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The Directorate General of Civil Aviation's decision to ease work pressure on aviation crew is a welcome step, considering the recent reports of fatigue-related safety risks.

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Indian aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has changed flight crew regulations concerning flight duty time limitations, aligning them with international best practices. These regulations will be crucial to manage fatigue-related aviation safety risks.

Pilot deaths: Recently, the question of a pilot shortage causing pressure on the existing ones has come to the fore. Several pilot deaths have been attributed to fatigue and stress. In early 2023, a 37-year-old Air India pilot died in the airline’s Gurugram office after suffering a cardiac arrest.

In August of last year, an Indigo pilot collapsed and died before his flight last week. News agency Reuters had reported that this pushed India’s air safety watchdog to review pilot fatigue data to see if any policy changes are required. Post the incidents, there were complaints from some Indian pilots that they are being stretched to the brink by airlines, even though they comply with regulations.

Revised Flight Duty Regulations Based on Comprehensive Analysis: The revised flight duty regulations have been developed after analyzing data and feedback from various stakeholders, including airline operators, pilot associations, and individuals.

Revised regulations now mandate an increase in weekly rest periods for flight crew from 36 to 48 hours. This adjustment aims to provide ample time for recovery from cumulative fatigue.

Night Duty Definition Amendment: The definition of night has also been modified in the revised regulations, including a one-hour extension in the early morning, to ensure adequate rest.

Restrictions on Maximum Flight Time and Duty Periods During Night Operations: Considering various types of operations across time zones, the revised regulations impose restrictions on maximum flight time and maximum flight duty periods during operations creeping into the night. The limits are set at 8 hours of flight time and 10 hours of flight duty. Additionally, the number of landings during night operations is now limited to two.

Quarterly Fatigue Reports Mandate: DGCA has mandated that all airline operators submit quarterly fatigue reports after analysis. These reports should include details about the Action Taken based on the analysis. Furthermore, a non-punitive and confidentiality policy is stipulated for these fatigue reports.

Travel Companies Report Surge In Visitors’ Interest to Lakshadweep

In the wake of the diplomatic dispute between India and Maldives, travel companies indicated a surge in visitors’ interest in the island of Lakshadweep. 

“The Prime Minister’s initiative to inspire Indians to explore our country’s less explored/hidden gem Lakshadweep and its pristine islands have garnered significant attention and interest from the country. The island destination has become the most searched destination worldwide today, and our search data indicates a surge of almost 200% on our portal for Lakshadweep cruise sailings. We anticipate that this surge in interest and demand will encourage authorities to strengthen the infrastructure in the destination and establish direct connectivity to boost tourism in the destination,” said spokesperson Daniel D’Souza, president and Country Head – Holidays, SOTC Travel. 

All Sunday, #BoycottMaldives had been trending on Indian social media.

Rajeev Kale, spokesperson of president and country heads, Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thoman Cook (India) Limited, said, “With the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Lakshadweep and encouragement to Indians to explore the islands within the country, we have witnessed an uptick in our searches for domestic and beach destinations. Our search data for Lakshadweep indicates a significant jump of over 950% compared to December, followed by destinations like Andamans, Goa, Kerala’s Kovalam, Daman, and Diu – a clear catalyst for Domestic Tourism.”

In the wake of the spat, Indian online travel agency EaseMyTrip announced on Monday that it has suspended all flight bookings to Maldives in what its Co-Founder and CEO, Prashant Pitti, deemed was in “solidarity with the nation.” On Monday, MakeMyTrip also announced the launch of a “Beaches of India” campaign, as reported by Skift.

On January 9, Paytm introduced a flat 10% discount on flight tickets to Lakshadweep. This promotion reportedly followed a 50-fold increase in searches for travel to Lakshadweep on the Paytm platform.

Dhruv Shringi, CEO and whole-time director of Yatra Online, on the developments around Lakshwadeep, said the on-platform searches for Lakshadweep increased by 3000% after the PM’s visit. “At Yatra, we foresee 2024 will be a year where unexplored domestic destinations will gain prominence. To ride on this positive trend, we have introduced exciting packages to enhance travel journeys and discover lesser-known gems in the country in a new and unique way,” he added.

Air India Expands Virtual Assistant Access To WhatsApp

Air India has extended access to its virtual travel assistant, AI.g, on WhatsApp. The multilingual chatbot’s availability on WhatsApp creates a new support channel for Air India passengers. Travelers can inquire about over 1,300 travel-related topics. AI.g is fluent in four languages: Hindi, English, French, and German.

Following the record order of aircraft, Air India has announced its ambitious growth plans, unveiling its new brand imagery, and showcasing the planned retrofit of its existing widebodies. The airline is also preparing to induct its first A350 aircraft into service. 

Also, in December last year, the airline engaged the services of Indian designer Manish Malhotra to revamp the uniforms for Air India’s frontline staff, including the cabin crew, cockpit crew, ground staff, engineers, and security services.

India To Amp Up River Crusie Tourism

The government on Monday announced it plans to invest INR 600 billion ($7.2 billion) by 2047 in river cruise tourism and the development of green vessels. The investment will be made through the public partnership model.

Announcing a plan to invest INR 450 billion ($5.4 billion) in cruise tourism, Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, said, an estimated INR 350 billion ($4.2 billion) has been earmarked for cruise vessels, while INR 100 billion ($1.2 billion) would be used to develop cruise terminal infrastructure.

The success of MV Ganga Vilas and other river cruises in India, including Costa, have spurred global cruise majors to venture towards Indian waters. Alternatively, some Indian players are now looking at international routes, news outlet The Hindu recently reported.

Accors to Open Grand Mercure Jaipur Kukas in 2028

Accor will be bringing its 8th Grand Mercure to Jaipur with the has collaborated with the Grand Mercure Jaipur Kukas. Set to open in 2028, Accor has partnered with Shree Kamalam Elite Resorts to bring the 160-key property to Rajasthan.

Accor’s Presence in India: Accor currently operates 61 properties in India under various brands, including Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel, Pullman, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mercure, and ibis.

Accor’s India Plans: In an earlier interaction with Indian media, Accor’s senior vice president operations, India and South Asia, Puneet Dhawan, had said the hotel company plans to open 30 new properties in India in the next three to five years.

Location: Dhawan had said the new properties would come up in New Delhi, Chandigarh, Mohali, Bhubaneswar and Amritsar.


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Tags: adventure tourism, air india, airlines, dgca, ecotourism, hotels, indian airlines, maldives, pilots, safety, tourism

Photo credit: Pilots in uniform Kelly / Pexels

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