Sunday, September 19, 2021

Jet Airways’ second innings may be a lot different from the first

India’s long-grounded airline, Jet Airways, could resume operations by the end of the first quarter of 2022, its new owners say.

In its second innings, following its bankruptcy in 2019, the country’s oldest private airline is set to fly again, first on major domestic routes, and then to foreign destinations by the second half of 2022. Jet’s first-ever flight since April 2019 will be from New Delhi to Mumbai, the company said in a press release on September 13.

“Jet Airways 2.0 aims at restarting domestic operations by Q1-2022, and short-haul international operations by Q3/Q4 2022,” said UAE-based entrepreneur Murari Lal Jalan, lead member of the London-based Jalan Kalrock Consortium and the proposed non-executive chairman of Jet Airways. Before the airline shut operations in 2019, it operated 600 domestic and 380 international routes.

Jet Airways ceased operations in April 2019 due to a massive financial crunch, and now, with its comeback in 2022, the airline will become the first-ever Indian carrier to be revived under the bankruptcy law.

Jet will now be headquartered in the greater Delhi metro region instead of Mumbai.

The new senior management of the airline will be working from its corporate office in Gurugram. However, the airline will continue to have a significant presence in Mumbai, where it has a “state-of-the-art” training centre, according to its acting CEO Sudhir Gaur.

In terms of planes, the airline will lease an all narrow-body aircraft fleet to restart its domestic operations. The airline says it is aiming to lease more than 50 aircraft in the next three years and more than 100 in five years to fulfil both its short-term and long-term business plans.

Earlier in June, Ashish Chhawchharia, head of restructuring services at Grant Thornton Advisory, which was appointed by the Kalrock-Jalan consortium, said the airline will initially operate on 20 routes, with 20 narrow-body aircraft and five wide-bodied planes. Since then, the consortium has been working closely with the relevant authorities and airport coordinators on slot allocation, required airport infrastructure, and night parking.

19/09/21 Niharika Sharma,

Aviation Ministry increases airlines passenger capacity to 85% of pre-Covid domestic flights

New Delhi: The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Saturday increased the passenger capacity of airlines from 72.5 percent to 85 percent of their pre-Covid domestic flights.

The order released by the Aviation ministry also stated that the fare band will only be applicable for 15 days and that the airlines are not required to stick to the fare band for the remaining 15 days of the month.

India had imposed lower and upper limits on airfares based on flight duration when services were resumed on May 25, 2020, after a two-month Covid-triggered lockdown.

The lower caps were imposed to help the airlines that have been struggling financially due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions. The upper caps were imposed so that passengers are not charged huge amounts when the demand for seats is high. Domestic air travel became costlier on August 12 this year as the Civil Aviation Ministry had raised the lower as well as upper caps on fares by 9.83 to 12.82 percent.

Between July 5 and August 12, the cap stood at 65 percent. Between June 1 and July 5, the cap was at 50 percent. The ministry issued a fresh order on Saturday, in which it modified the August 12 order stating that "72.5 percent capacity may be read as 85 percent capacity". 

Saturday's order also noted that the 72.5 percent cap on passenger capacity will remain in place "until further order".

When the government had resumed the scheduled domestic flights on May 25 last year after a two-month break, the ministry had allowed the carriers to operate not more than 33 percent of their pre-Covid domestic services.

The cap was gradually increased to 80 percent by December. The 80 percent cap remained in place till June 1.

18/09/21 India TV

Domestic flyers: Now, get low airfares on booking 16 days before date of travel and Govt allows more flights

New Delhi: You will now be able to get domestic air tickets at lower rates for travel beyond 15 days of booking. Fare bands will now apply to domestic tickets booked within 15 days of travel, instead of 30 earlier.

And airlines can now operate more domestic flights — upto 85% of their pre-pandemic capacity instead of the earlier 72.5%. This is the maximum capacity deployment allowed during the pandemic as before the second wave, the allowed highest domestic capacity was 80%. The winter schedule comes into force next month end and the industry is hoping that if Covid remains under control with steady rising vaccination numbers, airlines may be allowed to return completely to pre-Covid domestic capacity.

The aviation ministry on Saturday allowed airlines to sell domestic tickets based on market forces of demand and supply — without adhering to fare bands — for travel beyond 15 days. This means, a person booking on October 1 can book a ticket for travel after October 15 (15 days from date of booking) can be offered rates by airlines that are lower than the prescribed minimum for that domestic route as also higher than the allowed maximum under the fare bands. Called rolling fares bands, the earlier time period was 30 days which has now been cut by half to 15.

This also means that fare bands put in place last May when domestic flights were allowed to resume after a two-month suspension during the lockdown, will continue for some time. Now that there is no date till when fare bands ramein in force and with rolling fare bands in place, the same shall remain applicable till the government withdraws the same.

Senior airlines industry officials expect fare bands to remain in place till 100% of pre-domestic capacity is allowed, something that may happen when the winter schedule gets effective next month end.

Low cost carriers account for almost 80% of domestic air travel. The thumb rule for budget flyers, in pre-Covid times, was book early and get low fares. And closer to date of travel, spot fares rise. This way airlines get cash flow and early birds get low fares. The shorter window for which domestic fare bands are applicable will allow airlines to offer lower than the minimum fares for not so early birds. “There will be more bookings as people can be offered lower fares and airlines can get cash flow to sustain operations during these tough times,” said an official.

18/09/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Govt allows airlines to operate more flights; halves fare cap period

India’s aviation regulator allowed airlines to deploy 85% of their capacity up from 72.5% and halved the fare cap period to 15 days from booking a ticket.

The higher flight capacity limit will help airlines introduce more flights as demand for domestic travel rises ahead of the festive season comprising Durga Puja and Diwali.

Only financially beleaguered carriers SpiceJet and GoAir are said to to be in favour of restrictions on flights as they have limited cash to fly all their planes.

The other carriers, especially IndiGo, are in favour of a full relaxation (ie to be allowed to operate 100% of their pre-Covid flight schedule) due to the increase in demand for travel. Domestic traffic in August increased 34% compared to July, according to figures from the ministry of civil aviation.

Several aircraft are grounded due to non-payment of dues to aircraft lessors. Allowance to deploy full capacity would mean the stronger carriers such as IndiGo garner even higher share of the market.

A higher market share would also mean higher pricing power to the stronger carriers. Hence the fare caps help the weaker ones.

The latest notification from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation means that a person booking 15 days out will find fares that are within an upper and lower limit. Someone booking on September 20th will find the fare caps on flights till October 4. Beyond that there will be no caps. Similarly, a person booking on September 21 will find caps till October 5. This will regulate last minute fares that usually have the propensity to spurt the most.

18/09/21 Economic Times

Lower, upper limits on airfares to remain for 15 days at any given time: Aviation Ministry

The lower and upper limits on airfares will remain for 15 days at any given time and the airlines will be free to charge without any limits from the 16th day onwards, the Civil Aviation Ministry stated on Saturday.

Since August 12 this year, this roll-over period was of 30 days and the airlines have been charging without limits from 31st day onwards.

In a fresh order issued on Saturday, the Civil Aviation Ministry explained the change in rule: "If the current date is 20th September, then the fare band shall be applicable till 4th October. Any booking done on 20th September for travel on or after 5th October shall not be controlled by fare bands."

"On the following day, that is, if the current date is 21st September, then the fare band shall be in force till 5th October and for travel on or after 6th October, the fare bands shall not be applicable," the order mentioned.

So, the fare bands will shift by a day every day, it added.

India had imposed lower and upper limits on airfares based on flight duration when services were resumed on May 25, 2020, after a two-month Covid-triggered lockdown.

The lower caps were imposed to help the airlines that have been struggling financially due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions. The upper caps were imposed so that passengers are not charged huge amounts when the demand for seats is high.

Domestic air travel became costlier on August 12 this year as the Civil Aviation Ministry had raised the lower as well as upper caps on fares by 9.83 to 12.82 per cent.

For example, the ministry on August 12 increased the lower limit for flights under 40 minutes of duration from Rs 2,600 to Rs 2,900 -- an increase of 11.53 per cent. The upper cap for flights under 40 minutes of duration was increased by 12.82 per cent to Rs 8,800.

18/09/21 PTI/Business

Everything To Know About The Real-Life Hijacking That Inspired Akshay Kumar's 'Bell Bottom'

Akshay Kumar starrer Bell Bottom has been making waves ever since the trailer released and people were blown away by Lara Dutta's amazing transformation into former PM, Indira Gandhi.

The film is a fictionalized account of the 1980s hijackings carried out by the Khalistani separatists. Between 1981 to 1984, multiple airlines flying from India were hijacked, mostly by Khalistani separatists and militants. 

Bell Bottom primarily focuses on the August 1984 hijacking, though it takes inspiration from the other events as well, such as the August 1982 hijacking, where a police officer disguised as a pilot boarded the flight and overpowered the hijackers with the help of the passengers. 

Just over a month after Indian Airlines jet IC 405 was hijacked, on August 24, 1984, a group of seven hijackers took over Indian Airlines jetliner IC 421, flying from Delhi to Srinagar. The flight was diverted from Srinagar, India to Lahore, Pakistan. 

Though reports over the exact number of passengers differ, Aviation Safety Network lists 74 occupants, and zero casualties. 

However, the passengers and crew were trapped on board for over 36 hours, from the time the hijackers, all in their 20s, stormed into the cockpit to the time they surrendered (to authorities in Dubai). At the time, it was the longest hijack in Indian aviation history. 

Though it ended with zero casualties, what transpired between those 36 hours was one tough ordeal. As per an India Today exclusive report, the militants were initially armed with only a Kirpan (small sword), but somehow acquired a pistol when the flight was grounded in Lahore, Pakistan. 

The pistol emboldened the hijackers to further threaten the pilot, Captain V.K. Mehta, to fly according to their demands.

Originally, the hijackers wanted to land in the USA. But they ultimately landed in Dubai, where they surrendered to the UAE authorities after 14-hour-long negotiations. 

But for the longest time, the Dubai airport authority did not provide the aircraft permission to land forcing air hostess Rita Singh to address the passengers and prepare them for the possibility of the aircraft landing in the sea. However, at the last moment, they received permission from the Dubai authorities to land. And then the negotiations started, even as the plane remained grounded in the scorching heat. 

During the negotiations, the hijackers even threatened to kill a passenger every half hour, and chose K. Subrahmanyam, director of the Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, to relay this information to the authorities. Apparently, he was told that he would be the first victim. 

However, after intense negotiations, the hijackers relented, apparently when they were promised safe passage to the US. Soon, the passengers and crew were allowed to leave the flight, and the hijackers were transported to an undisclosed location in a white van. Later, the hijackers were extradited to India by UAE. 

At the time, it was through the collaborative efforts of both, the Indian and UAE authorities, that the hijacking ended with no casualties. However, at present, the film's release has reportedly been banned in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, allegedly for historical inaccuracy. 

18/09/21 Srishti Magan/ScoopWhoop

Mumbai seems to have lost the aviation game completely

The last few days have been fast-moving in Indian aviation, with the 100-day plan by the civil aviation ministry, followed by SpiceJet doing a second commercial settlement with a lessor, and the mid-week deadline for Air India’s financial bids.

To add to this, Jet Airways, now a company of the Jalan Kalrock Consortium, said that it plans to start operations in Q1 of 2022 even as it lays out plans for the first flight (New Delhi - Mumbai) and holds discussions with airports and lessors for slots, night parking and planes.

The most interesting aspect is that its new headquarters is in Gurugram, and it will continue to maintain its office in Kurla, Mumbai.

Over the last many years, the aviation industry has slowly shifted out of Mumbai. There are more reasons than one for the same. With this move by Jet Airways, Go First is the only airline which will remain headquartered in Mumbai (though its registered address is New Delhi). Mumbai once had Kingfisher Airlines, Jet Airways and Go Air, along with national carrier Air India.

As India opened up civil aviation in the early 1990s, a spate of new airlines came up. They included Jet Airways, Air Sahara, ModiLuft, NEPC and Damania. Their headquarters were split between Mumbai, then the largest airport in the country, and Delhi, the largest metropolitan region in the country.

The first phase was short-lived, with Jet Airways and Air Sahara surviving for the longer run. East West Airlines had its headquarters at Thiruvananthapuram and NEPC at Chennai.

Soon, the second phase started when Bengaluru got its first airline - Air Deccan, the country’s first low-cost carrier (LCC). It was headquartered at Bengaluru. The second phase saw Go Air (Mumbai), IndiGo (Gurugram), SpiceJet (erstwhile ModiLuft, continued with Gurugram), and Kingfisher Airlines (Mumbai) taking off.

Slowly, but surely, the shift had started taking place.

The airlines which came up later may not have survived for long, but most were based out of Delhi NCR. They include Air Mantra, Indus Air, MDLR and Zoom Air. None of them succeeded and so was the case of the airlines which sprung up across the country - be it Air Costa based out of VIjayawada, Air Pegasus in Bengaluru, Air Carnival in Coimbatore, Paramount in Chennai or Air Pegasus in Bhubaneshwar.

19/09/21 Ameya Joshi/Moneycontrol

2 flights to Kuwait launched from Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad: Signalling a revival in travel, two new flights to Kuwait were launched recently from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport in Ahmedabad. These include two flights a week by each of Air India and Kuwait Airlines, confirmed airport sources.

These apart, a domestic flight to Indore also started operations recently by TruJet airline, according to the source. A month ago, at least five new flights, among others, began operations from the SVPI airport. These include flights to Delhi, Chennai, Kolhapur, Mumbai and Goa.

Flights operations to London resumed as part of the air bubble agreement. While Dubai-bound flights were the first international operations to resume, an additional flight were recently added along the sector.

Airport sources also said that another flight along the Ahmedabad-Pune flight is expected to start in the days to come. “As passenger footfalls are improving at the city airport, preference for domestic travel is going up. Therefore, airlines are more bullish on increasing frequency on existing sectors or adding more flights on newer sectors where demand is cropping up,” said a source.

According to travel agents and tour operators, both corporate and leisure travel has improved. “Corporate movement is gradually picking up and the bookings are good for leisure travel as well. With this, demand for air travel has gone up and therefore, more flights may be added,” said Manish Sharma, president, Travel Agents’ Federation of India (TAFI) – Gujarat.

19/09/21 Times of India

Boxing star Amir Khan 'kicked off' flight for complaint on face mask

Amir Khan, the former boxing world champion, has revealed that he was removed from his flight after receiving a complaint about his friend's face mask on Saturday.

Khan posted a video on his official Twitter profile, saying that he was travelling to Colorado from New York to begin the training camp ahead of his next fight.

"I was taken off the plane today when I was going to training camp in Colorado Springs by police," said the star boxer.

"A complaint was made by American Airlines staff, they said my colleague's mask was not high enough and not up, that they had to stop the plane and take me and my friend off when I did nothing wrong.

"They kicked us both off. I was sat at 1A and he was sat in 1B. I find it disgusting and disrespectful, I was supposed to go to Colorado Springs for a training camp and now I'm back in New York for another day and I have to reschedule another plane to travel back to training camp."

The American Airlines, in response to the incident, has clarified that Khan and his friend had refused to comply with several requests and that there was no option but to ask them to leave the aircraft.

19/09/21 India TV

Air India flight develops technical snag on runway

Bengaluru: A New Delhi-bound Air India flight scheduled to take off at 10.25 a.m. from Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) developed a technical snag on the runway Saturday morning.

Mahendra Kumar Joshi, one of the passengers on the plane, claimed they were made to sit onboard for nearly two and a half hours with no clear information on alternate arrangements. “Many passengers had planned their travel as a stop over at Delhi to catch other flights to Srinagar, the North East and other international destinations, so they were very upset,” he said.

The second runway at KIA was used to operate other flights due to this issue. “On September 18, a Delhi-bound Air India flight developed a technical issue while taxiing to the runway at the airport. There was no impact on the operations as South Runway was used to ensure smooth operations,” said a BIAL spokesperson.

According to an Air India spokesperson, the snag was fixed and the same aircraft flew to New Delhi with the passengers at 3.45 p.m.

19/09/21 The Hindu

Amol Muzumdar saves Mumbai team from being de-boarded, pays excess baggage charge at Muscat airport

Eight-time Ranji trophy champion with the Mumbai team, domestic cricket stalwart Amol Muzumdar saved his team from being embarrassed when they were under a threat of being deboarded from an Air India flight heading to Mumbai from Muscat owing to excess baggage.

Muzumdar, who bailed his team out of trouble innumerable times during his playing days, ensured to be their talisman off the field as he paid off 800 Riyal as excess bag charges to the airport authorities before the team was cleared to board the flight. Apart from Muzumdar, Arman Mallick, Mumbai’s team manager, advanced the remaining 200 Riyal.

“The MCA Apex Council has decided to reimburse both Muzumdar and Mallick,” a source in MCA told TOI on Thursday.

Mallick, in an email directed to MCA’s Apex Council, wrote: “Our team had excess baggage while on tour to Oman, but in Mumbai, Mr Satish Samant helped us to clear it without paying a single rupee. At the time of return, our team had the same problem of extra excess weight of 165kg. Ignoring our request, the Airport Air India Oman authority (showed the) guidelines to deboard the whole team from the flight,” TOI reported.

“Then I called CS Nayak (Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) Executive secretary) and Sanjay Naik (MCA secretary) for their help and advice. Both instructed me to pay the money (excess baggage charge) which was 1000 Omani riyal and board the flight. Since no one had such a big amount, Muzumdar withdrew 800 riyals, and I had 200 riyals. We paid the excess baggage amount. Therefore, it’s requested to look into the matter and do the needful.”

18/09/21 CricTracker

Indian Air Force signs deal with French Air Force to purchase phased out Mirage aircraft

In a step that will help in sustaining its fleet of Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has signed a contract to buy phased out Mirages of the French Air Force, as per government sources.

This is the second such agreement that the Indian Air Force has signed for buying okayed airframes that will help one of the most potent aircraft fleets to continue for longer in service.

"A squadron of the French Mirage jets had been phased out some time ago. On August 31, a contract was signed for acquiring these phased-out planes to improve the spares and airframe capability to help improve the serviceability of the around 50 Mirage-2000s in the Indian fleet," government sources said.

None of these aircraft would be used for flying, sources said. The aircraft would be supplied in containers to the Indian Air Force.

Earlier also, India had signed a contract with French companies for supplying old Mirages which reached Gwalior last year and have helped in significantly improving operational availability, the sources said.

The French Air Force has been replacing its old fleet of Mirages with new Rafale fighter jets.

India had acquired these aircraft from France in the 1980s and they have been one of the most potent fleets of aircraft despite being over three decades old.

The aircraft had taken part in the Balakot airstrikes against terrorist camps in Pakistan and destroyed a camp there. The aircraft had fired their Spice-2000 bombs accurately to take out targets deep inside Pakistan territory.

18/09/21 ANI/Economic Times

Pakistan drone spotted by BSF in Punjab's Dera Baba Nanak

Border Security Force (BSF) jawans spotted another drone in close proximity near the India-Pakistan border at Dera Baba Nanak of Punjab's Gurdaspur district on Thursday, according to sources in the paramilitary force.

The BSF sources told ANI that the drone was observed between 8.30 p.m. to 8.40 p.m on Thursday across the Internation Border (IB) fence.

"The drone returned soon after the BSF troops deployed at the border fired more than two rounds of bullets targeting the object," sources said.

Soon after the incident, a senior BSF official said that an alert was issued and a search operation was conducted near Dera Baba Nanak (DBN) check post.

The flying object had a blinking red and yellow light and was seen flying over at a height of approximately 400 metres above the ground, said the officer, adding "It was spotted by the BSF troops for a few seconds".

The officer stated that the drone intrusion bid foiled by BSF troops was indicative of alertness and swift retaliatory action by the force on a drone intrusion from the Pakistan side.

18/09/21 WebIndia123

Anti-hijack drill conducted at Coimbatore airport

Coimbatore: An anti-hijack drill was conducted at the Coimbatore International Airport on Friday to check security preparedness.

Officials and staff from various departments and airlines took part in the exercise which started at 8 a.m.

As per the procedures for conducting the drill, the aerodrome committee was activated. The committee assembled at the anti-hijack control room set up at the airport. Coimbatore City Police Commissioner Deepak M. Damor, who is the chairman of the committee, supervised the exercise.

According to officials with the Airport Authority of India (AAI), the drill was attended by all airlines, staff from the Intelligence Bureau, police, immigration department and the Central Industrial Security Force, which is in charge of the security at the airport. Various stakeholders of the AAI also took part in the exercise which lasted for an hour.

As part of the drill, a situation of security breach was staged at the airport. Armed CISF personnel, with the coordination of anti-hijack control room, foiled the hijacking attempt and secured persons who posed as intruders in the drill.

18/09/21 The Hindu

Company gets aerodrome license for airport in Sindhudurg

Mumbai: IRB Sindhudurg Airport Private Limited, a special purpose vehicle of IRB Infrastructure Developers Limited, has received aerodrome license from the Director General of Civil Aviation. The first greenfield airport at Chipi in Sindhudurg will be inaugurated on October 9.

The aerodrome license will enable the company to open the new aviation facility for airlines and general public, an IRB press release said.

Virendra D Mhaiskar, Chairman and Managing Director of the company, said, “We are very happy to achieve yet another milestone and see the airport receive license to operate after successful completion. With a concession period of over 90 years and compelling regional proposition, it offers meaningful avenues of growth.”

Sindhudurg airport, with a cost outlay of approximately Rs 800 crore and a concession period of above 90 years, is the first of its kind in south Konkan aimed at establishing and enhancing air connectivity of the region with western Maharashtra, southern states and Mumbai and subsequently to all regions.

19/09/21 Indian Express

Hyderabad quickly turning into a drone capital: MoCA official

Hyderabad: Telangana has been the frontrunner in using drone technology and creating an enabling ecosystem for drone companies to succeed and grow, and Hyderabad is quickly turning into a drone capital, said a top Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) official.

Telangana government through its ‘Medicine from the Sky’ initiative, recently rolled out a first-of-its-kind organised drone delivery programme in Asia, with trials in Vikarabad district focusing on laying the drone delivery network that will improve access to healthcare supplies for remote and vulnerable communities. The initiative is supported by the World Economic Forum, NITI Aayog, and HealthNet Global (Apollo Hospitals).

Amber Dubey, joint secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, told Telangana Today, “Hyderabad has the capability not only to compete with other top cities of India but also with China and the western world in the drone space. There are huge opportunities for the city. Hyderabad is quickly turning into a drone capital and there is a lot of government support for the drone industry. Very senior people from the Telangana government have taken part in the recent Vikarabad event, which shows the commitment, vision, and energy to make grassroot-level impact.”

Drones can certainly disrupt the way technology can help sectors such as agriculture to make grassroot impact. Dubey emphasised, drones can help farmers with the necessary data insights on the farm to improve their yield, while drone-based spraying can address health hazards associated with manual fertilizer, insecticide or pesticide spraying. Taking drones to the interiors of India will be a key focus for the governments.

18/09/21 YV Phani Raj/Telangana Today

MP: Daily wager turned sons into pilots, now they plan to give wings to Atmanirbhar Bharat

Bhopal: This family knows how to fly – with its feet on the ground. Daily wager Amritlal, 54, who worked his heart out to put all three of his sons through flight school, is gearing up to take his Class 12 exams while one of his pilot sons perfects a home-built flight simulator.

Today, the family is under a heavy debt of education loans and money they borrowed for studies. A small piece of land they owned is mortgaged with a moneylender. But Amritlal is at peace as his sons have taken over the responsibility of repaying the dues. All three are commercial pilots.

For decades, Amritlal, of Morena district in Madhya Pradesh, moved around looking for odd jobs, sharing his sons’ dreams of being high-flyers. He recently shifted to a rented house in Bhopal along with his eldest son, captain Ajay Singh, 28, who has been working on a DIY simulator for five years.

Unable to fly aeroplanes during the lockdown, Ajay devoted his energy to the simulator cockpit to feed his passion for flying. Flying clubs in the country import such simulators for over Rs 1 crore per unit, but he has built one at a third of the cost, he says.

This is his contribution towards the dream of an Atmanirbhar Bharat, says Ajay.

“This project was not easy. There was a lot of data to study in order to simulate the exact flight characteristics of an aircraft into the simulator, using the hardware I made. The next challenge was to arrange money to buy raw materials, tools and equipment. I am grateful to my parents and brothers, who supported me financially and mentally as well while I worked 16 hours a day,” Ajay said.

He is giving the final touches to his single engine aircraft simulator, which can be “easily converted to simulate a conventional cockpit as well as multi engine airplane cockpit”, he says.

Every part of the simulated cockpit -- knobs, instruments like primary flight display, multi-function display, altimeter, airspeed and attitude indicator, switches and control column – have been made by Ajay and his young brothers, captain Vijay Singh, 26, and flight cadet Deepak Kumar, 22.

Being a Boeing 737-rated pilot, he plans to manufacture a simulator for this plane, followed by an A320 flight simulator. He hopes to take it to another level and begin manufacturing made-in-India flight simulators and drones to reduce dependence on other countries.

“I am happy today that India is on the path of development in drones. Under the leadership of aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, it will reach new heights. I am hopeful that he will support our project intended at the country's security enhancement,” says Ajay, who aims to build military-grade drones.

In 2016, Ajay did a few projects related to surveillance UAVs with the Indian Air Force, and is a DGCA-approved drone instructor. He is still looking for government help for approvals and funds for his flight simulator and the drones which he manufactured in his startup. His next DIY project: India’s first drone simulator.

19/09/21 P Naveen/Times of India

Nepal to sign deal with India for periodic airport checks

The Tourism Ministry has given the green signal to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal to sign a long-term government-to-government deal with India for periodic airport surveillance and radar flight inspections to avoid being possibly forced into contracting unreliable companies amid the endless Covid-19 crisis.

Nepal had recently asked India for help to conduct a flight inspection of the newly installed navigation and communication infrastructure at Bhairahawa international airport as the original contractor has been staying away due to the virus outbreak.

Raj Kumar Chettri, spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, told the Post the authority had also asked the Airport Authority of India whether it could support Nepal in conducting surveillance of navigation and communication infrastructure of all airports, apart from the new airport in Bhairahawa.

“Based on the positive response from India, Nepal decided to engage the Airport Authority of India for at least five years,” he said, adding that the Tourism Ministry had consented to the proposal of Nepal’s civil aviation body.

The project has to be passed by the civil aviation board which the tourism minister chairs. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who also holds the tourism portfolio, is the chairman of the civil aviation body.

“We had an appointment with Prime Minister Deuba for a board meeting this week, but could not meet him due to his busy schedule. Another meeting has been planned,” said Chettri. But the aviation authority is not sure of the date.

Airport surveillance and radar flight inspections have to be conducted every year, but Nepal has not been able to do it for the last two years due to Covid-19.

18/09/21 Sangam Prasain/Kathmandu Post

Gold, electronic goods seized from passenger at Chennai airport

Chennai: Customs officials seized 390 gram of gold and electronic goods worth Rs 22.31 lakh from a passenger at Chennai airport on Friday. The passenger was arrested.

Based on intelligence, a 53-year-old-man, who arrived from Sharjah in an Air Arabia flight (G9-473), was intercepted at the exit by customs air intelligence unit (AIU) officers.

On personal search and examination of the passenger, one gold chain weighing 80 gram was recovered from his pants pocket. A gold bundle weighing 310 gram and worth Rs 16.3 lakh was recovered from his rectum.

Further, electronic goods worth Rs 6 lakh which were not declared by the passenger and carried in his check-in baggage were also recovered. The total value of the seized items is Rs 22.31 lakh. They were seized under the Customs Act ,1962.

18/09/21 Siddharth Prabhakar/Times of India

Kabul bomber was deported by India 5 yrs ago: Magazine with IS links

New Delhi: A magazine known to be associated with the Islamic State has claimed that the suicide bomber who targeted the Kabul airport as it thronged with people seeking to leave last month, killing over 200 people, had been arrested in India five years ago and then deported to Afghanistan.

Identifying the bomber as “Abdur Rahman al-logri”, the pro-IS magazine Sawt-al-Hind (Voice of India) said, “The brother was arrested 5 years ago in India, when he had traveled to Delhi to carry out an Istishadhi (martyrdom) operation on the ciw (cow) worshipping Hindus in revenge for Kashmir.”

The magazine said it was he who was behind the Kabul airport bombing, adding that it had killed 250 people, including 13 Americans and a dozen “apostate” Taliban.

Sources in the Indian security establishment did not confirm or deny the claims made by the magazine. In 2017, the Indian intelligence agencies had deported an Afghan national staying in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi, on suspicions of working for the Islamic State, and the US forces had taken him into custody in Afghanistan.

Hailing the attacker, Sawt-al-Hind said, “… the brother was tested with imprisonment and was deported to Afghanistan… Staying true to his promise to Allah, the brother didn’t go home, rather he carried out his operation, his heart filled with tranquillity and pleasure, we consider him such and Allah is his judge.”

It said that ahead of the US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the Kabul airport had thousands of “Afghani bureaucrats trying to leave with their families, along with traitors and killers of Muslimeen”.

Sources said the interrogation of the Afghan national who had been deported by India in 2017 had led to several anti-IS operations by the US forces in Afghanistan.

19/09/21 Indian Express

Gold worth Rs 22L seized at airport

 Jaipur: The customs department at Jaipur International Airport seized around 450 grams of gold worth Rs 22 lakh from a passenger from Dubai on Saturday. This is the third seizure at the city airport in 10 days.

“Customs officers intercepted a passenger who arrived from Dubai by an Air India morning flight and seized 463gm of gold valued at Rs 22,07,212”, an official said.

The gold was concealed in two solid cylindrical shaped rollers to be used for connecting with the wheels of skating shoes and two solid rods of socket tool kit. The exterior wall of the roller was made of grey-coloured metal and exterior wall of the toolkit was made of solid steel. The gold was so neatly concealed that there was no such joint visible, officials said.

19/09/21 Times of India

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Govt may select successful bidder for Air India in 3 weeks: Report

New Delhi: Final bids for acquiring state-run carrier Air India were recently submitted by Tata Sons and SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh. The government could select the winner of the bid in approximately three weeks, reported Business Standard.

Two high-level committees will decide the reserve price for the national carrier within this period, added the report. This will be one of the final steps in the Air India divestment process, following which the government will plan to complete the transaction by December.

The reserve price of the airline will be decided by an inter-ministerial group (IMG) head by the secretary of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), based on inputs from government-appointed valuers.

“Financial bids for Air India disinvestment received by transaction adviser. The process now moves to the concluding stage,” secretary, DIPAM, tweeted on Wednesday.

Following the IMG’s decision, the Core Group of Secretaries on Divestment (CGD) will take a final call on the reserve price.

As the situation stands, either Tata Sons or SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh will acquire the cash-strapped airline. As mentioned earlier, the government aims to finish the process of selecting the winner of the bid within the next three weeks. Crucial evaluation processes are currently underway.

Once the final reserve price is determined, the proposal will be floated before the Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM), which is heading by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. AISAM members include the finance minister, commerce minister and aviation minister.

While the government wants to stick to the December deadline for completing the entire process, it will depend on whether the government and the winner of the bid are in agreement. It may be noted that the terms and conditions have been finalised with buyers earlier.

17/09/21 India Today

SpiceJet reaches settlement with aircraft lessor CDB Aviation amid financial pressures

Low-cost airline SpiceJet has “commercially agreed” to a settlement over the lease of Boeing MAX aircraft from CDB Aviation, less than three weeks after reaching a similar deal with Avolon, another plane lessor, as it battles the adverse impact of the pandemic and other pressures on its finances.

“This will add to the already announced settlement with Avolon and grow its fleet of 737 MAX aircraft. The airline expects to start operations of MAX aircraft around the end of September 2021, subject to regulatory approvals,” the airline said in a statement.

CDB Aviation’s fleet consists of 379 owned and committed aircraft and its global customer network comprises 72 lessees across 37 jurisdictions. Besides SpiceJet, its clients in India include AirAsia India, GoAir (now GoFirst)  and IndiGo.

The announcement comes within three weeks of an announcement by SpiceJet that it had reached a settlement with Avolon, another major lessor of MAX aircraft, amid speculation over its financial health. The aviation regulator recently lifted a ban on the operation of MAX aircraft clamped following two major plane crashes overseas in 2019.

On August 12, the airline reported a net loss of Rs 729 crore in the first quarter of the financial year, up from a net loss of Rs 593 crore in the year-ago period, as its flights suffered the impact of the second wave of COVID-19 and pricing pressures.

Earlier this month, SpiceJet employees at Delhi airport walked out over alleged non-payment of salaries. In response, an airline spokesperson said, "The issue with a section of SpiceJet employees at  Delhi airport has been resolved and the employees have returned to work. SpiceJet’s flight operations remain normal."

SpiceJet deferred payments to various parties including aircraft lessors and other vendors and its dues to statutory authorities.

“Where determinable, the company has accrued for additional liabilities, if any, on such delays in accordance with contractual terms/applicable laws and regulations and based on necessary estimates and assumptions. However, it is not practically possible to determine the amount of all such costs or any penalties or other similar consequences resulting from contractual or regulatory non-compliance. The management is confident that they will be able to negotiate settlements in order to minimize/avoid any or further penalties. In view of the foregoing, no amounts of such penalties have been recorded in these standalone financial results,” auditor Walker Chandiok &.Co LLP has said.

17/09/21 Ashwini Phadnis/Moneycontrol

Amol Muzumdar, manager bail out Mumbai cricket team at Muscat airport

Mumbai: Even before launching into his maiden domestic season as the Mumbai coach, Amol Muzumdar has chipped in with a 'special knock' for his team. The domestic stalwart, who rescued the Mumbai team many times with his dogged efforts during his playing career, played a vital hand in avoiding some major embarrassment for the side.

Owing to excess baggage of 165kg, the Mumbai senior team, returning from its limited overs tour to Oman, was in danger of being 'deboarded' from its Air India flight to Mumbai, at the Muscat Airport to Mumbai before Muzumdar paid off 800 riyal (Rs 1,51,959) towards excess bag charges to the authorities. The team's manager, Arman Mallick chipped in with the remaining 200 riyal (approximately Rs 38,000).

"The MCA Apex Council has decided to reimburse both Muzumdar and Mallick," a source in MCA told TOI on Thursday.

17/09/21 Gaurav Gupta/Times of India

India's Shefali Juneja elected as first woman chairperson of ICAO Aviation Security Committee- What is ICAO?

India's Shefali Juneja has been elected as the first woman Chairperson of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Aviation Security Committee.  India has taken up the responsibility of the ICAO Aviation Security Committee after a gap of 12 years. 

Shefali Juneja was previously serving as the Joint Secretary in the Civil Aviation Ministry and used to deal with International Agreements between 2012 and 2019. 

•She also served as the chief bilateral air services negotiator for India for six years. During her term, she helped transform bilateral air service negotiations by implementing Open Skies as per the National Civil Aviation Policy 2016.

•She has also previously served as the Board of Director in Alliance Air and Air India Express.

•She had served on several sensitive and challenging assignments in semi-judicial positions and administrative and financial positions as a civil servant before joining the Civil Aviation Ministry. 

•She was a part of the 1992 Indian Revenue Service batch.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a specialized United Nations agency, which is funded by 193 countries to support their diplomacy and cooperation with regards to air transport. Its headquarters is located in Quebec, Canada.

ICAO facilitates planning and development of international air transport for safe growth and defines protocols for air accident investigation, which are followed by transport safety authorities in countries that are signatory to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.

17/09/21 Sangeeta Nair/Jagran Josh

Indian airlines fly high as August passenger traffic surges

Shares of Indian airlines InterGlobe Aviation and SpiceJet surged on Friday after regulatory data showed that passenger growth jumped 136.6% last month as the government started to ease Covid-related travel restrictions.

India had halted air travel in March 2020 as the country went into a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Domestic flights resumed in May 2020, but air travel ever since has had some limitations as the pandemic progressed.

Domestic airlines carried 6.7 million passengers in August,compared with 2.8 million passengers in the year-ago period, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said on Thursday.

InterGlobe Aviation, which runs India's largest airline, IndiGo, extended gains to a fourth session and scaled a record high of ₹2,168.80 on Friday, while shares of SpiceJet rose up to 7.9% to ₹81.9, their highest level in two months.

Passenger load factor, a measure of how much of an airline's passenger carrying capacity has been used, jumped 11.8% for IndiGo and 6.7% for SpiceJet in August from prior month.

17/09/21 Business Line

IndiGo to start Agra-Lucknow flights from October 1

Lucknow: Air service will begin between Agra and Lucknow from October 1. The 4-hour distance can now be covered in an hour by air.

IndiGo will be starting the flight service between Agra and Lucknow.

According to the director of Agra Kheria Airport AA Ansari, the flight will leave from Amausi Airport in Lucknow daily at 2:45 pm and will reach Agra after 1 hour i.e. 3:45 pm. After a 15-minute stop, the flight will leave for Lucknow at 4:00 pm.

The airfare from Agra to Lucknow is Rs 1,999 and Flexi plus fare is Rs 2,314. The service will strengthen the connectivity between Agra and Lucknow which was earlier connected through a six-lane access-controlled Agra-Lucknow expressway.

On the other hand, now direct air service is available from Kanpur to Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi. After Lucknow, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Gorakhpur, and Bareilly, airlines will now be available from Kanpur as well. The service will begin on September 15.

17/09/21 Abhishek Mishra/India Today

Drones come of age in India

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the government has declared its intention to “fix the minimum value addition norm at 40 percent of net sales for drones and drone components instead of 50 percent, another exceptional treatment given to the drone industry…The incentive payable to a manufacturer of drones and drone components shall be simply one-fifth of value addition. PLI for a manufacturer shall be capped at 25 percent of the total annual outlay.”

These sops reflect the faith of the government in India’s budding RPA industry whose annual sales turnover is expected to register a seven-fold growth in the next couple of years.

The RPA industry will become a magnet for large investment while simultaneously creating thousands of jobs in the drone sector in the coming years. Read how >>

Why IAF is opting for 24 second-hand Mirage 2000 fighter jets

In an attempt to strengthen its fleet of fourth-generation fighters, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to acquire 24 second-hand Mirage 2000 fighters, made by Dassault Aviation.

The IAF will also secure parts for its two existing squadrons of the aircraft.

According to a Hindustan Times report, people in the know have said that IAF has initiated a contract worth €27 million with the manufacturer to buy the fighters, eight of which are in ready-to-fly condition.

The report also revealed that these aircraft, which will cost €1.125 million each, will soon be shipped to India in containers.

The Mirage-2000 is undoubtedly one of the IAF's most versatile and deadliest aircraft and it was first commissioned in 1985.

Soon after inducting the Mirage, IAF gave it the name — Vajra — meaning lightning thunderbolt in Sanskrit. It is developed by Dassault Aviation and took its first flight in 1978 and was inducted into the French Air Force in 1984.

India had placed an initial order of 36 single-seater Mirage-2000 and four twin-seater Mirage 2000 in 1982 as an answer to Pakistan buying United States-made F-16 fighter jets by Lockheed Martin.

The Mirage-2000 played a decisive role in the 1999 war of Kargil and turned it in India’s favour.

In 2004, the government placed an additional order of 10 Mirage-2000 planes taking the total tally to 50 jets.

17/09/21 First Post

Goa airport becomes first to install DVOR for safe navigation of flights

Goa: The Goa Airport at Dabolim has become the first airport in India to have installed the latest technology in Doppler Very High-Frequency Omni Range (DVOR ) system for safe navigation of flights.

According to Gagan Malik Airport director, The airport in Goa is the first in India the latest technology in the DVOR systems. This entire project was taken up at an approximate cost of 5 crore, and this is the latest technology in the DVOR systems.

DVOR is a standard International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO). Ground-based radio navigational aid that provides bearing information to aircraft to define air traffic control routes for en-route, terminal and instrument approach/ departure procedures. The DVOR basically gives information on route positions and emits signals to aircraft and this makes the aircraft understand that they are on the right route.

Whenever an aircraft has to land, they have to follow a route procedure and the flight has to position its landing route after coming into the DVOR system and if the flight does not get the DVOR , they will face issues in landing.

Every aircraft in and around the airport or are flying above the airport get confirmation through this system that they are on the right route and the distance specified between them is correctly maintained and this enhances the air safety of aircrafts besides helping them.

17/09/21 Daijiworld

Chennai: AAI gears up to prevent 2015 floods re-run

Chennai: The monsoon is a mere month away and the city airport is readying to prevent strong winds and rain from disrupting flights and preventing flooding of runways and taxiways.

A series of steps are being taken following discussions at a meeting held by the state government with the airport last week to prepare for the monsoon, said a senior official of AAI.

Airport authorities have begun desilting of storm water drains in neighbourhoods adjacent to the airport, while the desilting of Adyar river near the second runway bridge is nearing completion.

A senior official of AAI said that low lying areas near the runways have been levelled, foliage in the basic strip of runways and taxiways have been trimmed. Apart from this, the ground staff and airline staff have been told to fasten light materials and also ground handling equipment like trolleys, pushback vehicles, ladders and others to prevent them from moving astray in strong wind. The staff have been briefed to ensure mooring of small aircraft too.

18/09/21 Times of India

New drone rules greeted with cautious optimism

New rules have kicked in and brought cheer to drone users and companies offering compliance services.

Last month, the central government notified The Drone Rules of 2021, liberalising the ownership and use of drones or Unmanned Automated Vehicles (UAV) in India. They reduce entry barriers by a great deal.

Ruchika Agarwal, co-founder of business management consultancy, Mind Sync, explains the shift. “The number of registrations, licences and compliances have come down from 25 to five, and fees from 72 to four. The fee for a remote pilot licence is down from Rs 3,000 to Rs 100 for all categories of drones.”

As a result, her consultancy has received a dozen enquiries on drone-related compliance from Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Pune lately. “These came mostly from photographers and food startups. One wants to explore the possibility of delivering lunch from home to office,” she shares. Ashwath Salunke can attest to the increase in interest. His company in Malleswaram,

Fly India, customises drones for college projects and also repairs the devices.

“We have received queries from hobbyists, commercial photographers, and businesses who want to fly drones over solar panels in remote areas or above windmills to detect breakdowns,” he says. Likewise, wedding photographer Abhiram Rajan has got calls from construction companies that wanted aerial shots of their sites.

Vlogger Nivedith G is glad he can finally capture a bird’s eye view of Chinnaswamy Stadium, Lalbagh, and Cubbon Park without running around for approvals. “The new policy lets you fly the drones in the green zone (airspace from the ground up till 400 ft high) freely,” he explains.

The previous rules were indeed “draconian” and curtailed creativity and tech innovation, says Ashwath. “After the drone attack in Jammu in July, many people hid their drones and profile photos featuring drones, afraid that the authorities might question them. Air force officials showed up at my office too, asking me what my business was about,” he recalls.

18/09/21 Barkha Kumari/Deccan Herald

IGST on import of aircraft, other goods on lease exempted from double taxation

In a big relief to the airline industry, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, speaking on the outcomes of the just-concluded 45th GST Council meeting today, said Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on the import of aircraft or other goods imported on lease will now be exempted from "double taxation".

"This will facilitate domestic industry and aviation sector, and these will also allow transfer of goods imported under lease without payment of IGST," she added.

Making other announcements, the Finance Minister said transport of export goods by vessels and air has also been exempted from GST. "This was given due to difficulties being faced by exporters for getting Input Tax Credit refund due to technical issues on GST Portal," she said.

The FM said although GST portal is "stable" now, keeping in view the COVID-19 pandemic, this exemption is being extended by one year, which she said will provide benefit to exporters.

17/09/21 BusinessToday.In

Bengaluru Airport Launches Marketing Campaign To Encourage People To Travel

Aimed at establishing itself as a destination versus just being a transit point, Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru has launched a marketing campaign named 'Time to Reconnect.'

According to the official statement, "The campaign focuses on reassuring passengers about safe airport experiences and encourages them to travel and reconnect with their loved ones."

Since the pandemic began, people are missing the social interactions and connections they used to enjoy in the past. These include connecting with their loved ones, impromptu getaways, pre-flight food indulgences, gift shopping and mini splurges. Through this campaign, BLR Airport aims to encourage people to reconnect with their friends, family, or even their personal self and at the same time be reassured of a safe airport environment. 

At the heart of the campaign are three short digital films which focus on various aspects of airport operations, including vaccinated staff, contactless payments, and contactless travel. The #TimeToReconnect campaign, conceptualised by Dentsumcgarrybowen India, focuses on the theme of urging passengers and visitors to make the most of airport experiences such as shopping, dining, live gigs at The Quad by BLR and much more. The films are aimed at reminding them of little moments of indulgence and interaction that used to take place when they travelled through the airport regularly.  

Shalini Rao, Chief Marketing Officer, Bangalore International Airport, said, “As we slowly move away from virtual connection to human connection, we have observed that people are now waiting to travel again, but safety is on everyone’s mind. Through our #TimetoReconnect campaign, we want to assure our passengers about a safe airport experience, and we hope to ease their worries as they begin to reconnect with all the experiences they missed out on." 

17/09/21 Everything Experiential

Two men caught with gold paste in undergarments at Kolkata airport

Kolkata: Two men flying in from Dubai were caught carrying gold paste hidden in their undergarments at Kolkata airport on Friday.

The ‘gold paste’ is a mixture of gold dust and a chemical that gives it a paste-like texture and is easier to hide in pockets, an officer said.

A senior official said the duo were spotted walking in an ‘unusual’ way.

On frisking them, the customs department officials said they found polythene pouches of gold paste stuffed inside tailor-made pockets in their innerwears. “Gold in paste form weighing 562.65 gram was seized from two passengers from Dubai. The total worth is Rs 26.72 lakh,” said an official.

The customs department refused to divulge personal details of the accused duo. None of them was arrested as the value of seizure was less than Rs 20 lakh individually.

18/09/21 Telegraph

Cross-border fake passport racket busted by IGI airport police

In a major operation, the Indira Gandhi International airport police has busted a cross-border racket involving Bangladeshi nationals, and arrested six accused who were preparing forged Indian passports and immigration stamps.

What is worrisome for the security agencies is that the racket involving foreign nationals had its tentacles spread across the national capital and other states like West Bengal and across the border.

The accused identified persons from Nepal and Bangladesh who were keen to go to foreign countries, and call them to India on medical visa. They then arranged fake documents by fraudulently obtaining Indian passports for them with help of other co-agents in lieu of large amounts of money. Several immigration stamps were used to create fake travel history.

 The case highlights the persistent threat by fake travel agencies, a grim reminder of the modus operandi used by 26/11 accused David Headley and his accomplice Tahawwur Rana during the Mumbai attacks.

A case under several sections of IPC and Foreigners Act has been registered and the IGI police is alert to the possibility of a much larger ring operating in the capital.

The six arrested include Bangladeshi nationals Fozil Rabbi Shipon, 22; Akhtauzzaman Talukder, 54; and Sahidul Sekh; and Indian nationals Vibhor Saini and Fahim Khan from Delhi, and Saurabh Ghosh from West Bengal.

Vikram Porwal, DCP, IGI airport, said the racket was exposed on September 11, when amid tight vigil at the airport, a passenger Sahidul Sekh and two others were intercepted by the CISF when they were intending to board Qatar Airways flight to Doha. On checking their documents, they were found to be fake and a case was registered by the IGI police.

17/09/21 Namrata Biji Ahuja/The Week