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7 Important Things You Need To Know About Passports & Visas!

For budding travellers, holding their first passport is almost a magical thing, offering a sense of pure possibility and excitement.

You finally made the time and saved enough cash for your first overseas trip, but you start sweating as soon as you start thinking about sorting out your travel documents.

You’ve heard about your cousin’s 3 hour-delay at passport control or the visa approval nightmares that circulate on social media, but its not as bad as it seems.

Here 7 things about passports & Visas you need to know that will help you reach your dream international destination hassle-free.

1.Tripple Check-Your Visa Requirements

Unlike a sought-after USA or European passport, Indians have less options when it comes to visa-free countries aka hassle-free travel destinations.

Always find out about the visa requirements for Indians for the country you’re visiting from multiple internet sources and do a third check by just calling up the country’s embassy in India.

2.Applying To First World Countries

Flying to Europe, Australia or USA? Their visa processes are known to be a drag, so try to do your application three months in advance, or six weeks minimum.

Make sure you make a list of all the documents you need and that you keep a paper trail of all your transactions and interactions with the relevant embassy, in case they make life difficult.

3. 6 Months Validity Requirement

Most countries require your passport to have six months of remaining validity.

As a general rule, you should always make sure your passport will remain valid for six months beyond your planned trip. You never know if your travel plans are going to change, and the last thing you want is to be stuck.

To name a few Italy, Vietnam, Turkey & Thailand require you to meet this criteria.

4.Blank Pages

A handful of countries require at least one or two fully blank visa pages for valid entry. This requirement could be for either an entry stamp or a visa.

Countries that require a passport to have a blank page in order to be stamped include Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Italy, Sweden, Singapore, and Iceland along with several others require at least two blank pages for an entry stamp.

5.Dont Throw Away Old Passports

Hold on to your old passport, even if you’ve never used it.

Some countries want to see where you’ve been and in an age where countries are zooming in on where people have travelled before it’s better to have it than not.

It can also be used as a backup to prove your identity in case something happens to your new one.

Just make sure you don’t give the expired one to the passport control officer!

6.Make Certified Copies Of Your Passport

Before heading off on your Instagram-happy holiday, make a few scans of your newly-minted passport and go over to your local police station, post office or a gazetted  officer to get them certified.

Leave one with a close relative or friend in case you need their help back home. Also, keep a copy of the scan on your phone.

This will help you in case there is a natural calamity or you use your original passport at your destination.

You can never be too prepared!

7. Hire A Professional If You’re Struggling

Hiring a third party to help out with visa applications might seem like a waste of money when you can do it yourself, but if you have a short notice period or travelling in a large group, the hassle saved is worth the price.

They know all the loopholes to getting it processed faster and will follow up on your behalf saving you time.

There are lots of companies you can approach, but always check online reviews and ask the social media universe for advice.

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Over 800 Flights To Be Affected At Delhi Airport Due To Republic Day Rehearsals!

Flights to and from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport will be affected for seven days till January 26 as the airspace will remain closed for over 1.5 hours every day on account of Republic Day rehearsals.

Flight movement at Delhi airport will remain restricted from 10:35 AM to 12:15 PM from 18th January to 26th January.

The shutdown, which is proposed by Indian Air Force (IAF) every year ahead of Republic Day, is likely to hit nearly 800-900 flights during the time period. Last year, around 1,000 flight movements were hit due to the closure of airspace.

The final tally of affected flight operations will also depend on the weather conditions as Delhi witnesses heavy fog during the month of January.

All airlines are aware of the closure. The airport will try to accommodate as many rescheduled flights as possible but given the slot constraints at Delhi airport, a considerable number of flights may eventually get cancelled

Delhi airport is the busiest aviation hub in the country, in terms of passenger traffic as well as cargo traffic. The airport has three terminals, one for domestic and other two for both international and domestic operations.

The airport handles over 1,200 flights a day and handled 65.7 million passengers in 2018. This figure can cross the mark of 80 million by 2019-20, a report by centre for Asia Pacific Aviation said.

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Passengers To Pay Baggage Scanning Fee At Delhi Airport From February 2019!

Airlines are known to charge a hefty amount of money during festive seasons. For selecting seats of your choice while booking the tickets you have to pay an extra sum.

Now, you will have to pay a little more money if you need to get your bags checked-in at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.

Delhi International Airport (DIAL), from February 1, will charge airlines X-ray baggage fees, ranging from Rs 110 to Rs 880 for domestic and $149.33 to $209.55 for international flights.

With the decision, air passengers flying out from the Delhi airport would have to shell out up to Rs 50 as airlines are expected to pass on the X-ray baggage charges to us.

While passenger frisking and hand bag checks are done by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel, check-in baggage comes under the supervision of airport operators.

In a four-page order dated January 10, the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) said that DIAL can levy X-ray baggage charges from February 1.

According to an airline official, X-ray baggage charges would be passed on to passengers. He also went on to say that a passenger, who takes a domestic flight, is unlikely to pay more than Rs 5 as ‘X-ray baggage charge’. On an international flight, the per passenger charge would be not more than Rs 50.

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Pune Airport To Get Biometric Boarding System By April 2019!

A seamless check-in awaits flyers at the Pune Airport with the authorities ready to roll out biometric boarding system from April 2019.

The system will enhance passenger movement at the airport through facial recognition under the civil aviation ministry’s “DigiYatra” programme.

The document of the ministry’s “Vision 2040”, which was unveiled on Tuesday at the inauguration of the two-day Global Aviation Summit in Mumbai, states that the pilot implementation of the project will be carried out at Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports by February-end.

According to an airport official, the project will be rolled out at the Pune, Kolkata, Varanasi &  Vijayawada airports by April.

The system will be similar during the security check. There will be no need of showing and stamping boarding passes after frisking. The boarding passes and flight details of the passengers registered in the facial recognition system would also be integrated.

Here’s how you can register for this :

  • There will be a one time registration process at the airport terminal entrance
  • A centralised registration system will be created to store passenger information
  • Each passenger will have a unique “DigiYatra” ID
  • The flyers facial features will be captured in a Hight Definition Camera

Once registered, the flyer has to look into the camera instead of showing their boarding pass, ticket or identity card. The flyers identity will be ascertained and he/she will be allowed to pass through the security gate.

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Mumbai Airport To Stop Stamping Of Boarding Passes!

India’s second busiest airport, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), will be the 1st airport in India to implement the concept of “DigiYatra”.

On Monday, CSMIA said that they will soon do away with physical stamping of boarding passes by security personnel for domestic passengers.

All domestic full-service carriers ,Air India, Jet Airways and Vistara ,besides international airlines operate out of T2 of the Mumbai airport, where this process will start.

(CSMIA), is now equipped with the latest technology that eliminates boarding pass stamping for all domestic airlines operating out of T2.

Here how this will work:

  • Passengers travelling within the country from Terminal 2 can authenticate their boarding pass at the pre-embarkation security check points.
  • They can do this by scanning the tickets barcode or QR code with their mobile phones at the e-gates reader, using Live Passenger Dataset.
  • It will save time, provide a “harmonious experience” to passengers, and improve the overall throughput of the security check procedure

This authentication will eliminate the responsibility of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel to stamp boarding passes.

The move by the Mumbai airport is in line with the government’s Digi Yatra initiative, which aims to make ticket booking, airport entry and boarding pass security check-in digital.

Digi Yatra will also enable facial recognition technology for passengers to enter airports and promote paperless and hassle-free air travel.

This pilot feature introduced by CSMIA aims at reducing the time involved in completing the many pre-flight boarding checks.

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Are Low Airfares Really Helping Airlines In India To Grow?

Global airlines are looking to enter India, lured by the by a domestic travel boom and what’s expected to be the world’s third-biggest aviation market by 2025.

Yet India has proven to be a highly competitive market, where profits are scarce and the life expectancy of weaker airlines is anything but certain.

The best example of this is the recent fall of Jet Airways. Jet Airways India Ltd, one of the first carriers to launch after the market opened up in the early 1990s, is struggling to handle the cost of its day to day operations and are in dire need of liquid cash.

This is the sign of financial distress in a market which struggles with high fuel prices, airfare wars and a depreciating rupee. The competition is set to intensify if Qatar Airways follows through with its proposal to start a short-haul flights in the country.

To give you a small insight into why this is happing , we did some digging around and found some interesting points.

Running The Rat Race

The Indian aviation sector is slowly heading towards reaching a scenario similar to the telecom sector, which faced immense disruption since the data pricing war started.

At present, airlines regularly offer major discounts and cashback offers on flights as they want to ‘snatch’ more passengers from the railways & their competitors to fill up more spots.

Many aviation experts say that the major problem facing the sector is a “low-cost” airfare war that is driving ticket prices unrealistically low, even to such an extent that airlines cannot cover their operating costs.

The woes faced by Jet Airways are similar to those faced by other Indian carriers that are struggling to remain profitable. This is despite filling nearly 90 percent of their seats and recording a sharp increase in domestic passenger numbers over the last four years.

Although the higher demand in the sector reflects as growth, it does not necessarily add up to profitability in terms of revenue generation. Experts have termed the growth in the airline sector as “unhealthy” and even profitless.

The Real Killer

With the entry of budget carriers such as IndiGo and SpiceJet since the mid-2000’s, full-service carriers like Jet Airways & Air India that have higher overhead costs, such as in-flight meals and entertainment, have been forced to offer discounts to passengers looking for a great bargain.

For instance, in 2015, SpiceJet offered base fares of as low as Rs 65. Average ticket prices for New Delhi to Mumbai, the world’s third-busiest route, fell 15 percent to 3,334 rupees in July-August 2014.

“Such fares are “not sustainable,” yet there’s “no choice” but to keep offering them” Rahul Bhatia, the billionaire co-founder of InterGlobe Aviation Ltd. that operates IndiGo, told analysts after almost all of its quarterly profits were wiped out.

To Robert Mann, the New York-based head of aviation consultancy R.W. Mann & Co., the Indian market now resembles that of the U.S. 30 years ago after the government freed ticket prices from federal controls in 1978, setting off a fare war.

According to Mt Jagat Puri who’s a pilot by profession, “Ticket prices on key and popular routes are always under sustained pressure from various carriers”. He went on to say that, some of the prices are unreasonable and this leads to an unhealthy fare war.

India’s airlines have particularly suffered because passengers are highly price-sensitive despite spiralling jet-fuel prices and high local taxes that reach as much as 30 percent.

India Flying At A Loss

The Indian government also has had to prop up its loss-making national carrier Air India, pouring in taxpayer money to keep planes in the air. In July 2018, the government pumped in €261 Million to keep Air India operating.

Air India has found itself in dire financial straits over the past decade, saddled by a gigantic debt amounting to around €7 billion and having to beg the government for bailouts.

But while the government is looking at infusing fresh capital in Air India, the private airlines need to fight for themselves in a hostile market.

What Is The Solution?

With margins slipping, fuel prices not showing any signs of coming down and little likelihood of the government lowering taxation on jet fuel, the only option with airlines is to raise fares.

While airlines are now introducing measures to curb passengers from increasing flight load (recent baggage rule change), much more needs to be done to make the sector profitable again. 

Other than that, industry veterans such as Kapoor feel there is a need to focus on real growth, which can only be achieved by matching global costs and not trying to compete with the Indian Railways. 

However, it would be extremely hard for airlines to move away from the low-cost model as passengers may again go back to travelling on trains. This is where the airline industry lacks the pricing power and is forced to offer low prices. 

Conclusion

There is little that can be done to change the fortunes of the sector which is facing increased stress due to rising ATF prices and pressure from depreciating rupee.

Considering that Indian airline carriers pay the highest for ATF due to local taxes to the tune of 30 per cent, the only intelligent move is to increase ticket prices and aim at real growth rather than a boost triggered by discounts.

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Smog Delays Flights In Bengaluru, Chennai & Delhi!

Flight operations were disrupted at major airports across India today morning, after heavy fog & smog took over.

Due to smog, flights were disrupted in Bengaluru, Chennai & Delhi. Airlines have forewarned passengers of likely delays in the coming few days. On Sunday too, as many as 35 flights were delayed in Bengaluru, 30 in Chennai.

The departure and arrival delays continued through the day at the airport and as many as 18 flights arriving at Chennai, some of which were flying from Kuwait, Sharjah and Delhi, had to be diverted to Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports.

According to Bengaluru International Airport Limited(BIAL), a result of the fog, the departure of 35 flights and the arrival of another 16 flights were delayed yesterday. The tech hub’s airport has an average of 300 departures and arrivals each on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, Delhi, which celebrated Lohri on Sunday along with Punjab, woke up to a misty Monday morning. The minimum temperature in Delhi was recorded at 6 degrees Celsius. Flight to and from Indira Gandhi International airports were also delayed.

Today, Tamil Nadu celebrates the Bhogi festival, wherein bonfires will be lit. Bonfires combined with high humidity, low temperature and moisture may cause smog, which will disrupt visibility further.

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Government Clears Plan For Greenfield Airport In Arunachal!

The dream of having an airport in Arunuchal Pradesh’s capital city is on its way to becoming a reality after the union finance ministry on Friday cleared the proposal for the greenfield airport in Hollongi.

The Ministry of Environment and Forest and the Steering Committee of the Ministry of Civil Aviation had also cleared the proposal for the greenfield airport on December 28Th.

Chief Minister Pema Khandu said the greenfield airport, estimated at a cost of Rs 1,055 crore, will be a state-of-the-art infrastructure which will propel economic development besides improving connectivity for the local population.

After a detailed discussion, the Public Investment Board of the Finance Ministry approved the land acquisition rate as proposed by the committee and endorsed by the state government.

However, the board noted that it would be the responsibility of the state to hand over the land free of all encumbrances to the Airport Authority of India and set a target to have the airport ready within 4 years.

According to Mr Pema Khandu “It’s matter of great joy for Team Arunachal that today the decades-old dream of having our own airport has been realized. I thank the the government of India for their unstinted support in having this project see the light of day,”

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