GAAC Solutions to provide flight services at airports and airspace control in Afghanistan

Radhika Bansal

09 Sep 2022

The Taliban and the Abu Dhabi-based firm GAAC Solutions signed a contract Thursday, September 8 for the Emirati company to provide flight services and manage planes landing and taking off at key airports in Afghanistan.

The flight guidance services deal will also include equipping the facilities and training Afghan staff at the country's three major airports, including the one in the capital of Kabul, the Taliban said.

The two other airports covered under the deal are in the cities of Herat, in the country's west, and Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan and a Taliban heartland during the insurgents' 20-year war with U.S. and NATO forces.

GAAC Solutions to provide flight services at airports and airspace control in Afghanistan

The Taliban have faced withering international criticism of their rule since seizing the country in August 2021 amid the last weeks of the American and NATO troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Since the Taliban takeover, Qatar's government has agreed to represent the United States in the Taliban-run country, following the closure of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban-appointed deputy prime minister, said at Thursday's deal-signing ceremony in Kabul that the "strengthening of the economy is a priority for the government. This agreement will have a positive effect on trade and economic growth of the country."

The international community, wary of the Taliban's harsh rule when they were last in power more than 20 years ago, has withheld official recognition of the Taliban government and Afghanistan's assets abroad have been frozen.

ALSO READ - Taliban prohibits women from flying without a male relative

In March, the same company signed its first deal to manage ground handling at the same airports.

Taliban's acting minister for transportation and civil aviation, Hamidullah Akhundzada said that the contract's main goal is to develop air services for flights and provide services at airports.

In March, the same company signed its first deal to manage ground handling at the same airports. At the time, Baradar described the arrangement as renewing an airport ground-handling agreement with the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms home to the long-haul carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways.

ALSO READ - UAE to run Kabul airport in a new agreement with the Taliban

The Taliban, whose government remains an international pariah without formal recognition, have courted regional powers, including Qatar and Turkey, to operate Kabul airport, landlocked Afghanistan's main air link with the world, and others.

The international community has withheld official recognition of the Taliban government and Afghanistan's assets abroad have been frozen.

GAAC Solutions had reportedly signed a USD 47 million service contract in 2020, with Afghanistan's then-US-backed government to run airports in the country, including ground handling, information technology, and security.

GAAC Solutions had once described itself on a one-page website as an Abu Dhabi-based joint venture whose partners include the firm G42, which is believed to have the backing of the ruling family of the Emirati capital.

G42, however, has said it no longer is a part of GAAC Solutions. A telephone number or contact information for GAAC Solutions could not be immediately found Thursday.

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Dreamliner window of LOT Polish Airlines cracks mid-flight on way to New York

Jinen Gada

09 Sep 2022

A passenger on a Polish Airlines flight has recorded the dramatic moment a window cracked mid-flight, sending panic through the aircraft.

TikTok user Tristan, who was on board a recent LOT Polish Airlines flight from Warsaw, Poland to New York’s JFK Airport, released footage of the incident. It showed a window had cracked in several places causing passengers in the row to scramble from their seats to safety.

“Throwback to when our plane window cracked on Polish Airlines and everyone freaked tf out,” he captioned the recent clip which has since amassed 8.4 million views.

Dreamliner window cracks mid-flight on way to new york.

According to the independent aviation publication, Aviation Herald, the incident on board the Boeing 787-8 took place on August 20. It said the plane was “about 300km northeast of New York when one of the passenger windows cracked”.

Footage shows flight attendants asking passengers, with some heard screaming, to immediately take their seats while also informing the pilots.

According to the publication, the aircraft safely landed in New York and was on the ground for five hours before undertaking its return flight to Warsaw.

A spokesman for the airline said the window’s outer layer was damaged but its integrity was intact.

The window was also reportedly replaced. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s passenger windows have electric dim settings so windows can be dimmed or ‘opened’ at the touch of a button rather than having to open or close a window shade manually.

A LOT Polish spokesperson said the electro photochromic layer was damaged, but that the tightness of the window was intact. The spokesperson also said there was no threat to passengers on board at any time.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, a window has to be able to withstand pressure at least 33% greater than the pressure outside. That means the window can withstand at least another 170kg of force.

(With Inputs from The New York Post)

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Aviation gasoline 'Av gas' to be made in India

Jinen Gada

09 Sep 2022

Aviation Gasoline (Av gas) used by planes of flying schools across the country and smaller aircraft like Cessna is now being produced in India by the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). The product will be officially launched this month in Delhi by Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

Avgas is the type of aviation fuel used in small piston engine-powered aircraft within the general aviation community. These aircraft are predominantly used by private pilots and flying clubs and for tasks such as flight training and crop dusting. There are two main avgas grades (100 and 100LL low lead) used in the general aviation community.

Aviation Gas (AvGas) is currently imported for trainer aircraft and increases the operating costs for flying training organisations (FTO) and loss of foreign exchange. This, in turn, leads to higher charges for wannabe pilots.

The prices of Avgas, which are completely imported, are over twice those of ATF.

Currently, India has 38 flying schools and over 200 aircraft. Eight new schools are coming up in the next financial year. While airlines operate jet engine Airbus or Boeing planes which run on aviation turbine fuel, training schools operate small piston engine aircraft which run on aviation gasoline or Avgas.

According to sources, Avgas is likely to be produced at IOC’s Paradip refinery from next March. A source there could be potential to export the product to other countries in Asia as well as currently most of the Avgas production is in Europe and the US.

At present Avgas consumption in India is around 2500 kilolitres and IOC’s annual turnover from its sale is Rs 30 crore. Apart from flying schools, defence services and a few government departments operate aircraft for non-commercial use.

The government has decided Indian Oil Corp (IOC) will produce AvGas under the “Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan."

"Av gas is used mainly by the flying schools and there was a demand from them for production within the nation. We will be producing 1,500 to 2,000 metric tonnes per annum. This will be supplied in barrels to the flying schools."Said a source.

Neville Bharucha of Red Bird Aviation Academy — located in Baramati — said it is a good move and added the pricing must be correct.

(With Inputs from The Indian Express)

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3 senior executives of Jet Airways quit as the airline attempts to revive the business

Radhika Bansal

09 Sep 2022

Three senior executives of Jet Airways have quit the company as the airline is attempting to revive the business.

Director of flight operations Vishesh Oberoi, director of flight safety Neeraj Chandan, and director of training Sorab Variava have resigned in the last one month, people aware of the development said. All three executives were nominated post holders under the rules of aviation regulator DGCA.

This means these positions will have to be compulsorily filled up before the airline’s first flight. Senior Jet Airways executives said the airline is already in the process of filling up the positions by the end of September. Another senior executive, Vishesh Khanna, who was appointed vice president-sales, distribution and customer engagement in March, has also quit and joined IndiGo.

Director of flight operations Vishesh Oberoi have resigned in the last month

“Exits and entries occur in any organisation. The senior management team for Jet Airways is now fully in place, and we remain committed to the earliest recommencement of operations of Jet Airways,” said a spokesperson of the Jalan-Kalrock Consortium, which emerged as the successful bidder for Jet Airways under the insolvency process.

ALSO READ - 4 new senior executives appointed by Jet Airways

However, in the last one month, the airline has appointed three departmental heads. They include Jagtesh Saini, who has joined as head of government and regulatory affairs, Abid Qureshi, who has been named head of product development and Anchal Dhiman, who has been appointed head of procurement.

Jet Airways got its Air Operators Permit revived by DGCA in May.

In June 2021, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) approved the consortium’s resolution plan for grounded Jet Airways, subject to certain conditions. A seven-member monitoring committee has also been formed to manage the day-to-day affairs of Jet Airways till the insolvency resolution process is complete.

Earlier, Jet Airways CEO Sanjiv Kapoor had said that the airline was looking to restart operations in September but it hasn’t announced its fleet plan yet. Sources, however, said that the airline is looking to open sales as soon as possible but that will require the airline’s schedule to be cleared by DGCA. The airline got its Air Operators Permit revived by DGCA in May.

ALSO READ - Jet Airways returning with a hybrid premium and no-frills model, first flight likely by October 2022

It was earlier reported that the lenders' committee hasn’t but given no-objection certificates to the consortium to position a plane order.

But the method of revival has been delayed considerably as a bunch of purposes have been filed in NCLAT difficult the NCLT decision plan.

Among those that have challenged the NCLT plan are Punjab National Bank and worker affiliations like the Association of Aggrieved Workmen of Jet Airways and the Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association.

ALSO READ - Jet Airways’ lenders to get rental earnings from Jalan-Kalrock Consortium

It was earlier reported that the lenders' committee hasn’t but given no-objection certificates to the consortium to position a plane order.

ALSO READ - Lenders of Jet Airways threaten bankruptcy over aircraft rental revenues

(With Inputs from The Economic Times)

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Rakesh Gangwal & family divested a 2.74% stake in IndiGo for INR 2,004.77 crore

Radhika Bansal

09 Sep 2022

IndiGo Airlines co-promoter Rakesh Gangwal and his wife on Thursday, September 8 divested a 2.74% stake in the parent company InterGlobe Aviation for INR 2,005 crore through open market transactions. Gangwal along with Rahul Bhatia co-founded the low-cost carrier IndiGo airlines.

Gangwal resigned from the company's board of directors in February 2022, stating that he would gradually reduce his equity stake over the next five years. Gangwal selected Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan to oversee the sale process earlier this year.

According to the bulk deal data available with the National Stock Exchange (NSE), Gangwal and his wife Shobha Gangwal sold a total of 1.05 crore shares, amounting to a 2.74% stake in the company. The shares were sold from INR 1,886.47 - INR 1,901.34 apiece, valuing the transaction at INR 2,004.77 crore.

Gangwal along with Rahul Bhatia co-founded the low-cost carrier IndiGo airlines.

As of the June quarter, Gangwal and his family owned a 36.61% stake in the low-cost carrier, where Gangwal and his wife held 14.6% and 8.39% stake, respectively, while the rest of the balance is held by Chinkerpoo Family Trust, shareholding data showed with the bourse.

Bhatia and his related entities own nearly 38% of InterGlobe Aviation. Currently, Gangwal’s stake is worth INR 27,900 crore, while Bhatia’s stake is worth INR 28,800 crore. Shares of Interglobe Aviation closed 1.56% lower at INR 1,946.90 on NSE.

Interglobe Aviation is engaged in the business of providing domestic and international air transport services under the name 'Indigo'.

Despite being co-founders, Gangwal and Bhatia have had a very public spat for a few years now, dating back to 2019 when Gangwal wrote a letter to the Prime Minister’s office and market regulator SEBI, alleging “questionable related party transactions” between InterGlobe Aviation and Bhatia group firms.

Gangwal’s stake is worth INR 27,900 crore, while Bhatia’s stake is worth INR 28,800 crore.

While Gangwal’s primary issue was with the deals that IndiGo entered into with Bhatia-owned company, InterGlobe Enterprises (IGE) and other group entities; he also said that he had little power when it came to running the affairs of the airline.

According to agreements entered into between IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation) and Bhatia’s IGE, Gangwal could name only one director to the airline’s board, while Bhatia could name five, and also appoint the managing director, CEO and president.

Now with Gangwal beginning to pare his stake in IndiGo, it seems like the relationship between him and his other co-founder, Bhatia, is beyond repair.

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Qatar gets its airspace, redrawing the world’s airspace map for the first time in decades


08 Sep 2022

In the year 2017, a regional dispute turned into a diplomatic crisis, and Bahrain, UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia collectively agreed to impose a land, sea, and air embargo on Qatar, a breach of ICAO’s Chicago Convention.

Though Qatar shares borders with the majority of blockading states, the closure of Bahrain’s airspace had been the most critical. That's because, Qatar’s airspace is very small and except for the terminal airspace at OTHH/Doha, Bahrain has had long-standing authority over Qatar's air traffic, controlling a majority of airspace around and above it.

Qatar airways relied on flying through Bahrain’s comparatively vast airspace which meant very little room to manoeuvre for incoming and outgoing flights.

Ever since Qatar has pushed forward the initiative to get their airspace and although the feedback wasn't great initially, it has been approved eventually.

A brief history

Bahrain was one of the first places in the Middle East to open its skies. In the year, 1920, the first airfield was earmarked in the area outside Manama, Bahrain. On the 8th of June 1924, the first flight landed in Bahrain from Basra, Iraq. Over the coming years, many airlines started flying and Bahrain became established as the Arabian Gulf’s first international airport.

When Bahrain and Qatar gained their independence from the UK in 1971, there wasn’t any change to the FIR shapes in the Gulf region, which had previously been determined based on where military radars had initially been installed. These radars were positioned from a military efficiency perspective, without taking into account the future of thriving Gulf airline carriers.

Old distribution of Gulf Airspace I TheNewArab

With a history of good relations between Qatar and Bahrain, both being members of the GCC (Gulf Council Corporation) and also being signatory members of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Transit Agreement, the Gulf states didn’t see the need for redistribution, given the hassle it would present to the airline flight crew, speaking to four different air traffic controllers within the space of around 15-20 minutes. 

Recent development(s)

The Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) decided to move forward with the creation of the Doha Flight Information Region (FIR) based on the report's proposed phased approach. This occurred on March 11, 2022, at the Council's 225th session's 10th meeting.

The ICAO Council's resolution, that approved the Doha FIR/dimensions, SRRs including updated Bahrain FIR/SRR dimensions, would be implemented in two stages:

Phase One of the Doha FIR encompasses all of Qatar's commercial waters and territory as well as the international waters east of Qatar up to the United Arab Emirates' boundaries at an unrestricted height. Until the Islamic Republic of Iran's boundaries, the airspace over the international waters to the north of the State of Qatar will be under strict control up to 24,500 feet above sea level.The Council decided that the second phase of the Doha FIR's expansion to an unlimited altitude would begin within two years after the first phase's effective execution.

The operating agreement for the activation of the Doha Flight Information Region (FIR) and its connection to the FIRS of the Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates was signed by the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) on August 31, 2022.

The airspace still retained by Bahrain | ops. group

So, what changes now?

You will be speaking to a person who is not in Bahrain if you go down into Doha, but you would have been once you arrived at the OTHH/Doha terminal area anyway. Simply put, it will now be a bit early.

New Airspace I Alex Machares

All flights operating through or within the Doha FIR and the corresponding flight plans would have to include addresses OTDFZQZX. The current general flight plan is OTHHZPZX.

Despite being relatively tiny in terms of airspace size, the airspace is significant for the area. A little over 30% of air travel into and out of the UAE avoids Iranian airspace to the right by travelling through Kuwait, Bahrain (soon to be Qatar), and then up through Iraq to Europe.

If UAE airspace is closed, OTHH/Doha and OKBK/Kuwait offer two "last" alternatives for en-route diversions for aircraft flying over Iraq. They are also convenient fallbacks if ESCAT procedures prevent airplanes from flying into Saudi Arabia because they are near to Saudi airspace.

SOURCE(s): OPS group, aviationanalyst

COVER: Source