Indigo Appeals to Others to Assist its Passengers

A situation had come when the country’s best airline, IndiGo, had to appeal to other agencies to assist its passengers with their luggage. Reason: there were no loaders. They had called a strike. 
Nov 30, 2015.
The aggrieved loaders went on a flash strike. The officials had torn a letter from them requesting that their monthly salaries be hiked to 13,000. Several of them were observed sitting outside the old terminal building during the night .
With no positive sign forthcoming from the contractor even after 24 hours of the strike, the loaders approached power minister and local MLA Milind Naik for help.

Power Minister Milind Naik re-opens the road 

The Mormugao MLA subsequently held a joint meeting with the loaders, IndiGo officials and representatives of J P Aviation Services Limited to iron out the differences. After due deliberations, the contractor agreed to pay each loader a monthly salary of 11,000. Naik then convinced the aggrieved loaders to accept the offer and resume work. He also advised the contractor to provide an annual increment in salaries to avoid recurrence of such an incident.
Dec 1, 2015.
The 107-odd loaders of IndiGo Airlines called off their strike. They resumed duty.
Indigo is accepted as the best performing Airline in the country. The Goa incident has shown that all is not well with Indigo workforce. Despite showing handsome profits in its books, Indigo is not able to give regular employment to its loaders. It is forced to look for other options during strikes. Its customers are inconvenienced, and its brand value is affected due to such an unimpressive show. At the end of the day, it loses much more than what it has been presuming. 
The loading job is outsourced. It is quite apparent that Indigo does not want to assume the welfare responsibility of its loaders. It will then have to bear additional costs under the heading ‘labor welfare’ as-
  1. Min salary will have be fixed as per min wages Act. Time bound increment as per labor laws
  2. Medical benefits, other facilities like rest room, wash room, first aid, etc., as per Factories Act & Rules 
  3. PF, gratuity
  4. Perks: Flight passage on its network (domestic+International) as applicable to other staff
  5. Incentives, bonus
  6. Workman compensation: In the event of a mishap resulting in death or injury

Only Capitalism, no Socialism. This appears to be the vision of the company. Even after cutting down such costs on labor, the Rs 13000/- a month salary to a loader appears too much for the country’s most profit making airline. By outsourcing the job, Indigo clearly sends a message that it does not want to assume a liability like this. By cutting down its labor costs in this way, Indigo shows the world its profits. 

The Goa incident should not be seen as a one-off case. There are 100s of other loader-like workers in its network. Simmering discontent in its workforce can not be ruled out. There must be another Goa like incident waiting to happen elsewhere in its network. This obviously does not augur well for the growth of the company in the long run. Its management, especially its HR,  will be aware of this.

Goa Emerges as a Favourite Among Indian and International Travellers

Negating recent media reports, honorary consul of the Russian Federation in Goa, Victor Albuquerque, said the consulate does not subscribe to the items circulated by the Russian information centre (RIC), a private travel agency operating in Goa, that has sourced its information from Interfax which is, again, a private news agency.

Albuquerque, along with travel and tourism association of Goa (TTAG) president Francisco de Braganca on Tuesday told media persons that the consulate confirmed there has been no advisory. He also clarified that any advisory to Russian citizens will only be issued by the Russian government and will be made available through its consulate.

As the year draws to an end, Goa emerges as a favorite among Indian and International travelers to welcome the New Year. 

Ravish Doctor, marketing ‎manager for India, Skyscanner, a travel search engine, disclosed that Skyscanner witnessed a 91 per cent increase in domestic searches to Goa, and a 63 per cent increase in international searches during the same travel period (December 26, 2015 to January 3, 2016), when compared to the week before. Countries that recorded highest searches to Goa in the last week of 2015 include the United Kingdom and Russia – contributing to 41 per cent and 38 per cent of searches performed respectively.

A slew of big international music festivals, like Sunburn Goa 2015, is lined up during the same time period. 

Event – Sunburn Goa 2015, 9th Edition
Venue – Northern shores of Vagator, Goa
From – December 27 
To – December 30, 2015.
Official travel partner – Skyscanner

A surge in travel searches to Goa during that period of December indicates a trend. Experimental travelling is becoming a common phenomenon among Indian and foreign tourists. Travelers want to combine their itineraries with such events as the arts, music, food, sports and entertainment. 

Skyscanner eagerly looks forward to the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) scene event and wants to involve music lovers from across the world. It wants to equip travelers with smart tools that will assist them in searching for the best flight options, saving them both time and money. It has launched a series of activities for its users offering them an opportunity to be part of the festival this year which will witness some of the biggest names in EDM, including Martin Garrix and David Guetta.

Business Jets Losing Their Charm

India’s fleet of Business jet aircraft reduce by2% in 2015 — the first decrease in 25 years. 
The market is set to shrink further .

According to operators and industry experts – 
  • Business jets are losing shine as corporate trophies because of high taxes and poor infrastructure
  • As much as 40%. of the planes are up for sale,
  • The Tata Group, GMR, GVK and Jindal Steel & Power are among those that have dropped plans of adding more business jets or deferred orders,
  • Others have resold planes in the secondary market immediately after taking delivery. 

Charter business and services have also been hit. Tata Sons-owned Business Jets India returned all four planes — three Hawker Beechcraft and one Cessna Citation — to lease companies earlier this year. The company is in the process of closing its operations in India, they added.

Club One Air, one of the country’s biggest charter operators, has a negative net worth, according to its documents filed with the Registrar of Companies. “It’s a gloomy story, high cost structure and not enough government incentives for business jet operators, said Bhupesh Joshi, its CEO.

“For instance, a business jet can only park for 48 hours at the crowded Mumbai airport, after which there is a penalty,” said Atiesh Mishra, director of operations Taj Air, controlled by Tata Sons. “So, an operator has to park in some other neighboring airport like Ahmedabad. This makes the whole business nonviable.” 

India’s private jet fleet grew at double-digit rates until 2008, when it surged 26%, according to industry figures. After that, there was a sharp slowdown due to the global financial crisis and high taxes. Since 2007, the government has been levying an import duty of 21% on private jets. That compares to a tax of just 2% if the plane is imported for charter operations under a non-scheduled operators (NSOP) licence. 

“Enforcement of the rules means that business models such as fractional ownership cannot be used in India unlike in other countries,” said Jayant Nadkarni, president of the Business Aircraft Operators Association lobby group. 

Nadkarni, and Jonathan McDonald, senior analyst at International Bureau of Aviation, a UK based consultant view the whole situation as –
  • Business jet market in India is sporadic in terms of demand
  • Few are actually owned by ultra high net worth individuals, more by corporations
  • Airport infrastructure is a big constraint
  • The result is a high operating cost structure
  • Small operators may not sustain
  • Though India builds airports to support Boeing 737s and  Airbus A320s operated by scheduled Indian carriers for the passenger sector – to meet the growing middle class demand – but India does not build business jet facilities to the same degree.

To an extent, India thus contributes towards a global downturn in the private jet industry. 

Honeywell has predicted a global demand outlook of 9,200 jets worth $270 billion for the next decade, down from 9,450 jets worth $280 billion predicted last year. 

However, there is still hope left in business jets in India. ‘Bombardier has seen interest and discussions surrounding private aviation increase in the past 12 months”, said its spokesperson Anna Cristofaro. She also said that operators are discussing with the DGCA to resolve issues that are stifling growth. “Business aircraft are extremely important tools for the inclusive and regionally diverse growth we are looking for in India,” she said. “This connectivity brings about investment to the region – everywhere a business jet is parked, business is being conducted and jobs are being created.” 

If this argument stirs a change, business jets could well stage a recovery. But until then, more of them are going to be grounded. 

Full service carrier Vistara Adds 9th Airbus A320 in its Fleet

NEW DELHI, 30 Nov 2015.
India’s new domestic carrier, Full Service Vistara, adds 9th Airbus A320 in its Fleet, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines,  announced that it has added a ninth aircraft to its fleet of Airbus A-320s. The airline had commenced commercial operations this year on Jan. 9. Vistara became India’s third full service airline after national carrier Air India and private airline Jet Airways. 
vistara airbus 320
Full Service Vistara
The latest aircraft “will allow us to further enhance our capacity on our key routes and allow many more customers to fly a new feeling with Vistara,” said Phee Teik Yeoh, Vistara’s chief executive, in a statement. “With this addition, our fleet induction for the year is complete.”
Like all its previous aircraft, Vistara’s latest plane has 148 seats — 16 business, 36 premium economy and 96 economy. Though its economy class is doing well, industry analysts say Vistara has struggled to fill business seats, the passenger load factor was around 60% compared to the industry average of over 80%.
Vistara, in which Tata Sons holds a 51% stake and SIA the rest. 
It operates nearly 300 flights a week across 12 destinations in India. It has serviced over 100 thousand passengers already. It offers passengers facilities such as in-flight entertainment, checked baggage, meals and beverages in the ticket price. Their seats generally have more leg room than those of the low-cost budget airlines.

To Stop Poaching, Air India to Raise Bond Amount to 1 Cr

Air India proposes to increase the bond amount with a 5-8 years time-frame for the new pilots joining the airline. Earlier the airline had made new pilots sign a bond of Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 14 lakh. It is now being revised upwardly. This is in a bid to stop their migration to the competitors. This proposal could lead to a hike the bond amount as high as Rs 100 lacs. AI’s new chief Ashwani Lohani is simultaneously working on a twin-pronged strategy -address the root cause of the exodus by promising pay parity between pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines and AI by mid-December. This has been a long-pending demand and a bone of contention among AI pilots. Lohani says the airline’s interests will be protected by introducing the bond of up to Rs 1 crore for new pilots. 

Air India currently spends a Rs 25-60 lakh on training of a new entrant to fly a particular type of aircraft after his or her induction, which needs to be recovered if the pilot leaves airline before the mutually agreed time.

“We spend huge sums on type-rating these pilots. These well-trained pilots then leave us and join our rival carriers, who put them direct into flying without any additional training or incurring an extra cost; this is not fair.” Air India sources said. As many as 98 trained pilots quit Air India between April 1, 2014 and October 30 this year to and joined other airlines. (See : Don’t Go)

Type rating is a regulating agency’s certification of a pilot to fly a certain aircraft type that requires additional training beyond the scope of the initial license and aircraft class training.

Significantly, several domestic airlines in the past have voiced their concern on the so-called poaching of skilled workforce, especially of pilots, engineers and cabin crew by the competitors.

AI had recently started making its new entrants sign a bond of Rs 10 lakh.”In the past year, 78 pilots completed their training and joined us after signing the Rs 10 lakh bond. AI’s LCC rivals are trying to poach them by offering to pay this bond amount apart from a hike of Rs 1 lakh per month in salary. As a result, as many as 48 of our pilots left us to join them in a one year. 

“Instead of hiring unemployed pilots and training them, they use this route to get highly-trained pi lots,” said a senior AI official. 

After training Pilots become indispensable.

Lohani told media persons, “It is best that such unethical poaching is avoided. This dirty game can be played with them too by even bigger players. (All Indian carriers are facing poaching by Gulf carriers which offer fancy tax-free salaries). We are contemplating very strict action .” 

ALSO READ: Air India plans direct flight between Delhi-Washington

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma acknowledges this situation. He has indicated putting in place some mechanism to check it. “We can ask the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) to frame guidelines to address this matter,” Sharma had said.