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IOC hikes aviation fuel price
New Delhi, April 6
The government is keeping a close watch on the rising international crude oil prices, now crossing $ 56 per barrel, and the Cabinet would soon take a decision to raise the retail prices of petrol and diesel, said Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said here today.

Continental to start Delhi-New York flight in Nov
New Delhi, April 6
World’s sixth largest airline, Continental Airlines, today announced its plans to start the first daily non-stop flight between New Delhi and New York from November 1.
Continental Vice-President for Europe, Middle-East and Africa Jim Summerford and Continental Airlines Managing Director of sales and marketing Tim Kennedy pose with miniature models of an aircraft
Continental Vice-President for Europe, Middle-East and Africa Jim Summerford (R) and Continental Airlines Managing Director of sales and marketing Tim Kennedy pose with miniature models of an aircraft after a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. US-based Continental Airlines announced that it will be launching daily non-stop flights between New Delhi and New York that will cut travel time by up to two-and-a-half hours. — AFP photo





EARLIER STORIES

 

VAT hikes CSD prices
New Delhi, April 6
Following the implementation of VAT across the country, the Canteen Stores Department, hitherto supplying an array of more than 4,000 products to armed forces personnel at subsidised rates will no longer be able to do so.

Massive response to .in domain names
New Delhi, April 6
The .in country code internet domain name Registry services set up by the National Internet Exchange of India have so far registered more than 1,00,000 till now in since the time it was officially launched about 90 days ago..in Registry has been created by the National Internet Exchange of India and is promoted by the Department of Information Technology.

Auto scene
Hyundai launches Tucson

New Delhi, April 6
Hyundai Motor India Ltd today expanded its sports utility vehicle portfolio with the launch of Tucson and said the company has no plans to phase out its first SUV, Terracan, from the country.


Shah Rukh Khan stands in front of Hyundai’s new Tucson SUV during its unveiling in New Delhi on Wednesday. Hyundai Motors has launched Tucson in India for nearly Rs 15 lakh ($ 34,000). — AFP photo

Shah Rukh Khan stands in front of Hyundai’s new Tucson SUV during its unveiling in New Delhi

Spice gears up for expansion
Ludhiana, April 6
The woes of subscribers of Spice Telecom would soon end as the company is on a major expansion spree. While Spice, a mobile phone services provider, has already increased the number of its Base Transreceiver System sites from 425 last year to 975, it plans to add another 125 by June.                                          
Naveen Kaul
Naveen Kaul

Hutch Telecom delays India IPO
Hong Kong, April 6
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd’s emerging markets phone arm has delayed its Indian IPO due to uncertainty over foreign shareholding rules but is still bent on expanding in the country’s fast-growing mobile market.

Nokia says yes to Chennai
New Delhi, April 6
Minister of Communications and Information Technology Dayanidhi Maran today welcomed the decision taken by the Nokia for setting up a manufacturing plant in Chennai.

Indian co to build Dubai’s tallest building
Mumbai, April 6
The Hiranandani group of construction companies is building Dubai’s tallest residential building, according to a press note issued here. The company said it was building the ‘23 Marina’ building in Dubai in collaboration with Eta Star Properties, a local company.

Bank staff observe stir
Kolkata, April 6
Around 19,000 Allahabad Bank employees observed a nationwide strike today protesting against the dilution of government stake in the bank.

Gladrags Mega Model contestants pose for a photocall in Mumbai Gladrags Mega Model contestants pose for a photocall in Mumbai. Thirtyfour contestants, 18 girls and 16 boys, have made it to Gladrags Mega Model and Manhunt, 2005, to be held here on April 9. The list includes a girl from South Africa and one from America.
— PTI

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IOC hikes aviation fuel price
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
The government is keeping a close watch on the rising international crude oil prices, now crossing $ 56 per barrel, and the Cabinet would soon take a decision to raise the retail prices of petrol and diesel, said Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said here today.

Meanwhile, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has announced to raise price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) by 18.5 per cent due to high oil prices with effect from April 1. After the levy of local sales tax, the hike would be about Rs 5,000 per kilolitre. It is likely to result in increase in airfare soon on the domestic and international routes.

Talking to the reporters on the sidelines of a conference, he said, “Oil prices have increased sharply but we have enough foreign exchange reserves to meet the energy needs of the country.”

Public sector oil companies have asked for government’s approval to raise prices of petrol and diesel by at least Rs 4 per unit, saying that they were losing revenue. Mr Aiyar said the Cabinet would take a final decision on the matter on April 8 likely.

They have maintained that the price of Indian basket of international crude oil products have gone up from $ 38 per barrel to over $ 53 per barrel within one month resulting in financial losses worth Rs 1,500 crore. Officials said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to take a decision on the matter soon.

Mr Aiyar said, “The oil companies are not making losses. They are losing revenue. The facts of the matter have been communicated to the cabinet secretariat.” He declined to comment on when the Cabinet would meet to review oil prices.

Analysts said an increase in oil prices lead to higher prices in the economy besides hitting the GDP growth rate as well. If the oil prices continued to rise, the government may also have to revise kerosene and LPG prices.

IOC spokesperson said company raised prices of ATF in Delhi by Rs 3,980 per kilolitre to Rs 25,507 per kilolitre before sales tax.

Prices in Mumbai have gone up from Rs 21,730 per kl to Rs 25,700 per kl while in Kolkata, prices have been increased to Rs 27,849 per kl from Rs 23,943 per kl.

In Chennai, the prices have gone from Rs 21,990 per kl to Rs 25,937 per kl. Incidentally, Civil Aviation Minister had urged the state governments only last week to bring down to sales on ATF to bring down the fares. However, the current surge in the prices would force the public and private players to increase fare sooner than later.

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Haryana to hike ST on diesel

Speaking at a CII meeting, Mr Ramesh Chandra, Secretary to Empowered Committee on Vat, told reporters that Haryana has agreed to increase sales tax on diesel to 20 per cent.

It is only Punjab and Haryana, where sales tax on the petroleum products are still lower than the agreed uniform sales tax, 20 per cent, by the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers.

“Haryana may take up the issue in the next assembly session,” he said hinting that oil prices in the state would go up.

Regarding recent hike in oil prices in Delhi, he said,” Delhi was violating this and now it has fallen in line.”

He also said that the government would phase out CST (central sales tax) by April 2007, a move that may lead BJP-ruled states to reconsider their decision of not implementing Vat.

Talking to the reporters on the sidelines of a CII seminar, he said: “We agree there is some confusion over some issues. But all these issues would be addressed in the meeting. We should appreciate that 18 states have so far implemented Vat from April 1.”

“We are expecting feedback from trade and industry bodies among others about Vat by April 11. Then, we will hold a meeting of state tax commissioners next week to discuss post-Vat issues vis-à-vis feedbacks, he said.

Issues like anomalies in the Vat structure between states have arisen after implementation of Vat from April 1 by 18 states. Besides the Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu governments, he said, talks between Empowered Committee and BJP-ruled states to implement Vat were also on.

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Continental to start Delhi-New York flight in Nov
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
World’s sixth largest airline, Continental Airlines, today announced its plans to start the first daily non-stop flight between New Delhi and New York from November 1.

Airlines’ vice-president for Europe, Middle-East and Africa Jim Summerford, while announcing the plans said here that daily flight would be started under the existing bilateral between India and the US and that the airline had the clearance from the Indian Government since December 2003.

“We have been looking at connecting New Delhi for a long time,” he said while adding that the growing traffic between India and the US had finally forced the airline to look India’s way. Besides, he pointed out that there were at least over 100 American companies operating out of India and his airline would provide them with the facility of a daily non-stop flight.

Continental’s New Delhi-New York flights will be operated with a 283-seat Boeing 777 aircraft, carrying 48 passengers in the business first cabin and 235 in economy.

Flight CO83 will depart New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport daily at 11.30 pm and arrive at New York’s Newark Liberty International Airport at 4.50 am local time the next day. Newark is about 25 km from downtown Manhattan.

The return flight CO82 will depart Newark daily at 9.05 pm and arrive at IGI at 9.30 pm the next day. Flying time will be 15 hours 50 minutes to New York and 13 hours 55 minutes to New Delhi. The will be flying the polar route.

“Continental will be the first airline to introduce non-stop flights between India and the United States,” said Mr Summerford. The airline, which has a fleet of 349 aircraft, is, however, waiting for the takeoff and landing slots at the IGI airport from Indian authorities.

The new flights will also provide one-stop connections to almost 150 other cities throughout north, central and south America, the Caribbean and beyond via Newark.

Currently, only Air-India (A-I) flies daily to New York, Newark and LA, but from Mumbai. By next year, it also plans to add Washington and either Houston or Dallas in Taxas.

Incidentally, the air bilaterals between India and the US are set for a revision next week with the US Transport

Secretary Norman Mineta due to arrive here on April 13. This would allow more of the US airlines’ to fly into India.

Private airlines in India like Jet Airways and Air Sahara have also been allowed to fly on international routes. They plan to operate on US routes later this year.

An estimated two million passengers travel between India and the United States annually. No US airline currently operates a non-stop service to India.

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Jet Malaysia flight on April 29

Kuala Lumpur: India carrier Jet Airways will make its maiden flight to Malaysia on April 29, marking growing economic ties between Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi, a senior airport official said today.

Malaysia Airports Holding Bhd, senior marketing manager Mohamed Sallauddin Mat Sah told AFP that Jet Airways would launch daily round trip flights from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur using its new Boeing 737-800 aircraft. — AFP

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Airlines slash air fare to Kathmandu

Kathmandu, April 6
As a result of the cut-throat competition, international airlines have slashed the fare by more than half on the Kathmandu-Delhi route.

After the Royal Nepal Airlines reduced its fare by 33 per cent to Rs 1,875, Nepalese private airline Cosmic Air slashed it to Rs 1,500 on the tickets purchased five days in advance.

There are currently five airlines operating regular flights between the two cities. Earlier, there were only RNAC and Indian Airlines, but now Air Sahara, Jet Airways and Cosmic Air have also entered the field leading to a price war.

Earlier, the price of a Kathmandu-Delhi air ticket was Rs. 4,265. Jet Airways, an Indian airlines company, slashed the fare to Rs 3,125.

Indian Airlines also reduced its fare to Rs 2,812 for a Kathmandu-Delhi air ticket.

Various schemes, including “buy three and get one free”, were also introduced by some airlines. — PTI

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VAT hikes CSD prices

New Delhi, April 6
Following the implementation of VAT across the country, the Canteen Stores Department (CSD), hitherto supplying an array of more than 4,000 products to armed forces personnel at subsidised rates will no longer be able to do so.

The CSD so far made available through its 3,500-odd stores across the country products, including consumer items, grocery and liquor, at prices usually 20 to 25 per cent lower than those prevailing in the open market.

The implementation of VAT since April 1, however, has meant that immediately defence personnel will have to pay almost as much as any civilian for their grocery and liquor.

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has assured that he had taken up with Finance Minister P Chidambaram the matter of exempting CSD goods from the ambit of VAT. The latter, in turn, had promised to raise the issue in the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers constituted for the implementation of VAT.

With a Rs 5,200-crore turnover from around 3,500 canteens, the CSD caters to around 4.5 million serving and retired personnel. — UNI

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Massive response to .in domain names
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
The .in country code internet domain name Registry services set up by the National Internet Exchange of India (Nixi) have so far registered more than 1,00,000 till now in since the time it was officially launched about 90 days ago..in Registry has been created by the National Internet Exchange of India (Nixi) and is promoted by the Department of Information Technology (DIT) .

.in relaunch began in January with the opening of a 21-day Sunrise period for trademark owners. More than 2,000 names were registered during this period, or approximately 4 per cent of total registrations.

.in was officially opened to the public on February 16, 2005. More than 45,000 registrations, or 52 per cent of total names registered to date, were registered during the initial 24-hour period of this land rush. Subsequently, the name has grown to over 1 lakh names presently, an official statement said.

.in names are held by registrants from 108 different countries, the most popular of which are India, Germany, and the United States, which together account for over 80 per cent of registrations, the statement said.

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Auto scene
Hyundai launches Tucson

New Delhi, April 6
Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) today expanded its sports utility vehicle (SUV) portfolio with the launch of Tucson and said the company has no plans to phase out its first SUV, Terracan, from the country.

The 2.0 litre Tucson with CRDi engine is priced at Rs 14.30 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore), while it will be available in Kolkata and Chennai at Rs 14.40 lakh and Rs 15.80 lakh, respectively.

Currently, Tucson will be marketed in India as the completely built units. Gradually, it will follow the semi-knocked down and completely knocked down routes, HMIL Managing Director S.S. Yang told newspersons at the launch of the 4-wheel drive, Tucson, here.

“We expect to sell 100 units of Tucson every month over the next six months and increase volumes after we stabilise the whole process,” Yang added.

When asked whether Hyundai considers withdrawal of Terracan, HMIL President BVR Subu answered in negative and said the company would continue selling its full-fledged SUV. “We are selling 40 to 50 units of Terracan per month and that is up to our sale expectations,” he said, adding that the Tucson will be positioned as a softer SUV.

Maruti investments

Maruti Udyog Ltd today said it would invest a total of Rs 3,271.9 crore for a new car manufacturing plant and a new engine and transmission unit, which apart from diesel engines will also make petrol engines and gears.

This was decided at a board meeting of the company at Hamamatsu, Japan.

MUL, which is 54.2 per cent owned by Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp., said the new car plant would be through a joint venture ‘Maruti Suzuki Automobiles India Ltd’, in which MUL will hold 70 per cent equity while Suzuki Motor Corporation the remaining 30 per cent.

The JV would invest Rs 1,524.2 crore for the new car plant which will have an initial capacity of 1 lakh cars per annum, with scope to go up to 2,50,000 cars per annum.

“The new car manufacturing plant will begin commercial production by the end of 2006,” the company said.

On the engine and transmission facility, the company said in addition to manufacturing diesel engines for cars, as was decided earlier, it would also manufacture petrol engines and transmission assemblies.

Meanwhile, Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL) has ended the financial year 2004-05 on two feats as it recorded the highest-ever annual and monthly sales in the past fiscal, respectively, since the company began operations over 21 years ago. — PTI

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Spice gears up for expansion
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 6
The woes of subscribers of Spice Telecom would soon end as the company is on a major expansion spree. While Spice, a mobile phone services provider, has already increased the number of its Base Transreceiver System (BTS) sites from 425 last year to 975, it plans to add another 125 by June.

“This should put an end to all kinds of network related complaints,” Mr Naveen Kaul, Chief Operating Officer, Spice Telecom, said while talking to The Tribune.

He said as the company had recently increased its capacity to 1.5 million subscribers, customers can look forward to major improvement within a span of 15 days.

As a result of expansion, Spice has also increased its market share, Mr Kaul said.

Talking about increasing competition in mobile phone industry, he said it was proving beneficial for customers apart from improving mobile telephone penetration. “Not only have mobile services become affordable, even handsets have witnessed a decline in costs which is increasing the mobile density.”

In case of Punjab, high per capital income further contributed towards increasing tele-density, making the state second only to Delhi in mobile phones penetration, Mr Kaul said. However, a large part of Indian markets still remained untapped and the next 5 to 7 years would witness major changes in this industry, as costs are likely to come down further, he said.

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Hutch Telecom delays India IPO

Hong Kong, April 6
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd’s emerging markets phone arm has delayed its Indian IPO due to uncertainty over foreign shareholding rules but is still bent on expanding in the country’s fast-growing mobile market.

Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd. (HTIL), controlled by Hong Kong tycoon Li ka-Shing, has pushed the much-anticipated Bombay IPO of its Indian cellular arm into the second half of this year due to regulatory uncertainty, the firm said in an interview.

The Indian unit is expected to raise roughly $ 350-$ 500 million through the listing.

The delay also follows the recent collapse of its $ 350 million deal to take over carrier Aircel Ltd., which would have given HTIL a presence in Tamil Nadu.

HTIL shares skidded nearly 7 per cent on Wednesday to close at HK $ 6.70 after Reuters reported the delayed India IPO.

“The postponement of the sale of its India operations disappointed the market,” said Mr Philip Chan, head of research at Capital Securities in Hong Kong. — Reuters

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Nokia says yes to Chennai
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
Minister of Communications and Information Technology Dayanidhi Maran today welcomed the decision taken by the Nokia for setting up a manufacturing plant in Chennai.

The proposed plant, at an estimated cost of $ 100-150 million at Chennai will be the 10th mobile device production facility globally. The construction work of the plant would commence this month at Chennai and production is expected to begin in the first half of next year.

“Very soon India will gain the deserved position as manufacturing hub and this will help in achieving the targets of providing 250 million telephones by 2007,” Mr Maran said in a statement today.

Nokia president Pekka Ala-Pietial had called up Mr Maran to inform him about the Chennai plant decision.

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Indian co to build Dubai’s tallest building
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 6
The Hiranandani group of construction companies is building Dubai’s tallest residential building, according to a press note issued here.

The company said it was building the ‘23 Marina’ building in Dubai in collaboration with Eta Star Properties, a local company.

The building will have 90-storeys. The project will comprise mainly duplex apartments, each with a private plunge pool, elevator and ocean view within the high-rise.

The average apartment size would be 3000 sq. ft.

According to Mr Darshan Hiranandani, Director of the project, 23 Marina encompasses 48 luxurious duplex apartments on the top floors of the 90-storey tower.

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Bank staff observe stir

Kolkata, April 6
Around 19,000 Allahabad Bank employees observed a nationwide strike today protesting against the dilution of government stake in the bank. The All-India Allahabad Bank Employees Co-ordination Committee General Secretary, Mr Gaur Das, alleged that the proposed second public issue from April 6 to 12 was a ploy to privatise the bank.

Following the public issue the government stake in the bank would come down to 55.2 per cent from 71.2 per cent at present and was a step towards “privatisation”, he alleged.

The employees shouted slogans in front of the bank branches and organised processions to press their demands.

The employees, he said, would intensify the agitation if the situation warranted. — UNI

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BRIEFLY

M&M to appeal
New Delhi, April 6
Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd said today it would appeal the excise demand and penalty for Rs 304 crore relating to the classification of a vehicle. The demand for Rs 216 crore as differential duty and penalty of Rs 88 crore largely relate to a dispute regarding Mahindra’s Commander vehicle as a 10-seater in 1991-96. The Excise Department had disputed the classification. “The excise demand is unsustainable as it is contrary to the findings of two Excise Commissioners, besides being contrary to the certificate issued by the Automotive Research Association of India,’’ the company said. — UNI

Sahara Samay
New Delhi, April 6
The 24-hour Hindi news channel Sahara Samay has won “Broadcast Engineering Excellence Award” for its network newsroom technology. The runners up in the category was CNN (New York) newsroom. The annual excellence awards are given by Broadcast Engineering Magazine. — PTI

ONGC order
Mumbai, April 6
A consortium formed by Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T) has bagged the Rs 1,864 crore order by the ONGC for the replacement of pipelines and modification of platforms at Bombay High. Mr K. Venkataramanan, President (Operations) and a member of the L&T Board said L&T would execute jobs around Rs 930 crore while Global Industries had been entrusted with the installation of offshore pipelines and risers. — UNI

Comptex, 2005
Chennai, April 6
The CII will organise a two-day textiles exposition in Coimbatore to discuss the prospects of the Indian textiles industry. It will be attended by many foreign delegates. The southern region body of the industry lobby in association with The Southern India Mills Association (SIMA) is organising “Comptex 2005” (Conference on “Sustainable Global Competitiveness of Textile Industry”) on April 8 and 9. The textile industry contributes 4 per cent of the national GDP and 20 per cent of manufacturing value added. Yet, in terms of global opportunities, the industry has not tapped even the tip of the iceberg. Of the total global trade of $ 360 million, India’s share is only 3.5 pc. — TNS
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