FlyBig to stop taking bookings for Gondia services

Radhika Bansal

06 Aug 2022

Gurugram-based Big Charter Private Ltd, which operates regional airline FlyBig from Gondia to three places, will stop bookings from August 21, according to an official. FlyBig operates services from Gondia in Maharashtra to Indore, Hyderabad and Aurangabad.

Ratan Ambhore, Regional Head (Operations) of FlyBig, told PTI that the planes engaged in the services were going for 'C check' and that the services will resume in September or October. 'C check' involves an extensive inspection, repair and maintenance of the aircraft. There were reports that the airline was planning to shut down but Ambhore denied any such plan.

Under the government's regional air connectivity scheme UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik), the services were started from Gondia's Birsi Airport on March 13. According to Ambhore, local officials were not providing the preferred parking slot to FlyBig planes.

ALSO READ - FlyBig Airlines to begin services between Indore-Gondia-Hyderabad from March

Speaking to PTI, Ambhore said that on the first day the Birsi Airport management allowed the FlyBig planes to be parked near the lounge.

"After that despite several requests made by us given the convenience to senior citizens and physically disabled people but the management citing one or the other reason disallowed the planes to be parked near the lounge.Despite all the difficulties, the airline is ready to continue with the operations and would resume the operations after getting back the planes after their 'C check'. The number of planes with the airline was not available."Ratan Ambhore, Regional Head (Operations), FlyBig

Flybig is a regional carrier based in India. The airline commenced operations in December 2020 with the launch of a twice-weekly Delhi-Shillong service. It is promoted by Gurugram-based Big Charter Private Limited. It is focused on connecting tier-2 cities within India.

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The secret airline you've perhaps seen but never heard of much...


06 Aug 2022

One might have perhaps, seen it fly out of the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, or even to the more mysterious Area 51 in the USA. Those planes in red and white livery are apparently a highly classified fleet of passenger aircraft operated for the United States Department of the Air Force as an employee shuttle to transport military and contractor employees to Special Access Facilities (SAPF).

Reportedly, the planes communicate with McCarran Departure Control using specific call signs on take-off and switch frequencies and call signs once they cross Area 51 airspace.

Area 51 | Representative | WIRED

Janet, sometimes also called as Janet Airlines, is the unofficial name given to it by those who have investigated it for decades.

The fleet's "Janet" call sign is said to stand for "Just Another Non-Existent Terminal" or "Joint Air Network for Employee Transportation.

From the vault

If you go back in history, there seems to be some sort of connection between the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting massacre and a classified "Janet" operations- In addition to targeting the concertgoers, the gunman had also targeted aviation fuel tanks at the nearby Harry Reid International Airport- suggesting a possible relation between the two.

Janet Airlines made its maiden flight in 1972.

News from the Couch

Very little is known about the organisation and its operations due to the airline's secretive nature.

It is operated for the USAF by infrastructure and defence contractor AECOM through AECOM's acquisition in 2014 of URS Corporation, which acquired EG&G Technical Services in 2002, as derived from URS's history of providing this service to the Air Force and job openings published by URS. 

For example, in 2010, URS announced it would be hiring Boeing 737 flight attendants to be based in Las Vegas, requiring applicants to undergo a Single Scope Background Investigation to be able to obtain a security clearance. More recently, AECOM has posted similar openings.

Shrouded in secrecy

They are touted to have six Boeing 737-600s, two Beechcraft 1900s, and three Beechcraft 200Cs. The fuselages have been spotted in white colour and a red stripe throughout its length.

If reports are anything to go by, the Boeing 737-600 aircraft originally belonged to Air China's fleet except N273RH and N365SR which were previously operated by the now defunct China Southwest Airlines before being acquired for US Air Force operations starting in 2008.

Representative | Area 51 Miscellaneous

Reportedly, everyone who has access to Janet, including flight attendants and pilots is said to receive highly secret security clearances. Reportedly, the application process is daunting, requiring the applicants to divulge the tiniest of details.

After careful scrutiny of their personal lives, the final step of the hiring comes down to a polygraph test.

Janet airlines boards at a special part of Harry Reid International Airport. They board planes at the airport's west side, next to the Janet Airlines passenger parking lot. There is also a small terminal building for passengers.

According to a published report by Popular Mechanics, the terminal's parking lot fills up with hundreds of cars every day and by evening, the entire lot is empty.

Janet Airlines combines two aspects of US intelligence which have been little investigated. On the one hand, there is the logistics aspect. A large part of the intelligence force in the United States can be attributed to the power of its logistics, and I am referring to those who are dedicated to transporting personnel, making communications secure or install safe houses all over the world said Joseph Fitsanakis, professor of Intelligence and National Security Studies of the Coastal Carolina University of South Carolina

Joseph Fitsanakis | Rieas

Area 51, located in Nevada, is notorious for conspiracy theories surrounding US government activities and extra-terrestrial life. As spooky as it may sound, every time Janet flies over Area 51 airspace, it reportedly switches off tracking and communication transponders. Apparently, it also flies to other destinations where it doesn't switch off the transponders.


The airspace-Airspace 4808 North-is one of the most highly protected in the world and military fighter jets are authorized to shoot down any trespassers. Janet however, has a free pass, in and out.

Representative | Quora

From what is known, Janet has only one mission - to transport personnel from the Las Vegas airport to the Nevada test grounds, which are supervised by the United States Department of Energy.

This is because the DOE is in charge of any facility in which to carry out tests with nuclear material. The terminal where Janet Airlines operates is always full, and all these people are not just Air Force personnel. Many DOE scientists are transported to the test fields. The DOE works surrounded by secrets, as evidenced by the fact that so little is known about Nevada’s proving grounds, which were under its supervision from the outset, just like the nuclear programsSays Fitsanakis

Janet Airlines Boeing 737-600 [N288DP] Takeoff from LAS to Area 51 | LAX Videography and Spotting

In the history of its operations up until today, Janet has recorded only one accident, when in 2004 the aircraft crashed as it approached Tonopah Test Range after the pilot had a heart attack. Nobody survived.


COVER: Wikipedia

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Vistara announces ’Dawat-e-Awadh’, a Month-Long, Inflight Food Festival

Jinen Gada

06 Aug 2022

Celebrating the second anniversary of its long-haul operations, Vistara has announced ‘Dawat-e-Awadh’ – a special meal festival, on board all its long-haul flights, from 05 August to 31 August 2022. Customers flying Vistara from India to London, Paris and Frankfurt will be offered flavourful Awadhi delicacies, in response to popular demand for regional favourites on these flights.

The special menu includes several vegetarian and non-vegetarian Awadhi dishes such as Zafrani Pulao, Dum ka Paneer, Murg Handi Korma, and Aloo Bukhara Kofta, Achari Murg Khurchan with Khamiri Roti etc. and indulgent desserts like Shahi Tukda and Matka Kulfi.

Menus are designed to reflect Indian dining at its Best.

Drawing upon the rich culinary diversity of India, Vistara’s inflight meal menus are thoughtfully designed to reflect contemporary Indian dining at its best. The airline regularly refreshes its inflight F&B offerings, so that returning passengers always have something new to look forward to.

"At Vistara, It is the perfect occasion for us to celebrate with our clients. We have often received very positive feedback on Indian regional favourite meals from our customers. ‘Dawat-e-Awadh’ is designed to create a memorable gastronomic experience for our customers onboard India’s finest full-service carrier."Mr. Deepak Rajawat, Chief Commercial Officer, Vistara

In a short period, Vistara has raised the bar for operations and service standards in the Indian aviation industry to become the country’s most loved airline and has crossed the mark of flying 35 million passengers.

Vistara, India’s finest full-service carrier, is on an expansion spree of its Network on International Routes. 

Vistara started its long-haul operations, with direct connectivity between Delhi and London Heathrow, in August 2020. Today, the airline has announced direct connectivity to and from several international destinations including Bangkok, Dhaka, Dubai, Frankfurt, Jeddah, Kathmandu, London Heathrow, Paris and Singapore.

TATA SIA Airlines Limited is known by the brand name Vistara which is a 51:49 joint venture between Tata Sons Private Limited and Singapore Airlines Limited (SIA).

Vistara started its commercial operations on January 9, 2015, and has a fleet of 53 aircraft, including 41 Airbus A320, five Airbus A321neo, five Boeing 737-800NG and two Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft and has flown more than 35 million customers since starting operations.

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Air India to increase its flight frequency between New Delhi and Vancouver

Radhika Bansal

06 Aug 2022

Air India will increase flights between New Delhi and Vancouver effective August 31. Currently, the airline operates three times a week on Boeing 777-300(ER) aircraft with 342 seats.

FLIGHT NO.TO / FROMETDETAAI 185New Delhi (DEL/VIDP)05:15 A.M.-AI185Vancouver (YVR/CYVR)-07:15 A.M.AI 186Vancouver (YVR/CYVR)10:15 A.M.-AI 186New Delhi (DEL/VIDP)-01:15 A.M.

India and Canada on May 4 discussed the expansion of a bilateral air service agreement that will allow more flights between the two countries. Union Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was on a nine-day visit to the US and Canada, met Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.

ALSO READ - India and Canada to operate more flights by expanding bilateral air service agreement

Air India is the only carrier to operate between India and Vancouver. Air Canada stopped operating flights between Delhi and Vancouver from June 3 till September 8, 2022.

The Canadian flag carrier recently announced the same and stated that the reason for the said suspension is the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the flights going to Canada's densest city are required to use the Russian and Ukrainian airspace.

Air Canada stopped operating flights between Delhi and Vancouver from June 3 till September 8, 2022.

Earlier, Air India and Air Canada both used to operate 29 non-stop flights per week between Canada and Delhi. There are demands to start direct flights between Amritsar and Canada while Mumbai airport is looking to re-establish a connection with Canada.

However, the launch of new routes would also depend upon the geopolitical environment. In fact, Air Canada is suspending its thrice-weekly Vancouver-Delhi service from June because of restrictions on the use of Russian airspace.

Air Canada outlined that India is an important market and added that it will restart non-stop flights between Vancouver and Delhi from September 6, and Delhi and Vancouver from September 8.

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Airlines cancel and divert flights during Chinese military exercises near Taiwan airspace

Radhika Bansal

06 Aug 2022

Some airlines have cancelled flights to Taipei and rerouted others using nearby airspace that has been closed to civilian traffic during Chinese military exercises sparked by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.

China deployed scores of planes and fired live missiles near Taiwan in its biggest-ever drills in the Taiwan Strait, set to run until noon local time (0400 GMT) on Sunday, August 7 in six zones encircling much of the island.

The airspace involved is comparatively small, but the disruption is hampering travel between Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia.

Airlines cancel and divert flights during Chinese military exercises near Taiwan airspace

Korean Air Lines Co Ltd said it had cancelled flights between Seoul and Taipei on Friday and Saturday, and would delay a flight on Sunday due to the exercises.

Singapore Airlines Ltd said it had cancelled its Friday flights between Singapore and Taipei due to "evolving airspace restrictions" and would continue to monitor the situation in case more adjustments were needed.

Japan's ANA Holdings Inc and Japan Airlines Co Ltd are still operating flights to Taipei as normal, spokespeople for the airlines said, but are avoiding the affected airspace on those flights, as well as on routes to Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.

Singapore Airlines had cancelled its Friday flights between Singapore and Taipei due to "evolving airspace restrictions"

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Thursday its flights were avoiding designated airspace zones around Taiwan, in a move that could lead to more flying time for some flights.

Flight tracking service FlightRadar24 showed Taiwanese carriers China Airlines Ltd and EVA Airways Corp were still flying to and from the island as of Friday morning, as was Philippine Airlines and cargo carriers FedEx Corp and United Parcel Service Inc, though avoiding the areas affected by the military drills.

Emirates was still scheduled to fly to Taipei on Friday, according to its website.

Taiwan, along with mainland China and Hong Kong, is one of the few places in the world that still requires quarantine for arrivals because of COVID-19, triggering reduced demand for travel to the island that means there are far fewer flights than before the pandemic.

Flight tracking service FlightRadar24 showed Taiwanese carriers China Airlines Ltd and EVA Airways Corp were still flying to and from the island

OPSGROUP, an aviation industry cooperative that shares information on flight risks, said the Chinese military exercises would affect major routes between Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia, leading to re-routings that could take longer and burn extra fuel.

The airspace involved, however, is minor in its impact on the global aviation industry compared to the decision by most airlines to bypass overflight of other places like Russia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, North Korea, Iraq and Syria.

For example, the avoidance of Russian airspace has led to a nearly four-hour increase in flight times between Finland and Japan. Taiwan said it was negotiating with neighbours Japan and the Philippines to find alternative aviation routes, the official Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

(With Inputs from Reuters)

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SpiceJet to reinstate flights gradually once it makes necessary changes

Radhika Bansal

05 Aug 2022

India will allow SpiceJet Ltd to reinstate flights in a "graded manner" once the airline shows it has sufficient engineering strength and the financial ability to stock up on spares, the country's air safety watchdog told Reuters.

Last week, in an unprecedented move, India slashed SpiceJet's approved departures by 50% for eight weeks after an audit revealed the airline's inability to establish "a safe, efficient and reliable" service.

ALSO READ - DGCA orders SpiceJet to operate only 50% of approved flights

SpiceJet to reinstate flights gradually once the airline makes necessary changes

While placing SpiceJet under "enhanced surveillance", the regulator stated in its notice there was "poor internal safety oversight" at the airline, and that financial issues at the carrier were leading to a "frequent shortage of spares".

The chief of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Arun Kumar, said SpiceJet will be permitted to reinstate its capacity but gradually once it demonstrates it has fixed the manpower and spare part shortages.

"At this point, we feel they can only operate 50% of their capacity without compromising safety," Kumar said, during an interview at the watchdog's headquarters in India's national capital New Delhi.

 SpiceJet will be permitted to reinstate its capacity but gradually once it demonstrates it has fixed the manpower and spare part shortages.

Kumar said a review of SpiceJet's operations and physical audit of the airline showed the carrier was "incapable" of flying at full capacity. "The decision is a pre-emptive step to ensure there is no safety issue in the future and does not mean the airline is not fit to fly. Our objective is not to disrupt service."

SpiceJet did not respond to a request for comment on the DGCA's observations. The airline has previously said it is confident in scaling up its operations and addressing any concerns the regulator may have.

SpiceJet has reported close to a dozen safety incidents since May, which included a side windshield outer pane that cracked mid-flight and malfunctioning indicator light, prompting the DGCA to issue a notice to the airline on July 5 asking why no action should be taken against it.

SpiceJet has shown an improvement in its operations

Since then SpiceJet has shown an improvement in its operations. "An aircraft is a complex machine. When components break down or malfunction ... there is a process that needs to be followed to deal with it," Kumar said.

With the growth in India's domestic aviation market reaching pre-pandemic levels, new airlines coming on board and old ones expanding, Kumar said the DGCA is looking to hire more people to maintain its surveillance of the sector.

The regulator conducts 3,700 checks in a year and currently has about 1,300 staff to do that. It plans to add 400 more over the next one year, mainly to its technical team, Kumar said. "The point is to make ourselves more robust to take on growth in the market."

ALSO READ - Lessor wants 3 SpiceJet aircraft deregistered over unpaid dues

(With Inputs from Reuters)