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Storage owners seek more space for grounded planes in Australia

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787 dreamliner. (Photos: IANS)
787 dreamliner. (Photos: IANS)

Owners of an aircraft storage facility in Central Australia have been seeking more space as the facility is fully booked due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many carriers haven’t had enough passengers to justify flying during the pandemic, and have opted to store their planes, the BBC reported.

Asia Pacific Airline Storage is storing 94 planes at Alice Springs, and will store more in Southeast Queensland.

Analysts say it’s a sign of how difficult conditions have become for airlines.

Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific as well as their subsidiaries are storing planes in Alice Springs, as are Fiji Air and Cebu Pacific.

Asia Pacific Airline Storage (APAS) has an additional sixteen slots on site, but they are already booked with existing customers.

The site has become a local landmark in the remote town of about 25,000 people.

The company has plans to expand the facility from its current 110 slots to accommodate 160-200 aircraft.

Until the expansion is ready, APAS needs to find extra space elsewhere.

“To manage some additional storage requirements we’ve started to store some aircraft at Wellcamp in Toowoomba,” Tom Vincent, the company’s Managing Director, told the BBC.

At the moment, there are only two planes at the new facility in Southeast Queensland, but more are due to arrive this week.

Desert conditions are widely regarded by manufacturers and airlines as preferable for storing planes because it is easier to protect against corrosion in dry weather.

While they are in storage, the planes have to undergo a rigorous maintenance schedule.

“People have this misconception that you just park an aircraft and it sits there until you want to activate it again,” said Vincent.

In fact, APAS now has 70 employees ensuring the planes are properly looked after until the airlines need them again.

Vincent said he always expected to expand the facility, but the pandemic has dramatically increased demand.

And while there has been a very slow trickle of planes returning to service, the vast majority have been entering rather than leaving storage.

The facility is not an airline “boneyard” where old planes are stripped for reusable parts, but Vincent suggested that might become part of the business if the industry continues to face headwinds.

One industry analyst said the facility’s expansion is a clear indication of the difficulty airlines are facing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Flightglobal’s Asia Editor Greg Waldron said times are tough for Singapore Airlines and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific — which are both using the facility.

Neither airline has domestic flights, which will likely be the first to reopen, he said.

“If you’re something like Cathay Pacific, where you don’t have that domestic market, you’re in an extremely difficult situation,” he said.

However, he said the air freight business remains strong, and will help many airlines stay afloat.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has just downgraded its 2020 traffic forecasts.

The association now says it expects traffic to be 66 per cent below the level it was in 2019.

The IATA estimates that it will be at least 2024 before air traffic reaches pre-pandemic levels.

“I guess there’s not a clear pathway for a return for normality. There’s a lot of industry views out there that a return to pre-Covid levels is going to take many years,” Vincent said.

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Business

Eicher Motors now offers customised Royal Enfield motorcycles

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Eicher logo
Eicher logo

Chennai, Oct 15 (IANS) Two-wheeler maker Eicher Motors Ltd on Thursday said customers can now choose to personalise and accessorise their Royal Enfield motorcycles at the time of purchase.

In a statement issued here, the company said it has rolled out the first of its kind motorcycle personalisation service – The Royal Enfield Make-It-Yours – MiY.

The Royal Enfield is the two-wheeler division of Eicher Motors rolling out bikes like Bullet, Interceptor 650, Continental GT 650 and others.

According to the company, the MiY is enabled via an app based 3-D configurator will allow buyers to access to various possible combinations in personalistion options at the time of booking the motorcycle.

Once the order is placed through the app, the buyers will also know the probable delivery time.

According to Vinod K. Dasari, CEO, Royal Enfield, with MiY, customers will have a “little bit of them” built into the motorcycle, and depending on the level of personalisation, motorcycles will be custom-made as per consumer specifications, within 24 to 48 hours, at the Chennai plant.

“We will be rolling out MiY for all our motorcycles, across all our stores in the country in a phased manner. All new motorcycle models from Royal Enfield, from here on, will come with the MiY feature,” he said.

Initially the MiY will be available for models like Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650.

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Construction picks up in unlock, cement prices rise

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Cement city Nimbhahera emerges as new hotspot in Rajasthan
Cement city Nimbhahera emerges as new hotspot in Rajasthan

New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) Fading monsoons, easing of lockdown restrictions and recovery in non-trade demand have revived the construction activities in the country resulting in pan-India 2 per cent month-on-month increase in cement prices in October after four consecutive months correction.

The rising demand and prices for construction materials is a good barometer to gauge revival of economic activities in the country.

The cement price rise in October is also an aberration to historic trends when price normally corrects 2-3 per cent due to seasonality.

“A strong demand recovery in September 2020 (10-12 per cent yoy) and continued demand tailwinds in early October 2020 underpin the price strength. Cost headwinds should hit from end of 3QFY21 and price hikes, if sustained, would offset the impact on margins and drive earnings upgrades,” Kotak Institutional Equities said in a report.

The distribution of rise in cement prices indicates that consumers revival has happened across the country. Prices in North and Central markets increased 5 per cent m-o-m on a sharp uptick in demand led by easing of lockdown restrictions and return of migrant labour to metro cities supporting non-trade demand.

Prices remained stable m-o-m in East and West India while prices in South increased 2 pet cent mom after strong demand recovery in September 2020.

Historically, cement prices correct by 2-3 per cent qoq in 3Q due to seasonality. However, in 3QFY21E prices are up 1 per cent qoq led by higher prices in North and Central markets, the brokerage report said.

While government estimate suggests that demand declined 15 per cent yoy in August 2020 in the country and declined by 29 per cent yoy YTD FY2021. However, channel checks by the brokerage suggests that strong demand in September 2020 (+10-12 per cent yoy) more than offset the weakness in early 2QFY21.

South, where demand was worst-hit in April-August 2020, too witnessed 3-5 per cent yoy demand growth in September 2020 led by Andhra-Telangana.

Initial feedback suggests that demand tailwinds have continued in October 2020. We expect industry volumes to decline by 12.5 per cent yoy in FY2021E. We see grinding and clinker capacity addition at 4 per cent/3 per cent CAGR over FY2020-23E versus demand at 3 per cent CAGR.

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CMS launches AI-automated ATM security software ‘Algo’

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SBI ATM. (File Photo IANS)
SBI ATM. (File Photo IANS)

Mumbai, Oct 14 (IANS) CMS Info Systems (CMS) has announced the launch of fully automated, Artificial Intelligence-powered ATM security software application ‘Algo’.

CMS Algo is an end-to-end security encrypted a fool-proof solution to prevent ATM frauds at the time of cash replenishment or maintenance, the company said in a statement.

The application is machine-agnostic and can operate on any ATM manufactured by any OEM.

Rajiv Kaul, Executive Vice Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Whole-time Director of CMS Info Systems, said: “This application can run on any ATM across the world and helps in fraud prevention. The solution is cost-effective in the back-end and low cost in the front-end.”

“The biggest saving is the reduction of fraud, no requirement of a call centre, and restricted access to data and premises,” he said.

He noted that the company has deployed Algo on 52,000 ATMs in India.

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CCI okays Tube Investments’ stake buy in CG Power

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Competition Commission of India
Competition Commission of India

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the acquisition of shares in CG Power and Industrial Solutions Ltd by Tube Investments of India Ltd.

The proposed combination envisages acquisition of more than 50 per cent of the equity share capital of CG Power and Industrial Solutions Ltd (CG Power) by Tube Investments of India Ltd (TIIL).

TIIL is a listed entity and is part of Murugappa group. It has three business verticals including engineering, metal formed products and bicycles. It is engaged in the manufacture of a wide range of products for automotive, railway, construction, mining and agriculture industries.

Also a listed entity, CG Power has two major business units — power systems and industrial systems.

The power systems business unit focuses on power transmission, distribution, power solutions, setting up of integrated power systems among others.

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Business

Uber hires Amazon veteran to lead mobility teams in Bengaluru

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Manikandan Thangarathnam
Manikandan Thangarathnam

Uber on Thursday announced it hired Amazon veteran Manikandan Thangarathnam as senior director to lead all rider and platform engineering teams in Bengaluru.

Uber said it is also hiring 85 more engineers in the country. This is in addition to hiring 140 engineers the ride-hailing service announced last month.

“As the world steps into a new normal, adaptability is going to be a key aspect to usher in growth. I look forward to leading the bright minds at Uber and innovating together for the world, one ride at a time,” said Mani.

At Amazon, Mani helped build several core platforms and products.

He led engineering efforts for the Amazon Appstore and was instrumental in bootstrapping the tech major’s Chennai office and building a vast team of engineers.

The Rider mobility team works on the challenge of enabling the next billion trips by building new services including high capacity vehicles (Uber bus), and car rentals, among others.

The company said the Marketplace team is building a highly-available and scalable self-serve gateway to configure, manage, and monitor Application Programming Interfaces (API) of every business domain at Uber.

Uber recently hired another Amazon veteran Jayaram Valliyur as senior director to lead its global finance technology team, spread across multiple geographies.

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OnePlus investing Rs 100 crore to boost retail footprint in India

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OnePlus to launch 2 Nord smartphones on Oct 26
OnePlus to launch 2 Nord smartphones on Oct 26

Smartphone maker OnePlus is committed to invest Rs 100 crore towards deeper market penetration by taking premium offline experience beyond metro cities and expanding its reach through new online and offline retail partnerships, a top company executive said on Thursday.

With over 5,000 offline stores including partnered stores across the country, the smartphone maker is planning to scale up to more than 8,000 stores in the coming quarters, Navnit Nakra, VP and Chief Strategy OnePlus India told IANS.

“At present, we have over 30 OnePlus experience stores across India and will be opening 14 new experience stores in the next six months.

“We’ll launch our biggest experience store globally, the OnePlus Nizam Palace in Hyderabad later this year. We are also working towards covering 100 cities through our service centre network in the next year,” Nakra informed.

The smartphone maker launched its India R&D centre in 2019 and is committed to achieve long-term growth in the country.

Currently, the company has 300 employees in the R&D team and hope to double that number in the coming months.

Nakra said that India continues to be a key market for OnePlus since the brand’s entry in 2014.

“We began our commitment to Make in India initiative in February 2018 and since then, we have been manufacturing our devices in the country. We have also commenced the manufacturing of the OnePlus TVs and OnePlus Nord in India,” Nakra told IANS.

By 2021, all OnePlus TVs will be manufactured locally in India.

“On our smart TV portfolio, we commenced the manufacturing of the Y series in India and by 2021, all OnePlus TVs will also be manufactured locally including the Q and the U series,” Nakra informed.

He said that 100 per cent of OnePlus smartphones are being manufactured in India including OnePlus 8 series, OnePlus Nord and the recently launched OnePlus 8T.

OnePlus has launched its new flagship 5G smartphone the ‘OnePlus 8T’ with 120Hz Fluid AMOLED display and quad-camera set up, in India.

The OnePlus 8T will be available in two colours, aquamarine green and lunar silver at Rs 45,999 (12GB RAM+ 256GB internal storage) and Rs 42,999 (8GB RAM+128GB internal storage).

“OnePlus is consistently exploring opportunities to fuel its growth and meet the needs of more users, by starting to strategically diversify into new product categories and new price points but, at the same time, not compromising on our OnePlus promise,” Nakra told IANS.

OnePlus Nord series is also likely to get new entrants this month, according to multiple reports.

The rumoured OnePlus Nord N10 5G and OnePlus Nord N100 are said to be launching as soon as the end of October, first in the US market.

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