Troll's Blog

Troll's Blog

Thursday, February 26, 2004

India's private carriers fly to Sri Lanka

NEW DELHI, India (Reuters) -- India's private airlines can begin flying to neighboring Sri Lanka under a new policy, the civil aviation minister said, breaking a decades-old monopoly of state-owned carriers over international routes.

Guidelines allowing private carriers to fly to the south Asian nation had been issued by the industry regulator following government approval of the new policy in January, Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters at an industry seminar.

"The director general of civil aviation has already issued orders. The private domestic scheduled operators (airlines) can start operations any day," Rudy said.

Until now, only two Indian state-run carriers were allowed to fly on lucrative international routes, but in January the cabinet approved a proposal allowing private airlines to fly to six countries of a regional South Asian group.

The policy also needs approval of other governments, Rudy said.

"As for now, it is only Sri Lanka which has made the offer and permission has been granted for Sri Lanka," he said.

For years, India's aviation industry was a monopoly of international flag carrier Air-India Ltd and the mostly domestic Indian Airlines Ltd.

But the government threw open the industry to private companies as part of an economic liberalization plan.

More than a decade later, Jet Airways and Air Sahara, India's two main private carriers, have more than half the share of the domestic air travel market helped by their younger fleet.

Both are keen to begin flying to Sri Lanka.

Rudy said another plan to allow private airlines to fly to countries outside the South Asian region would be considered afresh by a new government after national elections this year.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Democratic battle turns into two-man race

The Democratic race for the White House turned largely into a two-man matchup Wednesday with Howard Dean's withdrawal from the field, leaving John Kerry and John Edwards battling for delegates as more state contests loom.

Kerry added to his growing list of state victories with a win in Wisconsin Tuesday, but Edwards claimed new momentum with his surprisingly strong second-place showing in that contest.

Following his distant third-place finish in Wisconsin, Dean, the former governor of Vermont who had galvanized the Democratic base with his insurgent campaign, threw in the towel, even as he vowed to "transform the Democratic Party" through a new organization.

Dean made no endorsement Wednesday, but vowed to support whoever emerged as the Democratic nominee and help to defeat President Bush in November.

Aides said Dean was mulling the possibility of an endorsement. He has been complimentary of Edwards lately on the campaign trail and he has had a chilly relationship with Kerry. But Dean aides cautioned that no decision has been made on who Dean might support.

Edwards said he would continue to focus on a key issue that exit polls showed helped him gain a last-minute surge among Wisconsin voters: trade.

"Senator Kerry supported NAFTA and other trade agreements," Edwards told CNN. "I was against NAFTA and some of the trade agreements that he was for, and I think they've cost us millions of jobs. And I think voters need to see the difference in our views on what needs to be done about trade and how trade can work for America and American workers."

Kerry, who has served in the Senate since 1985, struck back at the one-term senator in comments to reporters on the campaign trail in Dayton, Ohio, part of the upcoming "Super Tuesday" lineup.

"We have the same policy on trade, exactly the same policy. He voted for the China Trade Agreement; so did I. And we both want to have labor agreements and environment agreements as part of any trade deal. So it's the exact same policy." As for Edwards' stance on NAFTA, Kerry said, "Well, he wasn't in the Senate back then. I don't know where he registered his vote, but he wasn't in the Senate."

'Super Tuesday'
The two men are battling for votes in Hawaii, Idaho, and Utah, which hold nominating contests next Tuesday, but they're putting more focus into the following week, when voters in 10 states will make their choices on "Super Tuesday."

A total of 1,151 delegates will be picked March 2 in 10 states, including such electoral prizes as California, New York, Ohio and Georgia.

Kerry took aim at Bush in Ohio, saying that the president's budget proposal would cost the state $1.1 billion. He said tax cuts aimed at higher-income families should be rolled back with the money invested in "education, health care, cities and the future of our country."

Edwards, meanwhile, touted the support he won among independents in Tuesday's primary. They were allowed to cast a Democratic ballot Tuesday in Wisconsin, and they broke for Edwards by better than a 10-point margin.

"I would be the strongest candidate against George Bush because we have to get those people to win against George Bush in the fall," Edwards told CNN.

Edwards had no campaign events scheduled, but was traveling to New York, where he hopes to make a splash come Super Tuesday. He plans to visit the state five times in the next five days, and also has trips scheduled to Ohio, Georgia, Minnesota, and California.

"We always planned to go into March 2nd, and now we do so with wind on our backs," said Edwards' communications director, David Ginsberg.

Kerry's campaign sought to downplay Edwards' upward mobility, arguing that a win is a win -- and noting that Kerry has won all but two contests so far in the primary season.

In winning 16 of 18 contests held so far, Kerry has secured slightly more than a quarter of the 2,161 delegates he needs to win his party's White House nomination.

But enough delegates remain uncommitted to give either candidate a shot at the nomination in July.

Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio remain in the race, but neither man has picked up a single primary or caucus win, and both are trailing badly in the polls.


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