Can’t approve FY19 results, says Jet Airways

Mumbai: Jet Airways (India) Ltd., on Thursday, said that the airline is not in position to consider and approve the audited financial result for the financial year that ended on 31 March, the company said in a stock exchange notification.

“This is to inform that, in view of the ongoing bidding process undertaken by the domestic lenders for change in management of the company, coupled with resignation by members of the board of directors, its key managerial personnel and other employees across functions, the company is not in position to consider and approve the audited financial result for the year ended 31 March 2019,” the airline said.

Jet Airways, which has not flown since 18 April due to funding woes, has seen the exit of its top executives from its management and board of directors, in the past few months, following the exit of founder Naresh Goyal from the chairman’s position in the company in March.

During May the airline saw high profile exits that include Robin Kamark, Etihad Airways PJSC’s nominee director to the board of Jet Airways, chief executive officer Vinay Dube, chief financial officer Amit Agarwal and whole-time director Gaurang Shetty.

Lenders to Jet Airways, led by the State Bank of India (SBI), are seeking investors to recover their dues. The airline’s total liability, including unpaid salaries and vendor dues, is nearly 15,000 crore. If all else fails, Jet may be referred to the National Company Law Tribunal. However, under bankruptcy resolution, lenders may recover only a fraction of the 8,400 crore the airline owes them.

Jet asks staff to extract key data before system blackout on June 1

New Delhi: In deepening uncertainty about its revival, grounded Jet Airways has asked its engineering staff to extract all aircraft maintenance data from systems as IBM-supported servers would not be available from June 1.

The airline has written to its engineering staff that effective June 1, 2019 both Jet Airways and JetLite AMOS Production Environment (a software package provided by a Swiss company for managing aircraft data) will not be available for use.

“This is due to non-availability of servers and vendor IBM’s support only until May 31, 2019,” a company mail to staffers said. The main has been seen by IANS.

It further advised them to extract all the required reports and information out of Jet Airways and JetLite AMOS production Environment “as necessary at the earliest.”

According to Swiss Aviation Software Ltd, AMOS is a comprehensive, fully-integrated software package that successfully manages the maintenance, engineering and logistics requirements of modern airlines and MRO providers by fulfilling demanding airworthiness standards.

Aviation industry sources said that after Jet Airways grounded its operations last month, aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has de-registered nearly 80 of its aircraft that include 67 aircraft of B737s, eight ATRs and two B777s.

During its peak-time operations a few months back, Jet Airways had a total fleet size of 119 planes.

Nearly 600 passengers stranded at Heathrow after two Air India flights to Mumbai fail to take off

LONDON: The Metropolitan Police had to be called to Heathrow Airport late Wednesday after nearly 300 furious passengers were left stranded airside after their Air India flight which was already 32 hours delayed failed to take off.

One of the passengers, British group HR director Heather Gupta, told TOI there was “utter chaos” when passengers cleared customs and security only to be given no gate and no details of any airplane to board. Small children and the elderly, some in wheelchairs, were among them, with passengers left furious as some had already missed weddings, cremations and important business meetings back in India.

Gupta, 49, who was travelling with her two sons, Jake, 8 and Noah, 6, told TOI at 23.30 local time Wednesday: “There was one Air India rep and she has disappeared now. Passengers are going crazy. This flight was supposed to go yesterday [Tuesday] and so there is a bunch of really irate people and just one Air India lady who is absolutely clueless. It is mental and no one has any idea what is going on.”

A video shared with TOI shows passengers shouting at a lone member of staff from Heathrow and a group of firearms officers then arriving.

A Met Police spokeswoman told TOI at midnight local time Wednesday: “Officers are on scene as a precautionary measure and to prevent any breach of the peace. There has been no disorder and no arrests.”

Around midnight the passengers were ushered back through immigration and taken to another hotel with no information as to when they could fly.

Nearly 600 passengers travelling between London and Mumbai had been stranded in an airport hotel all day on Wednesday, leaving them exhausted and angry.

A total of 293 passengers from the 13.15 Air India Flight on Tuesday, 28 May had been forced to spend the night at the hotel after their flight was grounded because of a fuel leak. They had spent all day Wednesday in the room at the hotel, provided by Air India, but said they were given no information from Air India as to when they could fly and no refund.

Then the 13.15 Air India flight on Wednesday also did not take off and those passengers were sent to the same hotel room. One Air India woman spoke at them through a megaphone on Wednesday and said: “The engineers are working on the aircraft. I will update you whatever update they give me.”

The passengers were later told that a team of aircraft engineers were due in London on a flight from Mumbai on Wednesday – itself delayed – due to land at 19.00. This team was bringing parts to repair the 28 May aircraft so those passengers could depart at 22.00. But that never happened.

The delayed 29 May flight however eventually departed at 21.30 Wednesday eight hours late.

Passengers complained to TOI there was no information from Air India staff throughout the ordeal.

Albashi Baig, 24, a student in London, was flying home to be in a hospital in Thane for his 60-year-old father’s cardio-surgery, taking place Wednesday night.

But he was on the Tuesday flight which was grounded.

Almost in tears he told TOI how had begged Air India to get him on another flight but they did not. “Noone in Air India was picking up the phone and we went to the airport and they told me to buy a new ticket costing up to £1,800 (Rs 1.5 lakh) one way. I am so upset as I wanted to be with my father to give support.”

Baig said another passenger was desperate to get to his sister on a ventilator, one’s father had died and he could not get to the cremation and one had missed a connecting flight to Australia where his wife had had an accident.

Passengers were informed at 12.30 pm on Tuesday that the 13.14 AI130 flight was just delayed, but then at 18.30 were told to collect their luggage. Indian passengers were then caught in a long queue at UK arrivals immigration despite having not flown anywhere. “It was chaos trying to get luggage on to the hotel bus”, said Gupta, who lives in Mumbai and missed an important work meeting. “One family had 10 suitcases and one elderly woman in a wheelchair could not get on it.”

Gupta had flown to London last Friday to collect her children who had spent two weeks with her UK relatives. She had spent Rs 6 lakh in total on tickets for the trip since Rs 2.5 lakh had gone on Jet Airways tickets which were cancelled. “Passengers are really angry. I met one Indian whose father is in a coma in India and another who has missed a wedding,” she said. “Another who is on a two-day business trip. Some passengers flying from US and Canada are worried as their 24-hour transit visas have expired.”

Speaking to TOI earlier in the day, Debashis Golder, regional Manager UK & Europe, Air India said: ”AI130 of 28th May is declared AOG (grounded) due to a fuel leak and expected to go today [Wednesday] by 2200 hours. ”

But by midnight the flight had not departed.

“AI130 of 29th is delayed and will go at 2000 hours,” Golder had said. That flight left at 21.30. “If not atravelling and seeking refunds they will get a full refund. Our team is with passengers in the hotel and updating them regularly,” he added.

Renewable Energy in Cádiz and Barcelona, Spain

The nation’s two biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, along with Cádiz, Zaragoza and some 700 smaller municipalities are all now using 100 per cent certified renewable energy for street lighting and public buildings.

Renewable Energy in Cádiz and Barcelona, Spain

Stephen Burgen

Spain’s radical left-wing mayors are leading the fight against global warming by ensuring that all municipal buildings and services run on renewable energy.

The nation’s two biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, along with Cádiz, Zaragoza and some 700 smaller municipalities are all now using 100 per cent certified renewable energy for street lighting and public buildings.

Cádiz and Barcelona have set themselves up as distributors, cutting out the middle man, and have begun installing solar panels on public buildings with the aim of becoming self-sufficient   

José María González, the left-wing mayor of Cádiz, swept to power in 2015 on the same tide that brought Manuela Carmena and Ada Colau to power in Madrid and Barcelona, with energy as a central issue in his campaign.

José María González, mayor of Cádiz, at the inauguration of the solar array on the roof of the Eléctrica de Cádiz building in June, 2018

“Energy policy should be in the hands of the people,” González said. “In Cádiz we set up two permanent citizens energy forums and the people have been the driving force behind the improvements we have carried out. The people of Cádiz are the motor of energy transition.”

The city is an anomaly in that it has its own power company, Eléctrica de Cádiz, founded in 1929, in which the council holds a 55 per cent stake. Since 2017 it has supplied all the municipal needs and around 80 per cent of households with energy from renewable sources.

“Spain has a certification system that guarantees the origin of electricity,” González explains. “We buy around 45 per cent directly from local wind farms and the rest from the pool.”

 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz

Around 40 per cent of Andalucía’s power is produced by renewables, from wind farms and vast solar arrays such as those at San Roque, whose 67,000 panels rotate to follow the sun, and the innovative PS10 plant near Seville. Around a quarter of the region’s installed renewable energy is in the province of Cádiz.   

Solar panels on roofs of private houses are in Puerto Real, Cádiz

Cádiz is an ancient city but its elegant squares obscure the fact that it is the poorest province in Andalucía, already Spain’s poorest region, and one of the most impoverished in the European Union. Some 27 per cent of the city’s population are unemployed.

Under González some €500,000 of the profits generated by Eléctrica de Cádiz is used to prevent “energy poverty” among the city’s most disadvantaged, whereas other companies simply cut off the supply to those who can’t afford to pay.

“The profits are invested in Cádiz, they don’t go to Qatar or a tax haven,” he says.

González believes that the city’s sustainable policies were a factor in attracting the electric vehicle producer Torrot to establish its factory in Cádiz with the creation of 200 jobs. In a city where shipbuilding dates back to Phoenician times, the shipyards have also diversified into building offshore wind platforms.

As well as installing solar panels on municipal buildings. Cádiz embarked on an energy education program to make people “energy literate”, to understand how energy is produced, to be responsible consumers and avoid being tricked into signing abusive contracts. More than 90 per cent of citizens surveyed backed the move to renewables.

On the opposite side of the country, in wealthy Catalonia, Barcelona has also taken energy matters into its hands. When the power company that supplied the city failed to bid to renew its €33-million contract last year, the council decided to set up Barcelona Energia (BE), to buy certified renewable energy direct from source.

“Our aims as a public company are to promote renewables and an ecological transition,” says Eloi Badia, responsible for the city’s energy policy. “We’re not looking to make a profit and as a public service we can’t subsidise electricity because that would be unfair competition, but we can offer people a range of tariffs and, in the case of the most vulnerable, we can help directly and bypass welfare benefits and the like.”

“We are disconnecting the oligopolies and connecting to renewables, to self-sufficiency and energy control,” Ada Colau, the city’s mayor, said when BE was launched.

“We don’t aim to be a producer but to represent all the small producers, to help with individual consumption,” Badia says. “We subsidise installation by up to 50 per cent and offer discounts on VAT so that people can recoup the cost within three or four years. Since the law changed there’s been a ten-fold increase in the number of projects. We don’t see other suppliers of renewable energy as competitors. On the contrary, we welcome them.”

However, as most people in the city live in apartment blocks, the issue is more complicated than installing solar panels on the roof of a house. Most blocks house a mix of owner-occupiers and tenants and Badia says there is as yet no legal framework for people living in apartments to share energy generated from communal solar panels.  

However, as of January of this year, BE has started supplying electricity to private homes. Competition laws mean it can only supply 20 per cent of the private market (20,000 households) but Badia says that as demand increases they can create subsidiary companies to meet it.

“We’re doing it in phases, learning as we go along,” he says. “We’re not in a hurry, we’ve only been going since last July and only supplying homes since January.”  

Spain was on the way to becoming a world leader in renewables until the big power companies, alarmed that self-generation would cost them clients, persuaded the conservative government to introduce the so-called “sunshine tax” in 2013. Homeowners, far from being encouraged to install solar panels through the possibility of selling surplus energy to the grid, were instead treated as suppliers and taxed accordingly. As a result, Spain’s solar business went into a steep decline.

In contrast, Germany offers financial incentives to install solar panels, with the result that – with around half the sunshine hours – it generates 10 times more solar energy than Spain. The sunshine tax was scrapped after the socialists came to power last June.

If Spanish cities are making up for lost time, others are not doing so well, as many EU member states struggle to meet the 2020 renewable targets. A 2017 report commissioned by Friends of the Earth reveals that, while Reykjavik in Iceland and Fafe in Portugal use 100 per cent renewables, major cities such as Amsterdam, Warsaw, Athens, London and Zurich are almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels. Wroclaw in Poland and Gibraltar are the dirtiest in this respect, while three-quarters of the Paris power supply is nuclear.

The mayors of Madrid and Barcelona were both defeated in elections at the end of May but with a new socialist government in power and González voted in for another four years in Cádiz, the prospects of a this enlightened approach to renewables looks set to continue.

Looking to Prepare Your Next Vacation? 10 Incredible Reasons to Visit Guatemala

It doesn’t get as much hype as its neighbors, but Guatemala is a star on its own. From the pristine beaches to lush jungles, there’s endless beauty to see here.

It’s no surprise that nearly 2 million tourists visit each year.

Besides the spectacular scenery, there’s a fascinating culture and history. Whether you volunteer or attend a festival, Guatemala has a way of enriching lives. The food isn’t bad, either.

Are you planning a Central American getaway? Make sure that Guatemala is on your list. Here are eight amazing things to do in Guatemala.

1. Infamous Coffee Beans

There’s a reason the biggest coffee chains in the world source beans from Guatemala. The beans grown here are unique and high-quality. One of the hot spots in Guatemala for producing beans is Antigua.

A traditional Antiguan coffee bean is full-bodied and smoky. It has an intensely rich flavor that doesn’t need assistance from cream or sugar.

As a visitor to the country, exploring a coffee plantation will be a highlight of your trip. Explore the fincas and see how their infamous beans get produced. You’ll even get to sample different brews and take some home.

2. Gorgeous Lakes

Guatemala has over 100 lakes dotting the country’s landscape. The most popular and well-known is Lake Atitlán.

Lake Atitlán formed in the basin of a volcano. It erupted 84 000 years ago, leaving behind a massive caldera which filled with river water.

Tourists can hike to Lake Atitlán and explore its surrounding wilderness. You can also take a shuttle or taxi to the lake and then explore on foot.

3. Yummy Traditional Cuisine

You won’t go hungry in Guatemala, nor will you want to. The cuisine is quintessentially Central American, with a Guatemalan flair.

Prepare your palate for corn tamales, chili rellenos, and chicken pepián. Corn, chilis, and beans are the main ingredients in most Guatemalan dishes.

The largest farmers market in Central America is in Guatemala, the Chichicastenango Market. Here you’ll find hundreds of vendors selling food, home goods, textiles, and more. You could spend the day wandering around these lively corridors.

It’s the perfect spot to pick up some souvenirs or sample the traditional Mayan cuisine.

4. The Ancient Mayan Ruins

The majority of Guatemalans originate from the Mayans. It’s one of the few places in the world where indigenous people hold the majority population.

You can see evidence of the ancient Mayans all over Guatemala. One of the most popular places to visit is the Tikal Ruins. After hiking three hours in the jungle, you’ll come upon a spectacular stone pyramid, Tikal.

You may recognize it from one of the original Star Wars movies. George Lucas thought it was so mystical that he used Tikal for the setting of a different planet. You’ll also notice other-worldly creatures like tarantulas and pisotes.

5. Adventure Tourism

Adrenaline junkies, rejoice! Guatemala has some of the best adventure tours in the world. If you want to get your blood racing and heart pumping, pack your outdoor gear.

Amidst the acres of the untouched jungle are over 37 volcanos, some active, some not. Most will require strenuous hiking so wear proper attire.

Speaking of hiking, make sure you check out Semuc Champey. This 300-metre limestone bridge is surrounded by lush jungle and turquoise waters. You can snorkel, swim, scuba dive, and even explore underwater caves.

El Mirador National Park is also worth seeing if you can afford five days of hiking to get there. Or, hop on a helicopter tour to shorten the trek. You’ll get to witness the ancient El Mirador Mayan ruins, a site that few venture to see.

6. Tons of Volunteer Opportunities

Some tourists come to Guatemala with altruistic intent. There are hundreds of charity organizations that operate in Guatemala. Many have awesome volunteer programs.

One of the most compelling organizations is The Turtle Conservation Program. Sea turtles are at drastically endangered due to human interference and pollution.

Volunteers can help in the hatchery with sea turtle eggs. Or, work on the beach protecting the nested eggs from intruders. Volunteers are integral to the work that biologists and conservationists do in Guatemala.

7. Lively Festivals

Guatemala has plenty of celebrations year-round for you to take part in. Besides the Christmas holidays, there’s Independence Day, All Souls Day, and more.

Every year on Dia de la Independencia, Guatemalans spend weeks celebrating. The country gets adorned in blue and white and hosts many fiestas. There are military parades, fireworks, and fairs.

All Souls Day is similar to Day of the Dead in Mexico in which Guatemalans celebrate their ancestors. The Roman Catholic Church builds a float to parade the streets. Families decorate and repair their relative’s tombstones and graves.

8. Bursting with Biodiversity

Guatemala has an abundance of biodiversity in its jungles and lakes. Step off the beaten path and you’re likely to run into a Guatemalan creature.

Expect to see toucans, armadillos, spider monkeys, and vampire bats. As for predators, there are jaguars and panthers in the jungles.

Half of the forests in Guatemala are considered “primary forests”. This means they have one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world.

The Guatemalan people are passionate about protecting their wildlife and biodiversity. The UN Environment Organization works closely with Guatemala to keep these spaces safe.

Interested in Learning More Things to Do in Guatemala?

This gorgeous and welcoming country is a must for any Central American traveler. Looking for affordable accommodation, adventure tourism, and amazing cuisine? Then look no further than Guatemala.

Besides having a riveting history, Guatemala’s people and culture are lively and festive. Enjoy one of the annual festivals and get to know the local community.

There are endless things to do in Guatemala. The longer your trip, the better!

If you’re ready to plan your vacation, make sure you book a tour with Martsam Travel. Our experienced tour guides will take you to all the best insider spots. Safety and security are our biggest concerns, next to making sure you have an amazing time.

Proposed Qantas and Cathay Pacific codeshare rejected

A pair of Airbus A330s from Cathay Pacific and Qantas at Sydney Airport. (Rob Finlayson)

Australia’s International Air Services Commission (IASC) has knocked back Qantas’s application to forge a deeper codeshare arrangement with Cathay Pacific.

In a draft ruling published on May 24, the IASC said the proposed codeshare arrangement on flights between Australia and Hong Kong was likely to “entrench and expand the market position of Qantas and Cathay Pacific, to the detriment of Virgin Australia’s competitive position and the position of any potential future entrants on the route”.

“If this occurs, it is likely to weaken competition on the route, leading to an increase in prices and/or a reduction in other benefits to consumers,” the IASC draft decision said.

“The Commission finds that the likely public benefits of the variation are substantially outweighed by the likely public detriment that would follow from the proposed aviation.”

In early 2018, Qantas sought regulatory approval for Cathay Pacific to add its CX airline code on 35 Qantas-operated flights a week from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Hong Kong.

The codeshare flights on these routes would only be sold as part of a through journey involving connections either beyond Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific or its regional wing Cathay Dragon to destinations in India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, among other countries, or to other Australian domestic destinations from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney on Qantas.

Qantas also planned to add its QF airline code on 35 Cathay Pacific-operated flights a week from the same three Australian cities and Hong Kong. However, this did not require regulatory approval.

The proposed codeshare expanded on an existing arrangement that has been in place since late 2018, where Qantas added its QF airline code on selected Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon flights out of Hong Kong – as well as on Perth-Hong Kong and Cairns-Hong Kong, and Cathay Pacific added its CX airline code on selected Qantas Australian domestic flights.

The Australian carrier said in its submissions to the IASC the expanded codeshare covering Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Hong Kong would have no adverse impact on the competitive dynamics on point-to-point routes between Australia and Hong Kong.

Rather, it was was focused on attracting connecting passengers and a “a pro-competitive expansion of each carrier’s ability to sell and market itineraries”.

However, the application was opposed by Virgin Australia, the only other airline offering nonstop passenger flights between Australia and Hong Kong.

In its submission to the IASC, Virgin Australia rejected Qantas’s assertion there would be no adverse impact on the competitive dynamics on point-to-point routes between Australia and Hong Kong.

Instead, giving Cathay Pacific the ability to sell Qantas-operated flights under the codeshare agreement – even if it was only for connecting itineraries – was likely to lead to higher passenger load factors on Qantas’s flights between Australia and Hong Kong.

This would give Qantas a greater ability to adopt different strategies on pricing and inventory management and result in a potentially significant detrimental impact on competition, Virgin Australia said.

The IASC draft decision said the proposed codeshare was likely to lead to a market structure which made it more difficult for Virgin Australia to compete, as well as raise the barriers for new entrants on the route.

“It is likely Virgin will have a weakened, and perhaps materially weakened, position that may make it difficult for Virgin to sustain its operations,” the IASC draft decision said.

“The commission considers it likely that a material decline in Virgin Australia’s market position would cause it to reconsider its service offerings on the route.

“Any reduction or cessation of Virgin Australia’s service offerings on the route would be detrimental to competition as it would then leave the two largest carriers, Qantas and Cathay Pacific, to operate under the proposed code share arrangement.”

Qantas said in a statement it was reviewing the decision and considering its next steps.

“We’re disappointed with the draft decision to reject our application to expand our codeshare with Cathay Pacific,” a Qantas spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Australian Aviation.

“The codeshare has already delivered great benefits for our customers and expanding it would create even more options for travellers and improve opportunities for frequent flyers.”

Virgin Australia Airbus A330-200 VH-XFD operating the inaugural VA87 from Melbourne to Hong Kong on July 5 2017. (Virgin Australia)

Virgin Australia Airbus A330-200 VH-XFD operating the inaugural VA87 from Melbourne to Hong Kong on July 5 2017. (Virgin Australia)

Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Virgin Australia the only three airlines with nonstop Australia-Hong Kong flights

Currently, Cathay Pacific serves six destinations in Australia – Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney – from its Hong Kong hub with a mix of Airbus A330-300s, A350-900s and Boeing 777-300ERs offering business, premium economy and economy. This does not include freighter services. Cairns flights are ending in October.

It is the only Hong Kong-based carrier offering nonstop flights to Australia, after Virgin Australia alliance partner Hong Kong Airlines withdrew its flights to Cairns and the Gold Coast in October 2018.

Qantas offers nonstop flights from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Hong Kong with a mix of Airbus A330s, A380s and Boeing 747s and 787-9s.

Virgin Australia started serving the Special Administrative Region (SAR) with its own aircraft in July 2017, when it began nonstop flights on the Melbourne-Hong Kong route with two-class Airbus A330-200s.

It added daily Sydney-Hong Kong services, again with A330-200 equipment, in July 2018.

A summary of the frequency, capacity and passenger share on the Australia-Hong Kong market from the IASC draft decision. (IASC)

A summary of the frequency, capacity and passenger share on the Australia-Hong Kong market from the IASC draft decision. (IASC)

Submissions in response to the IASC draft decision were due by June 7.

The full draft decision can be read on the IASC website.

The proposed codeshare flights are shown in bold in the table below:

Flight Number/Routing
Qantas flights
Cathay Pacific flights

Brisbane-Hong Kong

QF97 10:10–17:25

CX156 00:55 – 07:30
CX146 11:15 – 20:25 (3,4,6,7)

Hong Kong-Brisbane

QF98 20:15 – 07:00+1

CX157 13:10 – 23:35
CX147 21:20 – 09:55+1 (2,3,5,6)

Melbourne-Hong Kong

QF29 09:40 – 17:20

CX134 07:30 – 15:05
CX104 14:20 – 21:50
CX178 23:45 – 07:05+1

Hong Kong-Melbourne

QF30 20:10 – 07:35+1

CX105 00:10 – 11:10
CX163 11:05 – 22:05
CX135 19:05 – 06:10+1

Sydney-Hong Kong

QF127 10:20 – 18:00
QF117 21:20 – 05:00+1

CX110 07:35 – 15:20
CX162 10:15 – 17:55
CX100 14:15 – 21:35
CX138 21:55 – 05:15+1

Hong Kong-Sydney

QF128 19:30 – 06:55+1
QF118 22:35 – 10:00+1

CX139 09:10 – 20:20
CX111 18:50 – 06:15+1
CX161 21:30 – 08:50+1
CX101 23:55 – 10:50+1

Source: Qantas