For Air India there are no takers on deadline eve

For Air India there are no takers on deadline eve;  govt hopes against hope

No bids have been received so far for Air India stake, the Government said on Wednesday even as it hoped of getting a good response on the last day of the formal bidding process on Thursday.

“We expect good response before bid closes tomorrow,” Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey told PTI responding to a query.

For Air IndiaEarlier in the day, he said no bids have been received for the stake sale so far. The deadline for the expression of interest ends on Thursday and the request for proposal could be issued only after June 15.

On May 23, Choubey had said the highest bidder for the airline would be known by August-end. But, the highest bidder might not be the successful bidder, he said, adding the Government intends to complete the disinvestment by year-end.

Significantly, he had said the Government could decide against selling State-run Air India if it does not get “adequate” price for it.

“The Government has the right to sell or not to sell Air India if the bid price is found to be inadequate,” Choubey had told reporters.

“Though the transaction adviser (EY) will assess the enterprise value, the right price for the airline will be decided by us,” he said.

Asked about AI employees’ union protests against the proposed sale, he said they were conscious of the fact that airlines would do well after privatisation.

The Government had on March 28 unveiled plans to sell up to a 76 per cent stake in the loss-making carrier, and transfer the management control to private players.

The profitable Air India Express and the joint venture AISATS — an equal joint venture between the national carrier and the Singapore-based SATS Ltd —will also be a part of the disinvestment process.

The ailing airline’s total debt stood at Rs 48,781 crore at the end of March 2017.

-PTI | 31 May 2018 | New Delhi

Govt Closely watching Mistry’s AirAsia India disclosure

Closely watching AirAsia India disclosures by Mistry: Govt

The Civil Aviation Ministry is keeping a close watch on developments related to the purported disclosures made by ousted Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry about AirAsia India, where Tatas are a partner, and will act if something actionable is brought to its notice.AirAsia India
“We are waiting for any input from any quarter,” Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said, adding “we have not received anything so far”.
Mistry raised “ethical concerns” in Tata group’s aviation joint venture with AirAsia and alleged that forensic investigation revealed fraudulent transactions of Rs 22 crore involving non-existent entities in India and Singapore.
“If anything new is brought to the ministry attention, appropriate authorities will look into it,” another civil ministry official said on Mistry’s allegations against AirAsia India.
Mistry was removed abruptly as chairman of the Tata Group on Monday and replaced by his predecessor Ratan Tata, who will lead India’s biggest conglomerate for the next four months till a permanent replacement is identified by a specially- created committee.
Mistry’s family firm, Shapoorji Pallonji, is a construction major and one of the largest stakeholders in the Tata Group.
In a letter written to the Board members of Tata Sons yesterday, Mistry alleged that due to the interim Chairman Ratan Tata’s passion for aviation, Tata Sons board increased capital infusion in the aviation sector at multiple levels of the initial commitment.
“Board members and trustees are also aware that in the case of AirAsia, ethical concerns have been raised with respect to certain transactions as well as overall prevailing culture within the organisation.
“A recent forensic investigation revealed fraudulent transactions of Rs 22 crore involving non-existent parties in India and Singapore,” Mistry said in the letter.
He went on to allege that “executive trustee Mr Venkataraman, who is on the board of Air Asia and also a shareholder in the company, considered these transactions as non-material and did not encourage further study”.
It was only at the insistence of the independent directors, one of whom immediately submitted his resignation, that the board decided to belatedly file a first information reports, the letter noted.
He claimed it was Tata who completed negotiations with Air Asia but early in his tenure as the Chairman of Tata Sons he was asked to table a proposal for the JV with AirAsia at a Tata Sons board meeting.
Claiming that in the case of JV with AirAsia, he was able to extract a “promise of no debt to be raised at the level of JV, as well as limiting Tata Sons investment to 30 per cent of the USD 30 million equity”, Mistry said.
In 2013, Tata Sons had joined hands with Malaysian carrier AirAsia and Arun Bhatia’s Telestra Tradeplace to start low cost carrier AirAsia India. The carrier had to wait for nine months before taking off.
-27 October 2016 | PTI | New Delhi

Civil aviation sector can create about 60 lakh jobs

 Civil aviation sector can create about 60 lakh jobs directly and indirectly in the next ten years

The Minister of State for Civil Aviation Shri Jayant Sinha has said that the civil aviation sector has the potential to create about 10 lakh direct jobs in the next ten years. Given a six- fold multiplier effect that jobs in this sector have, this can lead to the creation of about 60 lakh jobs – direct and indirect – in the next ten years. As jobs in the civil aviation sector tend to be of high value, this would go a long way in improving the economic condition of a large number of young people. The Minister also said that the sector can reasonably be expected to grow at an average rate of about 10-12 % over the next ten years.
However, to achieve this we first need to fill the gap between the demand for skilled manpower for a huge variety of trades in the sector, and the availability of the same. Stressing upon the need for world class training and skilling, he said that this can raise the employability of our people across the world. Shri Sinha also flagged the issue of non-availability of land to build airports as another constraint for growth of the sector.

The Minister was speaking at a workshop on Building Awareness on Aligning Skill Development in the Civil Aviation Sector with the National Skill Qualification Framework ( NSQF) in New Delhi today. The event was also attended by the Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy and senior officers of both ministries. Speaking on the occasion Shri Rudy informed that his ministry has developed about 1500 course curricula for training in various skills across ministries.

The biggest challenge before his team has been to define the various kinds of skills and the ecosystem of each, define job roles and tailor the training programme accordingly. In this context he said that aligning a training programme to the National Skill Qualification Framework was very important as the framework provides for standardised, consistent, nationally acceptable outcomes of training across the country.

The event also saw the signing of an MoU between the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship for training of people in the various trades associated with the civil aviation sector. Shri Jayant Sinha hailed this memorandum of understanding as a momentous one.

Also speaking on the occasion Secretary Ministry of Civil Aviation Shri Rajiv Nayan Choubey said that the aim of the Ministry’s Civil Aviation Policy is to raise domestic ticketing from the present about 80 million to about 300 million. But for this to happen, we need to fill the existing gap in availability of skilled manpower. Shri Rohit Nandan, Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship emphasized on the need for world class training across trades and levels as the civil aviation industry is international in nature. He also stressed upon the need for training to be uniform.

Officials of the two ministries held day long discussions on issues like NSQF, setting up of skill development centres and centres of excellence, training of trainers, identifying job roles, National Occupational Standards and other training related matters.

-Ministry of Civil Aviation, 20-October, 2016

DGCA bans Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on all flights in India

DGCA bans Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on all flights in India

 DGCA bans Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on all flights in India

In the latest, Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has been banned on all flights in India. Director General of Civil Aviation(DGCA) has banned flyers from carrying the Samsung smartphone in check-in bags.

Air passengers, from now on, can only carry these phones in hand bags and that too in switched off mode during the entire flight.

In a public notice Government’s Office of Director General of Civil Aviation said, “Airlines are advised to ensure the following for the safety of aircraft operations and its occupants: Not to turn on or charge Samsung Galaxy Note 7 mobile phone on board the aircraft. Not to stow them in any checked-in baggage.”

Several battery problems have been reported in the Galaxy Note 7 worldwide. The company has already suspended sales of the smartphone all across the world.

US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had already issued a warning to people not to charge or switch on Note 7 in the flying  aircraft in the country.

-September 9, 2016, New Delhi



DGCA seeks monthly details from carriers on airfares

DGCA seeks monthly details from carriers on airfares

“We will ask for details of the number of seats sold on the highest and the lowest fare buckets.”

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has decided to ask all domestic carriers to furnish details of the number of tickets they sell in the highest fare bucket, and the contribution of such tickets to their revenue from 20 domestic routes, in a bid to check sharp surges in airline fares.

Make data public

The DGCA plans to make the data public and would incorporate these numbers in its monthly traffic data reports, a senior official at the aviation regulator said on Friday. The move comes on the back of complaints from Parliamentarians on rising airfares. “We have received complaints on high airfares. The purpose of the move is to form a clear perspective on how many seats are being sold in the highest fare bucket,” the official said. Airlines offer different fare brackets for each flight, known as fare bucket.

The twenty routes for which airlines would have to share these details include Bangalore-Mumbai, Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Chennai, Calcutta-Port Blair and Hyderabad-Mumbai.

“We will ask for details of the number of seats sold on the highest and the lowest fare buckets and the revenue earned on selling such seats,” the official added.

Experts criticise

Some aviation experts criticised the government for monitoring airfares and said it is a function of demand and supply.

“DGCA is involving itself in the pricing regime. It must get its priorities right — it is a safety compliance and standard organisation, not an economic regulatory bureau,” said Mark D Martin, founder and chief executive of Martin Consulting, an aviation consulting firm. DGCA had conducted an analysis of airfares in 2014 and found that the average fares were closer to the minimum fare, meaning most tickets sold were not priced exorbitantly. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju had said in Lok Sabha earlier this week that airlines have passed on the benefits of declining aviation turbine fuel to passengers, as per a study conducted by the government during January-March this year.

In the debate on demand for grants of the Civil Aviation Ministry, some Parliamentarians had sought action against airlines and had alleged airfares remained high despite decline in jet fuel prices which accounts for over 40 per cent of airline’s operational costs.

 –NEW DELHI, May 7, 2016

Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Civil Aviation discusses Draft National Civil Aviation Policy

Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Civil Aviation discusses Draft National Civil Aviation Policy

A meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Civil Aviation was held in New Delhi last evening under the Chairmanship of Civil Aviation Minister Shri P. Ashok Gajpathi Raju to discuss the Draft National Civil Aviation Policy, 2015. Minister of State for Tourism and Culture (I/C) and Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma also attended the meeting.The Draft National Civil Aviation Policy, 2015 aims at providing a conducive environment and a level playing field to various aviation sub-sectors like Airlines, Airports, Cargo, Maintenance Repairs and Overhaul Services, General Aviation, Aerospace Manufacturing, and Skill Development. It also aims to bring air travel within reach of the common man by facilitating regional air connectivity at reasonable rates within the country. The draft policy was released by the Ministry on 30th October 2015, and stakeholders were given time till 30th of November, 2015 to give their feedback and suggestions.

A presentation bringing out the objectives and salient features of the draft policy was made before the members of the consultative committee. The committee lauded the draft policy for the thrust it lays on regional connectivity and on making air travel available for the common man in smaller cities at reasonable costs. The committee members also made suggestions for further streamlining the policy.

The Members of Lok Sabha who attended the meeting included Shri A.P. Jithender Reddy , Shri Chandrakant Raghunath Patil , Shri E. Ahamed , Shri Jitendra Chaudhury, Shri S. Rajendran , Shri Thupstan Chhewang and Shri Vinayak Bhaurao Raut . The Rajya Sabha Members who attended the meeting included Shri Praful Patel, Shri Vijay Jawaharlal Darda and Shri Vishambhar Prasad Nishad.

-Ministry of Civil Aviation, 01-December, 2015

Centre plans aam-aadmi flights

Centre plans aam-aadmi flights

Now, the common man’s long-cherished dreams of travelling by air may come true as the Government proposes to take a slew of measures, including making flying affordable for the masses, in its draft civil aviation policy announced on Friday.

The policy, with around 15 key takeaway measures, unveiled  by the Civil Aviation Ministry, was described as “progressive” by leading air carriers in the country.

There are plans to incentivise flights to smaller towns and allow creation of no-frill airports to boost regional numbers. Besides, the draft civil aviation policy proposes to cap airfares for one-hour flights between small cities at `2,500 per passenger.

In a bid to ratify such measures taken by the Government, public comments have been invited over the next three weeks, after which inter-ministerial consultations would be held. The final policy is expected to be decided in a couple of months after looking into comments on all draft proposals.

The Government also proposes levy on air tickets in its aviation policy and a significant Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) push for Indian carriers. The draft policy has also said that fliers may have to pay 2 per cent more towards a new regional connectivity levy.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has also pitched for over 50 per cent FDI in domestic carriers in case an open skies policy is implemented, while, at present, the FDI limit is just 49 per cent. Under the open skies policy, overseas airlines can operate unlimited number of flights into and out of India.

The Ministry has now sought comments on three options, abolish the 5/20 norm completely, continue with it, or link the overseas flying rights with domestic flying credits.

When asked, leading carriers IndiGo and SpiceJet, however, did not provide a clear answer on the contentious 5/20 norm that makes it mandatory for domestic airlines to have a minimum of five years of flying experience and 20 aircraft to fly abroad.

Start-up carriers like Vistara and AirAsia India have also been pitching for removal of the 5/20 norms.

As far as the proposed 2 per cent levy on all domestic and international air tickets is concerned, it is expected that the Government can rake in Rs 1,500 crore a year that would be used to expand regional routes.

The much-awaited revised draft policy has been rolled out after wide ranging consultations which were never done before. However, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said: “We have proposed it and let us get the feedback soon.”

Commenting on the efforts made by the Government, Civil Aviation Secretary Rajeev Nayan Choubey said: “The draft policy is in line with the Prime Minister’s directives that the policy should promote civil aviation in a big way and take flying to the masses.”

“The Government expects about Rs 1,500 crore annually from charging 2 per cent levy,” Choubey added. To make maintenance, repair, overhaul (MRO) cheaper, the Government has proposed to exempt such activities from Service Tax net and not levy any VAT. The policy also envisages making India an Asia hub for MRO business.

Seeking to provide a friendly MRO regime in the domestic market, the Ministry has proposed exemption from Service Tax for those activities and simplified Customs clearance procedures. “The MRO, ground handling, cargo and ATF infrastructure co-located at an airport will also get the benefit of infrastructure sector, with benefits under Section 80-IA of Income-Tax Act,” Choubey said.

To boost regional connectivity, the policy has proposed various concessions such as State Governments providing free land and lowering the Value Added Tax (VAT) on ATF to 1 per cent or less. There would be no Service Tax on tickets under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), apart from Service Tax exemption for scheduled commuter airlines taking jet fuel from RCS airports. The RCS scheme will come into effect from April 1, 2016.

For regional connectivity, 80 per cent of the viability gap funding would be shared by the Centre and the rest by the States concerned. No-frills airports are also being proposed to be set up at a cost of Rs 50 crore each.

The revised policy has floated the concept of Scheduled Commuter Airlines (SCAs) which would have relaxed norms and those entities would not be liable to pay airport charges for operations under RCS. The SCAs can be set up with a minimum paid-up capital of Rs 2 crore and their aircraft would have a capacity of 100 seats or less. These entities can also enter into code-share arrangements with other airlines.

Various measures have been mooted for rationalisation under route dispersal guidelines as well as for liberalised bilateral rights framework. Domestic carriers would be allowed to enter into code-share pacts with foreign airlines without prior approvals. “A review will be carried out after five years to consider the requirement of further liberalisation in code share agreements and drop the requirement of reciprocity,” Choubey said.

The broader aim of the draft policy is to create an ecosystem for 30 crore domestic ticketing by 2022 and 50 crore by 2027 besides targeting international ticketing at 20 crore. The original one-page draft policy, which was released last November, was later junked by the Ministry amid significant concerns raised by stakeholders.

Leading air carriers welcomed the draft aviation policy. IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh said the policy is ‘broadly progressive’ and setting up of low-cost airports would help bring more cost-efficiency.

On development of airports, the Ministry will explore ways to unlock the potential land use by liberalising the end use restrictions for existing, excluding Public Private Partnership (PPP), and future airports of AAI and future airport projects under PPP.

The revised draft policy, however, said that tariff at all future airports would be calculated on a hybrid till basis. With respect to ground handling, the Ministry has suggested that there should be at least three agencies for that purpose, including Air India’s subsidiary or joint venture at an airport. Besides, the Civil Aviation and Defence Ministries would work together to ensure commercial aero-manufacturing is covered under Defence offset requirements. Areas where “aero-manufacturing takes place would be notified as Special Economic Zone (SEZ),” the policy added.

The Ministry would also develop ‘service delivery modules’ for aviation security, immigration and customs, among others, in consultation with other Ministries. “Helicopters will be free to fly from point to point without prior ATC clearance in airspace below 5,000 feet and outside ATC control areas and those other than prohibited and restricted ones after filing the flight plan with the nearest ATC office,” it said.

On the cargo front, a detailed action plan would be drawn up to ensure it takes less time for the clearance. “The revised draft seeks to provide a level-playing field for sub-sectors such as airlines, airports, cargo, MRO, general aviation, aerospace manufacturing and skill development,” Choubey said, adding that there will be no ambiguity when the final policy comes out.

-31 October 2015, MADHUSUDAN SAHOO , New Delhi