Saturday, June 12, 2021

Over 140 air ambulances flew in and out of Delhi, Mumbai during second wave

New Delhi: During the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in India, between April and May when the cases were at their peak, the two most affected cities of Delhi and Mumbai saw over 140 air ambulances flying in and out of these two cities.

Delhi alone witnessed around two air ambulances flying in and out every day between 1 April and 20 May. The Delhi International Airport, which is operated by GMR, saw over 100 air ambulances flying in 50 days during the peak of the second wave.

Officials from the Mumbai international airport, one of the largest airports in Maharashtra operated by the GVK group, told The Sunday Guardian that they too witnessed an increasing air traffic for air ambulances and flew around 44 air ambulances in and out of Mumbai between April and May.

At the Delhi airport, most of these air ambulances flew from the newly constructed General Aviation Apron for faster movement. The Apron was built almost a year ago for the movement of private jets. For these special air ambulances, pilot and crew movements happened through this dedicated terminal, while the movement of patients was taken care of by giving patient-carrying ambulances direct access to the parking bay through airside gates.

Inside the air ambulances, Covid positive patients were kept inside isolation pods, having continuous oxygen support facility. These pods  are designed and made in Germany. Delhi Airport authorities say that as per the current protocol, only certified doctors, paramedic staff and nurses, who are able to handle critical care during flight, are allowed to board such flights.

Delhi airport officials told this correspondent that most of these flights are activated on a very short notice, ranging from just two to three hours and, therefore, at times it becomes challenging to coordinate with all the stakeholders. But the official added that the Delhi airport had brought in special provisions to expedite these clearances, which included arranging approval for such flights, staff etc.

Delhi currently has around 12 air ambulances, operated by Medevac Operations which is specialised in handing medical evacuation flights.

12/06/21 Dibyendu Mondal/Sunday Guardian Live

China backed APT41 behind SITA and Air India cyber attacks

The recent cyberattack on air travel solutions software major SITA and a number of airlines including Air India have been linked to the Chinese state-sponsored threat actor APT41.

Airlines have been warned to comb through their networks and trace the campaign that may be concealed within their networks. SITA is one of the leading global IT providers for nearly 90 percent of the world’s airline industry.

According to a report by Group-IB analyst Nikita Rostovcev, "After Air India, it was evident the world’s national carriers are dealing with one of the biggest supply-chain attacks in the airline’s history. SITA’s data breach is estimated to have revealed data of 4.5 million passengers."

The report states, though the Air India attack lasted for just 4 days short of 3 months, it took the threat actors only 24 hours and 5 minutes to spread Cobalt Strike beacons to the other devices in the airline’s network. SITA is responsible for processing Air India’s personal customer data. The hacked data was put for sale on a leak site for $3,000.

The Group-IB report further said, "The campaign’s code name is ColunmTK. It was formed by combining the first two domains used for DNS tunneling in the attack. "

The ColunmTK campaign committed by APT41 is also known as Wicked Panda, Wicked Spider, Winnti, and Barium. Active since 2007 APT41 is known for supply-chain attacks, cyber espionage, and financial cybercrimes.

The US Department of Justice last year charged five Chinese nationals for hacking more than 100 companies in the US and worldwide. The five have also been charged with attacking NGOs, universities, foreign governments, and Hong Kong-based pro-democracy politicians and activists.

The data breach at Air India involved the personal data of customers which included name, date of birth, contact information, passport information, ticket information, Star Alliance and Air India frequent flyer data, and credit card information.

12/06/21 CNBCTV18.com

Data breaches expose emails, passwords of several government officials to hackers

 

New Delhi: Emails and passwords of hundreds of Union government officials have been exposed to hackers due to the recent data breaches of Air India, Domino’s and Big Basket, the government has warned officials.

The internal communication, accessed by The Hindu, said the compromised emails on government domains such as @nic.in and @gov.in are potential cyber threats as they are being used by “adversaries” to send malicious mails to all government users.

Days after the alert was sent on June 10, several government offices, including Defence Ministry officials, were targeted by a malicious web link sent on WhatsApp and SMS, asking them to update their vaccination status.

Air India informed passengers on May 15 that its passenger service system, provided by multi-national IT company SITA, was subjected to a sophisticated cyber attack in the last week of February which affected around 45 lakh “data subjects” in the world registered between August 26, 2011 and February 3, 2021. Government officials are frequent Air India flyers.

The alert sent to officials said, “It is intimated that recent data breaches of Air India and other companies like Domino’s, Big Basket etc. have resulted in exposure of e-mail ID and passwords of many users, which includes lots of government email IDs as well. All such compromised gov. domain emails are potential cyber threats as they are being used by the adversaries to send out malicious mails to all gov email users. It may please be noted that largely these are name based email IDs which are available with the malicious actors.”

It added that the malicious actors try to attack the government officials through various means such as phishing where attackers send e-mails to officials and make them click on such attachment or web-link and provide permission. “Either their systems will get infected/compromised or e-mail credentials will be captured by C&C (command and control) server under control of adversaries… Emails coming from any such random user of .gov domain, on any subject line, asking to click on a link or download an attachment are to be considered as malicious and to be ignored and to be deleted. Users are advised to change the password of their e-mail ID which is registered with Air-India, Dominos etc,” the alert mentioned.

The Air India breach involved details like name, date of birth, contact information, passport information, ticket information, Star Alliance and Air India frequent flyer data (but no passwords data were affected) as well as credit cards data but no passwords or CVV/CVC numbers were affected.

The airline has said that it is “in liaison with various regulatory agencies in India and abroad, and has apprised them about the incident in accordance with its obligations”.

In response to a query from The Hindu on whether it was contacted by Indian cyber security agencies, SITA replied, “SITA has been engaged with and [is] assisting law enforcement agencies in a number of jurisdictions with their investigations into the incident. SITA has also communicated and cooperated with cyber-security and data protection regulators in a number of jurisdictions. We were not approached by the Indian Defence Cyber Agency(DCA)...” The DCA was recently set up under the Integrated Defnce Staff to probe cyber security threats.

12/06/21 Vijaita Singh/Jagriti Chandra/The Hindu

India can become a leader in sustainable aviation fuel — with feedstock and solar power

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought global systemic challenges like climate change to the forefront. If not tackled in a timely manner, it will be the cause of greater disruptions than we have witnessed from the pandemic. Nation-states need to build resilience and continue raising awareness towards sustainable living to protect our ecosystems and our economies.

The humbling situation in India due to the pandemic has reinforced the need to critically examine the relationship between resilience and sustainable development in particular in the country’s megacities. India’s transition towards clean, affordable and renewable energy can better prepare the country to resist global shocks.

But the fifth-largest economy in the world has a far way to go. It relies on extensive energy consumption, which stands at 910 MToe – which in turn, translates to roughly a rise of 20% every five years since 1990. According to the International Energy Agency, India will experience the largest increase in energy demand through 2040 of any country in the world. Moreover, according to an air quality report by IQAir, 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India. While India has succeeded in reducing its emissions to GDP growth ratio, it has not yet achieved a full decoupling, thus India needs to significantly accelerate its progress to date in delinking economic growth and environmental degradation.

12/06/21 Sonum Gayatri Malhotra/Christoph Wolff and Lauren Uppink/Print

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India’s biggest domestic airline braces for third Covid-19 wave

New Delhi: India’s largest domestic airline says it is building a war chest of more than $1bn as it prepares for a third wave of Covid-19 infections, just as a brutal nationwide outbreak begins to recede.

Ronojoy Dutta, chief executive of IndiGo Airlines parent InterGlobe Aviation, told the Financial Times he hoped the carrier’s business would return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year but warned that another wave of coronavirus in November could cause more disruption.

The budget airline plans to raise Rs30bn ($410m) through a qualified institutional placement, an equity raising tool used in India, to prepare for a worst-case scenario. IndiGo also plans to source approximately $600m through bank credit and sales and leasebacks of aircraft.

“The doctors tell us there will be a third wave. There are no ifs and buts about it, and it will probably come around November, December,” said Dutta.

“The board says ‘look, the environment is volatile . . . What if we go for another three months’ shutdown, then what? And the revenue is zero?’ It’s for that sort of disaster scenario that we are building insurance,” he added.

India’s aviation sector has been punished by regional lockdowns across the country. IndiGo’s passenger capacity dropped from 80 per cent in February to 30 per cent in mid-May.

InterGlobe, which has a market share of more than 50 per cent, this month reported its fifth straight quarterly loss.

However, Dutta said that a third wave was unlikely to be as damaging as the second one. “As long as [India keeps] vaccinating about 700,000 people a day . . . it will be a very flat wave,” he said.

He also expects IndiGo to benefit from Indians taking “revenge vacations” after being restricted to their homes for months, adding that the company has added new routes to holiday hotspots such as the Maldives.

The pandemic “has set India back at least two, three years”, said Dutta. “But we’ll catch up . . . I have great faith in the Indian growth story.”

12/06/21 Stephanie Findlay/Financial Times

Indian Coast Guard inducts 3 indigenously-built advanced light helicopters ALH MK III

As part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atmanirbhar Bharat vision, three indigenously-built Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) MK III were inducted into Indian Coast Guard (ICG) on Saturday. Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar said that the helicopters, which are part of ALH Mk III programme, will be positioned at four Coast Guard squadrons at Bhubaneshwar, Porbandar, Kochi and Chennai.

A virtual program was held simultaneously at the ICG Headquarters in Delhi and at Helicopter MRO Division of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)in Bengaluru. Director General, Indian Coast Guard, K Natarajan and R Madhavan, CMD, HAL were also present on the occasion.  

The helicopters, indigenously designed and manufactured by HAL, Bengaluru, are state-of-the-art flying machines and constitute a major step in the quest for Atma Nirbhar Bharat.

The helicopters are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment like Surveillance Radar, Electro-Optic Pod, Medical Intensive Care Unit, High-intensity Search Light, SAR Homer, Loud Hailer, Machine Gun and can perform other key roles. Helicopter MRO Division is the nodal agency for execution of PBL contract along with Engine Division and other Sister Divisions of HAL.

“The state of the art Helicopters with advanced sensors will enable ICG to take up challenging tasks. This is for the first time Performance-Based Logistics is being introduced in Indian Aviation sector which is a modern management practice and will increase operational and maintenance efficiency. The sophisticated helicopters being handed over today will be a game-changer for the operational capability of ICG in the times to come," Defence Secretary said.

12/06/21 Manish Prasad/India TV

Twitter user asks airline to raise baggage limit for carrying free covid kits to his village, wins hearts and a response

Kolkata: A silver lining of the devastating second wave of coronavirus in India has been how people have turned social media into a powerful tool to do good. Recently, a Twitter user reached out to a private airlines to raise his baggage limit, as he wanted to carry Covid test kits to his native village in Bihar. What happened next, is winning hearts online.

As Delhi starts reopening after lockdown, a PhD student, Anupam Priyadarshi, decided to visit his village in Bihar, and carry essential medicines and other supplies to help villagers in their fight against the infectious disease.

Taking to Twitter, the 22-year-old tagged IndiGo to ask if they could extend some help to him. Stating that he plans to carry the supplies for free distribution, he wrote: “This may exceed my 15kg baggage limit. Could you pls increase my baggage limit for this noble cause?”

Soon, the tweet caught the attention of the domestic airlines, which readily allowed him to carry the excess baggage free of cost. Talking to IndianExpress.com, Priyadarshi, who will be flying out to Patna from New Delhi Saturday early morning, said the company has agreed to his request.

"They have allowed me the special privilege by giving permission to carry more weight than the prescribed limit. I will be carrying around 5kg extra with me and the airlines did not charge me anything,” he said.

After resolving the travel bit, the research scholar then reached out to poet-politician Dr Kumar Vishvas and asked if he could arrange for some Covid kits, so that a Covid care centre could be started at his village of Bankatwa, some 30km away from Motihari, in East Champaran district.

Responding to Priyadarshi, Dr Vishvas responded. “If you have passion, everything helps” while expressing his gratitude to the airline company for stepping in to help.

Explaining his connection with Dr Vishwas, Priyadarshi, who is pursing his PhD in Hindi, said his topic of research is “contribution of Dr Kumar Vishwas in the revival of the oral tradition of modern Hindi poetry”. He said he got 60 kits from the poet’s office, along with sanitisers, masks and some vaporisers as well.

12/06/21 Shreya Das/Indian Express

Vaccine delivery through drones in Telangana from June last week

Hyderabad: The 'Medicine from the Sky', an initiative of Telangana government for delivering vaccines using the identified airspace of Vikarabad district is likely to start in the last week of June. A virtual HIRM (Hazard Identification and Risk Mitigation) workshop was held on Friday with all the concerned stakeholders from key organisations, including Ministry of Civil Aviation, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, BCAS and NITI Aayog. The meeting was also attended by the Vikarabad District Collector.

The successful completion of the workshop was a major milestone in the 'Medicine from the Sky' project as it ensures all concerns suitably addressed and the operations to be started soon. The proceedings of this HIRM workshop to be included as part of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of all the drone technology partners for approval from the DGCA. The first phase of flights with select consortia was tentatively expected to begin in the last week of this month, the officials concerned said. The workshop explored potential hazards and mitigation strategies during the upcoming trials by discussing the CONOPS (Concept of Operations) and SORA (Specific Operations Risk Assessment) of the flights in the Vikarabad airspace.

The CONOPS included detailed description of operations, various system checks, communication protocols, daily flight planning, roles and responsibilities of both crew and officials, etc. to ensure smooth conduct of the trials.

12/06/21 Hans India

Karnataka minister orders survey of buildings around Jakkur aerodrome

Bengaluru: Sports and youth affairs minister KC Narayan Gowda on Friday ordered his department to complete the survey of all buildings abutting the Jakkur Aerodrome to check for height violations and NOCs from the government.

After a review, Narayan Gowda was informed there was a delay in completing the survey due to the pandemic. He was furious because of hurdles to reopen the Jakkur flying school.

Department officials were told to conduct a survey of all buildings around the aerodrome to identify those which have violated norms and initiate action against them. The report should be tabled within the next three months.

The directorate general of civil aviation has prescribed a height for constructions around aerodromes which need to be met in view of flight safety when an aircraft takes off or lands.

Gowda and department additional chief secretary Shalini Rajneesh said the survey will be completed by government agencies within the prescribed time and action initiated against officials if it is delayed.

Several residential buildings have been constructed around the aerodrome.

The government is claiming the amount along with18 per cent interest per annum. Gowda said the government plans to open the flying school from August first week.

12/06/21 Times of India

Taxiway at RKL airport to be ready in six months

Rourkela: In a significant development, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has recently finalised tender for construction of new apron and taxiway for commercial operation of ATR-72 type aircraft at the Rourkela airport.

The tender, as per letter of the Joint General Manager of AAI at Kolkata dated June 4, has been finalised at a cost of Rs 5.69 crore in favour of a Ranchi-based firm. 

Sources said, the completion target is within six months. Owned by Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) of SAIL and run by the AAI under an agreement,  the airport aims to develop new apron and taxiway and also plug other infrastructural deficiencies to convert it from Code 2B to Code 3C airport, and enable commercial operation of ATR-72 type aircraft by the year end under Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN. 

Steel Executives’ Federation of India (SEFI) general secretary and RSP Executives’ Association (RSPEA) president Bimal Bisi said the infrastructure development of the airport is moving in the right direction with collective efforts of RSP, SAIL, AAI and the State government. 

“Tender is in process for construction of the terminal building, for about 200 persons, at an estimated cost of nearly Rs 25 crore, while efforts are underway to expand the present runway from 1.8 km to 2.6 km which requires additional 146 acre at Sector-13. Nearly Rs 60 crore has been earmarked for further development of the airport,” Bisi added. Commercial operations from the Rourkela airport are expected to take off by year end. 

12/04/21 New Indian Express

Bhopal: 341-acre airport land in Satna encroached

Bhopal: In a shocking development, encroachers in Satna grabbed over three fourth of the airport land. Officials of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) are shocked at the massive encroachment of the land.

Satna has an airstrip spread in 451 acres but in a startling revelation, the Airport Authority of India has said that 341 acres of land belonging to the AAI and part of the airstrip has been encroached upon.

The officials of AAI wrote a letter to the state government about the encroachment. Acting on the letter, the revenue department has asked the Satna collector to look into the issue.

Satna airport comes under AAI, New Delhi but in past 20 years people have encroached upon 341 acres out of total 451 acres of the land which is extremely unfortunate,î the AAI letter said.

Copy of the letter was sent to the collector in the month of May.

After the chief secretary took cognizance of the issue, matter was sent to the revenue department for action.

Additional secretary, revenue department, Rajesh Kumar Kaul has shot a letter to collector Satna Ajay Katesariya, on Thursday, asking him to take appropriate action. The letter also states that the action taken report should be sent to the revenue office as soon as possible.

12/06/21 FreePressJournal

Aurangabad needs international airport: Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant

Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on June 12 said for its overall growth, Maharashtra's Aurangabad needs an international airport facility and an international convention centre, which will boost tourism and industries in the region.

Kant is on a two-day visit to survey the work at Aurangabad Industrial city (AURIC), established under the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project, and took a tour of the Shendra node on Saturday.

'The project will change the entire region in the next five years. Earlier, it took 20 to 40 years to establish cities such as Gurgaon and Noida. But a ready infrastructure has been provided here before industries come to set up. At least 73 units have been installed here so far,' the official said.

The two nodes of AURIC, Shendra and Bidkin, will be connected by a highway, he said.

'It is now important to expand the Aurangabad airport and convert it into an international facility. I will talk to the Airport Authority regarding this. Apart from this, the region also needs an international convention centre, which can be connected to tourism here,' Kant said.

12/06/21 PTI/Moneycontrol.com

Saffron touch? Proposed Shivamogga airport terminal resembles lotus

Shivamogga: If you ever happen to fly over Shivamogga once the construction of the airport is completed at Sogane near the city, don’t be surprised if the terminal building of the airport looks like a lotus, the party symbol of the BJP and India’s national flower.

The architecture of this public utility building is significant as top leaders -- Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, RSS chief Dattatreya Hosabale and BJP national general secretary BL Santhosh – are either from the district or have strong links with it. Yediyurappa’s pocket borough is Shikaripur, Hosabale’s place of origin is Soraba and Santhosh has worked in the district for a long time promoting RSS ideology. RDPR Minister KS Eshwarappa and former Assembly Speaker DH Shanakaramurthy, who is with the BJP, too are from the district.

When a 3D blueprint of the project was released in front of the chief minister during his inspection at Sogane on Saturday, the video gave a clear picture of the proposed state-of-the-art airport. However, an aerial view of the terminal building resembled a lotus.

Sampath, an executive engineer (special division) of PWD in Shivamogga, told TNSE that the design was unveiled for the first time on Saturday and it is almost finalised.

12/06/21 Marx Tejaswi/New Indian Express

Traffic at Kempegowda International Airport dipped by 46% last month

Bengaluru: Air traffic movement (ATM) at Kempegowda International Airport dipped by 46% in May due to the second Covid wave.

Airport Authority of India (AAI) reports show that the decline was more pronounced here than at Delhi and Mumbai, possibly due to the lockdown. According to AAI, air traffic saw a dip of 29% in Delhi, 30.9% in Mumbai and 46.1% in Bengaluru on May 31, 2021 as compared to the ATM on May 1.

While May 1 saw 310 flights operated at KIA, it was the lowest on May 24 at 142 flights.

ATM includes passenger and combination of flights including cargo, international, domestic, air taxi and commercial business flights at six major airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai.

Experts said the big decline in Bengaluru is mainly due to the lockdown from April 27 and passenger numbers dipping and flights being cancelled.

12/06/21 Petlee Peter/Times of India

Moody's downgrades Delhi International Airport ratings to B1

Singapore: Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Delhi International Airport Ltd's (DIAL's) corporate family rating and senior secured ratings to B1 from Ba3.

It has also downgraded DIAL's baseline credit assessment to b1 from ba3. At the same time, Moody's has downgraded Cliffton Ltd's senior secured bond rating to B1 from Ba3.

The outlook on the ratings is negative.

The rating downgrade reflects adverse impact of reduced passenger traffic and airport revenue in the current fiscal year ending March 2022 due to surge in daily infection numbers since late March.

"We believe the consequent reduction in revenue will lead to additional debt being required to complete the airport's expansion and prolong the recovery in DIAL's financial metrics to a level consistent with a Ba rating," said Spencer Ng, Moody's Vice President and Senior Analyst.

12/06/21 ANI/Times of India

Friday, June 11, 2021

India’s air traffic volumes likely to fully recover only by Q4 of FY23: Crisil

Ratings agency Crisil has said that India's air traffic is expected to slump in FY22 and fully recover only by fourth quarter of the next fiscal, because of the debilitating consequences of the second COVID-19 wave. "But the credit quality of airport operators will continue to be supported by strong business models and healthy liquidity covers amid low debt servicing requirements this fiscal. This is based on an analysis of the top four private airports - Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad - which accounted for 90 per cent of air passenger traffic handled by private airports in India and 50 per cent of all air traffic last fiscal,” the ratings agency noted. 

With a raging second wave resulting in localised lockdowns, night curfews and other restrictions on movement of people, passenger traffic at airports has nosedived, with average daily domestic passenger traffic halving in May 2021 from February 2021, or to a mere 10 per cent of pre-pandemic levels seen in May 2019. "Second wave will push back revival of business travel and pick-up of international traffic, which account for over half of overall traffic. Given this backdrop, we now expect traffic volumes this fiscal to be 60 per cent of fiscal 2020 levels and recovery to pre pandemic levels happening only by fourth quarter of fiscal 2023," Senior Director, Crisil Ratings, Manish Gupta, said.

Nevertheless, traffic volumes are expected to rebound once the present affliction curve starts to flatten. "Ramp up in domestic traffic was seen after the recommencement of airport operations in May 2020, with total passenger traffic reaching 60 per cent of fiscal 2020 levels by February 2021, i.e. within 9 months of the first domestic travel advisory,” Gupta said. "And a much faster recovery is expected this time based on the ongoing vaccination drive, push from government to limit the economic impact and recovery trajectory seen in countries that have emerged from a second wave,” he added. 

11/06/21 IANS/News Minute

Domestic Air Travel in India Witnessed a Plunge of 42 Percent in April, Highest Dip Globally - IATA

Covid resurgence accelerated the contraction rate of India’s domestic air passenger traffic in April 2021. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the plunge in India’s domestic air passenger volume — measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) — was one of the largest amongst major aviation markets such as Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Russia and the US. In India, RPK growth plunged by 42 per cent in April when compared to the levels in the like period of 2019.

The country’s domestic available passenger capacity — measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs) — was down by over 15 per cent.

“Total domestic demand was down 25.7 per cent versus pre-crisis levels (April 2019), much improved over March 2021, when domestic traffic was down 31.6 per cent versus the 2019 period," IATA said in its global passenger traffic results for April 2021.

“As with March, all markets except Brazil and India showed improvement compared to March 2021, with both China and Russia reporting traffic growth compared to pre-Covid-19 levels."

11/06/21 IANS/News18

Kalrock-Jalan spar with DGCA over Jet slots at NCLT

Mumbai: The tussle over the historical slots of Jet Airways between the Kalrock-Jalan consortium and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation came to the fore at the debt resolution hearing at the NCLT on Thursday, with both sides hardening their position.

While lawyers representing the consortium said that their offer to acquire the beleaguered airline will be meaningless without the slots, DGCA opposed restoring all slots operated by Jet Airways before it was grounded.

Landing slots are an important intangible asset for an airline, and it often costs a lot of money to grab a premium slot. Jet Airways had one of the most premium slots available at metro city airports in the country.

Post its temporary grounding in April 2019, Jet’s slots were allotted to other players.

Senior counsel Ravi Kadam, who appeared on behalf of the winning bidders-a consortium of Murari Lal Jalan and Kalrock Capital, appraised that “State Bank of India, the lead lender of Jet Airways, had written to the Ministry of Civil Aviation on April 12, 2019, requesting the protection of the rights of Jet Airways’ slots. Jet grounded its operations on April 17 that year, in the same month, MoCA Joint Secretary responded stating that the slots were allotted only on a temporary basis, and not on the basis of historicity”.

He further explained that on June 20, 2019, the CIRP had commenced. As per the law, a status quo is supposed to be maintained on all assets – tangible and intangible; licences, among other things, are frozen till such time when the CIRP is complete. He argued that by this virtue, the slots, too, were an intangible asset of the airline. “Though it may belong to the nation, the said the ‘right to use has been given to an airline, and that needs to be maintained.” He cited examples of NCLAT judgments where spectrums were considered an intangible asset for a company.

Then he brought up the fact that on multiple occasions after that, too, including in response to questions raised in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Minister of Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri, had said that the slots had been allotted temporarily and not permanently. Singh had also stated that once a business plan was proposed, it could consider re-allocating the slots to the winning party.

“It was not until June 2, 2021, that in its affidavit, the MoCA and DGCA have said that the historicity of slots is dependent on ‘use it or lose it’ basis,” he said. The lawyers on behalf of Jet Airways added that it was prudent that the slots be given back to the airline, else the only option was liquidity “because then it doesn’t make sense for any bidder to buy an airline just for its name”.

Senior counsels appearing on behalf of DGCA and MoCA said that several airports in India had agreed to give priority to Jet Airways. However, some airports such as Delhi and Mumbai have a crunch on slots, hence assurity on those is difficult.

10/06/21 Forum Gandhi/Business Line

Air India sacks cabin crew for gold bars smuggling at London Heathrow

New Delhi: Air India has sacked on of its cabin crew who was allegedly found to be in possession of two gold bars during checks at London Heathrow this Tuesday just before he was to operate a flight to Delhi. This happened when the person was rostered to be on AI 162 to Delhi.

“…you were detained by customs officials at Heathrow Airport for allegedly smuggling two gold bars on departure via flight AI 162 of June 8, 2021…your contract stands terminated with immediate effect,” his sacking letter says.

10/06/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

Vistara postpones inaugural flight service between Delhi and Tokyo Haneda

India’s full-service carrier Vistara has postponed the commencement of its inaugural service between Delhi and Tokyo Haneda.

In a tweet, Vistara announced that “Due to operational reasons, we are having to postpone the commencement of our inaugural service between Delhi and Haneda (Tokyo), scheduled for June 16, 2021.”

The first flight has now been scheduled for July 7, 2021.

Further, the airline said, “We deeply regret the inconvenience caused and we will ensure that suitable alternatives are offered to all affected customers.”

As per the previously announced schedule, the Tata-SIA carrier will fly once a week between the two capital cities under the air bubble agreement established between India and Japan.

11/06/21 Business Traveller 

IndiGo suspends service at Shillong Airport till June-end

New Delhi: IndiGo Airlines has prolonged its suspension of operations at Shillong Airport till the end of this month due to the continued Covid-19 situation both in the state as well as the entire country, according to official sources here.

IndiGo used to operate daily flights from Shillong to Kolkata, Silchar, and Agartala.

“It is hereby informed that M/s. IndiGo Airlines @IndiGo6E has extended suspension of their #Shillong operations upto 30th June 2021. M/s IndiGo Airlines may be contacted for any query on #rescheduling or #refund,” Shillong Airport authorities tweeted.

The airline had earlier announced suspension of its flights from Shillong for the first time for eight days starting from April 23. The same was extended up to May 15 and continued further.

11/06/21 Shillong Times

Are The FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’ Chinese Spies Hacking The Airline Industry?

India’s flagship airline Air India announced last month it was hit by a huge cyberattack, affecting as many as 4.5 million passengers. Their data, including passport information and some credit card details, had been compromised by unknown hackers. A cybersecurity company is now claiming, with “moderate” confidence, that a prolific Chinese government-sponsored espionage and cybercriminal group known as APT41 hacked Air India. It could be part of a wider campaign to snoop on the airline industry, according to Singapore-based Group-IB, which showed Forbes its findings on Thursday ahead of publication.

Read Forbes Associate editor Thomas Brewster's article in full >>

AirAsia has grounded 90% of its fleet across Asia

On Wednesday, June 9th, an executive at the Malaysia unit of the AirAsia Berhad Group said that around 90% of the airline’s fleet, which consists of more than 200 planes, had been grounded due to the increase in the COVID-19 outbreak all across Asia. Even Malaysia, which is the airline’s largest market with 105 planes, is under a lockdown. At a CAPA Centre for Aviation event on Wednesday, Chief Operating Officer, AirAsia Malaysia, Javed Anwar Malik said that the demand was expected to rebound from August onwards, which would eventually allow AirAsia Malaysia to restore its services to all 17 of the domestic airports it serves by October. He added that a complete return to the pre-COVID demand levels was not expected until the third quarter of 2022.

The number of passengers carried in the quarter which ended on March 31st was 9, 76, 968 and this was a 90% drop from a year ago. Last month, AirAsia had reported its seventh consecutive quarterly loss and said that it was carrying on with more efforts to secure more liquidity. Amidst the struggles of the pandemic, the group now looks at starting a dedicated freighter service as the demand for air cargo is steadily increasing across the globe. Teleport, which is the logistics venture of AirAsia Digital, is now strengthening its position as a crucial air logistics partner in Asia, with the operation of its first-ever freighter aircraft, which is a dedicated Boeing 737-800F. Along with this, two Airbus A320 passenger aircrafts have been converted into freighter aircrafts after the passenger seats were removed for optimal cargo capacity.

The conversion of the two Airbus aircraft is said to have been done by Asia Digital Engineering which is a fully-owned subsidiary of the group and by Thai AirAsia for the aircraft that will be based in Thailand. The freight operations are all set to commence from the third quarter of this year and the freighter will operate out of the Teleport Hub in Bangkok, Thailand. The additional freight capacity will prove to be of great help to solidify its route network between busy regions such as India, China, and Southeast Asia, and hence, the connectivity to and from Teleport’s long-haul markets will increase. The two converted A320 Airbus will be based in the strategic hubs of Kuala Lampur and Bangkok. And through these hubs, the aircraft will continue their operations to important cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, and Yangon.

Chief Operating Officer of Teleport, Adrian Loretz said, “We are excited to share this expansion as we strengthen our logistics footprint across Asia. It was evident at the end of last year that the demand for cargo capacity was not going to be served with passenger belly capacity alone in the long run. So, we evaluated this option to utilize dedicated freighters to transport cargo. This is also part of our strategy to build the capacity and connectivity to offer 24 hours door-to-door delivery across all of South East Asia.”

Airlines all across the globe are facing an unprecedented crisis with a rapidly increasing need of raising cash and are facing risks of downsizing. In India alone, passenger traffic fell by nearly 30% in April from a month before and had halved again in May. Even IndiGo, which is the country’s biggest and most cashed-up had to act accordingly. As per what analysts say, smaller carriers like SpiceJet and privately-owned GoAir could soon come under pressure to reduce capacity, find partners or consolidate.

10/06/21 Sonakshi Datta/Goa Chronicle

Go First vaccinates 60% of employees

Mumbai: Wadia Group-promoted Go First (formerly known as GoAir) has vaccinated 2,506 of its total employees -- around 60 per cent -- across the country.

The airlines' vaccination program, which was rolled out last month, aims to vaccinate all employees by end of June this year, subject to rules and regulations as well as availability of vaccines.

The carrier said so far 2,473 have been given the first dose, whereas 33 of its employees have taken the second.

Kaushik Khona, CEO of Go First, said, “At Go First, our primary goal at this point is the welfare of our employees who are at great risk due to direct exposure to the virus. We have undertaken all possible precautionary measures throughout the period of the pandemic for the safety of our employees. We initiated the vaccination drive on priority, and I am happy that we have achieved over 50% vaccination within a month.”

10/06/21 Times of India

After Air India Express, Now Emirates Suspends Its Services From India to UAE Till July 6

International Flights Latest News: Air passengers who are eagerly waiting for the lockdown to be over and so that they can fly to other countries, here comes an update for you. If you are planning to travel to UAE in the near future, then you will have to wait a bit as many airlines have suspended their services from India to the UAE due to COVID pandemic.  The latest airline to suspend its flight services from India to UAE is Emirates airlines. 

Issuing a statement posted on its website, Emirates, the flag carrier of the UAE, said that it has suspended the passenger flight services from India effective from 24 April until 6 July. The move from the airline was taken as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) extended the suspension of passenger flights from India till 6 July to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Furthermore, passengers who have transited through India in the last 14 days will not be accepted to travel from any other point to the UAE,” the Emirates said in the statement. 

However, the airline said that the UAE nationals, holders of UAE Golden Visas and members of diplomatic missions who comply with the revised published COVID-19 protocols will be exempt for travel.

Emirates had earlier announced that the flight suspension would continue till June 30. Notably, the flight ban was initially imposed on 22 April after a surge in COVID-19 cases in India.

10/06/21 India.com

Teleport strengthens key routes with B737 freighter, 2 A320 converted pax planes

Malaysian airlines group AirAsia's logistics subsidiary Teleport on Friday said it has strengthened its key routes with a dedicated 737-800 freighter and two A320 converted passenger aircraft. The freighter will begin operations across Asia from the third quarter of 2021 and will operate out of the Teleport hub in Bangkok, it said in a release.

The additional capacity will strengthen its route network between China, India and Southeast Asia and offer improved connectivity to and from Teleport's long-haul markets, the company said.

In May, AirAsia operated six A330 and two A320 on behalf of Teleport and plans to increase it within the year, it said, adding, “with the leasing of the freighter and the conversion of planes, Teleport will be even more capable and reliable in delivering more cargo and enforces Teleport's coverage across Asia.” Adrian Loretz, Chief Operating Officer of Teleport said, “we are excited to share this expansion as we strengthen our logistics footprint across Asia. It was evident at the end of last year that the demand for cargo capacity was not going to be served with passenger belly capacity alone in the long run. So, we evaluated the option to utilise dedicated freighters to transport cargo.” This is also part of Teleport's strategy to build the capacity and connectivity to offer 24 hours door-to-door delivery across all of Southeast Asia, he said.

11/06/21 PTI/Devdiscourse

AirAsia India announces anniversary sale

New Delhi: Private budget airlines AirAsia India, a joint venture between Tata Sons Limited and AirAsia Investment Limited, on Saturday announced its seventh anniversary Seventastic Sale with fare starting from ₹1,177.

“Special sale fares are open for advance booking from 12 June till 14 Jun for travel from August 01, 2021 onwards. The sale fares are bookable across all channels, with a special #BookFastFlyFree contest exclusively on the airline’s new website, airasia.co.in,” AirAsia India said in a release.

AirAsia India commenced operations on June 12, 2014 and flies to 17 destinations and over 240 direct and connecting routes across India with 32 Airbus A320 aircraft.

The top AirAsia India Sevantastic Sales fares include Guwahati-Kolkata and Chennai-Hyderabad from ₹1,177, Hyderabad-Chennai, Bangalore-Chennai & Chennai-Bangalore from ₹1,377, Kolkata-Guwahati and Delhi-Jaipur from ₹1,477, Bangalore-Pune, Imphal-Guwahati & Chennai-Mumbai from ₹1577 and Mumbai-Chennai from ₹1677.

11/06/21 Goa Chronicle

Navi Mumbai International Airport to be named after Bal Thackeray

Mumbai: The Navi Mumbai International Airport will be named after Shiv Sena founder late Bal Thackeray, Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde has said. The airport, coming up in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, is expected to relieve the pressure on the Mumbai international airport.

Bal Thackeray, the father of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, had floated Shiv Sena in 1966 and served as its chief until his death in 2012.

Some local politicians had demanded that the new airport be named for farmer leader late D B Patil. Eknath Shinde said that the CM has assured the DB Patil Action Samiti that some other project will be named after the farmer leader.

"We have a lot of respect for D B Patil. The Chief Minister has requested the action committee to recommend any other project (to be named after Patil)," Shinde, a senior Shiv Sena leader, said.

"One meeting has taken place (with the committee) and one more will take place. A positive outcome is expected," he added.

11/06/21 India TV

Noida airport: Officials told to complete rehab of villagers by June 30

Noida: Rehabilitation of villagers whose land has been acquired for the first phase of the Noida International Airport is targeted to be completed by June 30, according to government officials involved in the project.

A total of 3,003 families are to be rehabilitated and resettled in Jewar Bangar, a township being developed for villagers whose land has been acquired, and so far, 600 of them have been moved there, the officials said.

“Monetary compensation has been paid to the families whose land has been acquired by the Uttar Pradesh government for the Greenfield airport under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act, 2013,” project''s nodal officer Shailendra Bhatia told PTI.

“On Wednesday, Meerut Divisional Commissioner Surendra Singh visited the six villages whose land has been acquired for the airport. The commissioner then instructed the officials to expedite the rehabilitation work and complete it by June 30,” Bhatia added.

However, according to people privy to the airport development project, some villagers are delaying their relocation due to financial constraints in building houses on the developed land plot provided to them by the government.

“This delay may stretch the target of completing the rehabilitation by a fortnight or so,” they said.

Bhatia, who is also the officer on special duty for the local Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), said villagers have been told to raise any of their grievances with the government officials and assured of their problems being resolved.

“The villagers whose land has been acquired have been given developed land plots with proper drainage, sewage systems, streets and street lights at Jewar Bangar. They have been given double the amount of their property as per evaluation to ease their relocation,” he said.

11/06/21 PTI/Outlook

Kempegowda Airport achieves net energy neutral status

Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) has announced the accomplishment of one of its ambitious sustainability goals – Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru (BLR) has achieved net energy neutral status in FY2020-21. As part of its sustainability goals, BIAL had set the target to become net energy neutral by 2020-21.

As an outcome of energy conservation, BIAL has been able to save over two million units of energy in the FY2020-21, which is enough to power nearly 9,000 houses for a month. BIAL saved nearly 500,00 units (kWh) from lighting, and has implemented chiller plant optimisation in Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC), which has resulted in a saving of over 1,700,00 units (kWh).

“As we expand our operations at BLR Airport, we aim to remain the flagbearer of sustainable operations. We have put in place various measures to reduce our carbon footprint and to protect our environment. Energy security is a very important aspect of our business, as it is one of the key indicators to assess our sustainability levels,” said Hari Marar, Managing Director and CEO of BIAL.

10/06/21 International Airport Review

Construction of Hassan Airport will be taken up soon: Yediyurappa

Hassan: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Friday said the State government will start the construction of the Hassan airport soon.

Speaking to press persons at the helipad in Hassan, he said his government would take up the project that former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda wanted. 'We will discuss how to implement it and start the work soon.

The Chief Minister visited Hassan to review the COVID-19 situation in the district, where the positivity rate is high compared to several other districts in the State.

'I will review the situation and take up measures necessary to bring down the cases. Tomorrow, I will be reviewing the situation in Shivamogga,' he said.

Reacting to JD(S) leader H D Revanna's comment that the State and Central governments were responsible for the COVID-19 deaths, the Chief Minister said he (Revanna) should not make such irresponsible statements.

11/06/21 UNI

Air Traffic Controllers graduate from Air Force Academy

Hyderabad: A Combined Graduation Ceremony was held on Thursday at Air Traffic Control Officers' Training Establishment (ATCOTE) on successful completion of 105th Air Traffic Management & Air Laws (Basic) course at Air Force Academy, Dundigal.

Air Marshal IP Vipin, Commandant, Air Force Academy graced the occasion as the Reviewing Officer, a release here said on Friday.

ATCOTE at Air Force Academy, Dundigal undertakes training in the field of Air Traffic Services for officers from all the three services, Indian Coast Guard, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and officers from friendly foreign countries.

Air Traffic Management & Air Laws (Basic) Course is a six months long rigorous training programme aimed at grooming young commissioned officers in becoming qualified Air Traffic Controllers.

The course curriculum is designed to impart Ab-Initio training on various facets of Air Traffic Services-- Surface Movement Control, Aerodrome Control and Approach Control functions.

18 officers comprising 11 from the Indian Air Force, one from the Indian Army and six from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited have successfully graduated as Aerodrome Controllers.

Assistant Aerodrome Officer VVS Arun Kumar from HAL was adjudged first in order of merit.

In his valedictory speech, the Reviewing Officer highlighted the critical role of Air Traffic Controllers in military aviation. He oriented the graduating trainees towards the challenges ahead in the field of aviation and advised them to achieve the highest standards of professional excellence, the release added.

11/06/21 UNI

Noida airport: Officials told to complete rehab of villagers by June 30

Noida: Rehabilitation of villagers whose land has been acquired for the first phase of the Noida International Airport is targeted to be completed by June 30, according to government officials involved in the project.

A total of 3,003 families are to be rehabilitated and resettled in Jewar Bangar, a township being developed for villagers whose land has been acquired, and so far, 600 of them have been moved there, the officials said.

“Monetary compensation has been paid to the families whose land has been acquired by the Uttar Pradesh government for the Greenfield airport under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act, 2013,” project's nodal officer Shailendra Bhatia told PTI.

“On Wednesday, Meerut Divisional Commissioner Surendra Singh visited the six villages whose land has been acquired for the airport. The commissioner then instructed the officials to expedite the rehabilitation work and complete it by June 30,” Bhatia added.

However, according to people privy to the airport development project, some villagers are delaying their relocation due to financial constraints in building houses on the developed land plot provided to them by the government.

“This delay may stretch the target of completing the rehabilitation by a fortnight or so,” they said.

Bhatia, who is also the officer on special duty for the local Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), said villagers have been told to raise any of their grievances with the government officials and assured of their problems being resolved.

11/06/21 Tribune

GVK reveals first look of Navi Mumbai International Airport

The GVK Group recently unveiled the first look of the Navi Mumbai International Airport. The Union government and the Government of Maharashtra have envisioned the upcoming greenfield airport through CIDCO (City and Industrial Development Corporation).

GVK Mumbai International Airport Limited in a public-private partnership with CIDCO is developing the airport.

The terminal design takes its inspiration from the national flower of India — the Lotus that symbolises purity and elegance. The futuristic design aims to blend modernity with Indian ethos in an effortless manner. The airport is designed by the architectural firm Zaha Hadid.

The central terminal complex will have a cluster of three interconnected multi-level terminals with a multimodal transportation hub. Once completed, the airport will serve 90 million passengers per year. With high-speed expressway, suburban rail, metro, and water transport connectivity, the central terminal complex will be connected by 9+9 lanes planned along a landscaped main airport access road.

The airport is planned with dual entrances from the east and west. It is expected to be implemented in four phases with two parallel runways capable of simultaneous operations.

11/06/21 Business Traveller

Air Customs officials seize gold worth Rs 92 lakh at Kannur Int'l Airport, one held

Kannur: Air Customs sleuths on Friday seized 1867 grams of gold valued around Rs 92 lakh from a passenger who arrived at Kannur International Airport from Muscat in an Air India flight.

Customs Joint Commissioner S Kishore-led team detained Asharaf of Chekkikulam near Kannur town in this connection.

The seized gold was concealed inside emergency lights, Customs sources said.

11/06/21 UNI