Actually, I am already here in Hyderabad and typing this post via my iPhone.

India Aviation is the bi-annual airshow organised in India, and is in its 3rd edition now. I really wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure thanks to multiple professional commitments which were not sorting themselves out. The airshow is on from 14 to 18 March 2012 in Hyderabad, but it made sense only to come in one of the days of today (15 March) or tomorrow (16 march) since these are the days the Boeing 787-8, will be around. Although chatter is on about if and when Air India is getting these birds, the one that has come to the airshow is the 787 that is expected to be inducted into Air India’s fleet first, and is in the Air India livery.

Apart from that, there will be a lot of business jets and other aviation geek stuff as well, but the 787 is what I am looking forward to the most.

So, late last night it all added up, and in a miracle of sorts I was able to snag a reasonable priced ticket which was not showing up all day! And here I am in Hyderabad, on a 1.5 hour sleep schedule only behind me and a long day ahead of me!

Promise to bring back pictures from here!

Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 5 Comments

A couple of days ago I wrote about Kingfisher Airlines closing down most of their international routes. London, Bangkok, Kathmandu, Dhaka went off the map first, and then soon after Hongkong went off the map as well. No news they were in bad shape. However, they were maintaining a thin operation to Dubai,Colombo and Singapore which were serviced by the A320 and they still have a few of those planes left.

via AirlineRoute.net, I just got an update that the remaining international operations are also going out of the window from the 25th March 2012, when the airline switches to a Summer schedule (SIC!).

Bangalore – Dubai 1 Daily service Cancelled eff 25MAR12
Chennai – Colombo 1 Daily service Cancelled eff 25MAR12
Delhi – Dubai 1 Daily service Cancelled eff 25MAR12
Delhi – Hong Kong 5 weekly service Cancelled eff 15MAR12
Mumbai – Dubai 1 Daily service Cancelled eff 25MAR12
Mumbai – Hong Kong 1 Daily service Cancelled eff 12MAR12
Mumbai – Singapore 1 Daily service Cancelled eff 14MAR12
Tiruchirapally – Colombo 1 Daily service Cancelled eff 25MAR12

Adios Kingfisher!

 

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | One Comment

The Air India – Boeing duel is the stuff of folklore now. Air India seems to clearly be in the mood to milk the cow called Boeing Airplanes as much as it can, to add to its bleeding bottomline. Air India signed on to buy 27 787’s from Boeing, and these were expected to be brought on board starting 2009. The 787 program suffered multiple delays and the first few 787’s were certified and given away to ANA All Nippon Airways only last year towards the end of the year. Air India was next in line, and had a story that the airline could not function properly without the new planes and all its plans went awry. “Yeah, right!,” is all I have to say to that, taking all their infighting and incompetence into account.

However, now that the planes are finally rolling out, Air India expects to receive its first batch sometime in May. Infact one of the planes, which will be registered in India as VT-ANH is sitting in Hyderabad this week as a part of the Boeing entourage to Indian Aviation 2012 event this week.

Air India's 787 - VT-ANH - courtesy Boeing

If all goes as per plan, Air India may well become the second airline to induct the 787s into its fleet. However, to compensate for the 3 year delay, AI asked for a nice round $1 Billion dollars in compensation from Boeing. Clearly, that was posturing to ek out the maximum they could out of the situation where the airframe manufacturer had not met its timelines. And it did seem to succeed in that. AI is now confirmed to receive $500 million in compensation from Boeing, as per Boeing and Government of India sources.

Air India’s RFP for sale and leaseback of the first few planes put out the price of their airframes at ~$110 Million per aircraft for the first 7 airframes, including the engines, which means a back of the envelope calculation should put each airframe cost at $76 million. The compensation offered works out to be $18.5 million per airframe. This is in addition to the profits that Air India expects to make ($10-15 million per airframe?) on the sale and leaseback of the planes. The plane lists at $193 million today, and planes are sold at discounts to list prices anyways. And Air India is going to get it for less than $50 million [$76 million price – $18.5 million compensation – $10 million profit].

Now only, only and only, if they were to do the right route planning and do all the right things that the new toys are going to help them get a lot of visibility in the market, and for once, I’d be happy to fly them if they got it right. Please Air India, don’t screw up this one! And don’t screw up on Star Alliance membership either.

 

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | One Comment

Cleartrip, one of my favourite travel aggregator websites has a new trick up its sleeve to give you discounts. Cleartrip has a lovely and clean mobilephone interface as well, which comes up if you use www.cleartrip.com via your smartphone’s browser. If you decide to book a roundtrip flight using your phone, you get another discount code ‘CTM’ which is valid for use till 31st March 2012. Using this, you get another Rs. 600 off your tickets apart from any other discounts you would have already received (from the airline or from Cleartrip).

I tried using the same code in the website for Cleartrip, and it gave an error.

Since the need to go somewhere obviously takes over, I booked a ticket for Mumbai – Delhi – Mumbai on Jet Airways using the codes, and it worked out fine!

So, while Cleartrip tries to promote the use of its Mobile interface using discounts, you surely should try using your phone to get that discount!

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Spicejet has quietly introduced a new promotional offer on its website a few weeks back using Quick Response codes. Under this promotion, SpiceJet reveals a new QR code on their website every morning, and also sends it around on their Twitter account @FlySpiceJet and their Facebook page. You have to use your smartphones to be able to read these QR codes and get the eventual discount code in the format SGDISxxx. If you don’t have a smartphone, you could use a website like www.onlinebarcodereader.com to access the contents of the code.

Once you have the code, you can apply these to any fresh reservations you make till 11 PM on the same night. You need to plonk the code in the Spicycode section on the payment page right before you give your Credit Card details for payment.

This QR code discount is valid per person per flight. So, if you were booking 6 passengers for a return trip, you’d get the discount promised for each passenger for each leg of their reservations. Which means, you could be potentially shaving off up to 10-15% of your ticket price using this QR code.

Want more discounts?

On return travels, SG already offers a round trip discount which is up to 10% discount from the original price of the ticket. You could add the QR code discounts on top of these return ticket discounts, and there you have it, a potential 20-25% savings on your trip costs.

The value of the discounts change daily, so there is no one way to determine what discount is offered which day. For instance, I was getting a discount code for INR 600 off a oneway ticket yesterday, and today, the discount code reads INR 450. So if you find something with a good discount and you feel like booking, just take it rather than waiting for another discount to come your way!

Hit me up with your questions and I’ll be happy to help you with this one!

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 2 Comments

Considering I am a Formula1 enthusiast as well, I found it hard to resist posting this one for you guys. If you choose to book tickets to fly to Malaysia on Cleartrip.com this week, you will get confirmed tickets to be at the Formula1 Malaysian Grand Prix to be held at the Sepang International Circuit on 25th March 2012.

There don’t seem to be any terms and conditions attached. All they say is you book tickets to Malaysia on the website and within 2 days you’ll receive your grandstand passes for the qualifying race day (24th March 2012) and Race Day (25th March 2012). And the promotion is not limited by numbers so everyone who buys a ticket to Malaysia gets the freebie. And while these may not be the best seats, do note that you are getting assigned seating and not walkaround passes.

The same promo has also been matched up by Yatra.com, another travel portal, however, they have a capacity limit of first 100 bookings to be able to give away the Malaysian GP tickets to.

After watching Formula1 on the television for the longest time, I could not resist heading to my first F1 race live in 2008, when Singapore got the inaugural night street race. And I went back again….

By the Singapore Marina, before the race starts...

If you’ve also watched F1 on the television, or still do, I’d advise you to go and see one in the real. Its pure adrenaline rush and great madness! I’ve grand plans to make it to all these races around the globe in this lifetime, although I have only seen Singapore GP twice over and the inaugural Indian Grand Prix last year.

 

Readers, which GP races have you all been to, and which one do you recommend I try this year (keep it closer to home!) and do share your experiences!

 

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 3 Comments

This week, I wrote some tips in moneylife for people who are booked to travel on Kingfisher Airlines amongst the current situation the airline is in. Check out my column here!

 

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I promised an update on the Kingfisher schedule inside India. The schedule that went up on 5th February 2012 became permanent for Summer 2012 when it went up on the GDS systems this week. AirlineRoute.net did an excellent analysis already, which I quote below:

Bangalore – Chennai 2 of 6 Daily service Cancelled
Bangalore – Hyderabad 2 of 5 Daily service Cancelled
Bangalore – Kochi 10 of 24 weekly service Cancelled
Chennai – Coimbatore 2 Daily service Cancelled
Chennai – Hyderabad 1 Daily service Cancelled
Chennai – Mangalore 1 Daily service Cancelled
Chennai – Tiruchirapally 1 Daily service Cancelled
Chennai – Vishakapatnam 1 Daily service Cancelled
Delhi – Ahmedabad 1 Daily service Cancelled
Delhi – Amritsar 2 Daily service Cancelled
Delhi – Chandigarh – Srinagar 1 Daily service Cancelled
Delhi – Chennai 2 Daily service Cancelled
Delhi – Gauhati – Bagdogra – Delhi 3 weekly service Cancelled
Delhi – Jammu 1 of 2 Daily service Cancelled
Delhi – Kolkata 2 Daily service Cancelled
Delhi – Lucknow 2 of 3 Daily service Cancelled
Delhi – Pune 1 of 4 Daily service Cancelled
Delhi – Ranchi – Patna – Delhi 1 Daily service Cancelled
Delhi – Srinagar 1 of 2 Daily service Cancelled
Hyderabad – Pune 1 of 2 Daily service Cancelled
Hyderabad – Rajahmundry 1 Daily service Cancelled
Hyderabad – Vishakapatnam 2 Daily service Cancelled
Kolkata – Aizawl 1 Daily service Cancelled
Kolkata – Bagdogra 1 Daily service Cancelled
Kolkata – Bhubaneswar 2 Daily service Cancelled
Mumbai – Ahmedabad 1 Daily service Cancelled
Mumbai – Coimbatore 1 Daily service Cancelled
Mumbai – Delhi 2 of 11 Daily service Cancelled
Mumbai – Goa 1 of 3 Daily service Cancelled
Mumbai – Kolkata 1 Daily service Cancelled

It turns out that as compared to the 486 weekly flights which were a part of the earlier schedule, only 286 have been filed in the revised schedule, effectively cutting down services by 51%. Travel agents refuse to deal with them and they have also cancelled most of their international operations from Summer 2012.

Do you think Kingfisher will stay or go? Will it manage to get out of the mess it progressively seems to get into every day?

Readers, if you need help, feel free to drop me a line on email or in the readers questions page and I will try my best to help you out.

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | One Comment

The bad news seems to not stop rolling for Kingfisher Airlines. I previously discussed the truncated schedules uptil March 2012 for Kingfisher Airlines international operations. A couple of days back, Kingfisher Airlines was let go from the IATA interline clearing house and the billing settlement plan, thereby taking away the revenue lines from them.

Via AirlineRoute.net, the new summer schedules of Kingfisher Airlines were updated on the global distribution systems. Kingfisher Airlines has discontinued operations from London, which was its only European destination. Here is a comprehensive update:

  • London: Delhi-London Heathrow cancelled from 10th April 2012, Mumbai – London Heathrow cancelled from 16th April 2012
  • Bangkok: Like I wrote before, Mumbai – Bangkok and Delhi – Bangkok was already cancelled, and Kingfisher is now going to not bring them back in Summer 2012. Kolkatta – Bangkok will be cancelled from 25th March 2012
  • Kathmandu: Delhi – Kathmandu was planned to return in Summer schedule, but cancelled for good
  • Dhaka: Kolkata – Dhaka is cancelled from 25th March 2012.

I tried to check this up with a booking on the Kingfisher Airlines website, wondering if this GDS schedule blackout was a repurcussion of the IATA suspension. But no, this is true! Have a look below:

Another update coming soon for the summer schedule domestic in India. The other bad news is that Kingfisher Airlines will not be coming over at the Indian Aviation Show in Hyderabad next week as well.

Update: As per this thread on FlyerTalk, Kingfisher has also withdrawn from Delhi – Hong Kong as well, however I have not been able to confirm it yet.

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | One Comment

Lucky at One Mile at a Time wrote about the new business class seats which will debut on the Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i, for which LH is the launch customer. I had a chance to visit the Boeing Customer Experience Centre in January 2012 as a part of the oneworld MegaDo, and I must say I was personally impressed with the 747-8i (more than the 787!) and I look forward to travelling on this bird sooner than later.

Now, it seems that my quest to travel on this new bird will come answered sooner than later. India seems to be one of the 2 countries slated to get the first bunch of Lufthansa 747-8i’s apart from the United States. While Lufthansa and its associate brands (Swiss and Austrian) anyways attract a fair share of traffic from India, LH has been trying to account for increased traffic from India, and hence wanted to bring the A380 to India. Too bad the initiative got lost in their tussle with Air India, where Star Alliance pulled the plug last minute for bringing AI in the *A fold and Lufthansa was sponsoring AI’s entry.

Bangalore Aviation has a post which also covers the new Business Class product, and states the loophole under which this new plan seems to be hatched. The agreement between Germany and India allows for the B747’s to fly to India, without mentioning the variant. However, I am not entirely convinced on the locations in India which will first get this plane. The author states Bangalore and Delhi, while I think Mumbai will be high up on that list as well since Mumbai almost always has a full plane to FRA and increasing capacity here surely will help.

What are your guesses on where is Lufthansa taking the new planes out first?

 

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 2 Comments

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