Virgin Atlantic Could Not Grow In India Due to Jet Airways Collapse

New Delhi: The closure of Jet Airways (India) Limited changed the India growth plans of Virgin Atlantic. The British airline, which had a code share partnership with Jet Airways, then started its own services between London and Mumbai, as per the airline’s country manager (India) David Hodges.

“We had a code-share partnership with Jet Airways, and we planned to grow that,” Hodges said adding, “Unfortunately, the grounding of Jet Airways changed our growth plans.”

Also Read : Explainer: Jet Airways crisis

One airline books its passengers on its partner carriers and provide seamless travel to destinations, where it has no presence by virtue of Code-sharing.

Virgin Atlantic will now start its own daily flights between London and Mumbai from 27 October to utilize the space vacated by Jet Airways, which operated three daily flights on this high demand sector. Jet Airways also flew a daily flight between Mumbai and Manchester.

“There was a lot of capacity (between Mumbai and London/Manchester). We were looking to increase our presence in the partnership with Jet Airways and probably fly one Virgin Airways flight between England and India (of the flights flown by Jet Airways),” Hodges said. “We need to be quick and nimble (after Jet’s grounding). So, we decided to start our own services between London and Mumbai.”Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic currently also has a daily flight between London and New Delhi.

Jet Airways suspended operations in April because of a severe cash crunch. A consortium of 26 banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) has approached the National Company Law Tribunal (NMCLT) to recover dues worth more than 8,500 crore.

As things stand, Jet Airways has run a loss of more than 13,000 crore in the past few years. Its total liabilities amount to more than 15,000 crore even as lenders have been trying to sell the beleaguered airline as a going concern, but without much success.

Hodges said Virgin Atlantic was looking at forging new partnerships with Indian airlines, which could help the airline get traffic from smaller Indian cities and town. The airline, which already has an interline partnership with Vistara, is looking to forge more such partnerships or code share agreements with other Indian airlines.

“Now, the plan is how we grow in India. Having a code-share with Vistara is definitely an option for us,” Hodges said. “Interline with Vistara has given us great connections from Mumbai and New Delhi. It’s however not very simple. Lots of commercial considerations and decisions will have to be made for this alliance.”

An interline agreement is typically signed between two or more airlines to handle passengers when their itinerary involves travelling on multiple airlines. Such agreements allow passengers to change flights to one on another airline without having to check-in again.

Interlining agreements differ from code-share agreements as the latter usually refers to numbering a flight with the airline’s code even though the flight is operated by another airline.

Meanwhile, going ahead, Virgin Atlantic could look to operate between cities other than New Delhi and Mumbai, and London as the airline plans to tap the number of passengers traveling to England and Europe from other Indian metros.

“I have spoken to a number of Indian airports, and this is an interesting opportunity. There are also other high growth cities across South and North India,” Hodges said. “Bangalore is the next natural city we want to fly from in future, and one that we are currently not flying from.”

Virgin Atlantic will operating its Boeing 787-9 (Dreamliner) fleet between London and Mumbai. The airline currently operates Airbus 330 aircraft on its London-Delhi route. The airline hopes to also provide onward connections to destinations in Europe, South America, North America and South Africa from London for its passengers flying from India.

“Ultimately, we want to be able to compete with bigger airlines like British Airways in terms of network and network size,” Hodges added.




After Posting Rs 4,600 crore operating loss in 2018-19, Air India Aims Operating Profit This Fiscal

NEW DELHI:

Air India posted an operating loss of around Rs 4,600 crore in the last financial year. The reasons attributed by its management are :

– higher oil prices and

– foreign exchange losses

The debt-laden carrier expects to turn operationally profitable in 2019-20, as per its senior officials.

Reflecting tough business conditions, the airline’s net loss stood at about Rs 8,400 crore while total revenues touched around Rs 26,400 crore in 2018-19.

Another senior official of Air India said the airline is projected to post an operating profit of Rs 700 to 800 crore in 2019-20, provided oil prices do not shoot up significantly and there is no steep fluctuation in foreign exchange rates.

However, the airline incurred an operating loss of Rs 175 to 200 crore in the three months ended June as closure of Pakistan airspace for Indian carriers resulted in higher costs and caused a daily loss of Rs 3 to 4 crore when the restrictions were in place, the official said.

Also Read: Air India Life Curve Sees the Lowest Trough, Will it Ever Recover?

Air India had a loss of Rs 430 crore in the four-month period when Pakistan closed its airspace after the Balakot air strikes.

Last week, state-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs), led by IndianOil, had stopped fuel supply to Air India at six — Ranchi, Mohali, Patna, Vizag, Pune and Cochin — airports over non-payment of dues.

The official noted that load factor and yields are improving for Air India, which currently flies to 41 international and 72 domestic destinations. Load factor is a measure of seat occupancy and yield refers to average fare paid per passenger.

The situation is anticipated to improve further as more wide-body planes would be available for operations in the coming months, the official added. Air India had grounded several of its wide-body aircraft for maintenance and most of them are in the process of being re-inducted into the fleet.

Air India is to start flying to Toronto from September 27 and to Nairobi in November.

The airline has a debt burden of more than Rs 58,000 crore and servicing the loans is a major challenge as the annual outgo is more than Rs 4,000 crore.

The official who was quoted first said the carrier is facing a financial crisis and disinvestment is the option.

Aviation consultancy CAPA South Asia CEO and Director Kapil Kaul said Air India’s financial position is likely to “significantly improve” in the current financial year.

“CAPA expects a closer to break-even in FY 20 excluding increased costs incurred due to closure of Pakistan airspace. With oil prices expected to stay below USD 60, expect a closer to break-even for Air India in FY 20,” he told PTI.

Noting that improved financial performance would be a positive for divestment, Kaul said a fully divested Air India that is well capitalised and with improved governance and management would ensure that the airline has a relevant future.

India needs a stronger Air India which is viable without taxpayers’ support, he added.

The government has decided on disinvestment of Air India as part of efforts to revive its fortunes. Air India, which has been in the red for long, was sanctioned a nearly Rs 30,000 crore bailout package for a 10-year period by the UPA regime in 2012.




Post Air India Express incident in Mangalore, DGCA finds safety lapses at Calicut airport

NEW DELHI: Aviation regulator DGCA Thursday issued show cause notice to the director of the Calicut international airport after it found that some critical areas were not being maintained as per the safety standards, sources said.

On July 2, an Air India Express flight coming from Dammam had a tail strike while landing at the Calicut international airport.

Under directions from the DGCA, Air India Express earlier this month suspended the pilots involved in this incident.

A source told PTI, “The DGCA observed various lapses in safety standards during its inspection of Calicut airport on July 4 and July 5. Therefore, the show cause notice has been issued to the airport director K Srinivasa Rao. He will have to respond within 15 days.”

The PTI has reviewed the show cause notice issued to Calicut airport director on Thursday.

The notice said that “cracks are observed at runway 28 TDZ (touchdown zone) and along runway C/L marking at runway 10 TDZ”.

The touchdown zone (TDZ) is the part where the aircraft first contacts the surface while landing.

The touchdown zone is ahead of the threshold area.

The notice said that “excessive rubber deposit” was observed in the area from runway C/L marking to three metres on both the sides of touchdown zone of runway 28.

ALSO READ | DGCA issues show-cause notices to Ahmedabad, Chennai airports

Similar excessive rubber deposits were also found by the DGCA along runway C/L marking of touchdown zone of runway 10, as per the notice.

“Water stagnation of about 1.5-metre length was observed on the area between runway edge and intermediate turn pad on runway 28,” the notice said.

The DGCA also found several cracks in the aircraft stand number 5.

It also observed that a “portion of Apron surface” of about 111 metres as damaged.

Apron is that area of the airport where the aircraft are parked, refuelled and boarded with passengers.

“A steep downward slope of approximately five feet depth is observed immediately after the apron behind of aircraft number 1, which needs to be levelled and graded,” the notice said.

The DGCA also observed a shortage of reserve stock of 6,630 litres of Aqueous Film Forming Foam concentrate(AFFF) and 140 kg of “DCP complementary agent” – both are used to put out fires – at Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) station of the airport.

DGCA on Tuesday had also issued show cause notices to the directors of the Chennai and Ahmedabad airports for not maintaining the safety standards.




Allie Colleen Celebrating Debut Single Release “Work In Progress”

Garth Brooks, 57, is today a happy man and a proud father!

Earlier, Garth Brooks had announced 2019 Dive Bar Tour.

Garth, the country legend, took to Instagram to share a photo of himself with his wife, Trisha Yearwood, and his youngest daughter, Allie Colleen, on the occassion of the release of Allie’s first single, “Work in Progress.”

Garth had split up with his first wife, Sandy Mahl in 2001. He shares the 22-year-old Allie and his two other daughters — August, 25, and Taylor, 27.

Garth, Allie and Trisha are all smiles in the monochrome pic, as they celebrate the milestone moment in Allie’s life heading towards a burgeoning music career. Brooks shares Colleen and her older sisters August, age 25, and Taylor, 27, with his ex-wife Sandy Mahl. To commemorate the single’s release, Brooks shared a photo online of himself, Colleen and her stepmother, Trisha Yearwood. “What a beautiful voice on your grandmother’s birthday … perfect,” says Brooks in the photo caption.

Up-and-coming singer-songwriter — and daughter of country music star Garth Brooks — Allie Colleen has finally shared her debut single, “Work in Progress.”

In a press release, Allie made the decision to share her new song on July 10 in honor of her grandmother’s birthday.

Colleen has co-written the song with Marcus Hummon, and engineer Greg Brick. Its lyrics accept that there’s always room to grow without conceding long-term goals (“I’m the best I’ve even been, but not the best I’ll ever be”). It describes a life that strives for progress, not perfection. “I go my own way, try to walk a straight line / Still trouble finds me time after time,” Colleen sings in the song’s first verse. “I flirt with disaster, and I court distress / I’m a work in progress.”

Marcus is the hit songwriter credited with Dixie Chicks’ “Cowboy Take Me Away” and Sara Evans’ “Born to Fly,”.

“When I walked in the studio that day with Marcus and Greg, Marcus already had the entire song structure minus the chorus when we all sat down,” Colleen recalls of the songwriting process. “For the first time, I wasn’t worried about how commercial the song was or what everyone else was gonna think about the song…I was just honest.”

Trisha Yearwood, Garth’s fellow country star and Colleen’s stepmother, too had a pleasant emotion to share about Colleen’s new song. “From one work in progress to another, what a beautiful song and your voice sounds amazing! I love you so much, Allie #EveryGirl,” she wrote on Instagram, incorporating the hashtag of her own newest single, “Every Girl in This Town.” Trisha supported Allie on Instagram, posting the same pic as Garth along with a sweet message.

Colleen doesn’t display her steep social connections. Her legendary dad’s name cannot be found on her Facebook biography or on her website. Garth did support her for her new single on social media. “What a beautiful voice on your grandmother’s birthday…perfect. I love you!!” he wrote on Instagram, alongside a picture of himself posing with Colleen and his wife, Trisha Yearwood.

Thus, Allie Colleen, a 23-year-old Belmont University graduate and more famously hitherto known as the youngest daughter of Garth Brooks got introduced to the mainstream with her “Work in Progress”.

If the “Work in Progress” behind the song finds solo success, it’ll come in part through the talents recognized by influential radio personality Bobby Bones and others, not just from her family and their loyal social media followers.

“Allie is a pure singer songwriter,” Hummon says. “Her inspiration moves effortlessly from her heart to her mind and out into the world, through her beautiful voice.”




Centre open to 100% stake sale in Air India – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The government may be willing to completely exit loss-making Air India during the sell-off process, although a final decision will be taken by a panel of ministers, a top official indicated on Saturday.

“A general feeling (in the government) is that if people want to have full (control), let them have it. But I will be able to tell you only when a specific decision is taken. My personal view is that I do not see any conflict for the government,” department of investment and public asset management (DIPAM) secretary Atanu Chakraborty said.

The government recently restarted the process to sell Air India after putting it on hold last year due to poor response, although volatility in crude prices was cited as the reason. While Niti Aayog had proposed the sale of entire stake, the government had offered 74% stake to a strategic investor, which was seen as one of the reasons for low interest level.

The decision on the quantum of stake to be offered will now be taken by a panel of ministers as the government looks to close the deal before the end of the current financial year. “We would now like to do it much faster, having done most of the paper work,” Chakraborty said.

Along with a “reiteration” for the Air India stake sale, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had also announced a review of the foreign direct investment ceiling for the aviation sector, a move which is expected to allow greater shareholding by foreign carriers, who can currently buy up to 49%.

“My understanding is that FDI in aviation is 100%. The cap is again on substantial ownership and effective control (SOEC) guidelines, which is 49% and certain directorships. The second cap is on Air India as a nationally owned carrier. Once it is not nationally owned it will go through 100% so that’s a signal in the budget. SOEC is much more complicated because there is some reciprocity, there are a lot of issues involved that the budget does not mention. That’s an issue which needs to be grappled with,” the secretary said.

The SOEC norms are seen as a stumbling block in the aviation sector as the 100% FDI cap is of little use given that control or the Indian carrier has to remain with Indians. Chakraborty, however, said that interest in Air India may not be missing due to the SOEC norms, given that Etihad had invested in now-defunct Jet Airways and may still return through the insolvency process.




Air India Mumbai-Newark flight makes emergency landing in London after bomb threat

An Air India flight to the US made an emergency landing in London this afternoon over a bomb threat. The flight — AI 191 service between Mumbai and Newark — has been taken to an isolated spot at the London Stansted Airport, according to the latest reports.

The flight had left Mumbai early today morning and was flying to the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, US.

The airport was briefly shut down during the Air India flight’s landing. The runway re-opened later and is now fully operational, the airport said in a statement.