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Mumbai Airport main runway to be shut for 6 hours Monday, Tuesday

Mumbai : More than 100 flights to and from Mumbai have already been cancelled due to a runway closure for maintenance.

The main runway at the India’s second busiest airport is shut for six hours starting 11 am on Monday and Teusday.

Jet Airways’ website shows close to 70 domestic and international flights have been cancelled. A spokesperson for SpiceJet said 18 flights have been cancelled.

“The main runway of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) handled by GVK MIAL, will be un-operational on April 9th and 10th, 2018 between 1100 hrs to 1700 hrs on account of pre-monsoon maintenance activities,” said a communication.

“Passengers are requested to connect with their respective airlines,” it added.

The secondary runway will however be operational.


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Swiss Aviation advisory firm interested in Air India

‘European consulting firm had conveyed keenness to Ministry last year’

Global advisory firm Swiss Aviation Consulting has expressed interest in acquiring  Air India, according to a senior official in the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The European firm is an independent advisory group offering services such as aircraft asset management, aircraft sales and acquisition support, risk management, strategic and operational advisory and flight training, among others.

Founded in 2005, the Hunenberg-headquartered firm has affiliates in the UAE, Malaysia and South Africa, according to its website. An e-mail query to the firm on the disinvestment issue remained unanswered.

The company’s keenness to buy Air India was shared with the Ministry of Civil Aviation months before the Centre formally invited bidders to participate in the disinvestment process. Though a foreign private player was said to have been interested at the time, Ministry officials had remained tight-lipped about its identity.

The official, however, did not mention whether the Swiss firm had formally written to the ministry about its desire to pick up stake in the national carrier. Last month, the Ministry of Civil Aviation invited expression of interest in Air India’s disinvestment process and shared the broad contours of the stake sale. The government has offered management control and 76% share in Air India along with its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express and 50% per cent stake in AISATS, a ground-handling joint venture with Singapore Airport Terminal Services.

The last date for submission of the EoI is May 14 and intimation to qualified interest bidders would be made on May 28.

IndiGo’s exit

Market leader IndiGo was the first to formally write to the government with an interest in the national carrier but pulled out of the race last week on the grounds that it was primarily interested in Air India’s international operations and Air India Express.

Potential bidders

The Tata group and Singapore Airlines are also potentially open to bidding for the national carrier. According to a media report, a consortium of Jet Airways, Air France-KLM and Delta Airlines is also believed to have shown its willingness to buy stake in Air India.

Ground-handling agencies including the Bird Group and Turkey’s Celebi too had written to the Ministry with a specific interest in buying Air India’s ground-handling arm, Air India Airport Transport Services Ltd.

Foreign entities, including airlines, can invest up to 49% in Air India under the government approval route, under the condition that substantial ownership and effective control rests with an Indian national.


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Airlines in India are buying 1,000 new planes, but that still won’t be enough

In February, domestic air travel demand in India grew twice more than the global average, and the country’s airlines are gearing up for a further rise.

Jet Airways, India’s second-largest airline (by market share), informed the Indian exchanges (Pdf) on March 03 that it had agreed to buy 75 new Boeing 737 MAX planes. This would take the airline’s total order book to over 150 aircraft, though the company hasn’t specified a timeline.

Vistara, a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and the Tata Group, is reportedly looking to buy 60 planes. IndiGo, the country’s largest airline, wants to add an eye-popping 450 in eight years.

These orders total to around 1,000 aircraft over the next eight years (PDF)

However, according to American aircraft manufacturer Boeing’s estimates, India will actually need double that number of planes in the next 20 years. Its rival Airbus is a little conservative, pegging the number at around 1,750 by the year 2038. Going by these projections, Indian airlines currently seem short of the requirements.

After all, in financial year 2018 alone, the sector grew nearly 20% in terms of passenger traffic, with industry estimates showing that the trend is likely to continue. Over 117 million Indians travelled by air in 2017, nearly double from six years ago.

“You look at the average traffic growth in the last 10 years…you will understand the need for about 2,500 aircraft over the next 20 years because the economy is also growing. So you can assume that the traffic growth will continue,” said Dhiraj Mathur, partner at PwC India.

Airline Aircraft addition Delivery year
Air India 11 2018-2019
Air Asia 60 by 2023
GoAir 119 2018-2022
IndiGo 448 by 2026
Jet Airways* 156 2018-2024
Spice Jet 157 2018-2023
Vistara* 60 likely undecided

In the shorter term, airlines need to add an average of 50 aircraft annually to keep up with this rate of growth, said Mark Martin, head of aviation consultancy firm Martin Consulting.

“An airline usually replaces or renews its aircraft every five years, because after that period, the maintenance costs dramatically shoot up…Our estimate is that over the next four years, Indian airlines will need to add 400 planes at least,” Martin explained.

However, according to a parliamentary response (Pdf.) from Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha on March 06, airlines in India will add only around 30 planes between 2017 and 2019.

It doesn’t necessarily mean airlines will be scrambling to keep up, though. Currently, Indian airlines are still only utilising 80% to 90% of their total passenger capacity, Martin added.


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INDIA BEGINS HUNT FOR 110 FIGHTER JETS IN WORLD’S BIGGEST PROCUREMENT

New Delhi: The Union Ministry of Defence on Friday issued an initial Request For Information (RFI) to global aviation companies to make fighter jets in India.

The RFI has set the ball rolling for a multi-billion dollar ‘Make in India’ project to produce 110 single or twin-engine fighter jets for the Indian Air Force with foreign collaboration.

This will be followed by request for proposal (RPF) or a formal tender. After that there will be evaluations, technical trials and commercial negotiations.

Th deal could be worth over USD 15 billion, making it one of the biggest such procurement in recent years globally.

This comes after the MoD cancelled their two-year old plan to produce 114 single-engine fighter jets with foreign collaboration at an estimated cost of Rs 1.15 lakh crore.

In 2007, tenders for the 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) were floated. After an intensive trial process, the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale were selected in 2012.

Price negotiations followed, but the deal couldn’t be completed and was scrapped. In April 2015, the Government announced a move to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in an off-the-shelf condition from French major Dassault.

IAF is grappling with a severe shortage of fighter planes, now down to 31 squadrons against its strength of 42 squadrons, required to deal with both China and Pakistan. Furthermore, some of squadrons are made up of aircraft which will be retired soon, thereby depleting the strength of the IAF further. A squadron is made up of 16-18 planes.

The RFI clearly says that fighter jets need to be manufactured in India. It will be under ‘Make in India’ to get global manufactures to have a production line in the country to be open to the possibility for future expansions. To speed up matters, the MoD will be looking at new additions made by global players since the MMRCA trials. The planes tested then were Lockheed Martin F-16IN, Boeing’s F/A-18IN, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Saab Gripen and MiG-35.


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IndiGo opts out of race to buy Air India

IndiGo, the first airline to express interest in acquiring debt-laden Air India, has opted out, saying it was interested only in the state-owned carrier’s international operations and does not have capability to turn around all of its domestic business.

“From day one, IndiGo has expressed its interest primarily in the acquisition of Air India’s international operations and Air India Express. However, that option is not available under the government’s current divestiture plans for Air India,” Aditya Ghosh, president, said in a statement on Thursday. “As we have communicated before, we do not believe we have capability to take on the task of acquiring and successfully turning around all of Air India’s airline operations.”

IndiGo had publicly expressed interest in acquiring Air India’s international operating arm in July, after a ministerial panel approved divestment of the airline on June 28. The move surprised experts because it would have meant a change in its one-aircraft-type, low-cost model. To be sure, the carrier has acquired smaller ATRs to offer regional connections.

IndiGo co-promoter Rakesh Gangwal told analysts the airline was well placed to ferry longhaul international passengers in a low-cost model, fed by its domestic network. IndiGo’s proposed investment in Air India was a means to that end. Gangwal clarified that “irrespective of how the Air India story plays out,” it made “fundamental economic sense for IndiGo to enter the long-haul, international market.”

It was first reported in November that IndiGo had started working on an alternative plan to start international operations through 50 wide-bodied airplanes.

IndiGo’s decision comes less than a week after the government issued an Expression of Interest document on the sale of a 76% stake in Air India, Air India Express and AISATS as one entity.

Analysts said IndiGo’s decision is wise, although it is a big dampener for Air India. “This announcement is not good news.

From the government’s perspective, adjusting the sale to the requirements of every airline by breaking it into pieces may not have been doable,” said Jitender Bhargava, former executive director at Air India.

“Indigo needs to remain focused on executing their business plan which will see very aggressive expansion in domestic and international. Air India, though a very good opportunity, would have been too complex and risky for IndiGo,” said Kapil Kaul, CEO at Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation in India.

Government officials involved in the divestment said IndiGo’s withdrawal would not affect the plan to sell stake in Air India. “It does not mean anything as IndiGo are too big for their boots

Acquisition by them would have led to a monopolistic situation in the domestic market and also they operate a narrow-body fleet, which is not ideal for international operations. Also, they wanted only international operations, which is not doable,” said a senior government official who did not want to be identified. With IndiGo opting out, an unidentified international carrier, the Tata Group and Jet Airways are still in the race for Air India.


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Vistara plans to start international operations soon having bagged its 20th aircraft

Category : News

New Delhi : Today is a landmark day for Vistara. The three-year-old airline serving 22 domestic destinations is now looking forward to commencing international operations, having received its 20th aircraft early this morning. Better still, the full-service airline, a joint venture between Tata Sons Limited and Singapore Airlines, is expecting two more Airbus A320neo aircraft by June this year, which fits neatly with these plans.

To remind you, in 2016, while clearing the new Civil Aviation Policy, the Modi government decided to do away with the requirement that airlines needed five years of domestic experience to be allowed to fly overseas. However, it retained the condition that airlines have to deploy at least 20 aircraft for domestic operations. Vistara had lobbied hard for the 5/20 rule to be scrapped, and now is poised to reap the benefits.

“Vistara (on Wednesday) received its 20th aircraft and its seventh Airbus A320neo powered by CFM engines… With this milestone addition to its fleet, Vistara completes its initial aircraft order as planned at the early stages of setting up the airline. Vistara will use the new aircraft to increase frequencies on existing routes to scale up operations in the domestic market, while gearing up to start international operations soon,” the airline said in a statement.

“This is not just another addition to our fleet, but a landmark one that signals Vistara’s arrival on the global map and marks the beginning of our next phase of growth. What Vistara has achieved in three years is nothing less than phenomenal, and we’re confident that our distinctive approach to the business will continue to set new benchmarks for the industry,” added its CEO Leslie Thng.

He has reason to be proud. Vistara is not only the highest-rated Indian airline on SkyTrax and TripAdvisor, but was recently awarded by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India and FICCI for being the ‘Most Passenger Friendly Airline’.

The game plan is to start with short-haul international routes, perhaps in the second half of this year itself. Vistara has applied for international rights to a number of places in Southeast Asia, including Singapore and Bangkok, as well as hotspots like Dubai in the Gulf – all within the range of the A-320. The more long-term plans for commencing medium and long-haul routes reportedly hinge on the outcome of Air India’s auction.

At a press conference in January, Thng had said that the airline’s promoters were keeping “an open mind” and “they will evaluate if there is a business case”.

The report adds that since the Maharajah has almost 50 wide-body planes, the bidder that bags the airline will not have to purchase twin aisle planes for the medium to long haul flights. This is why Vistara has not yet placed an order for such planes yet. Winning the bidding war could accelerate Vistara’s international dreams.

With AirAsia, too, reportedly planning to go international latest by early 2019, the Indian customer is certainly going to be spoilt for choice. Here’s hoping that the increased competition leads to cheaper foreign flights in the near future.


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IATA Releases 2017 Airline Safety Performance

Montreal – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for the 2017 safety performance of the commercial airline industry showing continued strong improvements in safety.

  • The all accident rate (measured in accidents per 1 million flights) was 1.08, an improvement over the all accident rate of 1.68 in 2016 and the rate of 2.01 for the previous 5-year period (2012-2016).
  • The 2017 rate for major jet accidents (measured in jet hull losses per 1 million flights) was 0.11, which was the equivalent of one major accident for every 8.7 million flights. This was an improvement over the rate of 0.39 achieved in 2016 and also better than the five-year rate (2012-2016) of 0.33.
  • There were 6 fatal accidents with 19 fatalities among passengers and crew. This compares with an average of 10.8 fatal accidents and approximately 315 fatalities per year in the previous five-year period (2012-2016). In 2016 there were 9 fatal accidents and 202 fatalities.
  • None of the 6 fatal accidents involved a passenger jet. Five involved turboprop aircraft and one involved a cargo jet. The crash of the cargo jet also resulted in the deaths of 35 persons on the ground, as well as the crew of the jet.
  • IATA member airlines experienced zero fatal accidents or hull losses in 2017 with jet or turboprop equipment.

“2017 was a very good year for aviation safety. Some 4.1 billion travelers flew safely on 41.8 million flights. We saw improvements in nearly all key metrics—globally and in most regions. And our determination to make this very safe industry even safer continues. In 2017 there were incidents and accidents that we will learn from through the investigation process, just as we will learn from the recent tragedies in Russia and Iran. Complementing that knowledge are insights we can gain from the millions of flights that operate safety. Data from these operations is powering the development of predictive analytics that will eventually enable us to eliminate the conditions that can lead to accidents. The industry knows that every fatality is a tragedy. Our common goal is for every flight to take-off and land safely,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

2017 Safety Performance:

2017 2016 2012- 2016
On-board Fatalities[i] 19 202 314.6
Total Accidents 45 67 74.8
Fatal Accidents  6 9 [ii] 10.8
Fatality Risk[iii] 0.09 0.21 0.24
Fatal Accidents Passenger Flights             2 3 5.6
Fatal Accidents Cargo Flights ​​4 6 4.6
% of accidents involving fatalities  13.3 13.4 14.4
​Jet hull losses ​4 13​ 10​
​Jet hull losses with fatalities ​1 4​ 3.4​
​Turboprop hull losses ​9 7​ 15​
​Turboprop hull losses with fatalities 5​ 4​ 7.2​

Almost all regions showed improvement in 2017 compared to the previous five years (2012-2016) as follows:

Jet hull loss rates by region of operator (per millions departures)

REGION 2017 2012- 2016
Africa 0.00 2.21
Asia Pacific 0.18 0.48
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) 0.92 1.17
Europe 0.13 0.14
Latin America and the Caribbean 0.41 0.53
Middle East and North Africa ​​0.00 0.74
North America  0.00 0.22
North Asia ​0.00 0.00​

The world turboprop hull loss rate was 1.30 per million flights, which was a deterioration from 1.01 in 2016 but an improvement over the five-year rate (2012-2016) of 2.18. All regions saw their turboprop safety performance improve in 2017 when compared to their respective five-year rates. Notwithstanding this, accidents involving turboprop aircraft represented 44% of all accidents in 2017 and 83% of fatal accidents.

Turboprop hull loss rates by region of operator (per million departures)

REGION 2017 2012- 2016
Africa 5.70 7.38
Asia Pacific 0.61 1.45
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) 16.44 20.59
Europe 0.00 0.73
Latin America and the Caribbean 0.00 1.55
Middle East and North Africa ​​0.00 3.42
North America  0.94 0.98
North Asia ​0.00 8.73​

Progress in Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa continued to make strong progress on safety. Airlines in the region had zero jet hull losses and zero fatal accidents involving jets or turboprops for a second consecutive year. Both the turboprop hull loss rate and the all accident rates declined against the average of the previous five years. However, the turboprop hull loss rate increased compared to 2016 (5.70 vs. 1.52). In turn, this largely was responsible for causing an increase in the all accident rate compared to 2016 (6.87 vs. 2.43).

“Airlines in Sub-Saharan Africa continued to improve their safety performance. The goal is to achieve world-class safety. For a second year in a row, airlines in the region experienced no passenger fatalities and no jet hull losses. But there is still a large gap to cover in the safety performance of the continent’s turboprop fleet. Global standards such as the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) are making a difference. Counting all accidents, the performance of African airlines on the IOSA registry was more than three times better than non-IOSA airlines in the region. That’s why we continue to encourage African nations to incorporate IOSA and the IATA Standard Safety Assessment (ISSA) into their safety oversight systems. ISSA, which is intended for those carriers that are not eligible for IOSA, also offers a one-term opportunity to operators of aircraft that would otherwise fall under IOSA, enabling an incremental approach to achieving IOSA,” said de Juniac.

In parallel, African governments must accelerate the implementation of ICAO’s safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPS). As of year-end 2017, only 25 African countries had at least 60% SARPS implementation,” said de Juniac.

IOSA

In 2017, the all accident rate for airlines on the IOSA registry was nearly four times better than that of non-IOSA airlines (0.56 vs. 2.17) and it was nearly three times better over the 2012-16 period. All IATA member airlines are required to maintain their IOSA registration. There are currently 423 airlines on the IOSA Registry of which 142 are non-IATA Members. Over the next few years, IOSA will undergo a digital transformation that will enable IOSA airlines to compare and benchmark their performance. In the long run, the digital transformation will help to focus auditing on areas with the highest level of safety risk.

Six-Point Safety Strategy

IATA’s Six Point Safety Strategy is a comprehensive data-driven approach to identify organizational, operational and emerging safety issues:

  • Reducing operational risk such as LOC-I (Loss of Control In-flight), CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain) and RE (Runway Excursions)
  • Enhancing quality and compliance through audit programs
  • Advocating for improved aviation infrastructure such as implementation of performance-based navigation approaches
  • Supporting consistent implementation of Safety Management Systems
  • Supporting effective recruitment and training to enhance quality and compliance through programs such as the IATA Training and Qualification Initiative
  • Identifying and addressing emerging safety issues, such as lithium batteries and integrating remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) into airspace.

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Indian Air Force’s cargo helicopter crashes near Kedarnath temple

DEHRADUN: One person was killed and three others injured when an Indian Air Force (IAF) cargo helicopter caught fire while landing in Uttarakhand’s Kedarnath on 3 Apr 2018.

The MI-17 helicopter reportedly caught fire after it hit an iron girder while it was attempting to land in a helipad near the Kedarnath temple.

The chopper was carrying construction material from Guptakashi to Kedarnath and crashed landed just short of the helipad. It took off at 8:00am and the accident happened at 8:20am. All six IAF personnel on board are safe though the pilot sustained minor injuries on leg.

Medical assistance is being provided by the district administration and IAF.

The IAF in an official statement said, “Today morning around 0810h one Mi-17 V5 helicopter of IAF crashed near Kedarnath. All persons on-board are safe. A Court of Inquiry will ascertain the cause of the accident.”

The Mi-17 V5 is a Russian built medium-lift military transport chopper. Designed to transport cargo inside the cabin and on an external sling, the Mi-17V5 is considered tone of the world’s most advanced military transport helicopters.

Mi-17V5, supplied to India, ranks among the most technically advanced helicopters of the Mi-8/17 type, incorporating the best engineering solutions of previous generations.
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Incident: Vistara A20N at Ahmedabad on Mar 30th 2018, engine shut down in flight

A Vistara Airlines Airbus A320-200N,  performing flight UK-996 from Ahmedabad to Delhi  with 115 people on board, was in the initial climb out of Ahmedabad’s runway 23 when the crew stopped the climb at 3000 feet and needed to shut the right hand engine (LEAP-1) down. The aircraft returned to Ahmedabad for a safe landing on runway 23 about 20 minutes after departure.

A replacement A320-200N  reached Delhi with a delay of 5.5 hours.

The airline confirmed the failure of the right hand engine but stressed the problem is unrelated to the issues encountered by Indigo and other airlines with PW1127 engines as they had opted for GE/CFM LEAP-1 engines.


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Chaos at Delhi’s IGI Airport; thousands of bags go missing after snag at clearance counter

New Delhi : A number of flights were delayed at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport after the baggage handling system developed a snag. Bags belonging to thousands of passengers went missing from Terminal 3, resulting in long serpentine queues and chaos.

Chaos at Delhi's IGI Airport; thousands of bags go missing after snag at clearance counter

Airlines, including Vistara, complained that the bags were not being loaded in the aircraft and, therefore, the services were affected. Airport operator, Delhi International Airport Ltd, issued a statement that it was trying to solve the problem.

While passengers vented out their anger on Twitter over the ‘inordinate’ delays in baggage clearance, airlines apologised for the inconvenience. Vistara Airlines tweeted: “We would like to inform you that Delhi airport has been facing challenges with the baggage handling system post check-in. All airlines and hundreds of bags have been impacted and not being loaded onto flights. The airlines have taken this up with Delhi airport officials, who are looking into the matter.”

Vistara operates from Terminal 3 along with Air India and other international operators.

Reasons for delay

A Delhi airport spokesperson said as passengers were carrying ‘dangerous’ goods, such as power banks and lighters, in their handbags, the baggage handling system was affected. He said the check-in rate of such items was 30 per cent higher than on average days.

The spokesperson added that passengers are advised not to pack items, such as lighters and power banks, in their check-in luggage to avoid inconvenience. He, however, dismissed allegations that a section of the staff had delayed the clearance of bags after an official was suspended over unknown reasons.


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