Indian PM Narendra Modi Opens New Kushinagar International Airport

On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport. Situated in the state of Uttar…

Indian PM Narendra Modi Opens New Kushinagar International Airport

On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport. Situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), the airport is expected to help connect key Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region and give a significant push to tourism in the area. Let’s find out more.

Kushinagar International Airport is the latest airport in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Photo: Getty Images

New airport

Built at an estimated cost of ₹260 crore (approx. $34.7 million), the airport has a 3.2-kilometer-long runway – the longest in the state of UP, according to the Hindustan Times. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has built a terminal that can handle 300 passengers in an hour, and the airport’s taxiway and apron are also fully operational.

However, the airport still awaits the setting up of the instrument landing system and the completion of an approach roach connecting it to the main highway. According to the Times of India, the idea for the airport was first thought of in 2008, following which the UP government acquired 590 acres of land for its development.

With its current infrastructure, Kushinagar International Airport can handle up to eight flights in an hour.

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The new airport is expected to boost tourism in the region. Photo: Getty Images

Tourism boost in the region

Kushinagar holds quite a significance as a Buddhist pilgrim destination. It is believed to be the final resting place of Gautam Buddha and is a vital part of a Buddhist tourist circuit, which includes Lumbini in Nepal, Sarnath, and Bodhgaya.

Both Sarnath (close to Varanasi) and Bodhgaya are served by international airports that welcome large numbers of pilgrims, mainly from the South East Asian countries. This new airport is expected to further provide seamless connectivity to both domestic and international visitors.

A SriLankan Airlines charter flight carrying Buddhist monks and politicians landed at the airport on Wednesday for its inauguration. The event was also attended by diplomats from countries with heavy Buddhist populations such as Mongolia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Thailand, Bhutan, Republic of Korea, Nepal, and Japan, as reported by the Hindu.

Speaking at the inauguration, PM Modi said,

“There is a special focus on the development of places associated with Lord Buddha through better connectivity, and creation of facilities for devotees.”

LCC SpiceJet will be the first carrier to serve the airport, with scheduled services to Delhi starting November 26th. Connections to Mumbai and Kolkata are expected to follow soon after, most probably in December.

Airport development in UP

Kushinagar International Airport is the third airport in UP with international status after Lucknow and Varanasi. With this, the total number of airports that can handle scheduled passenger flights in the state has gone up to nine. Some of the airports in the region that have started to see regular flights include Prayagraj, Kanpur, and, more recently, Bareilly.

According to TOI, a senior government official said that many more airports are currently under construction in UP. Some of these include Aligarh, Azamgarh, Moradabad, Shravasti, Chitrakoot Dham, Saharanpur, Noida, and Ayodhya.

Noida and Ayodhya will be international airports, pushing up the tally of international airports in the state to five. The Noida airport (in the town of Jewar) will be pretty significant as it will serve the Delhi NCR region in addition to IGI Airport and the regional civilian enclave at Hindon.

Speaking at the event, PM Modi spoke about the development of airports in Uttar Pradesh, stating,

“In UP alone, including this airport, 9 new airports and terminals have been made available to people. Jewar Airport, which will be India’s largest airport, is also being worked on at a record pace.”

What do you feel about this new airport? Have you flown through any airports in UP? If yes, do share your experiences in the comments section below.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Court Rules easyJet And Lufthansa Can By Air Berlin’s Assets

LOT Polish Airlines has failed in its bid to stop easyJet and Lufthansa from buying former Air Berlin…

Court Rules easyJet And Lufthansa Can By Air Berlin’s Assets

LOT Polish Airlines has failed in its bid to stop easyJet and Lufthansa from buying former Air Berlin assets. On Wednesday, the European General Court found easyJet and Lufthansa did not get an unfair market advantage by buying the assets.

Lufthansa and easyJet have won a four-year battle to acquire Air Berlin assets. Photo: Getty Images

Lufthansa & easyJet take former Air Berlin planes, employees, and slots

Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy in August 2017 and ceased flying two months later. Lufthansa and easyJet promptly moved to buy Air Berlin assets and hire Air Berlin staff.

According to Reuters, easyJet paid US$46.5 million to buy some of Air Berlin’s operations at Tegel airport, leases for up to 25 Airbus A320 aircraft, and hired around 1,000 former Air Berlin’s pilots and cabin crew.

Lufthansa paid $248 million to take over leases on 80 of Air Berlin’s 130 planes and crew from Air Berlin’s LGW subsidiary. However, Lufthansa was required to surrender some slots at Dusseldorf as part of the deal. The two airlines also picked up Air Berlin slots at Zurich, Hamburg, Munich, and Stuttgart airports.

All up, around half of Air Berlin’s approximately 8,000 employees found work at either easyJet or Lufthansa.

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Air Berlin had around 130 mostly leased planes and 8,000 employees when it failed. Photo: Getty Images

European airlines unhappy about the deals

But several European airlines expressed unease over the deals, suggesting it would allow easyJet and Lufthansa to become too dominant in Germany. Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said the Lufthansa deal was a “stitch-up” that would see Lufthansa own 95% of the German domestic market.

Willie Walsh, then boss of British Airways’ owner IAG, said he had significant concerns about the deal. But the European Commission approved the deal later in 2017. That resulted in LOT Polish Airlines suing the commission in the General Court. LOT said the transactions broke the EU’s rules governing fair competition.

Over three years later, LOT got a result on Wednesday, and it wasn’t what the airline hoped for.

“The General Court dismisses the actions of Polskie Linie Lotnicze ‘LOT’ against the Commission decisions authorizing the mergers concerning the acquisition by easyJet and Lufthansa, respectively, of certain assets of the Air Berlin group,” the judgment read.

The General Court found Lufthansa and easyJet would not gain unfair market advantages by buying Air Berlin’s assets, noting the European Commission had a “margin of discretion” when ruling on complex economic transactions like the disputed Air Berlin deals.

The court said the slots acquired by easyJet and Lufthansa did not give either airline an unfair advantage and said the airports where the two airlines gained the slots – Dusseldorf, Zurich, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, and BerlinTegel, were relatively uncongested.

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easyJet took over leases for 25 former Air Berlin Airbus A320s. Photo: Getty Images

Slots behind Air Berlin’s value

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr was confident from the outset. In 2017, he dismissed complaints from rivals like Michael O’Leary. Rejecting market dominance claims, Mr Spohr said even if Lufthansa acquired all of Air Berlin’s market share, an expanded Lufthansa would still command less than half the German domestic market.

When Air Berlin failed, it was Germany’s second-biggest airline with a 14% domestic market share. Air Berlin was one of Etihad’s now fabled bad airline investments. The Abu Dhabi-based airline was the biggest shareholder went Air Berlin went under.

Etihad’s decision to cease funding the failing airline sealed its fate. Before Etihad closed its checkbook, they’d pumped €1.8 billion in Air Berlin. Most of Air Berlin’s aircraft were leased. The airline’s most important assets were its slots scattered around Germany’s airports. At its Berlin-Tegel hub, Air Berlin had over 45% of the slots.

LOT Polish Airlines can appeal to the European Court of Justice. The airline says it is reviewing Wednesday’s decision.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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