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First batch of Hajj pigrims departs from Mangaluru International airport

Air India to Follow Strict Hand Baggage Rules in UAE From July 1

Dubai: National carrier Air India and its budget airline will restrict the weight of hand luggage carried by passengers from the UAE from July 1.
The free allowance for hand luggage will be strictly restricted to 8kg for Air India and 7kg for its budget airline Air India Express inclusive of duty free items.

Also, the carry-on bags will be weighed at the gates before passengers board the flights, a senior airline official was quoted as saying by The Khaleej Times.

"If the baggage weighs more than the free allowance, a fee of 60 Dirhams (USD 16) per excess kilo would be charged at the gate," said Prem Sagar, manager of Air India and Air India Express in Dubai and Sharjah.
This is introduced at the peak time of summer travel from the UAE, Mr. Sagar said most other airlines flying to India have already been charging excess carry-on baggage at the gates.
"The baggage weighing at the gates policy will begin with flights from Sharjah on July 1. There could be a delay of a few more days to start it in Dubai," he said.
"Passenger hand baggage is usually assumed as 7 or 8 kgs whereas there are people who sometimes carry 10-15kgs extra.

That's not something good for the aircraft's safety.
"It is basically to dissuade people from carrying too much of excess weight and ensure that the weight is properly recorded for the safety of the aircraft," he said.
  • Published in UAE

Two Air India staff suspended after Jain pilgrims were served meat on flight

New Delhi: If populism and unionism weren’t enough to dent Air India’s credibility among flyers, careless staff could prove the key.

Tempers frayed onboard a Leh-Delhi flight on Saturday afternoon when meat was served to some Jain pilgrims returning from Sindhu Darshan festival.

Top Air India sources confirmed the incident to Mail Today with a quick addition: “The action was taken immediately and we suspended two catering staff of assistant manager rank following the complaint.” 

The immediate staff suspension was enacted to stop the bad news from leaving the airport as the fuming pilgrims landed in the Capital. But Mail Today managed to unearth the incident, which left many returning from the festival with bitter memories.

Chaos onboard 

Top sources said the incident happened on an Air India chartered flight which took off from Leh airport around noon on Saturday when many passengers belonging to the Jain religious community objected to non-vegetarian food packets being served to them for lunch, despite prior selection of a special “Hindu meal”.

The frustration and anger among passengers soon gained support from others, which resulted in chaos on board. 

The 182-seater Air India flight was chartered by about 122 pilgrims who had visited Sindhu Darshan, held from June 23 to June 26, in Ladakh capital city, and they were returning back to New Delhi on Saturday.

The Sindhu Darshan Festival, as the name suggests, is a celebration of River Sindhu, also known as the Indus. It was first started in the October, 1997 and continues to be held every year since then, attracting large number of foreign as well domestic tourists. 

“The return price for the chartered flight ticket was in the range of Rs 24,000 to Rs 26,000 and it was expected of Air India to serve a special treatment to the passengers, but in real, it turned out to be a big embarrassment for national carrier’s credibility among flyers,” said a senior Air India official, requesting anonymity. 

When contacted, AI Director (personal) NK Jain said: “We have suspended the two catering staff members on the basis of complaint filed by passengers and will issue a charge-sheet seeking explanation. Final penalty will be decided after that.” Slammed with mounting passengers’ complaints denting Air India’s credibility, Minister of State for Aviation Mahesh Sharma has asked his officers to crack the whip on errant ground staff and onboard crew members not ensuring a “memorable journey to flyers”. 

Speaking to Mail Today, Sharma said: “I am not going to take any indiscipline and incompetence lightly and will not be tolerated at any cost on the core services sector as aviation. The world is watching as we try to bring in more foreigners through better connectivity and hospitable staff.” 

  • Published in National

Lizard in Air India meal: Outrage in social media

New Delhi: The photograph of a lizard popping out of a meal tray of an Air India (AI) flight to London was doing the rounds of social media on Saturday, putting a question mark on the airline's hygiene standards. 

However, the national carrier vehemently denied the occurrence. The photograph and reports pertaining to it have gone viral in the internet.

The text accompanying the photo suggested that the incident took place aboard the AI flight from Delhi to London on Thursday last week. 

However, AI has clarified that the “news on Twitter and elsewhere regarding a 'lizard in meal tray' on board AI 111 DEL-LHR of June 11 is false and baseless”. It has said it has already investigated the “incident” and found that no such complaint was registered with them.

“No such complaint has been received from any passenger on board the flight or at the Air India office in London,” said the carrier. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said his ministry was in touch with AI's management in this regard. 

"As per them, there has been no complaint, no passenger or person has come forward to claim that this picture was taken by them. According to Air India, the matter seems to have been fabricated and is a hoax. They are still investigating the matter, as to who is behind it,” said Raju.

Before AI's statement, Raju had said AI was “not expected to serve lizards, nor are cooks expected to cook lizards”, while describing the reported incident as a serious issue.
  • Published in National

Air India crew member arrested in Jeddah

Jeddah: A cabin crew member of an Air India flight was detained by the Jeddah Airport authorities on charges of smuggling out gold.
The detained cabin crew was to board the flight bound for Kochi, along with 11 other crew members, sources said here tonight.
The incident which happened this morning forced Air India to operate the flight with 11 cabin crew members instead of mandatory 12, the sources added.
There was no official word from Air India. 
An Air India spokesperson later confirmed the detention of one of its cabin crew members but said that the reason was yet to be known.
"The cabin crew is still in detention. We are ascertaining the reason behind his detention," the spokesperson said, adding that the airline will take suitable action in this regard.
  • Published in World

AI pilot arrested in Sharjah for reporting drunk

NEW DELHI: An Air India commander was reportedly arrested in Sharjah on Saturday for turning up drunk to operate a long-haul flight to Delhi via Kochi. Flight AI 934, with 120 passengers, finally took off at 4.35pm, more than three hours past the scheduled time, after AI managed to find a replacement to fly the Airbus A-320.

"The commander was waiting in the security check queue. The staff reportedly found him reeking of alcohol. He was told to undergo a breath analyser test and was found to be high. He was then arrested," said a source.

An AI spokesman said, "The captain was not found fit to fly in Sharjah. He has been detained there. We are probing why he was found unfit to operate the flight."

Following a relaxation in rules last year, a pilot in India loses his or her licence only when caught flying inebriated for the third time.

While Air India faces embarrassment over one of its pilots being detained in UAE for reportedly turning up drunk to work, the commander may be in serious trouble. Pilots said unlike India, where the DGCA last year diluted punishment for reporting to work in an inebriated state, UAE has very strict rules.

A pilot in India now loses his/ her licence only when caught flying in an inebriated state for the third time. Earlier, the pilot stood to lose the licence on the second instance, as per rules set down by former DGCA chief Nasim Zaidi. While the action against crew for such an offence remains licence suspension for three months, punishment for subsequent offences were watered down last summer in the dying days of UPA-II.

Before this dilution, pilots would have their licence suspended for three months when caught drunk for the first time at work. On a second offence, his or her flying licence would be suspended for five years. This effectively meant an end to the pilot's flying career as they would have to begin from scratch after five years a virtually impossible task.

"In case of a repeat violation....the licence/approval of the crew member shall be suspended for a period of three years. In case of a second repeat violation... the licence/approval of the crew member shall be cancelled," the DGCA's current civil aviation requirement for "action on positive tests" says.
  • Published in National

Air India Express to lease eight more planes

Singapore - Air India Express, the low cost arm of the national carrier, will lease eight new aircraft by 2016-17, increasing its fleet to 25 while it adds more destinations.

“We have already signed three leases and five leases are in the process. We are taking brand new planes from leasing companies,” Chief Executive Officer K Shyam Sundar said here last night at a meeting of general sales agents.

“We are looking at a fleet of 36 aircraft in the next five years, adding 11 more planes which have been approved by the government,” he said.

Air India Express is deploying new economy class 189-seat planes - B737 800 NG.

He also disclosed that Air India Express plans to increase destinations from within India to Southeast Asia and the Gulf countries it is currently servicing.

The airline is also enjoying strong growth in passenger traffic, averaging around 2.6 million passengers a year.

“The load factor is high at about 90 per cent,” he said.

He said plans are to add Indian cities to more international destinations that are already being serviced by Air India Express.

Among the new routes would be Lucknow to Muscat and a study on Amritsar-Muscat is also underway, Sundar said.

At present, the low cost carrier flies to 13 international destinations from 12 Indian cities.
  • Published in World

Pilot and Engineer of Air India ,Fight inside cockpit at Chennai airport

CHENNAI: A Chennai-Delhi Air India flight was delayed by more than two hours after pilot and aircraft engineer had a difference of opinion which ended up in a fight inside the cockpit on Saturday. The aircraft engineer was injured and was admitted to a private hospital while the pilot Captain Manik Lal has been grounded till investigations are completed.

There were no passengers inside the plane when the incident happened.

Sources said that the plane which had arrived from Mumbai was scheduled to take off at 9.45am to Delhi enroute to Paris and a team of technicians where readying the plane for departure.
The pilot and the engineer are injured.
"Staff were cleaning the wind shield and attending to other technical aspects inside the cockpit when Manik Lal walked in. He was not pleased to see too many people inside the cockpit and started to send them out. The flight engineer V T Kannan reached the cockpit and informed the pilot that the plane was yet to be handed over to the crew for flying. But the pilot refused to pay heed to the explanation," said an official.

This led to an argument which snowballed into a fight in which the flight engineer was injured and was admitted to a private hospital, he added.

An Air India official said," an investigation has been ordered and the pilot was derostered till a report is submitted about the incident."
  • Published in National

Air India flight cancelled as crack detected in pilot’s window pane

Mangaluru: An Air India flight was cancelled as a crack was detected in the glass pane of the window shield near the pilot’s seat in the cockpit.

The flight was about to take off to Delhi. The flight had landed at the international airport at 12-25 pm on Wednesday. It was to take off on its return journey at 1 pm.

Some of the passengers who were to fly by the flight took to alternative flights by JetAir and SpiceJet. A few others chose to fly by the same flight on Friday.

Passengers who remained in the city were provided with hotel accommodation by the airline.

The exact cause of the crack is not known.

  • Published in Mangaluru
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