Thursday, December 15, 2011

Costa Rica: Why is the new Liberia airport terminal still empty? Daniel Oduber International Airport .

Nobody knows when airplanes will finally land at the new terminal at Daniel Oduber International Airport, in Liberia, capital city of the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Opening day was initially scheduled for Oct. 1.

With the tourism high season under way, local business owners have anxiously awaited the opening of the new terminal, but neither the Costa Rican Civil Aviation Authority nor the concessionaire, Coriport S.A., would say when that would happen.

Last week, the aviation authority said in a press release that work had been completed, but the government had not yet approved the terminal’s opening.

The press release also noted that the government advised Coriport of a number of issues that need to be addressed, although the statement did not mention specific problems.

“It is a collective effort to open the terminal as soon as possible. We are conscious that the use of the current airport is uncomfortable. However, the opening of the new terminal will depend on the company’s response,” the press release said.

In 2009, Coriport was granted a 20-year concession to build and operate the new terminal, which will facilitate up to 1,500 additional passengers simultaneously. Built at a cost of $41 million, the new terminal will create a more efficient travel process for passengers at the country’s second-largest airport (TT, Oct. 14).

At 23,000 square meters, the state-of-the-art structure dwarfs the current building in both size and capabilities. The new terminal will help increase tourism dollars, create roughly 100 new jobs, and provide a solution to the notorious Liberia airport lines that sometimes stretch outside the terminal, airport general manager Francisco Cordero told The Tico Times in October.

In the meantime, businesses that depend on Guanacaste’s tourism industry are paying the price of the delay.

“Flights are still arriving at the old terminal, but the image that we are projecting as a country, not only to tourists but also to investors in Guanacaste, leaves much to be desired. We need to prevent this situation from lasting longer,” Guanacaste Tourism Chamber Director Verónica Grant said.

In February, local coffee firm Café Britt won a concession to open three commercial spaces in the new terminal, totaling 385 square meters. The stores were ready to open on Oct. 1.

According to Café Britt CEO Pablo Vargas, two weeks before the first official opening date, the company hired and trained 20 new employees to work at the new stores.

The employees have been relocated to other Britt operations in Guanacaste. However, keeping them on hold generates a monthly loss of $17,000. The company has spent $1 million on infrastructure and inventory to prepare for the opening.

IMC Medios, which manages advertising in the airport, has also lost revenue because of the delay. According to Marianela Dobles, the firm’s sales manager, clients have been expecting to advertise for more than two months.

The engineering company Ad Astra Rocket Company, launched by Costa Rican astronaut Franklin Chang, is also eagerly awaiting the new terminal. According to Chang, one of the reasons the company chose Guanacaste was to be close to a new, modern airport for its exports and imports of aerospace and scientific equipment.

“We are worried about the delay, since we are about to begin transporting very sophisticated equipment to and from the United States,” Chang told The Tico Times via email. “We want to make sure that we do not have to do it through San José, since the road is dangerous and could lead to delays. However, we have no information about an upcoming opening date.”

Delays are affecting tourism. According to the Costa Rican Tourism Board, in 2010, more than 225,000 passengers arrived through Liberia. The current terminal is located in a cramped space that can accommodate only about 900 passengers per hour.

In November, AirBerlin and Jetblue added new flights to Liberia, and in January, Delta Airlines will add a flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul, in the U.S.

Members of the Guanacaste Tourism Chamber, or Caturgua, are unhappy with the setbacks.

“Airport operators are not the only ones worried about the delay [in opening the terminal]; other businesses awaiting tourists are also unhappy with this situation. The main reasons are that they know very little about the cause of the delay, and they have not been given an official date for the opening,” said Caturgua’s Grant.

For the aviation authority and Coriport, a thorough revision of the concession contract is a priority. When consulted by The Tico Times, neither agency would provide a new date for the terminal’s opening or the cause of the delay.

“For us, the public interest is above anyone else’s interest. There is a contract to respect, and we have a group of technicians concluding a meticulous inspection process in order to assure a safe and efficient service,” Aviation Vice Minister Luis Carlos Araya said.

Cordero recently said the company would work closely with the government to meet obligations, but that it is unclear whether the new terminal will by ready by the holidays, one of the busiest travel seasons of the year.

Despite the delays at Liberia’s airport, experts say Costa Rica’s use of a system of private concessions is the best way to complete public infrastructure projects.

“This country has to do public works through concessions, but experience tells me that the processes of control and inspection have to be clearer and more conclusive,” Araya said. “This is why we are emphatic about following the Liberia airport contract at every step.”

The issue was discussed earlier this month at a forum on competitiveness organized by the Costa Rican-North American Chamber of Commerce (TT, Dec. 2).

“We have failed to understand public infrastructure concessions as a whole,” Carlos Plass, executive director of Aeris Holding Costa Rica, which operates the Juan Santamaría International Airport outside of San José, said at the summit. “We have not been able to relate concrete and metal to concepts like better quality of life, more security, lower prices, fewer accidents, fewer deaths, more free time, economic growth and the country’s development.”

Plass said that in Costa Rica, the concession process is made difficult by a weak institutional system, legal insecurity and heavy regulation.

Pakistan International Airlines, Pilots’ Association sign working agreement

LAHORE - Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association (PALPA) have mutually agreed to finalize the working agreement for the year 2011-2013 without any revision in pay and allowances. A spokesman for PALPA said in a statement that considering the financial condition of the national flag carrier the pilots association has already voluntarily dropped chapter two from the working agreement after completing negotiations on procedural issues. The spokesman mentioned that the working agreement was needed to address safety and operational issues. The financial aspect is also a part of the same negotiation, hence after every two years it is renegotiated; but this time round it was dropped from final implementation.

He further said that the since the Working Agreement was of procedural nature it cannot be called an extraordinary favor, thus projecting it as if the association has taken financial benefits is not only wrong but misleading as well. Not only that the association has dropped the pay and allowances from this Working Agreement but has further offered to reduce guaranteed flying hours from 70 to 50, flying allowance on Long Range flights from $350 to $275 and all additional flying allowances given to management pilots over and above normal allowances paid to all regular non-management pilots have also been withdrawn forthwith.

He said PALPA has contributed significantly to improve airline’s financial conditions by suggesting cost cutting measures in cabin and cockpit crew flight and stay patterns abroad besides many in-flight and on-ground measures through which the airline is saving huge amounts specially in foreign exchange. President PALPA, Captain Suhail Baluch, stated in a press release that PALPA members have agreed unanimously not to ask for financial benefits from the PIA management in protest over its wrong decisions which have brought the national air carrier on the verge of collapse.

He said that the credibility of PIA has been shaken badly in the eyes of its customers and international aviation industry too all due to a series of decisions, marred with corruption and nepotism, which left the airline in a quagmire. He referred to the consistent delays in PIA flights, especially in Pre and Post Hajj operations, as well as recurring technical faults in PIA aircraft one after another posing serious threats to the safety of passengers and aircraft, and the dubious leasing of more aircraft resulting in the loss of billions of dollars of airline’s finance.

Suhail Baluch said PIA management has completely failed to handle the affairs of the airline and is not carrying out due and proper care of the PIA fleet so as to create artificial justification to lease more aircraft to serve vested interests. He said PIA management should overhaul its grounded aircraft first instead of taking leased planes and should do away with the spare-parts supply contract to inefficient companies like Transworld Aviation, FZE, which have no proven experience of working with commercial airlines. He said PALPA is aware of the financial constraints of the national air carrier and admits that PIA is facing acute shortage of funds. Nevertheless, he added, PALPA members and other employees of the airline can never be blamed for the dire financial crisis as the management is solely responsible for PIA funds and decisions in this regard. He thanked MD PIAC for signing the negotiated and agreed PALPA-PIAC Working Agreement 2011-2013 minus Article II, as per international aviation rules and regulations it is mandatory to have an agreement between pilots and airline management to ensure smooth functioning and adherence to all international safety rules.

Pakistan International Airlines sole vendor denied parts’ supply

KARACHI: The sole spare parts vendor of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), TWA Aviation FZE, has been denied supply of parts by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) leaving the national flag carrier in a fix resulting in increased technical problems of the airline’s fleet.

According to a correspondence by TWA to PIA, which is seen by The News, the vendor has informed PIA that it has been denied supply of parts and asked PIA to arrange parts from some other source.

The correspondence relates to parts for new ATR aircrafts on aircraft-on-ground (AOG) basis. It was learnt that the hesitation by OEMs is because that TWA FZE has no credibility or any history of such dealings with manufacturers who alone can supply parts to airline operators or to their recommended vendors.

According to aviation experts, airlines can only use original parts otherwise their insurance cover faces a risk in case of any incident or accident or to qualify for any guarantees offered by manufacturers at the time of delivery.

This is also a requirement for leased aircrafts or aircrafts purchased from the manufacturer or from any other party in case of used aircrafts.

It was learnt that contrary to the claims of PIA that TWA FZE had offered a $700 million credit line, PIA opened an LC (letter of credit) amounting $2.5 million through Summit Bank for supply of parts. Another correspondence between PIA and TWA FZE reveals inexperience of TWA FZE in dealing with such issues.

A source said that the parts were shipped in the name of Summit Bank instead of PIA, which led to delay of two to three days in getting them cleared from the customs.

Airlines all over the world maintain their own inventory of spares to carry out rectification and maintenance at their main hubs. In addition to this they appoint vendors located in proximity to their various international destinations.

PIA made a decision by handing over their inventory to TWA FZE, rather than having a choice of multiple vendors.

Sources said that this was done in 2005- 2006 when the former chairman, Chaudhry Ahmed Saeed was heading the airline. The then DMD AVM handed over the PIA inventory to a company located in UK and appointed it as its sole supplier with right of first refusal.

It may be mentioned here that when an aircraft is on ground and a part is not readily available it is classified as AOG and an airline would rather buy a part at twice or even thrice its normal price tag in order to avoid expenses such as provision of hotels for long delays to passengers, parking charges and consequential ramifications on its schedules.

PIA ended up buying all spares on AOG basis, which led to depletion of allocated maintenance budgets.

In 2007, PIA’s total fleet excluding the Boeing 777 was banned from operating into the European Union following inspections by SAFA (Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircrafts) inspectors.

“PIA has now made the same mistake in 2011. This time it is current DMD, who is an employee of GE, presently working on contract with PIA,” a source said.

Dubai: New ways of passport forgery found

DUBAI — The Dubai Police are clueless about more than 150 cases of date of birth forgery in passports, which they dealt with within three months, where the holders of passports manipulate their age to make themselves older. Hazim Hassan, an expert at the Forensic Science Department of Dubai Police, said that the police are yet to find out a clear reason for such forgery.

Various types of forgeries are noticed in the personal data in passports including electronic and ordinary passports, said Hassan, adding that criminals are using modern techniques and advanced technology to tamper with electronic passports. The personal data saved in the electronic device in the e-passports are tampered with to make it impossible for the officials to read the data, said Hassan. There were also instances where the police found that the data in the original passports are tampered with so that they are not identical with the information in the e-passport.

Hassan noted that there can be many reasons for the forgeries including political, economic or criminal reasons. In some cases, original photographs in the passports were replaced with those of others while in some other cases, chemicals were used to remove the data entered in the original passports. Replacement of pages, adding new pages with stamps or visas that are removed from other passports etc were some other forms of forgeries, said Hassan. He also referred to cases where the entire passport was forged or new passports were issued by using forged documents or impersonating people.

Australia: Seaplanes to show wild side of Tasmania

Video by News On ABC on Dec 15, 2011

A new business venture has been approved in Hobart with seaplanes offering trips to Tasmanian wilderness areas.

NEPAL: Police to investigate Nepal Airlines theft

The Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) has requested the Home Ministry to investigate the mysterious disappearances of aircraft parts belonging to Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC). MoTCA had carried out its own investigation but failed to find the culprits behind the theft.

The Home Ministry has directed the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of the Nepal Police to begin their investigation regarding the theft of aircraft parts from the airport premises. NAC has lost aircraft parts worth Rs 150 million this year which includes fly away kit and spare wheels of it Boeing 757 and landing gear of its Twin Otter aircraft. The fly away kit alone is estimated to cost around Rs 45 million.

CIB has formally received the request for investigation today and will begin its probe after carrying out a detailed study of the files presented to the bureau. NAC employees have been suspected to be involved in the theft but numerous investigation both internal and those carried out by the ministry failed to find the culprits.

Nepal: Tourism minister vows to add 8-9 aircraft

KATHMANDU, DEC 15 - Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Lokendra Bista has claimed that the government would bring in eight or nine aircraft during his tenure.

Speaking at Reporters Club in the Capital on Thursday, Minister Bista said that the number of aircraft would be finalized as per the requirement of the Nepal Airlines Corporation.

“The aircraft would be brought, rest assured,” said Bista, addressing the program. “I am a straightforward man; either I will do it or die for it.” He even vowed to stand against any possible obstruction in the process.

Saying that there would not be any kind of commission game in the purchase of aircraft, Minister Bista said the aircraft purchase agreement would be signed in a transparent manner and in the present of all the concerned stakeholders including top brass leaders.

On the occasion, Minister Bista also announced that the government would complete the construction of Pokhara Airport, blacktop runways of nine airports in hilly region, and initiate the construction of an international airport in Nijgadh of Bara district.

Minister Bista also expressed his commitment to revamp the structure of the Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) so as give the impression of completely different place. He vowed to implement his plans under at any cost.

Belize: Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation holds End of Year Review meeting

Belize City, Belize, Tuesday, December 14th , 2011- With the year almost coming to an end, The Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture conducted its annual Heads of Department Meeting this past Friday, December 9th at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel to discuss the accomplishments and identify projects while outlinining upcoming plans for 2012.

Honourable Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture chaired the meeting. Also present was Lindsay Garbutt, Chief Executive Officer, and representatives from the various departments that encompass the Ministry, namely the Belize Airport Authority (BAA), the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), Sustainable Tourism Development Programme (STDP), Department of Civil Aviation, Belize Archives and Records Service, Border Management Agency (BMA), and the National Institute of Creative Arts (NICH).

Among the many notable achievements are the successful upgrading of local airstrips including those in Dangriga and Placencia and the groundbreaking and commencement of construction for the impressive Cayo Welcome Centre, which promises to be a world-class Centre. Bids are being accepted for the San Pedro Sunset Boardwalk and Water Taxi projects and STDP is in the final procurement stages for the Placencia Municipal Pier and Plaza and the Belize City Fort Point Pedestrian Walk. It was also announced that the proposed Master Plan for Belize City has been completed and will be presented to Government for review.

A presentation of the draft for the proposed Urban Development Plan, which is being prepared under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, was well received.

The Belize Tourism Board embarked on an aggressive online marketing strategy that is positioning the Belize Brand in the forefront of travel trade internationally. As a result of BTB’s strategic marketing efforts, two major U.S. Television Networks chose Belize for film projects this year which will further serve to promote the country.

Major improvements in visitor flow and hospitality were cited at the Belize City Tourism Village and PGIA. Information kiosks staffed by BTB professionals have been incorporated at both the Northern and Western borders; we envision that this will provide a welcoming atmosphere to all tourists coming into our country.

Over the past year, ICA has filled the Bliss Centre for Performing Arts and other cultural venues around the country with numerous performing arts presentations by local and international artists. Corozal will be the next destination to receive its very own House of Culture by year end. A House of Culture Coordinator was recently appointed for San Pedro and work begins in the New Year to establish a House of Culture on the island. The Prime Minister’s Forum, the Paan Yaad Concert and the introduction of Frankie Reneau’s “Hymn to Belize” were the highlights of the National September Celebrations. 2012 will usher in an exciting year long calendar of activities commemorating the conclusion of a B’ak”tun and the dawning of a new era! The first ever Sculpture Symposium was facilitated in Belize and visiting international artists created several public pieces that will be erected around the country.

The Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Hon. Manuel Heredia, Jr. along with the Management and Staff of the Ministry would like to wish all Belizeans a Merry Christmas and a Very Prosperous New Year.

United Kingdom: Heathrow learns lesson, spends £40m to cope with winter chaos

Equipment and training revamped after 2010 cold snap havoc

London: Heathrow airport has invested tens of millions of pounds in new equipment to ensure there is not a repeat of last year's Christmas travel chaos if Britain is hit by another big freeze.

John Holland-Kaye, commercial director of British Airports Authority (BAA), told Gulf News that new equipment included snow-clearing machines, heated marquees and extra staff training, in an overall investment that will eventually clock in at £40 million (Dh277.8 million).

Heathrow has also recruited a weather forecaster from the UK Met office to specifically analyse the conditions in real time and brief airport bosses. The airport has also trained 900 back office staff to go out and liaise with travellers should another crisis occur.

Holland-Kaye said the move followed a review of airport practices after widespread criticism of BAA, the operators and owners of Heathrow, over flight cancellations that left thousands of passengers stranded last year.

"We've put a number of things in place to be better prepared this year; £40 million has been committed and most of it has been spent," he said. "We have four times as many [snow clearing] machines as we had this time last year, and we have been practising snow clearance. If the same thing happens again we will be able to clear the snow in a matter of hours instead of days."

British expatriates flying home from Dubai and Abu Dhabi were hit hard by the cold snap that hit the UK last year, with flights cancelled in the run-up to Christmas and hundreds of passengers diverted to German and French airports.

Some reported having to travel for up to three days over frozen French roads to try to catch ferries across the English Channel, while others with connecting flights to the US and beyond were left stranded. In the UK, thousands of passengers spent days in Heathrow's terminals trying to go on their holidays.

Holland-Kaye said indications were that the weather would not be as bad this year, but that the investment was worthwhile for BAA in the long term. Any major catastrophe that hits the UK or Heathrow would benefit from extra training and crisis management initiatives implemented over the last 12 months, he said.

"The chances are that we won't have snow like that again. If we have any sort of crisis we have to make sure we are looking after passengers well," he said. In the wake of last year's crisis, a UK House of Commons transport select committee reported that Heathrow Airport was "totally unprepared to recover from any major incident which necessitated its closure", a claim that BAA rejected.

The company cited a report published in May 2011 by the Begg Enquiry, which found that BAA had historically "demonstrated its ability to respond well to earlier weather events". BAA also cited its response to the airspace closure caused by volcanic ash in 2010.

India: ‘Airlines are not sticking to standardized block timings’

MUMBAI: Early arrival of flights at Mumbai is causing massive congestion. What's equally worrying is that though the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued a standardized block time for all flights, airlines continue to manipulate timings to maintain an untainted on-time performance record.

Data submitted to the civil aviation ministry shows that in October, 1,435 flights arrived more than 15 minutes before the scheduled time. In November, 1,239 flights arrived early.

The flights that arrived early in November included 306 of Jet Airways, 234 of Kingfisher and 224 of IndiGo. Most airport officials TOI spoke to said at least 65-70% of these early arrivals happen during the evening hours when air traffic is generally high.

"If flights arrive early into the city's air space, they interfere with those already slotted to land as well as those that have arrived late," said a senior airport official. "The airport already handles more flights than the sanctioned limit during peak hours. If flights arrive early, the load increases. This is why aircraft spend 30-45 minutes circling in the sky at night," he added.

Industry insiders are aware that airlines often fudge flight block timings to show a good on-time performance record. This is why the journey time on tickets varies even if the sector (Mumbai-Jaipur, for instance) is the same. For instance, the actual flying time-or block time-from Mumbai to Jaipur is an hour and 30 minutes. However, one airline may give the block time as an hour and 35 minutes, while another may have a more inflated schedule of an hour and 50 minutes.

"Airlines do this to create a buffer for delays. So, even if they are delayed, a higher block time on paper gives them room to land a bit late and still be on time," an airport official said. "However, most of them arrive early and ask for landing when other scheduled flights are already waiting," he added.

An official from director general of civil aviation Bharat Bhushan's office said the issue of early arrivals has been resolved in the winter schedule. "All flights have a standardized block time and it is being followed. We have loaded all details about the block time on our website," the official said, adding: "The discrepancies are due to weather and wind conditions."

However, TOI checked a popular travel portal where airlines have listed varied journey timings for the same destination. For instance, different GoAir flights from Mumbai to Delhi on December 17 showed different journey timings. The 6am flight lists the journey time between the two cities as two hours and five minutes, while the one at 5.20pm gives it as two hours and 15 minutes; the one departing at 8.30pm gives the time as one hour and 45 minutes. A SpiceJet flight on the same day lists the journey time as two hours.

Airport officials said the situation has improved, but not by much. "Earlier, more than half the flights coming into the city had inflated block timings. Now, with the ministry and the DGCA looking closely at the matter, the numbers have come down considerably," an air traffic controller said.

Cyprus: Flights Canceled as Cypriot Air Traffic Controllers Strike

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- A 12-hour strike by Cypriot air traffic controllers in protest over the government’s austerity measures is disrupting flights to and from Cyprus, Adamos Aspris, a spokesman for Larnaca and Paphos airports, said.

“A total of 79 flights to and from Cyprus scheduled for today are affected by the strike that started at 9 a.m.,” Aspris said in a telephone interview today. The number of canceled flights can’t be determined yet, he said.
Cypriots protest against austerity plan

Greek Cypriot civil servants held an unannounced 12-hour strike on Thursday to protest against an austerity budget that includes an unprecedented two-year pay freeze for public sector workers.

The strike shut down the Larnaca and Paphos international airports and also disrupted administrative preparations for local government elections due to take place on Sunday, according to a government official.

Cyprus faces the possibility of becoming the next eurozone member to seek an international bail-out, with a widening budget deficit and sizeable exposure of its two biggest banks to Greece.

After losing access to international capital markets last May, the government negotiated a €2.5bn emergency loan from Russia in order to cover debt servicing in 2011-2012.

Hopes of an economic recovery this year were dashed by a deadly explosion of munitions stored at a naval base that wrecked the island’s biggest power station, causing damage estimated at around €1bn.

The government has cut this year’s growth forecast from 2 per cent to 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product.

The International Monetary Fund said last month that Cyprus was entering recession, with zero growth projected this year and a contraction of one percentage point in 2012.

Hundreds of strikers shouting anti-austerity slogans gathered outside the parliament building in Nicosia, forcing lawmakers to postpone the budget vote until Friday. Three out of the four main Greek Cypriot parties have said they will back the austerity programme.

Kikis Kazamias, finance minister, said: “It is disappointing … I was waiting for formal approval of the budget before sending a message to Brussels that we’re implementing what we promised, and I wanted to highlight a political and labour consensus.”

The government has pledged to cut the budget deficit next year from 6.0 per cent to 2.8 per cent of gross domestic product, and achieve a balanced budget by 2014.

In addition to the salary freeze, Cyprus’s 50,000 public sector workers will have to pay higher pension contributions. Index-linked wage increases will be cut for higher-paid workers.

About €200m ($260m) of savings will come from reductions in social benefits, mainly affecting students and families with children. The value-added tax rate will be raised from 15 per cent to 17 per cent.

Moody’s Investors Service last month cut Cyprus’s credit rating by two notches to Baa3, the lowest investment grade, predicting that the government will have to bail out banks next year because of their large exposure to Greek debt.

The two largest Cypriot banks have only moderate holdings of Greek bonds but are significant lenders to the private sector through their branch networks in Greece.

The ratings agency also said Cyprus’s “weak capacity to implement budget and structural reforms needed to ensure the sustainability of government finances” contributed to the downgrade.

India: Oil firms cut jet fuel prices by 1.38%

State-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) on Thursday pared jet fuel prices by 1.38% or Rs 833 per kilo litre (kl), effective from Dec 16.

With this, the air turbine fuel (ATF) prices at Delhi's IGI airport will come down from Rs 64,622.34 per kilo litre to Rs 63,739 per kilo litre from midnight Thursday.

The price cut comes after the OMCs Nov 30 hiked the fuel cost by 3.70%. The OMCs had previously increased the prices by 1.95% on Nov 15.

The OMCs revise ATF prices on every 1st and 16th of the month based on the average international crude oil price during the fortnight.

The latest cut is expected to reduce the burden on the industry, which has seen many airlines reporting losses owing to the high cost of jet fuel.

"Any reduction in ATF prices is a welcome step. But there is still a long way to go in rationalizing our domestic ATF prices which are nearly 50-60% higher than that in our competing markets like Middle East and Southeast Asia," Amber Dubey, director, aviation for the global consultancy firm KPMG, told IANS.

Earlier, civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi informed Parliament that domestic jet fuel is being sold at a much higher price than other Asian cities like Kuala Lumpur, where ATF is sold at Rs 41,009.33 per kilo litre, followed by Singapore at Rs 42,289.90 and Dubai at Rs 43,087.33.

The ATF cost accounts for nearly 50% of the operating cost of any airline. Jet fuel prices also vary from state to state which levy sales tax on the ATF in the region of 3 to 35%.

"Various taxes imposed by government on ATF is one of the reasons for higher cost of domestic aviation fuel," Ravi had informed the Parliament.

Jet fuel prices have increased by 30% since December 2010, and domestic airlines are expected to lose Rs.3,500 crore in the first six months of this fiscal.

Owing to high jet fuel and interest costs, three major airlines -- Kingfisher, Jet and SpiceJet -- have reported heavy second-quarter losses.

Flag carrier Air India and its subsidiaries owe Rs 1,563.67 crore to Indian Oil Corp, followed by Rs 409.82 crore to Bharat Petroleum Corp and Rs 337.16 crore to Hindustan Petroleum Corp.

Kenya Airways targets China, India with Boeing planes for growth

Kenya Airways is eyeing routes in India and China to tap the growing trade between Asia and Africa.

The national carrier is planning to open six new destinations in each of the twin countries helped by the new planes its set to acquire in coming months to cut its heavy reliance on the European and African routes.

Presently, the national carrier operates single daily flights to China and India, although expansion to new routes has been curtailed by lack of planes.

“Our own strategy is looking at expanding into China and India specifically. They are important in driving our future,” said Mr Titus Naikuni, KQ’s chief executive.

Now, KQ is targeting to boost its presence in the Asian market helped by the plan to double its fleet from the current 33 to 62 by 2016—which will allow it to connect the bulk of travellers from African cities to Asia through its Nairobi hub.

The twin countries are emerging as engines of the global economic growth as they grow faster than the US and European economies—which are slowing down due the ongoing economic turmoil.

This growth has helped Chinese and Indian businesses to spread their reach in search of raw materials and markets as well boost leisure travel among the growing middle class families in the twin countries.

As a result, airlines are racing to connect their hubs to Asia to tap the growing travel from Asia to Europe, America and Africa.

Presently, KQ draws 49 per cent of its Sh85.8 billion revenue annually from its Africa routes, 27 per cent (Europe), 10 per cent (Middle East), nine per cent (Asia) and five per cent from its domestic routes.

Its target is to have the Asian routes contribute double digit share of its revenues, thanks to increased trade volumes between the continent and Africa.

India is the second largest exporter of goods to Kenya behind United Arab Emirates. China is third, having exported goods worth Sh87.2 billion in the first eight months of the year while India brought in products worth Sh97.6 billion in the same period.

Kenya Airways is pursuing the strategy of connecting more African cities to Nairobi using short distance planes like Embraer and putting them in larger Boeing planes to Europe and Asia.

The airline opens an average of at least five new routes every year and currently flies to 56 destinations with 45 of them in Africa. To this end it inked a deal with Embraer for supply of 10 jets over the next two years with the possibility of acquiring another 16 from the Brazilian aircraft maker.

It has also signed a deal to buy nine 787-8 Dreamliner planes from Boeing to replace its ageing fleet and keep its expansion plan on track as well as three B777-300 ER.

KQ is expecting to start adding the larger Boeing jets to its fleet from next year and fleet expansion plan will see the national carrier raise more debt from banks and capital from shareholders. The carrier is expecting to raise Sh23 billion from a rights issue in coming

“The first pre-delivery payment should have gone last month and that is why we are coming to the market now,” said Alex Mbugua, KQ’s finance director.

Its net profit grew to Sh3.5 billion in the year to March, compared to Sh2 billion in a similar period last year, while its share price shed 55 per cent in the past six months on the bearish run at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).

United Kingdom: Typhoon fighter planes to be deployed during London 2012 Olympics

SNIPERS in helicopters will patrol the skies over London during next year’s Olympics, it was announced today.

HMS Ocean, the largest warship in the Navy, which will be anchored in the Thames at Greenwich.

Powerful Puma and Lynx helicopters will be based on the ship, on 24-hour standby to combat any terrorist attack.

Fighter jets will also be located just outside the capital so they can be scrambled to Olympic venues within minutes to stop any terrorist plane attack.

In total, 13,500 troops - including special forces - will be used to bolster security at venues around the country which will host the Games.

The Ministry of Defence said the servicemen and women would be on hand across the UK to protect 150 venues and training sites.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “Next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games are once-in-a-generation events for the UK.

“We want them to be secure, so that all those competing and attending can enjoy the Games for the celebration of sporting achievement and cultural celebration that it is.”

“The Royal Navy, Army, and Royal Air Force between them will provide up to 13,500 personnel.

“Up to 7,500 of them will support the smooth running of Olympic sites while the remainder will use their specialist capabilities and equipment to contribute to the delivery of Olympic security.

“I have no doubt that they will do a fantastic job - and I look forward to their professionalism and agility being on show on the world stage once again.”

Counter-terror spooks from Mi5 are working round-the-clock to prevent any fanatics from staging a spectacular assault on the Games.

Typhoon jets, last deployed over Libya, will be moved to RAF Northolt in Middlesex from bases in Scotland or Lincolnshire for the duration of the Games.

Rapier air-defence missiles will be located in London to protect the capital.

Meanwhile, HMS Bulwark and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay will patrol off the Weymouth coast.

A crack unit of Royal Marines on all three warships will be on standby to storm any attacks coming by river or sea.

A team of SBS frogmen will be also be in position on the Olympic Park in east London and elite explosive commandos will also check sites for improvised riverside bombs.

The Mirror recently revealed that SAS troops have conducted dry runs staging counter-terror attacks by helicopters in London’s East End.

There will also be a 1,000-strong unarmed contingency force for deployment in the event of an “Olympics-related civil emergency”.

The figure of 13,500 is significantly higher than the 7,000 that had been initially predicted.

Around 5,000 servicemen and women will support the police and other civil authorities, providing specialist capabilities such as bomb disposal and dog teams.

Mr Hammond stressed that operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere would not be affected by the deployment.

He added: “My priority will remain the troops we have deployed on operations, including in Afghanistan, before, during and after the Olympics.”

Portuguese companies to manufacture parts for Embraer’s KC-390 military plane

Lisbon, Portugal, 15 Dec – Brazilian aeronautical company Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica (Embraer) is due Thursday to sign a partnership contract with Portuguese companies OGMA and Empresa de Engenharia Aeronáutica (EEA) for the KC-390 Programme, the Portuguese Economy Ministry said in Lisbon Wednesday.

Under the terms of the agreement, the statement said, Portugal will develop, coordinated by aeronautical engineering company Empresa de Engenharia Aeronáutica and via the centre for Excellence and Innovation in the Automotive Industry (CEIIA), the engineering project for three segments of the military transport airplane to be built by Embraer.

“The segments projected, designed and tested in Portugal will then be manufactured in Portugal by aeronautical company OGMA, which will also produce the aircraft’s central fuselage,” the ministry said.

The Embraer KC-390 is an aircraft for tactical/logistical transport and in air re-fueling that sets a new standard for medium-sized military transport and was developed to meet the operational needs of the Brazilian Air Force. 

United Kingdom: Pan island Aviation Security Regulator appointed

A new pan island position has been created to ensure our safety when we fly.

Simon Macphail has been appointed Independent Aviation Security Regulator for Guernsey and Jersey.

The role of the regulator is also designed to ensure consistent implementation of aviation security standards for airports, airlines and other operators across the Channel Islands.

The purpose of creating the role through Jersey's Chief Minister's Department and Guernsey's Commerce and Employment Department is to establish a line of Ministerial accountability that will ensure independence and the effective separation of airport and regulator interests.

Assistant Chief Minister, Senator Paul Routier, said: "We are committed to working together with Guernsey on issues that affect both our islands. The joint appointment of an Aviation Security Regulator for Jersey and Guernsey is a good example of this spirit of cooperation.

"We are confident that the creation of this new role will result in the delivery of an important service to a high standard and at a shared cost."

Guernsey's Minister for Commerce and Employment, Carla McNulty Bauer agreed, saying: "This is another fine example of the islands collaborating on an issue of shared interest, which shall ensure a clear and consistent approach to the regulation of aviation security across the Channel Islands."

Mr Macphail, who is currently Deputy Airport Director for Guernsey Airport, will take up the appointment on 27 February 2012.

Travel industry sees red as Air India Express withdraws flights. Flights departing from Tiruchi will come down to 24 a week

Notwithstanding the strong opposition from the travel trade here, the Air India Express has withdrawn 10 flights a week from Tiruchi from December 19 to March 24, citing crew constraints.  The airline, on Tuesday, announced the withdrawal of the flights on the Chennai-Tiruchi-Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi-Tiruchi-Chennai sectors (IX613/614) on Mondays/Tuesdays, and the flights on the Tiruchi-Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur-Tiruchi-Chennai sectors (IX 622/621) on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. The Tiruchi-Chennai flights have been withdrawn on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Consequently, the thrice-a-week Abu Dhabi service stands curtailed to twice a week and the daily Tiruchi-Kuala Lumpur/Kuala Lumpur-Tiruchi services to just three days a week.  With the withdrawal of 10 flights a week, the total number of flights operated by the airline ex-Tiruchi would come down to 24 from 34 flights a week. The airline has been intermittently cancelling flights on the Tiruchi-Kuala Lumpur sector, one of the most profitable routes for it, over the past 45 days apparently due to the shortage of pilots.

The latest decision of the airline has come as a shock to the travel industry representatives, who had already registered their strong opposition to the frequent cancellation of flights over the past one-and-a-half months. The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) had already sent representations to the Civil Aviation Minister and the top brass of Air India in this regard.  “We were expecting a positive response from the airline to our representation; but the withdrawal of the flights till March has come as a shock,” M.S.Paramasivam, chairman, TAAI, South Tamil Nadu Chapter, told The Hindu.

It is regrettable that more and more flights are cancelled from Tiruchi, when the airline was able to restore flights operated on other sectors, especially Kerala. Despite being a highly profitable station for the airline, Tiruchi was being accorded a step-motherly treatment, he regretted. The cancellation of the flights to Kuala Lumpur would cause much hardship to the labourers travelling regularly on the sector as the airline offered competitive fares. The cancellation has left the passengers with no option but to fly with one of the foreign carriers to Kuala Lumpur, travel trade representatives say.  The Tiruchi-Kuala Lumpur service of Air India Express was in great demand; they say and claim that the service was being operated with an average load factor of 87 per cent since April.
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MANGALORE, INDIA - Air Crash: 89 cases settled, Rs 66.92 cr disbursed

MANGALORE: Nineteen months after the horrific crash of Air India Boeing IX 812, which resulted in the death of 158 passengers, the legal counsel for Air India - Mulla & Mulla - Mumbai, has settled 89 cases, seven of them partially, as on date.  Kapil Aseri, chief finance officer, Air India, said a total of 82 cases have been settled on full and final basis and seven in part for an overall amount of Rs 66.92 crore, including the survivors. In the last three days, 11 claims were settled.

Advocate and solicitor Hoshang D Nanavati from Mulla & Mulla, told TOI the compensation claim process will commence after the Supreme Court proceedings in the first week of January next year. Abdul Salaam, father Mohammed Rafi (24) who perished in the crash, has approached the Apex court after a division bench of the Kerala High Court in August this year, allowed Air India's appeal and the set aside the order of the single judge holding that a minimum of one lakh Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) would be payable in respect of the death of each passenger.

Regarding the status of victims' families who have engaged the services of Swedish law firm, Nanavati said: ``It is not professional to deal with the cases until and unless they (foreign law firm) cease to act in the matter. It is for the claimant to decide. When we are satisfied (with proof) that they have withdrawn, we will commence claim settlement process. A mere affidavit from claimant will not do.''

Barring the families who have approached the foreign firm, there are about 25 families who are awaiting the Apex Court's verdict on this matter. Salaam's contention is that one lakh SDR (roughly about Rs 75 lakh at present exchange value) is the minimum. Air India Express observer R P Shahi, the former joint director general of Civil Aviation, said that the feedback from the families was they were satisfied with the process.

Compensation of Rs 9.40 Cr Disbursed in Three Days

Mangalore, Dec 15: It is learnt that during the last three days, compensation amounting to Rs 9.40 crore was disbursed to 12 families relating to last year’s crash of Air India Express flight from Dubai at the local airport.  Sources said that solicitor for Air India, Nanavati, continued to hold negotiations with families of the crash victims on Wednesday. But no settlements could be arrived at on Wednesday. As there has been a considerable decline in the number of families approaching him for a negotiated settlement, sources said Nanavati may leave the city on Thursday December 15 itself.

On Monday, the first day of this sitting, a cheque of Rs 12 lac was issued to one of the affected families, while two other families got Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 50 lac respectively. On Tuesday, cheques were issued for Rs 1.5 crore, Rs 80 lac, Rs 40 lac, Rs 1 crore, Rs 90 lac, Rs 50 lac and three cheques for Rs 25 lac each to three children of the same family, sources added. They said that the special leave petition (SLP), which seeks uniform compensation of Rs 75 lac to all the families of crash victims, will be taken up by the Supreme Court on January 3.  Those who have already received compensation in excess of Rs 75 lac will, in all likelihood, not approach the courts again for higher compensation package. The others have decided to wait for the outcome of the SLP before Supreme Court, before staking their claim for compensation.

United Kingdom: Dunsfold Park seeks Olympics flights increase

DUNSFOLD Park wants a temporary increase in the number of flights allowed at the aerodrome near Cranleigh next summer in order to cater for Olympic Games air traffic.  But the bid is already attracting opposition from people who believe it will open the door to permanent unrestricted aviation use, which the site's owners are fighting separately to achieve.  Dunsfold's flight movements are currently capped at 5,000 per year and restrictions are in force limiting those to weekdays with time and aircraft size limits as well.  Earlier this year, Waverley Borough Council rejected Dunsfold Park's bid to obtain a certificate of lawfulness of existing use (CLEUD) to lift all restrictions concerning the number of aircraft movements, flight times and type of aircraft. An appeal has been lodged and an inquiry will be held.

If allowed, then Cranleigh, Godalming, Guildford and Haslemere would all be directly under the flight path.  Now though, and "without prejudice" to its position on the CLEUD, Dunsfold Park is seeking a "modest" increase of an additional 1,560 aircraft movements from July 21 to August 15 and to temporarily remove other restrictions, as well as allowing flights on Saturday afternoons and four Sundays during the period of the Games.

The application follows the inclusion of the Dunsfold aerodrome in a government announcement on additional airports in the south east of England which will be co-ordinated to assist with the expected period of peak demand for air services for the London 2012 Olympics.  With one of the best runways in the region outside of the main commercial airports, Dunsfold can accommodate both private and business jet aviation.  The airfield's owners said it was ideally suited for many of the pre-Games training facilities which Surrey is providing, as well as offering easy access to London and the main Olympic venues.

A Dunsfold Park spokesman said: “LOCOG has acknowledged the importance of local businesses in the delivery of a successful Olympic Games and we are delighted that Dunsfold aerodrome has been identified to support this major event.  "We are now looking for the support of Waverley Borough Council and the local community in helping us provide a full aviation service for the Olympic Games.  "We hope our involvement will also provide other opportunities for businesses in the area to take part in this global sporting event.”  Dunsfold Park hoped to obtain permission for the flights increase without the need for a formal planning application, which will involve substantial delay, but Waverley's planners insisted it was necessary.

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Etihad Airways signs codeshare with Hainan Airlines

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has signed a codeshare agreement with Hainan Airlines of China. It is the Abu Dhabi-based airline's first codeshare with a Chinese carrier and its 35th with world airlines.

Subject to regulatory approvals, from 10 January 2012, Hainan Airline's will place its 'HU' code on Etihad Airways flights between Abu Dhabi and the airline's three gateway cities in China: Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai. The arrangement will extend to Etihad Airways flights beyond Abu Dhabi to Khartoum International Airport in Sudan.

The Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways James Hogan said the codeshare with Hainan Airlines would help strengthen Etihad's position in the competitive Chinese market.

"Working with a major player like Hainan Airlines will increase Chinese passenger numbers on our China-Abu Dhabi services and beyond to popular destinations in Africa, Middle East and Europe.

"We look forward to expanding the relationship to include more destinations over time."

The President of Hainan Airlines Mr Tie Li said: "The codeshare cooperation with Etihad Airways will reinforce Hainan Airlines' development in the Middle East and Africa region. We have great expectations of the partnership, and believe that through mutual creativity, we will be able to bring synergy and hopefully value to our customers."

The reciprocal agreement will integrate the Etihad Guest and Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club loyalty programs, enabling travelers to earn miles on each other's flights.

The new codeshare services will go on sale from 10 January 2012, for travel from that date for Beijing and Chengdu flights, and from 1 March 2012 for Shanghai.

About Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, began operations in 2003, and in 2010 carried more than seven million passengers. From its hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Etihad Airways serves 86 cargo and passenger destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.

About Hainan Airlines
Hainan Airlines began operations on May 2, 1993 in Hainan Province, the largest special economy zone in China. It is the leading business enterprise in the air transportation division of the HNA Group. It has a fleet mainly comprised of Boeing 737, 767 and Airbus A330 and 340 for passenger and cargo transportation. In addition to its main hub in Haikou, Hainan Airlines has established eight bases in Beijing, Xi'an, Taiyuan, Urumqi, Guangzhou, Lanzhou, Dalian and Shenzhen, as well as an extensive network across China connecting Asia, Europe, America, Oceania and Africa. Skytrax named Hainan Airlines the Best Airline in China in 2008 and 2010 and granted it coveted 5-star airline status in 2011.

Etihad Airways commences historic flights to Chengdu

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, today commenced scheduled services between its hub in Abu Dhabi and Chengdu in southwest China.

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, will be served by four non-stop, return services per week.

The Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways James Hogan said the new route had special significance as the first and only direct flight link between Sichuan province and the United Arab Emirates.

"This is a day of celebration for the airline and the communities at both ends of the route.

"The new services will open convenient new gateways for travel to and from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and stimulate growth of trade between the UAE and China, already the Emirates' third largest trading partner."

Mr Hogan said forecast demand from the passenger and cargo sectors was strong and the airline expected to go daily when commercially viable.

"The Chengdu Municipal Government and airport authorities have been great supporters and we look forward to working together to make the route a commercial success."

The Mayor of Chengdu Mr Honglin Ge said: "The Chengdu Municipal Government and airport authorities have been great supporters from the very beginning and we look forward to working together to make the route a success."

"The commencement of Etihad Airways services to Chengdu is an exciting event for the people of Chengdu and we are delighted to welcome them joining us to promote the development of an air transport hub in Chengdu."

Etihad Airways will operate a two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft on the sector with 22 Pearl Business class and 240 Coral Economy class seats.

In other major developments this week, Etihad Airways signed a codeshare agreement with Hainan Airlines applicable to flights from Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu to Abu Dhabi and Khartoum, and exchanged a Letter of Intent with Sichuan Airlines Co Ltd covering broad areas of commercial cooperation.

About Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, began operations in 2003, and in 2010 carried more than seven million passengers. From its hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Etihad serves 86 cargo and passenger destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.

Malaysia Airlines drops eight routes

Rome, Johannesburg and Dubai are among destinations to be culled

 Grounded for now, Malaysia Airlines puts a stop to eight routes.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is putting a stop to eight routes starting January 6, 2012.

The exercise is a move by the airline to rationalize unprofitable routes while re-focusing on other destinations in the ASEAN region and China.

The eight routes include those from Kuala Lumpur to Surabaya, Johannesburg and Rome, and the Langkawi-Penang-Singapore route.

All passengers already booked on the soon-to-be cancelled flights will be switched to alternate carriers at MAS cost.

“The withdrawal of these flights was based on our own independent internal profitability and yield analysis," said group CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya. “This accounts for almost 12 percent of our passenger capacity."

The roll-out of the affected routes will staggered across January and February 2012.

• Effective January 6: Daily flights Kuala Lumpur – Surabaya
• Effective January 10: Thrice-weekly Kuala Lumpur – Dubai
• Effective January 12: Twice-weekly Kuala Lumpur – Karachi – Dubai
• Effective January 13: Twice-weekly Kuala Lumpur – Dubai – Damman
• Effective January 30: Daily Langkawi – Penang – Singapore
• Effective January 31: Thrice-weekly Kuala Lumpur – Johannesburg
• Effective February 1: Twice-weekly Kuala Lumpur – Cape Town – Buenos Aires
• Effective February 2: Thrice-weekly Kuala Lumpur – Rome

These routes may not be cancelled for infinity, Yahya added that MAS hopes to return when business has stabilized.

Great India packages for Dubai Fest 2012

Priced upwards from Rs 15,500 per person, the package includes three nights’ accommodation in a three-star hotel, meet-and-greet assistance at the Dubai airport, daily breakfast, arrival and departure transfers, UAE tourist visa, a half-day Dubai city tour, Desert Safari with belly dance and barbeque dinner, a dhow cruise with international buffet dinner and a one-way transfer to the Global Village. 

Tourists can also choose from hotels of four-star to five-star categories, a spokesperson for the company said. The company will offer the most competitive airfares for those obtaining the DSF packages. 

The Dubai Shopping Festival captures the hearts of millions of visitors and shoppers. The theme, ‘One Family, One World, One Festival’ is unique in its content for the month-long event, which brings the world together. 

An estimated four million visitors are eagerly biding their time to experience the retail-shopping gala during the DSF 2012. Another main attraction for visitors to Dubai is its tax-free shopping. 

More information on the packages and booking can be had from the offices of Air Travel Enterprises or The Great India Tour Company in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode in Kerala and other branches across India. The contact numbers are 9995801041 or 0471-3011515. 
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Ethiopian Airlines To Buy 5 More Dreamliner Airplanes from Boeing

December 15, 2011 - CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebre-Mariam, disclosed that in line with the airlines major expansion activities it is talking with Boeing management to purchase 5 787-8 Dreamliners, according to the Reporter.

Ethiopian Airlines ordered 10 Dreamliners in 2005 making it the first amongst African airlines to purchase the latest of Boeing airplanes

On Sunday, December 11, Capitan Desta Zeru took the Dreamliner on an inaugural flight around the city of Addis Ababa twice and landed in Bole international airport in view of a large crowd including representatives of media, Ethiopian Airlines staff and government officials. The celebratory event hosted by Ethiopian Airlines gathered guests together for a press release which was held in the expansive quarters of the Dream Liner where there was a surprise visit by the country's First lady Azeb Mesfin.

All Nippon Airways Says Boeing Delays Delivery of Third 787 Plane

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- All Nippon Airways Co., the only operator of Boeing Co.’s 787 plane, said its third Dreamliner will enter service late because of production delays.

The aircraft will be handed over this month rather than in November, Megumi Tezuka, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo-based carrier, said by phone today. Rob Henderson, a Boeing spokesman, declined to comment on the delivery date.

The holdup has caused ANA to postpone the start of 787 services to Beijing by a month and disrupted the introduction of the aircraft on flights to Frankfurt, Tezuka said. ANA received its first 787 in September, more than three years late because of delays caused by Boeing’s use of new technologies and production techniques.

The carrier fell 0.9 percent to 225 yen as of 1:43 p.m. in Tokyo trading. It has declined 25 percent this year, compared with an 18 percent drop in the Nikkei 225 Stock Average.

Boeing is working to boost production of the 787 following the plane’s entrance into commercial service. Workers at its widebody-plane plant north of Seattle were on course to raise their 787 production rate to 3.5 a month by early spring at the latest, Jim Albaugh, Boeing’s commercial aircraft head, said in an interview last month. The tally will reach five a month next fall as the Chicago-based company works toward a target of 10 a month by the end of 2013.

ANA, which placed orders for 55 Dreamliners, is expanding its overseas network following the opening of a new terminal at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. The carrier expects to boost international flights 16 percent in the year ending March 31.

Air India flight always has a reason to cancel

LUDHIANA: Nothing seems to be working in favour of the sole Air India flight between Ludhiana and Delhi. In the absence of Doppler Very-High-Frequency (DVOR), visibility remains poor most of the times during winters and when visibility gives a pass, the flight remains grounded due to operational reasons.

On Wednesday AI cancelled flight 9803 due to operational reasons. Though visibility was good enough for take off at around 12pm passengers could not board the flight as the authorities had cancelled the flight in the morning itself.

Amrik Singh, an AI manager, said, "It was due to operational reasons that we cancelled the flight on Wednesday. The visibility was low in the morning and the flight was supposed to get delayed."

Ireland: Radical revamp could save Shannon Airport

Shannon and Cork airports should not be sold by the Government, but radical new operational structures could ensure their futures, according to a major new report.

The Government had been considering the sale of the airports as part of a wider proposal to offload state assets.

The report, undertaken for the Department of Transport by global consultancy group Booz & Co, also insists that Shannon Airport has a viable future but needs to be removed from the Dublin Airport Authority's remit so it can achieve its growth potential.

The report has also concluded that because Cork Airport has substantial debts linked to the construction of a €100m-plus terminal there in 2006, it should remain linked to the DAA, the Irish Independent understands. But Cork should also be given greater autonomy, Booz says.

Sources added that the report suggests that selling Cork Airport and transferring its debt to Dublin Airport, or selling the Cork operation with its debt attached, are not viable options.

"It should be noted that both Shannon and Cork airports are incurring significant losses and profits from Dublin Airports are no longer sufficient to cover those losses," Transport Minister Leo Varadkar told the Dail in October.

Cork Airport lost over €10m last year, while Shannon Airport made about a €5m loss. However, much of Cork Airport's problem is its debt costs rather than operational losses.

The report has also indicated that Cork Airport could be sold at some stage in the future when it's on a sounder financial footing.

The report by Booz has also warned that although Shannon has a future, its cost base is currently too high.


Booz recommends that Shannon be removed from the DAA's control and be allowed to develop growth opportunities to boost passenger numbers, routes and niche activities. But the airport shouldn't be sold, the report adds.

Instead, it proposes that the ownership structure be changed. If adopted by the Government, that would possibly see local agencies such as Clare County Council, possibly Limerick County Council and groups such as Shannon Development becoming the new controllers of the facility. The report suggests that Shannon could then be operated on a concession basis, with a contract to run it awarded to a third-party specialist.

"That would balance local objectives with the need to create a long-term viable operation," the report concludes.

It's understood that the Mr Varadkar is still reviewing the report.

Foreign Carriers Airlift 12,000 Nigerian Passengers Daily

Foreign airlines that operate in country airlift about 12, 000 Nigerians passengers every day from the nation’s four major airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.

Besides its dominance in the West African sub region, it is only Arik Air that is an indigenous carrier that operates international routes, which include London, New York and Johannesburg and the airline has less than one per cent chunk of the market.

Many industry experts had posited that the only way to protect indigenous carriers was for the Federal Government to introduce Fly Nigeria Act, which would make it compulsory for government officials and others travelling on government expenses to fly Nigerian airlines.

Travel expert and the organiser of Akwaba Travel Market, Ikechi Ukoh, shared the same view when he spoke with THISDAY in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Wednesday.

Ukoh said that while foreign airlines should be allowed to operate into the country, government should introduce Fly Nigeria Act, which would make it criminal for government officials to travel with foreign airlines, unless no Nigerian carrier flies to that destination.

Ukoh explained that without such legislation, it would be difficult for Nigerian airlines to really compete in the market, which is shrinking every day.

“Nigerian carriers can only provide point to point flights. They cannot now effectively compete with these global carriers who are giving you global destinations at the click of a button. The market might keep shrinking for Nigerian airlines as foreign airlines expand, consolidate and integrate. We can only do the West Coast very well, some part of Africa and point to point.”

He observed that now that three African carriers, Egypt Air, South Africa Airways and Ethiopian Airlines had become members of the Star Alliance, which had given them global reach, African destinations might soon become out of reach from Nigerian carriers, “because they can collaborate within themselves, code share on some particular routes, which effectively covers the whole of Africa.”

“We are at that situation where we need to do something and something very quick because if all the premium passengers fly on foreign carriers, you will have a situation where only the poor and the needy will fly Nigerian airlines and these ones are price sensitive and foreign carriers can also do some promotions and wipe out that base from the Nigerian carriers.

Ukoh fingered as one of the reasons why Nigerian airlines did not survive as the attitude of most Nigerians not to believe in what they have.

He added that the unconscious feeling that foreigners could provide better service, even when they are being exploited as well as Nigerians’ lack of faith in the ability of other Nigerians to do well.

“Even when that assumption is wrong, the Nigerian believes that the grass is greener on the other side; he believes that anything foreign is better than anything Nigerian. So that belief of the Nigerian creates the first huddle for any Nigerian product to thrive.

“So you have a situation where, for example, a Nigerian carrier like Arik Air has the best aircraft flying out of Lagos; yet most Nigerians do not patronise them the way they ought to be patronised, despite having the best equipment, Airbus A340:500.”

The travel experts also said that while Nigeria should introduce the Fly Nigeria Act, it should not hamper the business of foreign airlines because their operations into the country establish Nigeria as a global power, not only in aviation but in the world politics and business.

“Those airlines are not carrying air; they are carrying people and these people are going somewhere to do business and not only that, they are getting exposure, this adds to the training, enlightenment and enlargement of the Nigerian economic space.”