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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Zubin Karkaria, CEO of VFS Global, has been appointed as the CEO of Kuoni Group – VFS Global’s parent company and one of the world’s leading travel services provider. He is the first Indian to be appointed as the head of the 109-year old travel services company, and will concurrently continue in his function as the CEO of VFS Global.  He will continue to be based in Dubai, UAE.

Kuoni is in the midst of implementing a strategic directional shift whereby it has exited from its traditional tour operating business and is increasing its focus on three core activities – global travel distribution, destination services and visa services – in all of which it holds leading positions.  After exiting the tour operating business, Kuoni is aiming to accelerate the implementation of its new corporate strategy, and that will be one of Karkaria’s key priorities in his new role.  

Karkaria, 47, founded VFS Global in 2001 and expanded the company successfully as global leader in visa services for governments worldwide. Within the Kuoni Group the VFS Global Division has shown the strongest growth and profitability. VFS Global serves 32 client governments, with 314 visa application centres across 19 cities in the country. The company has served the Government of India since 2008, in 8 countries.

In the words of Heinz Karrer, Chairman – Kuoni Group, “The Kuoni Group has been transformed from a broad-based travel company pursuing a wide range of very different activities into a focussed global service provider for the professional travel industry and governments. The Board of Directors has decided to accelerate the implementation of this new strategic direction, and we have great confidence in Zubin Karkaria, who has so successfully developed VFS Global into a global leader, to lead the Kuoni Group forward.”

Thomas Cook announced today that it has formally concluded the acquisition of 100 per cent  shareholding of Kuoni Travel (China) Limited, Hong Kong from the Kuoni Group.

Commenting on the acquisition, Madhavan Menon, Managing Director of Thomas Cook (India), said, "We have completed the closure process for the acquisition of Kuoni Travel China Limited based in Hong Kong. The acquisition of Kuoni Hong Kong - ably led by Maria Ng, represents an important milestone for Thomas Cook India Group, as it facilitates our entry into Asia - including China, the fastest growing travel market in the world."

Maria Ng, Managing Director of Kuoni Hong Kong said, "We are delighted to join the Thomas Cook India and Fairfax Group and look forward to working with Madhavan and his team to leverage the significant complementary opportunities across Asia, that this partnership opens up."

Jet Airways announced the confirmation of its largest-ever fleet order for 75 Boeing 737 Max aircraft at the Dubai Airshow. The order includes options and purchase rights for an additional 50 aircraft.

The 737 Max incorporates the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets and other improvements to deliver greater efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort.

The new aircraft will support Jet Airways’ replacement strategy and ensure it maintains a modern, environmentally friendly fleet. Jet Airways currently has a fleet of 115 aircraft.

The transaction will be completely financed and managed through a sale and leaseback arrangement when Jet Airways takes delivery of the aircraft from 2018.

Commenting on the announcement, Naresh Goyal, Chairman, Jet Airways said: “This order is an endorsement of our confidence in the long-term prospects of the Indian aviation sector, which reflects the positive forecast for the country’s economy, and offers tremendous potential for growth and development.  Jet Airways has led the path in Indian aviation, providing enhanced connectivity between domestic and international sectors. We are aligned with the Government of India’s mission to provide affordable air connectivity to the people across the country.”

Cramer Ball, Chief Executive Officer, Jet Airways said: ““This order is a reaffirmation of our commitment to continue providing a best-in-class full service travel experience to our guests. “Just as importantly, these new generation aircraft are highly fuel efficient and will help drive our operational efficiency.” 

“Boeing is proud that Jet Airways will be the first airline in India to take delivery of the 737 MAX,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner. “The 737 MAX will bring new standards for fuel efficiency and economics, and a premium passenger experience to Jet Airways.”

Thomas Cook (India) launched its unique and user friendly ‘Foreign Exchange app’, a consumer empowering one-stop-shop for foreign exchange transactions.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), smartphone shipment in India grew 44% to 26.5 million units in June 2015. And equipped with his hand-held device, today’s digitally native Indian traveller (including business travellers, leisure, ad-hoc groups and last minute travellers) is increasingly impatient for information/transactions on the go. Thomas Cook India’s research having identified this blue ocean potential for secure and convenient foreign exchange transactions created its Foreign Exchange app to equip customers with easy, safe and smooth currency transactions with fulfilment while on the go.

Thomas Cook’s android mobile app features Live Rates  across major global currencies including USD, Euro, Swiss Franc, to cover both buying and selling of foreign exchange; also a Block my Rate option as protection against rate fluctuations. The application also provides customers a handy tool of Rate Alerts for specified currencies via SMS & Email.

Commenting on India's first ever transactive mobile-app for Foreign Exchange, Amit Madhan, Chief Operating Officer - IT & E Services, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd said, “Thomas Cook India’s internal research has highlighted that while over 40% of our online transactions are via a mobile device, for foreign exchange this is truly noteworthy- at over 65%. Hence launching our Thomas Cook Forex app was clearly the need of the hour.”

He added, “With mobile data reiterating the Indian travellers’ shift to mcommerce, coupled with India’s booming smartphone market, as pioneers in the Foreign Exchange space we are delighted to present he first ever mobile application and its slew of unique and customer empowering features for India’s Forex consumers on the go.”

Two Indian companies, both from Maharashtra state, have been recognised as winners at the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 organised by Responsible Travel at World Travel Market London.

The only Indian representatives in a list of 37 finalists across 13 categories, Agri Tourism Development Company based in Pune was named the Gold Winner in the ‘Best for Poverty Reduction’ category, and Tiger Trails Jungle Lodge, in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve was announced as the Silver Winner in the ‘Best for Wildlife Conservation’ category in a special ceremony at World Travel Market London’s Global Stage, as part of the annual WTM World Responsible Tourism Day celebrations.  LooLa Adventure Resort, an eco resort on the island of Bintan, Indonesia took the accolade of Overall Winner.

In his journal ‘Progress in Responsible Tourism’ Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of the judging panel comments on why Agri Tourism Development Company and Tiger Trails Jungle Lodge have been recognised. “Recognising that farm incomes in India have become stagnant in recent years, the Agri Tourism Development Company has worked with 750 farmers in 218 locations across the state of Maharashtra to empower them to diversify into tourism, resulting in a 33 per cent increase in income over and above previous levels. These farmers are now offering packages which give families in India’s urban areas  the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of activities from animal feeding and farm walks to festivals, folk dancing and music. The judges were impressed by the scale of the programme and the resulting number of small farmers developing supplementary incomes to raise themselves out of poverty.”

“At Tiger Trails Jungle Lodge tourism has been used to raise the water table and re-wild barren land to create a good habitat for tigers and other species - and for tourists”.

IndiGo has extended its long-term maintenance agreement with Thales for its growing fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft. The contract will cover avionics maintenance for a fleet of up to 250 aircraft, including the A320neo which will start being delivered to IndiGo in late 2015.

Thales has been a partner to IndiGo since the airline took delivery of its first Airbus A320-200 aircraft in 2006. Through this agreement Thales provides spares availability and replenishment to IndiGo with stocks located onsite at their main hub in New Delhi, the airline’s main base. Thales also offers IndiGo direct access to a pool of spare parts located in Thales’ Asia-Pacific repair hub in Singapore.

“Through this agreement, Thales is able to provide a flexible solution to IndiGo that helps them optimize the maintenance of their fleet while keeping inventory under control,” said Daniel Malka, Thales Vice President, Avionics Services Worldwide.

“As an airline that is committed to affordable travel with on-time performance, having a comprehensive maintenance and support program with a trusted vendor like Thales is of paramount importance,” said Aditya Ghosh, President of IndiGo. “We have had great support from Thales these past nine years and we look forward to a continued partnership as our business develops.”

Jet Airways will upgrade its daily flights between Delhi and Singapore to an Airbus A330 aircraft, effective 25 November 2015.

This will enable guests on this high demand sector to experience enhanced cabin comfort on board the wide-body aircraft, while offering convenient connections for those travelling from India to Australia and the ASEAN region over Singapore on codeshare and interline partner airlines.

The upgraded service will offer 50 per cent more seat capacity than the Boeing 737 currently operating on this route.  The A330 offers guests Jet Airways’ award winning inflight experience with enhanced cabin comfort and a customised two-cabin seating configuration of 18 seats in Premiere and 236 in Economy. Premiere guests get to experience the luxury of flatbeds set in a herringbone layout, while guests travelling in economy can enjoy the comfort of a spacious cabin fitted with ergonomically-designed seating.

Gaurang Shetty, Senior VP - Commercial, Jet Airways said: “We are happy to deploy Jet Airways’ spacious and modern wide-body aircraft to provide additional capacity on the highly popular Delhi - Singapore – Delhi route.”

“This sector has seen a steady growth in traffic, particularly among business travellers. In addition, connecting traffic over Singapore to Australia and the ASEAN region booked through codeshare and interline partners is also growing rapidly. The combination of comfort and luxury of wide-body services and attractive frequent flyer benefits makes Jet Airways the perfect option for travellers to Singapore and beyond.”

According to the Ministry of Tourism, Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during the Month of October 2015 were 6.80 lakh as compared to FTAs of 6.68 lakh during the month of October 2014 and 5.98 lakh in October 2013. There has been a growth of 1.7 per cent in October 2015 over October 2014.

Meanwhile, FTAs during the period January-October 2015 were 62.88 lakh with a growth of 4.3 per cent, as compared to the FTAs of 60.28 lakh with a growth of 11.4 per cent in January- October 2014 over January- October 2013.

The percentage share of FTAs in India during October  2015 among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh (15.22%), followed by USA (12.99%), UK (11.31%), Sri Lanka (3.69%), Germany (3.62%), Canada (3.58%), Australia (3.37%), Malaysia (3.03%), France (3.01%), Nepal (2.67%),China (2.55%), Japan (2.42%), Russian Fed (2.03%),Singapore (1.65%) and Pakistan (1.59%). These top 15 countries account for 72.73% of total FTAs during October 2015.

The percentage share of  FTAs in India during October  2015 among the top 15 ports was highest at Delhi Airport (33.95%) followed by Mumbai Airport (16.90%), Haridaspur Land check post (8.73%), Chennai Airport (7.50%), Bengaluru Airport (6.19%), Kolkata Airport (3.64%), Hyderabad Airport (2.98%), Cochin Airport (2.79%), Ahmedabad Airport (1.86%), Gede Rail (1.77%), Goa Airport (1.75%), Amritsar Airport (1.53%), Trivandrum Airport (1.38%), Attari Wagha Land check post (1.11%) and Tiruchirapalli Airport (1.07%). These top 15 ports account for 93.15% of total FTAs during October 2015.

The Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from Tourism in India in rupee terms during the month of October 2015 were Rs 9,611 crore as compared to Rs 10,041 crore in October 2014 registering a decline of 4.3 per cent over October 2014 as compared to positive growth of 16.1 per cent in October 2014 over October 2013.

India recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with six countries namely Finland, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, Oman and Ethiopia and “Agreed Minutes”with Serbia, Greece, European Commission and “Record of Discussions” with Brunei Darussalam and Qatar at the recently concluded International Civil Aviation Negotiations (ICAN), 2015 in Antalya, Turkey,

The conference was attended by 106 countries out of ICAO membership of 191 countries.

The main features of the negotiations are as under:-


A MoU was signed with Oman whereby, additional 5131 seats were granted taking the total capacity entitlements from 16018 seats per week to 21149 seats per week for both sides.


The two sides agreed to review the initialled Air Services Agreement (ASA) as per the latest Article 11 given by the Indian side.  Third country airlines code share and domestic code share operations to four points was also agreed to by both sides.


The two sides signed aMoU, whereby the capacity entitlements have been increased from 14 frequencies for each side to 21 additional frequencies and Hyderabad was allowed as an additional point of call for the designated carriers of Kenya.  Domestic code share was agreed to from any 4 points by both sides.  Kenya agreed to grant one additional point, intermediate and beyond point with full 5th freedom rights in Africa to India.


A MoU was signed between both the sides by capacity entitlements were increased from the existing 21 frequencies per week to 28 frequencies per week for both sides.  Ethiopia was allowed to exchange Bangalore in place of Kolkata as a point of call.  Three additional domestic code share points exclusively to code share with Air India were granted namely Jaipur, Kolkata and Pune.


A MoU was signed with Finland by which the provisions namely code share, intermodal services, routing flexibility and open sky on cargo, which are mandatory requirement of Horizontal Agreement coming into force were agreed to by Finland.  Further domestic code share was agreed to on 5 points in the territory of both parties.  The domestic code share points for the designated airline of Finland are Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata.  For the designated airlines of India, these additional points would be specified by India at a later date.

Sweden, Norway and Denmark

A MoU was entered into by both the parties by which 4 provisions namely, code shares, intermodal, routing flexibility and open sky on cargo, which is a mandatory requirement of Horizontal Agreement coming into force was agreed to by the three Scandinavian countries.  India accepted Norway’s request to bring Norway-India bilateral in line with Horizontal Agreement on receiving a letter to this effect from European Council.  Sweden allowed India another new point namely Gothenburg for code share operations.

Moreover, the Indian delegation also met the delegations from Greece, Serbia, Qatar, European Inion, and Brunei Darussalam and discussed about expansion of air services between India and these countries.

The above negotiations would enhance the international air connectivity from India and would offer the passenger wider choice and seamless connectivity.

Thomas Cook (India), one of India’s leading integrated travel and travel related financial Services Companies has announced a strategic partnership with OYO Rooms. Under this agreement leisure and business travellers can enjoy a unique standardised stay experience (AC rooms, complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi with 24*7 customer service support) at an unmatched price.

According to Thomas Cook India’s research and analytics, India’s travellers today present a high potential market for standardised and value driven accommodation options. The Company’s data highlights a significant and increasing appetite from not merely leisure travellers (family and ad hoc groups), but clearly also from India’s business segment- the SME and corporate traveller. With clear customer demand for elements like complimentary breakfast, WiFi and AC rooms, Thomas Cook India’s partnership with OYO Rooms aims at addressing this untapped market and with three fold benefits- wide range of standardised stay options, optimal locations (both business and leisure areas) and maximised savings.

Abraham Alapatt, chief innovation officer and head -marketing and service quality, Thomas Cook India said, “Domestic Indian travellers today are demanding better value in the form of good quality, conveniently located, standardised accommodation and access to this, is in woefully short supply. Data also indicates, that the number of middle class Indian households is expected to grow exponentially- from 8.8 million in 2015 to 43.6 million in 2025 - in turn, driving this need further. Our partnership with OYO Rooms, offers us a wonderful platform to tap this need and opportunity.”

Alapatt added, “Our pilot offering via this partnership, has seen a very positive response from across the corporate, leisure and business-cum-leisure segments, reinforcing our belief.”

Kavikrut, chief growth Officer, OYO Rooms said, “We are absolutely thrilled to join hands with one of the leading tour and travel operators in the country. We have seen a large number of corporate and leisure travellers choosing to travel with reputed partners like Thomas Cook, and through this partnership we hope to bring to them a great hotel experience which is predictable, affordable and easily accessible. At OYO Rooms, we are always looking for ways to enhance the travelling experience of customers, and our partnership with Thomas Cook is another step in that direction.”



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