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Govt nudges Air India to bid for Haj operations, tender extended

Pulling out aircraft from its operational schedule means adverse impact on connectivity and reduction in frequency.

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Air India Flight

New Delhi, Feb 4 : The government has nudged sale-bound Air India to bid for undertaking Haj operations, which will force the airline to pull out some of its airplanes from its already set schedule that will lead to flight disruptions.

Official sources said that the Air India has not been keen to carry out Haj operations as it will either require the carrier to put its grounded jets into operation or take out a few aircraft from the schedule.

“The Aviation Ministry wants Air India to participate in the bid for Haj operations,” an official said.

While in the first case the cash-starved airline would have to garner funds to fix engine and maintenance issues, in the other case its schedule would get affected. In other words, going with either of the two options would mean overlooking its commercial interests. The poor financial health of the carrier can be gauged from the fact that it last month delayed the salary payments of the staff.

Air India has 30 of its aircraft grounded with 15 either not operating or not part of Air Operators Certificate (AOC). Unavailability of aircraft for operations is among the reasons for the national carrier’s falling market share in the domestic market.

Pulling out aircraft from its operational schedule means adverse impact on connectivity and reduction in frequency.

An official said that while government makes payment for Haj operations, it becomes an operational nightmare for the carrier given the enormity of the task. In the past, the airline had to take out its plane from scheduled operations and deploy them for Haj operations to ensure the integrity of the commitment.

“Air India is generally compelled to undertake the operations as part of national responsibility,” said a former Air India official.

As the last date for submitting the bid for Haj operations has expired, the Civil Aviation Ministry has extended the date and time of receipt of bids “till further communication”.

Meanwhile, the government has invited preliminary bid to sell Air India and its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express. It has sweetened the deal to ensure the airline is sold to a private party in the second disinvestment attempt in the past two years.

(Nirbhay Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

Cities

Two more Covid-19 cases in Bengal, count now 20

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Covid 19 Doctor

Kolkata, March 29 : Two persons, including an Army doctor, were on Sunday detected with the coronavirus infection here – in the first case of a medico getting afflicted with the dreaded Covid-19 in West Bengal, where the disease count has now gone up to 20.

The 52-year-old anaesthesiologist is now admitted at the Command Hospital, Alipore, state Health Department sources said.

A 66-year-old man also tested positive for the disease.

One person has died due to Covid-19 in the state so far.

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India

979 confirmed COVID-19 cases in India, 106 new cases, 6 new deaths

Coronavirus Outbreak LIVE Updates: 106 new cases, six deaths in last 24 hours, total now 979, says health ministry

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Coronavirus Symtoms

New Delhi, March 29 : 979 confirmed COVID-19 cases in India, 106 new cases, 6 new deaths.

  • Maharashtra was the worst hit state, followed by Kerala and Karnataka
  • 87 coronavirus patients have been cured/discharged across the countr

Here is state-wise tally of total coronavirus cases in the country:

  • Andhra Pradesh 14
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands – 9
  • Bihar – 9
  • Chandigarh – 8
  • Chhattisgarh – 6
  • Delhi – 39 ( including 1 foreign national)
  • Goa – 3 ( including 1 foreign national)
  • Gujarat – 53 ( including 1 foreign national)
  • Haryana – 33 ( including 14 foreign nationals)
  • Himachal Pradesh – 3
  • Jammu and Kashmir – 31
  • Karnataka – 76
  • Kerala – 182 ( including 8 foreign nationals)
  • Ladakh – 13
  • Madhya Pradesh – 30
  • Maharashtra – 186 ( including 3 foreign nationals)
  • Manipur – 1
  • Mizoram – 1
  • Odisha – 3
  • Puducherry – 1
  • Punjab – 38
  • Rajasthan – 54 ( including 2 foreign nationals)
  • Tamil Nadu – 42 ( including 6 foreign nationals)
  • Telengana – 66 ( including 10 foreign nationals)
  • Uttarakhand – 6 ( including 1 foreign national)
  • Uttar Pradesh – 55 ( including 1 foreign national)
  • West Bengal – 17

While 319 of the positive cases were Indian, 41 are foreigners, the Health Ministry said in the 6.30 p.m. update.

“A total of 24 patients have been cured and discharged. Seven deaths have been reported across the country,” the Health Ministry said.

Among the 23 states and union territories where the cases were found, Maharashtra has the highest patient count followed by Kerala.

The number of cases across the country has been increasing on a drastic speed.

While Bihar, Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat, and Karnataka have reported one each coronavirus related deaths, Maharashtra has reported two deaths as of now.

A total of 75 districts across the country have been put under lockdown, with only essential services allowed.

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India

Rahul expresses Congress’s solidarity with govt in COVID-19 fight

Rahul said the sudden lockdown, announced by the government, created panic and confusion, and closure of factories, small industries and construction had rendered tens of thousands of migrants jobless forcing them to return to their villages.

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daily wages workers

New Delhi, March 29 : Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Sunday expressed his party’s solidarity with the government in the time of crisis and also suggested measures to overcome the panic and insulate the economy.

“The number of poor, who are daily wagers, is simply too large to shut down all economic activities. The consequences of economic shutdown will only add the Covid-19 toll,” said the former Congress chief. The shutdown could cause “catastrophic” loss of life, he added.

He urged the government to consider a nuanced approach, taking the complex realities of the country into consideration, prioritise protection of the elderly and the vulnerable, and communicate clearly to the young about the dangers.

Rushing of millions of people to their villages due to lockdown in cities would increase the risk of spread of coronavirus infection to their folk back home, he said. “This will lead to catastrophic loss of life,” Gandhi said.

“We must strengthen the social safety net and use every public resources to support and shelter the working poor,” he said.

The Congress leader also called for setting up of dedicated hospitals with thousands of beds and ventilators, and intensifying coronavirus tests to get an accurate picture of the spread of infection and to formulate suitable measures to contain it.

Rahul said the sudden lockdown, announced by the government, created panic and confusion, and closure of factories, small industries and construction had rendered tens of thousands of migrants jobless forcing them to return to their villages.

He urged the Prime Minister to help them find shelter and provide money directly into their bank accounts to let them tide over the crisis.

Expressing his and millions of Congress workers’ solidarity with the government in this immense humanitarian crisis, Gandhi suspected that the government might extend the lockdown.

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