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  Relief for Indian carriers as European Union freezes carbon tax
Brussels, November 16, 2012 The European Union will freeze for a year its rule that all airlines must pay for their carbon emissions for flights into and out of EU airports, the EU executive said, following threats of international retaliation. This comes as a big relief for Indian carriers. In fact, India and 22 other countries, including Russia, China and the US, had in February this year decided to retaliate with a series of measures, including imposition of heavy costs on European airlines and plane manufacturers.
  Indian carriers that fly to Europe - Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher - may have ended up paying millions of dollars annually on this count as it required them to pay 15 per cent of the cost of compensating for the CO2 (carbon dioxide) emitted during landings or take-offs from Europe. However, flights within the European Union will still have to pay for their carbon emissions. The year-long exemption will apply to flights linking EU airports to countries outside the bloc, a move welcomed by US and Asian officials. Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said she had agreed "to stop the
clock" to create a positive atmosphere for international talks on an alternative global plan to tackle airline emissions. Some airline associations welcomed Monday's announcement, but said the moratorium meant EU carriers operating flights within the bloc could be at a competitive disadvantage.
   Environment campaigners said the European Union was giving up too much, too soon. But they said opponents could no longer blame the European Union for any lack of progress at the U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which is seeking an alternative global deal. Source: NDTV

  Kingfisher employees accept deal, resume work: CEO
New Delhi, October 25, 2012: Employees of grounded Kingfisher Airlines have agreed to return to work, the embattled carrier's chief executive said on Thursday after a meeting with staff, who have not received their salaries since March. "All employees have agreed to resume duty right now. They are on duty as we speak ... We are all in this together and looking forward to getting the airline going in the next few weeks," CEO Sanjay Aggarwal told reporters. The airline, which has been grounded since the start of the month, still must convince the aviation regulator to reinstate its licence, which has been suspended.
  Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said this morning the airline's problems were not limited to salaries. "Salary is a big issue and the employees should be paid. But the bigger issue than that is their fiscal assurance to the DGCA (the aviation regulator). They have lot of outstandings to the Airports Authority (of India), to companies, to lessors, so its not just a question of salaries to the employees," he said . The cash-strapped airline had stopped selling tickets on its website through October 20 as it tried to persuade pilots and engineers to return to work. Source: Agencies

   Kingfisher Airlines' licence suspended by DGCA
NEW DELHI, October 20, 2012 (Reuters): Kingfisher Airline's(KING.NS) licence to operate was suspended on Saturday after the debt-laden carrier failed to satisfy the aviation regulator's concerns about its operations.Struggling to pay bills, Kingfisher is seven months behind on salary payments, and its fleet has been grounded since the start of the month after a staff protest turned violent. Its has been suspended until further notice, Arun Mishra, director general of Civil Aviation told Reuters. The regulator had asked the carrier why its licence to fly should not be cancelled for failing to provide a "safe, efficient and reliable service".
   IBM to help Jet Airways go green
BANGALORE, September 11, 2012: Jet Airways has can now accurately calculate, track and report aircraft emissions, thanks to IBM. The airlines can now map each carrier's carbon emissions, optimise its fuel usage by a detailed analysis of each flight. Significantly, this project is being done under the strategic 10-year business transformation agreement with the IT major to streamline and consolidate its IT operations.
   A part of IBMs Integrated Emission Management System, it provides Jet Airways a process to analyse and calculate individual aircraft emissions, which is a complex process involving comparison of flight records and fuel usage data contained in multiple systems ranging from internal aircraft systems to regional navigation data and flight records. The solution ensures that all flight emissions are properly calculated, and reporting is accurate and timely. With more than 50 years experience in aviation, IBM uses its software, hardware and services expertise to help top airlines and airports across the globe deliver more highly differentiated customer experiences and improve their operational efficiency.

   Airfare up on higher surcharge
New Delhi, September 5, 2012 (PTI): Air travel became costlier today with major arriers hiking fuel surcharge on tickets, ranging from Rs 150 to Rs 250 for domestic travel and $15 (Rs 825) for a one-way international ticket, following an almost eight per cent increase in jet fuel prices. While Air India introduced the increased surcharge today itself, Jet
Airways and its subsidiary JetKonnect will raise it from tomorrow, officials of both airlines said.
  Under the new regime, an increase of Rs 150 in the surcharge will be applicable on all sectors less than 1,000km and Rs 250 for those beyond that distance. A blanket hike of $15 will be effected on all one-way international tickets. The domestic fuel surcharge for a distance of over 1,000km so far was Rs 3,250, which will now go up to Rs 3,500. The surcharge so far was Rs 1,600 on a ticket for less than 1,000km distance.
   A Jet Airways spokesperson said the hike in fuel surcharge would come into effect from tomorrow, while an Air India official said the increase had been effected on all bookings from today. Officials of no-frill airlines such as IndiGo and SpiceJet remained tight-lipped about when they would hike surcharge but were of the opinion that this steep rise in jet fuel prices would hit their financial bottomline. "We are studying the impact of a steep hike of aviation turbine fuel prices on our operational costs which are high in any case. We are studying the situation and may take a decision soon," one of the airline officials said, requesting anonymity.
   The increase in fuel surcharge was necessitated by the steep rise in the price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) by 7.6 per cent last week. In the fourth straight increase in rates since July, oil marketing companies last week hiked ATF price to an all-time high of Rs 72,282 per kilolitre. Jet fuel constitutes almost 50 per cent of an Indian carrier's operating costs against 20-25 per cent globally. This is primarily because of the high taxes on ATF by the states - ranging from four per cent to 30 percent. Though international airlines operating to India are exempted from state-level taxes, they also pay nearly 16 per cent more than the global average when their aircraft fill in their tanks here.

   Two Air Force choppers collide mid-air, 8 dead
Jamnagar, August 30, 2012 Eight Indian Air Force personnel were killed after two Air Force MI-17 helicopters crashed near Sarmat village in Jamnagar in Gujarat after a mid-air collision on Thursday. There were four people on board each MI-17 helicopter and all of them died in the tragic crash. One of the helicopters caught fire after the collision, which took place almost 20 kms from the Jamnagar Air Force Station. The helicopters had taken off from the Jamnagar Air Force Base on a routine training sortie.
   The villagers, who witnessed the accident, said the two helicopters collided soon after take off and crashed near the village. They added that one of the helicopters turned into a ball of fire after the collision. Air Force personnel and police have reached the crash site. Jamnagar municipal corporation fire brigade also reached the spot and brought the fire under control. "The helicopters left at 12 noon and we got to know at 12:05 pm that both the sorties have crashed. Eight personnel have died in total, there were four in each chopper. The crash happened in the Air Force land, not a residential area," Defence PRO, Gujarat, Captain MG Mehta said. An IAF spokesperson in New Delhi said that a court of inquiry has been ordered to determine the reasons behind the crash.

   India to get first Dreamliner this month
New Delhi, August 8, 2012: India’s most awaited aircraft, the Dreamliner, will most likely arrive this month, after a delay of nearly four years. State-run Air India had placed orders for 27 such aircraft six years ago, and the first batch was supposed to be delivered in September 2008. However, the delivery was delayed due to design and production issues at Boeing, the maker of the aircraft.
  This led to a compensation battle between the government and the plane maker, and was resolved only last week, when the cabinet committee on economic affairs approved the compensation package for the delay. Here are a few facts about the Dreamliner:
  Japanese airline All Nippon Airways was the first airline to have taken delivery of the aircraft and use it for a commercial flight. The airline has placed an order for 50 aircraft. On October 26, 2011, the 787 Dreamliner made its maiden commercial flight from Tokyo’s Narita airport to Hong Kong. There were 240 passengers on board. The long-range, twin-engine aircraft is Boeing’s most fuel-efficient aircraft. Boeing says the plane consumes 20 per cent less fuel compared with the similar-sized 767. Better fuel efficiency means lower flying costs. The 787 comes in four variants, with the longest-range variant capable of flying over 15,000 km non-stop.
  In India, the Dreamliner will cost around $210 million, cheaper than the widely-used 777, which costs $260 million. According to the company’s website, as many as 47 airlines across the world have ordered nearly 900 Dreamliners.Source: NDTV 

   Air India pilots call off strike after court order

   NEW DELHI, July 04, 2012 (Reuters): A group of pilots at ailing national carrier Air India demanding exclusive rights to fly new Boeing Dreamliners called off a 58-day strike late on Tuesday, bowing to pressure from the government and a Delhi court order. About 500 Air India pilots who fly international routes have been demanding that colleagues from the former Indian Airlines not be trained to fly Dreamliners because they worried it could hurt their career prospects. The Air India strike added to the chaos in an industry where the one-time No.2 carrier by domestic market share, Kingfisher Airlines, has slashed its operating fleet to 18 from 64 and has not paid staff since January.
  The strike also forced Air India to cut back on its international schedule and combine flights, which further strengthened the hold on international routes by market leader Jet Airways  "We, the pilots of Air India and members of the Indian Pilots Guild, on the intervention of Honourable Justice Ms. Reva Khetrapal of the Honourable Delhi High Court have started the procedure to resume work,"  the Indian Pilots Guild said in a statement late on Tuesday. Some of the pilots are expected to return to work as soon as Wednesday and Air India will look at reinstating the striking pilots "sympathetically," said an Air India official, who did not wish to be named.
  The airline has also sacked more than 100 striking pilots and said previously said it would consider rehiring those pilots on a case-by-case basis once they unconditionally report to work. Tauseef Mukadam, the joint secretary of the Indian Pilots Guild, the union of the striking pilots, did not respond to calls for comment. K. Swaminathan, an Air India spokesman, declined to comment. Indian aviation minister Ajit Singh earlier said the strike was illegal and the government will not enter into discussions with pilots until they report to work. The Delhi High Court, which also previously called the strike illegal, on Tuesday ordered the pilots to return to work immediately and asked Air India's management to look into their demands.

   300 Air India pilots on strike in Mumbai
  MUMBAI, June 25, 2012: More than 300 Air India (AI) pilots started a hunger protest on Monday in Mumbai. Of these, 10 pilots are on an indefinite hunger strike and will go on protesting till the airline relents and calls them for a talk. The pilots have been on a general strike from work since May 8. The strike entered its 48th day on Monday. More than 100 pilots are already on hunger strike in the national capital since Sunday morning.
  The pilots on strike belong to the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) of the erstwhile AI. They mostly operate only long haul international flights. In May, more than 400 pilots had declared a strike in protest against the airline management's decision to train the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots for the Dreamliner Boeing-787. The pilots said that this would affect their career progression. Around that time, the IPG was derecognised and around 100 pilots were sacked by the airline. With neither the ministry of civil aviation nor the airline blinking, the pilots have resorted to a hunger protest, asking to lift the derecognition of the union and call for talks. They are also demanding a reinstatement of their sacked colleagues. Source: The Times of India

  Air India may not survive if strike continues

  New Delhi, June 4, 2012: Air India chief Rohit Nandan Saturday warned that the airline may not be able to survive in the long run if its pilots don't end their 26-day-old strike. "If the airline has to survive in the long run, achieve the turnaround, it is essential for the pilots to come back," Nandan told agency. "They (pilots) should think about the long-term impact this strike will have on the airline and their future."
  Nandan's outspoken comments came even as the strike continued for the 26th day, pushing up the airline's revenue losses to more than Rs.350 crore. The losses, according to a senior Air India official in Mumbai, are among the biggest suffered by the airline due to any strike. "Current load factor (passenger traffic) is at an all-time low for the international segment. Being the peak travel season, the overall losses will be far above the predicted revenue drain of Rs.400 crore," the official in the operations arm of the airline said.
  The airline expects to stabilise its international operations through the interim plan which it implemented Friday and cut its losses to less than Rs.5 crore a day from the present Rs.10 crore. The interim plan has axed seven international destinations including Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Toronto. The Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), representing aviators of the erstwhile Air India, went on strike May 8 against the move to train their counterparts from Indian Airlines on the soon-to-be-inducted Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
  Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh Friday again asked the agitating pilots to resume work so that negotiations could held. The pilots, when contacted by the reporter, reiterated their demand for reinstatement of 101 sacked aviators and said none of their major issues were resolved by the announcement. Source: SME Times News Bureau

  Passengers worst hit as Air India pilots strike enters day two
  New Delhi/Mumbai, May 9, 2012 (ANI): The strike called by protesting Air India pilots entered its second day on Wednesday with three international flights being cancelled from New Delhi and Mumbai.Around 160 Air India pilots owing allegiance to the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) had reported sick yesterday, resulting in the cancellation of at least 13 international flights.
  Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had termed the strike by Air India pilots as illegal, saying the national carrier's management would take appropriate action against those involved in the stir. Singh noted that Air India is currently undergoing a turbulent period and crores of public money is being infused to run the carrier. He stressed that the pilots should come to the negotiating table and resolve their issues through dialogue, but not launch any strike. Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) President Jitendra Awhad on Tuesday blamed the management for turning a deaf year to their demands, and added that this had led the pilots to strike work. Awhad said the pilots'demands have been sidelined and described the Air India management as being stubborn. "The management is responsible for today's scenario, we have been talking to the management on certain demands for the last four days, we chalked out a final formula with the executive director industrial relations and executive director operations and general manager training and that formula, that draft was thrown in the waste paper basket by the chairman managing director asking who gave the right to these officers to talk," said Awhad.
  "Now, the question arises is that what were you doing for the last four days when you were talking to us, and they just made us roam door to door," he added. Awhad further said the six-month delay in the salaries of the pilots was adding to their woes. Passengers are the worst hit by the pilots' agitation. They allege that they are not being informed about the cancellation of their respective flights in advance. Air India had on Tuesday sacked ten agitating pilots, de-recognised their union and sealed its offices, as around 160 of them failed to join duty. A concerned Air India management had earlier met the pilots in New Delhi in a bid to defuse the crisis. (ANI)

  Rs.18,000-crore Air India restructuring plan approved

  Mumbai, April 4, 2012 (IANS): The long-awaited Rs.18,000 crore financial restructuring plan for cash-strapped Air India has finally been approved by a consortium of 19 banks led by State Bank of India, an official said here Tuesday. The plan includes a debt restructuring of Rs.18,000 crore by the banks and a committed equity infusion by the government, the official said in a statement here.
  The high-cost working capital debt of the national carrier stands at Rs.22,000 crore, of which the banks will restructure Rs.18,000 crore. From this (Rs.18,000 crore), Rs.10,500 crore will be converted into long-term debt with a repayment period of 10-15 years. The remaining Rs.7,400 croe will be repaid to banks through a government- guaranteed bond issue.
  The proposed restructuring - which will now go for cabinet approval - will help AI reduce its interest outlay substantially. As part of the airline's restructuring plans, the government had announced an infusion of Rs.4,000 crore during the current fiscal, raising the airlines' equity base to Rs.7,345 crore, in the union budget for 2012-13.
Kingfisher Airlines may get funds from banks to stay afloat
  New Delhi, February 22, 2012, (PTI): As cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines is battling to stay afloat, a consortium of lenders is believed to be considering fund support to the beleaguered carrier. A 13-bank consortium, led by State Bank of India, is considering providing short-term funding to the airline but the quantum of support is yet to be decided, sources said. Each member bank has to get approval from its board and the process would take some time, the sources said.
  There was no official word either from the bankers or Kingfisher on the reports that State Bank of India has agreed to give about Rs 1,500 crore. When contacted, SBI Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri declined to comment on the issue, saying client confidentiality prevents him from talking about a particular company.
  Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said that the recent action taken by the ministry like allowing fuel import and relaxing FDI cap make airline business plan more viable. At the same time, Central Board of Excise and Customs Chairman S K Goel said, "Kingfisher had an outstanding tax due of Rs 70 crore and he had promised to pay in installments." The company has paid Rs 10 crore in December, Rs 20 crore in January and they have to pay Rs 20 crore in February, he said.
  "Still few more days left in February, they will pay I am sure and in March they will pay the remaining Rs 20 crore. So, they will pay all the arrears by March 31...I hope so," Goel said. Kingfisher has suffered a loss of Rs 1,027 crore in 2010-11 and has a debt of Rs 7,057.08 crore, latest figures show. The company's net loss widened to Rs 444.26 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2011, due to high fuel costs and weaker rupee from Rs
253.69 crore in the October-December quarter in the last fiscal. 


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