Turbulence hits Tata Group at a time when its airline has ambitious plans to modernize fleet, operational systems and revenue management, and has lined up a record order for 470 aircraft.
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Antitrust regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) is scrutinizing Tata Group-owned Air India’s planned merger with Vistara over concerns about competition in the aviation sector. The watchdog has issued a show-cause notice to Air India to explain its position and asked the company for clarification on why the merger should not be investigated.
Should the responses provided by the parties fail to satisfy the regulator, the process moves to the second stage. In this phase, the parties are required to make the details of the proposed deal public, and comments from stakeholders are invited. Additionally, the CCI can request further information from the parties involved before reaching a final decision on the merger.
The regulator has flagged that on some routes and categories, such as business class travel, the merged entity could have a monopoly. The CCI note comes amid growing concerns within the industry about a duopoly, with a merged Air India-Vistara and budget carrier IndiGo controlling more than 80% of the domestic market as smaller rivals such as SpiceJet and Go First struggle.
In November last year, Tata Group announced the merger of Vistara with Air India under a deal wherein Singapore Airlines will also acquire a 25.1% stake in Air India. The merger is expected to be completed by March 2024.
Indian Hotels Company Signs New Taj Property in West Bengal
Tata Group-owned Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) has signed a new management contract with realty developer Ambuja Neotia Group for a 155-room Taj Ganga Kutir Resort & Spa in Raichak in the eastern state of West Bengal. “This collaboration further strengthens the long-standing association with the esteemed Ambuja Neotia Group with our seventh hotel venture together,” said Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO of IHCL.
With the addition of this hotel, IHCL will have 10 hotels across Taj, SeleQtions, Vivanta and Ginger brands across West Bengal including five under development. Just last week, the company launched its wellness brand, J Wellness Circle, based on the principles of ayurveda and yoga.
Tax Structure Hinders Growth of Cruise Tourism
The prevailing Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime and lack of coordination among government agencies have been identified as ‘threats’ to the potential growth of cruise tourism in India in the draft of the National Strategy for Cruise Tourism released during the G20 tourism group meeting held last week. According to the draft of the policy, India has significant capabilities in cruise tourism for the coastal and river sector given the presence of 12 major and 200 minor ports along the 4,660 mile-long coastline.
The Ministry of Tourism has also proposed a national level body — National Cruise Tourism Board — to ensure that cruises are used as a tool to drive tourism into and within India. “To position India as a cruise tourism destination, a sub-brand ‘Incredible Cruises in India’ will be developed, which will become the flag bearer of all cruise tourism events in the country,” the draft read.
SpiceJet Upgrades Hahn Air Pact to Expand Market Reach
Budget carrier SpiceJet has signed an interline agreement with German airline and global distribution services (GDS) provider Hahn Air. Under the new pact, SpiceJet will be additionally available under its own SG code in the Amadeus GDS, Hahn Air said in a statement. The airline has been available under Hahn Air’s H1 code in all major GDS since 2016.
Travel agents worldwide can issue SpiceJet flights on the insolvency-safe HR-169 ticket by choosing Hahn Air as the validating carrier. In addition, travel agents using the Amadeus GDS can combine SpiceJet’s flights with other Hahn Air partners’ flights on one single ticket. The airline is set to add 10 Boeing 737 aircraft to its fleet between September and October to cater to the growing passenger traffic.
IHG to Open Holiday Inn Resort in Kasauli
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has signed a management agreement with AHG Hotels & Resorts to develop a 300-room Holiday Inn Resort Kasauli in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. “As one of the most popular hill stations in North India, Kasauli attracts a multitude of travelers from Punjab, Delhi-NCR and Uttar Pradesh. The latest signing is testament to our plans to tap into key leisure destinations across the country,” said Sudeep Jain, managing director of South West Asia at IHG Hotels & Resorts.
Early this month, the company opened a 98-room Holiday Inn Katra Vaishno Devi in the north Indian union territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
Delhi Airport Introduces Self-Baggage Drop Facility to Cut Waiting Time
Delhi airport operator, Delhi International Airport Limited has introduced a self-baggage drop facility at Terminal-3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport to allow passengers to check in their own baggage, reducing their wait time by 15-20 minutes. Passengers can generate their boarding passes and baggage tags at the self check-in kiosk after which they can proceed to the facility, where they will scan their boarding pass and load their baggage onto the designated belt. The baggage will then be automatically transferred to the sorting area of the airport and onto the aircraft.
A total of 14 self-baggage drop machines have been installed at the terminal among which 12 are fully automated and two are hybrid. Currently, only IndiGo flyers can use the facility. Five other airlines including Vistara, Air India, British Airways, Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines are expected follow suit.
The Travel Corporation Onboards Sanjay Temkar as Country Manager for India and Middle East
The Travel Corporation has promoted Sanjay Temkar as its new Country Manager for India and Middle East, effective July 1. Prior to this, Temkar served as the company’s director of sales and has been with it for 10 years. He succeeds Darshan Maheshwari, who has been the country manager since 2012.
Earlier in February, The Travel Corporation consolidated its six brands under a single loyalty program. Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold, Costsaver, Brendan Vacations and Contiki are now aligned under one Global Tour Rewards program. It includes a 5 percent discount on tours that can be used with existing deals such as group tour discounts. Customers will also enjoy exclusive access to new trips and member-only events.
Patna to Get Three New Five-Star Hotels
The Bihar cabinet has given its approval for construction and operationalization of three five-star hotels in capital Patna, on the government land of Ashok Patliputra hotel, Sultan Palace and Bankipur bus stand premises, according to a statement issued by the state government.
Nand Kishore, managing director of Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation said the hotels would come up in the next three to four years after necessary formalities, like inviting bids for developing the hotels on the government land to be given on long lease. “First we will hire a consultant and then there will be approval from the board of Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority. Then bids would be invited from the interested parties who would be given the land on long lease for construction and operationalization of the hotels,” he said.
The Ashok Patliputra hotel is spread around 1.5 acres while the Sultan Palace is on around 3 acres and Bankipur bus stand premises over 3.5 acres.
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Photo credit: The Air India-Vistara merger is expected to be completed by March 2024. Benjamin Schudel / VT-SCJ SIN 19.02.2013