Indian airlines to add new jets in booming aviation market

Hyderabad: Indian airlines Jet Airways (India) Ltd, SpiceJet Ltd and AirAsia India are planning to add new jets to their fleets as they look to expand in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, the carriers said on Thursday, March 8 2018.

Domestic Indian passenger traffic increased by 17.9% in January from a year earlier, marking the 41st consecutive month of double-digit growth, the International Air Transport Association said in a monthly update released on Thursday.

Civil aviation secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey said as long as oil prices remained below $80 per barrel, he expected the Indian aviation market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15% for the next 20 years or so.

“We are committed to ensure that new airports are built, better air space management services are provided, so that there is no congestion in the skies,” Choubey said at the Wings India airshow.

Indian airlines are scrambling to add more jets to meet demand for more domestic and international flights, making it one of the most targeted sales markets for jet manufacturers Airbus SE and Boeing Co.

“The growth of the domestic Indian (aviation) market is the highest in the world,” said Dinesh Keskar senior vice president of sales (Asia Pacific and India) at Boeing. “Every segment of traffic in and out of India is going to grow for the next 20 years.”

Boeing said in July it expected Indian airlines to order up to 2,100 new aircraft worth $290 billion over the next 20 years, calling it the highest-ever forecast for Asia’s third-largest economy.

Jet Airways hopes to close a deal to buy another 75 narrow-body jets by the end of March, its CEO Vinay Dube told reporters on the sidelines of the airshow. The airline last year finalized a deal to buy a separate 75 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and said it was in “serious talks” for 75 more.

Dube said it would finalize the deal with one of the plane manufacturers, alluding to Boeing or Airbus.

AirAsia India is looking to expand its fleet to 60 jets from the current 14 over the next five years, a spokeswoman said. The airline’s parent, AirAsia Bhd, said in January it was considering an IPO of the Indian arm.

Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet said in July it had signed a provisional deal to buy 40 Boeing 737 MAX 10 jets.

Helicopter Flights Coming Under Udan Scheme, Says Civil Aviation Minister

State-run Airports Authority of India have issued “Letter of Awards” for 90 proposals involving around 325 regional connectivity routes which were received under the second round of the Udan scheme

NEW DELHI: The government today awarded contracts to 15 firms to operate flight and chopper services under the second round of its air regional connectivity “Udan” scheme.

State-run Airports Authority of India (AAI), the implementing agency of the scheme, issued “Letter of Awards” for 90 proposals involving around 325 regional connectivity routes which were received under the second round of RCS-Udan.

Subsequently, under the second phase, flight operations are expected to connect destinations like Kargil, Darbhanga, Pakyong (Gangtok) and Cooch Behar.

“Udan-II has addressed the problem of (air connectivity in) difficult areas (which are) basically areas with hilly tracks, where road connectivity is low or probably has no train connectivity,” Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju said at an event held here.

“We will connect 29 unserved airports, 13 underserved airports to 36 served airports and 31 helipads. This is the first time that helicopter (services) are coming under Udan,” he said.

According to the minister, Udan-II will connect 43 airports and helipads in priority sectors like the north-east and the hill states.

Mr Raju said 17 applicants, including airline and chopper companies, had sent their proposals for a total of 502 routes in the second phase of the scheme. In total, 73 unserved or underserved airports and helipads will be provided services through the second phase.

The ministry awarded new routes to SpiceJet, IndiGo, Jet Airways, Turbo Megha Airways and Pawan Hans, among others.

SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said, “We see tremendous potential in the routes that we have been awarded today and look forward to beginning operations very soon.”

SpiceJet has been awarded 17 proposals and 20 new sectors under the second round of bidding.

Jet cockpit fight: DGCA suspends flying licence of both pilots for five years

New Delhi:  The two pilots who fought in the cockpit of a Jet Airways London-Mumbai flight of January 1 will no longer be able to operate as pilots for any airline for five years. In an unprecedented action, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has suspended their flying licences for five years for endangering safety. The cockpit was left unmanned more than once during the fight when the co-pilot went out to bring back the lady commander who was sobbing in the galley and possibly afraid of going back to fly with him.

“DGCA has investigated the occurrence. Keeping in view serious safety lapses endangering the safety of aircraft operations, DGCA has suspended the privileges of license of the both the involved pilots for a period of five years,” DGCA chief B S Bhullar told.

The aircraft on which the fight was witnessed had 324 passenegers and 14 crew members.The regulatory action comes a fortnight after Jet sacked these two pilots. Now with the DGCA suspending their Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) for five years, they cannot even get a job as pilots in any other airline.

Flight 9W 119 of January 1 was operated by two commanders. Jet’s senior most Boeing 777 commander was flying as co-pilot and his deputy was the commander of this flight. The “co-pilot” had allegedly slapped the lady commander and then the cockpit was left unmanned on two occasions when he went out to bring her back in. Soon after the incident was reported, the DGCA had suspended the co-pilot’s flying licence. Later Jet had sacked the pilots.

For in-flight Wi-Fi, airlines likely to charge 30% of fare

  • Officials said the charges for net connection might range from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 for thirty minutes to an hour as per international standards
  • Airlines have to pay service providers like Inmarsat and others a hefty sum to activate in-flight net connectivity

CHENNAI: Travellers could soon be able to post a selfie on social media while on board a plane, but may have to shell out at least 20-30% of the fare to avail of in-flight data connectivity.

Airlines are considering options to introduce the facility following a Trai order permitting in-flight voice and data connectivity+ . The move may help airlines add value to services for business class travellers on domestic and international routes. It may not be an option for low-cost carriers.

Officials said the charges for in-flight net connectivity would range from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 for thirty minutes to an hour, according to international standards and taking into account the charges levied by service providers for slots on satellites. Airlines have to pay service providers like Inmarsat and others a hefty sum to activate inflight net connectivity.

With advance booking fares starting from Rs 1,200 to Rs 2,500 on short domestic routes, in-flight internet connectivity may be too expensive for passengers and airlines in the domestic sector.
An airline official said that Trai’s order permitting in-flight net connection would be an advantage for flights that traverse the peninsula on intercontinental routes. These flights do not have to switch off the Wi-Fi when in Indian airspace, he added.

“We are discussing the feasibility of having the facility on domestic flights. The cost and demand may have to be factored in before taking a decision,” said an official of a private airline. Airlines will have to install antennae on planes based on how they decide to receive and send the signals, either over mobile towers on the ground or over satellites.

Frequent travellers say that except for a handful of business travellers, there are no takers for in-flight internet even on international routes.

Air Passengers Association of India national president D Sudhakara Reddy said, “The in-flight data connectivity may be useful on longhaul flights. But I have hardly seen anyone use it or ask for it on international routes. It may be good during an emergency. Going by the international experience of passengers, it may not be viable for low-cost carriers.”

Some airlines allow passengers to use Wi-Fi free of charge for WhatsApp and other messenger services which may not need much bandwidth. Lufthansa, Emirates, British Airways and Delta are among the airlines that offer the service on international routes.