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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kargil martyrs continue to remain as immortals

26 July 2009,

LUCKNOW: "Why do you want to join the army?" asked the officer during the interview. "I have come here for the Param Vir Chakra (PVC)," answered the boy. Surprised with boy's confident answer, the officer shot another question: "Do you know when PVC is given?" Prompt came the reply: "It is given when you lay down your life while fighting for the country." Few years later, the boy proved his statement true.

While narrating this incident, Gopichand Pandey could not hide the shine in his teary eyes. After all, he is the proud father of Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey, who was posthumously given the Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award of the country, for his exemplary valour in the Kargil war of 1999.

Ten years later, the entire nation still remembers this son of the soil and salutes his chivalry. That he belonged to Lucknow is a matter of pride for each denizen.

Veena Mishra's voice chokes as she recalls the last sentence of her son, Captain Aditya Mishra, during the Kargil war: "Ma, I will pierce the body of the enemies with my bullets but will keep the last bullet for myself. I won't be captured by the Pakistanis." She thought it was a joke but her son was too serious about his mission, his duty and about laying his life for his motherland. Veena, whose husband Colonel GS Mishra, is also in army, cannot forget the moment when she heard the news of her son's martyrdom. The world fell apart for her. "My younger son too wanted to join the army but I did not allow him to do so. However, now I regret that decision," sighs Veena.

A decade ago, on July 26, 1999, Indian soldiers defeated the Pakistani infiltrators after fighting for over 40 days at the heights of Kargil and Drass in Jammu and kashmir and in the process sacrificing their lives.

Capt Manoj Pandey, Capt Aditya Mishra, Rifleman Sunil Jung and Lance Nayak Kewal Nand Dwivedi of Lucknow fought for their country and laid down their lives to redeem its honour. They went as men and returned as heroes. At the height of 1000 feet, where it is even difficult to breathe, Indian soldiers crawled on the mountains, faced the enemy bullets and achieved the martyrdom but not before driving out the enemy.

Nayak Rajendra Kumar of Rae Bareli, Sepoy Satyendra Kumar Yadav of Kanpur, Lance Nayak Amar Bahadur Singh of Unnao and Captain Sunil Kumar Yadav of Eta were among the 70 soldiers from UP who lost their lives during Kargil war. Their families are proud of their feat but rue the void created by their departure with moist eyes.

The families of these martyrs got all the love and support from the locals, but were ignored by the bureaucrats and politicians. "I have been given all that was promised. Politicians also made several rounds of my home at the time of elections. But they only remember the soldiers on occasions like the Republic Day, Independence Day, Army Day and now Kargil Day. Thereafter, the memory fades away," lamented Gopichand Pandey.

But the heroes continue to remain in the hearts of the people as role models. Shweta Singh's face flashes with a smile when her eight-year-son Harsh says, "I want join the army and fight with the enemies. I want to become a soldier."

Tribute to martyrs on Kargil Day

Sunday , Jul 26, 2009

To commemorate Kargil Day, the Kargil Day Action Committee has organised a function to pay homage to the martyrs at the National War Memorial in Morwada Gardens on Sunday. Brig Rajbir Singh, Commander, Pune Sub Area will lay a wreath on behalf of the Army commander, GOC-in-C Southern Command along with Air Chief Marshal H Moolgavkar (MVC) (retd); Admiral Jayant Nadkarni (retd); Lt Gen H M Khanna (retd); Arun Firodia, founder and chairman, Kinetic Group; Mohan Agashe, actor and Shashikant Mehendale. This will be followed by beating the retreat by Guard of 18th Sikh Regiment and lighting of candles by Sumantai Kirloskar and Lila Poonawalla.
The programme has been organised to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Kargil war and to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the country, said the convenor. A large number of citizens and members of different organisations will participate in the function.

Nuke submarine launch, Kargil - both success for India: Narayanan


India's first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine was launched here Sunday as the country marked the 10th anniversary of the victory over the Pakistani intruders in Kargil - and the coincidence was not lost on National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan.

'Both were successes for us,' replied Narayanan when asked if the launching of the submarine on the 10th Kargil Victory Day signified anything.

The 110-metre long submarine, resembling a giant black shark, was tugged out of the Ship Building Centre here. The Indian Navy flag fluttered atop the vessel and the sailors in snow-white uniform proudly saluted the dignitaries present to witness the momentous occasion.

It was on July 26, 1999, that India finally wrested the peaks in Jammu and Kashmir from the Pakistani intruders.

Now, Air India says it needs an urgent infusion of Rs 20K cr

26 Jul 2009, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: A restructuring plan for Air India says the national carrier needs an urgent infusion of Rs 20,000 crore to tide over its worst ever financial crisis, up five times from the amount it was seeking from the government in October 2008.

The plan made by SBI Caps was presented to the committee of secretaries on Saturday, seeking an equity infusion of Rs 10,000 crore from the government, besides permission to raise a similar amount through a bond issue or through a soft loan, a government official familiar with the development told SundayET.

An Air India spokesman refused to comment for the story saying he could not say anything more than what was mentioned in the carrier's official statement. At the outset of the meeting the airline presented its plan to reduce cost and ways to increase revenue. It then detailed its requirement and proposed to raise Rs 10,000 crore equity from the government. In its presentation the airline indicated a soft loan or bond issue of similar amount, another official said on condition of anonymity.

In October 2008, Air India had submitted a proposal seeking equity infusion of Rs 1,231 crore and a soft loan of Rs 2,750 crore with an interest of about 5% payable over 15 years.

The civil aviation ministry, the administrative ministry for Air India, though is not in favour of giving the airline more than Rs 3,000 crore. "Air India does not need financial assistance of more than Rs 2,500 crore. That too in the form of equity. Apart from than it only needs to increase revenue and cut cost," civil aviation minister Praful Patel said.

The CoS has asked finance ministry to go into greater detail and examine the extent of assistance to be given to the airline. Air India and SBI Caps made a presentation to the CoS on Saturday and gave a revival plan for the company. It also gave its future revenue projection and measures being taken to cut cost.

The airline was told by the high-level committee to cut cost and improve revenue for getting any assistance from the government. The panel said that the assistance would have to be matched by an aggressive cost reduction and a better revenue management by the airline.

"The airline would have to assure that its future sustainability is not built on cards. Instead of a long term plan of 18-months for saving and revenue management the company should give quarterly plans. They need to get a concrete plan," a senior official who did not wish to be identified. He, however, said that the current equity base of the company was very low and it needed to be expanded.

A civil aviation ministry statement said that Air India was told to come up with a concrete cost reduction proposal including replacement of the current productivity linked incentive (PLI) with an alternative scheme within the framework of the department of public enterprises (DPE) guidelines.

The CoS is expected to meet again by the end of August to review the financial restructuring being undertaken by the airline.

The high-level panel has asked the aviation company to appoint a cost auditor to monitor, review and ensure that the cost reduction and operational efficiencies are effected. In a major relief to the cash-strapped Air India, the CoS recommended a three-months credit limit by oil companies to the airline.

While a direct financial help from the government is yet to come for Air India, a recent finance ministry circular directing all the government employees to travel only by the national carrier is estimated to give an annual business of Rs 2,000 crore to the company.

Air India has an accumulated loss of Rs 7,200 crore as on March 2009. The company is currently finding it difficult to meet the operational cost. The airline has so far borrowed about Rs 16,000 crore from nearly 17 banks as overdraft, mainly to pay off its debt on account of fleet acquisition.

India should spend more on health: Bill Gates

26 July 2009

NEW DELHI: Reminding India that it faces "some of the toughest health problems in the world", Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Saturday urged the country to drastically increase health spending to eliminate the most persisting diseases plaguing its people.

"The Indian government must accelerate its progress toward its health spending targets, so that innovations benefit the poor people who really need them," he said while receiving the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation from President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Pointing out that the country "bears a massive burden of disease", he drew a roadmap for the next five years to attack the most pervasive health problems. Gates said, "It will take a major investment of effort and money to add vaccines, but it is a sound investment."

In a tacit censure of a sloppy delivery system, he said, "It is also imperative that new money for health be spent wisely -- and in transparent ways...keeping good data and analyzing it rigorously to determine the impact your investments are having."

Calling for steps to hold people accountable for results, he said, "India is one of many countries where the reported vaccine coverage rate is much higher than the actual coverage rate."

However, he assured India of sustained and strong support from his Foundation and said the entrepreneurial spirit and technological sophistication of India convinced him of the country's ability to reach its health goals in the coming years.

Conferring the award on Gates, President Pratibha Patil said that like Indira Gandhi, the philanthropist, too, has seen the "road ahead".

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hoped that Gates' transformation from a successful businessman to a philanthropist would inspire many business tycoons in India to take up similar work. "More of our business leaders and our wealthy will learn to share their wealth with the people of their country, by investing in their education, their health and the care of the elderly and the disabled," he said.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi said that Gates' "extraordinary success as a businessman has been overtaken by your even more extraordinary impact as a philanthropist".

Monday, July 13, 2009

Metro collapse second major accident involving Gammon India

12 Jul 2009

NEW DELHI: The collapse of a part of an underconstruction Delhi Metro line here Sunday was the second accident involving Gammon India, the construction company, in as many years.

Two people were killed and several injured when eight pre-cast blocks caved in at the flyover on Panjagutta in the heart of Hyderabad due to heavy rains Sep 9, 2007. The flyover was being constructed by Gammon India.

A technical experts committee appointed by the Andhra Pradesh government in its report found negligence on part of Gammon India and Tanikella Integrated Consultants and civic authorities as the cause of the accident.

The inquiry panel had recommended action against Gammon India, which was the engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) contractor for the project.

It found that the construction company had failed to fill the excavated trenches for laying the pipelines with stone quarry as per the standard procedure.

Six people, including two employees of Gammon India, were arrested last year.

In Delhi, five people were killed and 15 injured around 5 am when a part of the elevated underconstruction Metro track came crashing down near Kailash Colony in south Delhi on the Central Secretariat-Badarpur section slated to open by September 2010 when the Commonwealth Games are to be hosted in the city.

Gammon India denies negligence, government promises action

Gammon India, the company carrying out the construction work at the Delhi Metro site where six people were killed as a section of a elevated viaduct collapsed, denied negligence on its part and said all safety measures had been taken.

"We followed highest safety measures and have safety engineers. We are an ISO certified company and prima facie I don't find any mistake on our part," said Umesh Gupta, vice-president Gammon India.

Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy said, "We will not spare any one, including Gammon India, found guilty. We are yet to receive the inquiry committee report. Accountability will be fixed." The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is a joint venture of the central and Delhi governments.

"The contractor always becomes a soft target. I won't comment more than this. Let's wait for the inquiry committee report," Umesh Gupta of Gammon India said.

A section of the elevated rail track that Gammon India was constructing to connect the Central Secretariat with Badarpur in the far south collapsed at Zamrudpur on Sunday, killing six people and injuring 15.

On Monday, five other people were injured at the same site as three cranes and a launching girder toppled over.

The central government has assured action against those responsible for the accident.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

6 killed, 13 injured in Metro bridge collapse in Delhi

12 July 2009

NEW DELHI: Six persons, including an engineer, were killed and 13 others injured when an under-construction over-bridge of the Delhi Metro collapsedRescue operation is in progress after a Delhi Metro Rail Corporation flyover collapsed in New Delhi on Sunday, in the second such incident in eight months.

The accident took place as one of the pillars of the bridge gave in when a launcher was being erected close to Lady Sriram College in Dhamrudpur in Lajpat Nagar at around 5am.

"Five people have died. Of them - three were among the 15 workers who were taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Trauma Centre and the other two are still trapped under debris," Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) spokesperson Anuj Dayal told reporters here.

Rescue efforts were on till afternoon and civil defence personnel talked about at least 3 more bodies being buried in the debris. One body was clearly visible between the girdle launcher and the concrete piece.

The Delhi Metro attributed the accident to a "problem in the design" of the pillar. "We were trying to rectify it. There was a defect in the peer cap which caused the displacement," Dayal said.

The three have been identified as Ansuman, a site engineer and construction workers Niranjan and Badan Singh, while two others at AIIMS are in a critical condition, Dayal said.

The bridge was on the Central Secretariat to Badarpur corridor of the Delhi Metro which was slated to be completed by September 2010.

"The incident took place between pillars 66 and 67 when the pillar cap was affected. Ten segments were to be erected on the stretch of which five had been completed. When the sixth segment was being erected, the launching girder collapsed due to disbalance causing a portion of the bridge to fall," Dayal explained.

Thirty workers of Gammon India Ltd, DMRC's contractor at the site, were present of which 20 have been affected, Dayal said. Many of the injured were also taken to the nearby Moolchand Hospital and the Safdurjang hospital.

Construction site workers alleged that the pillars on which the bridge was to be hoisted were faulty.

"There were cracks in the pillar and we had warned the contractor and officials - but they paid no heed," said a construction labourer.

Said Balwinder Singh, a policemen facilitating rescue operations: "We have removed 16 people from the debris and they have been taken to hospital. Three people are still buried in the rubble - they were responding to us till 9.15 a.m. But now they are dead."

Mayor Kanwar Sain was present at the site and said: "The Delhi Metro projects are going at a fast pace and the quality of work is being compromised. An enquiry is necessary."

Sushil Choudhury, a resident of Vikram Vihar, adjacent to the construction site said that residents of the area were alarmed by the accident.

"I own a shop metres away from the spot - one miss and everything would have crashed down. I have doubts about how the Delhi Metro works now," said Chowdhury, a former MLA of the area.

Dayal said the rescue operations are being monitored by a team of 100 DMRC engineers and DMRC managing director E. Sreedharan was on his way from Bangalore.

"He will be visiting the site. Investigations are on," he said.

A Delhi Jal Board water supply pipe has also burst, causing severe flooding around the Blue Bellls International school.

"We have also temporarily disconnected the electricity lines in the area. Traffic has been diverted at the Kailash Colony market, Amar Colony, the nearby Lady Sri Ram College and Blue Bells School till 6.00am tomorrow (Monday)," Dayal said

Rescue operations are underway and six cranes as well as gas cutter machines have been put into use to get through the debris.

DMRC was scheduled to complete the 190-km Phase II of the Delhi Metro by October 2010 and construction was on in full swing to ensure that deadlines were met.

Chief minister Sheila Dikshit termed the incident as "unfortunate" and said a compensation package will be worked out in consultation with the Delhi Metro.

The DMRC will hold a press conference at 3pm to elaborate about the incident.

Local residents alleged the cracks were visible in the pillar that collapsed and work had been stopped for about 2 months to 'repair it'.

The work has restarted just a few days back. This is almost a re-run of the incident in east Delhi last year when a girdle launcher and a pre-fabricated piece fell on a bus killing 2 people.

Metro at that time had assured that such an incident would never happen again and had set up an inquiry.

Leader of Opposition V K Malhotra visited the site in the morning and alleged that delay in Commonwealth Games project was forcing Delhi government and DMRC to expedite the completion of the project, thereby compromising safety and resulting in deaths.

Friday, July 10, 2009

G8 ban is sign India’s nuclear quest is not over -

The Hindu 11 July

Reversal raises questions about effectiveness of Indian diplomacy

New Delhi: In diplomacy, as in football, smart players know the consequences of losing sight of the ball. The blink of an eye is all it takes to miss a goal or lose a hard-won advantage.

2008 was a signal year for Indian diplomacy when a set of international restrictions that had starved the country’s nuclear industry of fuel and equipment for two decades was lifted on terms less restrictive than what Washington — which initiated the drive to make an exception for India — had been prepared to grant New Delhi.

In the months that followed the successful campaign to lift trading restrictions on India at the Nuclear Suppliers Group, however, a complacent establishment decided to rest on its laurels and forgot about the obstacles and dangers still remaining. And then, seemingly out of the blue, came the first American attempt at clawback: on Thursday, the G8 agreed to adopt new rules prohibiting the sale of ENR components and technology to countries like India which have not signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Much to the consternation of U.S. legislators, last year’s NSG exemption placed American nuclear vendors at a disadvantage by making imports from the U.S. far less attractive than comparable purchases from elsewhere, especially Russia and France. The 123 agreement, which governs bilateral commerce between the U.S. and India, allowed for the sale of reactors and fuel to India but these came saddled with a risky ‘right of return’ clause in the event that Washington terminated cooperation. At India’s insistence, enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) items were not excluded but their sale was made conditional on a subsequent agreement that both sides knew would never see the light of day. Reprocessing of spent fuel was allowed but only in a new, permanently safeguarded facility and that too, under yet-to-be-negotiated arrangements and procedures.

By comparison, the NSG’s exemption made no provision for ‘right of return’ and allowed U.S. competitors to make ENR transfers so long as they were satisfied these would not be misused by India. The spent fuel could also be reprocessed in existing Indian facilities provided the reprocessing was done under safeguards. Net-net, this made non-U.S. reactors more attractive.

Somewhere along the line, the Indians assumed the game was over. The whistle blown at L’Aquila is a reminder that the U.S. has plenty of extra time in hand.

Of course, the tell-tale signs were all around: in the U.S. State Department’s answers to pointed queries from Congress about the need for a ‘level playing field’ at the NSG. And in the assurances Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave to Capitol Hill in order to ensure the speedy ratification of the 123 agreement last October.

Getting the NSG to agree to prohibit the export of ENR equipment and technology to states such as India that are not members of the NPT would be the United States’ “highest priority,” Dr. Rice told Congressman Howard Berman at the time.

The fact that the NSG held intensive consultations on the issue last November was also well known, as was the fact that the U.S. was managing to create a consensus around NPT conditionality, even as other issues like adherence to the Additional Protocol was opposed by some NSG members like Brazil and uranium-rich countries like Canada objected to ENR sales being restricted to so-called black-box technologies which could prevent them from developing their own enrichment know-how.

Full cooperation

Although India is technologically self-sufficient in reprocessing and enrichment technology, the inclusion of ENR components in the nuclear deal was a matter of principle, positioning and ‘paisa’. That is why Indian negotiators insisted in July 2005 that they would settle for nothing less than “full civil nuclear cooperation.”

After all, if an exception was being made for India because of its status as a responsible country with advanced nuclear technology, excluding sensitive technologies made no sense. India was also aware of the role ENR services would play in the future evolution of the global nuclear industry. With attempts under way to monopolise the fuel cycle, India needed to ensure its status as a ‘supplier’ country was recognised. Finally, costs were also an issue. Why spend crores producing components for ENR plants when the parts could be imported for a fraction of the cost? When push came to shove, the U.S. reneged on “full cooperation” but allowed India to get what it wanted at the NSG. Now, that is in jeopardy too.

As part of the NSG exemption, New Delhi pledged voluntary adherence to the cartel’s present and future rules. But the NSG also said it would “consult” with India prior to new rules being adopted. If these consultations have been held, New Delhi has clearly not been effective in putting its views across. The fact that the cartel is still some distance away from reaching a final decision provides cold comfort: the G8’s endorsement of last November’s “clean text” will certainly have the effect of speeding up the deliberative process at Vienna.

India had a chance to press its case with friends and allies and also to leverage the massive expenditure it is prepared to make on Russian, French and American nuclear reactors in order to ensure it does not become the target of fresh restrictions. By failing to be proactive, however, it has allowed the U.S. to gain the first mover advantage.

If a formal consensus does not emerge in the Nuclear Suppliers Group by the time the next plenary is held, India may have a small window to undo the symbolic and substantive damage that has occurred at L’Aquila. But it needs to lobby hard to ensure the interim ban adopted on ENR sales is not carried over to next year’s G8 statement.

Otherwise it should prepare for several rounds of bruising negotiations ahead. The second U.S. target will be spent fuel reprocessing. Existing agreements with Russia and France do not stipulate a new standalone facility or more intensive safeguards. And as the Obama administration presses ahead with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, attempts could be made to get the NSG to adopt a version of the U.S. ‘right of return’ for exported items in the event that India is seen as deviating from the disarmament and non-proliferation commitments it made last September.

Seven U.S banks fail, pushing 2009 tally to 52

Regulators close six Illinois banks and one Texas bank, setting the FDIC back a total of $314.3 million.

NEW YORK ( -- Seven banks were shut down by authorities Thursday, pushing the tally of failed banks for 2009 to 52, more than doubling the failures in 2008.

Six regional banks in Illinois and one in Texas closed their doors, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The rash of Illinois failures are interlinked: All six banks were controlled by one family and followed a similar business model that "created concentrated exposure in each institution," according to the FDIC.

The agency said that the six failures stemmed from the banks' investments in collateralized debt obligations and other loan losses.

Twelve banks in Illinois have failed this year. Thursday's failure in Texas was the first for the state in 2009.

Last year, 25 banks failed in the United States.

Local banks have been hard hit as plummeting home values devalued mortgage-backed assets and rising unemployment rates caused an increasing number of consumers to default on their loans.

NEW YORK ( -- Seven banks were shut down by authorities Thursday, pushing the tally of failed banks for 2009 to 52, more than doubling the failures in 2008.

Six regional banks in Illinois and one in Texas closed their doors, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The rash of Illinois failures are interlinked: All six banks were controlled by one family and followed a similar business model that "created concentrated exposure in each institution," according to the FDIC.

The agency said that the six failures stemmed from the banks' investments in collateralized debt obligations and other loan losses.

Twelve banks in Illinois have failed this year. Thursday's failure in Texas was the first for the state in 2009.

Last year, 25 banks failed in the United States.

Local banks have been hard hit as plummeting home values devalued mortgage-backed assets and rising unemployment rates caused an increasing number of consumers to default on their loans.

Citi rapped by Japan
Larger financial institutions have been helped with government bailouts, but smaller regional banks continue to struggle.

FDIC fund: The total cost of Thursday's bank failures to the FDIC is $314.3 million, bringing the FDIC fund's total cost for failed banks to $12.3 billion this year. That compares with $17.6 billion in all of 2008.

The FDIC, which is funded primarily by fees paid by banks, insures individual deposits up to $250,000. The amount was increased from $100,000 late last year in response to concerns about the stability of the nation's banks.

First bank topples: State regulators shuttered John Warner Bank, based in Clinton, Ill., and named the FDIC the receiver. The State Bank of Lincoln, based in Lincoln, Ill., will assume all of the deposits of the failed bank.

As of April 30, the failed bank had total assets of $70 million and total deposits of approximately $64 million.

The three offices of John Warner will reopen on Friday as branches of State Bank of Lincoln. Customers of the shuttered bank will automatically become depositors of State Bank of Lincoln.

Second bank falls: Later Thursday, state regulators closed First State Bank of Winchester, based in Winchester, Ill., and named the FDIC the receiver. Federal regulators entered into a purchase and assumption agreement for The First National Bank of Beardstown, based in Beardstown, Ill., to assume all of the assets and deposits of the failed bank.

As of April 30, The First State Bank of Winchester had total assets of $36 million and total deposits of approximately $34 million.

The two offices of the failed bank will reopen Monday as branches of The First National Bank of Beardstown. Customers of the failed bank will automatically be transferred over to the new bank.

Over the weekend, customers of the failed bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

Third bank falls: Rock River Bank, based in Oregon, Ill., was shuttered by state regulators. The FDIC was named the receiver and it entered into an agreement with the The Harvard State Bank, of Harvard, Ill., to assume all of the deposits of the failed bank and almost all of the assets.

As of April 30, Rock River Bank had total assets of $77 million and total deposits of approximately $75.8 million. The Harvard State Bank agreed to purchase $72.9 million in assets and the FDIC will retain the rest to dispose of later.

The four offices of the failed bank will reopen Monday as branches of The Harvard State Bank and depositors will automatically be transferred.

Fourth bank goes down: Elizabeth State Bank, based in Elizabeth, Ill., was closed down by state regulators and the FDIC was named the receiver. Galena State Bank and Trust, based in Galena, Ill., entered into a purchase and assumption agreement to take over all of the deposits of the failed bank.

As of April 30, The Elizabeth State Bank had total assets of $55.5 million and total deposits of approximately $50.4 million. Galena State Bank and Trust purchased $52.3 million of assets and the FDIC will retain the rest to dispose of later.

The two offices of failed bank will reopen on Monday as branches of Galena State Bank and Trust. Customers will automatically be transferred over to the new bank.

Number five: The First National Bank of Danville, headquartered in Danville, Ill., was shuttered by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the FDIC was named the receiver. First Financial Bank, N.A., based in Terre Haute, Ind., entered into a purchase and assumption agreement to take over all of the deposits of the failed bank.

As of April 30, the failed bank had total assets of $166 million and total deposits of approximately $147 million. First Financial Bank, N.A. agreed to purchase $148 million of assets, leaving the remainder for the FDIC to dispose of later.

The seven offices of failed bank will reopen on Monday as branches of First Financial Bank, N.A. and depositors will automatically be transferred over to the new bank.

Number 6: State regulators shut down the Millennium State Bank of Texas, based in Dallas, Texas, Thursday and named the FDIC the receiver. The FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with an Irving, Texas bank, called the State Bank of Texas.

As of June 30, Millennium State Bank of Texas had total assets of approximately $118 million and total deposits of $115 million. State Bank of Texas will take over all of the deposits and "essentially all of the failed banks assets," according to the release.

The one office of Millennium State Bank of Texas will be open Monday as a branch of State Bank of Texas. Depositors of the failed bank will automatically be transferred over to the new bank.

The biggest to fall: State regulators shut down Founders Bank, based in Worth, Ill., and named the FDIC the receiver. The PrivateBank and Trust Company, head-quartered in Chicago, Ill., entered into a purchase and assumption agreement to take over the assets of the failed bank.

As of April 30, Founders Bank had total assets of $962.5 million and total deposits of $848.9 million. The PrivateBank and Trust Company purchased all of the deposits of the failed bank and $888.4 million worth of assets, leaving the rest for the FDIC to dispose of later.

The eleven offices of the failed bank will reopen on Monday as branches of The PrivateBank and Trust Company. Customers will automatically be transferred over to the new bank.

US Banks failed closed down in 2008

So you believed that the banks which are making money by being in the business of money are the safest bet in the stock markets for investments? Think again. In just first 8 months of 2008, there are as many as 11 banks which have closed down. Below we provide a consolidated list of US based banks which closed down or failed, due to the credit crisis or other factors. The latest 2 to add to the list of these existing 11 closed banks are Wall Street biggest investment banks: Lehman Brothers filed for Bankruptcy & Merrill Lynch which is sold out to Bank of America .

Below is the list of US Banks which closed down in 2008:

Silver State Bank
Henderson, Nev.

Closed: Sept. 5, 2008
Assets: $2.0 billion
Cost to FDIC: $450 - $550 million

Integrity Bank
Alpharetta, Ga.

Closed: Aug. 29, 2008
Assets: $1.1 billion
Cost: $250 - $350 million

The Columbian Bank and Trust
Topeka, Kan.

Closed: Aug. 22, 2008
Assets: $752 million
Cost: $60 million

First Priority Bank
Bradenton, Fla.

Closed: Aug. 1, 2008
Assets: $259 million
Cost: $72 million

First Heritage Bank & First National Bank of Nevada
Closed: July 25, 2008
Costs: $862 million

First Heritage Bank
Newport Beach, California
Assets: $254 million

First National Bank of Nevada
Reno, Nev.
Assets: $3.4 billion

The costs of the two banks were combined since both are units of First National Bank Holding.

First Integrity Bank
Staples, Minn.
Closed: May 30, 2008
Assets: $54.7 million
Cost: $2.3 million

ANB Financial
Bentonville, Ark.

Closed: May 9, 2008
Assets: $2.1 billion
Cost: $214 million

Hume Bank
Hume, Mo.

Closed: March 7, 2008
Assets: $18.7 million
Cost: Not Available

Douglass National Bank
Kansas City, Mo.

Closed: Jan. 25, 2008
Assets: $58.5 million
Cost: $5.6 million

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fin Min: Choppy Crude Spoils India's Fuel Reform Hope

NEW DELHI -- India's plan to roll out economic reforms remains intact, but volatile global crude prices are limiting efforts to deregulate local fuel prices, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Wednesday.

Monday's federal budget - which projected a record deficit, leaned heavily in favor of spending to spur domestic demand and shied away from large reforms - was poorly received by financial markets.

Investors hoped the newly elected government would use its strong victory in May's election to push through long-stalled reforms to attract foreign investment, while putting a lid on borrowing.

However, Mr. Mukherjee said the budget was not the government's only option for introducing economic reforms.

"The Union Budget is not the only instrument available to the government to outline reform initiatives," Mukherjee told the UTVi television channel in an interview.

He said the government was waiting for global crude oil prices to stabilize before beginning to align local and global fuel prices.

Nymex-traded crude's August contract was at $62.24 a barrel, its lowest level since May 26, after posting the largest quarterly percentage gain in the second quarter since July-September 1990.

Currently, India subsidizes state-run fuel retailers, who must sell their products at a discount to the prevailing global price.

High subsidy payouts in the form of oil bonds and fertilizer bonds blow a hole in government finances, limiting productive spending.

The government has indicated its willingness to resort to market-driven fuel prices and on Thursday hiked retail diesel and gasoline prices in line with a spike in global crude.

While Mr. Mukherjee raised personal income tax exemption limits to keep more money in the hands of consumers, he didn't change corporate tax rates in the budget.

"This was not the time for making major changes in tax structures," Mr. Mukherjee said in the interview.

However, minor adjustments in the tax structure outlined in the budget will have some "accommodative positive impact" on the corporate sector, he added.

Mr. Mukherjee scrapped the Fringe Benefit Tax - a tax levied on some executive perks - but hiked the Minimum Alternate Tax by 5%.

"If you read between the lines, indications are there that there may be some changes in (corporate and personal) tax structures," Mr. Mukherjee said, without elaborating.

.S&P: May Lower India Rating If Fiscal Consolidation Delayed

MUMBAI -- Rating agency Standard & Poor's said Wednesday India's federal budget hasn't eased concerns on the government's fiscal deficit and it may lower the country's sovereign rating if fiscal consolidation is delayed.

"We continue to believe that such high levels of government deficits are unsustainable in the medium term, although we weren't surprised by the number itself," S&P said in a statement.

Monday, federal Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the fiscal deficit for the financial year through March 2010 is likely to be 6.8%, sharply higher than 5.5% estimated in the interim budget in February.

S&P estimates the total deficit of the federal and state governments and after considering off-budget items such as fertilizer and oil bonds to be about 12% of gross domestic product.

India currently doesn't include in the budget the bonds given to fertilizer producers and state-run oil companies to compensate them for selling products below market price.

S&P currently has a BBB- rating - its lowest investment grade rating - on India with a negative outlook. Any downward revision will reduce the rating to junk grade, which will affect foreign investors' interest.

The agency said that it may raise the rating outlook to stable if India achieves fiscal consolidation over the next two to three years.

A strong economic recovery and medium-term growth prospects will help faster fiscal consolidation through higher revenue and lower expenditure growth, it said.

But, higher inflation and interest rates could increase the cost of borrowing and affect the size of deficit.

"A material deterioration in India's strong external position - considered unlikely at this stage - could also put pressure on the ratings," the agency said.

Budget 2009: For India to grow, Govt will have to continue spending

7 Jul 2009, ET Bureau

This year’s budget numbers ought to have been printed in red. The fiscal deficit was a huge 6% of GDP in 2008-09 and is slated to go up to 6.8% for
2009-10, the highest ever. Add the states’ borrowing, which is roughly 4% of GDP, and off-budget financing of assorted subsidies, the combined fiscal deficit is likely to be close to 12% of GDP.

Scary? Well, it’s like a shot of brandy for someone who’s come out of rehab for alcohol abuse, but gets caught in a freezing snowstorm: right now, that jolt of liquid fuel is needed, but the patient needs to be swiftly weaned off the stuff. When the global economy still stalls, for India to continue to grow, the government must continue to spend.

The problem is that the government has not indicated how it would bring down the fiscal deficit to 5.5% of GDP next fiscal and 4% of GDP in 2011-12. Talking to ET NOW, the finance minister said that he expects growth and tax reforms to do the trick for him. This is not entirely unrealistic, given that the government gives away 69% of the tax due to it, on account of assorted concessions, bringing down the effective rate of tax barely above half the nominal rate. But such aggressive correction of the tax structure is not envisaged in the medium term fiscal policy projection that tax receipts would go up to 12.4% of GDP in 2011-12.

The government’s response to global developments last year — oil price spikes and, later, financial meltdown and economic slump — led its total expenditure to go up 20% over original budget estimates, even as its revenues fell short of BE levels by 9%. The fiscal deficit for 2008-09 shot up to 6% of GDP, 3.5% higher than the budgeted level. Worse, the revenue deficit, which had shrunk to 1.1% of GDP, shot up to 4.4%. This is slated to go up further to 4.8% of GDP now, thanks to a deliberate decision to lower the Centre’s tax burden on the economy to 10.9% of GDP from 11.6% achieved in 2008-09, to keep the economic momentum going.

Interest payments account for 56% of the projected fiscal deficit. What this brings to the fore is the urgency to speed up disinvestment. While disinvestment works exactly like government borrowing when it comes to mopping up private sector savings and creating a possible liquidity crunch for the private sector in the year in which it takes place, in subsequent years, it would help to bring down interest outgo. And there is the efficiency increase that would be brought about in the running of PSUs that are partly owned by the public.

Pranab Mukherjee’s budgeting is quite conservative. The budget numbers assume a nominal GDP growth rate of 10.8%. Assuming that the economy grows by 7% in real terms, that puts inflation at a meagre 3.8%. The FM could have shown a marginally lower fiscal deficit by assuming a larger nominal growth rate of GDP without losing his moorings in reality. Central government expenditure is now budgeted to grow 13% and soar to over 17% of GDP. Plan expenditure is slated to grow even faster, at 15% of GDP.

India makes fresh bid for UNSC seat

8 Jul 2009,

NEW DELHI: India launched a renewed campaign for a seat in the UN Security Council using the forum of the G-8 summit.

In an unusually feisty article written for the compendium of the G-8, prime minister Manmohan Singh said, "The Security Council has not changed at all and its present structure poses serious problems of legitimacy. The system of two-tiered membership, which gives a veto to the five permanent members ie the nations that emerged victorious after the Second World War, is clearly anachronistic."

In his article, the PM made a strong case for reforming all international institutions, from the Security Council to institutions of global and financial governance. "The problems faced by the institutions of governance charged with handling the financial system are also relevant for other international institutions dealing with political and security issues, trade, climate change, etc. They need to update structures and upgrade work methods; reform decision-making and ensure effective delivery," he said.

PM Manmohan Singh has clearly not revised his opinion of the G-8, describing the grouping whose summit he is currently attending as a "group of countries with common interests, not necessarily representative of the global community". In Heilegendamm, the PM had dismissed the G-8 outreach exercise saying he wanted to be there as a "partner" not a "petitioner".

Groupings like G8, he argued, came out of the "unworkability of the existing structures". On the expansion with the G-5 and now African countries, Singh said, "This suffers from two limitations. The expanded group is not cohesive since the countries included for purposes of outreach do not participate fully in the proceedings or the preparations, and the expanded group therefore does not have a composite identity. Second, these groupings do not have any special legitimacy within the UN system."

In the wake of the financial crisis, the PM said the world decided to start yet another mechanism, the G-20, which he complimented for achieving "a great deal more than normal meetings of this type, especially in two respects".

"First, it succeeded in expanding the perimeter of financial regulation and endorsing the establishment of global standards to which national standards can be aligned. These standards will be developed by the Financial Stability Forum (now renamed the Financial Stability Board), which has been expanded to include all G-20 countries that were not members earlier. Second, it achieved a significant expansion in funding for the Bretton Woods Institutions," he said.

None of these measures, he added, led to any significant reform of the international financial institutions.

P.M.pitches for India's place in emerging world order

Ahead of the G8 summit in Italy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made a vigorous pitch for reform of the UN Security Council and underlined that India will seek its due place in the emerging international order.

"The structure of United Nations Security Council must evolve to become true representative of the global community," the prime minister argued in an article he has written for 'The Vision of Emerging Powers - India'. It has been published in the compendium brought out by the G8 nations on the eve of its summit in Italy.

Contending that the present veto power system is outdated, the prime minister wrote: "The system of two-tiered membership, which gives a veto to the five permanent members i.e. the nations that emerged victorious after the Second World War, is clearly anachronistic."

"Germany and Japan, which have significantly larger economies than Britain and France, both permanent members, are excluded. China is the only developing country in the P-5 and it is there for historical reasons, not as a large and economically important developing country," he wrote.

"It is obvious that if the system was being designed today it would be very different," he said while critiquing the sluggish movement in the crucial area of reforms of international institutions.

Making a case for the inclusion of emerging and developing countries in the Security Council and global financial institutions, the prime minister outlined his vision of India's place in the international order.

"India, as the largest democracy in the world and an emerging economy that has achieved the ability to grow rapidly, remains deeply committed to multilateralism," Manmohan Singh said.

"It has been an active member in global institutions - the United Nations, Bretton Woods Institutions, World Trade Organisation, International Atomic Energy Agency and so on. It will continue to be so in the decades ahead, based on commitment to principles and values that define these institutions."

"India will seek its due place, play its destined role and share its assigned responsibility, giving voice to the hopes and aspirations of a billion people in South Asia," the prime minister underlined.

Manmohan Singh stressed that India will continue to strive for the UN reforms to make it more democratic and address a host of global issues, including international terrorism, piracy on the high seas, climate change, creating a new financial architecture and an early conclusion of the Doha Round of trade negotiations.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mamata's railway budget 2009-10 makes common man smile

3 Jul 2009

NEW DELHI: The man on the street appeared happy with Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday and also a trifle relieved that she had not announced a fare hike in her rail budget.

Raju, 28-year-old daily wage labourer, was all praise for her new scheme that makes a monthly season ticket of Rs.25 available for travel up to 100 km for those in the unorganized sector with monthly incomes not exceeding Rs.1,500.

"I have to travel from one place to another as and when work comes up. So this scheme is of great use to me," said Raju, who hails from Bihar, lives in Delhi and often goes to Haryana for work.

Homemaker Sushila Sharma pointed out that at a time when everything was becoming more expensive, Banerjee had at least spared train travel.

"With the prices of everything skyrocketing, the freezing of passenger fares is a real highlight. For the middle class it will be a relief in such times," said Sharma who travels by train at least twice a year for family holidays.

People have also given a thumbs-up to Banerjee's decision to make unreserved tickets available at 5,000 post offices across the country.

"Now we will not need to go to the railway station for tickets. I can buy a ticket from a nearby post office," said 80-year-old Dayanand Arora, who lives in a Haryana village.

Sahil Makhija, a 23-year-old Delhi based professional, also welcomed the installation of 200 automatic vending machines at key stations.

"Though we have online ticketing, everybody is not comfortable using it. The automatic ticket vending machine will surely take away the rush from booking counters."

The railway minister's announcement that a doctor would be present on long distance trains was also applauded by the common man.

"Long journeys in trains are sometimes very risky for the ailing and the elderly. The presence of a doctor will surely help," said Rajesh Gupta, an east Delhi resident.

However, there were certain issues which according to people still remain to be addressed.

"I expected the fares to go down but that did not happen. But the overall budget was good. More could have been done in terms of traffic management, which again was neglected. Punctuality is a big problem and needs to be sorted out soon," said Jalaj Bansal, a teacher.

Mamata Banerjee presents rail budget for 2009-10

3 Jul 2009

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee began presenting her ministry's budget for the current fiscal shortly after noon Friday with the promise of addressing the concerns of average passengers.

"People all over the country have high expectations from the railway budget," Banerjee told the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, switching between English and Hindi. ( Watch )

She started with a question if Indian Railways, which runs the world's second largest railroad network under single management, should function purely on the basis of economic viability or address the social commitment.

"Time has come when our economic and social philosophers have to change their old mindset of economic viability and replace it with social viability and upliftment," she said.

Banerjee said her focus would be on better passenger amenities, good food at affordable prices, clean toilets at stations and trains. ( Watch )

"Fifty stations will be developed into world class facilities," she said naming those at Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Varanasi Guwahati, Chennai, Mangalore, Porbundar and Kochi, among others.

This is her first rail budget for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and third in her political career.

Railway Budget 2009-10: Mamata focuses on passenger amenities

3 Jul 2009,

NEW DELHI: Presenting the Railway Budget for 2009-10 in Parliament today, Minister of Railways Mamata Banerjee announced that there will be no
increase in passenger fare and freight tariff. She said that the budget will have approach for 'inclusive growth' and expansion of rail network to take development to every corner of the country.

Presenting the railway budget she proposed an outlay of Rs 40,745 cr. for 2009-10. Out of this, Rs 2,921 cr. will be spent on new lines, Rs 1,750 cr on gauge conversion and Rs 1,102 cr. on passenger amenities, which is 119% more than the allocation in the interim budget Rs 424 cr will also be spent on railway staff amenities. She proposed freight loading target of 882 MT and estimated gross freight receipt at Rs.88,419 cr.

Giving an overview of financial performance of the Railways in 2008-09, the Minister informed that freight loading during the period grew by 5 percent while traffic receipt increased by 11.4 per cent to reach Rs 79,862 cr.

The Budget has proposals for 7 new lines, Gauge conversion of 17 lines and doubling of 13 railway lines. In addition, proposals for 53 new lines, 3 gauge conversion and doubling of 12 lines will be processed during the year.

Proposing revision in Tatkal Scheme to make it more passenger friendly, the Railway Minister said that both the advance booking time and minimum charge will be reduced. She said perceptible improvement will be ensured in passenger amenities and safety and security will be given utmost importance. Cleanliness and quality of railway catering will be improved with focus on strict monitoring. She proposed that ticketing facilities will be taken to the grassroot level. Under the ‘Maa Mati Manush’ initiative, computerized tickets will also be made available through Post Offices. Mobile ticketing vans, ‘Mushkil Aasaan’, will also be introduced to provide services in remote areas.

Timely track renewal, modernization of signals and use of digital ultrasonic flaw detectors will be introduced for the safety of the passengers besides Integrated Security Scheme at 140 vulnerable and sensitive stations. Women RPF Squads, exclusively for women passengers, will also be introduced.

Kumari Mamata Banerjee announced a new scheme “Izzat” for travel with dignity. Under this scheme the people in unorganized sector with monthly income upto Rs 1,500/- can avail concessional monthly season ticket of Rs 25/- for travel upto 100 k.m.

The existing student concession is to be extended to students of Madrasas and students in Kolkata will now have the MST facilities for Kolkata Metro also.

To provide relief to women passengers the Minister proposed ‘only ladies’ EMU trains in Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata suburban during rush hours. She also announced new ‘Yuva trains’ dedicated to young generation from rural hinterland to major metros with concessional rail fare but with air-conditioned facilities.

Now the Press persons will get increased concession of 50% instead of existing 30% . Once in a year their spouse can also travel with 50% concession.

The Railway Minister announced 12 new point to point, non-stop ‘Duronto’ trains, 57 new train services, extension of 27 trains and increase in frequency of 13 trains. The Minister also proposed introduction of Air-conditioned double decker coaches for inter-city travel.

Mamata's white paper will expose Lalu: Nitish

3 July 2009

Patna, Jul 3: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Friday utilised Railway minister Mamata Banerjee's rail budget to fire another salvo at her predecessor Lalu Prasad saying the planned white paper on the present financial status of the Railways would 'expose' his arch rival.

Nitish, a former railway minister himself, said the white paper would unravel the truth behind Lalu's claims that Railways earned huge profits successively during his five-year tenure.

"The decline shown in the cash surplus and increase in the operating ratio from 70 to 92.5 per cent proposed for the current fiscal will bring to the light the facts relating to the Railways earning profits," Kumar said.

Kumar has been going hammer and tongs at the RJD strongman's performance as railway minister in the UPA government's first term when he demanded a probe into the alleged jugglery of figures in profits shown between 2004 and 2009.

In another veiled attack on Lalu, Nitish appreciated Banerjee for scaling down targets of Railways and promising only those the implementation of which was possible within a specified time-frame.

"It is a clear departure from Lalu Prasad's budgetary speeches which remained a bundle of promises much beyond the targets possible to be achieved," he said.

Lalu himself was in a combative mood when he said he was not bothered by the Minister's declaration of coming out with a white paper on the organisational, operational and financial situation and performance of Railways in the past five years when he was at the helm.

"This is not an embarrassment (that a white paper is coming out). Let her bring out white paper. I am not bothered," he told reporters in New Delhi.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

India Post takes wings to speed up delivery

30 Jun 2009

CHENNAI/ MUMBAI: Letters from Chennai to other metros would soon be delivered the very next day, as India Post has acquired two airplanes.

From the first week of July, two aircraft bearing the logo of India Post will take off from Chennai and Mumbai. These freighters have been leased from Air India by India Post, under the ministry of communications, so that your stamped mails, sealed parcels and other expressions of sentiment can get to their destination faster than ever before.

"We have been dependent on private airlines and connection flights all these years. The two dedicated aircraft will connect all metros, speeding up delivery of even ordinary mails. Now, a letter from Chennai takes up to three days to reach Delhi. Our aim is to deliver it the very next day," T Murthy, postmaster general, Tamil Nadu circle told TOI.

The planes, each with a capacity of 15 tonnes, will connect cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Surat and Nagpur. "The aim is to have a more reliable service,'' says Manjula Parashar, chief general manager, mail business, at the postal directorate in Delhi. For this purpose, two of Air India's old Boeing 737-200s, have been converted into freighters, says Jitendra Bhargava, spokesperson of Air India. The cue for launching this service came from the success of India Post's first such aircraft which flies everything from handicrafts to foodgrain on the Kolkata-Guwahati route.
As a result of this aircraft, which was launched in August 2007, birthday gifts reached the same day, businesses prospered, and the seven North Eastern sisters were brought that much closer to mainstream India. The services of this existing aircraft will be extended from next month to cover Delhi and Nagpur. Three citiesMumbai, Chennai and Kolkata will act as hubs for overnight transmission of mail.
Every night before the freighters leave their centres at around 11:30 pm, all mail from nearby cities will reach them. The three Boeings will then converge at Nagpur and exchange palettes (metal sheets which carry mails sorted according to destination cities). The aircraft will then fly back with their respective palettes. When they touch down at their centres early next morning, local distribution services like trucks, trains and other airlines will take over. Dry runs for these aircraft will begin later this week.

Airlines lost $3 billion in first quarter: IATA

30 Jun 2009, REUTERS

GENEVA: The world's airlines lost more than $3 billion in the first quarter of 2009, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Tuesday, maintaining its estimate for full-year losses of $9 billion.

In its latest snapshot on the industry, the Geneva-based lobby said weak travel demand and lower freight volumes in the global recession had bled revenues for major carriers, in "a significant deterioration from last year".

"This deterioration was before the recent rise in fuel prices," IATA said, warning the 30 per cent increase in oil and jet fuel prices since early May would squeeze airline cash flows further in coming months.

Both oil and jet fuel prices have risen almost $20 a barrel in the past two months, and are now 75 per cent higher than their low point at the end of 2008, the Financial Monitor report said.

"Airlines have not yet felt the full impact of this oil price rise," it said.

But it said it was not changing its previous 2009 loss forecast of $9 billion, which follows revised 2008 losses of $10.4 billion.

On Tuesday, U.S. crude traded around $72 per barrel.

IATA, which represents more than 200 airlines, also said carriers trying to fly fewer flights to save costs during the downturn have not managed to cut capacity in line with shrinking air transport demand.

Leading airlines have been seeking mergers and acquisitions to help build scale and shield themselves against continued market weakness until the global economy recovers.

Delta Air Lines swallowed rival Northwest Airlines last year to create the world's largest airline, and European carriers have also consolidated with Deutsche Lufthansa agreeing to buy Austrian Airlines and Air France-KLM scooping up Alitalia.

British Airways is also in merger talks with Iberia, and Singapore Airlines has said it is eyeing acquisitions in China and India.

Jet Airways Konnect introduces 14 new flights

29 Jun 2009, PTI

MUMBAI: Jet Airways Konnect on Monday said it is adding 14 new flights on its network, bringing the number of flights to 125.

The network would now include sectors connecting Mumbai with Rajkot and Bengaluru with daily flights, commencing July 7, a press release issued here said.

Again, effective July 11, Jet Airways Konnect will offer similar services from Delhi to Indore and Bhopal as also between Mumbai and Delhi and Indore and Bhopal with daily flights.

Two Boeing 737 aircraft will be deployed for this purpose, the release said.

The deployment of these two Boeing 737-700 aircraft will take the tally of aircraft offering the Jet Airways Konnect services, up to 19 aircraft (9 Boeing 737s and 10 ATRs), the release said.

AI Express to cancel some Gulf services, add to domestic routes

1 Jul 2009, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: The financial crunch at Air India is taking a toll on its subsidiary Air India Express which has now decided to pull out a few international Boeing's 787 Dreamliner flights and deploy them on domestic routes in the country.

Air India Express will pull out flights from routes in the Gulf and South-East Asia among which are Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The redeployment of these international flights will be in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. This process will take place around September this year with Air India Express functioning as a low-cost service.

A senior Air India official confirmed that the company is already working on a low-cost model. “We noticed that travellers, especially corporates, have switched over to low-cost airlines from full service carriers on many domestic sectors,” he added.

Tara Naidu, chief of commercial at Air India Express told ET: “Air India has drawn up a strategy where the merged entity Air India (the Indian Airlines-Air India combine) will emerge as a full-service carrier and Air India Express will be our low-cost service and both will continue to fly domestic and internationally.”

Air India Express plans to have 25 aircrafts in its fleet — seven leased and 18 owned — by the end of the year. Today, it has 19 state-of-the-art Boeing 737-800 aircrafts. It began operations in 2005 and operates over 200 flights per week. Of these, 175 are across international destinations, 13 on the domestic routes and another 13 on behalf of Air India.

From a 2% market share during April-December 2007, Air India Express’ market share jumped to 6% during February 2008-January 2009. The airline has a load factor of 75% and has ferried over 2.25 million passengers in the last fiscal against 1.7-million passengers in FY08.