IATA ban: Kingfisher makes alternative arrangements for booking

This was the second time in just over a month that the airline was suspended on the same count from the IATA Clearing House through which airlines and related firms settle accounts for services provided by them to other such companies

New Delhi: Crisis-hit Kingfisher Airlines today said it has made alternative arrangements for customers to book their travel on the carrier, in the wake of global airlines’ body IATA suspending it from its platforms for non-clearance of dues, reports PTI.

“The airline has made alternate arrangements to ensure that the customers can continue to book their travel on Kingfisher, via select leading travel agents and their network of partners,” a Kingfisher spokesperson said in a statement.

Besides, passengers can continue to book and purchase tickets via Kingfisher website and through its ticketing offices across the country and at international locations, as also at its call centres.

“This situation has arisen as a consequence of out bank accounts having been frozen by the tax authorities.

We are making all possible efforts to remedy this temporary situation,” the spokesperson said.

The Vijay Mallya-led UB group’s aviation entity further said that all its flights will continue to operate normally as per the schedule published on its website.

Kingfisher Airlines had suffered yet another blow on 7th March, with IATA suspending it for not clearing its dues.

This was the second time in just over a month that the airline was suspended on the same count from the IATA Clearing House (ICH) through which airlines and related firms settle accounts for services provided by them to other such companies.

The Kingfisher stock was trading 1.19% higher at Rs21.30 on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in late morning trade.

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Public Interest Exclusive
High speed trains in India: Bullet trains or loose cannons?

The Planning Commission’s proposed “High Speed Rail Authority” has taken some baby steps forward, though matters are still in the seeking opinion stage. The stakes are extremely high and there is every danger that the larger national good may once again be de-railed—if the proposed users do not have their say

Long waiting lists in passenger trains are only one of many issues cropping up due to the ongoing crisis with domestic civil aviation in India. As air fares scale new heights, it is common to see waiting lists for air-conditioned class travel by train on trunk routes extend twice the actual capacity on those routes and full trains being sold out four months in advance. It gets even worse on second class sleeper and the forthcoming summer is likely to be torrid in more ways than one, especially if travel is one of your featured activities.

To place matters in perspective—cheap and easily available air travel was certainly one of the pillars on which India's economic growth took off over the last 10-15 years. Fares were very affordable—many of us who were trying to be entrepreneurs will recall the three-digit in rupees kind of low fares and absence of “User Development Fees”, for example. Food was served free on board. And there was none of the added on timeline required for security reasons or traffic issues on the road—door to door from South Delhi to South Mumbai was often less than four hours.

Today, we allow six hours, maybe more. At three times the cost—or more. 

Never more urgently than now has the need for high speed trains, connecting city centres through high density corridors, been felt than now. Unfortunately, barring rhetoric, there has been no real progress on the ground so far. The choice in reality, then, boils down to this—more trains  operating on the same routes at slower speeds on our already overloaded tracks, or faster trains which then have a domino effect of slowing down the existing trains?

Add to that the simple fact that goods traffic, despite the recent hike in freight rates, despite the recession, and despite the slowdown in exports, continues to grow exponentially.

Barring a handful of existing trains like the Rajdhanis, Durontos, Garib Raths and Shatabdis which operate on averages in the 70-80 kmph range, the average achieved speed for super-fast trains in India is in the 55-60 kmph range. It is much worse with freight trains, though innovative steps like “Conraj” (Container Rajdhani) and “ConGo” (two freight train rakes operating as a single unit) have improved matters.

But for a larger picture, where India can see highway development falling behind rapidly, and air fares going through the roof, faster trains will have to be introduced on some routes—And soon.

Towards this, the Planning Commission’s proposed “High Speed Rail Authority” has taken some baby steps forward, though matters are still in the seeking opinion stage. Initial approvals are for a high speed passenger rail network in India. They have also approved and identified six routes for this, and the timeline is over the next Five-Year Plan period, which ends in or around 2017. We may by the end of this period, therefore, see high-speed trains doing 350kmph or so on the following sections:

  • Amritsar-Chandigarh-Delhi
  • Delhi-Agra-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna
  • Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad
  • Hyderabad-Vijayawada-Chennai
  • Chennai-Bengaluru- Ernakulum
  • Howrah-Haldia

The joker in the pack, literally and figuratively, is obviously the Howrah-Haldia route. Maybe it is there for training purposes. The rest of the routes indicated are obviously high-density and high-income as well as high-spending areas, which will support multiple high speed trains—presumably removing heavy numbers from road and air modes of transport.

But it still does not solve the issue of travel on trunk routes. It is surprising that a host of cross-country trunk routes have not shown up on this list, and hopefully shall in due course. The Government of India, ministry of railways presiding, has therefore sought comments to bring about a bill to set up the “High Speed Rail Authority of India”, to get more views on this and other aspects. And therein lies the crunch.

As of now, where and whom to submit these comments to has not been identified, though the corridors of power and backrooms of power-brokers in Delhi are abuzz with speculation on who gets this juicy plums to build and operate. The stakes are extremely high, in monetary terms, and there is every danger that the larger national good may once again be de-railed—if the proposed users do not have their say.

Very briefly, this article wishes to make some simple submissions -

  1. The high speed railways for passengers’ transportation in India are extremely overdue, and these are needed more on long-haul trunk routes.
  2. These trains need to operate free of the old colonial baggage that the Indian Railways brings to the table.
  3. These high speed trains need to have efficient inter-modal connection so that other cities and habitats are also served.
  4. These high speed trains cannot be allowed to fall victim to the VIP culture—like Delhi Metro, no free passes.
  5. While private investment is one option, larger social good and national interest has to be over-riding.

The Planning Commission report on the High Speed Rail Authority is still not available, but it is important that the message gets across to them as well as to the other ministries involved—we need high speed trains, sure, but we also need a larger perspective of what is in the nation’s larger interest to be taken into account.

And for that, your comments, suggestions and views need to reach the government before we have another mess of the sort that civil aviation is going through in India.

(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved actively in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves. Mr Malik had a career in the Merchant Navy which he left in 1983, qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, a love for travel, and an active participation in print and electronic media as an alternate core competency, all these and more.)

 

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COMMENTS

Jason Smith

5 years ago

Dear author,

Perhaps a little proofreading?

"Never more urgently than now has the need for high speed trains, connecting city centres through high density corridors, been felt than now. "

Why not something a little less high falutin? Perhaps a little active voice?

I'm reading your article halfway around the world, as are many others. Show everyone that your mastery of the English language is actually better than the average native english speaker.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Jason Smith 5 years ago

Dear Jason Smith,

Thank you for writing in.

Wodehouse is saying somewhere:- The English, she is a language, so very multi-hued. Globally. Sanjeev Bhaskar style you are knowing?

Colloquial liberty and livery, like Swaraj, also is my right by birth.

Writing, for pleasure, is. But point of yours, yes, is noted. Many thanks ji.

Best regards, vm

Rakesh

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Absolutely flippant and foolish answer to Mr Smith. Indians can and certainly do better than this, daily

malq

In Reply to Rakesh 5 years ago

Meant to be foolish and flippant, Rakesh, and that's the intention too.

Sometimes inspired by Steve Jobs, too, we respond.

Regards/VM

Ratanlal Purohit

In Reply to Rakesh 5 years ago

I know I am digressing. Omar Khayyam once was pointed out a mistake by some one. He immediately corrected. But when critic went away he wrote it back. You know the rest of the story.
Moving finger writes and after writing moves on
Why this kodavery kodavery Da Da

Ratanlal Purohit

In Reply to Jason Smith 5 years ago

Mr Smith
YOU SAID IT.
Every profession has its lingo. The jargons.
For instance for a musician like you high notes may be unnecessary and pompous ,highfaltin.
I for one is quite comfortable.

but for 18th century
average flautist it is rather high

Ratanlal Purohit

5 years ago

ONCE THE TRACKS ARE ELEVATED,IT WILL BE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO CROSS AND CHANCES OF HUMAN LIVES LOST DUE TO LEVEL CROSSING WILL BE ZERO.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Ratanlal Purohit 5 years ago

Very correct, Ratanlal ji, and also the issues of land acquistion get solved rapidly.

Humbly submitted/VM

suresh purohit

5 years ago

In India, unless there is full scale cordoning of the High Speed Railway Tracks, we are in for massive number of accidents.

suresh purohit

5 years ago

I for one, as a life long bombayait would plead for high speed Local train facility, just over the present tracks of suburban routes. There is no other speedy solution, I am convinced, to the present under capacity, serving this national financial capital. In China There are Maglaves already running
for such needs of comparative short
distances.If there is any committee I would like to work on one.
age 74, A.M.I.E.and quite active
at that.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to suresh purohit 5 years ago

Suresh ji, thank you for writing in.

One un-noticed side benefit of the improved public transport in Delhi has been the re-appearance of cycles. Multiple reasons - more space for 2-wheelers, higher fuel costs, and usage of cycles by hobbyists/others for short distances.

The typical average speeds achieved on time trial runs by cyclists using normal standard cycles for short 5-10km rides is around 15-20kmph, and that is when they measure it for present conditions, which includes the after-effects of bad air quality on stamina.

I would think one of the potential solutions for Mumbai would also be trying to bring about more usage of cycles. People may recall, in the '70s we could often hire bicycles from shops in and around local train railway stations in Bombay. I do not see this in Mumbai at all anymore.

Think about it - 15-20kmph is about double the actual speeds achieved in Mumbai during rush hour.

rgds/VM

Ratanlal Purohit

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Pune was known as cycle city. Mr HK Firodia converted it to Luna. Kinetic Honda and Bajaj made it Motor bike and 3 wheeler city. The evolution has gone back to four wheel Nano
GOOD PAVED FOOT PATHS FOR PEDESTARIONS ARE OCCUPIED BY HAWKERS. THERE IS NO WAY TO WALK. CYCLES? ON ROADS WILL BE UNSAFE. JAPAN HAS A SEPARATE TRACK. WE HAVE TO REPLAN. CYCLES WITH ELECTRIC DRIVES ARE THE VEST ANSWERS CONSIDERING THE NEED AND TECHNOLOGY. IT CAN BE THREE WHEEL SOLAR CELL CANOPIED PROTECTED VERSION NOT REQUIRING FUEL AND HELMETS. SPEED CAN BE LIMITED TO 45 KM/HR. IN SOBO NO OTHER PRIVATE VEHICLES SHOULD BE ALLOWED. VIPS CAN USE HELICOPTERS.
Ratanlal Purohit

Ratanlal Purohit

In Reply to suresh purohit 5 years ago

Sir.
As this article is on long distance high speed trains the comments were wrt that.
Your concern is already on tracks. The Elevated tracks being considered from Churchgate besides mono rail maglev metros already on trial runs.
Regards
Ratanlal Purohit

suresh purohit

In Reply to Ratanlal Purohit 5 years ago

If that is so Hurrey!
It was being negated at one time due to high expenditure but there is no alternative.
Pl. keep me posted on any progress on this suburban proposal.
I am also convinced about the long distance trains. Have traveled in Sinkasen, i.e,Bullet train, In Japan ( There is a huge network of it in Japan) and TGV in France and it is an unique experience.

Ratanlal Purohit

5 years ago

AMNABLE HANDLE. Remarks by the Author. I request Shri Malik Saheb to check with Shri Javed Saheb. Take the remark in literal sense not literally. I am a technical person not a political commentator. To cast aspersions is easy. Before joining an international organisaation I took training in training in Railway electric traction. There is no reason to doubt the integrity of Technical persons or their capabilities. Yes there is concern about the Steel Frame.
They simply forced high caliber Indians to get their NOBEL PRIZE outside India. RAILWAY RUNS PARALLEL ECONOMY AND IS MANIPULATED FOR THE POLITICAL PURPOSES. IT SHOULD BE MADE AUTONOMOUS TECHNO COMMERCIAL ENTITY. And see it becomes fortune number one Corporation.
I know we have the capability to make the SKY TRAIN I dream much faster. Take the cue from Toshiba Hitachi Mitsubishi and UTC OTIS. THEY ARE FASTER VERTICALLY THEN IR HORIZONTALLY.

REPLY

Ratanlal Purohit

In Reply to Ratanlal Purohit 5 years ago

DEAR MALIK SAHEB
I APPRECIATE YOUR CONCERN. U.F. IS NOM DE PLUME AND I HAVE USED IT AS PROPER NOUN NOT AS an ADJECTIVE. IN URSU IT IS HIDING THE IDENTITY.
THE BURKA.
REGARDS

Ratanlal Purohit

malQ

In Reply to Ratanlal Purohit 5 years ago

Ratanlal ji, I don't think I cast any aspersions at you.

My remark requesting a more amenable handle was directed at "Uncultured Fool".

Thank you for writing in.

rgds/VM

Uncultured Fool

5 years ago

Unless IR is headed by someone with passion and integrity like E Sreedharan, all these high speed gimmick stories will never materialize. IR should first introduce fines for littering and spitting by passengers like Delhi Metro.

REPLY

Ratanlal Purohit

In Reply to Uncultured Fool 5 years ago

Yes Uncultured Fool you are right in your burka. Come out in open. There are thousands to take over given a chance. Just remove the red tape.

malq

In Reply to Uncultured Fool 5 years ago

Thank you for writing in, though it would be good if you chose a slightly more amenable handle the next time, please? Cheers/VM

S Mukherjee

5 years ago

A very good article about a very pertinent and overdue matter. And I completely agree with the author's 5 submissions to the concerned authorities to consider. Most importantly, really hope the 'concerned authority' would be itself consisting of professionals characterised by their integrity, vision and knowledge (in that order!) - and not be people having a past history associated with personal/party greed and corruption, for which this UPA and the ruling party disposition is well known.

India still has much to cover the huge gap in railway transportation of all sorts. There has not been any concerted efforts in improving matters since independence particularly in respect of safely and adequacy of trains for both passenger and cargo traffic - and no wonder with politicians of the likes of Lalloo amongst others calling the shots! As already pointed out by Mr Purohit, China has built the Himalyan Mountain train system in Tibet in rather quick time efficiently overcoming lot of major engineering problems. So we literally have much ground to cover.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to S Mukherjee 5 years ago

Dear S. Mukerjee, thank you for writing in.

This sort of an approach to things in India will come about only if more of us demand it.

Please help, by actively sharing these points.

Regards/VM

Ratanlal Purohit

5 years ago

Today all airlines are on sickbed.
Trains have big wait.
Writing is on wall.
I travelled in Sinkassen from Tokyo to Osaka in 1990. It was fast & comfortable. Has to be smooth. Rock and roll will derail.
Its 22 years now. Alloowallas plan to roll fast train is snail slow. Its a shame for the largest Network.
Chinese Himalayan Mountain train is a marvel of engineering.
Why we cant have multilevel rail tracks.
The top one duronto turonto mag lev at 10 times faster speed.
Mumbai Ahmedabad in less than an hour. Mumbai Delhi in two. Think. It will beat the air travel hassles. Lots of fun. No waits. Tickets on the run.
Ratanlal Purohit


K M Rao

5 years ago

I rubbed my eyes to check and cross check what I read viz., planning to complete the high speed train projects in the corridors identified by 2017. Once it is clear it is the Planning Commission which has laid down this time frame, I had a sigh of relief ie., this is only another ambitious wish of Planning Commission not of the Railways!!

If the Railways can complete these projects even by 2117, it will be a great achievement. Good Luck Planning Commission and Montek Singh Ahulwalia!! Thanks for giving a comic relief from my monotony !!

REPLY

malq

In Reply to K M Rao 5 years ago

Dear KM Rao ji, thank you for writing in.

Valid points, yes, from your end. However, one can only hope for the best.

Regards/VM

Northward to Beijing: Our first encounter with Chinese bureaucrats

In their quest to source pig iron from China, the writer and his partner, speak about their first encounter with Chinese government officials. But they were not given access to English newspapers and nor could they contact their folks back in Dubai. This is the fifth part of the series describing the travails faced when setting up an international business in the seventies

Amanda and Lam Hu (I am a little unsure if it was actually Lim Hu) promptly came in few minutes to nine in the morning to collect us. Armed with our passports/photos, we first went to the Chinese office (not an embassy mind you) who looked up our papers and gave us a few, confirming that it was okay to take a flight on the following day to Beijing. The travel agent had also done the required formalities, but we did not want to take any risks.

It may be recalled that China had leased Hong Kong on a 99-year lease to Britain and that was scheduled to expire in the next 15 years or so. However, Chinese government companies, like China Natural Resources, etc, were very much active in Hong Kong.

Once this was confirmed, we had nothing else to do really, except for own plans. Amanda took us to Daimaru, the most popular mall in Hong Kong; a huge multi-storied building, it contained almost every conceivable item that one may wish to buy. It was very crowded and she had a list of items to “buy” for gifts and presents to people we were scheduled to meet in Beijing. She advised us to shop around and return back to a particular location some one hour later. With that, she was gone.

It was amazing place to shop. I still have the ruler I bought (with its plastic cover!) and many other items. When we returned back to the hotel, we had a lot of items to carry, most of which were consumer durables and food stuffs.  Later on, we came to know that these were ‘indented’ by officials Amanda had met earlier and with whom we were scheduled meet for our discussions. These were as simple as Instant Nescafe to biscuits and tea, apart from many others.

The following morning, we were on a flight to Beijing. Vijay a very strict vegetarian, had some tea on the flight but I dared to eat some snack that was given and couple of hours later, landed smoothly in Beijing airport. Photography was strictly prohibited and we were met by an official inside the immigration section, who processed our documents in no time, taking away our luggage tickets. At customs, we opened our suitcases and left it there, as advised by the greeter. We were whisked through and were taken to a coach that went through a good distance (some 30 miles, I suppose) before we reached the hotel. At the reception, we were handed over the room keys, which were already assigned to us, and when we went up, our luggage was already in place. It was unbelievable, but true.

Sooner after our arrival, we went for our lunch and came to know that government offices work from 7am to 3pm at best and that our first meeting would be the following day. 

We could not go out and even to the great Tiananmen Square and the Great Hall of the people. Transport was arranged by the department concerned. We met one lady and a gent on the first day and tried our best to exchange our friendly greetings, etc. Well, on the next day, they were replaced by someone else, though for the first three days, the lady was the same. The driver of the coach, greeter and gent kept changing and when we were in the open area, Amanda whispered that for security reasons people keep changing.  Amanda did the Mandarin Chinese translation on our behalf, and most of the time, both Vijay and myself were simple and silent spectators, until the pig iron composition, melting, etc (all technical that went over my head) were raised.

This was followed by a visit to a steel plant and we saw the ingots in the yard, and those being freshly cast. A lot of discussions took place, amidst cups and cups of tea.

One thing that I forgot to mention was that there was no paper—I mean no English newspaper.  After great persuasion, we were given some cyclostyled A4 size print outs but that carried more news about what is happening in China and hardly anything else, anywhere in the world.  We were totally cut off from any communications with the outside world.

The steel ministry in China was happy that we had come from India for buying their pig iron. Pricing negotiations took a long time; and when it came to specific delivery or shipment commitments, they asked for time to consult the plant and get necessary authorization. We would be happy to resume our negotiations from Monday and suggested that we accept their hospitality for a picnic and go and see the Great Wall of China. Everything already arranged and “we shall pick you up after breakfast by 9am if it is okay with you”. 

At the reception, we were given the picnic packets, marked with our room numbers and with an official guide (sent by their office); we drove for more than one hour. It was nice and green and the countryside lush with rice or wheat fields (I do not recall which), until we came and halted at a place, which looked more like an entrance, with very large engraving in stone, and which was on the wall.  It had some scrips and what surprised me was that I found a few looked like Tamil alphabets; the guide pointed out some others and said they were in “Pali”.  Yes, they looked like Indian in the sense that they could be Sanskrit, but all these were nice to see. Later on we came to know he was a linguist.

We then headed towards the first door to the Great Wall of China, not far from this point. The next one hour or so, we walked up and down, may be a mile or two on the wall. While standing there, I remembered reading somewhere that this was the only man-made site on earth that could be viewed from the moon or space. Immediately, my own mind brushed the thought aside; after all the first live person or animal was Laika, the Russian dog, and it was ridiculous to believe this news item. After all, even if Louis Armstrong had the best telescope in the world, all that he could have perhaps seen is the shape and size of the round planet, and nothing beyond.

When we broke for lunch, both of us had a cheese sandwich, an apple and a bottle of some local soft drink. It was a pleasant trip and we returned back to the hotel, hoping for a big meal with some rice in the evening.

We had hoped to get some news from Dubai at least, but were advised that ‘lines’ were down! We were told, on our return that the minister (actually secretary to the steel ministry, we supposed, or some very senior official) was hosting a dinner in our honour the next day at the prestigious hotel.

For dinner, we had noodles, some fried rice without eggs and lots of salad. We hit the sack early, after a couple of drinks, and tried to plan pricing strategy for our purchase in our mind, as we fell asleep.

(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts. From being the advisor to exporters, he took over the mantle of a trader, travelled far and wide, and switched over to setting up garment factories and then worked in the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)

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