Aviation Newsletter - December 22 to 26, 2014

Alitalia and Etihad Airways announced the completion of all the formalities related to the transfer of air transport operations from Alitalia CAI to the new Alitalia SAI.

Dec 26, 2014 05:12 IST India Infoline News Service

Top News
 
SpiceJet in talks with PE firms to raise funds
SpiceJet is in talks with couple of US private-equity investors and is hopeful of them infusing money into the airline within the next month and half, according to reports. Report said that PE firms are conducting a due diligence on the airline. The airline management is seeking some time from the civil aviation ministry. SpiceJet is currently operating 230 flights every day as compared to 345 flights it operated in July 2014
 
Etihad Airways acquires 49% equity stake in new Alitalia
Alitalia and Etihad Airways announced the completion of all the formalities related to the transfer of air transport operations from Alitalia CAI to the new Alitalia SAI. Etihad Airways has subscribed and paid for the capital increase of euro 387.5 million for the acquisition of a 49 per cent share in Alitalia SAI. The remaining 51% shareholding is held by Alitalia CAI through MidCo, which has contributed the agreed assets and liabilities for the continuation of the airline. The transaction will become effective on December 31, 2014 and Alitalia SAI – Società Aerea Italiana will commence operations on January 1, 2015.
 
GoAir cuts fares to Rs. 1,469
The Wadia Group-promoted budget carrier GoAir has put 1.7 million seats up for sale, offering fares as low as Rs 1,469 for travel next year with a five-day booking period starting from Sunday, says report. Report stated that the special offer is available on flights across the GoAir network for a travel period between January 1 and March 31, the airline said. The bookings under the offer can be made between December 21 and December 25, says report.
 
Fiscal concerns: Air India will not get Rs 720 crore in this fiscal
According to the report, the fiscal concerns of the Modi government have taken a toll on Air India's equity infusion with the finance ministry informing the airline that it will not get Rs 720 crore of the Rs 6,500 crore scheduled for the current fiscal. A top official said that the equity infusion is mainly being used to repay loans taken by the national carrier to pay for its aircraft ordered in 2005. Of the total Rs 6,500 crore, AI will not get Rs 720 crore in this fiscal due to fiscal constraints, report said.
 
News Infocus
 
Boeing eyes several opportunities in Defence sector: Pratyush Kumar
Boeing has been the mainstay of India’s civil aviation sector with airlines such as Air India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet. Today, as Boeing’s partnership with India is expanding to meet the country’s larger aerospace and defense requirements, it is also rapidly building sustainable value and expertise in the Indian aerospace sector.
 
According to the report, a ‘big announcement’ is expected during US President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit. In an interview with The Financial Express, Pratyush Kumar, President, Boeing India, he talked about the plans of the company to expand in India and its future visions in India's defence sector. He said, "Our business strategy in India has a twin focus. First, to provide a winning platform to the country’s commercial aviation and military customers with state-of-the-art, reliable and fuel-efficient products, supported by world-class services. second, to create an ecosystem for aerospace manufacturing in India through partnerships with local companies, government enterprises and academia. Going forward, you will see Boeing accelerate its presence in India and partner Indian companies,realising Make in India for the aerospace and aviation sector".
 
Vistara will rewrite rules of airline industry: Phee Teikh Yeoh
Vistara was in the news as CEO of the airlines Phee Teikh Yeoh unveiled the various facilities provided on board. Calling it as a 'New Year Gift to India', in a spate of interviews with various news channels, he said, " In India, the line between full-service carriers and budget airlines is blurred because there is hardly any differentiator in the products offered by each. Flying full-service is more than offering free in-flight meals. For the Vistara customer, we have designed an end-to-end service experience - from the time he reaches the airport to post-flight engagement. We have various new offerings, including premium economy seats. We are the first Indian airline to offer this. Our team has made every effort to live up to our brand promise and to bring a world-class full-service carrier to India".
 
As per the reports, the company is planning to start its international operations once the government lifts the 5/20 rule. The rule states that it is mandatory for a carrier to be five year old and have atleast 20 aircraft in its fleet before being allowed to serve international market.The company is expecting to expand upto 20 aircrafts in next four years.
 
Domestic News
 
Aviation ministry mulls cap of Rs20,000 on airfares
Aviation ministry is examining regulating airfares, according to reports. Report said that the ministry is mulling cap of Rs20,000 on airfares. Airlines will not be allowed to charge below cost price, says Ministry.
 
GoAir suspends senior official Puneet Shankta
GoAir has suspended director of flight operations Puneet Shankta over alleged improprieties in the recruitment of pilots for the airline, according to reports. Report said that Shankta had allegedly hired 15 pilots out of turn, giving them preference over others. GoAir CEO Giorgio De Roni confirmed that Shankta has been suspended over the allegations and added that a forensic probe has been ordered, says report.
 
Cabinet approves 278 hectares of IAF land
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi gave its approval for transfer/exchange of 278 hectares of IAF land comprising of 288.74 acres of AAI land in possession of IAF in lieu of 400 hectares of land offered by the Government of Maharashtra for the development of the Nagpur airport project and simultaneous restoration of ownership of 288.74 acres of AAI land at present in possession IAF at Nagpur Civil Airport to AAI.
 
GCF and BEL join hands to upgrade 40mm L/70 anti-aircraft guns
According to the reports, the 40mm L/70 anti-aircraft guns used by Indian defence forces are being upgraded and modernised at Madhya Pradesh's Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF), with the help of Bharat Electronics Limited. "We have already handed over two 40 mm L/70 guns to BEL for electronic upgradation after bringing mechanical improvement in it," GCF general manager N K Sinha reportedly said. There is a plan to upgrade 200-odd L/70 guns Sinha said adding that their hydraulic system is being changed to electric drive says report.
 
Vistara plans to start international operations once 5/20 rule goes away
Vistara is planning to start international operations as and when the government decides to do away with 5/20 rule. Report said that the airline will partner Singapore Airlines and other international carriers to offer international connectivity to passengers. Meanwhile, the airline will partner Singapore Airlines and other international carriers to offer international connectivity to passengers. "If the Indian aviation industry has to be on the global map, this rule must go…We are hopeful that 5/20 rule goes away,” Vistara chief executive officer Phee Teik Yeoh reportedly said. The airline unveiled its product, brand music, in-flight meal service and frequent flyer programme Club Vistara.
 
Jet Airways closes landmark five-year syndicated loan
Jet Airways (India) Limited has successfully concluded a five-year syndicated loan facility of US$ 150 million (Transaction).  Mashreqbank psc, was the sole Initial Mandated Lead Arranger and Book Runner for the Transaction. The Transaction was fully subscribed to, by banks spread across the Middle East region, from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Doha-based financial institutions.  The participating banks include Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC, and Commercial Bank International PJSC as the Mandated Lead Arrangers and Ahli United Bank B.S.C and Arab Banking Corporation B.S.C., as the Lead Arrangers.  Alpen Capital acted as financial advisors to Jet Airways for the transaction.  This once again reiterates the multitude of synergies developing between the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.
 
SpiceJet's dues rises to Rs 1230 crore till December 10: Govt
SpiceJet's dues to foreign and Indian vendors, airport operators and oil companies grew  from Rs 990 crore to Rs 1,230 crore in a matter of 18 days till December 10, Lok Sabha reportedly said. Report stated that the airline's dues to foreign vendors including lessors of aircraft and maintenance, repairs and overhaul (MRO) facilities, rose to Rs 670 crore on December five and Rs 742 crore on December 10, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma stated. The total number of SpiceJet aircraft fell to 30 on December 10, Sharma said. Mahesh Sharma reported that the airline's outstandings to Indian vendors, stood at Rs 366 crore on November 24, rose to Rs 395 crore on December five and Rs 488 crore on December 10, according to reports.
 
Radial NZG Technology tires on the latest aircraft technology
Michelin Aircraft Tire has announced that the first flight of the new Airbus A350-900 aircraft was completed with MICHELIN Radial NZG Technology tires. Airbus has delivered the first A350 XWB to its launch operator QATAR AIRWAYS equipped with MICHELIN AIR X tyres with Radial NZG Technology. The Xtra Wide Body commercial jet made primarily of composite materials achieved its first ferry flight from Toulouse (France) to Doha (Qatar) on 22th December 2014. The aircraft has already proved a tremendous success with hundreds of orders from leading global airlines.
 
Jet Airways introduces new online meal booking program
Jet Airways, India’s premier international airline, has introduced a new online meal booking program for First Class and Premiere guests. The “Book your meal” initiative is now available on all Jet Airways’ international flights, allowing guests to pre-order meals online at jetairways.com. It is a key feature in the airline’s growing commitment to enhance the in-flight guest experience. Guests can now select from a wide array of non-vegetarian and vegetarian meal options, ensuring they have their preferred meals served during their flight.
 
Fly the new feeling with Vistara
Vistara unveiled its unique product and service elements that will fulfill its core brand promise. The full service carrier will take off on January 9, 2015 with Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Ahmedabad and Ahmedabad-Mumbai as its initial routes. The attention to detail in fulfilling its commitments, made when the brand was unveiled, is clear. The hassle-free check-in and boarding process, with intuitively thoughtful on-board experience, comfortable and spacious seating coupled with carefully selected meals will deliver a seamless service experience to Vistara customers.
 
Vistara also unveiled its tagline ‘Fly the new Feeling’, encouraging its potential customers to explore the product and feel the difference. The aural identity (brand music) of Vistara, embodies the spirit of the “carefree” world citizen connected with the emotion of the “caring” Indian soul created by a leading sonic branding agency - Brandmusiq, was also launched at the event.
 
SpiceJet introduces capability for passengers to update contact information online
SpiceJet announced the ability for passengers to check and update their contact information online using the Manage My Booking facility on www.spicejet.com. Providing proper up-to-date contact information is important to ensure passengers can be informed in advance of any changes to schedule, delays, or cancellations. Bookings made via travel agents often do not contain correct contact information, and sometimes the correct contact information is not passed on to the airline, and this results in passengers not being contactable. SpiceJet advises all passengers to check and update their contact information, specifically their mobile phone numbers and email addresses, online at www.spicejet.com at their earliest convenience.
 
International News
 
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive hails 'Year of the Fleet' with the arrival of the new A350
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, chaired a press conference at the Airbus Delivery Centre in Toulouse, France, to a crowd of more than 150 international media who had travelled from all corners of the globe to witness the delivery of the first A350 XWB to Qatar Airways, of which the airline is the global launch customer.
 
In attendance at the press conference and delivery ceremony in Toulouse were Fabrice Bregier, President and Chief Executive Officer at Airbus and Tony Wood, President - Aerospace from Rolls Royce, and Qatar’s Ambassador to France, His Excellency Sheikh Mishaal bin Hamad Al-Thani, witnessing the arrival of the airline’s first A350 XWB aircraft. Speaking at the press conference, Mr. Al Baker explained about Qatar Airways’ rapid expansion plans, boosted by the arrival of this latest aircraft type.
 
Emirates to operate third daily service to Birmingham
Emirates has announced a third daily service to Birmingham Airport, becoming the first airline to offer a direct First Class service to the region. Commencing Saturday 1st August 2015, Emirates flight EK41, operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, will depart Dubai International Airport at 0235hrs and arrive in Birmingham at 0705hrs. The outbound flight, EK42, will depart Birmingham Airport at 0910hrs and arrive in Dubai at 1910hrs. The additional service adds seven more inbound flights a week to Birmingham, increasing passenger and cargo capacity on the route by 42 percent.
 
Dragonair to launch daily service to Tokyo Haneda from March 2015
Dragonair announced that it will commence a new daily service between Hong Kong and Haneda Airport in Tokyo beginning 29 March 2015 (subject to government approval), further strengthening the airline’s network in Asia and boosting its presence in Japan. The new service is an addition to the existing 14 flights per week to Haneda offered by sister airline Cathay Pacific Airways, which also operates 35 flights per week to Narita International Airport.
 
Tokyo will be Dragonair’s third destination in Japan and becomes the 16th destination to have been launched or resumed by the airline since April 2012. Dragonair currently operates daily flights between Hong Kong and Fukuoka and four weekly flights to Okinawa.
 
New Cathay Pacific lounge opens at Tokyo's Haneda Airport
Cathay Pacific is unveiling a brand-new lounge experience for passengers travelling out of Tokyo International Airport Haneda from 9 December 2014. Located on Level 6near Gate 114, the lounge will be the first to be operated by a non-Japanese carrier in the Haneda Airport International Passenger Terminal.
 
The Haneda lounge measures 990 square metres, making it one of the largest Cathay Pacific lounges outside Hong Kong, with seating for approximately 190 people. The lounge offers a supremely comfortable environment of understated luxury in which First and Business Class passengers can relax before their flight.

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