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Vistara has upgraded the map application in its inflight entertainment (IFE) system and launched Arc, Panasonic Avionics’ new, state-of-the-art, 3D inflight map application on its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.
The map platform will be progressively made available on the airline’s brand new A321neo aircraft as well. As the launch customer of Arc, Vistara is the world’s first airline to offer this immersive inflight map experience to customers that brings a wide range of innovations to the traditional inflight map application, while expanding the concept into a fully integrated experience within the IFE and connectivity system.
Arc will be available in all cabins - in the overhead monitors, seatback screens, video handsets as well as on passengers’ mobile devices connected to the inflight Wi-Fi. Vistara passengers will now be able to choose from over 20 distinct map views in 4K for various phases of flight, incorporating everything from stunning 3D satellite imagery, local and global views, down to a personalised feature that enables passengers to see the aircraft’s relative position to their selected map location throughout their flight. More equally engaging features such as the Kids Map and street map views will be introduced in a subsequent release.
Commenting on the addition of this yet another differentiating feature to their onboard experience, Vinod Kannan, Vistara’s Chief Commercial Officer said: “Inflight entertainment plays an extremely important role in the overall experience of flying with an airline, especially on a long flight. Our partnership with Panasonic has helped us in bringing state-of-the-art IFE systems and satellite connectivity to our customers. Arc, with trailblazing capabilities, will not only help us keep our customers engaged on their flights, but also open up a whole new medium for us to interact with them. We are delighted to make this cutting-edge application a part of the award-winning Vistara experience in our continuous effort to maximise customer delight.”
Arc is inspired by the latest design thinking of contemporary digital and gaming experiences; and enables airlines to leverage the high viewership of inflight moving maps.
Andrew Mohr, Vice President of Digital Services and Solutions for Panasonic Avionics Corporation said: “We are delighted by this opportunity to partner with Vistara on the launch of Arc on their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Arc represents a new generation of map technology, perfectly tuned to take advantage of our latest IFE hardware. Introducing many industry firsts, this collaboration with Vistara has resulted in both companies jointly setting a new benchmark for the inflight map experience.”
Vistara is India’s only airline to offer in-flight Wi-Fi internet connectivity onboard international flights operated by its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and Airbus A321neo aircraft.
SriLankan Airlines has been awarded the Platinum Standard status by APEX Health Safety powered by SimpliFlying following a full independent audit for our efforts in ensuring the highest standards for passenger safety and wellbeing during air travel, post-Covid.
This status recognizes airlines that go above and beyond minimum standards required to rebuild traveller confidence and confirms our commitment to the safety of both our passengers and staff.
The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and SimpliFlying have teamed up to create this health safety standard for airlines, which aims to help the industry by giving airlines a proactive role in the resumption of global travel and in creating a common standard for Health Safety.
Chairman SriLankan Airlines Ashok Pathirage stated that “The latest recognition awarded to SriLankan Airlines based on an international independent safety audit, is a definitive indication that, with the adoption of the right health and safety measures such as detailed on-board safety, hygiene, and social distancing procedures at airports, compliance with the testing and entry requirements of local authorities, SriLankan Airlines stands tall in the aviation industry in its operations under trying conditions of a global pandemic and is a source of pride to Sri Lanka.”
Mr. Pathirage further stated that “The Platinum Standard status is a timely accolade for SriLankan Airlines at a time when Sri Lanka’s borders are reopening for international travel and tourism.”
The CEO of SriLankan Airlines Vipula Gunatilleka said: “From the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have introduced the most rigorous and stringent hygiene and sanitization procedures both on-board and on-the-ground that is on par with global aviation practices.As the national carrier, SriLankan is keen to lead the recovery of commercial airline operations and renew passenger confidence with passenger wellbeing as our priority.
The evaluation covered 58 touchpoints across the passenger journey and weightage assigned.
In a news article dated 15.01.2021, it has been reported that “Finance Ministry and NitiAayog had raised red flags before Adani’s clean sweep of six airports” over the 2019 PPP bidding process and the same was ignored by the Government. This statement is factually incorrect as the bidding process was conducted in a competitive and transparent manner through e-tendering portal of the Government of India in which 25 firms across the globe had registered and total 86 registration were received in the portal for 6 airports.
Out of these registrations, 32 bids were received from 10 difference entities for 6 airports. As the bid process was completed transparently, none of the participating entity raised any concern or objection to the bidding process. It may also be noted that during the bid processing stage the entity which would be successful was not known to anybody. The bid parameter stipulated in the tender document was ‘per passenger fee’ quoted by the bidder and the entity whose bid is highest in terms of per passenger fee quoted would be declared as successful bidder.
After opening of the financial bid of technical qualified bidders, it was revealed that the quote of M/s. Adani Enterprises Limited was highest in all the six airports. As the tender process of each airport was undertaken on individual basis but at the same time the bidder whose quote is highest was considered as per the provisions of the bid document.
The statement made that both Ministry of Finance and NitiAayog had recorded objection about the airport bidding process carried in 2019 is factually incorrect and short on facts for the reasons that an Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGOS)Chaired by CEO NitiAayog with Secretaries of Ministry of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs, and Department of Expenditure), and Civil Aviation as Members was given the powers by the Union Cabinet to decide on the matters outside the purview of Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC).Accordingly, the terms and conditions of the transaction of the PPP were deliberated and decided by the EGoS in its meeting held on 17.11.2018 which were agreed by the PPPAC in its meeting held on 11.12.2018. EGOS took a conscious decision not to put any restrictions on the number of airports to be bid for or to be awarded to a single entity considering the fact that these 6 airports are smaller in size and handling only 9.5% of the passenger traffic whereas Delhi and Mumbai airports accounted for more than 45% of the total passenger traffic in 2006 when they were brought under PPP and the decision to cap one airport to single bidder was necessary. The quantum of passengers handled by the private airport operators is crucial and important than the number of airports handled by a single entity. Further, EGOS decided not to stipulate prior airport experience as a mandatory qualification to increase competition and avoid monopoly by those players having Airport experience, who would have an edge over others.
On the issue of ignoring the recommendations of DEA and NITI Aayog, it should be noted that both EGoS and PPPAC comprises members from Ministry of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs & Department of Expenditure), NITI Aayog and Civil Aviation. Therefore, the Ministry of Finance and NitiAayog already deliberated and finalized the contours of the bidding process in the EGoS and subsequently appraised the proposal in the PPPAC. Therefore the statement that the views of Ministry of Finance and NitiAayog were ignored is factually incorrect and based on assumption as the views of Ministry and Finance and NitiAayog on various aspects of the proposal are part of the established procedure of PPPAC to ensure that all the aspects are examined before the proposal is placed before PPPAC for decision and same cannot be considered as overruled.
As regards acquisition of stake in the Mumbai airport by M/s Adani Enterprises Ltd.and at the same time seeking extension from AAI for taking over the three Airports i.e. Ahmadabad, Lucknow and Mangalore, it is stated that both the transactions are independent of each other. The sale of stake of private entities in MIAL is purely guided by contractual provisions of Shareholders Agreement of MIAL. Any of the shareholders is free to sell his stake after following the due process prescribed in the SHA, which is yet to be completed.The acquisition of shares can be done by any entity following the right of first refusal process specified in the shareholders’ agreement, after the expiry of lock-in-period. Such transaction have taken place earlier also as in the case of Bangalore airport. The shares of L&T and Zurich were acquired by GVK Airports Holding who in turn sold to Fairfax.
As regards, extension of CoD at three airports beyond the stipulated six months from the signing of concession agreement, the situation had arisen due to Covid-19 pandemic resulting into difficulty in physical takeover of the airport on account of Logistics. Further, the article reported that the concession agreements for Guwahati, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram airports were signed by AAI in September whereas, it has actually been signed on 19.01.2021.
It is important to note that the allegation brought out in the above article were also the allegations submitted by various petitioners in the High Court of Kerala opposing PPP mode of operation of AAI airport which were heard and decided on merits and finally the Court vide its judgement dated 19.10.2020 dismissed all the Petitions upholding the PPP process undertaken by Government of India.
The Czech glass bead ornaments from the village of Poniklá have now been inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List (as of December 2020).
Czech glassmaking and crystal production have had a tradition spanning many centuries in the territory of the Czech Republic. And in the village of Poniklá, the area near the Krkonoše Mountains, a completely unique tradition in the world is alive to this day.
The glass beads were formerly used to manufacture necklaces, brooches and hat needles, as well as earrings and to decorate folk and theatre costumes. From first half of the 20th century that most of the production moved to festive ornaments through which more than 400 families made their living by making glass beads and fashion jewellery in Poniklá and its surroundings. Made in various shapes from elongated and pear-shaped to round, both small and fairly big, from clear, coloured, smooth and indented glass.
The production process is very similar to long-defunct manufactories, as people do not go to work in a factory but the work goes to them – everyone does what they can do at home. Producing up to 150 thousand such ornaments, based on 20 thousand patterns, every year, the ornaments have been manufactured in the same manner as long ago, but the classic patterns, mainly Christmas stars and snowflakes, continue to be the most popular, even more than one hundred years later.
When in Czech Republic, one can visit this place to admire this unique magical craft. As the last producer of glass decorations in Poniklá, Rautis offers a one-stop demonstration of handmade production of Christmas glass bead decorations. On the trip, you can try your own imagination in the creative workshop, or get some of the DIY kits in the company shop in Poniklá.
Currently, mass vaccination of the local population is gaining momentum across the world, which will witness a steady upward trend this year. In this regard, the WHO, EU member states, and international air transport organizations are discussing the introduction of an electronic COVID-19 vaccination certificate to facilitate international borders crossing.
Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, countries in the active stage of vaccination belong to the list of so-called red zone countries as of January 18, 2021. For passengers it means mandatory self-isolation immediately upon arrival or PCR re-testing.
In order to facilitate the crossing of the Ukrainian border, Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) approached the Ministry of Health represented by Maksym Stepanov with a proposal to revise and approve new rules for entry into Ukraine of vaccinated persons with a physical or electronic COVID-19 vaccination certificate. It will contribute to a gradual increase in passenger traffic to the country, as well as have a positive impact on the vaccination campaign in Ukraine.
Taking into account the peculiarities of compliance with the required temperature regimes, transportation of the vaccine by air is the fastest and most reliable method of delivery. In order to ensure safe delivery of vaccines, UIA has prepared Boeing 737 and Boeing 767 aircraft to transport the vaccines as cargo.
UIA always takes a proactive position and expresses its readiness to transport the vaccines both to Ukraine and around the world.
In-line with its commitment to provide support to the nation in the current scenario, India’s largest airline, IndiGo transported a total 5,785 kg of shipments from SII and Bharat Bio-tech - vaccine vials equating to 21.60 lacs doses - between January 12, 2021 and January 19, 2021. The shipments were moved from Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune to 16 locations across the country including, Vijayawada, Guwahati, Patna, Odisha, Raipur, Bhopal, Thiruvananthapuram, Indore, Imphal, Agartala, Chandigarh and Udaipur via 21 IndiGo flights.
Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer, IndiGo said, “We are honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the vaccination drive, by transporting the shipments across 16 locations within the country. We will continue to partake in moving the vaccines from one part of the country to another. We look forward to supporting the nation in its hour of need.”
Singapore Airlines (SIA) has been awarded the Diamond rating – the highest level attainable – in the APEX Health Safety powered by SimpliFlying audit of global airlines.
The audit, which was jointly conducted by industry body Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and aviation strategy firm SimpliFlying, involved a quantitative 58-point checklist covering 10 categories. These included testing, tracing, on-the-ground procedures, in-flight measures and partnerships to further enhance safety integrity.
The diamond rating is the highest achievable level for the audit, marking at least 200 points above the minimum gold standard determined by APEX and SimpliFlying for passenger safety and well-being. Standards are based on independently verified, validated, and certified airline passenger health safety measures.
Yeoh Phee Teik, Senior Vice President Customer Experience, Singapore Airlines, said, “Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, we undertook a comprehensive review of our health and safety measures together with our partners and regulators, in consultation with medical experts, and by taking on board customer feedback. Our teams deep-dived into many check points along the end-to-end customer journey. We reinforced existing procedures where necessary, enhanced some of them, introduced new measures to supplement them, and used digital technologies to complement them and support a more seamless travel experience.”
He further said, “Receiving the Diamond status in this audit is a recognition of this unwavering commitment to safeguarding the well-being of our customers and staff in all areas of our operations. Singapore Airlines is renowned for our industry-leading product and service, and we will continue to ensure that world-class health and safety standards remain an integral part of our brand promise.”
Dr. Joe Leader, CEO, APEX, said, “Singapore Airlines’ commitment to customer well-being shines via a contactless journey management bolstered by best-in-class onboard hygiene. As a Diamond health safety certified airline, Singapore Airlines has gone a step beyond investing in their passengers’ wellness by implementing the latest advances in testing and health passport technology.”
Shashank Nigam, CEO, SimpliFlying, said, “Singapore Airlines has raised the bar for health safety standards in the industry with initiatives such as near-touch check-in kiosks, mobile notifications for baggage delays and digitisation of in-flight menus and magazines. Taking hospital-grade measures in ensuring health safety will help bolster trust among travellers.”
flydubai has announced the resumption of flights to Qatar. A double daily service from Dubai International (DXB) to Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH) will start from January 26.
Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer, flydubai, said, “with today’s announcement we see the flydubai network grow to 64 destinations. Flights to Doha will start from 26 January and to meet expected demand we are pleased to launch operations with a double daily service. We hope to be able to continue to grow the service.”
Sudhir Sreedharan, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations (UAE, GCC, Africa and the Indian Subcontinent), flydubai, said, “flydubai offers convenient and reliable travel services between both countries. Passengers have the opportunity to choose how they would like to travel whether it is in the comfort of Business Class or a customised experience in Economy Class. Tickets are available to book today on flydubai.com.”
flydubai’s passenger experience has been redesigned to enable travel in a safe environment that minimises crew and passenger contact and offers passengers confidence to travel at every step of their journey. The airline has recently introduced an extended multi-risk travel insurance that includes COVID-19 cover to offer passengers greater piece of mind when travelling. In the UAE, flydubai has also partnered with Aster DM Healthcare and NMC Healthcare to offer passengers PCR testing at special rates. To take advantage of these special rates, passengers must be able to present a valid flydubai booking confirmation along with their Emirates ID or passport copy.
Passengers are required to make sure that they are up to date with the regulations from the IATA Travel Centre for their whole journey, and follow the guidance issued by the authorities and the airline.
The exotic island of Seychelles known for its pristine beaches re-opens borders to all countries worldwide with immediate effect. The much-anticipated news by the tourism industry considering the recent launch of the immunization campaign, was announced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde during a joint press brief with his counterpart from the Health Ministry, Peggy Vidot. They stated that this will be executed in a two-step approach by simplifying and relaxing the restrictive measures to relaunch the tourism industry in Seychelles.
In the first phase of the opening, travellers will be required to produce proof of a valid vaccination certificate from the national health authority (minimum of two weeks since administration of the second dose of the vaccine) along with a negative COVID-19 PCR report obtained less than 72 hours prior to travel. These visitors need not quarantine upon arrival to Seychelles.
The Seychelles Islands is currently open to Indian visitors through private jet transfers only. Such travellers will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 PCR report obtained less than 72 hours prior to travel. Visitors who haven’t taken the complete dose of vaccination or not travelling via private jets, will not be permitted entry into Seychelles. This will be in force until mid-March once Seychelles has vaccinated a large majority of its adult population.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government donated 50,000 doses of a China-manufactured COVID-19 vaccine to Seychelles while the Indian government has offered 100,000 doses of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine by the end of January. By the ongoing numbers, the country has forecasted that 25 per cent of its population is likely to be vaccinated by mid-March which will witness the roll-out of the second phase of welcoming international tourists to the island nation. The country will open up to all visitors, vaccinated or not. Travellers planning a vacation during this time will only have to present a negative COVID-19 PCR certificate with the test taken maximum of 72 hours prior to departure with no quarantine upon arrival into the country.
Irrespective of when one may travel to Seychelles, visitors have to abide to the existing health measures (like wearing face masks, social distancing etc.) which remain applicable as per the travel advisory published on the Department of Tourism website.
Similarly, all tourism operators will still be required to follow their existing COVID-19 standard operating procedure and protocol.
This announcement has come at a time when the Indian government has signed an air bubble agreement with Seychelles allowing Air Seychelles to fly into the destination from India. The ongoing trend of leisure travel is expected to prosper in the coming months as there is a pent-up demand for long pending vacations with family and friends. Seychelles welcoming tourists with limited restrictions is certainly a positive step towards tourism recovery worldwide.
Lubaina Sheerazi, CEO & Co-founder, BRANDit, the Marketing and PR office for Seychelles Tourism Board in India said, “2021 has kicked off on a positive note presenting us with a wide scope to promote safe holidays to the Seychelles islands. Until now, the destination was limited to visitors only through private jet transfers but this move will offer a much-needed new option to Indians looking for an international holiday”.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Etihad Airways yesterday announced a partnership to launch the IATA Travel Pass for Etihad Airways’ guests. The IATA Travel Pass is a mobile app to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with government requirements for COVID-19 tests or vaccines.
IATA Travel Pass will initially be offered to Etihad’s guests on selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of 2021. If successful, the pass will be extended to other destinations on the Etihad network.
The IATA Travel Pass will enable Etihad’s guests to create a ‘digital passport’ to receive COVID test results and verify they are eligible to undertake their journey. Importantly, IATA Travel Pass will keep passengers in control of their data and facilitate the sharing of their test with airlines and authorities for travel. It will also make it convenient for passengers to manage travel documentation throughout their journey.
“COVID-19 tests and vaccinations will be key to get the world flying again. Since 1 August 2020, Etihad is the only airline requiring a pre-departure negative PCR test result for all passengers worldwide, and again on arrival in Abu Dhabi, giving our guests the added assurance of safety when they travel with us. A high priority for Etihad is for our guests to have an easy, secure and efficient way to identify and verify their information. Being one of the first airlines globally working with IATA as a pioneer partner on the IATA Travel Pass is a big step forward for Etihad’s guests and for the industry,” said Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer, Etihad Aviation Group.
“The Etihad Airways partnership to launch the IATA Travel Pass is an important milestone on the road to meaningfully restarting international travel. Our aim is to give all governments the confidence to re-open borders to travellers based on verified vaccine and testing data. The initial stage of the Etihad launch will focus on all four elements of the IATA Travel Pass modules, one of the first airlines in the world to do so,” said Nick Careen, IATA's Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.
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