While the human activity has become restricted as a result of drop in temperature the state, the avian activity is on a surge now. With thousands of migratory birds making a beeline for the world renowned wetland of the state – Keoladeo Ghana National Park, tourist activity in the park has almost tripled in the past fortnight. As a result of this, the department officials are overjoyed while are also keeping a good eye out on the water availability in the dykes across the park.
During the three-month long monsoon this year, the rains did not provide with Bharatpur district with enough water to fill the dams providing water to Keoladeo, thus the park faced a major problem of water shortage. “There was little water available here and thus we had to take water from the Goverdhan drain. Although it wasn’t enough, we later had to lift water from Chambal as well to reach the optimum level required for the park,” officials said.
This proved to be a major boon as with enough water and feed, the resident birds stayed put and built nests to lay eggs. “While the heronries became abundant, the water started drawing migratory birds right after the monsoons ended. At first small groups arrived however off late, we have been receiving groups of hundreds of birds on a daily basis. Coots, showlers, geese and many other species of birds have been recorded so far in huge numbers. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of chicks in the heronries as well and thus the park is teeming with life right now,” said officials.
Ornithologists, who have been waiting for winter to visit the park, have thronged in huge numbers as well. “There are regular bird watchers, photographers, ornihtologists who have been visitng on regular basis for over a month now. There is also a surge in number of tourists – both domestic and foreign. During the weekend we have difficult time in handling the tourists as their number swells more than expected. Overall the situation in park is good,” officials said.
MIGRATORY BIRDS MAKING A BEELINE
With the drop in temperature across state, the avian activity is on a surge now. With thousands of migratory birds making a beeline for the world renowned wetland of the state – Keoladeo Ghana National Park, tourist activity in the park has almost tripled in the past fortnight. As a result of this, the department officials are overjoyed while are also keeping a good eye out on the water availability in the dykes across the park.
NANDANKANAN: The Celestial Garden for Wildlife
Everybody contemplates as human beings are the best creations by the almighty. But besides them, it is the varied wildlife creatures and their panoramic views across the length and breadth of the world are definitely going to sooth and sensitize the sightseers. The Nandankanan, literally meaning The Garden of Heaven near the outskirt of Bhubaneswar, capital of Odisha in the environs of the Chandaka forest, and includes the 134-acre (54 ha) Kanjia lake brings godly pleasure to its viewers. Established in 1960, it was opened to the public in 1979 and became the first zoo in India to join the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) in 2009. It also contains a botanical garden and part of it has been declared a sanctuary. A major upgrade was done in 2000 (after the damage caused by the super-cyclone of 1999 in coastal Odisha). More than 3.3 million visitors visit Nandankanan every year
Forest officials decided in 1960 that including rare plants and animals in the Odisha pavilion at the World Agricultural Fair in Delhi would help increase attendance. The message was sent to the forest department to capture as many small animals as possible for the display. In all, the forest department managed to capture two spotted deer (Axis axis), two barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), two blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), one mouse deer, one leopard cat, one flying squirrel, one racket-tailed drongo, one hornbill, two parrots, two hill mynah, one peacock, and a mongoose. In addition, the divisional forest officer of Deogarh captured a pangolin (scaly ant-eater) and two porcupines, and the divisional forest officer of Puri captured a pair of wild boars and a Python. All of these animals were delivered to the Delhi fair and exhibited at the Odisha pavilion.
The State Finance Department raised objections to a zoo in Odisha because of the cost of both establishing and maintaining the facility. While the issue was being debated, animals arrived back at Bhubaneswar in May 1960, posing problems to the forest department for housing and feeding them. P. Mohandra (Divisional Forest Officer, Puri) and G. K. Das (Divisional Forest Officer, Deogarh) built temporary structures at Khandagiri for the animals, and the community of Jain helped feed them. Discussions about a real zoo started soon after Dr. H. K. Mahatab, then Chief Minister of Odisha visited the animals.
The initial proposal placed the zoo at Ghatikia close to Khandagiri and Udayagiri caves. However, this was deemed to pose water problems in the future. A zoo needs a lot of water to meet the need of animals, cleaning of animals sheds and for various other purposes. The then Range Officer, Chandaka suggested Jujhagarh forest block on Kanjia lake near Barang Railway station as the most ideal location. The then Chief Conservator of Forests, Divisional Forest Officer, Puri, Range Officer, Chandaka and D.P. Ghosh, Forest Ranger visited the place and were impressed with its scenic beauty. Kanjia lake with its vast expanse over 125 acres low and undulating hills of Jujhagarh and Krushnanagar with lush green vegetation on both sides of the lake presented a picturesque site. Jujhagarh Forest Block had all the advantages for locating the zoo except communication from Bhubaneswar and the only approach was via Chandaka covering a distance of 38 km.
A committee consisting of Dr. Radhanath Rath, Sri G.C. Dash, and Sri D.N. Choudhury, the then Minister of Forests, Secretary, Forest and the Chief Conservator of Forests respectively visited the place. They were very much impressed with its aesthetic beauty and recommended the location of the zoo there with construction of a straight road (a distance of 14 to 15 km) from Bhubaneswar.
Accordingly, it was decided to locate the Zoological Park in Jujhagarh Forest Block, Botanical garden in Krushnanagar Forest Block and develop Kanjia lake for Boating and Angling. The Director, Fisheries agreed to develop a portion of the lake for rearing various kinds of fish for visitors to see. Initially, it was decided to keep spotted deer, barking deer, black bucks, wild boars, sambars, nilgai, and bears in spacious enclosures. Other animals like the leopard cat, mongoose, flying squirrel, porcupine, python, monkeys, hyena, jackal, civet cat, pangolin, jungle cat, parrots, mynah and other birds in suitable cages. It was decided to put efforts to capture tigers and leopards which could be exhibited in suitable cages for the time being and the suitable spacious enclosures would be built for them later on. It was also decided to raise a good flower garden and to plant important species and medicinal plants of Odisha inside proposed Botanical garden in Krushnanagar. Eventually, the site around the 134-acre (54 ha) Kanjia Lake was chosen. The lake would be developed for recreation as well. A 15-kilometer (9.3 mi) road was built to the site, and Nandankanan Biological Park was officially inaugurated on 29 December 1960, by Sri S. K. Patil, then Indian Minister of Food and Agriculture.
A botanical garden was opened in 1963. The first tiger arrived at the zoo in 1964 from the Alipore Zoo in Calcutta, along with a pair of African lions, a pair of Mugger crocodiles, and a puma. The facility was renamed Nandankanan Zoological Park in 1981.
In 2009 Nandankanan Zoological Park became the first zoo in India to be registered member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)
Special Attractions –
The sylvan setup of the Park provides many special features which attract the visitors in large numbers.
Boating on the paddle or rowboats in the blue water of Kanjia lake is an exhilarating experience. The multi-storey Boat Ghat is renovated to give new looks providing enough space for the visitors to relax and enjoy the picturesque freshwater spreading over an area of more than 66 ha. lake. The boating service is outsourced for better management and satisfaction of the visitors. The lake is also known for its rich floral and faunal diversity and is declared as a Wetland of National Importance by Govt. of India.
White Tiger Safari
A unique white tiger safari established on 1st October 1991 over an area of 12 ha in natural surroundings. It provides exposes you to a unique situation where the visitors are confined in a vehicle and the animals roam in the open jungle. Nandankanan is the first zoo in India with a white tiger safari.
A twenty-minute drive through the meandering roads crisscrossing the natural forest in a specially protected vehicle takes the visitors straight into a pride of lions in the lion safari over an area of 20 ha established in the year 1984.
Herbivore safari was established in the year 2011 extending over an area of 21 ha. with a road network of 2 Km. length. The safari houses Barking Deer, Spotted Deer, Sambars, Four-horned antelope, wild boar, jungle fowls, peafowls, etc.
A Bear safari covering an area over 5 ha. has been established in the zoo during the year 2012. Visitors can avail the opportunity to sight sloth bears in their natural habitat through safari bus service.
A reptile park, with a life-size Tyrannosaurus at its entrance with an interpretation center, houses 27 species of reptiles including crocodiles, lizards, turtles, and snakes. One would encounter crocodiles, king cobras and a huge Reticulated Python inside the reptile park.
An amphibian enclosure has been established with viewers’ gallery over a plinth area of 56 m2. Necessary behavioral enrichments like flowing water saw dust, live plants, water pool, etc. have been provided within the enclosure. The enclosure is designed to house and display amphibian species. Nandankanan is the first premier large zoo to exhibit amphibians. At present, there are 21 numbers of amphibians belonging to six species.
Open Top Leopard Enclosure
The new open-top Leopard enclosure in Nandankanan is one among the very few in the country which attempts to exhibit this species in a large naturalistic enclosure which is open to the sky. This enclosure has been designed aesthetically to maximize visitor satisfaction without compromising the safety and security of the animal as well as visitors. The enclosure which has an exhibit area with a deep dry moat also has four feeding chambers and two back kraals. The entire enclosure has existing natural vegetation including two large Ficus bengalensis trees together with other trees and bushes. In addition, environmental enrichment by way of machan platforms, stone cave, wooden logs, water trough, etc. has been provided to encourage them to indulge in natural activities.
The toy train has been a great attraction for the children. Its starts from the toy train station which goes around a circular track of 1.58 Km. along the lake and thickly vegetated hillock area with free-ranging herbivores. The entire facility is now under renovation.
The aquarium is an integral component of a modern zoo. Adequate steps were taken to include well-researched education materials on the various aquatic ecosystems both marine and freshwater indicating their uniqueness and conservation needs. The aquarium was dedicated to the visitors on 4th February 2008 by the Honourable Chief Minister, Odisha.
Battery Operated Vehicle
To facilitate elderly and physically challenged visitors in particular and tourists in general, Battery Operated Vehicles (BOVs) are available for tourists for an hourly trip around the zoo on payment of Rs.50/- per head and Rs 750/-and Rs 500/-per trip of large and small BOVs respectively.
If one has got the time and an aptitude for learning then the centrally located library, with a wonderful collection of more than 3000 books and journals on wildlife, veterinary and other matters can serve one’s satisfaction.
Nocturnal Animal House
Many animals that only move freely at night but are almost immobile and hide in the thicket or in their burrows during the day are housed here. The twilight condition is created in these enclosures to provide an opportunity for the visitors to know what these animals secretively do in the darkness of the night.
Reptile Interpretation Centre
An Interpretation Centre depicting the evolution and biology of reptiles has been established in the entrance of Reptile Park displaying models of prehistoric animals.
The Interpretation Centre has been established near the entrance gate. The Centre has display boards, models and audiovisual aids depicting the importance of Zoological Park and other important wildlife areas of Odisha. It also displays the activities behind the scenes for creating awareness amongst the visitors. A film on Nandankanan is also screened in the mini-auditorium inside the Centre.
The zoo museum established in Nandankanan to preserve, display and interpret the animal specimens of zoological importance for public viewing and nature education. The museum displays taxidermy specimens, formalin preserved specimens of early developmental stages of animals and eggs of flightless birds. This facility will be of great interest to the visitors in general and school children in particular.
Electronic Gate Entrance System
An automated electronic entry gate system has been installed in the Zoological Park on 30.03.2012. Each visitor is issued with a bar-coded ticket for entering through any of the six electronic gates into the park. This gives an exact figure of adult, children and foreigner visitor entry statistics at any point in time. This facility is the first of its kind for entry into any tourist place in Odisha.
The walk-through aviary for exotic birds is a unique exhibit of its kind in the country. The walkthrough aviary has a cascading waterfall and a meandering water channel of 58 m length connecting two pools having two arched crosses over the bridge along the 216 m laterite stone paved the walking path with separate entry and exit points. In addition to the existing large and small trees, hundreds of selective plants have been planted to provide perches and hiding places for the birds housed. There are enough feeding points and nest boxes for use of the birds selectively. The inmates of the aviary are mixture of arboreal, terrestrial and aquatic birds. It is a visitor’s delight to view the free-flying birds overhead.
The Safari Sojourn
The major attraction for the tourists is the beautiful and bucolic safaris consist of sloth bears, deers, tigers, and lucrative lions. The specially protected bus will board the tourists for an enthralling, exciting and apprehending journey starting with deer safari and concluding at lion safari. Visitors throughout their journey not only bemused by the panoramic beauty of wildlife animals but by their out of the ordinary cameos. In this context, it reminds me of an incident from my last visit. A sloth bear sobriquet as “Diesel “ blocked our road as the bus entered to their den. According to sources it loves the odor of diesel running vehicles. As soon as the buses cross their safari, it comes out of its habitat to take a glimpse of its fans. Besides the bear safari, the hopping peacocks and perky and piquant deers at a striking distance have always attracted the attention of tourists.
The steeled gates of entries and exits create apprehension and excitation among the visitors during our en route to the much-awaited abode of tiger and lion safari. No doubt their gifted morphs are soothing to the eyes but it certainly raises few questions in the minds, do the deadly animals have lost their aggression for some reasons or other?
Nandankanan zoological park was declared as the wildlife sanctuary on 3rd August 1979. It is certainly a place to travel during your leisure’s and vacations. Apart from children, ages of all persons have something to watch and mull over during their visit to the celestial garden. The scintillating and satiating picturesque scenic views of wildlife’s, diversified botanical species and avifauna of wetland alleviates the common man’s pain and provides them something to ponder for the rest of the life.
Bhitarkanika: Nesting and Breeding paradise of Crocodiles
Littoral state Odisha wins the heart and soul of visitors across the globe for it’s naturally sculptured and indented picturesque sandy beaches blended with dunes and pines. Apart from its pastoral beaches, the state is famous for its estuaries and her wildlife. Moving forward with our discourse, on the north-east of the Odisha coastal relief we encounter at the confluence of Bay of Bengal and Brahamani and Baitarini river; the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary.
Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is considered a standout amongst the most noteworthy of Asia. It is unique because of reasons more than one. The dynamic and salt tolerant types of trees, the Mangroves that by and large develop in tropical and sub-tropical between tidal locales; the lush green, rich and throbbing eco-framework.
Situated in the estuarial locale of Brahmani-Baitarani, in the north-eastern place of Kendrapara region of Odisha, the haven covers a zone of 672 square kilometers of mangrove timberlands and wetland. Crossed by a thick system of creeks, with the Bay of Bengal on the east, Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is home to more than 215 types of flying creatures, including winter transitory flying creatures from Europe and focal Asia.
Aside from the Mangroves, another irregularity that the haven has to its record is the restraint of its biological community by the Giant Salt Water Crocodiles and various assortments of other creature species. It is a direct result of these forces, that a tremendous field of backwoods around 145 square kilometers has been authoritatively proclaimed as the Bhitarkanika National Park. This stop including mangrove woodlands, springs, estuaries, streams, aggregated land, backwater and mud pads is exceptionally huge for the environmental, natural and geomorphologic foundation of Odisha
The Odyssey: One can start his exciting, entertaining and evergreen journey from Khola and Gupti, the two entry points to enter the most sought-after destination, Bhitarkanika National Park. Sightseers should take entry permit from the Forest Check Gate at Khola and Gupti. Both Forest Department’s and private boats are available at both places. Private boats are also available at JAYANAGAR & CHANDABALI which are in close proximity to Bhadrak railway station(60 km). Bhadrak is a beautiful bucolic based district 125 km from Bhubaneswar, the state capital.
As visitors start their journey on the mechanized boat along the rivulet of Brahamani, will come across by mind-boggling mangrove ecosystem, banked on both sides of the river. The phototropic pneumatophores roots of the mangrove plants protruding upward from the soil in search of sunlight provide surprising scenery to the sightseers. At the same time, they will experience chirping birds and stammering monkeys on the twigs of sundry trees. By the time they try to catch those memories in their imagination most of the times and sometimes in their cameras and cell phones, the steamer slows down its speed to take glimpses of much-awaited attractions of the sanctuary I;e the gigantic crocodiles and their young ones.
For visitors, the best time to travel the Bhitarkanika is between the month of October to march. With the onset of winter tropical crocodiles used to come out of the water to bask in the sunshine and scouting for the remedy of its excruciating mouth ulcers which form with the onset of the chilly season.
After traveling the most exciting and venturous journey around one and half an hour with apprehension and astonish tourists will reach at the shoreline of the Dangamal village the gateway to the Bhitarkanika National Park. As the visitors get down of the boat on the shore, the rustic mangroves ecosystem welcome them flanked on both sides of a narrow passage heading towards the Bhitarkanika National Park. The silent and salubrious national park supported with small backwaters gives enough reasons to give a smile to the sightseers.
It is a decent place to locate the monster Salt Water Crocodile, some developing to 23 feet long, alongside different reptiles like the Water Monitor Lizard and the King Cobra. Spotted deers and wild hogs are bounteous in the recreation center and can be spotted at all the real areas. Goliath saltwater crocodiles and an assortment of other untamed life occupy this eco-framework which is one of Asia’s most breathtaking natural life sanctuary. Eight assortments of Kingfishers are found here and can be spotted along the numerous brooks and riverines inside the recreation center. The arduous ride from Khola to Dangmal or the other way around is exceedingly prescribed.
Mangroves are salt tolerant, mind-boggling and dynamic eco-frameworks that happen in tropical and subtropical between tidal locales. Bhitarkanika is one such area of rich, lavish green energetic eco-framework lying in the estuarine locale of Brahmani-Baitarani in the North-Eastern corner of Kendrapara region of Odisha. The zone is crossed by a system of brooks with Bay of Bengal on the East. The rear way between the winding rivulets and streams houses the second biggest practical mangrove eco-arrangement of India. Its 672 km². of mangrove timberland and wetland, gives a home to well more than 215 types of winged creatures including winter transients from focal Asia and Europe.
In 2006, Guinness Book of World record acknowledged cases of a 7.1 m (23 ft 4 in), 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) male saltwater crocodile living inside Bhitarkanika National Park. Due to the trouble of catching and estimating a substantial living crocodile, the exactness of these measurements is yet to be confirmed. There is an old adage “Never trust a crocodile and its tears”. After visiting the sanctuary and national park suddenly seems too sublime from our memory. Sightseers definitely going to have an indelible scar in their memory down the years about the cumbersome crocodile and its silent killer approach.
Dagara: Rendezvous with Red Crabs
Odisha is one of the littoral states of India with sculptured indented coast-line which captures the imagination of tourist for it’s pastoral and beautiful beaches. Pilgrims pan India mostly persists boisterous and crowded Puri and Gopalpur beaches for fun and frolic throughout the year. Besides these there are picturesque tourists places if we travel towards northern Odisha will come across a district named Balasore which is the rice bowl of the state. From the Balasore station if we traversed towards Kolkata around 64km we will encounter an exotic village on the confluence of the mouth of river Subarnarekha and Bay of Bengal named Dagara. The nearest railway stations are Jaleswar (58km) and Basta(25Km) away from the scenery spot.
The centers of attractions of the beach are red crabs enlisted in IUCN(International Union for conservation nature) red data book as a threatened endangered species. The calm, cool and collective Dagra village attracts tourists throughout the year but mostly in winter seasons. The prolific sandy dunes intermingled with pine trees lure tourists interests and serendipity.
The salubrious surroundings is a nesting and breeding paradise for red crabs. The arthropods seem to be a hallucination for the visitors, the faster you approach them the sooner they will disappear into their tiny holes. Sightseers like to play cat and mouse game with them and love to lose the battle in the end with a relentless simmering smirk.
The merge of the calm Subarnarekha river with the Bay of Bengal not only attracts tourists but bodes well for business with a proposed Kirtania port. The numbers of holidaymakers not on the higher side due to lack of sound infrastructures in terms of transportation, motels, and cuisines, but it definitely can be a tourism destination with a beautiful and bucolic sunset and sunrise with reddish picturesque serenity scenery beyond the horizon and rendezvous with red crabs at a striking distance.
Government eyes about Rs 7000 crores from Air India sale
The government is eyeing around USD 1 billion (about Rs 7,000 crore) from the sale of national carrier Air India in the next financial year, a government official said.
The government will initiate the process of strategic disinvestment of Air India in the second half of 2019-20 and in between it would work towards selling some of its subsidiaries and monetise assets.Air India has a debt burden of Rs 55,000 crore. In November last year, a ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had approved transferring Rs 29,000 crore debt to a special purpose vehicle (SPV)– Air India Asset Holding Company.
“We are eyeing USD 1 billion from the sale of Air India,” the official told PTI.After a botched attempt to sell Air India in May last year, the Jaitley-led panel in June decided to scrap the stake sale plan for the time being. It was decided to infuse more funds into the carrier and cut down debt by raising resources by selling land assets and other subsidiaries.The government had initially planned to offload 76 per cent equity share capital of the national carrier as well as transfer the management control to private players. The buyer was required to take over Rs 24,000 crore debt of the carrier along with over Rs 8,000 crore of liabilities.
However, the stake sale failed to attract any bidders when the bidding process completed on May 31.In August 2018, the government had received Parliament nod for Rs 980 crore equity infusion in Air India under a “turn around plan”. Earlier this month, Parliament approved a further Rs 2,345 crore equity infusion into the airline.The ministerial panel has already cleared strategic sale of Air India’s ground handling subsidiary, Air India Air Transport Services. Plans are afoot for selling another subsidiary, Air India Engineering Services.
The proceeds from sale of subsidiaries and land and building assets would go to the SPV and will be utilised towards lowering the debt burden of the airline.The national carrier had in September last year invited bids to sell its properties located across India.
The airline had put up for sale 28 flats in Mumbai, seven flats in Ahmedabad, and two flats and an office space in Pune, besides several other properties across the country.On December 27, the civil aviation ministry told the Lok Sabha that the government has prepared a revival plan for Air India.comprehensive financial package, including transfer of non-core debt and assets to a SPV, implementation of robust organisational and governance reforms by the board and differentiated business strategies for each of the core businesses of Air India, are part of the plan
Air India launches bidding system for upgrade to business class
Air India’s Chairman and Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola on Wednesday announced a new bidding system through which a passenger can upgrade her seat from the economy class to the business class by paying an additional fare.
“You have to bid for only the incremental amount. Whatever you have paid for the economy class ticket, you have paid… There is a cap we have put on the minimum bid one can make,” he said.
This system has been started on flights operating to the US, Europe, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong. It hasn’t begun on flights being operated to the Gulf region.
“People who have already booked tickets in economy class, we are giving them a chance to pay a little extra fare and come to the business class. In a layman’s language, this is what we are trying to do,” he explained.
This bidding system has been termed “business-lite” on Air India’s website and it was launched in the last week of December.
“After the check-in is complete, which means when the passenger is moving towards the security check, the system sees how many business class seats are vacant. And then, the system allots the seats to passengers according to priority (high bid to low bid),” he said.
“So, by the time you reach your boarding gate, your upgrade has been done. At the boarding gate, you are given a revised boarding pass (with a business class seat),” he added.A person who made the bid but did not get the upgrade will get her money back, he said.
For different sectors, there will be different price caps on the lowest amount one can bid, he added.
Across the network, Air India operates 4,500 business class seats. Overall, Air India operates 72,000 seats per day.
Domestically, the bidding system has begun on flights among six metro cities, Kharola said.
“When we see the load factor of business class, it varies from 50 per cent to 60 er cent. So, now, there is a good opportunity for me to use the vacant business class seats and make some money,” he said.
“If the business class seat goes vacant, it is a total loss. But if I drop the business class fares to fill up seats, there would be no net gain,” he added.
The flights going to the US and Australia are the ones where people really want the upgrade, he said.
Jet Airways crisis: Naresh Goyal writes letter to employees, asks to ignore media reports
Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal has asked employees to have trust in management and to ignore media reports. In a letter to Jet Airways’ employees, Goyal has said that the airline would rationalise operations and open new routes.
This is a time when there is a global pause to take stock, chart fresh resolves and shore up courage to face the unknowns of the New Year. There are bound to be many (unknowns) in an industry as dynamic and globally competitive as ours. Stronger then, should be our resolve to relook at all costs and rebuild our yields and revenue,” he wrote.
Listing out the positives, Goyal wrote that Jet Airways has started its flights on various new routes. “Our London route remains our premium revenue earner. We are focusing on Amsterdam and Paris routes to heighten passenger loads and enhance yields in a highly competitive market,” Goyal said.
He said the airline would continue to rationalise operations and open new routes like Mumbai-Manchester and Pune-Singapore. The airline is withdrawing flights to nine destinations in India and West Asia from February, while adding new services from its hubs in Mumbai and Delhi.
Earlier this month, cash-crunched Jet Airways decided to do away with complimentary meals for economy class passengers travelling on domestic routes under two more fare categories as the full-service airline looks to trim costs.
The revision in fare offerings will be effective for tickets booked from December 21, for travel starting January 7, Jet airways said in a release Monday.
The carrier currently offers five fare options in the economy class – light, deal, saver, classic and flex – for customers booking flights on domestic routes.
Cash-crunched Jet Airways removes free meals from 2 more economy class fare
Cash-crunched Jet Airways has decided to do away with complimentary meals for economy class passengers travelling on domestic routes under two more fare categories as the full-service airline looks to trim costs.
The revision in fare offerings will be effective for tickets booked from December 21, for travel starting January 7, Jet airways said in a release Monday.
The carrier currently offers five fare options in the economy class – light, deal, saver, classic and flex – for customers booking flights on domestic routes.
“In addition to the light and deal categories introduced earlier, Jet Airways will offer two more categories under economy travel saver and classic,” Jet Airways said in a release.
The latest revision in complimentary meals would be available only for economy passengers who booked their tickets under the flex option, the release said.
The airline will continue to offer complimentary meals across saver and classic fare options to those passengers who have made bookings prior to December 21, it said.
Jet Airways frequent flyers holding platinum and gold card membership will also continue to avail on-board complimentary meal facility as before, the airline added.
It had in 2016 introduced a tier-based flexible fare system.
The Naresh Goyal-led Jet Airways is seeking to reduce costs in several areas in its efforts to turn itself around.
The areas include sub-fleet simplification, reduction in sales and distribution and maintenance cost, route rationalisation, renegotiation of contracts with vendors, among others, following three consecutive quarterly losses.
The airline is aiming to achieve cost savings of over Rs 2,000 crore over the next two years through strategic initiatives, chief executive officer Vinay Dube had said after the second quarter earnings.
Jet Airways has already realised cost savings of over Rs 500 crore during the first half of the fiscal owing to these cost-rationalisation measures, Dube had said.
Amid cash paucity, it has been defaulting on salary payments to its senior management, pilots and engineers.
The airline has also grounded many of its aircraft and has been trimming workforce to cut cost.
Will review web check-in charges, says Civil Aviation Ministry after IndiGo furore
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced that it would review the decision of some airlines to charge for web check-ins. A tweet from the ministry said it would review if such charges would fall within its unbundled pricing framework.
The Ministry’s announcement came after online furore of the decision of budget carrier IndiGo to start charging passengers for the selection of seats during web check-ins.
“MoCA has noted that airlines are now charging for web check-in for all seats. We are reviewing these fees to see whether they fall within the unbundled pricing framework,” read the tweet from the Ministry’s handle.
IndiGo had announced a change in its policies, making all seats chargeable for web check-ins. This had come into effect on November 14. Previously, customers were charge only for selecting certain seats. They could choose not to pick a seat, allowing the airline to allot a seat of its choice to them without extra charge. IndiGo’s new policy left free allocation of seats for check-ins at the airport unchanged.
The policy sparked heavy criticism online over the weekend, prompting the promise of a review from the Ministry.
The criticism had ranged from accusations of airlines starting to charge passengers for services that have so far been given without extra charge, to expressions of displeasure over what some claimed was a step towards increasing queues and congestion at airports.
Good News: Indian missions around globe to issue passports in less than 48 hours soon
Indian missions across the world would soon issue passports in less than 48 hours to citizens abroad, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said.
Addressing a gathering after launching the ‘Passport Seva’ project at the Indian Embassy here on Saturday, he said the passport offices at Indian missions have been digitally linked with the data centre back home, which would speed up the process of issuing passport.
Earlier this week, the Indian mission at New York issued passports in less than 48 hours. “This is going to happen across the world,” Singh said, handing over passports issued under the new project to citizens abroad.
Asserting that in the coming days India will have the best passport services in the world, the minister said there has been a major simplification of rules and regulations for passport applicants and verification of a lot of information of the applicants would be done digitally.
The ‘Passport Seva’ project was first launched in the UK last month.
In US, the project was first rolled out in New York on November 21, followed by Washington on Saturday. It would be subsequently launched in Indian Consulates at Atlanta, Houston, Chicago and San Francisco.
After the UK and the US, the project would be extended to all the Indian missions across the globe, Singh said.
Navtej Singh Sarna, Indian Ambassador to the US, who was also present at the launch, said, “This is actually going to quantitatively and qualitatively improve our passport services immensely, both in the scope of the applications that can be handled and also in the way they will be handled and the way they will be integrated into the overall much better consular services.” The minister said in the next few months, the Indian government will issue a new set of passports, the design of which have already been approved.
The new passports will have all kind of security features and better printing and paper quality, Singh said.
However, “there will be no change in the colour of the Indian passport,” he clarified.
Singh further said by March “our effort is to have 500 passport offices or centres across India” to ensure that “no citizen in India has to travel more than 50-60 km to apply for a passport“. Currently the number stands at 336.
Later in the evening, Singh was felicitated by the local Indian community at a reception hosted by the National Council of Asian Indian associations in collaboration with other Indian community organisations.
Modi government plans to complete sale of Air India subsidiary AIATSL by March
The government plans to complete the sale of Air India ground handling subsidiary AIATSL by March 2019, an official said.
Air India is reeling under a huge debt burden of over Rs 50,000 crore and the government is planning to sell its non-core subsidiaries of the national carrier.
“We are looking to conclude strategic sale of Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL) in current fiscal. We will soon invite bids from merchant bankers for managing the sale process,” the official told PTI.
The sale proceeds would add up to the government’s disinvestment kitty. The government has so far has raised over Rs 15,200 crore from CPSE stake sale in current fiscal as against the budgeted target of Rs 80,000 crore.
The government is launching a follow on public offer of CPSE Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) on November 27, targeting to raise up to Rs 14,000 crore.
As part of its plans to take forward the strategic sale of non-core assets of CPSEs, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) has already identified assets of loss making Air India which are to be hived off.
As per latest data, in 2016-17, two subsidiaries of Air India – AIATSL and Air India Express Ltd – posted profits.
While AIATSL earned Rs 61.66 crore profit in financial year 2016-17, another subsidiary AI Express earned profit of Rs 297 crore.
Some of the other subsidiaries of Air India include Air India Charters Ltd, IAL Airport Services Ltd, Airline Allied Services Ltd, Air India Engineering Services Ltd and Hotel Corporation of India Ltd.
Besides, catering services provider AISATS – a 50:50 joint venture between Air India and SATS Ltd – too posted profit of Rs 66.06 crore in 2016-17.
Under the administrative control of Ministry of Civil Aviation, AIATSL is 100 per cent subsidiary of Air India and was incorporated in June 2003 with the objective of carrying on the business of providing all types of services at airport.
Industrial / Business operations of AIATSL include rendering airport ground handling services, including passenger, ramp, security and cargo handling for Air India.
The strategic sale plan follows the decision by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley led ministerial panel in June to make Air India competitive, by way of cutting down debt and raising resources by selling land assets and other subsidiaries.
The Group of Ministers (GoM) had decided to revive Air India after the government’s offer to sale 76 per cent stake in the airline failed to attract any bidder earlier this year.
The government had originally proposed to offload 76 per cent equity share capital of the national carrier as well as transfer the management control to private players.
However, the stake sale failed to attract any bidders when the bidding process got completed on May 31. In June, the GoM then decided not to go ahead with Air India stake sale in an election year.
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