Prior to the rollout of DigiYatra for international travel, it will be imperative to address privacy concerns. Airports will need to strike a balance between security and individual privacy rights.
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The civil aviation ministry is looking to integrate DigiYatra, the digital initiative for airport check-ins, for international travel. Jyotiraditya Scindia, the civil aviation minister, recently met airport operators to discuss it.
Currently operational at 13 airports for domestic travel, DigiYatra is a mobile app allowing passengers to use facial recognition as a boarding pass to ensure paperless entry at various checkpoints throughout an airport.
While this innovation promises convenience, concerns have been raised about the lack of privacy safeguards. Critics highlight the DigiYatra policy granting access to passenger data by any security or government agency, along with adjustable data purge settings based on “security requirements,” potentially exposing loopholes that third parties could exploit to acquire passenger data.
During the meeting with airport operators, Scindia emphasized the significance of developing security check facilities at major metro airports, aligning with international standards.
Scindia urged airline operators to adopt creative approaches to facilitate the integration of DigiYatra across various airports.
Recently, Scindia had also disclosed plans to extend the reach of the DigiYatra app to 38 airports by the end of this year, targeting 95% of air passengers.
The DigiYatra app user base crossed the one million mark in June last year, according to a statement from the civil aviation ministry.
Indian Hotels Marks 2023 with 32 New Signings
In 2023, the Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), known popularly as the owner of Taj hotels, signed agreements for 32 new hotels and opened 18 new properties. IHCL’s current portfolio boasts 285 properties, includes a pipeline of 85 hotels.
This year marks the sixth consecutive year of IHCL’s expanding portfolio in the Indian subcontinent, said Suma Venkatesh, executive vice president – real estate & development at IHCL.
Highlighting the company’s two-pronged growth approach, Venkatesh said this involves deepening the presence in existing markets with multiple brands and expanding into new destinations, extending its footprint to over 130 locations.
Venkatesh emphasized that the Taj brand has strengthened its presence in key metro and commercial cities, introducing 381 rooms in Delhi, 112 rooms in Cochin, and venturing into international markets such as Dhaka and Bhutan.
“Vivanta and SeleQtions together added 17 hotels while Ginger on the back of its lean luxe positioning signed 6 new hotels,” she said.
India Is Fifth Largest Passenger Market for Singapore’s Changi Airport
India ranked as the fifth largest passenger market for Singapore’s Changi Airport in 2023. The airport rebounded to 83% of its pre-pandemic traffic levels having handled almost 59 million passengers last year.
India had previously been the sixth travel traffic generator for the airport in 2019.
According to the latest data from the Changi Airport Group (CAG), Indonesia claimed the top spot in the airport’s passenger market in 2023, followed by Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, and India.
Changi Airport expanded its network from India by adding Bhubaneswar as a new passenger city link in 2023.
Until November 2023, India held the position of the fourth-largest tourist-generating market for Singapore, contributing to 977,540 tourists received during the first 11 months of that year.
MakeMyTrip Completes Acquisition of Savaari
Marking its entry into the $3 billion-plus, yet largely unorganized, intercity car-rental market, MakeMyTrip announced that it has completed acquiring a majority stake in Savaari Car rentals.
The online travel agency had announced in its second quarter fiscal results that it has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority interest in Savaari Car Rentals.
Savaari will continue to operate as an independent entity led by the existing leadership team, MakeMyTrip said in a release.
Prakash Sangam, CEO of redBus, MakeMyTrip’s online bus ticket booking platform, will spearhead this initiative within the MakeMyTrip Group.
“We are now looking to transform this space by leveraging technology as well as deeper consumer understanding from MakeMyTrip. The timing of the acquisition couldn’t be better, as it coincides with the improved road infrastructure in the country and a wider acceptance among travellers to book intercity cab services online,” said Gaurav Aggarwal, founder and CEO of Savaari Car Rentals.
The inter-city car rental service currently operates predominantly offline, facing challenges such as low online penetration, a fragmented supply chain, and a lack of standardization in service.
“We have previously addressed similar issues in intercity private bus transport, where our leadership position is evident through redBus. By acquiring a majority stake in Savaari, we aim to extend our leadership to adjacent segments in ground transport,” said Rajesh Magow, co-founder and group CEO of MakeMyTrip.
Travel Tech Platform Bookingjini Secures Funding
India-based travel tech booking platform Bookingjini said it has raised funding from a pre-series A round led by Inflection Point Venture.
While Bookingjini didn’t disclose the amount it raised, the start-up said the funds would be allocated towards product development and customer acquisition.
The platform said it provides a comprehensive suite of services, including a smart booking engine, channel manager, guest relationship management, analytics, and mobile accessibility.
Serving over 2100 paying customers, Bookingjini empowers hotels to thrive in the dynamic landscape of the hospitality sector, a release from the company stated.
Founder and CEO Sibasish Mishra emphasized the belief in empowering hotels with technology that not only simplifies management but transforms the guest experience.
Bookingjini also said that it has secured partnerships with eight state tourism development corporations and claimed to cross $1.2 million in annual recurring revenue.
Indigo Now Starts Surat-Dubai Direct
Indigo will now be flying direct to Dubai from the diamond city of Surat, operating thrice a week from February 23.
The low-cost carrier already flies direct from Ahmedabad to Dubai, making Surat the second city in Gujarat, with direct connectivity to the UAE destination.
Air India Express became the first airline to directly connect Surat to Dubai in December.
From February 22, Indigo will also be introducing additional frequencies on the Hyderabad-Dubai route. With the addition of these flights, Indigo will be operating 108 direct flights a week to Dubai from 13 cities in India.
In 2023, the airline became the only Indian carrier to fly 100 million customers in a year, and the first in the country to operate 2,000 daily flights.
The airline touched 17 new destinations in 2023, including international cities like Tashkent, Baku, Tbilisi, Jakarta and Nairobi, as well as Gondia, Jharsuguda, Diu and Jaisalmer in India.
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Photo credit: Passengers at Delhi International Airport. Michael Sotnikov / Flickr