Mumbai airport August air traffic at 108% of pre-pandemic level
New Delhi: Domestic air traffic at the Mumbai International Airport last month stood at 108% of pre-pandemic level of August 2019.
The airport recorded passenger traffic of over 4.32 million, an increase of 32% year-on-year, while international air traffic soared 33% on year to more than 1.1 million passengers.
The airport witnessed a total of 20,711 domestic flights and 6,960 international air traffic movements last month.
Delhi, Bengaluru, and Chennai emerged as the top domestic destinations in August, while Dubai, London, and Abu Dhabi were the most preferred international destinations from the airport.
In August, the airport witnessed a 150% increase in air passenger traffic for Munich, followed by a 138% growth in air traffic for Hanoi and 110% rise for Istanbul traffic. Nairobi and Ho Chi Minh also witnessed a growth of 99% and 96% in passenger traffic respectively as compared to August 2022.
The average daily passenger count for the month stood at 139,661.
In the domestic sector, IndiGo led with 48% market share, followed by Air India with 18% and Vistara with 17%. In the international segment, IndiGo recorded 22% market share, followed by Air India with 14% and Vistara with 10%.
In the freight category, the airport saw air cargo tonnage growth of 6%, with a 3% rise in domestic cargo tonnage and an 8% rise in international cargo tonnage in August 2023.
Overall, the Indian aviation market has revival in domestic air travel since December 2022 when covid-related restrictions were eased. Domestic air traffic last month for the country stood at 12.4 million passengers, a rise of 5% when compared to pre-pandemic levels of August 2019.
Source: Live Mint
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DGCA rules out intervening in dispute between Akasa Air and its pilots
India's aviation authorities have ruled out intervening in a dispute between Akasa Air and its pilots after the budget carrier accused the regulator of inaction, a legal filing shows.
Over 40 of Akasa's 450 pilots quit without serving their notice in recent weeks, and the airline has sued some of them and challenged Indian authorities in court for not acting on its requests to deal with alleged pilot "misconduct". The airline has also warned of a shut down due to the crisis.
India mandates a notice period of 6-12 months for pilots which some pilot organisations are challenging in court. Akasa argues its contractual obligations with pilots remain in force, and is suing the regulator for not intervening in the public interest.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the aviation ministry in a Sept. 22 filing at the Delhi High Court said Akasa's plea should be thrown out as the regulator is unable to interfere in the matter.
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The DGCA "does not have any power or delegated authority to interfere in any employment contract," it said.
Akasa, which has previously said it was in discussion with the DGCA, did not respond to a request for comment on the new filing, which has been seen by Reuters.
A DGCA official declined to comment.
Akasa has accused the DGCA of being "unwilling to take any action" which resulted in "significant financial and operational hardship" to the airline
The pilot resignations caused 632 flight cancellations in August, according to Akasa, an estimated 18% of the roughly 3,500 flights the airline usually operates in a month.
The DGCA contested that position in its court filing, saying it "categorically denies" that Akasa "provided any documents or reasons" in respect of cancellation as a result of pilot exits.
Sharing data, it said only 1.17% of Akasa's flights were cancelled in August.
The 6,000 member Federation of Indian Pilots have also responded to Akasa's plea, saying flight cancellation numbers were "unsubstantiated" and that the DGCA can not interfere in the dispute.
"Alleged mass resignation of pilots ... also serves as an indication of employee discontent," the federation said.
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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.
Source: Live Mint
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DGCA enforces new norms for watch duty hours at 57 airports
New Delhi: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Thursday said it has implemented new norms related to watch duty hours and rest requirements for air traffic controllers at 57 airports, the regulator said today.
The new norms mandate that duty period of air traffic controllers shall not exceed 12 hours and there must be a gap of at least 12 hours between the end of one shift and the beginning of the next shift.
Also, the aggregate of duty period shall not exceed 48 hours in a period of seven days and 180 hours in a period of 30 days.
Further, if the maximum number of permissible consecutive days of duty is rostered, there shall be a minimum interval of 48 hours between the end of one consecutive period of duty days.
These air traffic control centers include those in Amritsar, Dehradun, Kishangarh, Shimla, Kanpur, Bhuntar, Gaggal, PantNagar, Safdarjung, Trichy, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tuticorin, Calicut, Kannur, Kalaburgi, Mysore, Belgaum, Hubli, Vijayawada, Cudappah, Hyderabad-Begumpet, Tirupati, and Rajamundry.
The new watch duty hours have also been implemented at 12 airports from the western region including Mopa in Goa, Indore, Surat, Bhopal, Udaipur, Vadodara, Aurangabad, Hirasar, Jabalpur, Shridi, Kolhapur, and Juhu. In the east and north-eastern region, the new norms are now applicable at 11 centers including Bhubaneshwar, Patna, Ranchi, Durgapur, Gaya, Jhasarguda, Deogar, Jagdalpur, Raipur, Kajuraho, and Kushinagar and ten from north-east region such as Barapani, Dibrugarh, Dimapur, Lengpui, Lilabari, Rupsi, Imphal, Agartala, Hollongi, and Tezu.
“The rollout of the regulations at remaining airports would happen in a phased manner as per the roadmap indicated by Airports Authority of India," the civil aviation regulator said.
The implementation of these regulations is aimed at ensuring safer skies over Indian airspace and safe, orderly and efficient operations at Indian aerodrome, the DGCA added.
Source: Live Mint
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Air India Express
New Delhi: To achieve seamless integration, Air India Express and AirAsia India on Monday announced the commencement of interline bookings.
As a result of this, passengers will now be able book a single itinerary across both airlines on connecting flights, including a single PNR on the common website and other online travel platforms.
For instance, with the interline arrangement, passengers can book a Lucknow- Delhi-Sharjah itinerary under a single PNR and receive their boarding passes for both Lucknow to Delhi and Delhi to Sharjah, at the beginning of their journey in Lucknow itself.
With a combined fleet of 54 aircraft, both airlines together connect 44 destinations, operating over 250 routes across India, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The airlines have already integrated ancillary add-on services and sub-brands, such as Gourmair in-flight dining, Xpress Prime seating, and Xpress Ahead priority services.
"Our ongoing efforts towards integrating Air India Express and AirAsia India, even as we proceed with the full merger, is now bearing fruit, with a strong, integrated network emerging. The network footprint stretches across India, Gulf & the Middle East, and Southeast Asia and will be further strengthened with our forthcoming fleet expansion," said Aloke Singh, managing director, Air India Express and AirAsia India.
Following the recent launch of Air India's new logo and livery, the Tata group is also set to introduce a fresh brand identity for Air India Express by October, Mint had reported earlier.
As part of the government‘s strategic divestment programme, the Tatas acquired full ownership of both Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express in January 2022.
In November 2022, the Tata group announced the merger of AirAsia India and Air India Express. As a part of the transaction, AirAsia Bhd divested its 16.67% stake in the airline, allowing the Tatas to buy it for ₹155.65 crore.
AirAsia India flies over 50 direct and over 100 connecting routes across 19 destinations in India including Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Visakhapatnam, Imphal, Guwahati, Goa, Jaipur, Lucknow, Surat, Bagdogra, Ranchi, and Srinagar.
Air India Express operates to 14 international destinations including Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Bahrain, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Muscat, Salalah, Sharjah, Singapore, Ras-Al-Khaimah, Riyadh, & Jeddah, from Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Mangalore, Chennai, Tiruchirappalli, Mumbai, Amritsar, Lucknow, Jaipur, Varanasi, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Madurai, Vijayawada, Bengaluru, Kannur, Surat, and Hyderabad.
Source: Live Mint
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Why is Akasa Air taking 43 pilots to court
With the aggressive expansion of IndiGo and airlines under the Air India umbrella, industry experts have pointed out that India’s aviation industry faces a scarcity of senior pilots.
According to reports, more than 40 pilots left Akasa Air without serving the mandatory six-month notice period, causing the fledgling airline to cancel a large number of flights. Its flight cancellation rate last month was 1.17%, the second-highest since its launch in August 2022. This number was 0.45% in July and 0% in March. Akasa's share of the domestic market fell to 4.2% in August from 5.2% in July.
Such situations are not unusual in an emerging aviation market like India's. Currently, there are seven major carriers in India, of which Go First has been inactive since May. Industry experts say the Tata-backed Air India and India's largest airline IndiGo have the strongest promoter support of the lot.
This is evident in the order book of the two airline groups, with over 1,300 aircraft on order for IndiGo and 470 aircraft in the pipeline for the Air India group. In addition, the two entities are constantly eyeing opportunities to add capacity by wet-leasing or dry-leasing older aircraft as the supply of new planes has been constrained by global supply-chain issues since the pandemic.
Low-cost carrier SpiceJet, among others, has been under financial stress thanks to multiple legal cases with lessors, its former promoter group, and Credit Suisse over the payment of dues.
An industry executive said, “Akasa is a strong player and has been able to steadily increase its market share in domestic aviation. It will be important for the airline to either expand slowly or ensure a competitive offer to retain pilot talent. Flight cancellations are the biggest dampeners for customer sentiment. They need to be avoided at any cost."
In a claim filed in the Bombay High Court against the 43 pilots, Akasa Air has sought ₹21.6 crore in compensation. This includes ₹14.28 crore for reputational loss caused by the cancellation, re-scheduling and grounding of flights, ₹6.96 crore for loss of operational profits, and ₹36 lakh on account of the pilots' training agreement.
“We have sought legal remedy only against a small set of pilots who abandoned their duties and left without serving their mandatory contractual notice period. This was not only in violation of their contract but also the country's civil aviation regulation. Not only is this illegal in law but also an unethical and selfish act that disrupted flights in August, forcing last-minute cancellations that stranded thousands of customers and caused significant inconvenience to the traveling public," the airline said.
Source: Live Mint
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Akasa sues 43 pilots for joining other airlines without serving a notice period
Akasa Airline has decided to take legal action against 43 pilots who joined other airline/s without serving the notice period. The 13-month-old airline has reportedly sought about ₹22 crore as compensation from the 43 pilots for the loss of revenue and damaging reputation of the airline.
According to a report by the Times of India, the mass exodus of pilots has forced the airline to cancel its several operations since August 2023.
"We have sought legal remedy only against a small set of pilots who abandoned their duties and left without serving their mandatory contractual notice period," an Akasa Air spokesperson said.
The airline said the act was not only in violation of their contract but also the country's civil aviation regulations.
"Not only is this illegal in law but also an unethical and selfish act that disrupted flights in August forcing last-minute cancellations that stranded thousands of customers causing significant inconvenience to the travelling public," it said.
Akasa Air, which currently has a fleet of 20 planes, started operations in August 2022.
This year in June, the Mumbai-headquartered airline increased the salaries of pilots by up to 40%. As per a June report, Akasa Air announced that from July 2023, senior first officers will now start with a monthly salary of ₹3.40 lakh, while senior captains will earn ₹6.25 lakh. Earlier it was ₹2.75 lakh and ₹5.75 lakh, respectively.
Also read: Akasa Air increases pilots salary by 40%: Report
If the experience and flight hours are more, the pay scale may be even higher, and the captain may earn up to ₹7.75 lakh per month, a 6% increase from the current ₹7.28 lakh, Akasa said in June this year.
Not only this, for every additional hour, apart from the fixed 40 hours of flying, captains will be paid ₹7,500 and first officers ₹3,045.
Akasa in August added the 20th aircraft to its fleet making the airline eligible to start international operations.
Indian regulations require airlines to have at least 20 aircraft in their fleet to become eligible for international operations.
As of August 2023, Akasa operated more than 900 weekly flights across 16 cities in the country.
Source: Live Mint
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Cheaper Airfares Are Squeezing Airline Stocks
U.S. travelers are paying less to fly, and airline stocks are taking a hit.
Airlines that focus on domestic flights are being squeezed as Americans embrace travel to Europe over vacations closer to home. Airfares across the industry were down 13.3% in August from a year ago, marking the fifth straight month of declines, according to federal data that is weighted toward domestic flights. The weakening demand comes just as airlines are facing surging jet fuel prices and rising labor costs.
Doubts over whether carriers will be able to raise fares to offset mounting expenses have their stocks in retreat: The U.S. Global Jets exchange-traded fund, which tracks the industry, has gained 5.4% this year on a postpandemic bump but is down 19% from its recent high in July. American Airlines' stock is down 29% from that peak, while Southwest Airlines is down 24%.
The S&P 500 is up 1.5% over the same period.
“Bigger picture, this is an industry driven by pricing power," said Andrew Didora, senior airlines analyst at Bank of America. “There's the investor concern that pricing is not going to be there as fuel moves higher."
The pressures come after a tumultuous few years for the industry. Airline stocks plunged after the Covid-19 pandemic essentially shut down travel in 2020, forcing carriers to turn to government aid and borrow billions of dollars to get through the dry spell.
Then as health restrictions eased, people who had built up savings while stuck at home eagerly shelled out to travel again. The pent-up demand—along with labor shortages that limited capacity—drove airfares up by as much as 43% in 2022 from the previous year. Airlines reaped record revenues, and shares of major carriers have more than doubled from their 2020 lows, though heavier debt levels have kept shares well below prepandemic levels.
For now, people are still squeezing onto packed airplanes. An average of 2.4 million passengers went through U.S. airports each day over the recent Labor Day weekend, according to Transportation Security Administration data. That was higher than in 2019.
Where travelers are headed, however, has shifted.
Spirit Airlines, which operates mostly domestic flights, said last week it had to offer “steep discounting" for travel booked from the late summer to pre-Thanksgiving period, and trimmed its third-quarter revenue forecast. Southwest said earlier this month that overall demand was healthy, but that August bookings were on the low end of its expectations.
Investors also worry the postpandemic surge in leisure travel will peter out and that lucrative corporate travel will never fully return. Before the pandemic, business travelers accounted for about half of profits and 12% of traffic for U.S. airlines, according to a McKinsey analysis.
Meanwhile, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Alaska Air Group have all warned that costs for the third quarter would be higher than previously forecast.
Airlines are paying roughly 25% more for fuel than they were in July, according to Didora of Bank of America. Labor costs are also set to increase, with new contracts for American Airlines and Delta pilots promising pay raises over a four-year period of 46% and 34%, respectively.
Like other commodities, fuel prices are volatile and a drop could help reverse the recent selloff. Airlines could also try passing higher costs on to customers by raising fares.
But people might no longer be willing to spend as much on trips as their pandemic wanderlust subsides. “It's always difficult to tell how elastic demand will be," said Chris Raite, an industrials analyst at research firm Third Bridge Group.
Write to Charley Grant at email@example.com
Source: Live Mint
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Zooom Airlines revives air operator certificate
New Delhi: Zooom Airlines, earlier called Zoom Air, has revived air operator certificate from the Indian civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation to commence flight operations in India, the airline said on Friday.
"With our AOC in hand, we look forward to providing passengers with a top-notch travel experience that combines convenience, efficiency, and comfort," Zooom Airlines chief executive officer Atul Gambhir said in a statement.
Zoom Air was established as Zexus Air in April 2013 and the airline had taken delivery of its first aircraft, a Bombardier CRJ200. It had then commenced operations in February 2017. However, the airline was unable to attract substantial air passenger traffic. Its air operator certificate was also suspended in July 2018 for over a year by the DGCA following safety concerns.
With a new name, the airline aims to create a fresh brand recall for the airline with an improved experience for the flyers, industry experts said.
The Gurugram-based company will use its Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft for the flight operations.
“Our Crj 200 aircraft will provide domestic travellers with unprecedented speed on each route. We wish to cater to the growing number of domestic travellers who take frequent flights and expect comfortable travel with reliable speed," Gambhir added.
The airline has plans to target a “cost-effective" and “convenient" solution for regional travel needs of flyers in a growing Indian aviation market. The domestic air traffic in the month of August stood at 12.4 million passengers in India, 5% more than the pre-pandemic level of 11.8 million passengers in Aug 2019.
“We are confident in our ability to carve out a niche by offering a unique and innovative travel experience," Gambhir said.
Currently, the Indian aviation market has two active regional carriers namely Fly Big and Star Air with a share of 0.2% and 0.3% respectively in the domestic civil aviation market.
Source: Live Mint
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WATCH | Private Jet Veers Off Runway on Landing at Mumbai Airport Amid Heavy Rain
A private jet carrying six passengers and two crew members veered off the runway on landing at Mumbai airport amid heavy rain and low visibility on Thursday. In a video that has gone viral on social media, the aircraft can be seen landing but skids off the runway resulting in a crash. No casualties have been reported so far, but three injured persons have been hospitalised.
According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the VSR Ventures Learjet 45 aircraft VT-DBL was operating from Vishakhapatnam to Mumbai and was making an attempt to land on runway number 27 at the Mumbai airport. Visibility was 700 m due to heavy rain, the DGCA added.
The DGCA said the incident took place at the domestic airport at 5.08 pm and was reported by the Mumbai Fire Brigade. Runway operations were put on hold for a short period of time but were resumed soon after. There is, however, reports of a number of flights being delayed.
“On 14.09.2023, M/s VSR Ventures Learjet 45 aircraft VT-DBL operating flight from Vizag to Mumbai with 06 passengers and 02 crew members on board, veered off the runway at Mumbai International Airport. The incident occurred at approximately 17:08 PM today. There are no casualties. The CSMIA's airside team is on ground to assist with the clearance onsite," said a spokesperson from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA).
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Jet Airways aircraft sale
New Delhi: Malta-based Ace Aviation, a potential buyer of grounded Jet Airways aircraft, has requested the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) to hear its appeal against an order by the Mumbai bench of the NCLT in two weeks.
The NCLT bench on 30 August reserved the final order on the sale of the grounded carrier's aircraft. The bench is likely to pass a final order in the coming days.
The appellate tribunal, while deferring the matter, noted that Ace Aviation can withdraw its appeal if the NCLT delivers a favourable judgement. The tribunal is scheduled to hear the matter next on 27 September.
Ace Aviation had initially moved the NCLAT against an interim order passed by the Mumbai NCLT in July, rejecting its plea to purchase the aircraft. The NCLT had said that either allowing or restraining the sale of the aircraft would lead to a reopening of the approved resolution plan.
In a previous hearing on 10 August, the NCLAT expressed a desire to settle the matter of pending dues between the lenders and the Jalan-Kalrock consortium before deciding on Ace Aviation's request. The NCLAT also mentioned that it cannot force the monitoring committee to sell the aircraft.
During the hearing, senior lawyer Ritin Rai, representing Ace Aviation, reiterated that the successful bidder for the insolvent airline, Jalan-Kalrock Consortium, had stated in the resolution plan that they were not interested in keeping the aircraft and that it could be put up for sale.
Rai also pointed out that Ace Aviation had received a letter of intent as the successful bidder but the seven-member committee – consisting of three members from JKC, three lenders, and one resolution professional — had stalled the purchase process.
Rai informed the court that Ace Aviation had already released ₹50 crore and had brought the remaining ₹350 crore of the total ₹400 crore for the aircraft purchase.
In previous proceedings, Ace Aviation had argued that the asset valuation of the parked aircraft was declining due to the ongoing deadlock between the lenders and the consortium.
In a related matter of JKC versus lenders led by State Bank of India, the NCLAT had on 28 August provided a lifeline to Jet Airways by granting the successful bidder time till 30 September to clear dues worth ₹350 crore.
Within 48 hours of the order, JKC announced that they had released the first instalment of ₹100 crore to lenders. According to the payment schedule approved by the NCLAT, JKC was required to pay ₹200 crore to lenders by 30 August, with the remaining ₹150 crore to be encashed from the performance guarantee. While lenders did not oppose the extension of time, they objected to the encashing of the bank guarantee.
Additionally, JKC filed a caveat in the Supreme Court to safeguard its interests in the event of lenders moving the top court against the NCLAT's interim ruling. The next hearing in the NCLAT for this case is expected to take place on 4 October.
Source: Live Mint
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IndiGo To Launch Direct Goa-Abu Dhabi Flight From September 2
In an exhilarating development, the Manohar International Airport in North Goa has collaborated with IndiGo Airlines to kickstart a thrice-weekly flight service connecting Goa and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) from September 2, 2023.
According to an exclusive statement from a senior official at the airport powerhouse, GMR Goa International Airport Limited (GGIAL), the inaugural flight will take off on the first Saturday of September, 00:25 AM sharp.
The return journey is equally captivating. The Indigo flight from AUH to GOX will take off at 03:15 and land at GOX (Manohar International Airport) at 08:10 respectively. This outstanding service will be offered again on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
IndiGo made headlines earlier this year in July when it announced the start of direct flight services from the cutting-edge North Goa airport to Abu Dhabi. This strategic route launch was made in response to the rising demand for travel to the Middle East and Goa, a coastal paradise known for its peaceful beaches.
With this new addition, IndiGo's already robust connectivity with Abu Dhabi, which includes significant Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kochi, and Hyderabad—will be further strengthened.
Vinay Malhotra, the Head of Global Sales at IndiGo, shared his insights on the move. “The new route is planned to meet the substantial demand in India for travel to the Middle East," he affirmed, adding that these innovative connections align with IndiGo's proactive approach to cater to such demands.
With this expansion, IndiGo will now facilitate a staggering 52 flights per week to Abu Dhabi from eight key Indian cities, thus reinforcing the ties between India and the UAE.
Interestingly, IndiGo has not only set its sights on Goa. The airline has also unveiled new flight services to the UAE capital from Lucknow and Ahmedabad, further exemplifying its commitment to broadening its global presence.
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