Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Air fares set to rise as aviation fuel prices soar

Tuesday September 3rd, 2013 in Airport / Air Flights, India, Travel News | 1 Comment »

NEW DELHI: Get set for skyhigh air fares from next month when the peak travel period kicks off with the festive season. Oil companies have hiked aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices by 7%, taking the prices of jet fuel — which is the single largest component of an airline’s operating cost — to an all-time high. Now ATF per kilo-litre costs Rs 75,031 in Delhi; Rs 77,632.4 in Mumbai and is the steepest in Kolkata at Rs 85,645.1.

Oil companies have hiked aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices by 7% setting the stage for increase in air fares

“The July-September period is the leanest travel season of the year and at the moment, airlines are selling tickets at low fares to fill up planes. So hiking fares now may not be possible. Spot fares in the October-mid January season will be high. Expect a 25%-50% hike in spot fares in that period,” said an airline official.

The only way to escape high fares in that period will be to book as early as possible. “Advance domestic fares are very reasonable as airlines want to fill planes and also generate some much-needed cash. People should book now,” said Anil Kalsi, a leading Delhi-based travel agent.

ATF, whose price is high due to mix of high base price by oil companies and exorbitant sales tax rates by states, accounts for over half of an airline’s operating cost. Oil PSUs revise jet fuel pricesin the beginning of every month, depending on price of international crude and rupee’s exchange rate with the dollar. The latest hike has now brought ATF at record high, surpassing the previous high set last September. A year back, ATF cost was Rs 73,710.0 in Delhi — which was the highest ever then and in exactly a year a new record level has been reached. The aviation ministry has called a meeting of state aviation ministers next week and the issue of reducing sales tax will be discussed there, with more focus on Delhi and Mumbai to lower their taxes on ATF.

Airline sources point out that ATF prices have risen 22% from July to September. The overall cost of operations has gone up by 20% due to jet fuel prices and rupee devaluation. “While costs are up 20%, fares are lower by 30%. In early July, spot fares of Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Bangalore were about Rs 9,000 and Rs 9,800 respectively. The current spot fares for these two routes are Rs 6,000 and Rs 6,500. This is recipe for disaster,” said an airline official.

Domestic airlines have long complained of facing an extremely cost-hostile environment in India. The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) estimates that airlines here have collectively lost Rs 53,650 crore from 2007 to 2013 and their debt on March 31, 2013, was close to Rs 1 lakh crore. “(While costs are significantly up), yields or fares are down by 30%. The industry has completely lost pricing focus…. Industry risk is at peak and I don’t rule out any industry rationalization (hinting at another airline’s closure) out of this crisis,” CAPA India chief Kapil Kaul said.

Source: The Times of India

SC asks govt to allow fit taxis on Kothi-Rohtang route

The Supreme Court (SC) today passed an interim order diluting the ban on four-year-old taxis to ply on the Kothi-Rohtang route. A Bench comprising Justices Gyan Sudha Misra and PC Ghose directed the Himachal Pradesh government to test the fitness of the banned vehicles and allow them to ply if they complied with pollution and other norms.

The apex court passed the order on a petition filed by the Him-Aanchal Taxi Operators Union, Manali, challenging the HP High Court’s ban on commercial vehicles of more than four years’ old plying between Kothi and Rohtang.

Appearing for the union, senior counsel KV Viswanathan pleaded that instead having the age of the vehicles as the norm, the state government should prescribe the level of pollutants emitted by the taxis as the criterion for allowing them to ply. In several cases, a four-year-old taxi would not have done even 50,000 km and as such it was not fair to ban it, he contended.

The Bench said it would hear the case again after two weeks and asked the parties to file additional documents. It also asked the government to explore other options keeping in mind the interests of the taxi operators, commuters’ safety and environment.

The SC had issued notice to the state government on July 30 on the union’s petition contending that more than 75 per cent of the taxies numbering about 1,400 would go off the roads under the HC order.

The taxi owners had taken bank loans to buy the vehicles which they were still repaying and as such the HC decision would put them in a deep trouble, it was contended.

The HC had issued the order on the recommendations of the National Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), pointing out the fragile ecology in the high-altitude Rohtang area.

Source: The Tribune

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Cashless treatment of crash victims to start on Monday

Tuesday July 23rd, 2013 in India, News, Roads / Routes | Be the first to Comment »

NEW DELHI: The country’s first cashless treatment of road accident victims, which ensures free treatment in the first 48 hours, will be launched next Monday with the 200-km stretch from Gurgaon’s 32-lane toll plaza toJaipur bypass of NH-8 to be the pilot corridor.

Country’s first cashless treatment of road accident victims will be launched next Monday. (PTI file photo)

A trial run has been conducted on this stretch for the past three weeks involving over 70 volunteers trained by AIIMS as first responders. The programme, to be launched by the road transport and highways ministry, aims to shiftcrash victims within 20 minutes to a nearby hospital. Sources said more than 50 hospitals have been networked to admit injured people immediately and provide treatment.

According to various studies, it has been found that the survival chances of crash victims go up by 50% if they are provided treatment within one hour. Over 1.4 lakh people were killed in road accidents in India in 2012.

As part of the cashless scheme, medical expenses of the first two days will be borne by the government. This will ensure quick and hassle-free treatment of the injured. “Medical expenses of those who have insurance will automatically come from the insurance companies. Government will bear the entire expense of those who don’t have such insurance,” a ministry official said. However, there is a maximum cap of Rs 30,000 for free treatment of accident victims.

“We want to roll out the cashless treatment plan for the entire country. Insurance companies will be interested in this since their outgo on account of third party claims will reduce if we are able to check the total number of fatalities,” road transport minister Oscar Fernandes said.

The recent global report on road safety by World Health Organization (WHO) claimed that the number of seriously injured being rushed to hospital was as less as 11 in every hundred in India. Even in the most ideal situation, only 49 in every 100 injured get ambulances. It said several countries had reduced road fatalities by improving ambulance facilities and immediate medical care to crash victims.

Ten advance life-support ambulances have been deployed on the pilot stretch. “These would be stationed at an approximate distance of 20 km from each other, thus serving 10 km on either side. The average response time will not be more than 20 minutes,” said Birendra Mohanty, vice-president of Financial Inclusion Solution Group (FISG) at ICICI Lombard.

Officials said a toll free number (1033) to call an ambulance or report an accident had been activated and a call centre was engaged to take care of all such emergency calls. “We have already asked NHAI to activate this number for all accidents reported on national highways,” said a ministry official.

The plan for cashless treatment of injured in road accidents was first conceptualized in October 2009. In early 2012, the government told the Supreme Court that a pilot project would be launched on the Pathankot-Vaishno Devi stretch of NH-1A.

But late last year, the stretch was changed after the road transport ministry found that Gurgaon-Jaipur stretch had reported the highest number of accidents (over 2,500) and deaths (260) as well.

Source: The Times of India

Curfew in Kashmir’s Buddhist Town

Monday July 22nd, 2013 in India, News, Travel Tips | Be the first to Comment »

SRINAGAR: A curfew has been imposed in Zanskar town of Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir following clashes between members of the majority Buddhist community and police.

The Buddhists are fuming over the elopement of a girl of their community with a Muslim boy.

The duo were captured by the police in Srinagar, nearly 200 kms away from their home.

Today, while the police took the girl back to Zanskar, a mob of around 500 people stopped the vehicle at Padam, demanding that she be handed over to them.

The police used force to disperse them. The girl was later handed over to her parents.

Later hundreds of protestors gathered at Phutang where they again clashed with the police. Two protesters were wounded, one of them having received a bullet.

Senior officers of the district administration have rushed to the town.

Tension has prevailed between the Buddhists and the minority Muslim community in Zanskar since a few Buddhist families converted to Islam last fall.

Source: Free Press Kashmir