Newsletter#5

China Outflies India
Remember all those reports that said the government’s demonetisation move had no impact on air travel. Well, screw those reports because India has lost the crown as the fastest growing market on the planet to China.
 
The Chinese domestic aviation market grew 15.1% compared with India’s 14.6% growth in March. “This is the first possible sign of reduced cash supply and wider economic uncertainty weighing on demand,” airline lobby group IATA said.
 
No surprises there because the majority of Indians still rely on travel agents, whom they pay cash to book tickets and air travel typically is one of the first industries to bear the brunt of economic uncertainty.  Chinese aviation is on Cloud 9, with its first large passenger jetliner finishing its maiden test flight on Friday. 
 

Don't Even Think About It!

Draft rules for a no-fly list for unruly passengers were unveiled on Friday. That was some fast work by the government given that the trigger -- the incident of an MP assaulting an Air India employee -- happened in March.

Here are the highlights:

  • Passengers can be barred from flying from three months to up to two years.
  • This is based on the level of unruliness.
  • Level 1 = Disruptive behaviour, Level 2 = Physically abusive behaviour. Level 3 = Life threatening behaviour.
  • Passengers can appeal the decision of an airline to bar them at a committee formed at the airlines-level and at the national level, both headed by retired judges.

That's A Heavy Load

US airlines made $4.2 billion in 2016 by charging passengers to check or carry on bags, according to Department of Transportation  data released this week. In an industry where margins are as thin as a boarding pass, such revenue generators are godsend.

In India too ancillary revenues are on the uptick though the government allowed airlines to charge ancillary fees only in 2013. Ancillary revenues for IndiGo, for example, rose to 12.4% in 2016 from 11.3% in 2015.

… but wait!

A US court has ruled that passengers can sue airlines that charge baggage fees for refunds if they fail to deliver bags when the plane lands. Most US airlines charge for checked baggage and there are plenty of cases for bags going missing. India is no different, as this case reminds us:  

From Qatar, With Love

Remember Qatar Airways  announced in March its plans to establish an Indian carrier with a fleet of 100 narrow-body jets. The move was dismissed by several aviation watchers, given CEO Akbar Al Baker’s penchant for making grand announcements without following through despite the airline’s long interest in expanding  in India.

Now, BloombergQuint says it makes a lot of sense for the airline to start an offshoot in India. For one, there are twice the number of Indians in Qatar than Qataris. For another, Inda-Qatarwas the fourth busiest international route for India in 2015-16.

If this strategy holds good, Indian airlines too should consider launching flights to regions that draws swathes of expats to India. Actually, they should have long ago. But first they will be busy trying to foil Qatar's plans.

What's Cooking?  
Air travel remains an aspiration in India, given how only a small fraction of the population flies. So we love it when we have behind-the-scenes reports like this that make aviation familiar, telling readers how in-flight meals are prepared and delivered.

As one would expect, cooking for an airline isn’t the same as whipping up food for a restaurant. There are weight considerations, for example: business class meals weigh around 300 grams and economy class weigh approximately 220 grams.

Here's An Idea
US airline Delta is offering seamless airport transfers to its passengers by partnering BLADE, an on-demand helicopter startup.  Passengers flying on New York-JFK can avoid road traffic by using the app.

How about  Indian charter companies partnering Indian airlines for a similar service? Charter companies can escort passengers to their aircraft once they land on an IndiGo or Air India flight.

Fly By Night
If you didn’t already now, the view while flying at night can be breathtaking. Watch thisvideo, if you don’t believe us. Bet you will stay awake when you fly across the Atlantic Ocean to South America the next time.

Weekly Roundup

> Vistara to order 100 planes

Aviation consultancy Capa says Vistara will order 100 Boeing 777X. People with direct knowledge of the development told Rede that though it is true that the airline will make a huge plane order, the timing and type of planes are pure speculation.

No announcements in Chennai airport
After Mumbai and Hyderabad, Chennai airport too ends announcements on flight information.

Vijayawada airport goes international
The government has upgraded the status of Vijayawada airport to international.