DH 2017: A look back at the business of flying

DH 2017: A look back at the business of flying

No-fly list

This year witnessed a spate of unfortunate incidents involving passengers and airline staff and crew getting into scuffles and fistfights more than once. While on some occasions, passengers were caught attacking airline staff, there were moments when it was the opposite. In a few incidents, Members of Parliament were captured on camera involved in gross misconduct.

On September 9, 2017, DH reported that unruly passengers could face a life ban in such an event, as the government unveiled the first guidelines in the national ‘No-Fly List’, which it said is “unique and first-of-its-kind in the world”.
 

Air India disinvestment

Flag carrier Air India is faced with the government’s inability to cope with its debt of Rs 52,000 crore. The state-owned airline has been plagued by intense competition from more nimble, low-cost carriers domestically, while internationally, leading global carriers are successfully serving the Indian market.

On June 1, 2017, DH had reported that the Cabinet would take a call on Niti Aayog’s suggestion to privatise Air India, as the talks came against the backdrop of arguments that there was no point in the government pumping in money into the debt-ridden. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju also said that all options, including disinvestment, were being considered.


On June 28, 2017, DH reported that the Cabinet had given an "in-principle" go ahead for the strategic disinvestment of Air India, after tasking a group of ministers to work out its modalities.

On June 29, 2017, DH reported that low-cost carrier IndiGo, which is also the country’s leading airline by market share, had shown keenness to buy stakes in Air India, within hours of the government’s nod for disinvestment. Sources mentioned that IndiGo had been looking at buying the international operations of Air India and Air India Express, and if this option was not available, then it would be in for buying it as a whole. The plan was to push its international operations, having already established dominance in the domestic space.


On July 6, 2017, DH reported that IndiGo is not keen on signing a JV with the government in running Air India. Recently, Jet Airways and SpiceJet have also shown interest in the government’s Air India divestment drive.


UDAN

With India slated to become the third largest airline market by 2020, and the largest by 2030, the government this year has resolved to push air connectivity in all ways possible, including regional connectivity. The UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) is the Centre’s pet Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) that took off early this year. Under UDAN, the Centre had estimated that about Rs 205 crore would be spent per year as viability gap funding (VGF) for operators chosen in the first round of bidding. The airlines which won the bidding were Alliance Air, SpiceJet, TruJet, Air Deccan and Air Odisha, and they would operate 128 routes in which the airfare is capped at Rs 2,500 for an hour-long flight with up to 40 seats on each flight.

On April 1, 2017, DH reported that Mysuru is also being considered under UDAN.   


Some related coverage by DH:Udan scheme: State to provide free land, tax sop to airlines

Govt proposes changes in Udan scheme

UDAN: Govt relaxes norms for second round of bidding

UDAN gets wings, commercial flights to resume from Sept 15

More flights from state to smaller towns on the anvil under UDAN

 
New international routes

Bengaluru, home to the third busiest airport in the country, is fast becoming a serious hub for airline traffic from India to all over the world. This year, IndiGo announced its Bengaluru-Singapore direct flight, while on October 30, 2017, Jet Airways commenced its Bengaluru-Amsterdam flight.

New aircraft orders

As the industry grows, Indian airlines have made a beeline to acquire new aircraft.
On August 8, 2017, DH had reported that divestment-bound Air India would be raising $740 million to buy six new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, while it was looking to raise $535 million to fund the acquisition of three Boeing 777-300ER planes.


Some related stories by DH:

Spicejet intends to buy 50 Q400 planes from Bombardier
IndiGo takes delivery of first ATR flight

Security tags

From April 1, 2017, stamping of passengers' hand baggage at seven major airports, including Delhi and Mumbai, was done away with, which DH had reported the previous day. The other airports that introduced the procedure the same day included the ones in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kochi, and Ahmedabad.

(Compiled by Hrithik Kiran Bagade)

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