Aircraft movement at Patna airport increased 9 times in 2019-20

Radhika Bansal

28 Feb 2022

The aircraft movement at Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport, Patna, increased by more than 9 times and the number of passengers by about 26 times in 2019-20 when compared to the period of 2004-05.

The growing air transport activities in the state have translated into the higher contribution of the civil aviation sector to the overall economy of the state.

As per the Economic Survey Report of 2021-22 presented in the state legislative assembly on Friday, February 25 the contribution of the civil aviation sector to gross state domestic product (GSDP) of Bihar has increased by 10 times in a decade, from INR 30 crore in 2011-12 to INR 300 crore in fiscal 2020-21.

Aircraft movement at Patna airport increased 9 times

The state has, however, faced a decline in different indicators in the civil aviation sector during 2020-21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, despite the Covid-induced lockdown and other travel restrictions, the Patna airport recorded a footfall of 27.09 lakh passengers, 23,579 aircraft movements and 11.74 freights (in tonnes) in 2020-21, as per the data of the Airports Authority of India (AAI)-Patna.

Besides, the Patna airport ranking in Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Index has improved from 107 in the first quarter (April to June 2021) to 87 in the second quarter (July-September 2021) with a 4.54 ASQ rating.

Number of passengers increased 26 times in 2019-20 when compared to the period of 2004-05.

In the first quarter, the overall rating was 4.48. The ASQ Index is prepared by the Airports Council International (ACT) for around 400 airports across the world. According to this survey, Patna airport has improved its ranking from 333 in 2020-21 to 86 in July-September 2021, report says.

The state has been benefited immensely through the regular commercial operation of air services from Darbhanga airport since November 8, 2020.

Darbhanga airport has direct flight connectivity with Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore while Patna is now connected to Amritsar, Varanasi and Prayagraj under the UDAN-2.0 scheme.

Darbhanga airport has direct flight connectivity with Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore

Jayaprakash Narayan International (JPNI) airport here has been selected as one among the total of seven airports of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in the country chosen for 'Voice of the Customer” recognition under Airports Council International (ACI) - Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey 2021.

ACI has initiated the ‘Voice of the Customer' initiative to acknowledge and recognize airports that continued to prioritize their customers and are committed to ensuring their voice was heard, even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, over 200 airports have been recognised around the world. Six other airports of AAI, which have been chosen for 'Voice of the Customer” recognition, include Chennai, Kolkata, Goa, Pune, Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh airports.

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DRDO to collaborate with Safran to manufacture engines for India's 5th gen stealth fighter


28 Feb 2022

According to reports by defence authorities, India is close to finalizing a deal with France for the joint development of a 125KN engine for the indigenous fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)-under development.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Safran, a French engine manufacturer, could be working together in the aforementioned deal, the decision of which is expected to go on floors, perhaps within the next two months.

During his visit to Paris last week, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar discussed this subject with French Defense Minister Florence Parly. We anticipate reaching an agreement in the next month or two.a defence official said

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with France Defence Minister Florence Parly, during a meeting in Paris on Feb 21, 2022, | Photo Credit: PTI

Apparently, Mr.Rajnath Singh, the Defence Minister of India, had spoken at an event in December 2021, hinting at the collaboration of a French company with India for the manufacture of aircraft engines.

Defence Minister-Rajnath Singh | ZEE5

Reportedly, the indigenously made engines would be used to power the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) variants and the AMCA.

AMCA-India's 5th generation stealth fighter

The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is an Indian programme to develop fifth-generation fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy which will also include sixth-generation niche technologies.

HAL AMCA | Representative | Aerotime Hub

The initial design conceived way back in 2009, featured a twin-engine stealth aircraft with an internal weapons bay and Diverterless Supersonic Intake. Reportedly, the final design is now complete and from the looks of it, the 25-tonne aircraft will feature an internal carriage of 1,500 kg of payload and 5,500 kg external payload with 6,500 kg of internal fuel.

The AMCA will have stealth and non-stealth configurations, and would be developed in two phases — an AMCA MK1 with existing GE414 engine, and an AMCA Mk2 with an advanced, more powerful engine planned to be jointly developed.Girish S. Deodhare, Director General, ADA

Once the agreement is through with the French-based company-Safran, development procedures for the aircraft as well as the engine would commence.

Also worth noting, is the fact that the aircraft is planned through a Special Purpose Vehicle, which will also see the involvement of private players from the industry.

Did you know? As of December 2020, the only operational 5th gen fighters are the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, the Chinese Chengdu J-20 and the Russian Sukhoi Su-57.


COVER: The Economic times

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Vistara not part of the Tata super app yet; might lose Tata Group as its client

Radhika Bansal

28 Feb 2022

The promoters of Vistara - the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines - are in discussions to leverage on one another, with the Indian conglomerate's ownership spreading across three airlines after the acquisition of Air India, Vistara chief executive Vinod Kannan said.

"So, those are discussions that are taking place. Whether we will be part of the (Tata) super app? In what form? I think there are various considerations for us as compared to maybe an AirAsia India or an Air India. And these are discussions already in progress at this time.I can't comment on it (outcome of the discussions), because there's nothing to report at this point in time. But definitely, it's something as part of the Tata Group that we will leverage on one way or the other."Vinod Kannan, CEO, Vistara

Kannan said he did not have a firm answer to "what is going to be the final home for Vistara". Kannan was replying to a question on whether the airline would lose the Tata Group as its client since it is not part of the super app, which has the group's all consumer-facing companies on it. AirAsia India and Air India are also on the super app.

Vistara promoters in talks to leverage Tatas' Airlines

ALSO READ - Air India and Vistara to fly each other’s passengers in case of flight disruptions

Air India has allied with Vistara under which both airlines will accommodate each other’s domestic and international flyers in case of flight disruption due to some reason. The pact is valid for 2 years.

This ‘interline considerations on irregular operations’ (IROP) agreement will let both Air India and Vistara offer alternative first available flights to lessen the inconvenience caused to the passengers.

Before its pact with Vistara, Air India signed the same with AirAsia India (AAIPL) for domestic passengers (since it doesn’t operate international flights) two weeks back. Both the pacts are valid for two years.

Vistara is a 51:49 joint venture between the Tatas and Singapore Airlines and runs as a full-service airline that operates domestic and international flights, including to Europe.

It also has plans to launch flights to the US soon. The airline operates in 30 cities domestically and 11 internationally.

(With Inputs from The Economic Times)

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Singapore Airlines reports profit for the first time since Covid-19 outbreak

Radhika Bansal

28 Feb 2022

Singapore Airlines Group reported a net profit of SGD 85 million (USD 62.8 million) for the third quarter ended December 31, marking the company's first profit since the COVID pandemic began. The airline credits its success to increased cargo revenues and passenger numbers as a result of Singapore's Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) programme.

Singapore Airlines Group (SIA) has reported its first profit since December 2019, thanks to increased passenger traffic and a record quarter for cargo operations. The airline earned SGD 85 million (USD 62.8 million) in net profit on total revenues of SGD 2.32 billion (USD 1.71 billion), up from SGD 1.07 billion (USD 791 million) the year before.

Singapore Airlines Group reported a net profit of SGD 85 million (USD 62.8 million)

Singapore Airlines Group said, "The Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group posted a quarterly profit for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, recording a third-quarter net profit of USD 85 million. This came amid a significant step-up in air travel to and through Singapore in the October-December 2021 period, as well as continued robust demand and strong yields in the cargo market."

Operating profit increased to SGD 76 million (USD 56 million), a significant improvement from the same quarter last year's operating losses of SGD 331 million (USD 245 million).

Scoot had 50 passenger aircraft in its operating fleet.

Despite a much-improved quarterly performance, net losses for the first nine months reached SGD 752 million (USD 556 million). This is nevertheless a significant improvement over the previous year's net losses of SGD 2.85 billion (USD 2.11 billion).

The loosening of travel restrictions in Singapore with the implementation of the VTL programme was particularly significant. SIA served about 1.1 million passengers, more than five times the number a year ago and more than doubling Q2 2021. Singapore Airlines handled 966,000 passengers, while Scoot, the airline's budget affiliate, handled the rest.

SIA took delivery of one Airbus A350 and four Boeing 737-8 aircraft

During the quarter, the strong demand for VTL services enabled the reactivation of A380 operations to London and Sydney. SIA took delivery of one Airbus A350 and four Boeing 737-8 aircraft, while Scoot took delivery of two A321neo aircraft.

These aircraft will progressively join the operating fleet starting from January 2022. As of 31 December 2021, SIA’s operating fleet comprised 121 passenger aircraft and seven freighters while Scoot had 50 passenger aircraft in its operating fleet.

SIA's cargo operations raked in record revenues for the quarter

SIA's cargo operations raked in record revenues for the quarter, in addition to an increase in passenger numbers. For the first time, the airline's cargo revenues surpassed SGD 1 billion, growing by 81% from SGD 744 million (USD 550 million) to SGD 1.35 billion (USD 999 million).

By the end of the quarter, Group passenger capacity reached 45% of pre-Covid-19 levels. The Group expects to serve over 70% of its total pre-Covid destinations by the end of its financial year which concludes on March 31, 2022.

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How the Russia-Ukraine encounter could potentially alter the global airspace map


27 Feb 2022

To a layman, flying might be as simple as charting the shortest flight route from departure to destination and getting from point A to point B directly. While that might be true to an extent, the reality extends well beyond that. Security and geopolitical factors determine flight paths and tickets way more than the former.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine and subsequent aviation bans from multiple countries now are creating ripple effects, as we can see, with many "no-go' areas in the sky- an effect which can have major implications for long-haul carriers that overfly the airspace of Eastern Europe en route to Asia.

Closed Ukrainian airspace after Russian attack | AVweb

Russia is the only country that controls the air traffic between East Asia and Europe- regions that make up a third of the world's total population. In addition to significant economical activities, these regions also boast some of the most powerful cities in the world.

The overflight of Russian airspace hadn't been possible until recently.

A brief history

During the Cold War Era, foreign airlines were barred from flying over the Soviet Union, thereby making it difficult to traverse between Europe and a major part of Asia.

In 1950, British Airways took off at 10 a.m. on Friday from London bound for Tokyo. The trip included stops in Rome, Beirut, Bahrain, Karachi, Calcutta, Yangon, Bangkok and Manila before arriving in Tokyo. The journey lasted 36 hours flying over 10,000 miles. At the time, it was the fastest way to travel between these two cities.

In the 1960s, Anchorage- a small town in Alaska with barely 40,000 inhabitants became the intermediate point between Europe and Asia. Today, Anchorage has only a few regional routes within the United States, and in the 1970s, Air France, SAS, KLM, Iberia, Lufthansa, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and many others flew daily to this city.

Before 1990 | South China Morning Post

By 1983, operators began to fly directly between Europe and Asia without halting at Anchorage and this was mostly due to the introduction of technologically advanced airplanes with enhanced range.

After the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and with China easing restrictions on its airspace, airlines were then allowed to overfly Russia, adopting more fuel-efficient routes.

After 2000 | South China Morning Post

How is it significant today?

Given that overflying Russian airspace saves airlines tons of money and fuel, Russia has repeatedly used its airspace in recent and distant history in geopolitical terms, to charge airlines flying over it. Although the exact figures remain unknown, airlines pay an exorbitant amount to overfly Russian territory.

It's a fact that Russia is the sole entity deciding who gets to fly over their territory and hence these rights are generally given by one airline in each country- for instance, Lufthansa for Germany, Air France for France, and many others.

Aeroflot- the only Russian registered aircraft flying into the UK | Representative | Wikipedia

It is to be noted here that, low-cost carriers flying long haul are never given the right to overfly Russian territory and this raises questions as to how low-cost airlines would be interested in flying through Russian airspace at all.

Airspace as a means of leverage during political negotiations

Oftentimes, countries use their airspace to the best of their economic advantage, especially during political negotiations to negotiate diplomatic issues. The resulting increased fares are, of course, passed on to the travellers.

Here's a practical example for better perspective:

Airfares in Europe are determined by a combination of- distance, the plane’s weight, and airspace fees.

If you were to fly an A320 from Barcelona to Copenhagen, the overall fare would cost  €1,572 (including airspace fees from 6 countries)



Distance * Weight factor * Unit Rate

For an A320 weighing 77 metric tons with a weight factor of 1.24 flying from Spain to Denmark, the following charges would be incurred.

Representative | South China Morning Post

How does the current escalating situation add to the woes of global aviation operations?

Currently, the United Kingdom, Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia have begun imposing overflying and landing restrictions to all Russian registered aircraft, with many others beginning to follow suit.

Representative | Reuters

In response, Russia has also barred all fights from the UK entering Russian territory.

Because of Russia's geographic scale, overflights from airlines all over the world pass through Russian airspace each day. From the UK, normally about a dozen flights each day pass through Russia en route to places like Hong Kong and India. From the EU, hundreds of flights each transit through Russia en route to destinations in Asia. And from the US, most cargo traffic between the US and Asia passes through at least a small portion of Russian airspace.Mikael Robertsson, co-founder of aircraft tracking service Flightradar24, tells CNN

Representative | Financial Times

There is a growing consensus that many other countries might join the UK in banning Russian airplanes from flying into their territory. If that's to happen, Russia would then likely retaliate, meaning more detours either north or south. Additionally, it might also ban overflights destined for any sanctioned country.

As tensions and insecurities rise over the escalating political issue on both sides of the border, more overflying bans can be expected, which may well change the entire course of how we fly.


COVER: European Defense Agency

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Pune Airport to lease land from the Defense Ministry to expand its cargo terminal

Radhika Bansal

27 Feb 2022

 The Pune airport expansion project has received a major boost after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) agreed to lease 2.5 acres of defence land parcel and grant working permission to begin work on the cargo terminal at the Lohegaon airport.

In a letter written to Pune Member of Parliament (MP) Girish Bapat, the civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has said that the MoD will charge a nominal fee of INR 1 per year and grant working permission to begin work on the cargo terminal at the Lohegaon airport.

“I would like to apprise you that ministry of defence has agreed to charge a nominal lease of INR 1 per annum for the land parcel of 2.5 acres of land on which working permission has been granted; till the land of equal value is transferred to MoD instead of the total land of Air Force required at Pune airport,” Scindia stated in his letter written on February 15.

Earlier in September 2021, Nitin Gadkari, the Union minister for road transport and highways and the chairman of the infrastructure committee of the government of India, had said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) has agreed in principle to handover additional land to Lohegaon airport for its expansion.

In his letter, the civil aviation minister further said, “The two ministries (MoD and civil aviation) are working in close coordination to resolve various pending issues at Pune airport. The letter came days after MoD issued a corrigendum bringing down the lease amount from INR 1.38 crore per annum INR 1.

Pune Airport Is a Major Hub for Covid Shield Vaccine Storage

The additional land will help Pune to augment its cargo facility as the airport has emerged as an important centre as stocks of Covishield vaccine, manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII), are sent out from here. Larger consignments of the vaccine, however, are transported by road to the Mumbai airport and flown from there. The new space would help increase the volumes transported.

The MoD’s decision to give land at a nominal rate was welcomed by Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) president Sudhir Mehta.