I’ll start with the Mysore Airport issue first. What we have is an old Airstrip that is used now only for NCC Air Wing glider and microlight flight training. It has seen better days when Vayudoot in the early 1980’s used to operate from Mysore. They used Dornier 228 Aircraft having 18 seats and connecting Tirupathi with Mysore via Bangalore. The Dornier 228 is a small turboprop airplane, narrow aisle, with one seat per window. I remember one time my father went up to the Vayudoot desk in Bangalore Airport and while being checked in for the flight to Mysore, had specifically asked for a window seat! The check in agent gave him a funny look. My father did not realize why the person gave him a funny look until he boarded the aircraft and found that all seats were window seats! When Vayudoot went broke, the services to Mysore also stopped.
Now again, Mysore Airport is making news, of the right type. The State Government has signed an MOU with the AAI to acquire and handover additional tracts of land. That seems to be in the process of happening now. Next year will see the handover and the AAI starting to work on the layout and designs. Tenders are to be called for the various works, early next year. The project may take 18 months to complete. I will be blogging more about Mysore Airport, what needs to be done, what is going on and so on, as we go along. Look for such articles in future.
The news from rest of the World: It has been an eventful year for the Airline industry. While Airline’s in the US slipped into the red, European carriers did well and Asian carriers did the best of all. Almost all the growth in Aviation and Aircraft orders placed at this year’s Paris and Dubai Air Shows and otherwise, has been from Asian Airlines. Indian companies have been making waves as well. Hope the boom sustains.
The US Airlines have expressed hope that with Oil Prices going down next year, profitability may return. There have been a few notable exceptions in the US. SouthWest Airlines has recorded another year of profits as they have done for 35 continuous years now.
Accidents-wise, the year has been mixed. There have been several crashes in Nigeria this year and a few elsewhere. However, looking at things as they are, it seems that 2005 may end up as a good year for Aviation in general. Travel by Aircraft still remains the best, safest and shortest way of getting from A to B.
New types of Aircraft were introduced in 2005. The first one was the demonstration of the Airbus A380 super jumbo. The second one is the yet to be produced Boeing 787 dreamliner. Although the 787 is yet to be produced, it has attracted the most number of orders for a new model airplane. Boeing, it seems, has pipped Airbus to the post this year in terms of total Aircraft sales and orders booked.
New Airlines took to the skies all over the World. India saw its fair share. Go Airways of the Bombay Dyeing (Jeh Wadia Group) took to the air late October of this year prior to that saw the launch of a regional jet airline from Coimbatore called Paramount Airways, from the Paramount Group of Coimbatore headed by Mr. Thiyagarajan. It seems like there are more companies willing to invest in the Airline sector these days. Some of the growth is to come from regional air operations connecting smaller cities point to point using smaller Aircraft. The customer/air traveler in India benefits from increased and better connectivity in the long run.
2006 may see some mergers, acquisitions and hoping against hope, some airlines tottering on the brink of bankruptcy in India and elsewhere. Increased competition may also mean reduced margins and losses for some. Higher fuel prices may also put pressure on bottom lines. Some Airlines have been aggressive this year in terms of growth, making news and offering freebies. Depending on their financing and how deep their pockets are, they will either fall in a heap or be more aggressive. Regardless of how the Airlines do, 2006 will still be a good year for the consumer.
The Government of India, under the circumstances of being in a coalition, has done a good job this year. Mr. Praful Patel has been the most dynamic Minister of his department so far. I have seen him several times on TV talking about matters related to Aviation and I could see that this is one man who not only understands Aviation and its problems, but is also someone who tries to work at improving things. There are lots more areas that require urgent improvements in Indian Aviation and one hopes that nothing stops the endeavor of the Minister to improve the setup.
In the coming year 2006, I will also be blogging from other parts of India and other countries with respect to travel, flying, life experiences and certainly other issues related to Mysore that’s close to my heart. I hope my blog will be more entertaining and informative in the next year.
Meanwhile, I take this opportunity to wish all those reading my blog, a Happy Holiday season and hope the New Year will be a safe, happy and profitable one for you and your families.