Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Rusty Pilots Making Flying Errors Is Next Aviation Headache

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On Sept. 15, an Indonesian flight carrying 307 passengers and 11 crew to the northern city of Medan momentarily veered off the runway after landing, sparking an investigation by the country’s transport safety regulator. It found the pilot had flown less than three hours in the previous 90 days. The first officer hadn’t flown at all since Feb. 1.

The incident underlines an emerging risk from the coronavirus pandemic: pilots aren’t getting enough opportunity to fly because airlines have grounded planes and scaled back operations due to a slump in demand for air travel.

In its preliminary report, Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee said the pandemic has made it harder to maintain pilot proficiency and flying experience. The Lion Air aircraft involved was an Airbus SE A330, one of 10 in the carrier’s fleet. Because Lion Air doesn’t have a simulator for the A330, its pilots are trained at third-party facilities in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.Covid-19 travel restrictions have made those harder to access.

“Regular flying keeps your mind in the cockpit,” said Mohan Ranganathan, an aviation safety consultant who was an adviser to India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation. “Being away from flying for such a long time brings in some complacency. Add loss of income, uncertainty about jobs or the future of the airline, that brings in additional stress. With an increase in stress levels, proficiency drops.” Analytics company Cirium says almost a third of the world’s passenger jets remain in storage -- parked in the center of Australia and the U.S.’s Mojave Desert. While there’s been a recovery in domestic travel in larger markets such as China, international traffic is way off pre-pandemic levels because of border restrictions and mandatory quarantine, a big deterrent to travelers. Thousands of pilots have been laid off or furloughed, and those still in work are flying a lot less because there’s so little demand. The return to the skies of Boeing Co.’s Max 737 could add another layer of complexity. The jet was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two fatal crashes but was last month cleared by the U.S. FAA with an extensive package of fixes. “For some operators of the Max, depending on where they are and their operational status, the grounding may cause additional challenges,” said Shukor Yusof, founder of aviation consulting firm Endau Analytics in Malaysia. “However this is something that Boeing has already been working on and they have teams to help their customers throughout this process.”

01/12/20 Harry Suhartono/Anurag Kotoky/Bloomberg|Quint


Visakhapatnam: IndiGo to operate more flight services from today

Visakhapatnam: The IndiGo airline will operate direct flight services to Tirupati via Vijayawada from Visakhapatnam from December 1. The direct flight services will be operated on a daily basis. Vijayawada-Visakhapatnam flight will depart at 1:45 pm and land at 2:50 pm in Visakhapatnam. Visakhapatnam-Vijayawada flight will depart Vizag at 3:15 pm and land in Vijayawada at 4:25 pm.

While Vijayawada-Tirupati flight will depart at 4:50 pm and reach Tirupati at 6:20 pm., Tirupati-Vijayawada flight will depart at 12:05 pm and reach Vijayawada at 1:20 pm. Representatives of the Tours and Travelers Association of Andhra (TTAA) said that their repeated requests made the IndiGo airlines to operate direct flight service to the much sought-after destinations.

01/12/20 Hans India

AirAsia India to expand network; plans to induct three more A320 neo planes by June 2021

As part of its fleet and network expansion, budget carrier AirAsia India plans to add three more Airbus A320 neo planes by the month of June next year. A joint venture between Tatas and AirAsia Investment Limited of Malaysia, the airline currently has 32 aircraft, including two A320 neo planes inducted recently. An AirAsia India spokesperson was quoted in a PTI report saying that an agreement has been signed by the airline for inducting five A320 neo planes. The Bengaluru-based, AirAsia India airline took delivery of the first A320 neo plane in the month of October and another one in November. According to the spokesperson, AirAsia India will be inducting its third Airbus A320 neo in the month of December. Also, the airline looks forward to inducting its fourth and fifth A320 neo planes by June 2021.

Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhad, on November 17, had said it was reviewing its investment in AirAsia India. Also, against this backdrop, there have been concerns about the domestic airline, according to the report. The spokesperson while indicating that AirAsia India is planning to expand its network, said that the airline is planning to scale up the capacity to 70% from 55% at present.

In order to curb the spread of COVID-19 infection, domestic commercial flights were suspended for two months, starting from 25 March 2020. With effect from 27 June 2020, the Ministry of Civil Aviation allowed increasing the capacity to 45 per cent from a maximum of one-third at the time of resumption of domestic flight services from 25 May 2020. From 2 September 2020, it was scaled up to 60 per cent. From 11 November 2020, airlines were permitted to function at 70 per cent of the pre-pandemic capacity. Last month, senior officials of the airline told travel agents that AirAsia India remains on the path of serving the market of India by expanding its network as well as the scale of operations.

01/12/20 Devanjana Nag/Financial Express

Flight to link city with Ahmedabad for the 1st time, SpiceJet to start this month

Ranchi: Commercial airliner SpiceJet is all set to start flight operations from Birsa Munda International Airport from December 20. According to airport sources, SpiceJet is planning to start daily flights between New Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad and has started setting up its counter at city’s airport too.

Talking to TOI, Birsa Munda international airport director Vinod Kumar Sharma said: “We have received confirmation and the commercial airline has started setting up its office at the airport premises but we haven’t been confirmed about the date of launch of operations.”

On being asked about the destinations and timing of the flights Sharma said: “We have been informed about the flights to New Delhi and Mumbai, but the timings and other details are yet to be confirmed by the airline.”

Notably, SpiceJet had applied for starting the operations from Ranchi five years ago but the operations couldn’t take off. Now with the airline launching services from Ranchi flyers are hopeful that they will get connectivity to other cities that weren’t connected from Ranchi.

01/12/20 Times of India

India's 'air bubbles' are placing UAE airlines at a severe disadvantage

Dubai: India’s decision to extend its ban on scheduled commercial flights will further delay UAE airlines’ chances to pick up demand on these routes.

Because right now, India is only operating flights under ‘air bubble’ agreements and which gives the country’s airlines an advantage. It is now an open secret that these arrangements are a form of indirect support given to the country’s beleaguered airlines.

The ‘India-first’ approach on certain routes ensures that India’s carriers do not face direct competition from operators in the UAE or other countries. “In the near-term, foreign operators will suffer due to restrictions on flights by the government and a preference for direct flights by fliers,” said Sanjiv Kapoor, senior advisor at Alton Aviation.

India is yet to give a firm nod as to when it will resume all scheduled flights. As of now, there have been two extensions after all such services were cancelled last March as the country got down to curbing the spread of COVID-19. (Domestic services resumed from May 25.)

“The large flows of worker traffic will be disrupted by the continuing ban,” said John Strickland, Director of JLS Consulting.”

Even prior to the pandemic, blue-collar workers had a strong preference for Indian low-cost carriers. “Middle East low-cost carriers (LCC) are not making much headway as they are not viewed as attractive relative to Indian LCCs," said Kapoor. "And [they] are not as widely available or distributed in India - market presence and visibility are quite low.”

This might explain why Ras Al Khaimah Airport agreed to be Spicejet’s regional hub during a particularly difficult time for the industry. “The commencement of SpiceJet passenger flights into RAK Airport is a significant step forward in helping the UAE get back to a normal footing in the wake of the pandemic,” said Sanjay Khanna, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah International Airport, in a statement last week.

“The Indian expatriate community in the UAE numbers almost 3.5 million people and constitutes 27 per cent of the population, making connectivity between our countries an imperative.”

01/12/20 John Benny/Gulf News

Indian High Commission facilitates another air bubble flight in Nigeria

The Indian High Commission in Nigeria has facilitated Delhi-Lagos-Delhi air bubble flight on Sunday, November 29, 2020.

India created an air bubble arrangement with Nigeria in September 2020.

It explained that the “Transport Bubbles” or “Air Travel Arrangements” are temporary arrangements between the two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are reciprocal in nature, meaning airlines from both countries enjoy similar benefits.

It tweeted, “Glad to have facilitated travel in Delhi-Lagos-Delhi air bubble flight @airindiain 1903/04 on 28/29 Nov. Thank all the concerned 🇮🇳 & 🇳🇬 authorities for their continuous support.”

India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), via its official website, had announced on September 17, 2020 that it established an air travel bubble with Nigeria.

Indian and Nigerian carriers are now permitted to operate flights between India and Nigeria and carry the following categories of persons on such flights:

A. From India to Nigeria:

i. Stranded Nigerian nationals/residents, foreign nationals destined for Africa and transiting through Nigeria or spouses of these persons, whether accompanying or otherwise;

ii. Any Indian national holding any type of valid Nigerian visa and destined for any country in Africa. It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian nationals to enter the destination country before issue of ticket/ boarding pass to the Indian passenger; and

iii. Seamen of foreign nationalities; Seamen holding Indian passports would be allowed subject to clearance from the Ministry of Shipping.

01/12/20 Abiola Odutola/Nairametrics

Bees ‘hijack’ aircraft, delay flights by an hr

Kolkata: A swarm of bees settled on two Vistara Airlines aircraft parked in the same bay at Kolkata airport 16 hours apart, forcing an hour’s delay in the flights and deployment of fire-fighting water bowsers on both occasions to drive them away.

This is the third instance of bees taking a fancy to planes in Kolkata. Last September, bees had swarmed an Air India aircraft. There were multiple invasions in August and September 2012 involving Air India and IndiGo aircraft. In all the cases, the insects had zeroed in on planes parked in the remote bay in front of the integrated terminal.

The incidents on Sunday evening and Monday morning occurred at bay 25, leading to the airline requesting the airport operator to allocate another bay for the time being. The problem first occurred around 4pm on Sunday, just before boarding was to commence for the Delhi-bound flight. As the swarm settled on the plane’s exterior, boarding was put on hold and the fire services department alerted.

“Within minutes, lakhs of bees had settled on the plane as though ready to build a hive. Water jets had to be sprayed for a good 30 minutes to dislodge them. The flight ultimately took off at 6.30pm instead of 5.30pm,” said an airline official.

Vistara ground staff were in for a shock on Monday morning as well when they found the bees back on another aircraft. Though there were other planes in adjoining bays, the bees chose the Vistara aircraft scheduled to leave for Port Blair at 10.30am. The swarm was so big that it nearly obliterated the Vistara lettering on the plane. Cargo loaders could not venture near the aircraft as the bees had settled down just above the cargo bay door that had been opened to load luggage. Again, firefighters targeted the water canon at the bees to drive them away. The plane ultimately took off at 11.30am.

Veteran pilots said no aircraft is allowed to take off if it has a swarm of insects on its body. “Each aircraft has several small probes to determine the static pressure and the total pressure of airflow around the aircraft. These are extremely sensitive. Even if one bee goes inside the probe, the air-speed indicators can go wrong. And that can be catastrophic,” said a pilot.

A Vistara crew member tweeted, “Bad weather. A technical fault. A late-arriving aircraft. Just some of the reasons your flight might be delayed... One to add to the list: A Swarm Of Bees! Honeybee. Footage from #KolkataAirport today... Water Cannon had to be used to disperse the bees!”

Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee said that following the back-to-back incidents, the airport grounds and the terminal building’s exterior was checked to see if bees had made a hive anywhere. Insecticide was also sprayed in the vicinity. But, like on previous occasions, no bee hive could be spotted.

01/12/20 Tamaghna Banerjee & Subhro Niyogi/Times of India

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Video of swarm of bees spotted on aircraft at Kolkata airport goes viral

In a bizarre incident, a swarm of bees clamped themselves on to the window of an Air Vistara flight at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata. A video of the incident has now gone viral on social media.

Shared on Twitter, the viral clip, shows the fire department using water jets to remove the bees from the parked aircraft.

“Looks like honey pancakes inside,” read the caption of the video.

A similar incident had occurred in 2019 when an Air India flight from Kolkata to Agartala was delayed by two and a half hours after a swarm of bees was noticed in front of the cockpit window when the aircraft was taxing towards the runway.

01/12/20 Indian Express

Unfair to Air India crew: Pilots seek Hardeep Puri’s help to address wage cut issue

New Delhi:  Concerned with the wage cut issue, Air India pilot unions, IPG and ICPA on Monday sought the Civil Aviation Ministry’s intervention and wrote a letter to Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri. 

“In our meetings in September, you had given us an assurance to look into our grievances positively. While other airlines are rolling back the austerity pay cuts for their pilots, the wage cut for Air India pilots further increased from October.”

“This is completely divorced from market reality and equally unfair to pilots of Air India and its subsidiaries,” the pilot unions stated in the joint letter addressed to Puri.

Lamenting that pilots of Air India and its two subsidiary airlines, Air India Express and Alliance Air, continue to get reduced wages, up to 70 per cent lower of their normal wages, it said.

While other airlines are rolling back the austerity pay cuts for their pilots, the wage cut for Air India pilots further increased from October, the pilots also said.

“Is it fair to deny these pilots their livelihood due to an occupational hazard? Is this how MoCA (ministry of civil aviation) wants to treat the workmen who are making the Vande Bharat Flights possible?,” letter said.

"This is completely divorced from market reality and equally unfair to pilots of Air India and its subsidiaries," the pilot unions stated in the joint letter addressed to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

lleging that the airline top management has let the pilots “down tremendously”, the IPG-ICPA said, “Our pilots have expressed their displeasure and are extremely troubled by this unwarranted ordeal.”

“We once again urge you to intervene immediately and put a stop to this victimisation. We, therefore, urgently request a follow up meeting with you,” the letter stated.

"Through our representations and meetings, we have shown you how Air India management's cost cutting (move) is malafide and disproportionate and does not have any semblance to the aviation industry standards," according to the letter.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) represents the pilots flying Air India's narrow-body aircraft, while the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) represents those who operate wide-body aircraft of the national carrier.

Stating that even the parliamentarians' salaries have been "reduced by 30 per cent for a period of one year" to meet the exigencies arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it said that "even at the highest strata, there is a clear recognition of reasonable time-bound austerity measures across the board to compensate for the disruption due to the lockdown".

The whole situation is further turning grotesque, as the industry is firmly set on the road to recovery and austerity measures are being scaled back, the letter stated.

Also, pilots who test positive for COVID-19 need to undergo quarantine and hospitalisation.

This has to be followed by a no-objection certified, mandatory medical checks and DGCA approval.

01/12/20 New Indian Express


Where will 100 new airports come up by 2024?

Earlier this year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced an ambitious project: adding 100 new airports by 2024. These include heliports as well as seaports and would see the number of operational aerodromes double from the 100 or so operational airports pre-Covid in India. While the focus is shifting rapidly to get airports operationalised, the real question is where would they come up? >>


Delhi HC stops AAI from collecting 38.7% of Mumbai airport's revenue

Mumbai: The Delhi High Court has restrained the Airports Authority of India (AAI) from collecting 38.7 per cent of Mumbai airport’s revenue as annual fee in view of the adverse financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mumbai airport had invoked the force majeure clause to challenge the transfer of Rs 29 crore from its escrow account to the AAI in July.

Last Friday, the HC granted interim relief to MIAL and restrained AAI from transferring funds from the escrow account to itself. The relief will be in place till an arbitral tribunal decides on the matter.

The court also ruled that 38.7 per cent of the actual payments received by MIAL from the functioning of the airport will be deposited in the escrow account from a prospective basis from the date of judgment. Both the parties have also been directed to appoint an arbitrator each within 10 days to decide on the dispute in detail.

The order is a setback for AAI, which is likely to post a loss in financial year 2020-21 and may appeal it. Revenue share from Delhi and Mumbai airports forms an important source of revenue for the government-owned operator.

MIAL, set for a change in ownership, is a joint venture of AAI and the GVK group. (In August, Adani group announced the takeover of the airport from GVK group, but the process is underway).

Under an agreement between the two parties signed in 2006, MIAL pays 38.7 per cent of its projected revenue as an annual fee.

An escrow account has been set up and all receivables of the Mumbai airport are deposited in it, and are then used to pay statutory dues and annual fee to AAI.

In March, MIAL invoked the force majeure clause under the agreement to suspend the revenue share agreement as the pandemic was impacting traffic flows and revenue.

The AAI allowed a three month deferral till July 15 for April-June dues “on account of a force majeure event”. However, it said the fee would have to be paid from July.

MIAL said it should be entitled to force majeure benefit for the entire duration of the pandemic. It moved the HC seeking interim relief under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act after Rs 29 crore was transferred from the escrow account to AAI on July 7.

In its judgment, the HC said that prima facie a case exists in favour of MIAL, as regards the adverse financial impact of Covid-19 and the resultant restrictions.

The court said it was not enough for the AAI to emphasise that MIAL was required to pay a percentage of its revenue to it, but also demonstrate that MIAL had the financial wherewithal to do so. “It cannot be said, on the basis of the materials on record that the AAI has succeeded in bridging this gap,” Justice C Hari Shankar observed.

A senior AAI executive said the authority will consult its lawyers and decide on future course of action.

01/12/20 Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

Hyderabad Airport gets closer to pre COVID-19 days, handles 3 million passengers in 6 months

Hyderabad: Showing signs of returning to pre-Covid-19 situation, the Hyderabad international airport has handled three million passengers till November 30, since the recommencement of the air traffic in May after the lockdown restrictions were relaxed.

The number of passengers handled in one day touched 37,000 mark from a 3,000 average number of passengers handled in the initial days.

Over 35,000 domestic flights were handled from recommencement till 23rd November, with a single day's highest being 284.

Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai are the destinations which saw huge traffic during the period. Hyderabad reconnected with 51 out of 55 old destinations and added three new ones -- Kozhikode, Imphal and Jagdalpur

According to a spokesperson of the airport, the relaxation of quarantine norms by both the Central and state governments under the Unlock 5.0 has helped the aviation sector in gaining strength steadily. The guidelines on the medical profile of the passengers and RT-PCR medical report are still the ask by many states but, the newly introduced on-site Covid-19 testing facility at the GMR Hyderabad International Airport made it easy for the passengers.

Hyderabad has also seen uptick in the Air Traffic Movement (ATM) from about 40 daily ATMs in the first few weeks of the restart, to over six times growth having handled over 260 domestic flights daily in November.

01/12/20 P Pavan/Mumbai Mirror

Balh activists seek Guv’s help to shift airport site

Mandi: The Balh Bachao Sangharsh Samiti have sought the intervention of Governor Bandaru Dattatreya for shifting the site of the proposed airport in the Balh valley, Mandi, to another place. As the state government is moving ahead to construct the airport, farmers are getting more vocal about their opposition to the project.

Farmers of the region said the valley was known as “mini-Punjab” because the agricultural land was very fertile there. Vegetable production is the key source of livelihood for the residents of the valley. They said they did not want to lose their source of livelihood for the project.

They said 3,500 bigha land would be acquired for the project, of which only 460 bigha land is government’s while the remaining is private land. It is expected that around 10,000 families will be displaced, they said.

Joginder Walia, president of the Balh Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, said, “We are seeking the intervention of Governor Bandaru Dattatreya over the issue. We requested the Governor to ask the state government to shift the site of the proposed airport at another place in Mandi, where less people will are affected.”

01/12/20 Tribune

AAI Agatti installed an atmospheric Water Generator under CSR

Agatti, Lakshadweep: AAI, Airport Authority of India (Agatti Airport) installed an atmospheric Water Generator with 500 KLD at Govt. High School, Agatti under CSR. It was inaugurated by the Deputy Collector of the district, in presence of the Airport Director, AAI's senior officials, and school staff members.

01/12/20 PSU Connect

Monday, November 30, 2020

SpiceJet to restart its seaplane services from December 15

New Delhi: SpiceJet is set to restart its seaplane operations from December 15, budget carrier announced on Sunday. The services were temporarily suspended due to mandatory aircraft maintenance.

Last month, SpiceJet had launched a seaplane service between Ahmedabad (Sabarmati riverfront) and the Statue of Unity in Kevadia, Gujarat.

“The operation will resume on December 15 once the aircraft is back. The maintenance facility at Ahmedabad should be ready soon which would ensure that future maintenance is done here itself. As the maintenance was pre-planned, we didn’t take any bookings beyond November 27th,” a SpiceJet spokesperson said.

“Since the maintenance facility (dry and wet dock) is still under construction at Ahmedabad, the aircraft had to be sent to our lessor’s facility at Maldives,” he added.

30/11/20 Statesman


HAL to invest Rs 1cr to develop immigration infra at Ozar

Nashik: Defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is investing Rs 1 crore to create infrastructural facilities for dedicated immigration facilities at the Nashik airport (Ozar), which the PSU manages.

A team of officials from the Bureau of Immigration (BoI), which functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs, had recently visited the Nashik airport for inspection as part of the procedure before giving permission of Immigration Checkpost (IMC).

The BoI teams discussed the facilities and provided proper plans that HAL has to make available at the airport. According to the sources at HAL, establishing immigration facilities will pave way for international flight operations from and to Nashik. It will also help bring the airport under the international Udan scheme. Moreover, there is scope for special haj flights to Saudi Arabia.

HAL sources said while the company will create the infrastructure, the IT-related works will be handled by the BoI. The BoI has set a deadline of January for HAL to create the infrastructure.

“We have already started creating basic infrastructure like immigration counters, a customs office, security office etc. at the Nashik airport,” said the sources.

The BoI is also creating a dedicated information technology network for broadband and other services at the airport for the immigration desk on its own. The IT-related investment will be made by the BoI itself.

Local MP Hemant Godse, who has been working hard for the commencement of air service from the Nashik airport, said the Centre has already announced the setting up of an international courier terminal (ICT) at the airport. Now, setting up an immigration checkpost at the airport will boost both international passenger as well as cargo flights in the future.

30/11/20 Tushar Pawar/Times of India


Tata Group may increase stake in AirAsia India, rebrand it: Report

Tata Group, which was reportedly in talks with AirAsia's parent company AirAsia Group Berhad last week for a $50 million emergency funding to keep the carrier flying in India, is now planning to raise its stake in AirAsia India to more than 76 per cent by 2021, Business Standard reported quoting sources familiar with the matter. 
 AirAsia India is a joint venture between Tata Group and Malaysia's AirAsia Investment Ltd. DH could not independently verify this report. AirAsia's Malaysian parent, which owns a 49% stake in AirAsia India, had hinted earlier this month that it may exit India. It had stated that it was reviewing its investment in a joint venture airline. 
 The Tata Group's move to boost their stake will allow the company an exit route, whose India unit has been adding to the group’s financial stress. "Our businesses in Japan and India have been draining cash, causing the Group much financial stress. Cost containment and reducing cash burns remain key priorities evident by the recent closure of AirAsia Japan and an ongoing review of our investment in AirAsia India," President (Airlines) of AirAsia Group, Bo Lingam had said.
 30/11/20 Deccan Herald

Four months after the tragedy, large aircrafts remain banned at Karipur airport

Kozhikode: Four months after the plane crash, the Director-General of Civil Aviation is yet to give permission for large planes to land at the tabletop runway of the Karipur airport. The ban continues in the wake of the tragedy that claimed the lives of 21 people on August 7. According to the Department of Civil Aviation, it is unable to give permission as the agencies investigating the accident did not submit a report so far.

A 2200 meter runway is enough for large planes to land at the airport, whereas the Karipur airport has a 2750 meter runway. Inspections by the Airports Authority of India, the Indian Pilot Club, Air India Express and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Team revealed that there was no technical impediment landing large aircrafts.

A team of experts from foreign airlines such as Saudi Arabian Airlines and Emirates Airlines, which place great importance on passenger safety, also the airport and found no problems. They had all volunteered to start services from Karipur.

30/11/20 Kerala Kaumudi

31 acre land needed for permanent civil enclave at Darbhanga airport

Patna: The officials of state government, Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) discussed several pending issues related to Darbhanga airport at a meeting held on its premises on Saturday.

Principal secretary (cabinet secretariat department) Sanjay Kumar said issues related to land acquisition for a permanent civil enclave and installation of instrument landing system (ILS) were taken up at the meeting. Officials of Darbhanga district administration were also present to discuss the short-term and long-term measures required to be taken for smooth commercial operations at the airport.

“Lots of issues related to Darbhanga airport need to be resolved. First, the state government has to acquire 31 acre land and transfer it to the IAF, who in lieu of that would transfer the same chunk of land to the AAI for the construction of a civil enclave. We can acquire land anywhere, but the IAF has to give a no-objection certificate,” Sanjay said.

“The proposed civil enclave requires a four-lane connectivity from the National Highway. Some land has to be acquired for direct connectivity to the enclave. Besides, there is one road on one side of the runway and, because of that, the airport surface is slightly below the road. A person standing on this road can see what’s happening inside the airport. A view cutter is required to give security cover to the airport,” Sanjay said.

The AAI officials have also raised concern over the blue bulls (nilgai) living in the green cover on the airport premises. “To prevent the bulls from coming near the runway, barbed wire fencing is needed on its either side as a short-term measure. On the southern side of the runway, fencing was done by the IAF and work is in progress on the northern side,” said the principal secretary.

For long-term planning, the officials of environment, forest and climate change department have been asked to tranquillize the blue bulls and shift them to some other area. According to AAI officials, the blue bull population has increased over the years on the Darbhanga airport premises as it was non-operational for a long time.

30/11/20 Faryal Rumi/Times of India 

Melbourne – India demand up 15% annually in past five years

During coronavirus, Melbourne Airport saw international airlines use the airport more than any other in Australia to fly citizens back to their respective countries.

India and Sri Lanka in particular added the most repatriation flights with Qantas, Air India, SriLankan, and Lion Air all flying residents home on an estimated 30 flights combined.

Qatar Airways, Etihad, and Emirates also continue to heavily support Melbourne with services and repatriation flights.

Over the last five years, Victoria’s India market grew by 15.2% per annum, making the state the fastest-growing home state for Indian arrivals within Australia (except for Tasmania as it has a much smaller base).

More than 610,000 flew between India and Melbourne last year, with over 90% flying indirectly, booking data indicates. Singapore Airlines was the top carrier.

30/11/20 anna.aero

GHIAL touches 3 mn mark for domestic oprs, continues to be second best connected Airport

Hyderabad: GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL) has touched three million mark for domestic operations and continued to be second best connected Airport after Delhi. 
 With the relaxation of quarantine norms by both the Central and the State Governments under the Unlock 5.0, Indian aviation sector is gaining strength steadily. 
 The guidelines on the medical profile of the passengers and RT-PCR medical report are still being asked by many states but thanks to the new Covid-19 testing facility at the GHIA is making Air travel the safest way to travel, a release here said on Monday. From about 3000 domestic passengers daily in the first few weeks post recommencement of domestic operations from May 25 onwards, now the passenger footfall has increased to over 30,000 daily in November, which over 10 times from the re-start.
 The Airport has handled over 3 Million domestic passengers from the day of recommencement till November 23. Hyderabad has also seen uptick in the Air Traffic Movement (ATM) from about 40 daily ATMs in the first few weeks of the restart, to over six times growth having handled over 260 domestic flights daily in November 2020. 
Over 35,000 domestic flights were handled from the day of recommencement till November 23. The number of domestic passengers in a single day touched 37,000 mark recently, the highest since the recommencement of domestic operations. The ATMs also crossed 284 mark on a single day. (in the month of November 2020). Hyderabad International Airport has regained its 51 destinations out of pre-covid 55 domestic destinations. With three new domestic destinations – Kozhikode, Imphal and Jagdalpur, RGIA is now connected to 54 destinations in the domestic sector.
 30/11/20 UNI

Can this British entrepreneur of Indian origin make a business out of an idea that Ryanair debunked?

Navdip Singh Judge wants to pull off something that Michael O'Leary, founder of Ryanair, the largest European budget airline, has never done. It is something that America's Southwest Airlines, the world's largest low-cost carrier, hasn't done either.

Judge, or Nino as he is commonly known, wants to start a low-cost airline that will fly to long haul destinations. To be precise, Flypop will connect the Indian diaspora in the UK to their hometowns in India, starting with flights from Stansted airport in London, to Amritsar and Ahmedabad.

In November, in an interview with World Travel Market, O'Leary as much as debunked the whole idea. He remarked: "I don't think long-haul, low-cost works."

Consider this. Ryanair's longest flight is the five-and-a-half flight from Warsaw in Poland, to Tenerife in Spain. Southwest's is about 15 minutes longer, from Sacramento to Honolulu. On the other hand, Flypop's flying time to Amritsar will be over seven hours, and an hour longer to reach Ahmedabad.

It's not that others haven't tried it yet. Remember WOW Airlines, the ultra-low cost airline from Iceland that even started operations to India? It folded up in 2019. And so did Danish airline Primera Air, which industry observers say, closed operations after starting long haul operations.

But Judge is unperturbed.

"We will be ready by Baisakhi, next year," Judge told Moneycontrol on a recent Zoom call from London. While the popular Sikh festival will be celebrated on April 14, Flypop may finally take to the air when markets are more ready, points out the entrepreneur. In other words, when there are enough vaccines available and travel is deemed safe enough for large numbers of fliers to take to the skies again. After all, Flypop will need to fill wide body aircraft that can fly up to 400 passengers.

What's the secret sauce in Judge's plan that gives him confidence? Not just that. The British entrepreneur of Indian origin even convinced the UK government to lend him Pounds 5 million, from its Future Fund, which helps companies, especially start-ups, that have been hit by the pandemic. Companies have to match the government's aid with an equivalent investment from private investors.

Pounds five million is the maximum that the Fund lends to a company.

"Just one percent of the companies who apply for the aid, manage to get the maximum amount," Judge said.

30/11/20 Prince Mathews Thomas/Moneycontrol.com



Mumbai airport preparing team to manage Covid-19 vaccine cargo: Report

Mumbai: Mumbai airport, India’s largest gateway for pharmaceutical import and export, is gearing up to facilitate the shipments of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine distribution in India.

The facilitation entails collaborating and performing advance planning with stakeholders similar to airline clients, provide chain companions, regulatory and governmental our bodies, and vaccine distributors, said a Mumbai Worldwide Airport Ltd (MIAL) spokesperson, as cited in the Times of India report.

According to the TOI report, the main challenges with the shipment are temperature administration and time spent in transit.

For this, Mumbai airport authorities are planning to create Digital Devoted Pharma Corridors linking India with aviation hubs in Europe and the Center East. This will be carried out to accelerate transportation and cold storage of the Covid vaccine for distribution.

“The duty drive will work at temperature administration, cut back dwell time (the length that cargo containers spend inside short-term storage services in transit, like at airports) with prior particular approvals from regulators with a purpose to guarantee an unbroken chilly chain for vaccine motion from the manufacturing facility to the tip distributor,” the spokesperson added.

The airport aims to plan round the clock customer support cell for Covid-19 vaccine EXIM (export-import) consignments to deal with buyer queries, pre-alerts, and standing updates.

“The Mumbai airport is well-positioned to help, preserve, and optimize pharma-dedicated corridors around the globe. We’re additionally working carefully with airports in Europe and Centre-East to roll out totally Digital Devoted Pharma corridors, significantly for the transportation of the Covid-19 vaccine,” mentioned MIAL.

30/11/20 Prashant Awasthi/Business Line

MIHAN project created 54,000 jobs - TCS, HCL to Air India open hiring doors; more to come

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Jobs creation is one of the toughest tasks for any government to do even as it is the biggest demand by the public. So, when a huge number of jobs gets created for the common man, everyone sits up and takes notice. This is exactly what is happening right now, at least as far as Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari is concerned. Nitin Gadkari, through his endeavours, has created 54000 jobs. In fact, that is the exact number of people who have actually got jobs.

It is called the Nitin Gadkari model and it has been implemented in his parliamentary constituency Nagpur. This initiative by Gadkari has led to over 54,000 people getting jobs in companies. This Gadkari initiative has been named MIHAN - Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur.

The MIHAN project was created for Nagpur and the Vidarbha region when development projects were initated there. This project helped in generating employment for the local people. Importantly, this also fulfilled the promise made by the BJP leader to the people in 2014. Gadkari had vowed to generate 50,000 jobs in this region.

Gadkari started the MIHAN project to make Nagpur and the Vidarbha region the hub of economic activities and work started in 2009. Nagpur is an important city for air and rail traffic due to its special geographical location and this project looked to boost that position further.

Gadkari set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Nagpur. After winning the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Gadkari became an MP from Nagpur and eventually a cabinet minister in the Narendra Modi-led government, after which he focused on working on his dream project.

The best part was that it generated much interest, in both private and public sector. Gradually, some big companies showed interest in the MIHAN project. Thereafter, many companies came forward for investment to take advantage of the benefits on offer.

Among these companies, Air India has provided jobs to at least 4,500 people in Nagpur, HCL has employed around 2,500 people and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has given employment to 7,500 people, according to IANS. Similarly, investment opportunities of more than 170 companies have provided employment opportunities.

Gadkari's office said that 54,868 people got jobs in Nagpur in the last six years. These jobs were created following the establishment of industries and development projects in Nagpur.

A total of 36,407 jobs have been generated in SEZ and 16,162 in the non-SEZ area. At the same time, 2,299 people got jobs through the Central Facility Building MIHAN SEZ.

30/11/20 ZeeBiz

Air India pilot unions seek civil aviation ministry's intervention on wage cut issue

Mumbai: Air India pilot unions IPG and ICPA on Monday sought the civil aviation ministry's intervention on the wage cut issue and also requested for an "urgent" meeting with him on several other issues.

"In our meetings in September, you had given us an assurance to look into our grievances positively. While other airlines are rolling back the austerity pay cuts for their pilots, the wage cut for Air India pilots further increased from October. This is completely divorced from market reality and equally unfair to pilots of Air India and its subsidiaries," the pilot unions stated in the joint letter addressed to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

It said that pilots of Air India and its two subsidiary airlines, Air India Express and Alliance Air, continue to get reduced wages, up to 70 per cent lower of their normal wages. "Through our representations and meetings, we have shown you how Air India management's cost cutting (move) is malafide and disproportionate and does not have any semblance to the aviation industry standards," according to the letter.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) represents the pilots flying Air India's narrow-body aircraft, while the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) represents those who operate wide-body aircraft of the national carrier.

Stating that even the parliamentarians' salaries have been "reduced by 30 per cent for a period of one year" to meet the exigencies arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it said that "even at the highest strata, there is a clear recognition of reasonable time-bound austerity measures across the board to compensate for the disruption due to the lockdown".

The whole situation is further turning grotesque, as the industry is firmly set on the road to recovery and austerity measures are being scaled back, the letter stated. Also, pilots who test positive for COVID-19 need to undergo quarantine and hospitalisation.

This has to be followed by a no-objection certified, mandatory medical checks and DGCA approval. The entire process to get back to flying takes more than a month, the IPG-ICPA said in the letter. "Is it fair to deny these pilots their livelihood due to an occupational hazard? Is this how MoCA (ministry of civil aviation) wants to treat the workmen who are making the Vande Bharat Flights possible?" the letter said.

30/11/20 PTI/New Indian Express

Nepal-India regular flight to start with two flights a day

The government has agreed to resume flights between Nepal and India, which were halted for eight months. Yadav Prasad Koirala, Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, confirmed that the decision had been taken at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

In place to evade corona infection, Nepal has suspended regular international flights since last March. While the government opened Tribhuvan International Airport on 1 September, India and China have not yet opened for regular international flights. A month ago, India suggested opening flights to Nepal under the air-bubble concept because it will serve only the people of the two nations.

Nepal is planning to operate up to two Nepal-India flights a day based on this plan; the ministry source stated, ” I have not been informed by the resolution of the cabinet, “The decision of the cabinet has not been confirmed to me.”

According to another ministry official, the Ministry of Tourism will soon obtain a decision from the Council of Ministers. In the end, the Prime Minister will influence the decision of the meeting. The ministry will plan for the activity according to what is emerging,” the official said.

According to Dev Chandra Lal Karna, acting general manager of Tribhuvan International Airport, there are 10-12 international flights a day. According to the Acting General Manager, Karna, up to 70 percent of international flights now transport passengers.

30/11/20 Diwas Pokhrel/Aviation Nepal


Goa''s domestic air passenger traffic returning to normal: Official

Panaji: The domestic passenger traffic at Goa Airport is getting back to normal as the facility has recorded about 75 per cent footfalls so far this year compared to the same period last year during pre-COVID-19 times, a senior official said on Sunday.

Talking to PTI, Goa Airport''s Director Gagan Malik said the number of domestic flights are also increasing amid the unlock process, even as scheduled and chartered international travel continues to remain suspended.

After the lockdown in March this year due to the pandemic, India resumed its scheduled domestic passenger flights from May 25.

Malik said since the Goa Airport reopened for domestic travel, the passenger flow has returned to 70-75 per cent now compared to last year, and is expected to pick up further next month, which is the peak tourist season in the state.

"The domestic passenger footfalls are expected to cross 80 per cent in December," he said.

On an average, 11,000 passengers arrive and depart from the Goa Airport on weekdays, while on weekends, the number reaches about 13,500, the official said.

Goa has been witnessing an inflow of visitors as hotels, restaurants and other places of tourist interests have opened up as part of the unlock process.

Malik said 50 per cent of the domestic flights have resumed, and are likely to go up to 60-65 per cent next month.

29/11/20 PTI/Outlook