India's East-West Airlines Director imprisoned for the '90s fraud

Sakshi Jain

28 Dec 2022

Faisal A Wahid, the Director of the now-defunct East-West Airlines (India), was given a 12-month prison term this week for a shady fuel trade in the 1990s.

East-West Airlines started its operations in the early 1990s when the Indian government introduced its "Open Skies Policy" and a number of commercial air charter companies emerged.

The Airline began with three Boeing 737-200s. Madhavrao Scindia, then-minister of Civil Aviation, ordered Indian Airlines to bring in more aircraft in 1992 to offset the effects of a debilitating pilot strike. East West later bought another four, bringing its total to 7 Boeing 737s.

East-West Airlines started its operations in the early 1990s with 3 Boeing 737-200s

On 13 November 1995, Thakiyudeen Wahid, the company’s Managing Director was shot and killed by thugs. The airline owed three Boeings to PLM Equipment, an American business, for $3.3 million. PLM Equipment went to court after first appealing to the DGCA to deregister the aircraft. East West was given a deadline by the Delhi High Court to pay up or return the plane. After that, the three aircraft were grounded. East West Airlines finally ended all operations on August 8, 1996.  

According to the then Special Public Prosecutor, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) was providing Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) for East West Airlines-owned and -operated aircraft. Officials from East West Airlines were instructed to submit Demand Drafts (DDs) to IOCL for the fuel in accordance with the payment method they had mutually agreed upon.

According to the allegations, East West sent IOCL 29 copies of DDs between March 21, 1996, and May 21, 1996. The fuel was provided to them on the basis of those DDs. Original DDs were allegedly not sent to IOCL. The investigation revealed that DDs were created from several banks and that faxes were despatched but then cancelled. An FIR was filed in 1999.

East West sent IOCL 29 copies of DDs between March 21, 1996, and May 21, 1996 that was created from several banks and that faxes were despatched but then cancelled

In a case that originally came before the courts in 2001, investigators charged 8 East-West Airlines employees and Jayanand Shetty, the then Assistant Branch Manager of Vijaya Bank, with fraud and conspiracy in response to a complaint from the IOCL to the CBI's economic crimes division. Four defendants, including the airline's Deputy Managing Director, Shiabuddin A Wahid, have passed away since that time.

The CBI Court convicted Faisal A Wahid and Jayanand Shetty guilty of cheating the IOCL of INR 17.3 million (USD 209,432) through forged notes of demand, 26 years after the closure of the airline.

DD copies were forwarded by fax to the oil business, which then supplied the fuel, as part of the scam. Following the correct procedure, East-West cancelled the order and never gave the oil firm the initial demand draught. The court found that this took place five times with the help of Jayanand Shetty, a bank official who helped by not deducting the fuel expense from the airline's accounts.

The CBI Court convicted Faisal A Wahid and Jayanand Shetty guilty of cheating the IOCL of INR 17.3 million (USD 209,432) through forged notes of demand, 26 years after the closure of the airline.

Faisal was only a minor player in the fraud, according to Judge SU Wadgaonkar, while the primary defendant, Shihabuddin Wahid, passed away during the twenty-one-year legal battle.

Faisal was given a prison sentence as well as a fine of INR 650,000 (USD 7,869). In addition, Wadgaonkar penalised the airline INR 50,000 (USD 605). The judge granted both men bail while the case was pending an appeal to India's High Court. The bank official had been fined and given a year in prison.

On December 20, 2022, Faisal Wahid, the Airline's Director of Operations and Marketing, appeared before a criminal court in Mumbai and was given 12 months imprisonment. 

Source: TOI

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Odisha to provide direct flight services to Singapore, Bangkok, Dubai

Sakshi Jain

28 Dec 2022

A plan to run direct flight services to Singapore, Bangkok and Dubai was accepted by the Odisha Cabinet on Tuesday, December 27.

Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister, presided over the meeting of the cabinet. According to Chief Secretary SC Mohapatra, IndiGo expressed interest in operating flight services from Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar to Dubai, Singapore, and Bangkok as proposed by the state government.

Direct Flights from Odisha's Biju Patnaik Airport to Dubai, Singapore and Bangkok soon

"Planes having 186 seats will be operated and the expenditure will be borne by the state government. The revenue generated from ticket sales will be retained by the state government.”

–SC Mohapatra, Chief Secretary, Odisha

According to the most recent travel reservations, internal travel appears to have recovered after COVID-19, but this has not yet been the case for foreign visitors to Odisha. Stakeholders blame the dearth of nonstop international flights to Bhubaneswar for this.

According to a report from the Ministry of Tourism, the state has only witnessed a sparse number of foreign visitors so far this year, and there were just 2,269 of them in contrast to 37.4 lakh domestic arrivals. Interestingly, despite many lockdowns throughout the year, the number of international tourists visiting Odisha in 2020 was 10,206, a higher number than in 2019. The state had received 46.2 lakh domestic tourists that year.

After COVID-19, domestic travel appears to have rebounded, but this has not yet been the case for international tourists in Odisha.

Prior to Covid, the state welcomed 1.15 lakh foreign visitors, and the domestic tourism market saw 1 crore visitors in 2019. The majority of foreign visitors to Odisha during this time—those who choose organised tours—came from Malaysia and Western Europe.

“Of the total bookings for organised tours between October this year and March-end next year, foreign arrivals in Odisha are only 10 per cent. Blame it on the lack of direct international flights. Prior to Covid, we at least had direct flights to Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia.”

–Gagan Sarangi, Chairman, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO)

The travel and hospitality sectors were banking on the possibility of direct flights from Bhubaneswar to Dubai, Singapore, and Bangkok (these nations have historically been significant aviation hubs). The above-mentioned three nations were the first in line when the state government issued a Request For Quote (RFQ) two months prior to selecting airlines for a direct route between Bhubaneswar and overseas locations.

Only one airline, Indigo, has expressed interest in running three flights per week, including weekends, and direct flights from Bhubaneswar to the three nations. The proposal from Indigo has been submitted to the state government for review, according to representatives of the transport department.

Indigo has expressed interest in operating three weekly flights from Bhubaneswar to the three countries

“For any international flight service, there is a need for continuity. We are hoping that if one airline begins its direct flights from Bhubaneswar to different countries and is provided all the facilities to continue the service, other airlines will follow.”

–Usha Padhee, Principal secretary of Skill Development and Technical Education, Odisha

Foreign travel operators from Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and other South Asian nations expressed interest in partnering with the state to promote tourism at the Odisha Travel Bazaar earlier this year, provided there is direct aircraft connectivity.

Also read: Malkangiri airport in southern Odisha is scheduled to open in 2024

International tourism can be resurrected, according to JK Mohanty, Chairman of the Hotel & Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO) and IATO (eastern area), if there are direct flights between Bhubaneswar and Bodh Gaya and Thailand, Dubai, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Nepal.

“Because, a lot of international tourists come to Bodh Gaya through Kolkata, Delhi or Mumbai for Buddhist tourism. HRAO also suggests that international flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai can be diverted to Bhubaneswar for lessening the congestion.”

–JK Mohanty, Chairman of the Hotel & Restaurant Association of Odisha and IATO (eastern area)

For Buddhist tourism, a large number of foreign visitors go via Kolkata, Delhi, or Mumbai to Bodh Gaya.

For the time being, Odisha has added three foreign locations to its list. It will expect to improve connectivity to other foreign locations as more tourists arrive.

(With inputs from The New Indian Express)

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An enemy interceptor from 40,000 feet up in the air?


28 Dec 2022

Leidos' Artemis II would appear nothing short of conventional in comparison to the other business planes on the runway at a regular private airport. However, this plane's interior is far more working class and more than meets the eye.

The U.S. Army envisions this standard Bombardier Challenger 650, or one comparable to it, as a ticket to the future of combat since it was designed to track the intricate communications of a potential foe, from a safe standoff distance.


Representative | aviation week

To avoid being exposed to more advanced capabilities being developed by near-peer competitors, the Army requires a wider standoff range in its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms. This necessitates sensors with a wider detection range, a bigger variety of sensor types, and the capacity to quickly replace them when threats change. As war zones vary quickly on a global scale, they also require more speed and range from the ISR platforms themselves.

The G2 ISR Task Force and PEO Aviation collaborated to produce a deployed capability in under 18 months. During that period, Leidos bought a super-midsize business jet, which it subsequently modified and outfitted with cutting-edge equipment at its own expense in order to create this technology demonstrator.

The Leidos Special Mission Aircraft (LSMA), also known as the Aerial Reconnaissance and Targeting Exploitation Multi-Mission Intelligence System (ARTEMIS), was the outcome of that project.

The size of the LSMA is comparable to the King Air 350 platform, and it can fit into most hangars without difficulty, reducing the expense of building new hangars.


Leidos ARTEMIS II is the second aircraft constructed by Virginia-based defense and technology company Leidos for use by the US Army as a surveillance platform. Long-range enemy communications may be intercepted and deciphered thanks to the considerable modifications made to the aircraft, including a new signal processing equipment architecture, modular antennae integration, and air-to-ground communications.

Defense One

Leidos, rather than Bombardier, is responsible for the intricate modifications to the aircraft.

These planes can see very far when operating at 40,000 feet- Mike Chagnon, deputy group president of Leidos Defense Group, said in an interview

The unarmed 650s can escape opposing fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles since they don't fly in "contested" airspace. Instead, they gather information using technology for long-distance and altitude monitoring.

With a range of 4,000 nautical miles and a runtime of about 10 hours, it has plenty of time to collect enough data.

Such spy plans' cutting-edge systems enable military personnel to intercept enemy communications without having to deploy personnel and equipment to a hostile country.

To enable the Army to leverage that robust suite of ISR sensors, and to swap them out easily as new requirements or capabilities emerge, Leidos turned to an “open standards architecture and approach- said Will Mahoney, chief technology officer for Airborne Solutions Operations at Leidos

For the purpose of monitoring Russian forces on the Ukrainian border, the first ARTEMIS plane has flown more than 370 missions, on average six days per week. The platform has provided more than 2,500 hours of operational ISR time in the European theater.

A second Challenger 650 owned by Leidos in Virginia has also been converted as a technology demonstrator for the US Army. The ARES is a similar business jet intelligence aircraft being developed by L3Harris Technologies.

The US Army's High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System (HADES), a method for obtaining aerial intelligence, involves the participation of the aircraft. The plan is to switch to a more sophisticated, less vulnerable aircraft technology from the current turboprops that were employed in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq to hunt for roadside explosives and insurgents.

Although the aircraft is owned and operated by Leidos, the Army can access its satellite-connected sensors to gather intelligence.

Leidos has also acquired two larger Bombardier Global 6500 planes that it plans to repurpose into espionage planes for the ATHENA-R Army competition. The company's rival L3Harris is also adapting Global 6500s for the same spy-jet competition while collaborating with the MAG Aerospace team and Sierra Nevada.



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Jet Airways Pilots & Cabin Crew leave amid uncertain takeoff

Sakshi Jain

27 Dec 2022

Jet Airways Pilots and Cabin Crew are leaving the airline due to the uncertainty surrounding its restart, according to a report that came out on December 26.

The Chiefs of the Engineering and Human Resources divisions are among the senior officials who have left the airline, according to CNBC TV-18.

According to sources with knowledge of the development, Mark Turner, Vice President of in-flight services at Jet Airways, has been placed on leave without pay. The report also stated that the airline's Chief Executive Officer, Sanjiv Kapoor, and Chief Financial Officer, Vipula Gunatilleka, "remain on reduced pay". 

The uncertainty has led to a large number of Jet Airways backup Pilots and Cabin Crew members leaving the firm and joining rival airlines.

Also read: Jet Airways send employees on leave without pay; cuts salaries up to 50%

Many Jet Airways backup pilots and cabin employees have left the company and joined other airlines amid the uncertainty. Few members of the managerial staff who are on unpaid leave and whose pay was reduced have resigned. The report also stated that some mid-senior level personnel left to work for other airlines.

According to Reuters last month, a resolution plan to save the Indian airline from bankruptcy has reached a standstill between Jet Airways' creditors and its new owners, casting Jet Airways' survival in doubt.

Jet Airways, once the largest private airline in India, stopped operating in April 2019 after going bankrupt. Creditors who owed it almost Rs 18,000 crore took it to bankruptcy court. After the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) accepted a reorganisation plan in June, Jet was expected to start operating again in the first quarter of 2022 under its new owners. 

The once-largest private airline in India, Jet Airways, ceased operations in April 2019 after declaring bankruptcy.

In June 2021, the Jalan Kalrock group was chosen as the successful bidder for Jet Airways under the insolvency resolution procedure, however the airline has not yet begun operations.

Tensions between the new owners, a group that includes tycoon Murari Lal Jalan of the UAE and London-based Kalrock Capital, and its lenders run the risk of thwarting Jet's revival.

Also read: Jet Airways’ asset monetisation is further delayed again

The Jalan-Kalrock Consortium and the financiers of Jet Airways remain at odds, and both parties have turned to the courts for help. Earlier last month, the JKC requested a transfer of ownership of the airline in a motion to the NCLT.

Jalan-Kalrock Consortium, a consortium of Mr. Murari Lal Jalan and Mr. Florian Fritsch of Kalrock Capital, the Successful Resolution Applicant of Jet Airways (India) Ltd.

In the meantime, the lenders filed a separate appeal with the NCLAT, pleading for the tribunal to throw out its observations from a ruling made on October 21. The Jalan-Kalrock partnership had been found by the NCLAT to have complied with the prerequisites stated in the resolution plan.

The consortium was ordered by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) to pay the carrier's employees' unpaid gratuity and provident fund contributions in October. In light of this, the consortium stated on November 18 that managing cash flows may require "tough" decisions in the near future.

Following the consortium's failure to make payments as promised under the Resolution Plan, the Jet Airways Cabin Crew Association (JACCA) filed a petition with the NCLAT last month asking for the liquidation of Jet Airways' assets. These included pay cuts and Leave Without Pay for many of the 230 employees.

The Jet Airways Cabin Crew Association (JACCA), in response to the consortium's inability to fulfil its obligations under the Resolution Plan, petitioned the NCLAT last month to order the liquidation of Jet Airways' assets.

Sanjiv Kapoor, the CEO of the airline, told CNBC-TV18 that although some workers had temporary salary reductions, others had been placed on short-term Leave Without Pay (LWP).

In a separate tweet, Kapoor stated that two-thirds of the workforce were not affected at all and that the majority of those who were will experience temporary wage reductions. He had stated that no employees had been let go and that just a small percentage of the total (10%) would be on temporary leave without pay.

(With inputs from CNBC TV-18)

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Wadia Group to infuse Rs. 510 crores in Go First for its working capital needs

Sakshi Jain

27 Dec 2022

Wadia Group will invest Rs 510 crore in Go First through its Mauritius-based company Baymanco Investments to meet its "working capital requirements".

Go First is about to get another influx of capital, this time from its owners, the Wadia Group, an Indian conglomerate. In the past 15 months, the company received government loans and additional capital injections to maintain operations during COVID and other worldwide issues.

Go First is about to get another influx of capital, this time from its owners, the Wadia Group

According to a report by Business Standard, Go First plans to “raise funds by way of 0.01 per cent Compulsory Convertible Preference Shares (CCPS) of the company of face value of Rs 10 each, aggregating to Rs 510 crore on a preferential basis through private placement, through two separate issuances and allotments.”

Additionally, according to company documents analysed by Business Standard, Baymanco Investments will receive these CCPS within a year. Five years following the allocation, the CCPS will be converted into equity shares.

It was also indicated in the paperwork that the funds obtained in this way would be put “towards working capital requirements and general corporate purposes”.

Go First obtained a loan of 4 billion (about $49 million) last month through the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme of the Indian government (ECLGS). In accordance with this unique programme that was announced during the COVID outbreak, the government agreed to raise the credit limit for the aviation industry in October.

In order to maintain operations throughout the pandemic and travel restrictions, sources previously stated that the airline received close to a $28 billion ($342 million) capital infusion from its shareholders in the last 15 months.

Go First received close to a $28 billion ($342 million) financial infusion from its stockholders in the previous 15 months to maintain operations throughout the pandemic and travel restrictions.

According to its regulatory filings, Go First reported a net loss of almost $218 million during the fiscal year 2022. This was a net loss of about $105 million, which was more than twice as much as the previous year.

The airline has cited further COVID waves and its grounded fleet as the main causes of its financial losses. However, during the same time period, Go First's revenue increased by 92.64%, from $263 million to $506 million. It added that its load factor significantly increased, reaching over 80% in March 2022, as the number of diseases decreased and travellers resumed their travels.

Flight cancellations and delays have increased recently, which has also had an impact on Go First.

Due to a shortage of engines and replacement parts caused by problems with the worldwide supply chain, several of its aircraft are grounded. However, things are progressively getting better as engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney plans to start supplying about 20–25 engines per month in December and finally finish up the backlog of its engine deliveries to Indian airlines in the next three months.

In December, Pratt & Whitney aims to begin supplying 20 to 25 engines each month, and over the next three months, it will complete the backlog of engine deliveries to Indian carriers.

Also read: Go First grounds over a fifth of its fleet due to delayed deliveries of engines by Pratt & Whitney

Also read: Go First losses double in FY22, blames Covid-19, Pratt & Whitney

The Indian aviation industry is anticipating its strongest month since before the outbreak in December. As travellers get ready for the holidays, traffic has nearly reached the 400,000 level for the whole month. 

Goa will be hoping the capacity move will ease some of the burdens from GOI and ensure smooth operations through the winter break when it launches its second airport. Go First has used the opportunity to serve 42 weekly flights from Goa's New Airport.

Manohar Parrikar International Airport, Goa to begin operations from January 5, 2023

“As we expand our network in leisure destinations, Goa is an extremely important destination for us. We are pleased to fortify our presence and this new addition will further reflect our unflinching commitment to providing customers with a promising flying experience.”

–Kaushik Khona, CEO, Go First

With more capital in its pocket, Go First’s expansion plans look promising now.

(With inputs from Business Standard)

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SpiceJet shareholders gave the nod to re-appoint Ajay Singh as Director

Sakshi Jain

27 Dec 2022

Ajay Singh will be reappointed as a Director of SpiceJet on Monday, December 26, with the support of the airline's shareholders.

Singh resigned from his position as director on August 27, 2010, having been initially appointed on November 4, 2004. After that, on May 21, 2015, he was chosen to serve as the organization's managing director. Singh currently serves as the airline's Chairman and Managing Director. 

The re-appointment of Singh as a director who is eligible to retire through rotation was approved by the shareholders with the necessary majority, the carrier claimed in a regulatory filing.

The re-appointment of Ajay Singh as a Director was approved by the shareholders with the necessary majority

The shareholders approved the acceptance of the audited financial accounts for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022, at the annual general meeting as well.

Due to the negative effects of high fuel prices and rupee devaluation, the low-cost carrier, which is dealing with numerous challenges, posted a net loss of 789 crore rupees in the June quarter.

The airline's shares increased by about 7% on Monday, December 26, closing at 37.85 on the BSE. On December 23, SpiceJet stated that, subject to adhering to statutory procedures and receiving the necessary permissions, it continues to investigate various options for the settlement of its unpaid debts with its creditors in order to normalise its responsibilities.

According to the conditions of the financial facilities it had accessed from them, the company had said in a regulatory statement that the transfer of the cargo business venture was ongoing while it awaited final lender clearance.

The transfer of the cargo business venture, along with its associated assets and liabilities, to the company's subsidiary SpiceXpress and Logistics Pvt Ltd, had already received approval from the company's shareholders.

Also read: SpiceXpress spin-off is now approved by the creditors of SpiceJet

With the introduction of SpiceXpress & the transfer of business under this process will help SpiceJet significantly strengthen its balance sheet and wipe out the negative net worth of its business.

At the beginning of December, the airline concluded a number of settlements with the majority of the major partners, including manufacturers and lessors, according to Ajay Singh's statement in the airline's annual report for the 2021–22 fiscal year. 

Also read: SpiceJet aims to pay off aircraft lessors’ outstanding debts by converting them into investors

“The sky-high fuel prices, depreciating rupee, erratic passenger demand and disrupted supply chains have deferred growth plans and expanded losses.”

“Our logistics business has been valued at ?25,557.7 million and the transfer of business under this process will help us significantly strengthen our balance sheet and wipe out the negative net worth of our business.”

“We expect to see improvement in operations and restructuring benefits will be visible starting Q3 FY2023.”

–Ajay Singh, To Be Director, SpiceJet

Improvement in operations and restructuring benefits will be visible for SpiceJet starting Q3 FY2023 -Ajay Singh

The Spicejet is also negotiating with investment bankers to raise up to USD 200 million in order to realise its future plans and the expansion of the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) to 1,500 crores will significantly contribute to the sector's much-needed stability. 

Also read: SpiceJet anticipates improved operational results and restructuring advantages in the December quarter; the ICAO audit confirms SpiceJet’s credentials as a safe airline

It has also finished a series of settlements with a majority of its main partners including manufacturers and lessors paving the basis for its seamless growth and expansion. The additional monies will allow SpiceJet to normalise its obligations, unground its fleet, and induct new planes into the fleet.

Ajay Singh, who will become the new director of SpiceJet might bring out all the necessary changes to make the airline flourish. 

(With inputs from TOI)