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Old May 5th, 2005, 06:03 PM   #121
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Radars down at Kolkata airport
Subhro Niyogi
5 May 2005
The Times of India

KOLKATA/NEW DELHI: Remember John Cusack's portrayal of the pulsating life of an air traffic controller in the Hollywood drama Pushing Tin? Away from the world of celluloid, Kolkata's air traffic controllers are engaged in an even more thrilling real-life drama: guiding planes into and out of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport virtually blindfolded.

Since Monday evening, the 100-odd air traffic controllers at Kolkata airport are literally talking down the planes. With both the terminal approach radar control (TRACON) and route surveillance radar (RSR) systems out of order, they don't have a choice.

TRACON helps air traffic controllers guide pilots during landing and takeoff. The RSR, on the other hand, is absolutely critical in ensuring safety in the sky as it helps planes maintain a safe buffer space between each other.

"Both TRACON and RSR blipped out after being struck by lightning during Monday's thunderstorm. The monitors that help us track plane positions blanked out. All operations were stopped for an hour. It was resumed only after we switched to the manual mode," Kolkata airport director Rajendra Pal said.

Airports Authority of India chairman K Ramalingam said efforts were on to rectify the problem. "Spare parts have been sent to Kolkata already," he said, adding that caution exercised in the current mode was leading to delays in flights to and from Kolkata.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 01:49 PM   #122
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Business Times - 06 May 2005

Air India to complain to Airbus over Boeing deal remark


(NEW DELHI) Air India said yesterday that it would complain to European aircraft giant Airbus Industrie for crying foul over the state-run carrier's decision to buy 50 long-range jets from US rival Boeing.

Jitendra Bhargava, spokesman for Air India, said the carrier would make its 'deep unhappiness' known to Airbus for alleging that its board had been soft on Boeing when awarding the US$7 billion deal in its favour.

'We will be letting Airbus know about our deep unhappiness with the way they went about making unfounded accusations against Air India in the media,' Mr Bhargava said in a telephone interview from Mumbai.

The board of state-run Air India on April 26 awarded a contract for 50 long-range Boeing aircraft after a year of intense lobbying by both companies for the deal. The contract is subject to federal government approval.

Mr Bhargava added that 'speculation in the media...regarding us suing Airbus (on the matter) is a little far fetched and incorrect.' The Times of India newspaper carried a front page story saying Air India had sought legal advice and was planning to take Airbus to court for running a 'disinformation campaign'.

Airbus said it was denied a chance to offer a wider variety of aircraft choices while Boeing was able to sell its B787 Dreamliner which is still under development. It also urged the Indian government to probe Air India's decision, order a new tender and questioned Boeing's delivery schedule.

'We are not disappointed but astonished. We were not given fair and equal treatment,' Airbus vice-president Nigel Harwood said after the contract was awarded. Air India also described the Airbus demand for a government probe into its board decision as 'outrageous'. - AFP

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 01:51 PM   #123
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Business Times - 06 May 2005

India's Air Deccan to fly passengers for one rupee

(BANGALORE) Indian budget airline Air Deccan on Wednesday announced fares of one rupee - less than a cent - on its 106 daily domestic flights ahead of the weekend launch of low-cost rival Kingfisher Air.

Four passengers per flight will be entitled to the fares if they book three months in advance, said Air Deccan managing director G R Gopinath.

'In a few days time, we will launch one-rupee ticket booked either through Internet or through our offices and agents,' he said.

'They can fly for one rupee provided they book it three months in advance,' Mr Gopinath added.

Mr Gopinath added that tax and airport security dues would bring the total cost to 222 rupees (S$8.4).

Air Deccan, which started operations in 2003, has tickets starting from 500 rupees upwards. It has five Airbus A320s and 12 ATRs flying 32 destinations daily and has flown more than one million passengers.

'On every Airbus, 40 seats are reserved for passengers paying 500 rupees to 2,500 rupees,' Mr Gopinath said.

The Bangalore-based firm has styled itself along the lines of the Irish no-frills carrier Ryanair and Britain's easyJet and offers fares 30-40 per cent below those of full-service Indian carriers.

State-owned Indian Airlines and private operators Jet Airways and Sahara command the lion's share of the domestic market but Air Deccan has been snipping away at it since it launched operations in 2003.

Mr Gopinath said Air Deccan will acquire an aircraft every month for a whole year.

'We have presently 800 employees, including 200 pilots and 100 engineers,' he said. 'During the last 18 months of operations our revenues stand at 3.1 billion rupees.'

India's domestic skies, which has been dominated by three to four airlines, is set to see a virtual explosion in new carriers with most of them planning to tap budget travellers in the country's fast-growing economy.

Liquor baron Vijay Mallya will launch his Kingfisher Airlines tomorrow, the country's newest budget carrier, offering cut-rate fares and featuring fashion models as flight attendants.

On Wednesday, India's civil aviation regulator formally cleared the airline's launch. - AFP

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Old May 6th, 2005, 08:04 PM   #124
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Kingfisher Airlines begins operation from Monday

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/...s/14061703.htm
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Old May 7th, 2005, 07:37 AM   #125
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India gives French envoy an earful
Byas Anand & Indrani Bagchi
7 May 2005
The Times of India

NEW DELHI: India has expressed its displeasure at the insinuation by French envoy Dominique Girard about Air-India's decision to purchase aircraft from Boeing.

Foreign secretary Shyam Sharan used a scheduled meeting with the French ambassador for a reproof to him. Sources say Girard was on the defensive and claimed he had been misquoted.

Acknowledging the meeting, the MEA spokesperson said: "The foreign secretary drew his attention to the press reports and told him that if these reports were correct, the French ambassador's remarks were not in keeping with diplomatic propriety."

Sharan's annoyance reflected the deep resentment within government over Girard's outburst over Airbus losing the $7 billion deal to arch rival Boeing. Civil aviation ministry, in particular, is bristling with resentment. Although its minister-in-charge told The Times of India that since this was a deal between two corporate entities, government would rather stay out of it, his officials are angry with the French for imputing motives to a sovereign nation.

It may not have a political fallout until the G-8 meeting in June, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would meet French president Jacques Chirac on the sidelines. But the strong riposte by India seems to have already led Airbus to ponder if Girard's intervention was going to hurt its cause by making the authorities here averse to reopening the Air-India deal even if they wanted to check out allegations of foul play.

The first signs of a damage-control operation came from the French company that started it all. Airbus spokesperson David Velupillai said:...

..."We have faith in the Indian system. We only have an interest in seeing that Air-India gets the best aircraft and is not handicapped by choosing a wrong plane."

Unlike another senior Airbus functionary, Nigel Harwood, who had sought a CVC probe into the A-I deal, Velupillai said the deal should be subject to all the checks and balances that the Indian Airlines deal had to pass.

Presumably, the assessment that Girard's allegations may have an adverse fallout for Airbus was also the reason why the US is not responding to the charge that it swung the deal for Boeing. Washington has reason to be pleased with the direction of the India-US "strategic partnership".

As India promises to become the latest locale for US-French friction, both Boeing and Airbus are increasing their presence here, not merely in selling aircraft, but sourcing design, software and even aircraft parts. Both Boeing and Airbus source software from Infosys, while Boeing has clinched a deal with HCL Technologies for the design of their 787 Dreamliner. Both aircraft companies are looking at establishing pilot training and aircraft maintenance centres in India.

But that is where the similarity ends. Boeing is delving deep into the Indian technology market, catapulting from aircraft to satellites. It is expected to strike a deal with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as part of the space cooperation in the India-US Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP).

The Boeing interest in ISRO is yet to be announced and, sources said, was a corollary of the Chicago-based aviation major acquiring Hughes' satellite manufacturing operations.

That the Air-India decision might have a fallout in India's business interests in Europe came from a similar concern aired by the newly-formed Europe-India Chamber of Commerce. In a statement from Brussels, it said it was not surprised over the disappointment expressed by the European Union and France. Its general secretary Sunil Prasad was quoted as saying he was concerned the Boeing deal would lead to "serious apprehension in Europe" about India's trade and investment policies.
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Old May 8th, 2005, 05:22 AM   #126
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Air warriors and their flying machines
DEEP FOCUS/Byas Anand
8 May 2005
The Times of India

It's time for some bumpy landing for Boeing. Three years ago, when Indian Airlines decided to pick an all-Airbus fleet for $2 billion, Boeing went to town claiming the airlines would be paying much more than the market price for the Airbus planes. Now, with Air-India's decision to dump Airbus and pick Boeing for its nearly $7-billion order for 50 commercial jets, it's Airbus' turn to get back.

What started as a war of words over the superiority of planes is now fast turning into the worst-ever corporate dog-fight in the global skies with accusations of foul play and suggestions of behind-the-scenes geo-political considerations taking centrest-age. Yet surprisingly, both ai-rcraft makers - Airbus and Boeing - admit that this is a first-of-its-kind verbal warfare over an aircraft order.

And intriguingly, the bickering is limited only to the aircraft purchase deals of India's two state-owned carriers, Air India and Indian Airlines. While both Airbus and Boeing left no stone unturned to prove the benefits of turning the orders in their favour, neither has spoken against the deals of the private carriers here: Airbus inked a deal with start-up Kingfisher Airlines for 12 aircraft recently, while Boeing bagged a 20-plane order from another start-up SpiceJet.

In the A-I deal - which is now in the thick of a cross-continental verbal feud - Airbus has accused the Maharaja of tampering tender norms and evaluating the Boeing aircraft with a nine-abreast seating as against Airbus' eight-abreast. Airbus also said that it was denied a chance to offer a wider variety of aircraft choices while Boeing was able to sell its B787 Dreamliner, which is still under development. The French firm's V-P Nigel Harwood even called for a CVC probe into the deal.

Boeing immediately counter-challenged its rival saying the deal could stand any scrutiny. Boeing's senior V-P Dinesh Keskar even stated that the Boeing planes offered A-I a $185 million saving every year over the Airbus products. "The package we offered was comprehensive and competitive, and needless to say, pricing is an important part of the package. But the bottom line is that our product is better than Airbus."

Bitter competitors they both are, but both Airbus and Boeing were quick to admit that such a bitter war of words is not a common feature with aircraft deals anywhere across the globe. "We have lost deals to Airbus in the past but we've never accused the airline of foul play. Such a duel has never happened anywhere with any deal," says Keskar. Airbus spokesman David Vellupillai blames the tiff on not being given a level playing field. "We are used to competition and we accept the loss, provided the competition is on a level playing field... Such a tiff has never been seen with any aircraft deal earlier."

All this, of course, has led to some in the government smelling a private rat in the whole tiff. Official sources feel that the private airlines are deliberately stoking the fire to delay the fleet acquisition exercise of both A-I and IA. "If this debate delays the acquisition exercises, the only people to benefit will be the private airlines who will get a head start with their new aircraft," says a source.

With some MPs and even French Ambassador Dominique Girard joining the issue and questioning the deals, the tiff has now taken political and diplomatic dimensions. Though Girard was quick to blame his outburst against the A-I deal on misreporting by the media, the damage was done. Some in the political circles now feel that Girard's intervention was going to hurt Airbus' cause by making the authorities here averse to reopening the A-I deal even if they wanted to check out allegations of foul play.

Airbus has already embarked on a damage control exercise with Vellupillai softening his stand and saying that the French have full faith in the Indian system and its checks and balances. But observers say that a reshuffle in the conglomerate's very vocal India team might help it mend bridges with the Indian government. Are the French listening?
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Old May 8th, 2005, 05:37 AM   #127
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08 May 2005

India's new budget airline named after a beer, staffed by models


NEW DELHI: India's second budget airline takes off Monday as the battle begins for the potentially enormous no-frills sector.

Kingfisher Airlines, named after a beer and with models as flight attendants, is the first to challenge low-cost pioneer Air Deccan but five more budget carriers will be introduced over the next year.

The new airline has a marketing strategy unashamedly aimed at attracting a new generation of "high-fliers" by pampering them with top-quality entertainment at budget prices.

"We have extremely attractive and well-trained flight attendants. We have a brand new fleet of aircraft. We have individual entertainment systems where every single seat has video screen," said Kingfisher beer baron Vijay Mallya, the owner of the new airline.

"I believe this is a unique value proposition to the customers. And therefore, I am very sure of its success," he told AFP.

The first flight will be Monday from India's entertainment and financial capital Bombay to IT hub Bangalore.

"If you look at the emerging India, by 2010 there will be a new generation of consumers of about 150 million," said Mallya.

"Who are these people? These are youngsters who are earning money out of information technology, biotechnology, entrepreneurs ... people who have a much greater propensity to spend than when I was young."

With Air Deccan and Kingfisher due to be joined by Spice Air, Go Air, Indigo, Indus one and Air One in coming months, India's skies could soon be getting crowded.

Mallya, however, said there was "room for everybody".

He could be right. Aviation Minister Praful Patel has forecast 20 percent annual growth in domestic and international air traffic, with passenger numbers due to hit 50 million in five years.

Indian passenger fleets are forecast to almost treble from 150 to 400 in the same period.

"I will have 11 aircraft in the air by this year itself. We will have another six next year. By 2010, we should have 55 planes flying. My vision is to make Kingfisher the largest private sector carrier," said Mallya.

The sector's future looks so bright that even Air Deccan welcomed Kingfisher's launch.

"This is a welcome sign that new airlines are entering. It will energise the market. There is a tremendous need for airline capacity as the requirement is huge," Kingfisher managing director G.R. Gopinath told AFP.

Gopinath said if even a fourth of India's billion-plus population are to fly three to four times a year, then a billion airline seats would be needed.

"It would add up to 40,000-50,000 flights a day. But even if India's aviation industry grows by 30 percent year-on-year, you would only reach 10,000 flights after a decade," he said.

Private airline Jet Airways has dominated the sector since economic liberalisation in the early 1990s and holds 45 of the market. Its rivals are state-run Air-India and private carrier Sahara.

Air Deccan's launch a year-and-a-half ago spooked the mainstream airlines and sparked fare cuts that have attracted new passengers every month.

This week, Air Deccan announced fares for less than a cent in an apparent counter-offensive to Kingfisher's launch. - AFP/ir

Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.
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Old May 8th, 2005, 05:49 AM   #128
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Air India pilot helps save life of ailing passenger
8 May 2005
The Times of India

NEW DELHI: The cross-continent verbal feud over its decision to order Boeing jets may be giving Air-India sleepless nights, but the Maharaja's heart still seems to be in the right place. The commander of a Newark-bound Air-India flight dumped around Rs 25.04 lakh worth of aviation fuel and turned the aircraft back to Mumbai after a passenger suffered two successive seizures on-board.

The pilot had to turn back after over 100 minutes of flying and dump over 77 tonnes of fuel to land safely in Mumbai and save the passenger's life. "It was choice between cost economics and the passenger and the airline took the right decision. For us, the passenger is foremost," an A-I spokesman said.

He said the passenger, Meeta Doshi (65), was suffering from a series of ailments, including diabetes, renal insuff hypertension and a blood pressure of 145/75 and was booked as a wheel-chair passenger from Mumbai. "The A-I doctor had authorised Doshi to travel but with a physician escort," he said.
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Old May 8th, 2005, 07:10 PM   #129
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India targets ramshackle airports

BOMBAY, May 8 (AFP) - India's civil aviation minister on Saturday said the country's airports had reached "saturating point" and needed to be upgraded.

Praful Patel was speaking during a launch party for India's new budget airline Kingfisher Air.

"We need to build airport infrastructure otherwise the sector's growth will be hampered. Just as the last decade (in India) was of IT and telecom, this decade will belong to the civil aviation sector," he said.

"Given the Indian population base and growing middle class we have only one direction to go -- higher and higher," he said.

India in December announced an 8.69-billion-dollar programme to revamp the country's ramshackle airports.

Kingfisher, whose first flight takes off on Monday, will be India's second budget airline after Air Deccan bidding for a share of the potentially enormous domestic market.
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Old May 9th, 2005, 02:08 PM   #130
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Business Times - 09 May 2005

Aviation next big thing: India


(BOMBAY) India sees for itself this decade belonging to the civil aviation sector, just as the last decade was of IT and telecom for the country with over one billion people. India's Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said this while warning that the country's airports had reached 'saturating point' and needed to be upgraded.

Speaking at a launch party on Saturday for India's new budget airline Kingfisher Air, he said the country badly needed to build airport infrastructure or see the aviation sector's growth being hampered.

'Given the Indian population base and growing middle class, we have only one direction to go - higher and higher,' he said. India in December announced a US$8.69 billion programme to revamp the country's ramshackle airports.

Kingfisher, whose first flight is scheduled to take off today, will be India's second budget airline after Air Deccan bidding for a share of the potentially enormous domestic market.

In the past 12 months, India saw an accelerated pace of growth in the number of start-up airlines entering the protected aviation sector and in the growth of both domestic and international air traffic.

India's airlines are counting on economic expansion and rising incomes to boost demand for business and leisure travel in Asia's fourth-biggest economy. Air fares that have fallen by more than half in the past three years are attracting first-time flyers in the country, where the rail network carries as many as 13 million people daily.

India's first private airlines are also spreading their wings. Jet Airways started flying to Malaysia and Singapore for the first time from last month, while another private carrier, Air Sahara, will launch its maiden flight to Singapore this week. Both carriers are also eyeing flights to London. Meanwhile, an Indian carrier that had been grounded for almost eight years, will resume services, expecting to be profitable this year because of surging local demand for budget travel.

Royal Airways Ltd, which plans to start low-fare carrier SpiceJet this month, is selling US$90 million of bonds that can be converted into shares to help fund the purchase of 10 Boeing aircraft. The bonds will be listed in Singapore or Luxembourg, A J Singh, director of the New Delhi-based airline, told Bloomberg

'We think the low-cost space is very exciting in India,' Mr Singh said. He expects India's domestic air traffic to grow 30 per cent from the 15 million people who flew last year.

Citigroup, Goldman Sachs Group and ABN Amro Holding are investors in the airline, whose shares have gained 67 per cent this year. - AFP, Bloomberg

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old May 9th, 2005, 03:05 PM   #131
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BBC: Kingfisher Airlines - India gets new budget airline



full story:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4528289.stm

Last edited by drwho; May 14th, 2005 at 09:40 PM.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 07:26 AM   #132
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May 11
Discount airlines battle over India's skies
By Rina Chandran

BOMBAY, May 11 (Reuters) - A dog-fight between Indian airlines is brewing with launch of an airline named after a beer brand, short-skirted flight attendants and fares as low as $5.

Kingfisher Airlines, which sports seat-back screens showing films, launched this week as a mid-tier alternative to leader Jet Airways and no-frills carrier Air Deccan.

Analysts expect domestic air travel to grow at 20-25 percent a year over the next five years, driven by discount carriers trying to woo millions of Indians who tend now take cheap train rides to even the most far-flung destinations.

"Low-cost carriers are designed for markets like India," said Kapil Kaul, head of the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation in India. "There is also a serious investor appetite for them because of the growth potential, and they are backed by large businesses and foreign investors, and other firms are waiting."

Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. -- owned by India's biggest brewer, the UB Group, and named after its top beer -- launched its inaugural Bombay-Bangalore flight on Monday with fares as low as 3,900 rupees ($90).

That's more than 30 percent higher than Air Deccan, but the highest fare of 5,900 rupees ($136) is one fifth cheaper than those of full-service carriers Jet Airways Ltd., Air Sahara and state-owned Indian Airlines [IA.UL].

"We will grow by expanding the base of domestic air travellers as well as gaining customers from other airlines," said Alex Wilcox, Kingfisher's president and a founding manager of U.S. budget airline JetBlue Airways Corp. when it launched five years ago.

"MINING THE BOTTOM"

Ahead of the Kingfisher launch, Air Deccan said it planned to sell one rupee tickets with a tax charge of 222 rupees ($5), making it possible to fly for less than the cost of taking a bus.

Rock-bottom pricing by the Bangalore-based airline has helped expand the market, just as Ryanair and easyJet did in Europe. About a third of Air Deccan passengers are first-time fliers, Managing Director Captain G.R. Gopinath said.

"We are mining the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid," he said, referring to a book by the University of Michigan's C.K. Prahalad, who urges firms to tap the vast base of value-conscious consumers in India, where the average annual wage is around $500.

Waiting in the wings is SpiceJet Ltd. , formerly Royal Airways, which will go toe-to-toe with Kingfisher when it launches later this month.

"Lowering the price created a huge demand in the cellphone market ... lowering fares will do the same for the air travel market," said Mark Winders, SpiceJet's chief executive officer.

COMPETITION HEATS UP

About 19 million people travelled by air in India in the last fiscal year to March, according to the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation's Kaul, just a fraction of its billion-plus population. Few flights in the country are more than three hours long.

Kaul expects 5 million new air travellers in India every year until 2010, and then slower double-digit growth. The government expects the sector to grow 20 percent annually in the next five years, with $20 billion in government and private investment.

Nearly a dozen more carriers are expected to begin operations in the next 12-18 months. Kaul estimates India can support two or three large low-cost carriers with fleets of 50-60 aircraft each, which also fly to South East Asia and the Middle East, as well as four or five carriers operating only in certain parts of India.

But falling fares will mean lower profits. Jet Airways, with its 43 percent share of the domestic market, has been charging mostly full fares, but reported a net profit of just 1.5 billion rupees on revenues of 35.66 billion in the year to March 2004.

Jet and Sahara are looking at overseas routes to boost revenues. They were recently allowed to fly to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and will fly to London and New York shortly.

They will compete with state carrier Air-India [AI.UL], which this month also launched a discount carrier, Air-India Express, on the Kerala-Middle East route. Jet expects international routes to account for 10-15 percent of its turnover this year. ($1=43.5 Indian rupees)

Copyright © 2005Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 01:31 PM   #133
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Business Times - 11 May 2005

Little Red Dot goes big in Indian aviation market

By VEN SREENIVASAN

(SINGAPORE) A little-known company based around a group of retired Singapore Airlines crew trainers has been quietly tapping demand in the burgeoning Indian aviation market.

Singapore-based Little Red Dot Academy (LRD) has been training in-flight supervisors for Air Sahara's international services. And it is moving to clinch similar deals with other airline start-ups in India.

LRD, which has a paid-up capital of $350,000, is the brainchild of Loh Sien Chi, a co-founder of Omni Mold, now known as Tech Group Asia.

Mr Loh told BT yesterday he decided to set up the venture in October last year when it became clear that India was serious about liberalising its aviation market.

'I saw a huge opportunity and decided to capitalise on it,' he said. 'The Indian aviation industry is booming, with traffic expected to grow 20 per cent year on year. We saw a demand for well trained aircrew.'

He decided to look for experienced trainers and was introduced to a group of ex-Singapore Airlines professionals.

'What better brand name that Singapore Airlines?,' he said. 'These were a group of 15 very experienced people who together have clocked up some 500 years in SIA, where they trained some 18,000 crew members over the past 30 years.'

Eight of the 15 trainers are shareholders of LRD.

And in the past three months, the team has trained about 200 Air Sahara crew.

'During the first phase we've been training Air Sahara's in-flight supervisors who will be on their new South-east Asian services,' Mr Loh said. 'The next phase of the training will be for crew of their wide-body aircraft, which will ply the long-haul flights to London and Chicago later this year.'

In fact, crew members of Air Sahara's inaugural flight to Changi tomorrow will be from the first batch of LRD-trained crew.

And the business is growing.

Mr Loh said LRD has just found a second client - also an Indian carrier - which he declined to name.

LRD is now looking to form joint ventures with partners in various Indian aviation hubs, such as Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad.

'We are just starting out, and the market is growing very fast' Mr Loh said. 'We should hit the $1 million turnover mark shortly.'

Not bad for a service company that has been in business barely a year.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved
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Old May 11th, 2005, 08:21 PM   #134
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Air India warns Airbus against criticism of deal for 50 new Boeing jets
By SWATI DEB
11 May 2005

BOMBAY, India (AP) - State-run Air India has chastised Airbus for the European planemaker's criticism of the bidding process that saw it lose out to rival U.S.-based Boeing for a massive order for new passenger jets, a top official said Wednesday.

Last month the government-owned international carrier announced plans to order 50 passenger aircraft from Boeing Co. for US$6.8 billion (€5.23 billion).

At the time, the Indian media quoted Airbus representatives as saying the company was not given fair treatment.

Airbus Vice President Nigel Harwood was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying his company was not allowed to make a presentation of its planned mid-range A350 aimed at competing with Boeing's 787, which is still under development.

In response, Air India issued a letter to the Airbus company secretary saying "much of the allegations and comments" of Airbus representatives "were not in accordance with business sense and should not be repeated in future," V. Thulasidas, Air India's Chairman and Managing Director told reporters in Bombay.

Thulasidas said on the airline's recommendation, the Civil Aviation Ministry had referred the fleet acquisition and evaluation process to two federal watchdog agencies -- the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Central Vigilance Commission.

He said the decision to lease 19 Airbus A320 was also referred to federal authorities.

"Air-India has nothing against Airbus," said Thulasidas. "It is for the buyer to decide what we need and not for the seller to dictate ... We only considered what was best for Air India and what made commercial sense."

He dismissed as misplaced apprehensions that Air India would not purchase planes from Airbus in future.

In reply to questions, Thulasidas said he believed the growth of the Indian airline industry would surpass Air-India's planned purchases. "The growth of the market will call for a review and that will open options for considering the A380," he said of the Airbus superjumbo jet.

The battle to supply the demand for new planes has foreign governments pitching in as well. Days before Air India's April board meeting, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta visited New Delhi and said Washington-New Delhi relations would benefit if Boeing got the order.

The French government had also been lobbying on behalf of Airbus. French Transportation Minister Gilles de Robien visited the Indian capital earlier this month and met with India's aviation minister, Praful Patel.

Many saw Air India's decision as a balancing act in diplomacy.

But Thulasidas denied the airline succumbed to any pressure and said the decision to go with Boeing was made after the board reviewed proposals from both Airbus and Boeing.

"There was no political or geopolitical consideration," he said.

Indian Airlines, the domestic counterpart of Air India, wants to buy 42 planes from Airbus and is awaiting government approval.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 09:51 PM   #135
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Delta launches direct New York-Madras service

WASHINGTON, May 9 (AFP) - Delta Air Lines launched daily, direct services Monday from New York to Madras, being the only US carrier with a direct link to the southern Indian city, the airline said.

The flight, operated via Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, connects with Delta's Paris flights from Atlanta and Cincinnati and provides customers with a convenient link to India's fourth-largest city, they said.

"We are extremely excited about offering customers this new international travel option and being the only US carrier with a direct link to this important southern Indian city, Chennai," also known as Madras, said Paulette Corbin, Delta's senior vice president for in-flight service.

"India represents a strategic and growing market for the US and Delta and is part of our international expansion plans," she said.

Corbin added that Madras and the Tamil Nadu region showed strong economic growth and rising prosperity, as well as being a key center for trade and the gateway to South India.
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Old May 12th, 2005, 04:28 AM   #136
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Air India Badly Needs New Aircraft to Meet Growth: Official

BEIJING, May 12 Aisa Pulse - Air India, which is expanding at a rapid pace, badly needs more aircraft to fly to new destinations like Beijing as dry leasing option has almost reached a saturation point, a senior official said here.

"We badly need the new fleet," Commercial Director of Air India V K Verma said without going into the lingering controversy over the national carrier's recent decision to buy 50 aircraft from Boeing, arch-rival of Airbus.

"We have grown at the rate of 30 per cent every year in the past three years by dry leasing aircraft. We have almost come to the saturation point by dry leasing aircraft. We need new aircraft to be inducted," Verma said here.

Verma, who was elected as one of the six new Vice-Presidents of the International Badminton Federation (IBF) at its Annual General Body meeting here, said Air India hopes to start flying to Beijing in 2006.

"Beijing should be on Air India's map by late summer of 2006", he said noting the delay is due to the fact that the next batch of aircraft which have been ordered by Air India on dry lease would be delivered only in the summer of 2006.

Air India started flying to Shanghai, China's commercial hub, in December 2003.
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"Air India's flights to Shanghai is doing well, though not entirely based on the China traffic. India-China traffic is about one-third and the other two-thirds is made up by India-Bangkok and Bangkok-Shanghai traffic," he said.

(PTI)
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Old May 12th, 2005, 05:17 PM   #137
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Bmi Launches New Heathrow-Mumbai Service From May 14
12 May 2005
Edited Press Release

LONDON (Dow Jones)--bmi, the U.K. scheduled airline, Thursday launched its new four times-weekly Heathrow-Mumbai service which starts on May 14.

Speaking at a press briefing in advance of the launch, Sir Michael Bishop also said: "We hope to start services to Riyadh later this year, and as a consequence of further deregulation in the Indian market we are now evaluating options which will allow us to further develop our route network from Heathrow to India".

"The priority, however, is to increase our Mumbai service to a daily frequency as part of the winter 2005/06 programme", Sir Michael said.

Sir Michael also identified 14 long haul destinations from Heathrow that would benefit from new competition, including Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Narita, Cape Town and destinations in the U.S.
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Old May 13th, 2005, 01:57 AM   #138
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May 13, 2005
Indian airline, SIA-style service
Retired SIA staff train Air Sahara's cabin crew on finer points of service

By Krist Boo

THE latest airline to touch down at Changi, India's Air Sahara, has a Singapore flavour about its service.

The airline's crew have been trained by a seven-month-old company made up of retired Singapore Airlines staff.

Over the past four months, the 15 former stewards, who now work for the Little Red Dot Academy (LRDA), have been drilling 200 Indian stewardesses on the finer points of service.

The trainers, among them three grandfathers, each boast an average of 35 years' cabin experience.

They beat three other shortlisted companies, including one from Europe, to win the contract, which is worth more than $300,000.

After a cake-cutting ceremony complete with pyrotechnics, Air Sahara took off from Changi Airport bound for New Delhi at around 9.40am yesterday.

Air Sahara president Rono Dutta said: 'Singapore has a reputation for high quality. Even if we are talking about maintenance, something from Singapore gives us a lot of comfort.'

The 11-year-old carrier is the second private Indian airline to operate routes outside India since the government there eased restrictions on the private aviation industry in January.

The airline, the 80th to operate through Changi, chose Singapore as its first overseas destination.

It is offering 14 weekly services between Delhi and Singapore and will be adding Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Hong Kong to its network by the end of the year.

Its sari-clad cabin crew may yet be the first of Air Sahara's many links to Singapore.

Looking to cut costs, it is in talks with local firms on moving some of its aircraft maintenance and repairs here. It currently outsources these services, along with pilot training, to Europe and Indonesia.

Right now, the lack of infrastructure in India is a 'big constraint', Mr Dutta said. Even galley boilers and coffee machines have to be sent overseas for repairs.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said traffic between India and Singapore has grown 21 per cent from pre-Sars levels in 2002.

The Singapore-Delhi sector grew 23 per cent over the same period.

Jet Airways, the other private Indian airline to go international, took off on its inaugural flight to Mumbai from Changi last month.

The carrier, which also flies to Nepal and Sri Lanka, plans to add Chennai and New Delhi to its network soon.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved
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Old May 14th, 2005, 05:37 AM   #139
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Airlines' high-flying plans may be stymied by aircraft shortage
Girish Rao
13 May 2005
The Economic Times

BANGALORE: While policy makers may be in a hurry to infuse a strong dose of freedom in India's aviation scene, the desi explosion in the western skies will be a relatively slower affair.

Open skies with the US notwithstanding, Air-India (A-I) will spread its wings in more markets in North America only next summer unless it can pull more planes out of its hat this winter.

It is ready to fly into Washington, San Francisco and Houston (or any point in the Dallas Fort area) but cannot do so till it gets more aircraft. Similar is the problem with Indian Airlines (IA) which is trying to lease several wide-bodied planes to tap the west.

Jet, according to market sources, is trying to sign up four Airbus 330 to do a double daily into London this winter and 21 flights in summer 2006. Air Sahara is trying for a double daily by next summer to London and non-stop to US this winter.

Sources add that even Jet is mulling a non-stop service to US, considered the fastest growing market in the west. Cities in South-east Asia including Bangkok and Hong Kong/China are also in demand from the two carriers.

For now, AI is getting its third leased B777 which will help mount more flights to London and commence services to Toronto. It begins thrice weekly operations from May 15 from Amritsar to Toronto via Birmingham, which is expected to be turned into a daily by next summer.

Similarly, it also starts a thrice weekly service from June 18 from Dhaka to London via Kolkata. It currently offers 28 flights every week to the US spread across New York, Newark, Chicago and Los Angeles.

AI is also leasing a B747-400 Combi for the first time along with three A310-300s. Travellers will soon have a thrice weekly AI option to South Africa via Mauritius, besides connections three times every week to Seoul. Also on cards is doubling of services from Delhi to Shanghai from two to four every week.

IA, which has been waiting in the wings because of non-availability of planes is evaluating offers from leasing companies for A330/340 and B767, for its proposed European and long haul Far-east destinations. The airline is rearing to exploit its vast domestic network for its international flights.

Jet Airways, which has the first mover advantage to the west among private carriers, wants to launch its six times weekly service to Newark this June. It wants to double its London flights to 14 this winter and also add to its US services through a codeshare with United Airlines.

Air Sahara, which has been granted rights for only two services a week to London this summer, expects to carve a larger share of the recently enhanced bilateral rights with UK and do a daily in winter. The fetish for London, say sources, is guided by the large movement to UK.
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Old May 14th, 2005, 09:40 PM   #140
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Hkskyline and Babystan > wanted to say thanks for keeping the India aviation-thread updated


But just a little note: Most of the articles are copyrighted articles and we have got complains for copy and pasting articles. I urge you both not to post whole articles just give the the link to the source and the title of the article.


thanks
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