Asangba Chuba Ao, new Joint Secretary in Civil Aviation Ministry; Vinit Kumar, new KVIC CEO

Sakshi Jain

15 Nov 2022

Asangba Chuba Ao, a Veteran Official, has been appointed as the Joint Secretary of the Civil Aviation Ministry on Monday, November 14.

As part of the Centre's senior-level bureaucratic reshuffle, he has been appointed as Joint Secretary beginning on the day the position is assumed, for a period of five years or until further orders, whichever comes first. Ao, an IAS officer from the Bihar Cadre and a member of the 2003 batch, has replaced Usha Padhee in the position for a 5-year term.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) is in charge of developing national policies and programmes for the development and control of the nation's civil aviation industry. It is in charge of enforcing the Aircraft Act of 1934, the Aircraft Rules of 1937, and several other laws relating to the nation's aviation industry.

The MoCA is responsible for creating national policies and programmes for the growth and management of the country's civil aviation sector

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), and the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA) are autonomous and attached organisations under the administrative control of this ministry. Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited (PHHL) are affiliated public sector enterprises.

The civil aviation industry's regulatory authority, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), focuses mostly on safety-related matters. It oversees the regulation of air transportation services to, from, and within India as well as the enforcement of civil aviation laws, air safety standards, and airworthiness requirements. The International Civil Aviation Organization and the DGCA coordinate all regulatory activities (ICAO).

The primary duties of BCAS include setting rules and regulations for the security of civil flights at Indian airports, both domestic and international. The domestic and international airports and civil enclaves, on the other hand, are designed, developed, operated, and maintained by AAI.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) designs, develops, operates and maintains domestic and international airports and civil enclaves

Other than Asangba Chuba Ao, who is appointed as Joint Secretary in the Civil Aviation Ministry, as part of a senior-level reshuffle, as many as 13 joint secretaries have been assigned to various other central government departments.

Vinit Kumar, an officer of the Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers from the 1994 batch, will be the CEO of KVIC (Khadi & Village Industries Commission). The KVIC, in Mumbai, is run by the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises. 

Ajit Bhalchandra Chavan has been named as Additional CEO, GeM SPV (Government e-Marketplace Special Purpose Vehicle), Department of Commerce.

Jayant Kumar has been appointed as the Joint Secretary of the Department of Defence Production. Vishwesh Negi has been chosen as the Officer on Special Duty (OCD), Department of Defence. 

Sanjog Kapoor has been appointed as Joint Secretary and Financial Adviser for the Ministry of Education, Shalabh Tyagi as Joint Secretary for the Department of Defense Production, and Indu Rani Dubey as Joint Secretary for the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

P Manoj Kumar will serve as the Director General of the Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Som Dutt Sharma will be Joint Secretary for the Department of Personnel & Training, and R Lakshmanan will be Joint Secretary for the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways.

Prem Kumar Jha will serve as the Joint Secretary for the Department of Sports, while Hena Usman will serve as the Joint Secretary for the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

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India might soon launch direct flights to Cambodia

Sakshi Jain

15 Nov 2022

Khieu Kanharith, the minister of information for Cambodia, stated during the India-ASEAN media exchange programme to soon launch Cambodia-India direct flights.

He said that there is a connection issue and that negotiations are taking place to connect Phnom Penh directly by air with the Indian cities of New Delhi and Bodhgaya.

Currently, travellers need to take a connecting flight to a neighbouring nation like Singapore, Malaysia, or Thailand in order to go to Cambodia from locations in India. However, the two nations are currently looking at how to begin direct flight operations.

“Many people in Cambodia want to go to India and that is why we are discussing direct flights between our countries. There is a choice of two flights, Phnom Penh to New Delhi and Bodhgaya between Phnom Penh to Bodhgaya. Two flights we are discussing because a lot of Cambodians visit every year, mostly old people who go there. There is a lot of tradition in India, a lot of our roots are in India.”

–Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information, Cambodia

Khieu Kanharith, the Cambodian Minister of Information, stated that travellers from India are drawn to visit Cambodia to see the historical treasures due to the country's extensive heritage of pagodas and temples.

The minister emphasised that many people desire to visit India in order to learn more about their ancestry. Many Buddhists are eager to show their respect to the Ramayana and Mahabharata's home country.

In a similar manner, he stated that tourists from India are interested in travelling to Cambodia to witness the historical wonders due to the country's long history of temples and pagodas. A number of temples are being restored and conserved with help from India.

"We are trying to start direct air linkages between India and Cambodia which would give a great impetus to tourism. When there are direct flights, people would love to come and see Angkor Wat and Cambodians would love to see the land of Buddha."

–Devyani Khobraade, India’s Ambassador to Cambodia

Angkor Wat is to Cambodia what the Taj Mahal is to India. Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located in the city of Angkor, one of the most significant archaeological sites in South-East Asia. 

Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia and is the largest religious monument in the world

India has been for long associated with the restoration work of temples in Cambodia. 

“The agreement is between Cambodia's External Affairs Ministry and the Government of India. India will give USD 70000 for the project for funding the local body APSARA, which will be doing the restoration work.”

– DS Sood, a Conservation Expert who is associated with the ongoing Archaeological Survey of India's restoration work at the famed Ta Prohm Temple in Angkor Wat

The Vice President of India, Jagdeep Dhankar, officially opened the "Hall of Dancers" at the Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap, which the Archeological Survey of India had restored. This happened during his recent trip to Cambodia for the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit to mark the 30th anniversary of relations between India and ASEAN.

Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap is restored by the Archeological Survey of India

The decision to launch direct flights between the two nations was made in 2021 following a meeting between the Indian ambassador to Cambodia, Devyani Uttam Khobragade, and the Cambodian Minister of Tourism, Thong Khon. This concept was unsuccessful because of COVID-19, but it has since been revived, and flights should start soon.

The availability of direct flights will encourage travellers to choose Cambodia as a vacation destination and lower the cost of travel. Additionally, it would strengthen cooperative initiatives to enhance inter-human connectivity, which is a top focus of the Indian government's "Act East" programme.

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Akasa Air modifies aircraft interiors amid facing global supply chain disruptions

Radhika Bansal

15 Nov 2022

Akasa Air is facing the impact of global supply chain disruptions. Though the airline does not expect any delay in deliveries, a shortage of aircraft parts may affect the reconfiguration of its fleet for 6–9 months.

The airline is facing disruptions in the delivery of seats, USB ports, and seat fabric. The three-month-old airline with a fleet of seven aircraft in India operates on nine routes —Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Chennai, Delhi, Agartala and Guwahati.

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“We have been facing some global supply chain issues that are preventing us from reconfiguring the interiors of these aircraft in a timely manner. We have got some delays on three elements of the reconfiguration.

Our first 20 aircraft have engines on them which is why we are confident that there are no delivery issues and remain unaffected through our first 20 deliveries. There is also no indication or official communications from Boeing that it is going to affect delivery from 21st onwards."

Vinay Dube, CEO & Co-Founder, Akasa Air

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Akasa’s orderbook includes a firm order of 72 Boeing 737 MAX planes, powered by CFM LEAP-1B engines. The first 20 aircraft will be brand new but are configured to accommodate 174 seats, as per the specifications of another airline, while Akaksa has a requirement of 189 seats, Dube said.

ALSO READ - Akasa Air picks CFM’s LEAP-1B engines for its Boeing 737Max planes

However, the airline will not be able to add seats from December onwards due to the shortage.

Akasa Air modifies aircraft interiors amid facing global supply chain disruptions

While it is trying to maintain the timeline for inducting new planes to its fleet, from the 9th aircraft it will have to accept a different configuration for all new aircraft until the 19th aircraft is delivered. These 11 Boeing 737 MAX planes will have 174 economy seats with the front three rows in a 2-2 configuration with more legroom, the airline said.

Akasa Air will continue to operate a single-aisle, all-economy service at affordable fares with no change in its pricing strategy. According to our current road map with partners, the 2x2 seat configuration will get standardised over the next six to nine months. With this, our original 189-seater will become available as we overcome the supply-chain impact.

“The emergency and front row, which is our A+ PRODUCT is priced at INR 1,500 a seat and this (2-2) will be A++ and will be priced at INR 2,500 a seat. This will be sold as economy and we will charge only for seat selection."

Praveen Iyer, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, Akasa Air

The management, however, did not reveal whether it will be compensated by the original equipment manufacturers for the shortage.

Flyers will also see seat covers on a few aircraft with a different upholstery from its signature style and the absence of USB ports on some seats.

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Unlike its competitors, such as IndiGo and Go First which are also facing disruptions in operations due to the delays in engines and spare parts supply, Akasa said it does not foresee challenges for engines.

ALSO READ - IndiGo grounds 30 aircraft due to disruptions in the global supply chain

After the initial schedule is complete, Akasa will start accepting airplanes with higher density, which will feature 197 seats.

While the airline has so far not met its guidance of inducting an aircraft every two weeks it maintains that it will have a fleet of over 12 by December and 18 aircraft by March.

After the initial schedule is complete, Akasa will start accepting airplanes with higher density, which will feature 197 seats. According to the airline, it will also start planning international routes next year soon after it reaches the 20-aircraft mark required by the Indian regulator.

These issues got further aggravated with Russia’s war on Ukraine as that led to significant raw material sourcing displacement. While this has affected almost industry getting severely crippled. For aviation, it has meant airlines facing delays in getting aircraft, engines, seats and every imaginable component required in this supply chain.

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DGCA issues Aerodrome License to Jaipur International Airport Limited

Sakshi Jain

14 Nov 2022

The DGCA granted Jaipur International Airport Limited an aerodrome license, and as a result, the airport has started an expansion drive.

An airport operator is granted the license in order to ensure total control of the airport in accordance with the concession agreement. The license was previously held by the Airport Authority of India (AAI). Adani Group, a private company, that has been running the Jaipur airport since October 2021 is now the new holder of the license.

Starting in October 2021, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) handed over control of the Jaipur International Airport to the Gautam Adani-led Adani Group. The Indian government has leased the airport to the organisation for 50 years.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) turned over the management of the Jaipur International Airport to the Gautam Adani-led Adani Group beginning in October 2021

“We have received the Aerodrome license for Jaipur International Airport Limited (JIAL). Now the complete management of the airport lies with us in accordance with the concession agreement. Major customer-centric changes have been made at the airport and now we are looking for expansion.”

“The airport management has conducted an extensive survey at Jaipur airport which revealed that present passenger traffic of 50 lakh per annum will reach 1 crore by 2025. Considering future requirements, the management is now planning to reopen Terminal- 1 which has been non-operational for the last 10 years.”

––Senior Officer, JIAL

The official added that when Terminal 1 is open, charter flights, air ambulance flights, and some international airlines will fly from there.

Additionally, he said that Terminal-1 would be built along the same lines as Terminal-2, which is currently in use. On the lines of T-2, a sizable IT infrastructure, food and beverage services, retail establishments, environmental sustainability and zero carbon emission measures, as well as security precautions, will be in place.

According to environmental regulations, the Jaipur airport is creating a mini-forest close to Dudu town, where 4,400 trees will be planted and cared for five years. According to the official, the action is being performed legally while considering any potential damage to vegetation caused by the Terminal 1 development.

Nearly Terminal 2, the airport management has put in 50 branded retail stores, an electronic assistance desk, new e-boarding gates, automated parking, and transportation systems where private cab companies like WTI, Ola, and Uber can operate.

Work has included planting trees, and switching out older vehicles for electric ones, and this month at T-2, a public charging station for EVs will be unveiled. 

Taking future needs into account, the Adani-led management is proposing to reactivate Terminal 1, which has been inactive for the past 10 years

Moreover, modern technology has been added to new radars and runway visibility systems. Similar amenities will be made available at the soon-to-be-opened T-1.

The airport management has also stated that it needs roughly 240 CISF security officers in order to make T-1 operational, which is expected to begin operating in about six months.

According to Gautam Adani, their airport expansion plan will assist link Tier 1 cities in their country with Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities using a hub-and-spoke design. It is essential to making foreign travel seamless and easy and enabling a deeper bridging of India's urban-rural divide.

With the purchase of the aerodrome license, the expansion plan will move forwards and the airport will undergo significant customer-focused adjustments.

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SpiceJet introduces nonstop flights between Pune and Bangkok

Radhika Bansal

14 Nov 2022

No-frills carrier SpiceJet started non-stop flights between Pune and Bangkok on November 12. The airline also operates flights to Bangkok from Delhi and Kolkata. The airline’s B737-800 aircraft are deployed on these routes.

It has also added another flight on the Delhi-Bangkok route from November 11. It operates two daily non-stop flights from Kolkata to Bangkok, according to a release. Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia inaugurated the Pune-Bangkok flight virtually.

SpiceJet introduces nonstop flights between Pune and Bangkok

The launch of this new flight is a significant step in strengthening Pune's international connectivity, and we will soon have a new flight connecting Pune with Singapore as well.

"We have been working relentlessly towards making Pune a world-class airport, a new terminal building is under construction and should be ready by next year, a new international cargo terminal is being built, an integrated cargo terminal is also being built and a multi-level parking is ready and is being tested."

Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation

The Minister further said that Pune Airport is important in the country, and the government is giving impetus to its infrastructure development.

The new terminal of this airport will be completed by September next year, and the new international cargo terminal is expected to be developed by December 2024. Meanwhile, an integrated air cargo terminal for both international and domestic use will be developed by March 2023. Multi-level parking has already been developed and will open soon.

“We are delighted to launch an exclusive non-stop flight connecting Pune with Bangkok, one of the most sought-after international destinations for Indian travellers. The Thai capital has been a key international destination for SpiceJet for many years. We will also be strengthening connectivity between Delhi and Bangkok with an additional flight.”

Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Commercial Officer, SpiceJet

The flight between Pune and Bangkok will operate on all days except Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays whereas additional flights between Delhi and Bangkok will operate daily.

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Tata Sons to unify all airlines under the Air India banner

Sakshi Jain

14 Nov 2022

Tata Sons have started consolidating its airlines AirAsia India, Vistara, and Air India Express under the Air India banner.

This is done following discussions with Singapore Airlines (SIA), its joint venture partner in Vistara.

The move will make Air India the second largest airline in the nation in terms of market share and fleet. According to executives with insider knowledge of the situation, after the merger, the group will only have the Air India airline brand, which will operate both low-cost and full-service flights. Within a week, a formal announcement is anticipated.

While the two companies will soon start working together commercially, it will take them more than a year to start operating as a single entity. According to the executives, Air India and Tata Singapore Airlines, which operates Vistara, would merge.

They added that Vistara as a brand will discontinue. On the condition of anonymity, they stated that SIA will have a 20–25% stake in Air India and that a few Vistara board members will join Air India's board. Tata SIA Airlines, the company that owns Vistara, is 49% owned by SIA.

Vistara and Tata Sons declined to comment on the situation.

By purchasing the final 16% of the Malaysian airline, the Tata Group concluded the merger of Air India Express and AirAsia India earlier this month. CEOs Campbell Wilson of Air India, Nipun Aggarwal, Sunil Bhaskaran, and Aloke Singh of Air India Express are leading the merger process, which is anticipated to be finished within the next 12 months. 

Earlier this month, the Tata Group completed the merger of Air India Express and AirAsia India

After filing a request with the nation's antitrust authorities earlier this year to obtain complete control of the airline, Tata has now fully acquired AirAsia India.

Analysts have predicted that the group will combine AirAsia India with Air India Express as well as Vistara, its full-service joint venture with Singapore Airlines, with Air India after Tata successfully purchased Air India from the Indian government.

“Consolidation of these two airlines, both of which operate as low-cost carriers, will be undertaken as part of the restructuring roadmap that is being envisioned for the Tata group’s airline business and is expected to bring customer, revenue, cost and operational benefits through broader adoption of each airlines’ best practices, systems and routes, and the combined entity’s greater scale.”

–Air India spokesperson

The dominant 51% ownership of full-service airline Vistara is held by Tata Sons

According to insiders, the Tata Group gave SIA enough time to come up to the concept of a single aviation corporate plan.

According to one of the people, SIA consented to join the combined company because India is a significant market for the airline.

“SIA has reaped benefits from Vistara and realises that the cost of scaling up Vistara will be significantly higher as compared to Air India, which already has a significant size. They did not participate in the bidding process for Air India as Covid-19 had a significant impact on their business.”


With a legacy spanning more than 75 years and a high recall value among both Indian and international travellers, Air India has been the most dominant of the three brands.