Air India is expected to emerge as a global network carrier in terms of size, scale and quality over the next few years.
Antitrust watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved Tata group’s plan to merge its full-service carriers Air India and Vistara.
The nod clears the decks for the merger – the combined entity will retain the Air India brand and the Vistara brand will be retired. The fair-trade regulator’s approval is a must for mergers and acquisitions.
The merger is expected to conclude by March 2024.
Ownership: Air India is fully owned by Tata Sons, while Vistara is a joint-venture of Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, with an equity split of 51% and 49%, respectively. Singapore Airlines will hold a 25.1% in the merged airline.
In April, Tata Sons, Singapore Airlines, Air India, and Vistara had jointly filed for the regulator’s approval to the proposed merger.
Approval wasn’t automatic: In June, CCI issued a notice to Air India, seeking clarification on why its proposed merger with Vistara should not be investigated over concerns about competition. The two Tata group airlines are understood to have told the CCI that there is strong competition from rivals on most of its routes.
New Brand Identity: Last month, Air India revealed a new brand identity, including new livery for its aircraft that included elements from the existing brand identities of Air India and Vistara.
Air India Express is also expected to reveal the new brand identity for the group’s low-cost airline soon.
Consolidating Airlines: The Tata group is already in the process of merging its low-cost carriers Air India Express and AIX Connect (formerly Air Asia India). Once both the mergers are complete, the Air India group will have a full-service carrier Air India and a low-cost airline Air India Express. The Air India group is working on a fleet modernization and expansion plan with orders for 470 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus.
Indians Lead Among Visa Applicants in Finland: Embassy
Indians have grown to become the largest group of visa applicants in Finland this year, followed by Russia and China, said Dr. Tito Gronow, minister and deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Finland in New Delhi.
Gronow was speaking at Visit Finland’s annual India workshop held in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and New Delhi.
Purpose of the Roadshow: With the participation of 17 suppliers from Finland, the workshop aimed to promote outbound tourism from India to Finland.
Flight Connectivity: Finnair currently flies daily to and from Delhi. It added three flights a week from Mumbai last year. Chennai and Bengaluru could become the likely additions to the list.
Earlier in March, Finnair unveiled its refurbished business class and premium economy offering onboard the New Delhi-Helsinki route.
Lemon Tree Hotels Signs a Property in Dehradun
Lemon Tree Hotels has signed a license agreement for an 80-room property in Dehradun in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand. The hotel will operate under the company’s upscale brand, “Lemon Tree Premier.”
When? The property is projected to open doors in the third quarter of 2025.
Management: Carnation Hotels, which serves as a wholly-owned subsidiary and the hotel management arm of Lemon Tree Hotels, will manage and operate the new venture.
Current Operations: Lemon Tree Hotels currently has eight operational properties and five upcoming ones in Uttarakhand. When the current pipeline becomes operational, the company will be operating 12,650 rooms in 143 hotels across 90 destinations.
Recent Signings: The company recently signed two new properties — 60-room Lemon Tree Hotel, Bhubaneswar in Odisha and 50-room Lemon Tree Mountain Resort, Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh.
Go First and Jet Airways Lose Airline Codes for Being Non-Operational
Cash-strapped airlines Go First and Jet Airways have lost their International Air Transport Association (IATA)-assigned airline codes ‘G8 and 9W’ respectively for being non-operational.
Code Eligibility: An airline needs to be operational for the basic eligibility for an IATA two-letter designator. IATA assigns the airline designator code to companies to use for reservations, schedules, timetables, telecommunications, ticketing, legal, tariffs and/or other commercial/traffic purposes.
Go First Crisis: Faced with financial headwinds and engine woes, Go First stopped flying on May 3 and is undergoing an insolvency resolution process. IATA has blocked the ‘G8’ for Go First for a 12-month period, Albert Tjoeng, head of corporate communications at IATA, said in a statement.
Jet Airways Bankruptcy: In the case of Jet Airways, which was grounded in April 2019, the two-letter designator ‘9W’ remains blocked. The National Company Appellate Tribunal gave Jalan-Kalrock consortium, which is the new promoter of Jet, time till September 30 to clear dues worth $42.3 million to lenders of the grounded airline.
EaseMyTrip Partners With Czech Tourism to Promote Luxury Travel Experiences
Online travel platform EaseMyTrip.com has collaborated with CzechTourism to redefine luxury travel experiences.
Objective: The partnership aims to showcase and create awareness about Czechia to the Indian audience. Another priority is to introduce a direct flight from India to Prague.
Recent Acquisitions: Last month, EaseMyTrip said it is planning to acquire a 51% stake in three Indian travel companies — Guideline Travels, specializing in cruises; TripShope Travel Technologies, a travel and leisure solution provider in Kashmir; and Delhi-based Dook Travels, an integrated travel management company operating across various countries.
The company has also recently partnered with electric vehicle ride-hailing platform BluSmart to enable customers book airport transfers through BluSmart’s fleet of electric vehicles in Delhi-National Capital Region and Bengaluru directly via the EaseMyTrip website.
Malaysia Airlines Expands India Connectivity With Three New Routes
Malaysia Airlines has added three new destinations — Ahmedabad, Amritsar and Thiruvananthapuram — to widen its India footprint. The launch of new services in the winter schedule increases the airline’s overall Indian destination count to nine.
Aircraft: Beginning November and December, Boeing 737-800NG aircraft, equipped with 160 seats, will operate on the new routes.
“Currently, our average load factor on this route is at 81% signifying the growth and confidence for travel between the two markets. We are looking at restoring our pre-Covid-19 capacity back in the Indian market by the end of this year and will also look to increase flight frequencies to other destinations,” said Captain Izham Ismail, group managing director of Malaysia Aviation Group.
India Becomes a Leading Inbound Travel Market for Trevolution Group
Trevolution Group, a company focused on agency sales of airline tickets and travel services, has sold over 38,600 tickets to and from India in the first half of 2023, indicating a 65% growth across the market.
This amounts to over $65 million, or nearly 10% of overall company’s gross bookings, the company said in a statement.
Class of Travel: The Economy ticket class experienced the most increase in sales during the first six months of the year, resulting in 60% growth in flights from India and a 43% growth in tickets sold to India.
The Premium Economy class has also shown a positive tendency in growing demand among both Indian travelers as well as globally.
Destinations: The most popular departure countries to reach India from have been the U.S., Canada, as well as the UK, with three times more flights compared to the same period in 2022.
Type of Tickets: Nearly 83.5% of all tickets purchased to India were round-trip tickets, while the share of one-way tickets stayed at nearly the same level and amounted to 16.5%, compared to 13.5% in 2022.
Chalet Hotels and Tata Power Renewable Energy Partner for a Sustainable Future
Chalet Hotels has inked a power delivery agreement with Tata Power Renewable Energy Limited (TPREL), subsidiary of Tata Power, for a 6 megawatt (MW) AC group captive project.
What the Agreement Entails: TPREL has committed to supply 13.75 million units of clean energy from renewable sources through the collaboration. The project aims to significantly reduce carbon emissions by 9762 tonnes annually to support the decarbonisation of the hospitality industry.
Recent Deals: TPREL recently entered into a power delivery agreement with Sanyo Special Steel Manufacturing India for a captive solar plant with a capacity of 28.125 megawatts (AC) and another deal for 4.4 megawatts (AC) with the Anand Group, a global automotive systems and parts industry.
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Photo credit: Air India revealed a new brand identity and a fresh aircraft livery last month. Mark Harris / Flickr