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Despite a healthy rebound from pandemic lows, India’s aviation industry continues to reel under the weight of high jet fuel prices, grounded planes and delays in aircraft deliveries.

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India’s domestic air traffic has hit a record high with 456,082 passengers flying on a single day, the civil aviation ministry said in a tweet. The ministry’s data shows a total of 456,082 passengers flew via 2,978 flights on April 30 and there were a total of 5,947 flight movements. “Indian domestic air travel hits new high, surpasses pre-Covid average,” it tweeted. The ministry referenced the May 1 numbers, said 448,248 passengers had taken to the skies via 2,936 flights. The rebound in India’s aviation industry comes after heavy losses faced by the industry in the past Covid-hit years. The global airline trade body, the International Air Transport Association’s latest market analysis report shows India is in the process of becoming a key global aviation market outpacing other thriving markets like the U.S., China, and Japan in passenger load factor at 81.6 percent in February 2023. With India’s air passenger traffic expected to reach 395 million in 2023-24, the country seems to have solidified its position as the world’s third largest aviation market. Credit rating agency ICRA had also recently revised its outlook on the Indian aviation industry to stable from negative due to the fast-paced recovery in domestic passenger traffic. Indian airlines have witnessed an annual growth of 51.7 percent in passenger traffic during January-March 2023 as compared to the corresponding period last year, according to Indian aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Domestic airlines carried 375.04 lakh passengers between January-March 2023, as against 247.23 lakh in the same period last year. 

New Delhi-based hotel operator Crimson Hotels has announced the launch of Econostay Dahej, a mid-scale hotel under the Econostay brand category. Located in Dahej in the west Indian state of Gujarat, the 38-room hotel is expected to open doors in July. “Our Econostay brand category aims to deliver a pleasant and reasonably priced stay, with standardized amenities and services catering to the requirements of cost-conscious guests,” said Sandeep Maitraya, director of Crimson Hotels. Earlier in March this year, the hotel operator had taken over the management of Darbar E Khas, a 35-room boutique hotel in Bareilly, a city in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Indian low-cost carrier GoFirst has filed for bankruptcy with insolvency tribunal National Company Law Tribunal, citing losses amounting to $1.32 billion due to the grounding of almost half of its aircraft. The airline, previously known as Go Air, attributed the grounding to jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney’s engine delivery delays. The percentage of grounded aircraft has grown from 7 percent in December 2019 to 31 percent in December 2020 and now 50 percent in December 2022, GoFirst said in a statement. “This is despite Pratt & Whitney making several ongoing assurances over the years, which it has repeatedly failed to meet,” the statement read. The bankruptcy filing was announced shortly after the airline said it will temporarily suspend flight operations on May 3-5 due to a “severe fund crunch.”  

Dubai hosted 612,000 visitors from India during the January-March quarter this year, a sharp uptick of 62.76 percent compared to the same period last year, Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism said. The Middle East country had hosted 376,000 visitors from India during the corresponding quarter in 2022, according to the department’s latest data. Overall, Dubai welcomed 4.67 million international overnight visitors in the first quarter of 2023, compared to 3.97 million tourists during the same period in 2022, marking a 17 percent year-on-year growth. “The tourism sector is not only the strongest pillars of our economy but also a key enabler of Dubai’s distinctive role in the world as a bridge between markets, cultures and regions,” said Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai and chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai. 

Indian aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation has issued a show-cause notice to Tata-owned Air India CEO Campbell Wilson and Head of Safety, Security and Quality Functions Henry Donohoe for the airline’s alleged lapses in reporting about the incident of a pilot allowing a female friend inside the cockpit during a Dubai-Delhi flight in February. Unauthorized people are not allowed to enter the cockpit and any such entry could be a violation of norms. Both the executives have been given 15 days to respond to the notices. According to sources, “the actual incident occurred on February 27 and it was reported by confidential mail to Campbell and Donohoe on March 3. The first enquiry was conducted by the regulator on April 21 while Air India had not done any enquiry before that.” Earlier this month, the regulator directed Air India to deroster the entire crew of the Dubai-Delhi flight till investigations were complete.  

Hospitality company Sinclairs Hotels & Resorts has partnered with New Zealand-based global hospitality solutions provider STAAH to drive more business in its properties and boost revenues. The partnership is set to empower the group with tools like channel manager — that helps hotels to list and manage their inventory across online booking channels, review minder — a reputation management tool, and rates talk services — a competitor rate checker tool. “We were looking for a channel management partner to efficiently handle and manage rates pro-actively in various online platforms. We decided to onboard STAAH as they seemed to provide the perfect solution to our needs,” said Swajib Chatterjee, chief operating officer of Sinclairs Hotels.

To increase connectivity to Southeast Asia, Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo announced new routes and additional frequencies to Singapore and Bangkok. The airline has added a second frequency on the Bangkok-Kolkata route from June 3 and is also set to start daily direct flights between Delhi and Singapore from May 25. IndiGo had earlier announced that it will begin direct flight services from the east Indian city of Bhubaneswar to Singapore and Bangkok on June 5. “There has been an increasing demand for outbound travel from India during the summer season, and southeast Asian destinations are an all-time favorite for Indian vacationers,” said Vinay Malhotra, head of global sales at IndiGo. 

Nepal plans to build the Manaskhand Circuit which will connect India’s northern state of Uttarakhand with Nepal’s Far Western Provinces to boost tourism, the country’s Foreign Minister NP Saud said. Last year, the Uttarakhand state government had announced that it would connect 17 tourist destinations in the Kumaon region of the hill state under the circuit over the next five years. Saud stated that he has requested a proposal to be prepared on how to connect religious places in both countries and plans to present it to India soon. The minister also emphasized the need for a concrete bridge to connect Parshuram in Nepal’s Dadeldhura and Purnagiri in India to promote religious and tourism activities in the region.


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Tags: air india, air traffic, dgca, dubai, Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), india, indigo, nepal, pratt & whitney, skift india report

Photo credit: Indian domestic air travel hits new high, surpasses pre-Covid average. Pictured are SpiceJet aircraft. Source: abhirupsen_haldia / Flickr abhirupsen_haldia / Flights line up as day dawns on New Delhi Domestic Terminal

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