us fair, equal opportunity, says Airbus
DELHI, April 27: A day after the Air India Board approved
a plan to purchase 50 aircraft from the US manufacturer,
Boeing, in a deal estimated to be worth $ 6 billion, Airbus
cried foul, demanding that the process be reviewed and bids
to reporters here on Wednesday, Nigel Harwood, vice-president
(sales) for India and South Asia, demanded that Air India
give Airbus a "fair and equal'' opportunity to present
procedure lacked transparency. We were never allowed to
present facts before the Air India board. The Civil Aviation
Minister, Praful Patel, had promised total transparency
in the acquisition process but we are shocked that we were
not even considered. If this is how Air India plans to purchase
planes, why should we even enter the bids?''
Harwood demanded that the entire documentation of Air India
bids be presented before the Central Vigilance Commission
for an impartial and fair assessment. "We are not disappointed
but we are astonished by the fact that Air India chose to
ignore Airbus completely without even giving us a chance
to offer our views. This is a major deal for us and Air
India is a very valued and prestigious airline for us.''
claimed that tender norms were skewed in favour of Boeing
and the Air India Chairman did not even reply to a number
of Airbus' letters on the company's passenger planes and
economic advantages for Air India.
main objection by Airbus is that its superjumbo A-380, which
completed its test flight safely on Wednesday, was not considered.
Mr Harwood said Boeing's B-787 "Dreamliner'' would
be available for delivery not before 2009 and its seat configuration
of nine abreast in the economy class gave Boeing an unfair
had written to Air India saying eight abreast in the economy
class was the accepted norm worldwide and that the nine
abreast seating arrangement was preferred only by charter
operators. B-787 was in direct competition with A-350, which
would be available by 2010.
Harwood said A-330 and A-340 were equipped with the most
modern, fuel-efficient engines and would offer better efficiency
and lower operating costs to Air India. Airbus was in a
comfortable position to deliver the planes in 2006. Last
year, it delivered 320 commercial passenger planes and the
European consortium planned to cross that figure this year,
India officials cited their November 24, 2004 tender norms,
maintaining that the norms for the fleet acquisition plan
were not changed. The tender specified the types of aircraft
Air India proposed to purchase. These included A-340-500,
B-777-200 LR, A340-600 and B-777-300 ER, A-330-200 and B-7E7-8.
The plan aimed at covering the period up to 2012-13, providing
for an increase in fleet size from 34 to 74.
A380 makes history with maiden flight
(France), April 28: The world's largest passenger plane,
the Airbus A380, took off successfully on its maiden flight
on Wednesday, a milestone for aviation and for the European
aircraft-maker's battle with American rival Boeing. The
giant plane's four engines hauled its double-decked, 280-metric
tonne fuselage aloft at 10:29 a.m. (1:59 pm IST), an achievement
watched by thousands of spectators 101 years after the Wright
brothers first mastered controlled, sustained flight.
plane carried a crew of six and 20 metric tonnes of on-board
test instruments. Its first flight lasted about four hours.
"The takeoff went perfectly," Alain Garcia, an
Airbus engineering executive, said on LCI television. The
plane stayed within 160 kilometres of the airport in Blagnac,
a suburb of Toulouse in southwest France, from where it
took off. It beamed back real-time measurements to Airbus
headquarters at Blagnac.
were cheers and applause as the white jet with a blue tail
- its engines surprisingly quiet - picked up speed down
the runway and lifted smoothly into the blue skies. Fire
trucks were stationed alongside the runway as a precaution.
Airbus chief test pilot Jacques Rosay, flight captain Claude
Lelaie and four fellow crew members - who all wore orange
flight suits - took no chances.
had said they wore parachutes during the first flight, in
accordance with company policy. A handrail leads from the
cockpit to an escape door that can be jettisoned if the
pilots lose control of the plane.
agents in truce with Air India
DELHI, April 25: The truce between the travel agents and
the national carrier, Air India, has come as a big relief
for the air passengers. The travel agents across the country
called off their agitation against Air India and European
carriers after getting an assurance from the Air India top
brass that their grievances would be looked into.
agents had not been selling tickets of Air India from April
1 after the airline had announced the commission cut from
seven to five percent from May 1. Later other European carriers,
Singapore Airlines and Asiana Airlines also decided to cut
agent's commission 1 in line with the global practice of
cutting distribution costs.
to this correspondent, Mr Balbir Mayal, President of Travel
Agents Association of India (TAAI) said "travel agents
across the country have decided to take back the decision
of suspending ticket sales of Air-India and other European
Airliners after getting an assurance from the management
that our problems pertaining to commission cuts would be
Mayal said "we have received a letter from the Air
India management inviting us for discussions on the issue.
We are planning to meet them next week to sort out our differences
and find an amicable solution, which would avoid loss of
business to both the affected parties."
and TAFI have now accepted the fact that commission cut
is here to stay. The associations are hoping that the airlines
would accept their proposal to freeze the commissions at
5 per cent for the next 10 years. However, sources informed
that the airlines may agree to five years freeze, time enough
for the agents to look for alternative means of earnings.
travel agents, who give hoard of other services such as
collecting taxes, getting passport and visa for clients
et al, hope to get some fees from the airlines for these
services. They also want airlines to rationalize productivity
link bonus for the agents.
strike had little impact on the carriers as they had kept
open their reservation offices and selling tickets at "competitive
fares". Also large travel companies such as Thomas
Cook, Carlson Wagonlit and BTI-SITA had not joined the boycott
as they have corporate deals where the client decides which
airline they want to fly. "If we don't oblige them
then they would go to somebody else," admits an agent.
in major markets across the country also did not support
he boycott and continued to sell tickets through their army
of over 1,000 sub-agents. In fact, most IATA agents also
buy tickets from consolidators and, therefore, there was
no way to determine that IATA agents were not booking Air
boycott also divided the travel fraternity and brought to
the fore rift among the members of TAAI and TAFI (Travel
Agents Federation of India) who have been spearheading the
agitation. Ashwani Kakkar resigned from the post of Vice-President,
TAAI, over the commission issue.
the rationale behind the cut in commission, Air India Chairman
and Managing Director, Mr V Thulasidas, said this has been
necessary, as the operating costs have been increasing day
by day due to sudden large increases in price of Aviation
Turbine Fuel (ATF). On the other hand, ticket prices were
Air India Commercial Director, Mr V K Verma, said Air India
would save Rs 25 crore by way of reducing 2 per cent commission
of the agents.
is also felt that most the agents pass on the commissions
to the passengers and only keep half or one per cent commission
due to competition. "Then why fight over something
which doesn't belong to you," is the rhyme.
is felt that worldwide except for few countries in Europe,
Japan and Sri Lanka airlines have reduced commissions to
one of two per cent. The commissions are given by the airlines
based on the business that agents generate and there is
no uniformity on this. In fact, Air India, British Airways
and Virgin have different levels of commissions' ex-London.
It is time for travel agents to gear up to new practices
in the multi-competitive world and thrash out the issue
of commissions with the airline for once and for all.
US unshackle skies with landmark pact
DELHI, April 14: India and the US on Thursday signed a landmark
agreement allowing unrestricted number of airlines to mount
any number of flights to any point in each other's territory.
The historic agreement was signed by Civil Aviation Minister
Praful Patel and US Transportation Secretary Norman Y Mineta
Union Cabinet, presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,
had on Wednesday night given its nod for replacing the 1956
Air Services Agreement with the new one. According to the
pact, Air India and other carriers will have additional
ports of call other than existing ones like Chicago, Los
Angeles, New York and Newark (New Jersey).
American carriers will also be able to have direct operations
to additional cities in India. Currently, Indian carriers
operate 28 flights a week to the US which has 14 flights.
new accord also seeks to remove the earlier restriction
of code-share rights to any five points in the respective
territories of both countries.
proposes to eliminate all existing restrictions on Fifth
Freedom traffic through intermediate points and provides
for greater operational flexibility. A special provision
relating to safety has been added in the new agreement.
for AI verdict extended
April 14: Canadian prosecutors were told on Wednesday they
have until May 13 to decide if they will appeal the acquittal
of two men charged with the 1985 Air India bombings, which
killed 331 people. Prosecutors told the British Columbia
Supreme Court they need more time to review the judge's
572-page verdict of not guilty, issued last month, and rulings
he made during the trial, which lasted for 233 days.
for defendants Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri
did not oppose the request, and the court in Vancouver extended
the appeal deadline from this Friday.
judge last month acquitted Bagri and Malik, saying he did
not believe witnesses who said the men admitted to them
their role in a plot by Vancouver-based Sikh separatists
to bomb two Air India planes as revenge on the Indian government.
bomb destroyed Flight 182 off the Atlantic coast of Ireland,
killing 329 people in history's deadliest bombing of a civilian
other bomb killed two Tokyo airport workers moving luggage
to an Air India jet
China opt for open skies policy
DELHI, April 12: The two most populous nations of the world,
India and China, have not only decided to upgrade their
strategic, political and economic ties, but have also opened
their skies for each other. As the two Prime Ministers,
Dr Manmohan Singh and Mr Wen Jiabao, made it clear that
the two countries were not rivals but partners; they decided
to have an open skies policy on air cargo and liberalisation
of passenger flights.
this spirit, the two sides signed a landmark Memorandum
of Understanding (MOU) to promote air traffic between India
and China. It envisages increase in capacity entitlements,
more points of call and an increase in the number of intermediary
and beyond points. The pact, signed by the Civil Aviation
Secretary, Mr Ajay Prasad, and China's Director General
Administration of Civil Aviation, Mr Yang Yuanyuan, says
designated airlines of both parties are entitled to have
unlimited third, fourth and fifth freedom traffic rights
in cargo - with permission not only to move cargo traffic
between two countries but also to a third country.
airlines of the two countries may also assign two dedicated
terminals in each of the two countries, but without cabotage
rights - that is the right to carry traffic outside their
respectively earmarked territories. The cabotage clause,
however, does not apply to airlines designated by India
to combine Beijing and Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou,
or Shanghai and Guangzhou, the pact says. It was also agreed
to consider the removal of restrictions of co-terminalise
of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou in due course.
MOU is pursuant to the technical level talks held between
the two countries at Beijing on January 23 and bilateral
civil aviation consultations held in New Delhi on March
16 and 17 this year.
to the Memorandum of Understanding, both the countries can
designate one or more airlines to operate on the specified
routes. The substantial ownership and effective control
of the designated airlines shall remain with the government
of the country or its nationals.
airline(s) designated by the Government of India shall be
entitled to operate scheduled air services in both directions
on the following routes: Any points in India - any 3 intermediate
point - any 6 points in China at its discretion - any 3
beyond points with not more than 2 points in one region.
The airline(s) designated by the Government of the People's
Republic of China shall be entitled to operate scheduled
air services in both directions on the following routes:
Any points in China - any 3 intermediate points - any 6
points in India at its discretion - any 3 beyond points
with not more than 2 points in one region.
designated airlines of the two countries will each have
a capacity of 14 weekly frequencies as of summer season
of 2005 and double that for winter that can eventually increase
to 42 weekly frequencies by the summer season of 2006. It
was also agreed that not more than 21 weekly frequencies
might be operated by any designated airlines of one country
to any destination point in the territory of the other country.
designated airlines of both the countries shall now enjoy
the fifth freedom traffic rights on the intermediate and/or
beyond points specified in Route Schedule for combination
services subject to not more than 14 weekly frequencies
to be operated by any designated airlines to any point.
It was also agreed that the designated airlines of both
countries might co-terminalise any two points in its territory.
memorandum also provides for the simplification of visa
procedures for the operating and cabin crew of designated
carriers, employment of foreign pilots and use of dry leased
aircraft. It also lays down the guidelines for issues such
as code-sharing arrangements - pacts that allow a designated
carrier to forego its landing rights in another country
to a partner airline for a fee.
operations between the two countries will be governed by
the charter regulations of the respective countries. Considering
the operation needs of airlines to meet market demand combination
services and cargo services will be operated with dry leased
aircrafts. Both the countries have also agreed on specified
code sharing arrangements.
Airlines hikes fares by 12 per cent
DELHI, April 9: State-owned carrier Indian Airlines on Saturday
announced a 12 per cent hike in domestic airfares from April
15, prompted by the sharp increase in prices of aviation
turbine fuel (ATF). Fares across the board would increase
by 12 per cent to factor in the rise in domestic ATF prices
from Rs 27,250 to Rs 32,250 a kilolitre from April 1, an
airline spokesperson said.
fares for special discounted schemes like the advance purchase
(APEX), promotional fares, positioning flight fares and
point-to-point fares too would be revised accordingly. The
Delhi-Mumbai fare has been raised from Rs 7,941 to Rs 8,870
while the Delhi-Chennai one-way ticket will increase from
Rs 11,816 to Rs 13,210.
fare from Delhi to Kolkata will be Rs 10,095 against the
current Rs 9,036. The Chennai-Kolkata ticket will cost Rs
11,405 instead of Rs 10,206 and the fare from Chennai to
Mumbai will increase from Rs 6,416 to Rs 7,160. The fare
from Kolkata to Hyderabad will now be Rs 10,940 as against
Rs 9,791, and Kolkata-Guwahati will cost Rs 4,430 in place
of Rs 3.976. The Mumbai-Bangalore fare was hiked from Rs
5,556 to Rs.6,200, while the Delhi-Pune ticket will be Rs
10,630 instead of Rs 9,511.
spokesperson said fares for holiday packages and bumper
super saver schemes would not be increased now. The raised
fares will come into effect for tickets issued or re-issued
from April 15. However, confirmed tickets issued before
that deadline will be accepted at previous fares. According
to the airline, ATF costs make up almost half its total
operational costs. Private airlines operating on domestic
routes are expected to follow suit to offset the hike in
non-stop flight between Delhi, NYC
DELHI, April 7: There is some cheerful news for air travelers.
They can now plan to travel non-stop between India and the
US, a first on the aviation scene between the two countries.
So far one had to hop via London, Paris, Frankfurt, Dubai,
Singapore or Hong Kong to travel to the land of opportunities.
our very own Maharaja has been toying the idea of launching
direct flight from India to the US, but the credit for this
initiative has been leaped by Continental Airlines, one
of the largest American carriers.
to this correspondent, Continental's Vice President (Europe,
Middle East & Africa) Jim Summerford said the service
will cut travel time between New Delhi and New York by at
least two hours westbound and by at least two and a half
hours eastbound, and will shorten existing journey times
between New Delhi and most US mainland cities.
Timothy J Kennedy, Managing Director, Sales and Marketing,
said Continental Airlines would launch the first-ever scheduled
non-stop flights between New Delhi and New York/Newark effective
November 1. With this, New Delhi will become the 25th city
in Continental's trans-Atlantic route network, he added.
said the airline will also provide one-stop connections
to almost 150 other cities throughout North, Central and
South America, the Caribbean and beyond via Continental's
unique New York hub at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Justifying the launch of non-stop flight, Kennedy said "our
surveys show that the large number of Indian and American
business community was keen on flying non-stop."
said New Delhi-Newark (New Jersey) flights will be operated
with a 283-seat Boeing 777 aircraft, carrying 48 passengers
in the BusinessFirst cabin and 235 in Economy. "Subject
to government approval, flight CO83 will depart New Delhi's
Indira Gandhi International Airport daily at 11:30 p.m.,
arriving at Newark at 4:50 a.m. the next day. The return
flight, CO82, will depart New York/Newark daily at 9:05
p.m., arriving at New Delhi at 9:30 p.m. the next day."
said "flying times will be approximately 15 hours,
50 minutes westbound and 13 hours, 55 minutes eastbound."
He said Continental's longest flight is between Newark and
Hongkong that takes around 17 and half hours. He said "we
will be able to offer Indian trans-Atlantic travelers something
none of our competitors can match - award-winning non-stop
service to New York, with quick and easy same-airline, same-terminal
onward connections to cities throughout the Americas. Our
service will also create a more convenient and attractive
gateway to India for American visitors."
Airlines is the world's sixth-largest airline with more
than 3,000 daily departures throughout the Americas, Europe
and Asia. The carrier serves 152 domestic and 122 international
destinations, more than any other carrier in the world.
Nearly 400 additional points are served via SkyTeam alliance
airlines, which include Aeromexico, Air France/KLM, Alitalia,
CSA Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air and Northwest
offers experts to probe copter crash