Foreign tourists will reportedly be able to book train tickets 360 days in advance from abroad instead of the present 120 days. The booking service will be available for I-AC, II-AC and executive class of mail express trains and in Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Gatimaan and Tejas trains (it is not applicable for sleeper and III-AC). Foreigners are also not allowed to book tickets in Suvidha trains that cater to last minute travel planners. This move would allow foreigners to book tickets online using credit or debit cards. They would be required to give visa details, passport and international mobile numbers while booking through the IRCTC ticketing site. A service charge of INR 200 will be levied by IRCTC.
New Train between Bhopal-Khajuraho-Bhopal from 14 July
Indian Railway has announced to operate most awaited Mahamana Express (Bhopal-Khajuraho-Bhopal) from 13th July 2017.
Train No. 22163 ‘ Bhopal to Khajuraho”
Schedule: Departure from Bhopal at 0650 hrs and arrival in Khajuraho at 1330 hrs
Train No. 22164 ‘ Khajuraho to Bhopal”
Schedule: Departure from Khajuraho at 1615 hrs and arrival in Bhopal at 2255 hrs
There will be 1 air-conditioned chair car, 9 chair cars, 2 general and 2 sleeper coaches in the train. The distance between the two stations is 368 km.
MoCA grants ‘IN PRINCIPLE’ approval for setting up of 18 Greenfield Airports
The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Government of India (GoI), has granted ‘in principle’ approval for setting up of 18 Greenfield Airports in the country.
The list of these airport is: Mopa in Goa, Navi Mumbai, Shirdi and Sindhudurg in Maharashtra, Bijapur Gulbarga, Hasan and Shimoga in Karnataka, Kannur in Kerala, Durgapur in West Bengal, Dabra in Madhya Pradesh, Pakyong in Sikkim, Karaikal in Puducherry, Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, Dholera in Gujarat and Dagadarthi Mendal, Nellore Dist., Bhogapuram in Vizianagaram District near Visakhapatnam and Oravakallu in Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh.
India, Bangladesh to develop waterway connections
India and Bangladesh have signed an agreement to connect the two countries via new waterways. The new waterways would enable transportation of people and goods by ships. They would be set up by using the major rivers of Bangladesh, West Bengal and the Brahmaputra in Assam
India and Bangladesh share a 4,095 km border, of which 1,116 km is through rivers. This is the latest initiative to enhance transport links between India & Bangladesh, with new road and rail projects also being developed.
Fern Hotels & Resorts’ 31st hotel opens in Pune
Fern Hotels & Resorts has recently announced the opening of its 31st hotel, namely, Amanora The Fern in Magarpatta, Pune, Maharashtra. The 26-key property, which is spread over 4.5 acres with a capacity to cater 3000 people, is owned by City Corporation Limited. It also has a squash court, a tennis court, a gym, a spa, a library and a huge indoor swimming pool. It also has an amphitheater.
Bristol Hotel, Gurugram, taken over by Ashmiholdings
Ashmiholdings Private Limited announced taking over the charge of their first venture, The Bristol Hotel, Gurugram. The company will re-launching The Bristol Hotel and believe that the property has great potential to grow beyond its former glory. With the new renovations and the soon-to-be-announced F&B outlet launches we are positive that we will be able to create a new benchmark in the hospitality sector.
Japanese hotel group, Prince Hotels acquires StayWell Hospitality Group
Prince Hotels, a consolidated subsidiary of Japan-based Seibu Holdings Inc., has acquired StayWell Hospitality Group including all the business operations of StayWell Group which operates and develops 30 hotels globally. Prince Hotels will establish the 100% fully owned Australian subsidiary StayWell Holdings and this new company will acquire all shares of SWHG’s 22 operating subsidiary companies from SWHG. Proceedings are expected to be completed within the next three months.
Tree of Life Resort & Spa, Varanasi set to open on Sept 4
Varanasi is the newest luxury addition to Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels’ chain of hotels and resorts. Slated to open on September 4, 2017, The Tree of Life Resort & Spa, Varanasi is situated in rural surroundings, conveniently located halfway between the airport (11 km) and the city centre (12 km, Cantt area), the new expressway connecting the airport and the city makes it a convenient 20-25 minutes drive to either location. The new Ring Road to Sarnath starts just a few km from us and once operational, will make it a pleasurable 25 minutes drive.
The 18 Jr. suites each with a private area of around 650 sq. ft. include high ceiling, teak wood carved furniture, hand-painted Shiva on the wall, a separate living area with a sofa and a large flat screen television; well en suite 150 sq.ft bathroom, a large private sit-out overlooking the gardens, & the ‘Ganga Kund’ (religious pond)
Ginger Hotels expands its footprint in Mumbai
Ginger Hotels, the dominant budget hotel chain from the house of TATA continues its growth in the country with the opening of Ginger Mumbai, Andheri East. This is their second hotel in Mumbai. Strategically located off the Western Express highway, 3.5 km from the airport, Ginger Mumbai, Andheri East is in close proximity to the Mumbai Exhibition Center as well as the railway station. The hotel also provides convenient access to the city’s thriving corporate hub on the Andheri Kurla.
Air Canada launched direct Mumbai-Toronto flight on July 2
Air Canada has inaugurated new, non-stop Toronto–Mumbai service on July 2, the only non-stop flight from Canada to India’s financial hub. The four-times weekly service will be operated with Air Canada’s most modern aircraft, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The aircraft feature 29 International Business Class lie-flat seat suites, 21 Premium Economy and 247 Economy Class seats, with upgraded in-flight entertainment at every seat throughout the aircraft.
Air India launches Delhi-Washington direct flight from July 7
Air India will finally start operations on its Delhi-Washington route with a direct flight from July 7, 2017. While the national carrier is grappling with the disinvestment issue, it is continuing to start the new flights which it had already announced. Air India hosted a gala evening to launch the flight for the travel trade at The Ashok, New Delhi, which saw the bigwigs of the industry in attendance.
Royal Jordanian Airlines latest to have electronic ban lifted
Royal Jordanian Airlines has announced that it has been removed from the laptop ban for carry-on bags to the US. Even Kuwait Airways has had the electronic ban removed in flights to the US. The flagship carrier of Jordan was amongst the nine airlines flying from 10 airports in eight countries where electronic devices larger than cell phones in carry-on bags were banned.
Batik Air to start 2 new daily flights to India from Bali from July
According to reports, Batik Air, a subsidiary of Lion Air, is expected to introduce two new daily flights that will fly to three cities in India, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai, from Bali. Passengers will be transported on an Airbus A320 fleet, departing from Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali to India.
Batik Air has 37 planes, but by the end of this year, the airline plans to have 41. The total number of flights that Batik Air has on a daily basis has reached 209, with the airline’s on-time performance at 95 percent.
Air Asia India to go International
Low-cost carrier plans to build fleet of 20 aircraft required for overseas routes
AirAsia India is aiming to launch international operations later this year, following the expansion of its fleet. Under Indian regulations, airlines must have at least 20 aircraft before they are eligible to fly overseas. Previously, Indian carriers were also required to operate domestic routes for five years before going international, but this so-called “5/20” rule was eased last year.
Vistara starts check-in & baggage drop facilities at Delhi’s Airport Express Line
Vistara has joined hands with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and Delhi International Airport (DIAL) to introduce check-in and baggage drop facilities at the New Delhi station of the Delhi Metro Airport Express Line.
Vistara customers can check-in from two to 12 hours prior to their flight’s schedule departure at the New Delhi station of the Airport Express Line Metro, which is also connected to the New Delhi Railway Station of the Railways network. Those already checked-in using the web or Vistara’s mobile app can simply drop their baggage at the counter and head to the airport directly. Vistara uses secured Baggage Handling System (BHS) to transfer the baggage to the airport terminal efficiently. The Airport Express Line of the Delhi Metro runs every 10-15 minutes and takes passengers to Terminal 3 of Delhi’s IGI Airport within 18-20 minutes.
Jet Airways’ new flights from Indore and Silchar
Jet Airways has launched three direct flights from Indore to Jaipur, Ahmedabad and New Delhi. In addition, Jet Airways also started new daily flights from Silchar in southern Assam to New Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati. All flights started on July 16, while flight from Indore to Ahmedabad started on July 17. With the three new launches, Jet Airways will operate a total of nine flights from Indore.
Thai Smile launches Lucknow-Bangkok direct flight
Thai Smile Airways introduces Lucknow to Bangkok route, offering four exclusive direct flights a week using the original flight schedules. The WE333 Bangkok–Lucknow route operates four flights per week: Tue, Thur, Sat and Sun at 10.00 pm to 00.20 am. The WE334 Lucknow–Bangkok also operates 4 flights a week: Mon, Wed, Fri and Sun at 01.20 am to 06.30am. Two classes are provided — 12 seats of Premium Economy Class and 150 seats of Smile class on an Airbus A320-200
Sri Lanka to welcome first ever A380 flight
Emirates will operate a one-off Airbus A380 flight to Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport next month, marking the first time the world’s largest passenger aircraft has flown to Sri Lanka.
On Monday 14 August, the double-decker jet will be deployed on flight EK-654 from Dubai. It will arrive in the Sri Lankan capital at 1610, staying for more than six hours before it returns to Dubai as flight EK-655, departing at 2210. This will enable airport executives, trade partners and local journalists to be taken on a guided tour of the aircraft.
Commercial flight to resume at Puducherry (Pondicherry)
Commercial flights will resume at Puducherry Airport next month, for the first time since 2015.
SpiceJet will launch a new route linking Hyderabad with Puducherry on 16 August 2017, under the Indian government’s UDAN scheme which aims to connect under served parts of the country. The new Hyderabad-Puducherry route will be operated using a 78-seat Bombardier Q400 aircraft.
Tigerair merges with Scoot
Nine months after Scoot and Tigerair announced their intention to pursue a single brand and operating license under the enhanced Scoot brand, the airline industry bid farewell to Tigerair Singapore as its last flight departed Singapore for Tiruchirappalli on July 24. Now, all previous Tigerair flights will be operated under the Scoot brand and Scoot flights will operate under the TR flight designator code.
UPCOMING EVENTS & FESTIVALS
ONAM (4 Sept) The most spectacular celebrations take place in Trivandrum, Thrissur & Kottayam
Onam is a traditional ten day harvest festival that marks the homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali. It’s a festival rich in culture and heritage. People strikingly decorate the ground in front of their houses with flowers arranged in beautiful patterns to welcome the King. The festival is also celebrated with new clothes, feasts served on banana leaves, dancing, sports, games, and snake boat races.
RAMNAGAR RAMLILA (05 Sept—06 Oct) Ramnagar, on the banks of the Ganges opposite Varanasi
The world’s oldest Ramlila, which reenacts the story of the Hindu epic the Ramayana, has been running for nearly 200 years. It commences with the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Rama, to save humanity from demon king Ravana. The Ramilia takes place over a month every year from Anant Chaturdashi and ends on the full moon night.
PAYIPPAD SNAKE BOAT RACE (06 Sept) Along the Payippad River at Harippad in Kerala’s Alleppey
The Payippad Boat Race is one of the oldest in Kerala and has the largest participation of snake boats after the important Nehru Trophy boat race in August. It’s held to commemorate the installation of the idol at the local Subrahmanya Swamy temple.
DURGA PUJA (26-30 Sept) Kolkata
In honor of warrior Goddess Durga, beautifully handcrafted statues of Durga are installed in podiums in almost every lane of the city during this festival. People flock to the streets to view the goddess statues amid mesmerizing light shows, drumming, and aromatic food stalls. On the last day of the festival, the statues are paraded around the city before being submerged in the river.
NAVARATRI (21-29 Sept) All over India, but particularly in Gujarat, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Varanasi, and Mysore
Navaratri is a nine day festival that celebrates the Mother Goddess in all her manifestations, including Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Worship and fasting take place in the daytime, while the nights are reserved for feasting and dancing. The festival culminates with Dussehra, the victory of good over evil, on the tenth day. In Delhi, the feature of Navaratri celebrations are the Ramlila plays that take place all over the city. The festival is celebrated as Golu, with the display of dolls, in south India.
DUSSEHRA (30 Sept) Particularly in northern India
The tenth day of the Navaratri festival is known as Dussehra. It’s devoted to celebrating the defeat of the demon king Ravana by Lord Rama. Effigies of Ravana go up in smoke all over India.