Adani Group Faces Investigation Over 2 Mumbai Airports' Finances

Radhika Bansal

16 Oct 2023

Adani Enterprises, supported by billionaire Gautam Adani, confirmed on Friday, October 13 that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs is examining the accounts of the group's two airports in Mumbai. The ministry has requested information and documents concerning Mumbai International Airport Ltd and Navi Mumbai International Airport Ltd for the financial years 2017-18 to 2021-22.

Adani currently owns and operates seven airports, including Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, which it assumed control of in 2021. In 2019, it acquired six airports as part of the government's initial privatisation initiative and is constructing a new airport in Navi Mumbai on the city's outskirts. Adani acquired a majority stake in Mumbai International Airport in August 2020 from the debt-stricken GVK Group. Adani said it will commence operations at the Navi Mumbai Airport from December 2024.

In July 2021, the group acquired a 74% stake in Mumbai’s international airport, after buying GVK Group’s 50.5% stake and a 23.5% stake from ACSA Global Ltd and Bid Services Division (Mauritius) Ltd (Bidvest). It also secured rights to build and operate the Navi Mumbai airport, where operations will commence from December 2024.

Across the country, the group owns and operates seven airports. It won bids for six airports under the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in February 2019, including Lucknow, Mangaluru, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Guwahati, and Thiruvananthapuram. The group will be responsible for operating, managing, and developing airports for over 50 years.

"We would like to inform you that Mumbai International Airport Limited and Navi Mumbai International Airport Limited, stepdown subsidiaries of Adani Enterprises Limited have received communications dated October 06, 2023 (received on October 12, 2023) from the Office of the Regional Director, Southeast Region, Hyderabad, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, relating to initiation of investigation of books of accounts," said Adani Enterprises in a stock exchange filing on Friday, October 13.

"MIAL and NMIAL shall be responding to the said communications, by applicable legal provisions," the firm said. On October 13, Adani Enterprises' scrip on BSE closed 2% lower at INR 2,454.65.

Adani Group Facing Investigation

This investigation is the most recent challenge for the conglomerate since a U.S. short-seller accused it of improper use of offshore tax havens and stock manipulation earlier this year. In May, a court-appointed panel reported that the investigation by India's markets regulator into these allegations had yielded no results.

However, last week, Reuters revealed that the financial regulator would explain to the country's top court why it had paused and then resumed investigations into the group following a tip in 2014, amid concerns about regulatory delays.

According to customs data, Adani Group imported coal at significantly higher prices than the market rate, as per an Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) report. In February, India's Ministry of Corporate Affairs began scrutinizing the Adani Group's financial statements.

(With Inputs from Reuters)

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Aeroflot Makes Payment to CDB Aviation for 4 Leased Aircraft

Radhika Bansal

16 Oct 2023

CDB Aviation received a 1.42 billion yuan (USD 194 million) payout from Russian state-owned insurer NSK, as a settlement for its claims against Aeroflot Group. Parent China Development Bank Financial Leasing said in a stock market filing that the payment, made in compliance with all relevant sanctions and laws, covers four undisclosed aircraft.

CDB Aviation will continue to pursue litigation in the Irish courts under its own insurance policies with other insurers. It will also seek insurance payouts covering aircraft previously leased to other Russian airlines. Aeroflot Group continues negotiations on the settlement of existing claims with other lessors of foreign-made aircraft.

By the agreements reached, the lessor terminated its claims to the Russian parties both under insurance policies issued by Russian insurance companies and under leasing agreements with PJSC Aeroflot. The ownership of the aircraft was transferred to the LLC insurance company NSK, which paid the settlement amount.

The ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows that Aeroflot currently operates four aircraft ordered and formerly owned by CDB Aviation: three A320-200Ns and one A321-200NX. It was also due to take one more A320-200N from CDB's order book, but the delivery was deferred indefinitely due to sanctions imposed on Russia.

Aeroflot Settling With Lessors

Aeroflot is Russia's largest airline. Aeroflot Group also includes Rossiya Airlines and Pobeda Airlines. Aeroflot Group is the leader in the Russian commercial aviation. In 2022, Aeroflot carried 20.5 million passengers (40.7 million passengers as Aeroflot Group including subsidiaries). Aeroflot extensively contributes to supporting Russian aircraft manufacturing as the launch customer and biggest purchaser of domestically-produced mainline passenger aircraft. By 2030, Aeroflot Group is set to acquire 339 locally-made airliners.

Aeroflot is constantly expanding the Russian domestic route network and operates flights between Russian regions bypassing Moscow. It develops socially important air transportation projects and implements its own flat fare programme on flights to the cities of the Russian Far East, and Kaliningrad.

While the recent settlement marks a significant step, Aeroflot Group is actively engaging in discussions to address remaining claims from other lessors of foreign-manufactured aircraft. At the beginning of September, Aeroflot announced a settlement with the Irish lessor AerCap for 18 aircraft and 5 engines. The airline operator has previously announced reaching similar accords with both AerCap and SMBC Aviation Capital. Although Aeroflot has remained reticent about the models involved in the CDB Aviation settlement, it's worth noting that CDB Aviation declared in May 2021 its plans to provide Aeroflot with three Airbus A320neos and an A321neo under a long-term lease.

Complicating the situation, sanctions placed upon Russian entities due to the conflict in Ukraine led the Russian government to hold onto and re-register numerous foreign-made aircraft leased to domestic operators.

Aeroflot Resumes International Operations

Aeroflot, Russia's flagship carrier, has recently resumed its international operations, including services to the beloved vacation spot, Goa, India. Traditionally, Goa has been a preferred destination for Russian tourists seeking respite from their harsh winters. However, this year, the landscape has changed, with fewer Russians opting for travel to India due to cost considerations. Turkey and Thailand, offering more economical tour packages, have become choices for many Russian travellers.

One notable challenge facing Aeroflot is the liquidation of the Russian state-owned aircraft lessor, GTLK Europe DAC. The threat of the seizure of aircraft, which had been a topic of concern, has left Aeroflot operating under a cloud of uncertainty. Liquidators, appointed by an Irish high court, have sent notices to various airports, including Delhi, indicating their intention to seize assets owned by GTLK Europe DAC. Despite these ominous circumstances, Aeroflot insists that its flights to India continue to operate normally.

In addition to the threat of aircraft seizures, Russian carriers like Aeroflot have also been grappling with Western sanctions. These sanctions have limited the routes and destinations available to Russian airlines, further complicating their international operations. Additionally, airspace restrictions have contributed to the challenges faced by these carriers.

According to aviation analytics firm Cirium, Aeroflot's international schedule for October represents just 32% of its 2019 capacity, with 2,350 planned departures for the month. The airline's busiest international routes at present include Antalya and Istanbul in Turkey, as well as Yerevan in Armenia. To further bolster travel to Goa, charter flights are expected from countries like Israel, Kazakhstan, and Russia in October. Additionally, charter flights from the UK to Goa are slated to commence in November, signalling a potential uptick in international tourism to the region.

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SAS Enters Sale-and-Leaseback Agreement Amidst Restructuring

Abhishek Nayar

16 Oct 2023

Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), the flagship carrier of Scandinavia, has taken a strategic step as part of its ongoing restructuring efforts by entering into a sale-and-leaseback agreement for two brand-new Airbus A320neo twinjets. The move, aimed at bolstering the airline's financial stability, comes at a pivotal time as SAS operates under the protective umbrella of US Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

SAS Forward: A Restructuring Game Changer

SAS is currently in the midst of a comprehensive restructuring initiative, aptly named 'SAS Forward,' which seeks to redefine the airline's operations and improve its financial health. A central element of this transformation is the reorganization of the airline's fleet.

Sale-and-Leaseback Agreement with AerDragon Aviation Partners

In a recent development, SAS has revealed the specifics of a sale-and-leaseback arrangement with Irish aircraft lessor AerDragon Aviation Partners. The two Airbus A320neo aircraft, bearing serial numbers 11885 and 12028, are equipped with CFM International Leap-1A engines. While the exact terms of this agreement have not been disclosed, SAS notes that it engaged with 40 potential lessors, receiving 18 offers in total. This level of interest demonstrates the market's confidence in the 'SAS Forward' plan.

Boosting Liquidity and Fleet Transformation

The sale-and-leaseback agreement is expected to infuse SAS with much-needed liquidity, though the exact financial figures remain confidential. This fresh capital injection will be instrumental in supporting the airline's restructuring efforts, ensuring its viability during these challenging times.

Furthermore, the delivery dates for the two A320neo jets have not been disclosed. However, their introduction into the SAS fleet will play a vital role in modernizing and optimizing the airline's operations, enhancing efficiency, and potentially lowering operational costs.

A330-300 Retention

In a separate and notable development, SAS has decided to retain an Airbus A330-300 aircraft with serial number 1660. This decision marks a departure from the initial plan to divest this twinjet during the fleet restructuring process. The airline has cited an evolving business need for additional widebody aircraft in its fleet as the reason for this decision.

Improved Economic Terms

SAS has also revealed that it has successfully negotiated "improved economic terms" for the lease of the Airbus A330-300. This is a positive development, as it allows the airline to maximize the efficiency of its widebody fleet and adapt to changing market conditions. The leasing entity for the A330-300 is identified as Cavic 31 Designated Activity Company.


SAS's entry into the sale-and-leaseback agreement for two Airbus A320neo twinjets represents a crucial step in its 'SAS Forward' restructuring process. This move, alongside the decision to retain the A330-300 under improved terms, underscores the airline's commitment to adapting to the ever-evolving aviation landscape and securing its long-term viability.

As the aviation industry continues to navigate the challenges posed by the global pandemic, SAS's efforts to reorganize its fleet and secure additional liquidity highlight its determination to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy stronger and more resilient. These developments are indicative of SAS's commitment to its long-term vision and ability to adapt in the face of adversity.

With Inputs form Flight Global

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Air India Expands Fleet with A320N and A350 Deliveries

Abhishek Nayar

16 Oct 2023

Air India, the national carrier of India, is set to enhance its fleet with the addition of a substantial number of new aircraft. This expansion is part of the airline's strategy to address capacity and connectivity needs while renewing and diversifying its aircraft portfolio.

A Leap in the Sky: The New Fleet

Air India has taken delivery of the first of a 21-strong batch of leased A320-200Ns and expects the remainder to arrive by August 2024, according to CEO Campbell Wilson. The airline has also taken delivery of its second A350-900.

The Expansion Plan

In September 2022, Air India made a strategic move by announcing its intention to lease twenty-one A321-200Ns and four A321-200NX aircraft to address a "capacity and connectivity need." This decision reflects Air India's commitment to enhancing its services and offering an even more extensive network to its passengers.

The Mystery of the Lessors

At the time of the announcement, Wilson did not disclose the identity of the lessors. However, the first A320-200N, VT-RTF (msn 11705), which ferried into Delhi from Toulouse Blagnac on October 11, comes from CALC. The four A321-200NX aircraft, VT-RTB (msn 11113), VT-RTC (msn 11156), VT-RTD (msn 11183), and VT-RTE (msn 11260), have already been delivered and were sourced from AerCap.

CEO Campbell Wilson's Announcement

"This week saw the arrival of yet another aircraft – the first of 21 A320Ns," Wilson told Air India employees in an internal email this week and reported in The Business Standard. "The remaining twenty A320neo (are) progressively arriving between now and August 2024."

Separate from Previous Orders

It's important to note that the leased Airbus narrowbodies are separate from the 470-strong order placed by Air India earlier this year, which included 250 planes sourced from Airbus and 220 from Boeing. The Airbus order included 210 A320N family aircraft and forty A350s, including thirty-four A350-1000s and six A350-900s. The first A350-900 has already been delivered, with Air India taking VT-JRA (msn 554) in September and the second being handed over more recently.

The Second A350-900

"We also took delivery of our second A350, VT-JRB (msn 554), which is now undergoing livery changes and other modifications in Toulouse before arriving in New Delhi in January 2024," said Wilson. The six A350-900s are planes taken up by Aeroflot (SU, Moscow Sheremetyevo).

The Current Fleet

Air India's existing fleet includes twenty A319-100s, nine A320-200s, twenty-eight A320-200Ns, fourteen A321-200s, the four A321-200NX, the two A350-900s, eight B777-200LRs, fourteen B777-300ERs, and twenty-seven B787-8s. Boeing's share of the order earlier this year included 190 B737 MAX, twenty B787 types, and ten B777 types.


Air India's decision to expand its fleet with the addition of A320-200Ns and A350-900s is a bold step towards enhancing its services and increasing its capacity to cater to the growing demand in the aviation industry. This move reaffirms Air India's commitment to providing exceptional air travel experiences to its passengers.

With Inputs from ch-aviation

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Korean Air's Lobbying Efforts in the U.S. to Secure Asiana Airlines Merger

Abhishek Nayar

16 Oct 2023

In a bid to finalize its proposed merger with Asiana Airlines, Korean Air (KE) has embarked on an extensive lobbying campaign in the United States, allocating approximately $520,000 for these efforts since the beginning of 2022.

The merger, valued at KRW 1.8 trillion won (USD 1.34 billion), requires approval from antitrust authorities in multiple jurisdictions, including the United States. The Department of Justice (DOJ) in the U.S. has shown reluctance to grant approval, raising concerns about the merger's future and its implications for the aviation industry.


The merger between Korean Air and Asiana Airlines was officially initiated in late 2020, setting in motion a complex, cross-border consolidation of the two South Korean aviation giants. While most antitrust authorities in the 14 jurisdictions involved have swiftly granted approval, a significant roadblock remains in the form of the DOJ, along with several other notable bodies, including those in China, Japan, the European Union, and the United Kingdom.

The Rise of Lobbying Efforts

In 2019 and 2020, Open Secrets, a U.S. non-profit organization that tracks lobbying spending, recorded no lobbying expenditures by Korean Air in the United States. However, in 2022, a significant change occurred, with Korean Air investing $400,000 in lobbyists over the course of the year, followed by an additional $120,000 in the first half of 2023. These funds were allocated to address the DOJ's resistance to the merger, indicating the increasing importance of lobbying in transnational business transactions.

Challenges and Controversies

The Department of Justice in the United States has voiced concerns about the merger's potential impact on competition in the airline industry. There are fears that Korean Air may have to make substantial concessions to gain approval, such as surrendering specific routes and releasing airport slots in prominent European cities.

In a revised proposal submitted to the European Commission, Korean Air has offered to give up route rights and divest Asiana's profitable cargo division. This has raised questions about the merger's economic viability, as certain stakeholders, including the Asiana Airlines Pilots' Union, argue that these concessions could harm the national economy and diminish Korea's standing in the global aviation sector.

A National Asset at Stake

The Asiana Airlines Pilots' Union has emphasized the national significance of route transportation rights, viewing them as more than just assets for airlines but as part of the country's heritage. Surrendering these rights for the sake of the merger has raised concerns about the potential negative impact on the Korean economy and the aviation industry as a whole.

The European Commission's Decision and the Road Ahead

The European Commission is anticipated to announce its decision regarding the merger no earlier than January 2024. This decision is expected to weigh heavily in the eventual determination by the Department of Justice, which is not anticipated until after that date. The fate of the merger hangs in the balance, and the extensive lobbying efforts by Korean Air continue to play a crucial role in shaping the outcome.


Korean Air's substantial lobbying efforts in the United States underscore the challenges and complexities of international mergers and acquisitions, especially in the aviation industry. The fate of the proposed merger with Asiana Airlines remains uncertain, as concerns about competition, economic consequences, and the impact on national assets persist. The industry, stakeholders, and aviation enthusiasts around the world are eagerly awaiting the decisions of the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice to determine whether this merger will indeed take flight or be grounded.

With Inputs from ch-aviation

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Aviation Ministry Increases Validity Period of a Pilot Licence From 5 to 10 Years

Radhika Bansal

16 Oct 2023

The validity period of a pilot licence has been increased from five to 10 years following the latest amendment to the aircraft rules, the Ministry of Civil Aviation was quoted by Business Standard as saying in a notification dated October 10.

According to the amendment, the validity period of the airline transport pilot’s licence (ATPL) and commercial pilot’s licence (CPL) has been extended to 10 years each. They will be issued to pilots at the time when their licences are up for renewal. Earlier, the validity of both ATPL and CPL was set at five years. In 2014, the pilot licence renewal period was enhanced from two to five years.

Pilot Licences Issued in 2023

A total of 993 commercial pilot licences have been issued this year till July 24. Minister of State for Civil Aviation V K Singh informed the Lok Sabha in August that currently, there are 36 Flying Training Organisations (FTOs) operating at 57 bases. According to data provided as part of a written reply, 993 Commercial Pilot Licences (CPLs) and 407 Airline Transport Pilot Licences (ATPL) have been issued this year till July 24. In 2022, a total of 1,165 CPLs and 720 ATPLs were issued.

According to data provided as part of a written reply, 993 Commercial Pilot Licences (CPLs) and 407 Airline Transport Pilot Licences (ATPL) have been issued this year till July 24. In 2022, a total of 1,165 CPLs and 720 ATPLs were issued.

An individual is eligible to apply for CPL after completing at least 200 hours of flying and fulfilling other conditions. Besides, the individual has to clear theory papers and once successful, the CPL is given for a period of five years subject to complying with various requirements. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issues three types of pilot licenses -- CPL, Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) and Private Pilot Licence (PPL). While CPL allows a pilot to start flying as a co-pilot, ATPL permits a pilot to be the commander. PPL is issued for operating private planes.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has also refuted claims suggesting that a staff shortage is causing delays in the issuance of pilot licences. The DGCA official also claimed that the total number of commercial pilot licences (CPL) issued in the year 2022 was the highest in the last decade and this number had already been surpassed in September this year. Further, the number of CPLs in 2023 is likely to be the highest ever as DGCA has already seen an increase of 45% as of August 31 compared to the entire year of 2022.

Action Against “False Lights” near Aerodrome

The fresh amendment has also extended the scope and power for the government to take action against anyone exhibiting “false lights” — lantern lights, kite lights and laser lights — in the vicinity of an aerodrome. When such lights are flashed in the vicinity of an aerodrome, they can be mistaken for aeronautical ground lights or an aeronautical beacon and can endanger the safety of an aircraft and its passengers. They can also disrupt an aircraft’s operations and pose a hazard to the flight’s operating crew.

The radius of the vicinity around an aerodrome has been increased from five kilometres to five nautical miles (around 9.2 km). The notification added that the government may report such incidents if an individual fails to extinguish the false lights in the area concerned.

If any owner or person who is served a notice under the rule neglects it for 24 hours, the central government or any person authorised by it could enter the place and extinguish the light, the notification said. The government or authorised individual may also report the matter to the police station concerned for action under Section 281 or 283 or both of the Indian Penal Code, it added.

(With Inputs from Business Standard)