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International Goa News

Petition for Goa to Muscat direct flights

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State government has petitioned the Union Ministry for Civil Aviation to start direct flights from Muscat to Goa and back to cash in on the potential ‘richie rich’ tourists from the Gulf countries.  
Also considering the difficulty faced by the substantial number of Goans residing in Muscat to travel back to their native place, the NRI Commission has written to the Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati requesting direct Muscat to Goa flights. The Commission has raised the concern of Non Resident Goans (NRGs) of Oman, who have been petitioning the State government with their long-standing demand to have direct flights from Muscat to Goa and back.
The NRI Commissioner Dr Wilfred Mesquita’s letter has pointed out that due to non availability of direct flights and inconvenience of changing flights, the Arab tourists prefer to holiday in Thailand or Sri Lanka. 
“During the visit of the Goan delegation to the Gulf, it was pointed out that Goa can be promoted as a destination for Arab tourists and other 
expatriates, if it is directly connected with countries in the Gulf,” he said.   [H]

Indian students can stay in UK if they get jobs: British minister

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Vince Cable, Britain's secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, said that though Indian students were highest in the UK, their number has now fallen due to a wrong perception that Indian students are not welcome in the UK anymore. "The UK government did tighten rules to stop certain abuses and also acted against illegal universities, but Indian students are most welcome and can stay on in the UK if they get jobs," Cable told mediapersons in Panaji on Monday. He is in Goa as part of an India tour to pursue the twin goals of business and education.
 
Cable explained that there are approximately 25,000 Indian students studying in the UK and genuine students studying in genuine institutions will get their visas. "There is no cap on the number of Indian students in the UK and there is provision to work after study in a graduate-level job (20,000 pounds per annum) for three years, extendable to another three years," said Cable.
 
He further explained that up to 700 scholarships are offered to Indians by UK institutions each year, and Britain's flagship Chevening programme, run by the Foreign and Commonwealth office, is now in its 30th year. "In 2015-16, the Chevening budget for India will increase to 2.4 million pounds, four times what it is now, which will fund 150 scholarships for Indians," said Cable, adding that 500 GREAT awards are also being offered to Indian students for undergraduate and postgraduate courses ranging from engineering, law and business to art and design.
 
Cable pointed out that the UK's largest visa operation in the world is in India, with 12 UK visa application centres across the country, which, in 2013, received over 4 lakh visa applications, a 5% increase from 2012, and of which 90% were successful. Visitor visas also increased by 6% to 3,16,857; work visas by 10% to 53,598; and student visitor visas by 7% to 13,608, said Cable. [TOI]

Oman Air to double flights to India, connect Goa in 2015

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Muscat: The Sultanate's national carrier Oman Air is planning to start a new service between Muscat and Goa, a western Indian state, by next summer, a top-level official of the airline told journalists on Sunday.

The national carrier, which is embarking on a massive expansion programme to enhance fleet strength to 55 planes by 2017, plans to operate three weekly flights to Goa, which will go up to five eventually, using a 154-seater Boeing 737 aircraft.

The airline will fly to Goa when it gets new aircraft.

Oman Air also has plans to double its services to two flights a day (morning and night) between Muscat and various destinations in the Indian sub-continent, instead of a daily flight now.

"We are aspiring for more traffic rights to India to enable us to fly to every destination in India twice a day – morning and night. We now fly twice a day in Muscat-Mumbai, Muscat-Chennai and Muscat New Delhi sectors. We want to serve Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram twice a day," said Abdulrahman Al Busaidy, chief operating officer of Oman Air.

He said Oman secured 5,000 additional seats to India three years ago and the airline's proposed new service to Goa is from within the existing flying rights.  

Al Busaidy also noted that talks between Oman and Sri Lanka are scheduled for November in Colombo to double its flights from one daily flight in Muscat-Colombo sector to twice a day.

"We are also trying to double its flights to Kathmandu."

Further, plans are afoot to raise number of daily flights in Muscat-Dhaka route.

Oman Air is launching new services from Muscat to Manila, in the Philippines, and Jakarta, in Indonesia, from December 2014.

However, Oman Air CEO Paul Gregorowitsch said the airline is not planning to fly to cities in the United States.

Within the domestic sectors, plans are afoot to start operation between Muscat and Sohar by the end of the year.  

Besides replacing ATR planes with Embraer in Muscat-Khasab sector.

"But it requires upgrading (Khasab) airport facility."

Another proposal is to raise flights from Salalah airport, when the expanded airport facility gets ready by next year.

Oman Air plans to raise it flights from Salalah to Dubai, Muscat and Kuwait.

Fleet expansion
In the next 12 months, 16 new planes will join the airline's fleet.

Currently, Oman Air has a fleet strength of 31 aircraft.

The fleet expansion is part of a larger plan to strengthen the country's national carrier, at a time when two international airports – Muscat and Salalah – are about to complete expansion and three regional airports are getting ready to receive passengers.

The new aircraft will be a mix of both narrow body and wide-body planes.

Gregorowitsch said Boeing 787 Dreamliner will join the fleet by next year, although it got delayed by two years.

However, Oman Air does not have any concern due to the delay in getting the planes.

The airline is also looking at 787 900s, which will enable it to have large business class.

Gregorowitsch said Oman Air is investing in new aircraft, destinations, new products, new technology, call centres and people.

Oman Air, which incurred heavy losses last year, is hoping to achieve profit with additional investments by 2017.  

New operating model
Gregorowitsch said Oman Air is working on a new operating model, which will be introduced by January next year.

As per the new operating model, there will be more flights to European destinations, increase connectivity, efficiency and Oman Air will control international flights through Muscat airport.

For instance, passengers will find connecting flights to various destinations.

Also, there will be more flights to Riyadh and Jeddah to help those who go for Umrah in Saudi Arabia.  

There is also a plan to raise transit passengers coming to Muscat airport from 60 per cent to 70 per cent of total passenger traffic by 2017, after the new facilities are ready.

Gregorowitsch also said that there is a plan to create separate business units for different divisions within the airline, which include catering, cargo and ground handling.

Reporter can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

UK business secretary in Goa seeks to boost business ties

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The UK is looking to strengthen business ties with India and also welcomes Indian students to study in the UK, Dr Vince Cable, Britain's secretary of state for business, innovation and skills said here on Monday. 
Cable is in Goa as part of his India tour to pursue the twin goals of business and education. Besides meeting Goa deputy chief minister Francis D'Souza, Cable met with several Goan businessmen including Sreenivas Dempo, Victor Albuquerque, Ashok Chowgule and others. 
 
Later speaking to the media, Cable said Britain has a highly sophisticated manufacturing sector in advanced technology like aerospace, biosciences and automotive sector and was looking for tie-ups with Indian companies. While Tata has huge business interests in the UK, Goan businessmen like Pai Kane and Chowgule's also had businesses there, he said. 
 
Cable said that though Indian students were highest in the UK, their number has now fallen due to a wrong perception that Indian students were not welcome in the UK anymore. The UK government did tighten rules to stop certain abuses and also acted against illegal universities. But Indian students are most welcome and can stay on in the UK if they get jobs, he said. 
 
There are approximately 25,000 Indian students studying in the UK. Genuine students studying in genuine institutions will get their visas. There is no cap on the number of Indian students in the UK. There is provision to work after study in a graduate leel job (UK pounds 20,000 per annum) for three years, extendable to another three years. [TOI]

Bank guarantee must for Indian maids in Kuwait

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 To safeguard the welfare of its nationals, India has made it mandatory for employers in Kuwait to submit a bank guarantee of USD 2,500 before bringing a female domestic help to the Gulf nation.
A bank guarantee worth USD 2,500 (720 Kuwaiti Dinar) as security deposit would be submitted with the Indian embassy in Kuwait by the employer wishing to bring a female domestic worker from India to Kuwait, a statement released by the Indian embassy said on Friday.
The embassy cited instructions from the Government of India behind the move. The order was implemented with the immediate effect.
This measure is being taken to safeguard the welfare of female domestic workers in Kuwait, it said.
"The bank guarantee, provided by a bank in Kuwait, needs to be valid till such time the female domestic worker remains in Kuwait.
The Embassy will attest agreements for employment of female domestic workers in Kuwait once the above condition of Bank Guarantee is fulfilled," the statement said.
The total number of Indian expatriates in Kuwait is about 7.5 lakh, according to latest official figures. There are nearly 2.7 lakh employed in domestic sector, whereas about 3.6 lakh are deployed in private sector. There are about 1 lakh persons on dependent visas.  [H]
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