Newsletter #3

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Dear Reder,
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Look It's A Chinese Plane!
China almost has its own plane. Well, its first jetliner passed a crucial ground test earlier this week. Can we stop those India-China comparisons please?

The plane is a marriage of Chinese and Western aerospace designs. Before you scoff at a Chinese ‘product’, note that the plane might be actually comfortable than an Airbus or Boeing.
The C919 airliner has 168 seats, about the same number as an A320 or B737-800, the best-sellers among all planes, and its wheels are almost identical to the latest Airbus models. Let’s hope it is as cheap as most Chinese products. 

UDAN aka RCS Takes off
Hurrah! The first regional connectivity scheme (RCS) flight in India has taken off after Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off an Alliance Air flight from Shimla to Delhi.  

The government has high hopes for RCS or UDAN (short for Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik; who in the government comes up with these acronyms?), with Modi saying 70 regional airports will come up in the next one year.

No doubt, a jumbo country like India needs regional connectivity flights – it takes 10 hours to reach Shimla to Delhi by road and an hour by flight – but as we reported last week, it will be a huge challenge for RCS to succeed.

Ministers Split Over Dubai
The Sheikhs of Dubai, read Emirates, have long been clamouring for more seats on the India-Dubai sector under the bilateral flying rights between the two sides. Though bilaterals insist on reciprocity, these arrangements have been more beneficial to Emirates than Indian airlines (actually detrimental to government-owned Air India).
Given that airlines from both sides have exhausted the 63,000 weekly seats allotted to them, there maybe a case for increasing the seats, as long as the reciprocity is followed in letter and spirit. But the aviation minister of India and his deputy are on different pages on allowing additional flights.
Here is a good report in The Economic Times: it is unusual for two ministers to tell a reporter on record about their differences. This comes as Indian passport holders with a valid American visa or a Green Card are eligible to get a UAE visa on arrival.

United Feels Sorry
After reaching an amicable settlement with the passenger it violently dragged off a plane three weeks ago, United Airlines has made big changes to regain customer trust.

Here are the changes in a nutshell:
1. Limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.
2. Customers already seated on a plane don’t have to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.
3. Customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding increased up to $10,000.
4. A customer solutions team will be created to provide agents with creative solutions.

Facebook Gets Airline Friendly

Remember, Facebook had introduced Dynamic Ads on its platform and on Instagram focused on hotels. They are now being rolled out for airlines.

The difference is that they can be optimised against route and schedule, keeping in mind the needs of airlines. The buzz is that the ads could be as successful as they were for hotels (who knows more about our habits than Facebook, after all?).

Garmin Upgrades Pilot app
Tech company Garmin has upgraded its pilot app (on IOS) with integrated weight and balance calculations as well as aircraft performance tables and calculations. Garmin Pilot also allows flight plan editing from the moving map page and creation of customised checklists.