Domestic air passenger growth eases to 14-month low in October

Domestic air passenger growth eases to 14-month low in October

Mumbai: Domestic air traffic rose 13.34 per cent to 1.18 crore in October over the same period a year ago, the lowest in the last 14 months, DGCA data, released on Thursday, showed.

The Wadia group-owned budget carrier GoAir maintained its top position in on time performance(OTP) from four key airports at 90.5 per cent while the largest airline by market share IndiGo was relegated to the fourth position, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data. The January-October cumulative travel demand also surged a healthy 20.11 per cent, at 11.46 crore passengers as per data.

In terms of flying passengers, IndiGo carried 50.75 lakh passengers during the month with a market share of 42.8 per cent, followed by cash-starved Jet Airways along with its subsidiary JetLite, which flew 17.61 lakh passengers with a combined market share of 14.9 per cent. National carrier Air India carried 14.44 lakh passengers with its share in the total domestic traffic pie standing at 12.2 per cent in October. Among others, SpiceJet flew 13.82 lakh passengers while GoAir flew 10.48 lakh passengers during the reporting month.

Third full-service carrier Vistara, unseated SpiceJet from the second position in maintaining flight time punctuality with 88.5 per cent of its aircraft departing and arriving at four airports, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, on scheduled time as against 86.5 per cent of the Ajay Singh-controlled budget carrier.

The two scheduled commuter airlines, Air Deccan and Air Odisha, which are in the process of ownership change, failed to operate even a single flight during the month with the regulator recording a 100 per cent cancellation of their flights. “GoAir continues to top the on-time performance for second consecutive month. Stringent processes and systems along with a committed ground force of staff drives our operations,” said Cornelis Vrieswijk, chief executive officer, GoAir, on the carrier’s best OTP for the second month on a trot. The Gurugram-based SpiceJet reported the highest passenger load factor among all domestic carriers at 90.8 per cent for the 43rd month in a row followed by GoAir at 84.1 per cent and IndiGo at 83.1 per cent.

The passenger load factor in the month of October has shown increasing trend compared to previous month due to the onset of the tourist season, the DGCA said.  According to the data, as many as one lakh passengers were affected by flight cancellations and delays and those who were denied boarding by the airline for one reason or the other, forcing the carrier to pay them a cumulative over Rs 2.76 crore as compensation.

“While October recorded a 13.34 per cent growth as compared to the same month last year and the market continues to remain buoyant with over 118 million (1.18 crore) passengers flying during the month, the monthly growth was tempered due to factors such as the delayed festival season this year and an increase in fares of over 15 per cent compared to September,” said Sharat Dhall, COO(B2C), However, with oil cooling off, prices are likely to be stable ensuring that the growth momentum is maintained, he added.


Gautam Singhania steps down as Raymond chairman

Gautam Singhania steps down as Raymond chairman

New Delhi: Gautam Singhania, on Wednesday, stepped down from the position of the chairman of Raymond Apparel Limited. Singhania will, however, continue to be on the board. The board has appointed Nirvik Singh as the non-executive chairman of Raymond Apparel.

Nirvik, a 27-year marketing and communication industry veteran, is currently the chairman and CEO of Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa of Grey Group Asia Pacific Other new additions to the board include Anshu Sarin, who has joined the team as non-executive director, and Gautam Trivedi, who will be serving as an independent director of the company.

Commenting on the appointments, Singhania said, “I have always believed in setting the highest standard of governance and have always advocated to run the business professionally. I am delighted that Nirvik Singh has been appointed as the non-executive chairman of Raymond Apparel Limited and I am sure that the company will benefit tremendously under his able leadership. I also welcome Anshu Sarin and Gautam Trivedi as new board members of Raymond Apparel Limited.”

IT Department looking into 80,000 cases where returns not filed post demonetisation

IT Department looking into 80,000 cases where returns not filed post demonetisation

New Delhi: The Income Tax Department is “chasing” 80,000 cases where people have not filed their returns, post demonetisation, despite the taxman sending them notices to do so, a senior official said on Wednesday.

CBDT Chairman Sushil Chandra, after inaugurating a stall of the I-T Department at the India International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan here, said the department has also identified nearly 80 lakh people who had filed their returns during the past three years but have not done that so far. The top boss of the department said the November 2016 decision to demonetise high-value currency “really helped in increasing the tax base in the country and as well as the net revenue of this country from direct taxes.”

“If you see, last year contribution of direct taxes was 52 per cent and the contribution of indirect taxes was 48 per cent. This has happened after many years that the contribution of direct taxes is more than the indirect taxes. To answer your question as to how demonetisation helped, I would say that the money has now come into bank accounts so it is easy for us to track as to how many persons have deposited the cash without corresponding returns,” Chandra said.

Talking about enforcement by the department post notes ban declaration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the CBDT chief said they have sent emails and SMSes to a large number of people who have filed their returns after this communication. “Around 3 lakh notices were sent to persons who did not file returns post the demonetisation. These are statutory notices. About 2.25 lakh people filed their returns thereafter. In 80,000 cases, where the returns were not filed, the department is chasing and the assessment will have to be framed,” he said.

Apart from the post-demonetisation exercise, the department is also pursuing those who have not field their returns on time. “About 30 lakh persons who should have filed their returns have not filed it. We are sending SMSes and then notices will be sent if these messages are not acknowledged. First we will send SMSes and we are making assessees aware that your income is liable for tax and you should pay it. We have also identified around 80 lakh persons who had filed returns in last three years but they have not filed it so far. I am expecting large no of returns (in the coming days). In the total 6.02 crore returns filed this year, there are 86 lakh new taxpayers,” Chandra said.

We have used non-intrusive methods and hence 86 lakh new returns have been brought to the tax net so far this year. Chandra said the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), that frames policy for the I-T Department, was leaving no stone unturned to ensure that targets of revenue collection set for them are met by the end of the financial year in March next year. “We are reviewing each and every region where targets are not being met. I have already written to all the regions and they are taking necessary steps,” he said.

“We are following Tax Deducted at Source payments and asking every deductor to ensure that they deduct these taxes on time and deposit with the department…prosecutions (for not depositing TDS) are also being filed. Similarly, we are also chasing advance tax payers and we are intimating them that please deposit your tax,” he said.

Yes Bank chairman Ashok Chawla resigns with immediate effect

Yes Bank chairman Ashok Chawla resigns with immediate effect

Mumbai: Former bureaucrat Ashok Chawla Wednesday resigned as non-executive chairman of Yes Bank, the private sector bank said. According to sources, Chawla offered to quit as controversy was being generated on his continuance on the Board of Directors following his name appearing in a CBI chargesheet in the Aircel-Maxis case.

“Yes Bank announces that Shri Ashok Chawla, Non-Executive Independent Part-Time Chairman, has tendered his resignation from the Bank’s Board, with immediate effect, mentioning that during the current transition period, the Bank would need a Chairman who could devote more time and attention,” the bank said in a regulatory filing. The bank shall in due course announce the appointment of a Chairman, post RBI’s approval, it added.

As per sources, representations were being made by shareholders and stakeholders to the bank as well as regulators like Sebi questioning his continuance on the Yes Bank’s Board after being named in chargesheet filed in Aircel-Maxis case by the premier investigating agency CBI in July. Former Finance Secretary Chawla had also worked as Chairman of the Competition Commission of India. Following representations, the bank’s Nomination & Remuneration Committee had decided to seek legal opinion on his continuance as a Chairman. It was observed the bank should seek the opinion of the RBI on Chawla’s issue, sources said.

Later, the bank sought RBI’s opinion, though no reply was received from the regulator, sources said adding Chawla himself offered to quit in the interest of the bank. Another independent director Vasant Gujarathi too has tendered his resignation with immediate effect due to personal commitments, said another filing of the bank. However, sources said Gujarathi, who was heading the audit committee, had resigned because of certain observations made by the RBI on issues related to audit and corporate governance in the bank.

The bank’s board has also approved appointment of Uttam Prakash Agarwal as an additional director (Independent) for a period of five years. The Reserve Bank has already asked the private sector bank to find replacement of founder MD and CEO by January 31. Last month, Yes Bank had said the panel looking for a successor to MD and CEO Rana Kapoor had finalised potential candidates. Yes Bank shares closed at Rs 222.5 on BSE, down 1.37 per cent.


Ashok Leyland CEO and MD Vinod Dasari resigns cites personal reasons

Ashok Leyland CEO and MD Vinod Dasari resigns cites personal reasons

Chennai: Hinduja group flagship frim Ashok Leyland Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Vinod K Dasari has quit citing personal reasons and the company board has accepted his resignation, a top official said on Tuesday.

However, the boart at its meeting here Tuesday asked him to continue till the end of March 2019 to facilitate a smooth transition, Ashok Leyland Chairman Dheeraj Hinduja, who was elevated as Executive Chairman in view of the resignation of Dasari, said. The board had reappointed Dasari as Managing Director and CEO for a term of five years from April 1,2016 to March 31, 2021. “This (resignation of Dasari) was something unexpected. The board needs time to discuss this (and find a replacement). Vinod has done an excellent job and the team in Ashok Leyland is very strong,” Hinduja told reporters.

Dasari, who had been associated with the commercial heavy vehicle maker for the past 13 years, said he had been thinking about quitting for some time. “When we came to India 17-18 years ago, it was family decision. To come to Ashok Leyland and not go back to United States was my family decision. So, now my family is set by God’s grace and I’d been thinking about it for quite sometime (about quitting)”, he said. Noting that he was not keen on putting his papers when the company did not perform well about six years ago, Dasari said, “we turned around and our team did a fantastic job. The team is strong now”.

Asked would the resignation of Dasari pose a challenge to the company, Hinduja said, “there are lot of mentorship, guidance from the Board whenever needed. Of course there are challenges, but I think, we are well within meeting the timelines”. He said the company was having a very good board of Directors and of the ten, eight were independent directors and four of them with very rich credentials in the automotive industry. He also said Ashok Leyland had aggressive plans on light commercial vehicles, Defense and  electric vehicle segments.

Talking about Dasari, Hinduja said he was a people’s person. “If he fixes a target, his team will do everything and achieve that. Last five years, he changed the culture in Ashok Leyland”. Noting that the focus was on making a smooth transition to find a successor to him, Dasari said the company had been his family. “I am not running away from something. I just want to learn something else. Right now the focus is on smooth transition,internally,” he said.

Replying to a question, Hinduja said the resignation of Dasari would not lead to a vaccum and it would be business as usual. “Till we find a right person, based on the request of the Board, I will be the Executive Chairman. Vinodh and I have been working closely whether it is strategy, recruitment of senior people. I think it will continue. It will be business as usual,” he added.

Sensex, Nifty pare early gains on profit-booking

Sensex, Nifty pare early gains on profit-booking

Mumbai: The BSE benchmark Sensex on Wednesday turned choppy on profit-booking, after surging over 200 points amid persistent fall in global crude prices amid easing concerns over rising current account deficit and inflation. The 30-share Sensex was trading 14.78 points lower at 35,129.71, after it spurted 201 points, or 0.57 per cent, to 35,345.49 points in opening session.

The gauge had gained 332 points on Tuesday. The NSE Nifty too witnessed similar movement, and was trading 1.85 points higher at 10,584.35. The index had risen 68.25 points, or 0.64 per cent, to 10,650.75 in opening session. Investors began booking profits at higher levels as indices rallied after Brent crude plunged nearly 7 per cent to a one-year low of USD 65 a barrel, traders said. Strengthening the rupee, which jumped 67 paise to 72 against the dollar in the forex market, and mixed Asian cues too influenced sentiment.

Sectorally, oil and gas, PSU, metal indices and bankex were trading in the positive zone with gains of up to 3.26 per cent. In the Sensex kitty, Sun Pharma, TCS, Infosys, Wipro and Adani Ports dragged benchmark indices by falling up to 4.25 per cent. While, Asian Paint, Maruti Suzuki, HUL, ONGC, IndusInd Bank, Hero MotoCorp, NTPC, HDFC Ltd, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Yes Bank, RIL, SBI, PowerGrid, Kotak Bank and Vedanta were major gainers, rising by up to 3.89 per cent. Shares of Tata Steel surged 2.94 per cent after the company Tuesday posted a three-fold surge in consolidated net profit to Rs 3,116.2 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2018.

Shares of oil marketing companies and aviation operators made further headway on falling crude oil prices. State-run HPCL, BPCL and IOC were trading higher up to 9.39 per cent. In the aviation sector, shares of Interglobe Avialtion and Jet Airways gained up to 5.18 per cent. On a net basis, domestic institutional investors (DIIs) bought shares worth Rs 335.78 crore Monday, while foreign institutional Investors (FIIs) offloaded shares worth Rs 494.95 crore, as per provisional data. Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.31 per cent, Taiwan Index up 0.14 per cent, while Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.06 per cent. The US Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.40 per cent lower Tuesday.


AFL Hyperscale Business Development in charge Alan Richardson: Enterprise data centre market very strong, but with cost issues

AFL Hyperscale Business Development in charge Alan Richardson: Enterprise data centre market very strong, but with cost issues

Data centres figure among the new industries expected to catalyse the economic growth. The industry estimates India, which is expected to be a $4.5-billion data centre market this year, will touch $7 billion by 2020. In the global market, the share of India and APAC is increasing by 4.5 per cent and 12 per cent respectively. One of the players, AFL Hyperscale, looks to cash in on the opportunities available in India. The company, which offers optic fibre solutions to the industry, entered the Indian market in 2017 and is extremely bullish on its plans. Alan Richardson, who is in charge of the business development, discusses the market triggers, caution points and the company’s plans in a chat with Pankaj Joshi.

Edited Excerpts:

Can you give a background of your group and what does India represent for AFL Hyperscale?

The parent company of US-based AFL Hyperscale is Fujikura, which is listed in Japan and a global player in technology in fibre and electronics. It clocked a revenue of $8 billion in 2017.

AFL basically stands for American Fujikura and our revenues for FY2018 were $1.2 billion. We offer fibre optic solutions like manage the connections, optimise high-performance levels and enable the client to scale up the transaction level and thereby their business. Our areas of activity are in data centres and co-location businesses. In data centres, we would support the players which are looking at rapid scale-up of traffic (or hyperscalers as we call them). They would typically be in retail, financial services (BFSI space) or similar industries. The co-location industry is the other vertical which again has a strong scalability potential because of its strong business rationale.

From the perspective of both our activity areas, India presented an exciting market and so we have established a presence here out in Bangalore. We see the enterprise data centre market very strong and growing, but with cost issues. At some level, cloud and similar services have helped the market grow but the overall data centre is now getting more difficult and expensive in terms of set up and operations costs. Therefore, the activities are moving to co-location sites. This trend is playing out in India as well, where the co-location industry is also having good roots. So we are seeing a strong market expansion in India. We also have an ambitious plan for the country.

Independent surveys showed India as the second biggest (fastest) growth market worldwide for data centres. In this total industry size, our activity (fibre optic solutions) specifically would account for 4-5 per cent of the total size. For the current year itself, AFL in India is seeing a 70-80 per cent growth over the first year revenues. India is a definite action area.

What are the specific factors which make India exciting?

In the digital sector in totality, Indian companies and people have proven innovation capabilities. We believe that Indians as a whole are capable of creating disruptive growth opportunities, as well as harnessing them. The recent growth in cashless economy is just one example of this. We would want to be a positive force in this kind of disruption. India’s initiative to drive fibre to the village level is extremely commendable and, if it succeeds, will be a landmark achievement. Apart from the obvious client industries mentioned earlier, we are quite enthusiastic about government organisations as a client sector. We believe the government needs to take data centres more seriously in its own plans in four key areas – digitisation, education, handling volume and security of all kinds of transactions and enabling growth of high-value skill sectors in the economy.

Another trigger for it is regulation. We believe that confidentiality norms are on the way which will fuel data centre growth in the local market. A couple of months ago there was a regulation tabled stating that the data of a country must be locally stored.

What are the challenges in the Indian market?

If you look at challenges, the paramount one is power. There are three critical aspects of power for a data centre – the availability, the quality of available power and of course the cost of power. India has issues on all three fronts.
The second challenge is that many large potential clients would want to have their own fibre-based connectivity. That in turn means multiple digging operations in the same path, which presents the danger of cable damage. Similarly, there are laws and stipulations which create restrictions on building networks and data centres.


Another reality for the Indian market is that location, which connectivity is supposed to take out of the equation, is still very important. For instance, Mumbai though expensive, remains a popular location because it has lots of landing stations for the trans-Atlantic or submarine cables which carry data across continents. These cables are a critical part of the global data transmission network and by extension so are the landing stations. The more you move to the hinterland away from the landing stations, the lesser is the strength of connectivity.

Mumbai followed by Chennai especially the port locations are hot by default. Mumbai ranks well both on connectivity and power. Then you look at high usage hubs which again would have landing stations like Bangalore or Hyderabad. The market can develop on the back of greater penetration of landing stations. On the ground, fibre does not fail once it is in place. The reasons for network downtime are generally related to switches, routers, the active devices and the human element.

How do you intend to roll out your business?

Locally, we have partnered with Citadel Intelligent Systems which have enabled us to hit the ground running. The group is active in multiple areas including defence and aerospace, however our collaboration with them is limited to fibre optic connectivity solutions. If you talk of the scale-up blocks, the first priority would be to support our global clients who are active here. Second would be to create a client base of local companies in parallel.

At the back-end, we intend to invest and develop manufacturing capabilities, both through in-house facilities as well as by local sourcing. The difference in operational methods for AFL is that we are more in dealing directly with clients in the marketplace, compared to other peers who operate through the dealer/ distributor channel. We aim to bring to the table a good level of market understanding as well as understanding of the client requirements, and it is in that context we have clearly defined where we want to seek our clients.

Diwali 2018: E-tailing giants Amazon and Flipkart claim record-breaking bumper festive sales

Diwali 2018: E-tailing giants Amazon and Flipkart claim record-breaking bumper festive sales

New Delhi: With festive sales drawing to a close, e-tailing giants Amazon and Flipkart have claimed bumper sale on their platforms, and that they were ahead of the competition, as they received orders from customers from over 99 per cent of the pin codes in the country.

Citing a survey by Kantar IMRB and other reports, Amazon India Senior Vice President and Country Head Amit Agarwal said Amazon emerged as “the most visited and transacted shopping destination in India this festive season” (October 10-15, October 24-28 and November 2-5). “With 99.3 per cent of pin codes placing at least one order, 89 per cent of new customers coming from smaller towns, almost 70,000 small and medium businesses getting at least one order and new Prime memberships growing by nearly 2X, we are humbled that India trusts us to find, discover and buy anything online,” he said.

Asked about another report stating that Flipkart cornering 51 per cent share of the festive sale between October 9-14, Agarwal said, “we don’t comment on reports that are based on non-scientific methodologies”. The said industry report had stated that had a 32 per share in the first leg of the festive sale before Dusshera. Both Walmart-backed Flipkart and Amazon have claimed record-breaking sales numbers across categories like smartphones, large appliances and fashion during their festive sales.

“The current sale (November 1-5) is already more than 2X of our Big Billion Days sale this year. We were the clear leaders in the fashion category… we had all brands (of smartphones) except one…competition is no where close to that,” Flipkart Head of Growth Smrithi Ravichandran said. She added that customers on an average spent Rs 7,500 on various purchases during this festive sale and that its gross merchandise value (GMV) was up 90 per cent over last year.

Rupee recovers 21 paise to 72.91 against US dollar

Rupee recovers 21 paise to 72.91 against US dollar

Mumbai: The rupee recovered 21 paise to 72.91 against the US dollar early Tuesday on increased selling by exporters. The dollar’s weakness against some currencies overseas and a better opening of the domestic equity market also supported the rupee, dealers said.

At the interbank forex market, the rupee opened strong at 72.98 and advanced further to trade at 72.91, reflecting a rise of 21 paise over its previous close of 73.12 against the dollar. On Monday, the Indian rupee tumbled 67 paise to close at 73.12 against the US dollar on increased demand for the American currency from importers and unabated foreign fund outflows. Meanwhile, the benchmark Sensex rose 118.44 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 35,069.36 in opening trade Tuesday.

Airtel rolls out ‘alternate e-KYC’ in select circles for new connections

Airtel rolls out ‘alternate e-KYC’ in select circles for new connections

New Delhi: Telecom operator Bharti Airtel Monday began rolling out, in select circles, an ‘alternate digital KYC process’ for new connections, to replace Aadhaar-based electronic verification, a company official said. The alternate digital KYC process has begun with select circles including Delhi, UP (East) and UP (West) and will be extended to other locations in the coming days, the official privy to the development told PTI.

The alternate digital process for KYC entails scanning of the proof of address and identity, embedding live customer photo and online customer acquisition form, the source said adding that the entire process will be digital. The official further pointed out that the company will be phasing out the eKYC process, as the digital KYC system is rolled out to new locations, and stablises. An email sent to Bharti Airtel in this regard remained unanswered.

When contacted, a Vodafone Idea Ltd spokesperson confirmed that a new digital KYC process has been launched for onboarding customers across Vodafone and Idea brands but did not immediately offer specific details. On October 26, the telecom department had asked operators to stop using Aadhaar for electronic verification of existing mobile phone customers as well as for issuing new connections to comply with a recent Supreme Court order. The apex court had, last month, in a landmark verdict restricted the use of Aadhaar by private entities in the absence of a legal provision.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) in its October 26 circular had also taken note of the fact that the industry mooted an alternate process for KYC (know your customer) which entailed customer acquisition forms to be embedded with live photo of the subscriber and scanned images of proof of identity and proof of address, thereby digitising the end-to-end process for on-boarding of new mobile subscribers and making it paperless.

Accordingly, all telecom service providers were asked by the DoT to ensure readiness of their systems and offer the proof of concept of the proposed digital process by November 5 for approval. The DoT had issued detailed instructions to telecom companies on stopping the use of Aadhaar-based e-KYC and report compliance by November 5.