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Government agencies, planemakers, and telecom companies still have work to do to ensure safe flight operations around airports with 5G airwave infrastructure.

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The Indian government has advised telecom service providers to take precautions that minimize the interference of fifth generation (5G) networks — which allows for faster wireless speeds — in aircraft operations, including establishing safety and buffer zones and placing 5G towers near airports, according to a Press Trust of India report. Indian aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has not conducted any research on the potential impact of 5G signals on safe civil aircraft operations, according to VK Singh, minister of state for civil aviation. “However, DGCA has reviewed the studies/action undertaken by various countries during the launch of 5G on the potential interference of 5G C-band signals on radio altimeters installed on the aircraft and risk involved in air travel,” Singh was quoted as saying. He said there is a possibility of interference with radio altimeters, which could jeopardize safe airline operations. Concerns over the 5G network interfering with flights had been raised internationally. U.S. aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration had warned last year that potential interference could affect sensitive airplane instruments such as altimeters and impact on low-visibility operations. Last month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) had also expressed concern that many airlines would not be able to retrofit their planes to handle new 5G wireless technology in time for the peak summer travel season. 

The creation of an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) ecosystem in India can help bridge the air connectivity gap in the country, according to civil aviation secretary Rajiv Bansal. “What are we doing in the Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme? We have identified some 1,200 routes and a whole lot of unserved and underserved airports to bridge the (air connectivity) gap at the Tier-II and Tier-III levels,” he said, addressing a conference organized by industry chamber Confederation of Indian Industry. Bansal said the possibilities offered by eVTOLs might open a whole realm in mobility, including the helicopter and general aviation segments. “In the end, it’s all about one person, the consumer or passenger who drives everything. The shortcomings of a helicopter or a conventional fixed-wing aircraft in requiring a runway or an air traffic control will be bridged by devices such as eVTOLs that offer convenience for the consumer,” he remarked.

In its earnings call on Tuesday, India-based online travel company Yatra.com said it is “hopeful and confident of getting the initial public offering (IPO) done in the near term,” having missed its deadline of launching an Indian IPO by this month. Yatra began its India investor outreach for its Indian IPO at the beginning of the March quarter by visiting a number of marquee investors, including large domestic mutual funds, family offices and hedge funds focused on the Indian market. However, given the overall macro environment and the global market sentiment, the investor feedback process has taken longer than expected, said co-founder and chief executive officer Dhruv Shringi. With sentiments subdued in the Indian stock market, companies wanting to launch their initial public offerings are said to be in a “wait-and-watch” mode. 

Tata Group-owned Air India subsidiaries Air India Express and AirAsia India have moved to a unified reservation system, whereby passengers can make bookings for both airlines through an integrated website. Air India chief executive officer Campbell Wilson said the integration of the core reservation and passenger-facing systems of Air India Express and AirAsia India “marks a significant milestone in the Air India Group’s transformation journey.” “This new Air India Express, operating both domestically and internationally using systems optimized for low-cost airlines, gives the Group a much stronger LCC platform. Together with the Group’s recent, benchmark-setting aircraft order, this sets the scene for us to realize many new opportunities for customers, employees and Indian aviation,” he said. This system merger comes three months after both AirAsia India and Air India Express were placed under a single CEO.  

Over 11.8 million domestic and 100,000 foreign tourists visited northeast India in 2022, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism. Airports in the region at Rupsi, Tezu, Tezpur, Pasighat, Jorhat, Lilabari, Shillong, Pakyong, Itanagar and Dimapur involving 64 routes have been operationalized under UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) to promote regional connectivity in the country. Initiative taken by the North Eastern Council to create a barrier-free environment for tourism growth in the region, include holding consultative meetings with tourism stakeholders to discuss the challenges and way forward on the development of tourism sector in the region, roundtable discussions on developing a framework for seamless tourist movements to the northeastern states, among others.

Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo has partnered with UK’s apex tourism body VisitBritain to promote travel to the country through its codeshare partnership with Turkey’s flag carrier Turkish Airlines. IndiGo offers connectivity to London, Manchester and Birmingham in the UK through Istanbul. This joint approach will not only boost trade and tourism between the two countries but will also provide customers with an affordable travel option. “Through these connections IndiGo aims to provide customers with even more options, particularly during the peak tourist season from India. We are committed to make flying a pleasant experience for our customers and will uphold our promise of courteous, hassle-free, on-time, and affordable travel across an unparalleled network,” said Vinay Malhotra, head of global sales at IndiGo.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has signed a management agreement with Amritsar Golden Hospitality LLP to develop Holiday Inn Amritsar Golden Temple in the north Indian state of Punjab. Located in the heart of the city and at a walking distance from the spiritual site of the Golden Temple, the 215-keys hotel is expected to open in the second quarter of 2027. The hotel will feature modern rooms with all-day dining, a lobby lounge, a swimming pool and a gymnasium. It will also have a 2,000 square feet meeting room catering to the growing demand from meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) and social events. This would be IHG’s third hotel in the city along with Holiday Inn Amritsar Ranjit Avenue and Holiday Inn Express Amritsar Golden Temple, which is scheduled to open in 2025.

India ranked among the top 10 on travel platform Agoda’s Sustainable Impact Survey 2023. Over 13,000 respondents from more than 10 countries ranked nations on their sustainability and conservation efforts. The publication of the survey findings marks the start of Agoda’s Eco Deals campaign, which aims to raise $250,000 for the World Wildlife Fund’s marine and forest conservation initiatives across India and Southeast Asia. “In addition, travelers are looking for ways to minimize their ecological footprints while making a positive impact on the places they visit. Agoda’s Eco Deals program aims to facilitate this movement by giving travelers the opportunity to support conservation initiatives simply by booking an Eco Deal accommodation,” said Enric Casals, regional vice-president of Southeast Asia and Oceania at Agoda.

Reiterating its commitment to drive sustainability and social impact measures, Tata Group-owned Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) has increased consumption of renewable energy, EarthCheck certification for 77 IHCL hotels, installation of electric vehicle charging stations at 115 of its properties and partnering with International Finance Corporation’s TechEmerge program for innovative cooling technologies. In addition to introducing bottling plants across 20 hotels to replace all plastic water bottles with reusable glass bottles, it has switched to biodegradable wrapping of dry amenities in guest rooms. “Recognizing that our success is not only measured by our financial performance, but also by the positive impact we have on our stakeholders and the world around us, we will continue to drive positive change and create value for all with IHCL’s dedicated employees across disciplines,” said Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and chief executive officer of IHCL.

India-based luxury hospitality brand Niraamaya Retreats and Private Residences is planning to expand in Europe, Southeast Asia, Maldives and Sri Lanka. The hotel group also looks to increase its footprint in India in the states of Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, said Allen Machado, CEO of Niraamaya Retreats and Business Group. “I want to position the organization as a one-stop-shop for wellbeing and to elevate the brand in a way that when people think about their wellness journey, the first name that comes to their mind should be Niraamaya,” Machado said. Niraamaya Retreats and Private Residences currently has 10 properties in India with one international property in Seychelles.

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Tags: 5G wireless, agoda, air asia, air india, airports, artificial intelligence, dgca, eVTOL, Federal Aviation Administration, hospitality, ihg, india, Indian Hotels Company, indigo, Iot, skift india report, sustainability, tourism, visitbritain, yatra

Photo credit: Telecom service providers have been advised to ensure mitigation measures when locating 5G towers close to airports. Aero Icarus

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