If it’s on the map, we’ll get you there.’ The advertisement campaign brought us some unexpected results. People called up at any time of the day or night. Could we fly them, right away, to Jabalpur or Gwalior or Nashik or Nainital? We quoted our price: two lakh rupees. When the caller heard the figure, there was the sound of a gasp on the other side, followed by long silence, a sigh, and the plonk of the receiver being placed in its cradle. These calls served as an eye-opener. I began to note the signs of change. I saw that people in rural India were playing an increasing role in the consumer space, to buy a range of consumer goods. India was on the march and a leap of faith was required. If India was to become a developed economy, its middle-classes should be able to travel by air between cities. Two ideas came together in my head and fused into one obsession: India needs an airline that goes everywhere and India needs an airline that will allow millions to fly. I pitched my idea to Mohan Kumar, pointing to the 500-plus mid-sized towns and cities in India. I said we needed to look beyond Delhi and Mumbai… such as, Dehradun, Haridwar, Kanpur and more. Mohan Kumar heard me. He said in his characteristically laconic manner, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ I realised the idea needed political support and will of a different kind. I therefore began speaking to politicians whom I had
The Common Man Must Fly
GIVING WINGS TO THE COMMAN MAN: Capt Gopinath gave wings to the ‘common’ passenger to fly high in the skies.
met and knew. I met Venkaiah Naidu, Chandrababu Naidu and S M Krishna. They showed unaffected enthusiasm. They realised connectivity would spur economic growth and that the airline would spur investments. The most important thing for me now was to find the people who had intimate knowledge of low-cost airline management: the real people! For the LCC to succeed, I would have to bring in consumers from Dehradun and Dharmashala to fill the Delhi-Mumbai flight. We could fly the large aircraft between metros and feed these trips with passengers flying on our smaller ATRs from the small towns and cities.
We were clear that we needed a system that allowed travel agent and passenger alike to be able to access the internet interface CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
The airlines business has three principal components: aircraft, pilots and technicians, and a hangar, maintenance facilities, and airport space. These three have to be mobilised and operationalised in optimal synchrony. Aircraft cost a lot but an aircraft has value only when it flies; it is worthless on the ground. I had to ensure that aircraft arrived when the other components were in place: not too early and not too late. Pilots and technicians had to be paid salaries, but they must be on board and must be aligned with the concept of LCC and Deccan’s motto and vision before the aircraft arrived. Not too early, either. Hangar space attracted rent; spare parts and tooling are cold inventories if not put to use. They had to be ready but not too early. However, before setting up the material basis of the airline, I needed to obtain a licence and official support. I knew Venkaiah Naidu… I asked him to introduce me to Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the (then) minister of civil aviation. Venkaiah Naidu spoke favourably about me and my proposal to Rajiv Pratap Rudy. I sold Rudy a vision: Deccan’s proposal to launch an LCC. Rudy was doubtful about selling tickets at half the price of my competitors and making profits at the same time. He thought I would go bankrupt. I explained the philosophy of LCC. I said it was not a new concept but a revival of an older culture of innovation and efficiency. It is a culture that does not allow you to spend on unnecessary things... Rudy asked me to address the civil aviation officials about low fare airlines. He himself was quite convinced. I did, and explained at the meeting that Deccan would need only three airfields to get started: Vijayawada, Rajahmundry, and Hubli would do, and I sought a minuscule investment for each of these airports to be connected for the first time. The papers the following day reported that India’s first low-cost airline would begin flights to Hubli and Vijayawada and link unconnected parts of India. It set the country aflame. This had a spin-off. I was flooded with calls from chief ministers’ offices from all states wanting to know when I would start flights to their respective states. I made a media announcement that Air Deccan would be launched in August. The die was now cast. Mohan and I now had a very clear road map before us for the new venture. The decks had been cleared with the government, but we had to no time to lose. We had find the funding before the project lost steam or the government changed or
PACKING THE COMMAN MAN’S GOODS: Captain Gopinath revolutionised the domestic logistics industry with the launch of Deccan 360's hub in Nagpur in December 2009. Also present on the occasion was Praful Patel, Minister, Civil Aviation.
THE CAPTAIN'S TROOP: 1. S N Ladhani,one of the major financers in Air Deccan project; 2. John Kuruvilla, Chief Revenue Officer, Air Deccan; 3.K J Samuel, an aviation enthusiast like Capt Gopinath; 4.Preetam Phillips, one of the ex-colleagues from Air Deccan start-up team; 5.R Krishnaswamy, Head(Corporate Planning) Air Deccan and, 6. Warwick Brady, COO, Air Deccan.
changed its mind. Though all the economic sectors in India were booming — IT, biotechnology, cement, steel, automobile, and telecommunications — aviation was not. It was not looked upon as a sunrise sector. I decided to meet Ladhani in Delhi, when Mohan confirmed that we would be ready to launch with Rs 5 crore to start off with. We travelled together in a Jet Airways flight from Delhi to Bengaluru, economy class. I explained my business plan to Ladhani. I said a traditional airline charged Rs 20,000 one way for business class and Rs 12,000 one way for economy. My low-cost airline would allow you to fly this sector for Rs 4,000 flat. Ladhani was a man who could afford to charter a plane but welcomed the prospect of flying cheaper even if it meant the seat would be slightly more cramped. The licence stipulated that to start an airline we would need a minimum fleet of five aircraft within twelve months of oper-
Another critical decision that I took, on which hinged the future of the airline was that from the very first day we would distribute tickets only over the Internet and not print any CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
ations… We decided to start with a fortyeight-seater turboprop and later upgrade it to seventy-two-seater. News reports that my airline intended to use turboprops led to an increased sales pitch from turboprop companies. Another critical decision that I took, on which hinged the future of the airline was that from the very first day we would distribute tickets only over the Internet and not print any. Passengers would pay upfront and book three months in advance. That would create a comfortable cashflow for the airline. I told Mohan to go ahead and create the entire IT infrastructure to support the airline. The Internet distribution model would eliminate our dependency on travel agents. Once the business model and processes were decided, I asked Ladhani for the money and he was quick to make his terms clear. He said I would have to return the money in six months failing which I would have to forfeit 50 per cent control of the helicopter company… Without batting an eyelid, I signed and we got the money. Thanks to Ladhani, Air Deccan was born. Before finalising the aircraft manufacturer, we ran an intense competition between ATR and Bombardier. Vendors soon realised that we were obsessed about being low-cost and made their best offers. After an evaluation of the aircraft, we homed in on ATR. They were quick to respond. I made it clear that ATR would also have to come up with a complete, comprehensive maintenance package. I would pay an hourly lease rental and they should maintain the aircraft end to end. They would bring in their engineers and take care of the entire logistics and inventory support. They would train our pilots and help my staff to undertake line maintenance. Without any cash flow upfront I had got a package from them. The IT system proved to be the biggest challenge. We needed an ITenabled image that would trigger instant brand recognition in the consumer’s mind. In addition to the major task of automating and regulating ticketing and distribution, the Internet-based system would also be able to coordinate the activities of different departments. Flight operations, checkin and baggage processing, HR processes such as, pilot and cabin crew roster, flight schedules, and the supply chain, including food and beverages and fuel supply. This would be transparent to operational heads and help in taking sound decisions. I wanted someone who could make technology work for the business rather than someone who would become
obsessed with the technology for its own sake. At this juncture, I was introduced to Ajay Bhatkal. He had spent a long time in IT companies and had the experience and the know-how to conceptualise products and services from the customer’s point of view. I told Ajay, ‘E-ticketing should be our forte: I don’t care what it takes, but we are not going to print tickets. You find a way, and only then can you join me.’ We on our part were clear that we needed a system that allowed travel agent and passenger alike to be able to access the internet interface and buy the tickets from the Deccan reservation inventory, the common ticketing resource for all. We needed a reservation system that allowed the passenger, or travel agent, to pay by credit card. We needed software that interfaced our system and the bank. I signed a deal with InterGlobe Technologies (IGT). We had forty-five days to set
I AM READY: (Top) an Air Deccan aircraft ready to take its passengers to the skies; (above) the crew members of Air Deccan walking towards the plane.
I made it clear that ATR would train our pilots and help my staff to undertake line maintenance. Without any cash flow upfront I had got a package from them CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
up everything from scratch. Managing an airline demands that routines at every functional node are meticulously synchronised. This applies to the front end of airline operations: to bookings, check-in, and departure, and also to the back-end: flight operations, aircraft engineering and maintenance, and ground-handling. We had to hire the linemaintenance engineers, rig up general and specialized tools and sheds, equip hangars, and acquire the requisite minimum inventory for DGCA approval. What remained were clearances from the DGCA, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), AAI, and the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA). I fortunately had the backing of Rajiv Pratap Rudy and so went ahead and fixed a date for the launch. Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna agreed to be the chief guest. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Venkaiah Naidu, and defence minister George Fernandes agreed to participate. Fernandes said he would get on board my inaugural flight. The advance publicity, and the fact that nodal agencies, including the DGCA, BCAS, AAI and the MoCA had been very supportive, generated expectancy, and the very idea that India would launch an airline for the common man created quite a buzz. To be safe, swift, and profitable was the mantra. Low fares would stimulate the market. Existing passengers would fly four times rather than once. Train travellers would be tempted to fly instead of taking the railway. The airline for its part would enter uncharted territory, into the very bow els of India. This was our inner logic. (Excerpted with permission of the Publisher.)
Pilots feel hungry in the sky
Back in the cockpit
HUNGER pangs took a heavy toll on pilots when it forced them to land their plane on a city lake in Minnesota in order to grab a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant. Surprisingly, the local police were not amused. In the beginning, the pilots hopped out and later told people they wanted to get a hamburger at the lakeside restaurant Burger Jones, reported CBS affiliate WCCO. According to the WCCO, the pilots received citations for the illegal landing
A US Airways pilot who faced an 18month disciplinary suspension instated after his gun discharged on a flight was re-instated. It all happened when US Airways pilot Jim Langenhahn was found carrying a gun in March 2008 and incidentally he fired the bullet and the bullet went through the cockpit wall and fuselage leaving no crewmembers or passengers injured. In the repercussion, US Airways fired Langenhahn, and he took the case to arbitration with the help
and the Federal Aviation Administration was called. The FAA inspected the planes and the pilots’ licenses to make sure they could take off. While the police ordered the fine associated with each ticket could be upto $1,000, as the WCCO reported.
ecruiting younger flight attendants have become a new vogue for the airlines. And Thai Airways is making most of it while recruiting younger flight attendants and giving the old — a respite. The airline is offering flight attendants over age 45 voluntary retirement packages. As a matter of fact, Thai Airways have made offers that workers can't refuse.
Crewmembers that have worked up in the sky for at least 15 years and agree to leave are being offered payments of upto 30 times their monthly salary. The officials want to get the average closer to age 30. Interestingly, the airline is having a tough competition from the rival airline — Singapore Airlines which hires flight attendants for five-year contracts with only one possible renewal. CRUISING HEIGHTS January 2010
A group of 25 small dogs got a double surprise when they were given a free flight and that too by none other than “Grey’s Anatomy” actress Katherine Heigl. She launched “Project Flying Chihuahua,” by paying to fly the homeless dogs from Los Angeles to New Hampshire shelters. Virgin America too followed the actor’s footsteps giving free flights to 15 Chihuahuas from a San Francisco shelter to New York City. Interestingly, the exercise was taken as an initiative to ease California’s overpopulation of unwanted Chihuahuas, which are said to make up some 30 per cent of all homeless pets in the state. As Gail Buchwald, senior Vice President of the ASPCA adoption centre in New York, quoted to The Associated Press, “We’ve never been able to really satisfy the demand for small dogs here in New York City and the Northeast.” On the contrary, the Chihuahuas had a blast — the dogs got first-class treatment from Virgin America, including a red-carpet departure from San Francisco and a chance to ride in carriers in the plane’s regular passenger cabin. The flight also offered a champagne cocktail — “Chi-mosas” — and cupcakes for the human passengers, as well as doggie treats and toys for the Chihuahuas.
Pilot and the dogs
Going nuts??? IN a bizarre announcement, Canada’s transportation regulator dictated Air Canada to fit passengers with severe nut allergies by seating them in new nutfree zones on aircraft. The Canadian Transportation Agency said in its ruling that it has determined that a buffer zone, including an announcement within that zone, is the appropriate accommodation for persons with disabilities due to their allergy to peanuts or nuts. Earlier, the agency had received two complaints from passengers with nut allergies since 2006. In the meantime, the federal regulator noted in its ruling that the nut allergies in these cases were so extreme that nuts did not have to be consumed. Finally, the regulator said creating a nut-free buffer zone is the best solution, and gave Air Canada 30 days to come up with a recommended size of the buffer.
Cybill Shepherd’s son-a thief DURING a flight from California, the son of actress Cybill Shepherd was arrested. The son found looting the fellow passengers’ carry-on bags which included a Canon digital camera, a leather make-up case, a small travel bag and cash. Earlier, when the United Airlines Flight 186 from San Francisco arrived around midnight at Philadelphia International Airport, two passengers reported that items had been taken from their carry-ons. Witnesses identified Cyrus Shepherd-Oppenheim, 22, of
IT was a different flying experience for Pilot Jeff Bennett. The reason: he got the chance to fly 19 puppies and one adult dog in Tallahassee and flew them to a rescue group in Lakeland, Florida. By having this chance, Jeff had a gala time as he cited in a newspaper, “This was probably the best group of puppies I’ve ever taken. We loaded them up and didn’t hear virtually anything from them. There were no messes in the crates, they slept the whole way. It was a great trip.” Earlier, the Pilots N Paws, the organisation which delivers dogs in kill shelters to rescue organisations and other shelters across the country provided him this rare chance.
Illustrations by Rajeev Kumar
of the US Airways Pilots Association. Meanwhile, union spokesman James Ray told AP after the reinstatement of Jim, “We are happy to have him back. The company overreacted. Capt. Langenhahn has had a distinguished and untarnished record in his time at US Airways.”
Sepastopol, California, as the thief and the police charged him with theft, unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.
What, where and how... IN an unusual event happened in a flight from Toronto to Holguin, Cuba, nine men were deplaned. The men were asking unusual questions about the security equipment on the plane. A spokeswoman for Sunwing Aircraft stated that the men were asking “most unusual” questions. In fact, the flight attendant consulted with the senior captain, the airline’s head of security advised the crew to return to the gate and have the passengers deplaned. Their bags were taken off the plane and the aircraft took off an hour and forty minutes late. Amusingly, the airline didn’t reveal about the nature of the questions. In the meantime, airline processed a complete refund to the men.
VIP! Halle Berry Halle Berry registered her VIP status recently at Montreal airport. The actor along with her boyfriend whisked the airport breach security ahead of other passengers at the airport. Her boyfriend Gabriel Aubry huffed and puffed “we’re going to miss our flight” line and that’s what allowed them to skip ahead of everyone else as the airport officials claimed. Interestingly, after this episode the head airport inspector expressed that he was going to issue orders to ensure this doesn't happen again; however, the officer that helped out the celebrity couple didn’t get into any hot water at the time.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
DOMESTIC AIRLINES Jet selects Kale’s arm for audit solutions JET Airways has selected Zero Octa, the specialist audit subsidiary of Kale Consultants. Zero Octa is the only audit vendor to be endorsed by IATA and is the audit provider to the Star Alliance group of airlines as well. Now, Jet Airways will benefit from Zero Octa’s global experience and strong operational presence in the region. Speaking on the occasion, Sudheer Raghavan, Chief Commercial Officer, Jet Airways said, “Jet Airways has always believed in harnessing the best of breed solutions available in the market. Sales audit is a critical service, helping us minimise revenue leakage while preventing future leakages. As the leading service provider in this segment, we believe Zero Octa has the necessary expertise and domain knowledge to help us achieve our revenue management objectives.”
Jet gets active with social networking JET airways has announced a social media customer connect initiative for its multiple stakeholders. With the objective of reaching a larger cross-section of customers and keeping them informed on a real-time basis, the airline has created communities on Facebook and Twitter. Besides being a connecting medium, the Jet Airways communities — www.facebook.com/ jetairways and www.twitter.com/ jetairways — also provide guests with news updates about flight schedules, new customer programmes, route additions, services and special offers, etc. Nikos Kardassis, CEO, Jet Airways, said, “Social Media is fast gaining prominence in a wired world and these initiatives would help Jet Airways in actively engaging and interacting with
all our stakeholders. Our guests and customers will find these channels especially helpful as it will provide them with access to real-time information, leading to significantly enhanced customer satisfaction. Our presence on Facebook and Twitter will also help in generating important feedback that would help us improve the overall experience for our guests.”
AI in talks with Continental AIR India is in talks with Continental Airlines to enter into a frequent-flyer programme (FFP) partnership with the carrier. If the partnership is approved, Flying Returns members of AI will be
Kingfisher expands connectivity with two new routes KINGFISHER Airlines is bringing some more options for Indian passengers with the launch of direct flights connecting Kolkata to Patna and Ranchi to Raipur, being operated using the ATR family of aircraft. With the launch of flights on the Ranchi-Raipur route, Kingfisher Airlines is the only airline to offer direct air connectivity between the two cities. These flights are being operated as Kingfisher Red service, which is a unique class of low fare flying from Kingfisher Airlines and offers guests a whole host of benefits, besides the renowned Kingfisher service at compelling low fares. Even more, it features complimentary hot, delicious food and a choice of beverages, reading material, frequent flier privileges and multiple check-in options. Prakash Mirpuri, Vice President-Corporate Communications, Kingfisher Airlines Limited said, “I am delighted to announce the launch of Kingfisher Airlines’ new services from Ranchi to Raipur and the addition of the second flights between Kolkata — Patna. With our excellent onward connectivity, we expect that these flights will offer corporate travellers, businessmen and leisure travellers a convenient option.”
able to accrue mileage while travelling on Continental Airlines as well as redeem mileage for tickets on Continental and vice-versa. Arvind Jadhav, Chairman and Managing Director, AI, said, “We are in talks with Continental Airlines for the FFP, but it will take some time for the agreement to happen because some formalities need to be taken care of.” Partnering Continental could help the public sector airline since the environment currently is highly competitive. Earning miles on one carrier and burning them on another is a global phenomenon and carriers in Europe, US and even the Gulf region have partnered with international carriers to enhance their FFP portfolio and earn more passengers. In addition, Continental flies to 200 cities beyond New York and the passengers of national airline can have the advantage for onward travel from New York.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
India to showcase the booming aviation industry AERODROME India 2010, the fourth edition of International Exhibition and Business Forum on Airport Infrastructure and Operations, is scheduled to be held from April 8-10, 2010 at Bombay Exhibition Centre, Mumbai. A National Advisory Committee has been specially constituted to drive the progress of Aerodrome India and is headed by V P Agrawal, Chairman, Airports Authority of India. The committee also consists of other prominent industry experts drawn from the entire spectrum of the Indian aviation sector — whose support and involvement will provide the ideal platform for the manufacturers, suppliers, service providers to network, interact and benefit from the business potential the growing Indian airport sector in India. The fourth edition follows the earlier three most successful editions in this niche sector, which is witnessing enormous growth owing to the pro-active policies initiated by Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India. In addition, the organisers of the Aerodrome India, PDA TRADE FAIRS have been in the forefront of creating an interactive platform to facilitate conversion of this enormous potential in the aviation sector to commerce. The Forum organised in association with Airports International and Society for Indian Aerospace technologies and Industries will attract the cream of the industry, including the policy makers, the nodal agencies, the civil aviation agencies and the CEOs/COO’s of Airports & Airlines. After each session of the Forum, the same industry leaders would be requested to make themselves available for prefixed one-on-one meetings at the B2B round table session. The forum topics will cover airport operations — ground handling, airport services and cargo, security, IT, seamless airport connectivity, aviation / airline training and airport, airline CEO/COO conclave. In addition, the member planning, Airports Authority of India is scheduled to make a presentation on the development plans in the pipeline for over 32 airports, which will cover technical spec-
A ticket change tool from Amadeus AMADEUS has announced the launch of the Amadeus Ticket Changer. It is for the first time that a solution like this has been launched in India by any GDS. The solution has been designed to handle automation of the calculations necessary to reissue a ticket, and to store the results in the correct ticketing formats. The Amadeus Ticket Changer is a multi-carrier and highly international solution that gives customers an unparalleled level of flexibility and reactivity to all their itinerary change needs. It allows all kinds of changes, including date, flight and routing, and processes a vast range of tickets, giving the end-consumer unprecedented control over their itineraries. Speaking on the occasion, Ankur Bhatia, Managing Director, Amadeus India said, “In today’s environment of last minute alterations, having the flexibility to change flights is vital to both business and leisure travellers. For one in five customers, the ease of change and cancellation is the most important factor when deciding where to purchase their travel. In the past, these complex calcula-
Aerodrome India 2010 is all set with an interactive platform for airport infrastructure, airport operations, airport services, airport security, air cargo and aviation training in India.
ifications, tender specifications and procurement or commissioning plans for these airports. tions were carried out manually. Amadeus Ticket Changer is capable, in one entry, of computing the fare and tax differentials, the penalties and any residual values.” However, being used by number of airlines internationally for their businesses, Amadeus Ticket Changer is also a solution dedicated to travel agents / operators. With this new solution, agents can reduce the risk of mistakes and non-collection. The Amadeus Ticket Changer caters to all their requirements by incorporating the myriad airline policies into one easy-to-use solution and also enables the reissuance of tickets, reporting and results in the reduction of debit memos. More importantly, the operators are not required to bear the expenses and charged for reservations amended due to unforeseen circumstances (such as bad weather). It also multiplies the agent’s revenue opportunities, as they can now levy a flat service fee for amending bookings and add it to their revenue. The solution has already been deployed in several markets including the US, France, Finland, Israel, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Egypt and Kazakhstan.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
SpiceJet: Spicing it up on TV SPICEJET has launched its first-ever set of television commercials communicating unique customer service features and product benefits. Beginning on January 25, 2010, the airline rolled out a set of five commercials across various Hindi and English channels including news, infotainment and movie channels. Commenting on the new brand campaigns, Sanjay Aggarwal, SpiceJet’s Chief Executive Officer said, “We at SpiceJet believe that regular engagement with our customers is the key to our success. With these new campaigns and the first one on the television, we will be in a position to bring to life the value proposition that passengers will experience when they fly with us.” The five-film campaign uses an interesting ‘reverse testimonial’ route to drive home the benefits described of the airline. Conceptualised by Contract Advertising and produced by Bappaditya Roy Productions, these commercials bring to life, in and interesting and engaging manner, some of the customer benefits that form the core of SpiceJet’s service and product offering. It thereby positions SpiceJet as an airline that cares for its customers and offers an enhanced flying experience wherein low fare is defined as high value. Anish Srikrishna, Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing, SpiceJet said, “With these films, we will be in a position to visually, through some exciting character sketches, bring to life the proposition that you indeed get more when you fly SpiceJet.” In addition, the campaign line is on the “Get more when you fly SpiceJet” theme, earlier executed on print and outdoor media. And film and theatre personalities, Boman Irani and Piyush Mishra, have lent their voices to the narrative of these films.
MIT starts course in airlines systems LAVASA Corporation and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Office of Professional Education (MIT PE) have joined hands to start an executive programme in Airport and Airlines Systems. A three-day workshop on planning, design and management of Airport and Airlines Systems in Lavasa was inaugurated by Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel. Speaking on the occasion, Praful Patel said, “This collaboration with MIT comes at an opportune moment as giant strides made by India, in areas of science and technology has produced a critical mass of talented resource pool in India. Such specialised initiatives are critical in providing a positive direction to the human resource capital of India.” “This initiative reiterates our mission to become a destination of choice for universities, leading institutions, think tanks and for skill development, research and academia. The aim is to make Lavasa a city of life-long learning with a strong value Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman, Lavasa Corporation (second from left) with Praful Patel, proposition for residents and institutions alike, com- Minister, Civil Aviation at the three-day workshop. bining some of the best names in academia,” said Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman, Lavasa Corporation. and airports as well as the intricacies and implications of governThe workshop, in particular addressed the ramifications of ment regulations — basically the issues that are increasingly relefluctuating levels of traffic, the growth of private sector airlines vant to a rapidly changing Indian aviation industry.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
Paramount offers luxury to Royale members PARAMOUNT Airways has announced a strategic alliance with Budget Rent a Car. With the announcement of the alliance, members of Paramount’s frequent flier privilege programme — Paramount Royale can make most of it thereby earning four Partner RoyaleMiles on every Rs 100 spent with Budget Rent a Car in India. In addition to the RoyaleMiles, members are also entitled to a
NEW BEGINNING: (L-R) P K Gopinath, Chief Post Master General, Delhi; Radhika Doraiswamy, Secretary, Department of Post; Thiru A Raja, Union Minister for Communications and IT; Heinrich Ludger Heuberg, Chairman, TCIL; and Madhavan Menon, Managing Director, TCIL at the moment of tie-up between India Post and Thomas Cook.
Travel services from post offices
Paramount woos its Royale members with special benefits.
host of special benefits and privileges based on their tier status in the programme. These benefits include special rates for guests who opt for Maruti Swift, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Corolla, Skoda Laura and Toyota Innova. Self drive rates will be offered to the Royale Guest at a discount of 20 per cent off the rates available in India. M Thiagrajan, Managing Director, Paramount Airways said, “In our commitment to reward our loyal customers, this strategic alliance with Budget Rent a Car is another way of bringing ease of travel, convenience and comfort that complements the Paramount experience and extends far beyond air travel. Budget Rent a Car is an established partner with a large presence across the world and a promising presence in India and I look forward to a successful air to ground alliance that will benefit our Royale members.” Expanding network: With a revival in domestic air traffic numbers, Paramount Airways has added around 200 flights to its network in the past two months. It has set a target of 2,500 flights per month by the end of the current fiscal from the current level of 2,000 and this would take place through adding more aircraft to its fleet and increasing the number of seats. The airline’s Managing Director M Thiagrajan said, “We will connect more metros to smaller cities over the next two months.” Starting February, the airline will take a dozen turboprops planes on lease, which will have capacity of around 75 seats each, cater to smaller cities across the country. These turboprop planes will fly to destinations in Jharkhand and Meghalaya, apart from Cooch Bihar in West Bengal, while in the south, Pondicherry, Mysore, Salem and Bellary will be catered.
NOW, India Post customers can avail all travel related services under one roof. India Post has signed MoU with Thomas Cook (India), a company engaged in the business of organising travel arrangements, to provide foreign exchange and travel related services through the post offices. The MoU was signed on January 12, 2010 in the presence of Thiru A Raja, Union Minister for Communications and IT. In the first phase, foreign exchange and travel bureaux will be established within the five post offices, including Connaught Place’ A’ Block, Karol Bagh, Greater Kailash Part-II, Chanakya Puri and Vasant Vihar. The services to be provided by Thomas Cook at this Delhi Postal circle include sale and purchase of foreign exchange in all major currencies, travellers’ cheques, foreign currency drafts, wire transfers, cash advances against international credit cards, leisure travel packages for both inbound and outbound travel, travel insurance, VISA, passport service and domestic and international air tickets. Radhika Doraiswamy, Secretary, Department of Post who was present at the occasion, lauded the effort and said, “Through this Mou with Thomas Cook, Delhi Circle has translated a realisation into tangible action - the realisation that it was important to fill up a gap in the bouquet of services offered by India Post. The Department of Post has been taking several measures in the direction of sagacious business diversification while at the same time concentrating on its core mail operations. This is driving the work force of India Post with a new zeal and assiduity towards achieving excellence.” On this significant partnership, Ludger Heuberg, Chairman, TCIL commented, “It is for the first time in the history of TCIL’s presence in India that such a partnership has emerged between the India Post and TCIL. It is a matter of pride and a noteworthy milestone for us, towards creating an enriching experience for as many customers as possible. It has been our constant endeavour to provide our expertise in forex and travel related services, to our potential customers, in an easy and hassle free manner.” The era of globalisation and liberalisation has brought about extensive travel opportunities requiring an integrated travel and forex solution. Delhi being one of the most prominent commercial and tourist hubs of the country is particularly well-suited for the launch of this service. With the Commonwealth games being hosted by Delhi in October this year, a huge influx of tourists from all parts of the world is expected and this tie up will cater to the needs of the floating population in a befitting manner.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES Qatar to touch two European cities THE route network of Qatar Airways is all set to expand with the addition of two new European destinations Copenhagen and Barcelona, during the airline’s summer schedule which will begin at the end of March 2010. Commencement of four weekly flights to Copenhagen will see the airline strengthening its operations in Scandinavia along with daily services on its Stockholm route from March 2010. Copenhagen is the major regional centre of culture, business, media and science. With the largest airport in Scandinavia, Copenhagen ranks as a popular hub for regional headquarters of large international companies. Barcelona will become Qatar’s second city served in Spain, after Madrid. The new route underscores a growing commitment by the airline to the Spanish mar-
Qatar’s car rally for orphans: Qatar Airways has donated part of the funds raised from an international car rally it sponsored last year to the Qatar Orphan Foundation (Dhreima), based in Doha. A cheque for QAR25, 000 was presented to Khalid Kamal, Dhreima, General Manager by Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Airways, on behalf of the rally organisers. The Arabian Gulf Adventures Car Rally gathered over 70 Rolls Royce and Bentley car enthusiasts in Doha for the start of a Gulf-wide tour, said to be the first of its kind ever held in the Middle East.
Emirates A380 is Airbus’ 6,000th aircraft EMIRATES and Airbus have marked a major achievement, by celebrating the hand-over of the 6,000th aircraft in the airframe manufacturer’s 40-year history. The aircraft, an A380, was handed over to Emirates Airline in a ceremony in Hamburg. The aircraft is Emirates’ eighth A380. More than 200 VIP guests including football stars, politicians and representatives from the aviation industry not only attended the ceremony but also enjoyed a full tour of the new A380, with its onboard shower spas, first class private suites, fully stocked onboard lounge and the highly popular ice entertainment system. Accepting delivery of the new aircraft, Adel Al Redha, Executive Vice President, Emirates’ Engineering and Operations, said: “The A380 represents the future of air travel and our strength and determination to drive forward, alongside Airbus, to meet our ambitious expansion plans and traffic demand. If a powerful demonstration of the resilience of the aviation industry was required, today has provided that. All who have flown the A380
ket following earlier capacity increases to the country’s capital city of Madrid. Barcelona is a popular tourist centre on the Mediterranean coastline. It is home to one of Europe’s main ports and has a thriving economic base due largely to its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts and international trade. Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Airways said, “The addition of the European cities of Copenhagen and Barcelona, follows the airline’s strategy to expand its operations to diverse and underserved cities from the Gulf. With this expansion, we are demonstrating our commitment to expanding our presence in Europe and introduce new travellers to our award-winning five-star services, as well as provide our existing passengers with even more destinations and convenient travel options.”
will realise that this is a very special aircraft, embracing the latest in passenger comfort, technology and environmental credentials.” Tom Enders, Airbus CEO, said, “This is our 25th A380 delivery so far. It is particularly significant that it is both an A380 and for Emirates, as they were involved in its development from early on. We are proud to have the WHAT NEXT AFTER 6000TH CHILD: crew members boarding the words ‘Airbus 6,000th Emirates’ 6,000th aircraft of Airbus. Aircraft’ inscribed alongside the Emirates livery.” First A380 on Emirates’ Jeddah route: Emirates has started flying A380 to Jeddah four times a week. Following Sydney, Auckland, Heathrow, Bangkok, Toronto, Seoul and Paris; Jeddah is the eighth destination to be added to the growing list of gateways served by the A380. Ahmed Khoory, Emirates’ Senior Vice President Commercial Operations Gulf, Middle East and Iran said, “The introduction of the highly acclaimed A380 on the Jeddah route is a true reflection of an increased demand for services in and out of the Kingdom. This service into Jeddah will mark Emirates’ first Middle Eastern A380 destination outside Dubai, a significant milestone for both Emirates and Saudi Arabia.”
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
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CRUISING HEIGHTS has been part of the Indian aviation scene for many years now. In this period, we have established a name for quality reporting and analysis on issues relating to every aspect of the aviation business.
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One of the first true aviation magazines of the country, CRUISING HEIGHTS was started with the idea of supporting professionals in the airline business to make informed choices on a variety of subjects—from ground handling to cargo to airport development—all of which are transforming the Indian aviation scene in mind-boggling ways. We also target the general reader—the educated Indian who is keen to be an informed Indian—to know what's happening in the aviation business. So, the magazine is professionally written in a style and manner for everybody to understand. Published twelve times a year, CRUISING HEIGHTS reports in depth on all facets of the aviation and aerospace environment in the country and also as events affect us from overseas. Dedicated news and regular feature sections in each issue on airlines, airports, policy and personalities.
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SNIPPETS Tech-luxury for Etihad fliers
ETIHAD has launched a new Apple iPhone application for members of its award-winning loyalty programme, Etihad Guest. Free to download and use from the Apple iPhone store, the application will provide Etihad Guest members with an innovative and user-friendly tool designed to assist them manage their accounts and stay informed about the latest Etihad Guest promotions. In addition, the new iPhone application will allow members to redeem their points immediately for any of the more than 1,700 products from the Etihad Reward Shop, backed by benefit from channel-exclusive promotions, checking of latest partner promotions, viewing of their account information, browsing the list of all programme partners and reading the general programme information. Peter Baumgartner, Etihad’s Chief Commercial Officer, said, “The new iPhone application is yet another example of Etihad’s commitment to innovation and to developing smart products that enhance the Guest experience and make things simple and convenient for our customers. Etihad Guests who are iPhone users will now be able to access the information they need to maximise the benefits of their membership, all on their mobile device.” Etihad is ‘best long haul airline’: Etihad airways added yet another feather to its cap as it has been voted Best Long Haul Airline at this year’s Business Travel Awards. The airline picked up the award at a glittering ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, attended by representatives from across the travel industry. The judges, comprised of senior buyers and leading business travel journalists, recognised Etihad’s remarkable growth during 2009, which included the addition of eight new routes to the Etihad network, as well as the launch of the airline’s new First class product and the airline’s Inspired Service strategy — a concept built on Etihad’s vision to be the best airline in the world. Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “It has been another strong year for Etihad, and the award win shows that our continued investment in product and service is the right focus for us and for our customers. We are delighted to be recognised by our peers in this way.”
bution capabilities and increase the accessibility of their fares across the globe,” said Khalid Alkhalidi, MEA Director for Airline Supplier Services at Travelport.
Travelport, Gulf Air enter full content agreement
AirAsia goes online to entice Indians
TRAVELPORT and Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, have recently announced details of a new global full content agreement that will give all Galileo and Worldspan-connected travel agents worldwide access to the airline’s full range of published fares and inventory. Commenting on the continuation of a long-standing relationship between the two, Lars Denlew, Director, Distribution and eCommerce at Gulf Air said, “As part of our distribution strategy, we aim to offer our products and service to the global travel agency community at the best possible cost. Travelport is ideally positioned to support our needs through its very extensive worldwide network of users.” “With a respected brand and a strong regional and international route network, Gulf Air is a valued airline partner and we will continue to work closely with them to maximize their distri-
WHY be in line when you can be online? Now, booking of AirAsia flights is quite simple with the recent integration of the airline’s website AirAsia.com with AkbarTravelsOnline.com, the travel website operated by India’s leading travel house — Akbar Travels of India Pvt Ltd. Speaking on the integration, Vijay Kesavan, CEO, Akbar Travels Online stated, “We are happy to announce the integration of AirAsia website with our online travel portal. Through this integration, we seek to give personalised service to our flyers. Akbar Travels Online is proud to be the firsts travel portal in India to be integrated with AirAsia website. We are sure this connectivity will help us to bring all the attractive offers and low fares available on AirAsia network live on our website for the benefit of the Indian passengers.” Kathleen Tan, Regional Head of Commercial AirAsia, added “It has been an ongoing and sustained effort for AirAsia to
BA celebrates 80 years of flying BRITISH Airways, as part of its celebrations to mark 80 years of flights between the UK and India, is offering special celebration deals for customers across India. Unfortunately, the sale period for the UK has closed but one can avail all-cabin deals for Europe and the US till February 28, 2010. Judy Jarvis, British Airways’ regional commercial manager, South Asia said, “British Airways has been serving the Indian customer for 80 years and is among the oldest international operators in the country. This is a great milestone for us and we want to thank our customers for their support and loyalty over the years. It is our constant endeavour to provide our customers the best service in the skies and in keeping with this spirit we’re planning a series of 80 year anniversary offers throughout the year.” The special celebration rates include ‘flight only’ and ‘flight and hotel’ packages across all cabin classes, ranging from Rs 28,200 to Rs 192,500 and Rs 37,400 to Rs 213,200, respectively.
Judy Jarvis, Regional Commercial Manager(South Asia), British Airways celebrating its 80th birthday.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
provide the best service with unbelievable low fares to our guests. We are confident that with Akbar Travels Online, we will be able to achieve our objective. With this integration, we hope to reach the masses in India in a cost effective manner. At AirAsia, we continuously strive to promote affordable air travel and give the best to our guests.” Even more, AirAsia encourages guests to pre-book their meals, and check in baggage online for greater savings!
Jetstar, AirAsia tie-up creates industry giant LOW cost carriers AirAsia and Jetstar Airways have entered into a non-equity alliance, aimed at reducing costs, pooling expertise and maintaining lower fares. According to Tony Fernandes, CEO, AirAsia both AirAsia and Jetstar would also look into joint procurement of aircraft. The alliance has announced a first of its kind joint specification for the next generation of narrow-body aircraft, which will seek to influence its configuration that manufacturing giants Airbus and Boeing are expected to decide upon when they renew their respective A320 and B737 series. Next creation in the line is combined fleet, plus orders and options of nearly 400 aircraft, which will make it an influential voice in shaping the design of the new A320 and B737 variants. Believing that the alliance will give both carriers a natural advantage in one of the world’s most competitive markets, Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas said, “Jetstar and AirAsia offer unmatched reach in the Asia/Pacific region, with more routes and lower fares than their main competitors, and this new alliance will enable them to maximise that scale. This partnership will ensure that both airlines can capitalise on these growth opportunities.” In addition to this, principal terms of the agreement cover a comprehensive range of services and options such as future fleet specification, airport passenger and ramp services, shared aircraft parts and pooling, procurement of engineering and maintenance supplies/services and reciprocal arrangements to mitigate possible operational disruption across both networks.
Jet set to South Africa JET Airways is entering into an agreement with Kenya Airways to connect to the northern regions of Africa, coinciding with India’s recent thrust to improve economic diplomacy in the continent. With this agreement, Jet would become the country’s first carrier to fly to South Africa, only if civil aviation ministry grants permission to the airline to do so. The airline is keen to gain permission for commencement of services ahead of the football World Cup slated to commence in June, with a plan to operate non-stop daily flights from Mumbai to Johannesburg. Right now, only Air India and South African Airways connect India to South Africa. Air India doesn’t fly to the country, but it has a code-share agreement with South African Airways, which flies four times a week on the Mumbai-Johannesburg route.
The Airline’s A380s will feature Singapore Airlines Suites on the flight, which comes with full-sizes beds and fully adjustable leather seats behind sliding doors. But it’s not just elite class customers that will avail luxury and privacy. Here is something for Business Class and Economy Class customers too. Business Class customers will enjoy a 34-inch wide seat which can be converted into a comfortable wide bed, simply by folding down the seat back. And Economy Class customers will also enjoy all-new seats designed to maximise knee. In addition, customers across all three classes will enjoy the latest movies, TV programmes and a large library of CDs on the newest version of KrisWorld, Singapore Airlines’ award-winning inflight entertainment system.
APPOINTMENTS Cathay Pacific’s new communication head CATHAY Pacific announced the appointment of C K Yeung as General Manager Corporate Communication will be responsible for all public and media relations, public affairs and general communication issues for the airline worldwide. Along with this, he oversees the airline’s main corporate social responsibility programmes. He has earlier worked with Hong Kong C K Yeung University of Science and Technology as Director of University Development and Public Affairs, engaged in activities covering publicity, publications, marketing, media relations and strategic communication. In subsequent years, he took up a variety of communications roles within the Hong Kong Government and other major public bodies in the city.
ITQ names Marco Gorin as CCO
SA to fly A380 to Zurich BEGINNING March 28, 2010, Singapore Airlines (SA) customers will get to fly on the Airbus A380 from Singapore to Zurich. Instead of only having twelve weekly frequencies between the two cities on Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, the A380 will fly to Zurich daily. Operations are subject to the airport being certified for A380 flights. With the introduction of this route, Zurich will be the third city in Europe and the seventh in Singapore Airlines’ network to receive the A380. In addition, customers travelling on the A380 will experience unsurpassed standards of luxury and sophistication in air travel.
WITH having rich experience in the travel business spanning over 20 years in close to 40 countries, Marco Gorin has joined InterGlobe Technology Quotient (ITQ), the official distributor for Galileo and Worldspan GDSs in India, as the new Chief Commercial Officer. Prior to joining ITQ, Marco has been the Director for market development at Travelport — Asia. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team at Travelport, he has been responsible for Marco Gorin the operation and commercial management of distribution markets including India, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Indonesia among others.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
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A life long passion W
hat’s common between Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Morgan Freeman and Kurt Russell? Hollywood Superstars. That's the obvious silly. Well, here's the secret. All four are turbo charged and have a passion to roam the skies like a free bird. Translation: they are avid fliers who love the magic of getting on an aircraft and controlling the throttle. At the recently concluded Living Legends of Aviation Award, which is currently in its seventh edition, Tom Cruise was not only the guest of honour but also received an award. NASA astronaut Edwin Aldrin made the presentation at the Legends award ceremony. The event is produced by the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, a non-profit organisation that introduces children to aviation. Tom got the “Top Aviation Inspiration and Patriotism Award.” Top Gun, the highest grossing aviation movie of all time, has inspired generations of young pilots. Thus it is not really surprising that Cruise now owns a P-51 Mustang and other aircraft and is an accomplished aerobatic pilot. Buzz Aldrin, the second person to set foot on the moon (following Neil Armstrong out of Apollo 11), received the “First out of This World Landing and Takeoff Award.” Kurt Russell received the “Aviation Mentor Award”. Highly successful life-long actor Kurt Russell said, “Flying has taught me more about who I really am than anything I've ever done.”
PASSION FOR AVIATION: (Top) Tom Cruise in the still from the movie Top Gun, which has inspired generations of young pilots. And (left) Tom Cruise receiving "Top Aviation Inspiration and Patriotism Award" at Living Legends of Aviation Award ceremony.
CRUISING HEIGHTS February 2010
RNI No. DELENG/2006/16897 Posting Dt. 3-4/02/2010 Reg. No. DL(E) 20/5294/2009-11