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IndiGo codeshare to be operationalised from Dec: Qatar Airways

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New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) Even as it waits to expand its partnership with IndiGo, Doha-based Qatar Airways will first operationalise its new codeshare agreement with Indias airline major by December.

According to Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, the airline is interested in investing in IndiGo, but will wait till the time issues between the budget carrier’s promoters are resolved.

“We would like to expand our relationship with IndiGo,” Al Baker said.

“There is some disagreement within the airline, so we will not comment on our future plans for IndiGo until these issues are resolved,” he added.

On the new codeshare, he pointed-out that the agreement will be implemented from December, once the systems of the two airlines are integrated.

In aviation parlance, a codeshare agreement allows airlines to sell seats on each others’ flights in order to provide passengers with a wider choice of destinations.

Recently, Al Baker was in New Delhi to sign the one-way codeshare agreement between Qatar Airways and IndiGo.

The deal will enable Qatar Airways to place its code on IndiGo flights between Doha and Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

The new agreement, Al Baker said, will offer seamless travel experience to the passengers, who will also be able to access Qatar Airways’ network.

It will also provide health passenger volumes to IndiGo, he said.

Besides, Al Baker elaborated that economy class passengers of Qatar Airways will find acceptable standards of service on-board IndiGo’s aircraft.

On the airline’s plans to participate in Air India’s upcoming divestment process, Al Baker said that Qatar Airways is “right now not looking at Air India but that doesn’t mean we are not interested”.

Currently, Qatar Airways operates 102 weekly flights between Doha and 13 destinations in India, including Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Mumbai, Nagpur and Thiruvananthapuram.

Additionally, the airline’s cargo division — Qatar Airways Cargo — operates a total of 28 weekly freighters to seven destinations in India. The top three cargo destinations in India are Mumbai, Chennai and Ahmedabad.

At present, Qatar Airways operates a fleet of more than 250 aircraft to more than 160 destinations worldwide.

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])

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Swamy warns against Air India sale, wants House panel to vet his note

It has been reliably learnt that the Rajya Sabha member had expressed reservations over privatisation of Air India the meeting of a Parliamentary consultative committee earlier this month.

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New Delhi, Jan 23: The government’s plan to sell national carrier Air India may face political and legal headwinds with senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy raising the red flag against the decision.

Days before the launch of bidding process by inviting Expressions of Interest (EoI) from potential suitors, Swamy has warned against such move, saying the issue was currently being discussed by a Parliamentary panel.

“Right now, it (Air India disinvestment) is before the consultative committee and I am a member of that. I have been asked to give a note which will be discussed in the next meeting. They can’t go ahead without that,” Swamy told IANS.

“If they do, I will go to court. They know that too,” he cautioned.

A vocal opponent of Air India privatisation, Swamy had earlier suggested to list 49 per cent of Air India shares on stock exchanges while government holds 51 per cent in the carrier as an alternative to selling its entire stake to private companies.

It has been reliably learnt that the Rajya Sabha member had expressed reservations over privatisation of Air India the meeting of a Parliamentary consultative committee earlier this month.

After its failed first attempt, the Modi government has shown great zeal this time to sell Air India. It is set to offer a sweetened deal to potential buyers this time around by removing a large chunk of the debt and liabilities from the airline books.

Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had earlier said that Air India will be shut down, in case the disinvestment exercise is not successful.

Sources told IANS that the preliminary information memorandum (PIM) inviting EoI has been tentatively scheduled to be unveiled on January 27.

Air India is proposed to be sold along with its subsidiary Air India Express and ground-handling joint venture company Air India Singapore Airport Terminal Services Ltd (AISATS) in which it has 50 per cent stake.

Air India on January 10 came out with tender for engaging aircraft asset management companies for carrying out technical audit of its entire fleet.

A Ministerial panel on Air India chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah on January 7 approved the draft EoI and a share purchase agreement (SPA) for the airline’s disinvestment.

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

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Vodafone quits Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency project

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San Francisco, Jan 22 Telecom major Vodafone has joined the list of top companies which have backed out from Facebook’s controversial Libra cryptocurrency project.

Vodafone joins PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, Mercado Pago, eBay, Stripe and Booking Holdings in withdrawing from the controversial project — and is the first company to exit after the Libra Association was formed in October last year, Coindesk reported on Tuesday.

The companies have left owing to concerns about heightened regulatory scrutiny and users’ data privacy.

“We can confirm that Vodafone is no longer a member of the Libra Association. Although the makeup of the Association members may change over time, the design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient,” the Libra Association said in a statement.

“The Association is continuing the work to achieve a safe, transparent, and consumer-friendly implementation of the Libra payment system.”

Despite top-notch firms pulling out, Facebook and 20 partner organisations formally joined the digital currency Libra project in Geneva in October.

The Libra Association said that more than 1,500 entities have expressed an interest in joining the digital currency project.

Several US senators have opposed Facebook’s digital coin, arguing that the social networking giant has been irresponsible with user data privacy. They have even called the digital cryptocurrency Libra “delusional” and “dangerous”.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in October about Libra, defending the idea, but acknowledging the struggles left to overcome.

In a six-hour grilling at a House Financial Services Committee hearing, both Democrat and Republican lawmakers expressed dissatisfaction with Facebook’s cryptocurrency plans.

“As I have examined Facebook’s various problems, I have come to the conclusion that it would be beneficial for all if Facebook concentrates on addressing its many existing deficiencies and failures before proceeding any further on the Libra project,” said California Representative Maxine Waters.

“Facebook’s internal motto was for a long time ‘move fast and break things.’ Mr. Zuckerberg, we do not want to break the international monetary system,” added New York Democrat Nydia VelAizquez.

Libra has failed in its current form, according to the President of Switzerland.

In a media interview, Swiss President and Finance Minister Ueli Maurer stated that Libra does not have a chance of being successful “because the basket of currencies that is deposited in this currency is not accepted by the national (central) banks”.

“The project in this form has actually failed,” Maurer was quoted as saying.

The Libra project, which is still in development, aims for the launch of its first version this year.

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Vodafone quits Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency project

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San Francisco: Vodafone has become the latest big player who have decided to quit Facebook’s controversial Libra cryptocurrency project.

Vodafone joins PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, Mercado Pago, eBay, Stripe and Booking Holdings in withdrawing from the controversial project — and is the first company to exit after the Libra Association was formed in October last year, coindesk reported on Tuesday.

The companies left owing to concerns about heightened regulatory scrutiny.

“We can confirm that Vodafone is no longer a member of the Libra Association. Although the makeup of the Association members may change over time, the design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient,” the Libra Association said in a statement.

“The Association is continuing the work to achieve a safe, transparent, and consumer-friendly implementation of the Libra payment system.”

Despite top-notch firms pulling out, Facebook and 20 partner organisations formally joined the digital currency Libra project in Geneva in October.

The Libra Association said that more than 1,500 entities have expressed an interest in joining the digital currency project.

Several US senators have opposed Facebook’s digital coin, arguing that the social networking giant has been irresponsible with user data privacy. They have even called the digital cryptocurrency Libra “delusional” and “dangerous”.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in October about Libra, defending the idea, but acknowledging the struggles left to overcome.

Libra has failed in its current form, according to the President of Switzerland.

In a media interview, Swiss President and Finance Minister Ueli Maurer stated that Libra does not have a chance of being successful “because the basket of currencies that is deposited in this currency is not accepted by the national (central) banks”.

“The project in this form has actually failed,” Maurer was quoted as saying.

The Libra project, which is still in development, aims for the launch of its first version this year.

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