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India’s $22 billion bond market


The bond market also drives India’s economy which is otherwise slowing, inflation is sputtering and the central bank is cutting interest rates. But the cost of long-term money is refusing to budge. The reason, in a single word: upcoming elections. Polls are scheduled in states. Prime Minister Narendra Modi probably would have liked to make NDA’s reelection endorsement with less distress in the farm economy and a better jobs track record. If he hadn’t scored an own goal by banning 86 per cent of the country’s cash overnight, he might even have succeeded. Team Modi will end the fiscal year on March 31 with a huge deficit of roughly $190 billion, a pre-poll bump that doesn’t appear to have helped in pump-priming the economy.

bond market

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in India grew 0.70 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 over the previous quarter. It comes as little surprise that the country recorded its slowest GDP growth rate recently. More weakness is expected in the coming three months ending December 2020. That can only mean more disinflation and deeper interest-rate cuts. Why, then, is the 10-year Indian government bond yield doing very well, more than double the expected inflation rate for the year?

For both NBFC and corporate categories of bonds, the ranges grew by nearly 30-40 basis points between February 2020 and April 2020. For both, the credit spreads attained their peak in the first half of May, close to 180 basis points for NBFCs and 170 basis points for the corporate bonds.

What’s troubling the market – beyond the known $100 billion deficit for the next fiscal year – is the additional, below-the-radar government funding it’s being asked to provide. India Ratings & Research Pvt., a unit of Fitch Ratings Inc., calls it “extra-budgetary resource,” a euphemism for public spending via borrowings that are, for all practical purposes, sovereign liabilities (though not counted as such).

Consider the top 10 public enterprises that borrow either to create economic infrastructure, such as the National Highways Authority of India or distribute state subsidies, such as the Food Corporation of India. While the liabilities sit on their balance sheets, their ability to repay comes from the government. A Food Corp. bond flopped after India introduced a clause diluting the agency’s sovereign backing, Cogencis reported.

It is the Indian households whose savings are being cornered by the government. For this to pay off, public spending has to make businesses and families more optimistic about investing and consuming. That could have happened a lot sooner were it not for the 2016 demonetization, or the spotty implementation of a badly designed goods and services tax. The bond market does provide an alternative.

But more worryingly, and to Team Modi’s disappointment, animal spirits aren’t reviving quickly enough – despite simultaneous fiscal and monetary stimulus, as well as regulatory easing and $39 billion in central bank liquidity infusions since May.

The bond market is holding this campaign hostage.

If the 10-year yield stays elevated despite slowing growth and inflation, high real long-term interest rates will further depress private borrowers’ sentiment. And this when nonbank lenders’ moods are already sullen. The sudden bankruptcy of an infrastructure financier last September has raised their funding costs; a housing glut is adding to the nervousness around builders’ debt. With credit-risk premiums unlikely to narrow any time soon, it’s all the more important that India’s risk-free rate should fall.

Also Read: Global Markets come under the grip of coronavirus




Ancillary Services Rescue Airlines

Airlines in India are succeeding to some extent in milking a few millions of additional rupees from their customers for “extra” services that are now used to be included in their fare prices. 

The Role of Ancillary Services

Ancillary Services

Airlines all over the world are on their way to rake in nearly $110 billion in revenue this year from the sale of so-called “ancillary services”. These services have nothing to do with the operations of the aircraft: fuel consumption, maintenance, landing, parking or navigation charges. They are simply the extras best described as marketing gimmicks. These extras range from a choice of the seat to the volume of leg-space. Depending upon the way an airline fancies its marketing strategies, these may also include the ability to check one or more bags, chose an aisle seat, select seats together and/or in advance, to get reduced ticket change fees or additional frequent flier mileage points, or to get favoured check-in and security clearance procedures. Airlines clearly have today established the practice of charging more for such ancillaries.

Also ReadSilly Gimmicks Used by IndiGo for Marketing

The latest trend for the airlines has been:

to present a fully-stripped down, seat-only “Basic Economy” fares as well as various higher-priced “branded fares” that include various combinations of additional services.

But in the process, airlines have found in their customer feedback notes that they have disappointed more than half of their customers and left as many as 75% of them unhappy with their airline adventures. Such services historically were included in the price of the air-ticket. The airlines are yet to learn how to use customer data effectively to present fare options specifically tailored to the preferences of individual consumers. The skills required for revenue optimization (how a company dynamically adjusts the prices of its services to get, ideally, the highest revenue from a customer who is ready to pay for a service or product) have not yet been developed.

Also ReadAAI’s Unused Airfields Yet to be Put on Use

More and more evidence is coming up which shows that  a large segment of travellers:
– leisure travellers,
– less frequent travellers,
– high mileage business travellers and/or 
– very frequent fliers

are surely not very happy with the kind and constituents of various fare price options that the airlines offer. There is indeed a visible sense of hopelessness across the spectrum of airline patrons.

Ancillary Services


Despite that impediment, despite the still-not-well-defined way of unbundling and re-bundling service packages in their unpredictably priced fares, airlines’ efforts at raising ancillary revenues are setting new records with every passing year.

Ancillary revenue now signifies 12.2% of global airline revenue. That’s more than double considering the industry’s forecasted 5% operating profit margin in 2019. In other words, ancillary revenues have impacted greatly on airlines’ profitability.

The global industry’s $109.5 billion in ancillary revenue now is more than half of the industry’s total amount spent on fuel. In 2019, the fuel bill is expected to be around $206 billion. This trend reveals that the rapidly evolving ancillary revenues have become a vital hedge against escalating fuel prices.

The Role of ATF Prices


Airlines in India have long rued the high cost operating environment and high fuel prices. On November 20, 2019, the Parliament was informed through a written reply by the Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in the Rajya Sabha that four domestic airlines including Jet Airways and JetLite, have shut their operations over the last three years for want of funds and unavailability of aircraft. The government has said that it is conscious of the financial difficulties being faced by the airlines and is responding to the industry situation.

The Minister listed out a slew of measures taken by the government to enable growth in the aviation sector. He said that the government was coordinating with all the stakeholders to resolve their issues.

As a result:
– the central excise duty on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) has been reduced,
– 100 per cent FDI has been allowed under the automatic route to ensure modernisation of airports and establish high standards,
– foreign airlines are allowed to invest up to 49 per cent in Indian carriers under the automatic routes and liberalisation of domestic code-share points in India within the framework of the Air Service Agreement (ASA).

However, the Minister made it clear that the government has no role in raising funds for private airline companies as it is an internal matter of the airline and each airline has to prepare its business plan on the basis of its own market assessment and liabilities.

The Aviation Sector Elsewhere.

 
In Thailand, Thai AirAsia, Thai Smile Airways, Thai Airways International, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways, Thai VietJet Air and Thai Lion Air have submitted a request to the government to cut the excise tax on jet fuel to avoid downsizing or shutting down operations. They said they have been badly affected by the weak economy, the local currency’s strength, and intense competition. This has reduced tourist inflows.
 
Ancillary Services
The Excise Department has proposed the seven low-cost and full-service carriers to increase the frequency of flights to second-tier provinces to enhance tourism there in return for a reduction in the excise tax on jet fuel. The Excise Department will cut the excise tax provided the airlines offer proposals that benefit the public, including more frequent flights to second-tier provinces.
”The government support is surely required if airlines are expected to take part in stimulating tourism in particular provinces,” the airlines say. “Promoting travel in second-tier provinces is crucial for Thailand’s tourism.”


The United Arab Emirates’s (UAE) is home to two of the biggest global airlines, Emirates and Etihad. The share of the aviation and tourism sector in UAE economy is set to double to $128 billion; is likely to support 1.4 million jobs in the next 20 years, from 800,000 jobs now as per International Air Transport Association (IATA) observations.


Also Read: ATF Price Cut Is Steepest In Last Two Years





Virgin Atlantic Could Not Grow In India Due to Jet Airways Collapse

New Delhi: The closure of Jet Airways (India) Limited changed the India growth plans of Virgin Atlantic. The British airline, which had a code share partnership with Jet Airways, then started its own services between London and Mumbai, as per the airline’s country manager (India) David Hodges.

“We had a code-share partnership with Jet Airways, and we planned to grow that,” Hodges said adding, “Unfortunately, the grounding of Jet Airways changed our growth plans.”

Also Read : Explainer: Jet Airways crisis

One airline books its passengers on its partner carriers and provide seamless travel to destinations, where it has no presence by virtue of Code-sharing.

Virgin Atlantic will now start its own daily flights between London and Mumbai from 27 October to utilize the space vacated by Jet Airways, which operated three daily flights on this high demand sector. Jet Airways also flew a daily flight between Mumbai and Manchester.

“There was a lot of capacity (between Mumbai and London/Manchester). We were looking to increase our presence in the partnership with Jet Airways and probably fly one Virgin Airways flight between England and India (of the flights flown by Jet Airways),” Hodges said. “We need to be quick and nimble (after Jet’s grounding). So, we decided to start our own services between London and Mumbai.”Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic currently also has a daily flight between London and New Delhi.

Jet Airways suspended operations in April because of a severe cash crunch. A consortium of 26 banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) has approached the National Company Law Tribunal (NMCLT) to recover dues worth more than 8,500 crore.

As things stand, Jet Airways has run a loss of more than 13,000 crore in the past few years. Its total liabilities amount to more than 15,000 crore even as lenders have been trying to sell the beleaguered airline as a going concern, but without much success.

Hodges said Virgin Atlantic was looking at forging new partnerships with Indian airlines, which could help the airline get traffic from smaller Indian cities and town. The airline, which already has an interline partnership with Vistara, is looking to forge more such partnerships or code share agreements with other Indian airlines.

“Now, the plan is how we grow in India. Having a code-share with Vistara is definitely an option for us,” Hodges said. “Interline with Vistara has given us great connections from Mumbai and New Delhi. It’s however not very simple. Lots of commercial considerations and decisions will have to be made for this alliance.”

An interline agreement is typically signed between two or more airlines to handle passengers when their itinerary involves travelling on multiple airlines. Such agreements allow passengers to change flights to one on another airline without having to check-in again.

Interlining agreements differ from code-share agreements as the latter usually refers to numbering a flight with the airline’s code even though the flight is operated by another airline.

Meanwhile, going ahead, Virgin Atlantic could look to operate between cities other than New Delhi and Mumbai, and London as the airline plans to tap the number of passengers traveling to England and Europe from other Indian metros.

“I have spoken to a number of Indian airports, and this is an interesting opportunity. There are also other high growth cities across South and North India,” Hodges said. “Bangalore is the next natural city we want to fly from in future, and one that we are currently not flying from.”

Virgin Atlantic will operating its Boeing 787-9 (Dreamliner) fleet between London and Mumbai. The airline currently operates Airbus 330 aircraft on its London-Delhi route. The airline hopes to also provide onward connections to destinations in Europe, South America, North America and South Africa from London for its passengers flying from India.

“Ultimately, we want to be able to compete with bigger airlines like British Airways in terms of network and network size,” Hodges added.




Thomas Cook Collapsed, Other European Airlines on Brink

Thomas CookA sad story of Thomas Cook: being reported only for the sake of reporting.

Its official now. By 23 September 2019, the 178-year-old company, Thomas Cook (TCG.L) along with a trio of subsidiary airlines has collapsed. Its stores across Northamptonshire have shut their doors. Thomas Cook branches in Weston Favell and Northampton’s Abington Street have also closed for good. Two travel stores in Kettering in Lower Street and at Asda, stores in Wellingborough’s Swansgate Centre and Corporation Street in Corby have also closed.

Hitherto known as a travel giant, its thousands of employees have been rendered jobless. This includes about 1,000 workers at their nearby Peterborough HQ.

Today, the grand old travel firm finds itself being put into compulsory liquidation. A weekend of frantic talks could not save Thomas Cook. Tens of thousands of its holidaymakers have been left in the lurch around the globe.

The closure of Thomas Cook and the subsequent cancellation of all its flights has forced the launch of an operation by the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It is one of the largest repatriation in recent British history. This has been codenamed Operation Matterhorn.

This repatriation is hugely complex and the CAA and the government are working around the clock to support the Thomas Cook customers. All such passengers currently overseas who are booked to return to the UK over the next two weeks will be brought home as close as possible to their booked return date by providing new flights to return to the UK.

A CAA spokesman clarified:

“The Government and the Civil Aviation Authority are now working together to do everything we can to support passengers due to fly back to the UK with Thomas Cook between September 23 and October 6. Depending on your location, this will be either on CAA-operated flights or by using existing flights with other airlines.

If you are already abroad you will find all the information you need about your arrangements to get home on this website. If you are due to depart from a UK airport with Thomas Cook Airlines, please do not travel to your UK airport as your flight will not be operating and you will not be able to travel.

These repatriation flights will only be operating for the next two weeks (until October 6). After this date you will have to make your own travel arrangements. From a small number of locations, passengers will have to book their own return flights.”

Also ReadJet Airways pushed further to the brink of collapse

Virgin Atlantic is one of the airlines taking part in the CAA scheme. A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson stated: “We’re sorry to learn that Thomas Cook has ceased trading earlier today and recognise the impact on its customers and staff in the UK and abroad. Virgin Atlantic is working closely with the CAA to repatriate Thomas Cook customers impacted in Cuba, Jamaica and the United States, to ensure they will be able to complete their journey as planned. We have allocated available space on our scheduled flights, and are also providing special flights to repatriate Thomas Cook passengers abroad.”

Similarly, a representative for the easyJet airline stated: “We are sorry to see the news about Thomas Cook and appreciate the anxiety that their customers will be facing now. easyJet is working with the CAA to provide a fully crewed A320 aircraft to support the repatriation efforts over the coming days.”

Besides, British Airways is also offering flights for Thomas Cook passengers returning to the UK from destinations like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Cancun.

Aviation analysts observe that the strains that sank Thomas Cook weigh on other European airlines as well. Several such companies are struggling with similar problems.

Two small operators, Aigle Azur and XL Airways, are before the French bankruptcy courts today. The list of similar bankruptcies is long: Monarch, Air Berlin and Alitalia failed in 2017, Primera and Cobalt in 2018, and Germania, Flybmi and Iceland’s WOW so far in 2019.

Today in aviation sector, there is very little left for cheer. Larger European carriers are not immune from the threat of collapse. Regional operator Flybe’s sale to a Virgin Atlantic-led consortium just managed to avoid its closure. Third-ranked low-cost operator Norwegian Air (NWC.OL), which has bled cash while making inroads in the transatlantic market, somehow managed to get a reprieve from creditors last week, postponing repayment on $380 million in debt for up to two years.

Customers can find out how to book on to the repatriation flights through the CAA website: www.thomascook.caa.co.uk.




After Posting Rs 4,600 crore operating loss in 2018-19, Air India Aims Operating Profit This Fiscal

NEW DELHI:

Air India posted an operating loss of around Rs 4,600 crore in the last financial year. The reasons attributed by its management are :

– higher oil prices and

– foreign exchange losses

The debt-laden carrier expects to turn operationally profitable in 2019-20, as per its senior officials.

Reflecting tough business conditions, the airline’s net loss stood at about Rs 8,400 crore while total revenues touched around Rs 26,400 crore in 2018-19.

Another senior official of Air India said the airline is projected to post an operating profit of Rs 700 to 800 crore in 2019-20, provided oil prices do not shoot up significantly and there is no steep fluctuation in foreign exchange rates.

However, the airline incurred an operating loss of Rs 175 to 200 crore in the three months ended June as closure of Pakistan airspace for Indian carriers resulted in higher costs and caused a daily loss of Rs 3 to 4 crore when the restrictions were in place, the official said.

Air India had a loss of Rs 430 crore in the four-month period when Pakistan closed its airspace after the Balakot air strikes.

Last week, state-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs), led by IndianOil, had stopped fuel supply to Air India at six — Ranchi, Mohali, Patna, Vizag, Pune and Cochin — airports over non-payment of dues.

The official noted that load factor and yields are improving for Air India, which currently flies to 41 international and 72 domestic destinations. Load factor is a measure of seat occupancy and yield refers to average fare paid per passenger.

The situation is anticipated to improve further as more wide-body planes would be available for operations in the coming months, the official added. Air India had grounded several of its wide-body aircraft for maintenance and most of them are in the process of being re-inducted into the fleet.

Air India is to start flying to Toronto from September 27 and to Nairobi in November.

The airline has a debt burden of more than Rs 58,000 crore and servicing the loans is a major challenge as the annual outgo is more than Rs 4,000 crore.

The official who was quoted first said the carrier is facing a financial crisis and disinvestment is the option.

Aviation consultancy CAPA South Asia CEO and Director Kapil Kaul said Air India’s financial position is likely to “significantly improve” in the current financial year.

“CAPA expects a closer to break-even in FY 20 excluding increased costs incurred due to closure of Pakistan airspace. With oil prices expected to stay below USD 60, expect a closer to break-even for Air India in FY 20,” he told PTI.

Noting that improved financial performance would be a positive for divestment, Kaul said a fully divested Air India that is well capitalised and with improved governance and management would ensure that the airline has a relevant future.

India needs a stronger Air India which is viable without taxpayers’ support, he added.

The government has decided on disinvestment of Air India as part of efforts to revive its fortunes. Air India, which has been in the red for long, was sanctioned a nearly Rs 30,000 crore bailout package for a 10-year period by the UPA regime in 2012.




Everything You Need to Know About the Tikal Ruins in Guatemala

There are many ancient ruins all over Central America. But Tikal, Guatemala, nears the top of the list for so many reasons.

Tikal, Guatemala, is one of the most famous Mayan ruins from the Classic Period. It is located in north-central Petén, Guatemala.

Tikal consists of over 3000 buildings including several large and looming temples. There are nine groups of plazas that are connected by bridges and causeways.

The main center of the city is 500 acres in size!

Read on to learn all about Tikal ruins and what you need to know before you visit.

Tikal History

You can’t visit these Guatemala attractions without first understanding some of the Tikal history.

The city began around 1000 B.C. Yet it wasn’t a major city until about 300 B.C. Around 750 A.D., the Tikal ruins were a thriving metropolitan city home to about 15 million Mayans.

If you could travel back in time to the Tikal of 700 A.D, you would have found an advanced city with a library, a school, and a hospital. There were also sports arenas, palaces, and temples.

Recently, lasers have discovered a network of roads that connect more than 60,000 homes, temples and even a fortress for times of war.

There isn’t much rainfall in the region. So the Maya controlled the flow of water with canal, reservoirs and drainage systems.

The odd thing about Tikal, Guatemala is that although this city was the height of power for Mesoamerica, it didn’t last. By 950 A.D., the city was a ghost town.

Archeologists still don’t understand why. It may have been drought, deforestation or something else.

Building Tikal

The word Tikal comes from the word ti ak’al in the Yucatec Maya language meaning “at the waterhole.”

The architecture in Tikal is made from limestone. Many of these buildings include inscribed stone monuments.

When you explore to Tikal, you will be drawn to Temple IV – the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas. At 70 meters (230 feet) tall, this temple is a great climb with a rewarding view.

You may recall seeing the breathtaking view in Star Wars: Episode IV.

The second highest temple, Temple I is 47 meters (154 feet) tall. This is called the Temple of the Great Jaguar. It was built for a king named Lord Jasaw Chan K’awil who died near the end of the civilization.

Next to Temple I sits Temple II. This temple, known as the Temple of the Mask. This temple was likely built by Lord K’awil for his wife. The structure is perfectly oriented towards the rising sun.

Make sure to climb up so you can see the magnificent views of the city and the jungle.

Tikal Park

The main gates of Tikal park open at 6 am and close at 6 pm each day. Tickets to get into the park cost less than $20USD for adults.

You can buy a map outside of the visitor’s center. But unless you want to keep the map as a souvenir, opt to take a picture of the map on your phone instead.

There are many great walking trails in the park that wind through and around the temple complexes.

In the main area, you’ll find a visitor’s center, tour guide service, a museum, three hotels, a campground, a souvenir shop and a couple of restaurants.

There is no ATM on-site, so make sure to bring the cash you’ll need.

Sunrise or Sunset at the Tikal Ruins

Many tourists opt for either a sunrise or sunset tour of Tikal. With such impressive heights and a lush canopy of the jungle, it’s no wonder why.

Both sunrise and sunset are great options. There are pros and cons to both.

Keep in mind that you must pay for a guide to do a sunrise tour of Tikal. You can expect to pay around $14 USD per person. Make sure to buy your ticket the day before because the ticket booth at Tikal won’t be open when you arrive for the sunrise tour.

Sunrise at Tikal

Sunrise at Tikal means that you have a very early morning. If you are staying at Flores, your bus may leave at 3 am.

The good thing about sunrise at Tikal is that you will enjoy cooler temperatures and have access to the park when there are many fewer visitors. This makes for a private and special experience.

Sunset at Tikal

If you aren’t really an early riser, sunset at Tikal may be your best option. Yet, be warned that you will arrive during the hottest part of the day.

If you plan to do this experience, you should think about staying at the on-site hotels or campground. The last bus returning to Flores leaves at 5:30 pm which doesn’t give you time to enjoy the sunset.

If you come to Tikal as part of a Guatemala Adventure Tour, you will already have a Guatemala guide to help you get the most of the experience.

Wear Comfortable Shoes and Clothes

It’s important to remember that Tikal, Guatemala is a jungle. It will be hot and muggy even in the evening.

If you plan to climb up a few temples or explore the paths, you can expect some uphill and uneven paths.

Make sure to wear good walking shoes and clothes that breathe well. Bring a refillable water bottle that keeps your water cold. It will be a relief in the heat of mid-day.

Looking for the Perfect Tour?

Thanks for reading all about the history and tips for visiting the Tikal ruins. We hope this article helps you get prepared for your Guatemala adventure.

Looking for a tailor-made tour in central America? Learn more about how Martsam Travel can make your dreams come true.