Saturday, October 9, 2010

Govt defers nod to Jet Airways, GMR Airport proposals

New Delhi: The government today deferred a decision on giving approvals to Jet Airways' proposal for QIP and GMR Airports' plan for a foreign investor in the Bangalore Airport .
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in a meeting earlier this month, however, cleared six foreign direct investment proposals worth Rs 5.46 crore, an official statement said.
The statement did not list any reason for deferring Jet and GMR Airport proposals.
"Based on the recommendations of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB)... government has approved six proposals of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) amounting to Rs 5.46 crore approximately," the statement added.
It also deferred consideration of seven proposals, including Jet Airways' equity investment through qualified institutional placement (QIP) route and GMR Airports Holding's intent to induct foreign equity in an investing company.
The government had also deferred the proposals of equity induction in Falcon Tyres and Telecordia Technologies among others.

Centre seeks clarifications on Jet Airways QIP

Bangalore: The fund-raising plan of Jet Airways, the market leader by passenger numbers, got pushed back again as the government on Thursday sought more clarification on the airline’s qualified institutional placement (QIP) issue.
Jet had submitted a proposal to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board for raising $400 million through QIP to deleverage its balance sheet and implement expansion plans.
Kapil Kaul, chief executive officer - India and Middle East of airline consultancy Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, said it since the airline already has an in-principal approval from the government for raising funds from overseas the markets, it should eventually get through.
He said the impediment in getting the FIPB approval could be the sectoral limit for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the aviation sector, which is currently at 49%.
“FDI cap could be the only issue on which the government must have asked for clarification. On this front, the government could temporarily relax the (FDI) norm in Jet Airways’ case on one-off basis,” said Kaul.
Kaul speculated that the government may give its nod to Jet’s proposal to raise foreign funds on the condition that it would bring back its FDI within limits in the specified time.

IndiGo will have to wait a year for flying overseas

New Delhi: IndiGo Airlines, the most successful low-fare carrier in Indian skies, has to wait another year before it can begin its overseas journey.
This, even as competitor SpiceJet began international operations with a flight to Kathmandu this morning. So does IndiGo feel left out?
President Aditya Ghosh told DNA in a freewheeling chat, “We were among the last airlines to start domestic operations also and look where we’ve reached.” On Wednesday, this airline received an in-principle approval from the ministry of civil aviation to begin overseas operations in 2011.
Ghosh’s optimism on making up for lost time even on international routes does not seem misplaced, given IndiGo’s robust financial performance in the past year. In fiscal 2010, the airline generated Rs720 crore cash on its books. Revenue growth was a healthy 35% to Rs2,664.5 crore whereas profitability shot up five times to Rs550 crore.
Ghosh said the airline is “comfortable” with financing its massive fleet expansion programme (adding 150 aircraft) even as it looks to raise substantial amounts of money to finance expansion going forward. IndiGo has already given a mandate to five merchant bankers to devise a fundraising plan — which could be a public offer, debt route or a combination.

Taxi in restricted zone at Mum airport, 4 CISF men suspended

Mumbai: Four CISF personnel were suspended for a security lapse at the Mumbai airport in which a speeding private taxi entered the restricted operations area this morning setting off an alarm.A taxi of Priyadarshani Cab Services driven by Manisha Pawar (21) was intercepted soon after it entered the operations area from gate number 5 of the International Airport in suburban Andheri, CISF sources said.
Pawar, hailing from Pandharpur town in Solapur district, was at the international airport when she claimed to have received a phone call stating a taxi was needed for a passenger at the domestic airport.A catering truck was entering the airport service road from gate number 5 around 10.30 am when the Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) safety personnel spotted the Mahindra Logan cab closely following it.
An alarm was raised and the car was immediately intercepted, sources said, adding the driver was taken into custody and the vehicle seized. "The woman says she had no idea of the route and that she entered the restricted area by mistake," a CISF official said, adding Pawar was handed over to the Sahar Airport Police Station for questioning. The four suspended CISF personnel, including the incharge at gate number 5, were also being questioned. Dilip Patil, senior Inspector at the police station, told PTI that they were verifying Pawar's documents and her background.

Airlines oppose Ghial proposal to increase passenger levies

Indian air carriers have opposed an increase in passenger levies proposed by the Hyderabad airport operator, saying it risked stifling air traffic growth and hurting an aviation recovery that is still nascent, amid concern that other airports would follow suit and raise charges.
GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd, or Ghial, has sought to increase the user development fee from Rs340 to Rs500 per departing domestic passenger and from Rs907 to Rs2,825 per departing international passenger.
The airport regulator, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (Aera), has suggested a smaller increase to Rs420 and Rs1,656, respectively, and had sought the views of stakeholders such as airlines and airport operators at a consultation in Hyderabad on 29 September.
Around 70% of those who attended the meeting opposed the proposed increase while 30% favoured the move, according to the minutes of the meeting posted on the regulator’s website.

Delhi-bound Kingfisher flight returns to Mumbai airport after bird hit

Mumbai: The IT 331 Kingfisher Airlines Mumbai- Delhi flight took off at around 0615 hours but returned to Mumbai airport after being airborne for over 15-minutes, due to a suspected bird hit, Kingfisher Airlines spokesperson said.
Airline engineers are inspecting the aircraft to assess the damage, the spokesperson said, adding another aircraft is being arranged to carry the passengers to their destination.

Dissident Karnataka BJP MLAs holed up at Mumbai airport

Mumbai: A big drama unfolded at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai on early Wednesday morning after 12 dissident Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs from Karnataka reached the city for an alleged political deal with the Janata Dal Secular (JDS).
Around 150 Mumbai BJP workers led by MLC Vinod Tawde forced the MLAs to hole up inside the airport for almost nine hours. Finally, the MLAs flew to Goa after their plan failed.
The 12 MLAs have given a letter to Karnataka governor H.D. Bharadwaj withdrawing support and expressing lack of confidence in chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. The MLAs left Bangalore on Tuesday morning. They first went to Chennai and then Kochi. They took a Sharjah-Kochi-Mumbai flight of Air India from Kochi and reached Mumbai around 2:30 am. They had a plan to stay in Mumbai and had booked rooms in a five star hotel near the airport Hyatt.
As soon as the MLAs came out of the airport Tawde and other BJP workers welcomed them by waiving the BJP's flags. Sensing a trouble for them the MLAs immediately boarded the cars they had booked in advance and went towards Hyatt. After they traveled for 10 minutes the MLAs decided to return to the airport as Tawde and other workers were following them. The MLAs returned to the airport and stayed put in the VIP lounge till 11 in the morning. Finally, they took a Spice Jet flight to Goa at 11:30 am.

70 percent of air passengers want self-service while on a journey

 The most comprehensive global survey ever undertaken of passenger use of air transport self-service technology has found popular demand is now reaching out into non-traditional areas of self-service as airline passengers demonstrate their increasing ease with online, kiosk and mobile phone channels.
While online booking and check-in are nearing their full potential, there is now a clear demand from the travelling public for self-service on other steps of the passenger journey including automated security checks, which are now acceptable to 70 percent of respondents compared to 58 percent in last year's survey.
Similarly, the demand for automatic boarding gates is now at 70 percent compared to 57 percent last year.
Two-thirds of survey respondents would use kiosks for other purposes including booking/changing a flight; purchasing additional services (e.g. baggage fees, meals), printing bag tags; self-transfer; claiming delayed baggage.
In addition, there has been dramatic year-on-year growth in the percentage of passengers using airline websites to book hotels, up from 21 percent in 2009, to 38 percent in this year's survey; car rental, 19 percent to 35 percent.

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