SpiceJet announced its “Cheaper-than-train-fares” sale on Wednesday, which intensified the ongoing air fare war in the airline industy.Under the new scheme, SpiceJet is offering domestic fares starting from ₹599 all-in. On international routes, the airline is offering tickets ₹3,499 onwards. SpiceJet has reserved 4,00,000 seats with 1,00,000 seats for the ₹599 fare.The offer window that opened on 11 February will close post 13 February midnight. The travel period covered is 1 July to 24 October. Reuters”We are thrilled to continue to make air travel more affordable and accessible for more Indians than ever before, with our new unbelievable offer: the ‘Cheaper Than Train Fares’ sale. Fares for this offer are lower than AC train fares on many routes, and cheaper than non-AC sleeper class trains on several routes.” Chief Commercial Officer Kaneswaran Avili said in a press release.SpiceJet’s Chief Operating Officer Sanjiv Kapoor noted that in a bid to get its planes to operate at full load, the company is offering rates that are lower than train fares.”These are seats that would otherwise go empty and be lost forever, and are priced based on the marginal cost of carrying an extra passenger, not on the average cost. Revenues from such offers contribute incremental revenue for the airline that flows directly to the bottom line”, he added.SpiceJet shares were trading at ₹20.05, a rise of ₹0.05 or 0.25 per cent at the time this story was written – 11:19 a.m.
AP/John L MoneDennysse Vadell sits between her daughters Veronica, right, and Cristina holding a digital photograph of father and husband Tomeu who is currently jailed in Venezuela, in Katy, Texas, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. Tomeu Vadell is one of six executives from Houston-based Citgo who has spent 15 months jailed in Venezuela on what their families say are trumped-up corruption charges.A faint voice comes through the crackled phone line. On the other end, Tomeu Vadell, speaking from a military counterintelligence prison in Venezuela’s capital, asks his daughters in Louisiana whether they’ve gone to church and says he plans to spend his Sunday doing pushups to keep his body and spirit intact.The call ends abruptly after two minutes, leaving Cristina and Veronica Vadell wondering when they’ll next hear from their dad, who along with five other executives from Houston-based Citgo has spent 15 months jailed in Venezuela on what their families say are trumped-up corruption charges“He always tells us they can take away his freedom but never his dignity,” said 27-year-old Cristina, who has followed in her father’s footsteps and is an oil engineer in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she has lived most of her life.As the Trump administration plunges ahead in its effort to unseat Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the fate of the executives — five of them, like Vadell, American citizens with deep roots in Louisiana and Texas — lies in the balance. As does that of the American company they worked for, Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-run oil giant PDVSA, and a major prize in the power struggle between Maduro and a rival the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s rightful leader: Juan Guaido.The families of the so-called Citgo 6 complain the men are being held in inhumane conditions, sharing overcrowded basement cells built for 22 people with nearly four times that number of inmates. They say the crowded conditions require the men to sometimes sleep on the floor and go without access to fresh air or sunlight for weeks.Vadell’s family says he has lost more than 60 pounds due to malnutrition. In a photo snapped clandestinely with a cellphone last month and provided to The Associated Press, he looks like a prisoner of war with sunken eyes and cheeks, a green army jumpsuit hanging from his gaunt frame.Cristina Vadell via AP, left, and AP photo, rightThis photo combo shows Citgo executive Tomeu Vadell at his home in Lake Charles, Louisiana in July 2015, left, and three and a half years later while in confinement in a Venezuelan jail in January 2019. Vadell’s family says he’s lost more than 60 pounds due to malnutrition since he and five other Citgo employees were arrested, for alleged embezzlement and treason, during a meeting at Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA the weekend before Thanksgiving in 2017. The photo at left was provided by Tomeu’s daughter Cristina, and the photo at right was obtained by The Associated Press.Their case shows no sign of advancing. A preliminary hearing has been postponed 12 times for little apparent reason, leaving the families to question whether their loved ones are being held as pawns in a high-stakes political negotiation. The next hearing date is Wednesday.“The situation, as volatile as it is now, brings more uncertainty,” said Cristina Vadell. “We can’t predict the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen. But I do know my father is staying strong for us and we aren’t going to give up until we bring him home.”The families’ saga began the weekend before Thanksgiving in 2017, when Vadell and the other executives got a call from Nelson Martinez, then head of PDVSA, asking that they travel to Caracas for a last-minute budget meeting.The group flew out on a corporate jet. They included Vadell, vice president of refining; Gustavo Cardenas, head of strategic shareholder relations as well as government and public affairs; Jorge Toledo, vice president of supply and marketing; Alirio Zambrano, vice president and general manager of Citgo’s Corpus Christi refinery; Jose Luis Zambrano, vice president of shared services; and Jose Angel Pereira, the president of Citgo.What happened next upended the families’ serene lives. A group of armed and masked security agents rushed into a PDVSA conference room and arrested all six executives. Hours later, Maduro’s attorney general appeared on state TV announcing charges of embezzlement stemming from a proposal to refinance some $4 billion in Citgo bonds by offering up a 50 percent stake in the company as collateral.“On Monday he left and he was supposed to come back Tuesday,” said Vadell’s wife, Dennysse. “He went into a meeting and never came back.”AP/John L MoneWearing T-shirts with the message “Free the Citgo 6,” the Vadell family poses for a photo in Katy, Texas, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. From left are Hayes Weggeman, his wife Veronica Vadell, his mother-in-law Dennysse Vadell and sister-in-law Cristina Vadell. Dennysse’s husband and her daughter’s father Tomeu, a Citgo executive, has spent 15 months jailed in Venezuela along with five other Citgo executives on what their families say are trumped-up corruption charges.Then Maduro himself accused them of “treason,” though they have not been charged with that crime.The arrests kicked off a purge inside Venezuela’s oil industry that a few days later saw Martinez, the PDVSA head, and a former oil minister among dozens others jailed. In Martinez’s place, Asdrubal Chavez, a cousin of the late President Hugo Chavez and close ally of Maduro, was named Citgo president. In December, Martinez died in state custody, further alarming the families of the Citgo employees.Citgo, which controls about 4 percent of the U.S.’ refining capacity, has provided almost no support to the jailed executives despite an indemnity agreement that obligates it to act on the men’s behalf, according to a current Citgo employee speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of being punished by the company. In the ensuing months, Citgo also terminated their pay, the employee said.“The only communication I had with Citgo when this happened was they called to tell me not to go to the media and that they were going to every house to pick up the company cars,” said Maria Elena Cardenas, whose husband is among those jailed.Maria Elena Cardenas via AP)In this summer 2016 photo provided by Maria Elena Cardenas shows her, far left, and her husband Gustavo Cardenas, far right, with their children Maria, left, Gus, right, and Sergio, below, as they vacation in Austria. Since Venezuela’s government arrested Gustavo and five other Citgo employees in November 2017 in Caracas, their 18-year-old son Sergio, who suffers from a rare metabolic disease called mucolipidosis, has been having panic attacks and screaming at night for his Dad. Maria fears that he could die before his father’s release.A battle is now raging at Citgo headquarters, the employee said, as a result of U.S. sanctions on PDVSA last month that effectively block American companies from buying Venezuelan oil, diverting any payments into an escrow account controlled by Guaido, who the U.S. and dozens of other countries recognize as Venezuela’s interim president. Most of the employees loyal to Maduro have left, while any reference to PDVSA has been scrubbed from the company’s facilities, along with portraits of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.Maduro has vowed to defend Citgo from seizure, saying it belongs to the Venezuelan people. His attorney general last week filed criminal charges against the new PDVSA and Citgo boards appointed by Guaido.The U.S. is keeping a tight lid on whatever efforts it has undertaken to help the men.American consular officials have been repeatedly denied access to them in jail because the Vienna Convention doesn’t obligate Venezuela to recognize their dual American nationality. U.S. officials have raised concerns in diplomatic notes and meetings with the foreign ministry, said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the case.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, when asked about the case in a Feb. 6 interview with Fox Business Network, said only that “anywhere there is an American who is wrongfully detained, in this case by the thug Maduro, the United States government is incredibly focused on obtaining their release.”Some family members wonder if the U.S. could be doing more.Venezuelan human rights groups don’t include the men among the almost 1,000 people classified as political prisoners, and the hushed approach contrasts with the very public diplomatic push that secured the release last year of Joshua Holt, a Utah man who was held for more than two years in a Caracas jail on weapons charges that were also seen as bogus. A Venezuelan official who regularly fielded U.S. complaints in the Holt case said Americans have been largely silent with regard to the Citgo employees. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak to the press.“We are grateful for the people who continue to help us, but we’re not convinced the U.S. government is taking these Americans into account when making policy toward Venezuela,” said Veronica Vadell.For Maria Elena Cardenas time is running out.Her 18-year-old son, Sergio, suffers from a rare metabolic disease that has stunted his physical growth. Since his father’s arrest, he has been having panic attacks and screaming at night. The two traveled to Caracas recently at great risk to Sergio’s health for a two-hour jailhouse visit to calm the teen’s nerves.“He shouldn’t be in jail. He should be home with his us, his family,” the younger Cardenas said, his voice quivering with emotion. “He’s the bravest person I’ve ever known. He’s the greatest father in the world.” Share
Crescent-shaped beaches dusted with talcum powder-like sand; uninhabited tropical islands, lush impenetrable jungles bristling with unique wildlife, the thrusting soaring capital of Manila, historic cities, a diverse local cuisine and culture …the Philippines has all this and more. Go there and discover some of the 7,107 islands of this vibrant archipelago where English is widely spoken, the people are fun loving and life moves to a lilting beat.Philippines is all set to become the ultimate destination for Indian travellers in 2015 with the launch of Department of Tourism’s Visit the Philippines Year 2015. This was announced at a press conference organised by the ministry of tourism, Philippines, at the Philippines embassy in the Capital on January 29. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The Philippines recorded a growth of 15 % during the first 10 months over the same period in 2013. With 2015 being declared as Visit the Philippines Year a rise of 20% has been targeted for outbound increase from India, this year. The Department of Tourism (DOT) hopes to inspire 10 million foreign tourists to discover, explore and fall in love with the Philippines. After promoting destinations like Manila, Boracay, Cebu, Bohol in the Indian market, (DOT) Philippines is looking at introducing new destinations like Palawan, Clark and Davao among Indian travellers. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflix“What will truly sustain Visit the Philippines Year 2015 campaign are the people themselves. I urge the businesses, communities and locals, to play an active part in spreading and amplifying our messages, enticing potential visitors to come visit our shores,” said Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.On this, Benito C. Bengzon, Jr, Undersecretary for Tourism Development, Philippines stated, “2015 will be celebrated as Visit the Philippines Year; it is an invitation to all to partake the enduring promise of more fun in the Philippines, 2015. It features a calendar of events and activities that are an exciting mix of parades, concerts, feasts and sports tournaments. India’s growing outbound tourist markets are an important source of visitors to the Philippines. We will convert all the opportunities to leverage our tourism product and leave no stone unturned.”
Kolkata: In view of monsoon the Kolkata Municipal Corporation has intensified its anti-dengue drive.A drive was carried out in ward No. 109 in Jadavpur. Besides senior officials of Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s health department, officials of the Sewage and Drainage, Park and Square, Building, Solid Waste management departments were present in the drive. The KMC officials are cleaning the water bodies that have not been touched for decades. The water serves as the mosquito breeding ground. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataThe Kolkata Municipal Corporation has identified 20 vulnerable wards like 1,6,14,36,79,82,81,107,108,109, 131 and 132 among others. Special drives are being carried on the roads where Dengue cases had been detected in 2018. Senior civic officials said so far no Dengue cases had been reported from these areas in 2019. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation had started anti Dengue drive in February. The drives have been divided into three phases. The first phase that started in February will continue till June. The second phase will start from July and end in October. The third phase will be conducted in November and December. A round up phase will be conducted in January and February 2020. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateThe Kolkata Municipal Corporation had launched a massive awareness campaign in January when 144 rallies were held throughout the city. The main rally was held at Kolkata Municipal Corporation headquarters. It was led by the Mayor Firhad Hakim. People from all walks of life took part in the rally. Senior civic officials said to combat dengue, public awareness is urgently required. They said that people have been asked to clean the containers which are used to store water at least once in a week. But in many cases the house owners refuse to do so. In many buildings the covers of overhead tanks and underground reservoirs are not in proper place. The house owners also do not clean the water of flower vase once a week. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation teams are visiting the houses and inspecting the overhead tanks and under ground reservoirs and whether the garbage has been cleaned regularly or not. The teams are also visiting the offices, hospitals and housing complexes managed by the state and central governments.