News Flash – 11 April 2018

National News



225 flights cancelled on day 2, night fares rise by up to 10%


MUMBAI: Flight operations at the Mumbai airport remained curtailed on day two as the runways were shut down for six hours to carry out pre-monsoon runway maintenance work on Tuesday. The planned closure forced airlines to cancel around 225 flights on Tuesday. Airfares went up by around 10 % on certain routes, especially the high demand ones, not served by many flights. On Tuesday afternoon, the cheapest, last-minute Mumbai-Delhi one-way airfare for travel on Tuesday night was Rs 6,000. The cheapest fare for a Wednesday flight on the same route was Rs 5,000. The difference was more pronounced on Mumbai- Goa route, with the cheapest, last-minute fare for Tuesday evening flight starting at Rs 6,500, while the cheapest fare for travel 24 hours later on Wednesday was Rs 2,400. On the Mumbai-Kochi route, the cheapest fare was Rs 6,000, while a 24-hour advance purchase fare was available for Rs 4,500.


The Mumbai airport has a set of cross runways, but only one runway is operational at a time. Since the pre-monsoon preventive maintenance work had to be carried out on the runway intersection, both the runways were closed down for flights between 11 am and 5 pm. After the airport re-opened, evening flights were delayed by an average of 15 minutes. According to flight tracking website Flightradar24, around 8pm, departures were delayed by an average of 32 minutes, while arrivals were delayed by an average of 24 minutes at the Mumbai airport. Post-monsoon maintenance work on the runway intersection will be carried out on October 23 between 11 am and 5 pm and the airport will be closed during this period. Airlines are expected to cancel flights due to non-availability of slots during this period.



Post robbery, Posta businessmen urge police to step up vigilance


KOLKATA: Increase CCTV camera surveillance and enhance police vigilance at Posta, urged Posta Bazar Merchants’ Association at the wholesale hub, where a businessman was robbed on Saturday. Not waiting for the authorities to take measures, many businessmen in the area have decided to hire private security guards for their establishments, indicating how deeply the robbery has dented the safety perception of the business class in the area. A gang of robbers looted cash of over Rs 14 lakh from the Posta office of a Siliguri based trader after holding his employee at gunpoint. Devi Lal Sharma, the businessman on KK Tagore Street, has been living in fear ever since. “We have requested the police to nab the culprits at the earliest to restore traders’ trust. The police have assured us of solving the case soon,” said Biswanath Agarwal, general secretary of Posta Bazar Merchants’ Association. “We have asked the police to install more CCTV cameras in the hub and increase cop presence here, which might deter criminals.” Posta, an extension of Burrabazar which is known to be the country’s biggest wholesale hub, has more than 300 markets and around 1 lakh traders dealing in garments, food grain, fruit, spices, ghee, dry fruit, onions and potatoes.


Most businessmen operating out of Burrabazar and Posta deal in crores but maintain a low profile, but it is difficult to circumvent the local gangs who have their own intelligence network to find out business volumes to zero in on their targets. In fact, crime in Burrabazar is as profitable as business ventures here. In the ’80s and ’90s, allegation of extortions, abduction of businessmen and shoot-outs for area domination were an everyday affair in Burrabazar. But the past six to eight years have seen a sudden decline in the number of complaints from the trading hub. Veterans in the marketplace claimed the crime rate dropped in the bustling wholesale market only after they allegedly paid local criminals to buy their safety to conduct business peacefully. Some also claimed the trade hub’s real importance lay in the fact that it had been a source of funds for political parties and kickbacks for leaders. “It is not a secret in Burrabazar that businessmen pay local criminals to buy their safety. They also pay donations for local political functions so they can conduct their business peacefully,” said a trader, who has had his business in Raja Katra market in Burrabazar for over 40 years.



Cauvery issue and IPL: Protesters block roads near Chepauk stadium in Chennai


CHENNAI: Traffic came to a standstill on the Wallajah Road and the Anna Salai in Chennai on Tuesday evening after members of some Tamil outfits squatted on the roads demanding cancellation of the IPL match between Chennai Super King and Kolkata Knight Riders to be played in M A Chidambaram Stadium at Chepauk in the night. The members of the outfits were protesting against the Centre’s failure to constitute a Cauvery management board. Police resorted to a mild lathi-charge when protesters turned violent breaking barricades. Members of the VCK, Naam Tamilar Katchi, SDPI and Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi staged a protest and took out a rally. They laid siege to the Triplicane police station. Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman and film director Vetrimaran squatted on the road with their supporters and raised slogans against the central government for its lethargic attitude in Cauvery management board. Seeman asked protesters not to rest until they get the due share of water. Earlier, members of the Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi staged a protest outside the stadium. Despite huge security around the stadium, the protesters managed to reach the gate number one and tried to block it. Police detained eight of them.



International News



Iran says 7 dead in Syria strike will ‘not go unanswered’



TEHRAN: Iran said on Tuesday the number of its soldiers killed in an air strike in Syria this week had risen to seven and that it would not go unanswered. Iranian media reported that seven bodies had been flown back to Tehran for burial following Monday’s strike against the T-4 airbase in Homs. Syria, Russia and Iran have blamed Israel for the attack, which Tehran had initially said killed four military advisors. “The Zionist regime’s attack on Syria will not go unanswered,” said Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency. Iran is a key ally of the Syrian government, alongside Russia, and Velayati was speaking on arrival in Damascus where he was due to meet with President Bashar al-Assad, according to ISNA. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hit back at US President Donald Trump, who has said Russia and Iran share the blame for an alleged chemical attack in a rebel-held town in Syria. Iran “has consistently condemned use of chemical weapons by anyone (and) is itself the victim of their use by Saddam with US support,” Zarif wrote on Twitter, referring to chemical attacks during Iran’s war with Iraq in the 1980s. Trump’s “threats to repeat impulsive acts of aggression is symptomatic of US policy helping extremists,” Zarif added. The US president has threatened a “forceful” response to the alleged chemical attack.



Hundreds of flights cancelled in Germany as airports hit by public sector strikes

Members of German public sector worker’s union Verdi stage a strike at the airport in demand for higher wages in Frankfurt.



BERLIN: Thousands of passengers at four German airports, including the biggest hub Frankfurt, were stranded on Tuesday as ground staff and other public sector workers staged walkouts across the country to increase the pressure in a pay dispute. Lufthansa said on Monday it was cancelling more than 800 of its planned 1,600 flights on Tuesday and Frankfurt airport operator Fraport has warned of disruption. As well as Frankfurt, airports in Munich, Cologne and Bremen were hit. The industrial action also affected nurseries, rubbish collection services and swimming pools in several German states. “We want to send a clear signal to employers with these massive strikes,” Frank Bsirske, head of Verdi, Germany’s biggest labour union for service sector employees, said. “We expect an offer to be made for the third round of talks that is worthy of discussion so we can reach a good solution”. He said the union would escalate the dispute if employers did not present an offer next week. The third round of talks start on April 15. Verdi has called for a 6 percent pay rise for its 2.3 million public sector employees at the federal and local level.


Germany’s federal government and municipalities have rejected that, saying such an increase would force them to outsource jobs. The strikes, which started at 5 a.m. (0300 GMT) were due to run until 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Tuesday. Europe’s biggest economy is in robust shape, with record tax revenues and a budget surplus. Rising employment, inflation-busting pay hikes and low borrowing costs are fueling a consumer-led upswing. In the industrial sector, 3.9 million workers agreed on a pay and flexible working hours deal in February that amounted to a roughly 4 percent rise per year for 2018 and 2019. Inflation edged up to 1.5 percent in March. The European Central Bank is keeping a close eye on the German wage negotiations for any sign that wage growth is picking up, potentially lifting inflation and allowing the ECB to start winding down its massive stimulus programme. Neighbouring France has also faced industrial action in the last few weeks in protests against President Emmanuel Macron‘s planned reforms.

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