Sunday, April 3, 2011

No complications in the sale of Globemaster aircraft to IAF

BANGALORE: A senior official of Boeing Military Aircraft brushed aside claims that complications had arisen in the proposed $5.8 billion sale of ten C-17 Globemaster-III transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force, and said that the global defence vendor expected the deal to close by mid-2011.

In an exclusive interview to ET on Friday, Chris Chadwick , president, Boeing Military Aircraft, said that he had seen no indication that the Indian government was looking to pull the plug on what is, so far, the biggest defence deal between the United States and India. "The offsets package relating to the deal has already been approved. Plus, the IAF has to go through numerous government gateways before a final seal of approval can be given. Defence deals of this magnitude do take some time to close, and I expect them to take a decision by mid-2011," Mr Chadwick said.

Over the past month, speculation has been rife that New Delhi had asked Washington to provide greater clarity on the price at which the strategic airlifter has been sold to other countries, including Australia, compared with the price it was offering to India. If the deal goes through without any further hiccups, it will be the the most expensive military aviation purchase by India. The order for the ten C-17 transport aircraft has gone through the foreign military sales route, and was one of the highlights of US President Barack Obama's landmark visit to India last year.

"Boeing can execute the delivery on schedule and on cost," Chadwick pointed out.

Chadwick also admitted that the company had received inquiries for a further six Globemaster-III aircrafts for the IAF, but stressed that these were "strictly informal in nature."

"Since the is a FMS sale, the US government will be involved. But I would not be surprised if a followon order does come through," he said, adding that if the current deal gets signed by mid-2011, Boeing would be in a position to deliver the first C-17 aircraft by late 2013-14. The Globemaster-III, often regarded as the best transport aircraft in the world in its class, is seen as critical to the IAF's need as it looks beef up its presence along the country's northwest borders, which it shares with neighbours China and Pakistan.

Over the past few years, India has steadily refurbished several disused airfields in the region to allow operations by its transporters. Separately, Chadwick confirmed that the Indian Navy had indicated its need for four additional P-8I longrange maritime reconnaissance aircraft, a development first broken by ET in February earlier in the year. "They (the Indian Navy) have indicated their preference for four additional P-8I aircrafts. If it does take place, it will be through the Direct Commercial Sales route.

The new aircraft will be in addition to the eight the Navy had ordered in January 2009, for about $2.1 billion, as it bids to boost its maritime patrol capabilities as well as counter piracy threats and the growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean.

The St. Louis, Missouri-based defence behemoth will also be making an active bid for the Medium Range Multi-Role (MRMR) Aircraft contract.

"The Request for Procurement (RFP) is expected next year, and we will be responding. We plan on offering a derivative of the P-8 aircraft, based on the Boeing-737 platform," he added. Others expected to be in the running for the contract include Russia's Ilyushin, France's Dassault and EADS. Like most defence deals pursued in India, the acquisition of the MRMR aircraft has followed a long and tortuous route. Chadwick also reiterated the advantages that the IAF would garner, if it chose Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet as its preferred combat aircraft.

"We are yet to receive any formal indication or information from the Ministry of Defence or from the IAF as regards the Medium Range Multi-Role Combat Aircraft tender.

But, we are very fortunate to have a solid production line, and given its scale, we can meet the IAF's need very quickly," he said.

During Aero India 2011, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik had announced that New Delhi would actually sign the US $11 billion contract by September later in the year. Six fighters are competing for the IAF contract: Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet; Lockheed Martin's F-16IN Super Viper; the MiG Corporation's MiG-35; Saab's Gripen NG; Dassault's Rafale; and a four-nation European consortium's Eurofighter.

The pigsty that is civil aviation in India (Part III)

Over 90% of Indian domestic air passenger travel is supposed to be ‘business travel’, and is paid for by commercial entities. One would have thought that the largest protest would have come from them, since it is their human assets which are out there in the skies, being flown by fakes and frauds. However, they too have kept their silence... and the reasons are not too far to find

The complete business of buying, owning, operating and generally keeping in good order any private airplane is totally in the hands of the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation). One word or line out of place by any business leaders, and they would probably find that they have to take commercial flights, too. And that wouldn't really do, would it? I mean, can you imagine—not being permitted to take your private business plane on a holiday to watch the Indian Cricket Team defeat the Pakistani Cricket Team?

 Let’s get back to our series on civil aviation. There is somebody in the civil aviation part of governance in India who is very, very upset with the title as well as contents of the first two parts of this series (The pigsty that is civil aviation in India.

Apparently, the title and article are "against National Interest", and there is concern that the international community will laugh at us. Or worse. On the contents of the article itself, there is not much reflex, as yet. Whether the reality of aviation in India is not against national interest, known wide and far and currently the subject of immense interest on the Internet as well as with the international community, nothing.

Well, first things first—the reference to pigsty and all matters porky, including porcine fingers from the various parts of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, DGCA, et al, dipping into the fat and grabbing the grease, in a manner of speaking, were and are with reference to a book called Animal Farm. Penned not too long ago by a famous writer of Indian origin and Bengali birth, erstwhile from Motihari and Katihar, now in Bihar, called George Orwell. If they haven't read it, my sincere apologies, but I have always maintained that more of us should look towards Bihar for inspiration. Including of the National Interest sort, lately.

Next, as far as "National Interest" due to media reportage is concerned, spare me. There is no dearth of inside information many of us have on how anything even remotely resembling "National Interest" is more often than not the first victim to be spat out by the roadside the moment anything to do with civil aviation is taken up in India. Whether it is equity acquired free of cost by ministers who manage amazing links also with the people who operate accounts in tax havens, or whether it is plain and simple payoffs for everything down the line, the realities are known on the street.

You only have to try to fathom out the amazingly anti-people and probably anti-National terms and conditions of airport privatisation in India, for example, to see how the aviation scams when they finally surface will leave the Telecom and CWG/IOA scams way behind. Even John Company could not have got some of them past the natives with some of the conditions we find ourselves bound to lately.

But hey, National Interest, to be confused with personal benefit, means that deep resounding silences are preferred, with messages sent that anybody falling out of line shall be dealt with. Guess what, we only have National Interest in mind while writing, so, here we go.

To start with, barring the aviation authorities, what else can we deduce by way of the resounding silence from other entities involved in the aviation business in India? And what other solutions can we try to offer, as responsible citizens looking out for National interest? That is the question this third instalment hopes to answer.

Before that, an anecdote— it happened decades ago. I was in a shipping company's office when word came in that a ship had gone down, somewhere in the South China Sea, with all hands on board. This was in the days when dry cargo bulk carriers were sinking with regular frequency, and human error was the regular result of enquiries carried out by flag states—flag states being, largely, the so-called ‘Flag of Convenience’ countries. The usual SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) was to run around, ensure that all paperwork satisfying any seaworthiness requirements were updated before the inspectors landed up, and then to figure out how to maximise profits out of insurance as well as P&I Clubs. Simply put, human error was equal to all money recovered by the ship-owner, and some scanty compensation provided to relatives of the blamed and found guilty, already deceased.

Pretty much the same procedure is adopted with airline crash enquiries. It is never, or seldom, that the truth on manufacturing defects or maintenance or anything else comes out—except, lately, with some cases in developed countries. International TV crews cannot be everywhere—they weren't given access to the Mangalore crash, for example. Fake licence or not, will that information ever be re-verified? Has it ever been re-verified in the past? The answer is NO.

This placing all the blame on the humans on board went on, not surprisingly, until a British ship (the Derbyshire ) with British crew onboard went down. And the families, unions as well as other entities like educational and research organisations organised a very serious investigation. They paid for it, too, in millions of pounds. Which included—amongst other things—the hiring of deep sea submarines to go down to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and take photographs as well as try to figure out what happened.

The rest is known history, and brought forward the first real change in attitudes by ship-owners and shipyards towards safety in design, especially in larger ships. There was no human error at sea in this case. The huge ship simply broke up in microseconds and went down due to greed and design defects. There was sheer criminal negligence ashore at every stage, though—which the underwater probes brought out.

Something like that is what happens in civil aviation, too, especially in ‘emerging’ Third World countries. Like ours.

If an aviation accident takes place, almost every time—and this is borne out by the few accident investigation reports openly available—the blame is in most cases assigned to human error. The drill down attitude at Animal Farm, therefore, is simple—the little piglets, or humans at the front end, are disposable anyways. So does it really matter if their licence is genuine or not, as long as the paper trail behind it works to satisfy the owners and the insurance companies, in case and when an incident does occur?

All they will do is to go and hang another piglet.

But now we come to the part where the piglets take the battle to the bigger pigsty, the ones where the other fatter pigs are sitting, licking their chops, and waiting for the fuss to die down. As said before, a couple of middle or junior level DGCA officials will get it in the neck, some junior pilots without proper connections will lose their livelihoods, and after a while things will go back to as they were before.

If we really want to understand why that happens and has happened for centuries, then we have to take time out to read Emily Eden's bitingly incisive letters and reports on her visit to India. Before 1857. The fundamentals, however, of how things work in India remain the same. All that has changed is that the names of the players, be they the foreigners and their East India companies trying to rule us, or our own Maharajahs and their Munims bowing backwards to do their bidding, remain the same.

So, some basic fixes expected by consumers and customers from the real players, are proposed. All in the National Interest, of course?

1) Airlines will simply need to dig and drill down deeper into the licences held by pilots, especially those who have not come through regular channels like the Government run-training colleges, the Indian Air Force, their own cadet programmes or with otherwise impeccable backgrounds. Pilots who have come through the route of nepotism will have especially to be checked.

Which training college is genuine and which is fake is well known in the industry, and this information simply needs to be put to use. The simulators as well as internal checks and balances need to be in position. And any small security or detective agency will run a fairly comprehensive background check for a few thousand rupees.

In addition, airlines need to evolve their own cockpit crew matrix, like is done on ships as well as some of the better airlines. In brief, a new pilot must have an experienced co-pilot or another senior experienced pilot in the cockpit. Likewise, new co-pilots must work only under experienced pilots. The total number of actual flying hours on type should not be less than a certain number for both pilots in the cockpit, and this should be published data. Anything less than that "matrix", the total hours of experience inside a cockpit for both the pilots in the front seats, and the aircraft needs to be declared non-airworthy for scheduled passenger operations till rectified. A good number for this matrix, based on inputs from pilots, would be a minimum combined total of 4,000 hours "on type".

No point telling us customers about the food on board or something equally inane. We already know that co-pilots are hired basis on some amazing advance deposit to the airline process, and that promotions are done basis on external influences. Just let us know what the minimum hours in your cockpits will be when we fly.

2) Expecting the mainstream media to play honest intermediary is difficult—airlines and the rest of the related tourism industry are not just big advertisers, but also often have cross holdings in media companies. In addition, most airlines in India have deals with print and television media for barter on ad space against travel and other aviation services, like maintenance of aircraft and helicopters.

We would expect the tourism industry to come out very strongly with a statement on this issue of fake pilots. There is going to be no dearth of tourists who are going to think multiple times before boarding a domestic flight in India. That would certainly be in the ‘National Interest’. The tourism industry could start with running a boycott of some of the airlines which have been the more flagrant violators of aviation safety.

Why has the tourism industry not spoken up? Well, National Interest could be one reason, though the real reason probably has to do with the fact that the tourism industry is heavily linked with the travel industry, and the travel industry is going to be selectively strangled by the aviation guys if they dare speak up. Every large hotel chain, every travel company—depends on the Ministry of Civil Aviation and DGCA, who depend on the aviation industry. Better to keep quiet.

3) Aviation incident reports need to be made totally public, and available to travellers as well as others not just free of charge on the Internet after things are over, but also co-terminal with the proceedings which need to be open to the public. As of now, most of the truth probably gets shielded in National Interest, whatever that means. Even in the Indian Air Force, casualty and incident reports are freely distributed to airmen, so that they will learn from things.

Likewise, in other countries, the aviation regulators and authorities have a system of proactively encouraging incident reports from not just cockpit crew, but also cabin crew, ground staff and passengers. With the advent of the Internet, awareness and knowledge of matters pertaining to aviation is very high, and many people other than the pilot know what is going on —and when it is going wrong.

Within India, the DGCA and others do not even now have a working system, to accept and review inputs from those impacted by deficiencies in civil aviation. This needs to be fixed, very soon, and made public. As of now, anybody from within the industry complaining about an incident is usually marked as a whistleblower and then taught such a lesson that he or she never goes back to do so again, and anybody from outside the industry—like a passenger or other user—simply does not have an avenue.

However, if you scan the various Internet groups on the subject, then some of the experiences are terrifying. The regulator, DGCA, needs to fix this. Soon.

4) Taking "tests" for new entrants is another racket that needs to be controlled and regulated by the DGCA. As on date, a half-day "test" for a co-pilot's job sets a candidate back by Rs20,000 and more. Typically, for recruiting all of three-five co-pilots, an airline will place an advertisement, and attract anything between 300 and 3,000 applicants.

All of whom will put down Rs20,000 or more. And use all the clout they have. To answer a 2-page question paper, and if lucky, then move on to an oral viva. After which, most of them will not be given even the courtesy of a response, and will simply not get their money back.

3. Aviation Turbine Fuel hiked by 1.4 per cent

According to a PTI report, state- run oil companies, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), yesterday hiked jet fuel prices by 1.4 per cent, the 12th increase in rates in a row since October last year.

The price of Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) in New Delhi was increased by Rs 846.87 per kilolitre, or 1.45 per cent, to Rs 59,157.32 per kilolitre. While in Mumbai jet fuel has been  priced at Rs 59,900.02 per kilolitre, as against Rs 59,031.39 per kilolitre.

The hike comes on back of a massive 6.14 per cent increase in rates effected from March 16, 2011 in line with rising crude oil prices. The basket of crude oil that India buys averaged USD 110.66 per barrel in March this year, as against an average price of USD 101.16 a barrel in February this year. The ATF price in Delhi on October 1, 2010 was Rs 40,728.52 per kilolitre. The rates have been increased by Rs 18,428.8 per kilolitre, or 45.24 per cent, in 12 tranches since then.

Fuel accounts for 40 per cent of airlines' operating cost. The three state-run oil companies  revise jet fuel prices on the 1st and 16th of every month, based on the average international price in the preceding fortnight.

Neha Jain

Air Tickets Car Rental Cruises Golf Vacation Romantic Getaways Vacation Packages Honeymoon

Get Chitika Premium

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.

Jet Airways plans to use slim, light seats in economy class

Jet Airways announces air miles partnership

Jet Airways (India) Ltd plans to use lighter, slimmer economy class seats on domestic routes to shed weight and increase the number of seats on flights.

The move will allow India’s biggest airline by passengers carried to reduce expenses on jet fuel and increase income by carrying more passengers per flight, but may also make travelling slightly uncomfortable.

“They don’t look very bulky, but are equally good,” said chief commercial official Sudheer Raghavan. “We are in the process of ordering them. We already have experience with them in our current wide-bodied B777s.”

Jet uses the same seats on international flights, served by Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 planes. The carrier has a 26.1% domestic passenger market share, down from 42.9% in 2005, and runs 500 daily flights using 116 aircraft.

The new seats will be installed “progressively” in the entire fleet, Raghavan said, without specifying a deadline.

Slim seats, apart from being thin, are arranged so that passengers’ legs fit under the seat in front. Airlines can thus place seats closer together, said Ernest S. Arvai, president of US-based aviation consulting firm Arvai Group Inc. “Seven and 10 rows would become eight and 11 rows, respectively. That would be roughly a 10% reduction in cost per available seat mile—a significant reduction,” he said.

But there is a downside— passenger comfort. “If you place a carry-on bag under the seat area meant for your legs, there isn’t the same amount of room, and thereby a less comfortable experience,” Arvai added. “Also, some slim line seats have scant padding, and after a couple of hours, despite their claims, they can become less comfortable than conventional seats—in my experience.”

Raghavan denied Jet was forced to make the move to beat competition from low-cost carriers. “What have low-cost airlines got to do with it? This is the price of oil that has driven us to do this,” he said. “We have to look at our costs. Some of the margins have been eaten up by fuel, we have a responsibility to address it.”

Jet fuel contribute 30-40% of the operating expenses of a local airline. A series of steps has helped Jet improve fuel efficiency by 8% in 2010 over 2009, and by 10% in 2009 over 2008.

For instance, it issues advisories for pilots on how much fuel to uplift before a flight, instead of leaving the decision on them. Reducing the weight of its B737 aircraft by 1 kg each will save the airline $5,000 a year, Raghavan said.

He said 37 airports in India do not face traffic congestion or inclement weather, but pilots used to carry extra fuel just in case the flights are held up. “We had to address that through fuel advisories on pilots on how to take less fuel on board, and so far they have no issues.”

The airline selects the path for international flights keeping fuel efficiency in mind. “We have introduced vertical and lateral optimization to select the most fuel-efficient track to follow, particularly for long-haul flights. In the past, we used to fix the tracks and fly those diligently; now we fly real-time optimization, so we pick the best track,” Raghavan said.

Jet has reduced the amount of water it carries on each flight. It has also removed ovens from aircraft that have only economy seats, and offers cold food, such as sandwiches and fruit juices, on these flights.

With the number of air passengers going down during the 2008-09 economic slowdown, Jet introduced a new brand called Konnect—removing business-class seats from most of its domestic aircraft and turning them into all-economy flights. Passengers could pay for food only if they ordered it, as on low-cost flights.

As the economy started to recover last year, the carrier re-introduced some business class seats on Konnect.

2. New ground handling policy may be deferred
New Delhi: Private airlines Jet Airways, SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir have have managed to get the new ground handling policy implementation deferred yet again.
The civil aviation ministry had threatened to withhold the airport entry passes of airlines’ staff in case they did not show sincerity in executing the new policy.

The airlines have given a specific time-line to the government for signing commercial agreements with airport operator-appointed ground handling companies.

“The ice has been broken. The airlines have assured us of entering into commercial agreement with ground-handling companies in the next 3-4 weeks. Some airlines including Jet and SpiceJet have given the commitment in writing,” a senior aviation ministry official told FE.

The official said that the new policy should be put in place in the next two months. This, however looks unlikely as private airlines have simultaneously appealed in the Supreme Court against the policy and are seeking a stay.

3. Jet Airways strongest amongst aviation stocks: Kapadia
Jet Airways strongest amongst aviation stocks, says Hemen Kapadia,
Kapadia told CNBC TV18, “Jet Airways has been moving for 4-5 trading sessions in a row but I am still not sure whether that justifies this 5% fall and we have seen some positive diversions on the weekly charts. So I take it as a temporary arbitration and I think it has enough legs and once it takes out Rs 479, I know they are pretty far off as of now they could be moving past 500 if the market sustains the way it has been.”
He further added, “Jet Airways doesn’t look bad and I think that will probably apply for the other aviation stocks but Jet does look to be stronger among the lots. SpiceJet has also had the similar 5 weeks side way movement from which it is trying to give a breakout in the form of a recovery.”

4. Jet Airways announces air miles partnership
Frequent flyers on Jet Airways flights to India can now enjoy more benefits from the Jet Privilege club after the Indian airline teamed up with Alitalia and Jet Boutique.

Under the new deal, members of the Jet Privilege club can earn air miles on flights with the Italian airline, while those belonging to Alitalia's MilleMiglia club can earn benefits when they fly with Jet Airways.

Alitalia runs more than 250,000 flights per year to destinations across the world and this new partnership takes the number of Jet Airways air miles sharing deals up to a total of 23.

Furthermore, members of the Jet Privilege club can also earn air miles when they buy merchandise from the Jet Boutique inflight store.

Products on offer include perfume, jewellery, travel accessories, spirits and other alcoholic drinks.

Sudheer Raghavan, chief commercial officer of Jet Airways, said: "Jet Privilege has always endeavoured to offer its members great value and the introduction of these new partners is another step in that direction."







Get Chitika Premium

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

. The pigsty that is civil aviation in India (Part II)

The next time you take a flight, demand photocopies of licences, insurances, minimum equipment list and airworthiness documents to satisfy yourself that it’s safe to fly. Else, just walk off the aircraft. It’s the only weapon air travelers have to make a reasoned argument about deficiencies in airlines. And we have a responsibility to try and clean this mess

It is not amazing anymore what a weekend with some cricket can do to divert attention from real issues in India. Be it corruption scams, energy crisis, water shortage, or the latest on pilots with fake licences generated through methods used by much-maligned auto-rickshaw drivers. Actually, at least the
auto-rickshaw drivers are often honest about things, and now and then seem to also be part of attempts to improve or fix the system-as many of us would have observed by the slogans and couplets painted on their vehicles.

Have we ever seen any such attempts on airplanes? No way. Fancy in-flight magazines aside, nothing. The idea is-don't make noise. Mainstream media will not make a noise-airlines are among their largest advertisers, and besides, all those free seats and upgrades mean a lot too. Airline employee unions will not make noise-too many of their friends and family members want to be pilots, I guess,by any means possible. Airlines themselves will not make a noise-the idea is to simply remain technically "airworthy" and the insurance companies will look after the rest, and as for reputation, a new colour scheme as well as "re-branding" is good for everybody if an incident should occur.

And aircraft manufacturers, will they make a noise about their planes being flown by auto-rickshaw driver incarnates? No way! They have to-right you are-sell more planes. As simple as that. That the airline manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, have been concerned about the issue of fake and even sub-standard pilots in and around India, has been open knowledge for some time now.

So now, time for airlines, manufacturers and their employees to go in for "noise abatement procedures", a process which we know airlines are good at. Meanwhile, a few junior to mid-level officials of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will apparently carry the can; some more sacrifices shall be made to the Gods of Lucre, and life will go on. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will be prevailed upon not to place India on their blacklist (again), as India packs a punch there, and the "flying schools" will re-invent themselves.

And the head of the DGCA has the nerve to call this an "aberration". That's really, really, rich. Noisily rich.

The "noise" in Delhi this weekend has been all about the Mohali cricket match. And the attention has all been towards a summit on "luxury", which for those who go deeper into these things, is a desperate attempt by the purveyors of expensive beads and baubles to try and desperately recover from the sudden drop in sales in Japan and China-one due to the tsunami and the other due to a change in spending patterns. Cricket is cricket, in India, so that's something else. But on "luxury", an 80% discount at the Hugo Boss showroom close to where I live says it all-luxury is aspirational in India, but we want it at 80% discount.

On the other hand, the "non-noise" silence and ostrich-head-in-the-sand approach being taken by pilots as well as airlines in India, is not only deafening, it is positively criminal. Commercial pilots and their multiple associations and unions, who have in the past not hesitated from going in for labour action for minor and silly reasons and manipulated the media brilliantly, have simply not even bothered to comment or come before the media so far. Barring a few sad looking young pilots, bleating plaintively as they are escorted away to spend quality time with pickpockets and whores, complaining that they spent so much money and now deserve sympathy-nothing.

As for the airlines, it seems as if they are treating this issue as nothing more than a bad smell which may soon pass away like a whiff of smoke, so that they can go back to their business. Barring the suspension or sacking of a few pilots, the rest has been one rapid cover-up operation-business as usual, and resolve as quickly the minor issues of passengers suddenly looking into the cockpit to see what the pilot really looks like. After all, they know the truth. It is not just the young recently employed pilots who were working on fake licences. Look around, check out some of the older and senior pilots, do a double-check on the engineers and figure out. Better to close ranks and not make waves-or clear air turbulence, in this case.

Not that there aren't good and qualified people in the aviation industry in India. Sure there are. But the truth be simply told, they were and are aware of what is going on, and have all been in some way or
the other, compromised. The rot is so deep that anybody who speaks or breathes against it internally is going to suffer.

However, in all this, the one major stakeholder who has been royally ignored is the air passenger. Yes, there is some sort of an Air Passengers Association of India (APAI), of which I am a member, which seems to be more interested only in an MLM kind of scheme to bring more members into the fold. So what can we, as passengers, with our lives in the hands of these fake and substandard pilots and their employers, do? Especially on domestic flights, where we have no options?

Here's a short primer, and if you are going on a domestic flight in the near future, you are well advised to read it as well as try to practise it. This is going to be the only way to force airlines and their unions to come out and take a reasoned, as well as pro-consumer stand on an issue that cannot be just brushed under the carpet again, with repeated interviews and quotes from the same old tired faces at the DGCA and in the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).

Get Chitika Premium

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.

Air India Logged on to SITA Passenger Service System

Mumbai, March 29 (IANS) Announcing the double migration of Air India and Indian Airlines to SITA's Horizon passenger services system (PSS), Air India said it will now operate as a single unified carrier paving the way for the entry into the Star Alliance in mid-2011.

Anticipating improvement in its revenue channel due to the PSS, Arvind Jadhav, chairman and managing director of Air India, said: "We are expecting a 15 percent improvement in the bottom-line revenue channels as the new system will allow us better management."

The passenger service system allows an airline to sell its seats. It contains information on schedules and fares. The PSS also has a database of reservations and issued tickets.

Jadhav said the airline targets its 30 percent sales to be online in two years.

"We have a vision to make Air India the best airline in Indian aviation and India's ambassador to the world. Our strategic partnership with SITA, which provides services to the air transport industry not only in India but all over the world, is important in helping us achieve this," he told reporters here.

SITA, the leading specialists in air transport communications and IT solutions, completed the migration of the two separate airlines' (Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines) IT platforms in a record 293 days.

"This included the successful transfer of more than half a million passenger name records (PNRs) with 99.9 percent accuracy," Jadhav said.

SITA's PSS is now established in AI with over a month of daily use and has been integrated into routine operation.

Through the new platform, the airline is presenting its passengers with a more efficient and functionally rich online booking engine, as well as kiosk check-in and web check-in.

Following the initial PSS implementation, SITA is working with Air India to incorporate additional capabilities and further customise its service delivery.

The airline is also planning to implement the new system and integrate it with the cargo delivery by the next year.

SITA has earlier completed such a migration for the Malasiya Airlines, besides a few others.

"The complex double migration to the SITA Horizon platform is a huge achievement and I am delighted with our swift delivery," said Francesco Violante, chief executive officer of SITA.

3. Pvt planes make beeline for Chandigarh
Plane-pooling is clearly infradig for India's top industrialists and politicians. Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar is among the rarity who'll fly into Chandigarh to watch the India-Pakistan semi-final on Wednesday with liquor baron Vijay Mallya. Civil aviation authorities alone have got 30 requests from top honchos to fly into Chandigarh.

So, as Mukesh and Nita Ambani fly into the city, younger brother Anil's wife and kids will come in their own plane. Former aviation minister Praful Patel will come in a Falcon but the plane — like all private jets of others — will have to drop the VVIPs. They will then fly off to Amritsar, Delhi or even distant Dehradun and return at night to fly biggies like Jyotiraditya Scindia and senior Board of Cricket Control in India officials again!

Their planes will be parked as Chandigarh's spacious defence area (used by IAF as its transport base) will park the entourage of Indian and Pakistan prime ministers and the Gandhi family. Authorities expect at least two planes in the Pakistan PM's entourage as an advance party always arrives earlier for foreign heads of state. Also no aircraft
movement will be allowed for about half-an-hour before the VVIP movement of the two PMs happen.

4. InterGlobe General Aviation announces its new entity
Branded as “THE ESTD”, the company has expanded its portfolio from a Business Aviation provider to a new one-stop shop for luxury lifestyle solutions.
InterGlobe General Aviation Private Limited, a subsidiary of InterGlobe Enterprises, has undergone a change in its brand identity and has re-launched to become InterGlobe Established Products Private Limited.

Branded as “THE ESTD”, the company has expanded its portfolio from a Business Aviation provider to a new one-stop shop for luxury lifestyle solutions. THE ESTD will offer an exclusive selection of the world’s most sought after “luxury products”.

From executive jets to super cars, luxurious yachts to high end motorcycles and much more, THE ESTD will aim to provide with a unique experience in their search for the most lavish, exciting and fun  products, coupled with customized and expert solutions to cater to the emerging luxury market. THE ESTD will represent over 20 manufacturers in the region.

Speaking at the launch event in New Delhi, which unveiled the products, Mr. Nigel Harwood, President and CEO, THE ESTD said “We are delighted to announce our new identity and look forward to redefining the luxury landscape here in India and surrounding SAARC and UAE countries. With such iconic global brands, THE ESTD will deliver its customers with the ultimate luxury experience, be it for land, air or water. It’s a company for the Established, by the Established.”

Harwood further added, “The luxury market in India is estimated to grow annually by 25% and with the emergence of young HNI’s who seek thrill and adventure never seen in India before, it creates an interesting and exciting market opportunity”.

THE ESTD today unveiled a large number of products from its new portfolio including the Koenigsegg and Gumpert cars, Vyrus and Hollisters motorcycles, ISA and Arcadia yachts, for which it will have the exclusive representation within the region, as well as other automotive, aqua and boating products covering 11 countries from across the world.

“We would like to be a part of the evolution and progress, bringing to the Indian audience the most exciting supercar in the world, powered with cutting edge technology and innovation, with clear focus on quality and safety. We are very happy to partner with THE ESTD and believe our association will help establish and build Koenigsegg’s presence in the country.” Said Mr. Christian von Koenigsegg, Founder and CEO, Koenigsegg

Mr Roland Gumpert, Managing Director, Gumpert Cars said “Gumpert is an extremely high end car that is synonymous with speed and thrill. Our unique proposition is all our products are seamless synthesis of road and track car, a rare combination that’s a dream come true for every car enthusiast. We are positive that The ESTD network will aid this wonderful automotive garner an encouraging response from SAARC.”

On the occasion, Mr. Volker Sichler of Hollisters Motorcycles, “India is now on a growth path and is expected to become one of the largest luxury markets in the world. An increasingly affluent customer base, quest for one of a kind lifestyle experiences and acquisitions all bode well for the luxury industry here. Hollisters, with the help of THE ESTD, aims to bring the best in biking, offering an exciting, thrilling experience that has never been seen before.”

Ascanio Rodorigo of Vyrus said, “We are very excited to come to India and be a part of the vibrant and changing luxury environment. With THE ESTD we will reach out to the Indian prospective customers and offer them the world’s most powerful production motorcycle with a portfolio of both track and street. And we are sure we will meet with a lot of success!”

Maurizio Baldoni from Arcadia Yachts said, “It is a great thrill to be a part of the exciting Indian market. With the support of THE ESTD and our portfolio of the most innovative range of luxurious yet simple, functional yachts, we are optimistic of recieving the same appreciation that we have recieved the world over.”

Mr Sandro Spaziani from International Shipyards Ancona (ISA) said, “ISA is known across the globe for building innovative pleasure yachts that boast high technology and the most sophisticated designs. For over a decade we have been building products that have been greatly appreciated and now, we extend our offerings to the Indian customers. With THE ESTD, we look forward to building a great relationship and presence in the region.”






Get Chitika Premium

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.