Lucknow Airport to get an INR 5000 crore upgrade

Radhika Bansal

03 Mar 2023

Lucknow Airport, also known as Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport (CCSIA), will soon get a massive upgrade. The Adani Group plans to invest up to INR 5,000 crore to upgrade the same.

According to official sources, Lucknow International Airport Ltd (LIAL) has sought a tariff hike to fund, among other things, a large integrated terminal and associated facilities to increase aircraft movement.

The combined passenger handling capacity of the existing two terminals is 43 lakh flyers per annum while they are handling 55 lakh flyers now, or 28% more than their built capacity.

ALSO READ - Lucknow’s CCSIA Strengthens Airport infrastructure

"Phase-1 of the new integrated terminal 3 (T3) with a capacity of handling 80 lakh passengers per annum should be ready by this October. Then in another year, phase-II should be ready with an additional capacity of 50 lakh passengers per annum, taking T3's total capacity to 1.3 crores," said the official. The key features of T3 will include e-gates, self-baggage drop counters and new lounges.

Lucknow Airport to get an INR 5000 crore upgrade

"The proposed increase in user development fees is being compared with existing UDF rates of Lucknow International Airport while there is a huge gap between the proposed and existing infrastructure. The proposed UDF rates at Lucknow Airport are in line with other major airports with similar infrastructure," a CCSIA spokesperson said.

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There will be a "super app" to boost digital travel with ease. T3 will have dedicated OLA, Uber and taxi pick-up and drop-off zones. Sources say LIAL has environmental clearance to take capacity up to almost 4 crore flyers per annum given the potential of the place.

"Uttar Pradesh is one of the fastest growing states and moving towards a USD 1 trillion economy. As the capital, Lucknow is the centre for all business activities in the state, our endeavour for the proposed infrastructural development at CCSIA is to establish a viable and sustainable business ecosystem, enhance the airport's catchment area, creation of airport infrastructure the projected traffic, ensuring safe and efficient airport operations along with a brand promise of being a pleasant experience for our passengers at Lucknow," he said.

A majority of the capital expenditure projects are related to the development of airside and terminal capacity matching with projected exponential passenger growth at CCSIA.

LIAL will also enhance the green cover of the area by planting 1.5 lakh saplings. T3 will have over a lakh decorative planters and indoor plants. Lucknow International Airport (LIAL) has the environmental clearance (EC) to increase capacity up to almost four crore flyers per annum.

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Lufthansa orders 22 new long-haul aircraft from Boeing & Airbus for USD 7.5 billion

Radhika Bansal

03 Mar 2023

Lufthansa Group has placed a USD 7.5 billion order for 22 new long-haul aircraft from Boeing and Airbus.  The group announced that the order consisted of 10 Airbus A350-1000s, a first for the German airline, which becomes the 60th operator of the type, five A350-900s and seven Boeing 787-9s. 

With this order, Lufthansa moves forward with its widebody fleet renewal process, which will see the oldest aircraft in the fleet, the four-engined Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A340s (both the –300 and –600 version) being progressively taken out of service over the coming years. The aircraft will be replaced by these cleaner and more efficient twin-engine aircraft types. 

ALSO READ - Lufthansa to reactivate stored Airbus A340 due to anticipated demand for air travel

The new aircraft will be delivered in the mid-2020s, although Lufthansa is also considering additional opportunities to add capacity to its long-haul fleet before then. 

What is certain is that the aircraft included in this order will all be equipped with the new Allegris long-haul cabin, which was presented at an event in Berlin on February 28, 2023. The new long-haul cabins, as well as the induction into the fleet of state-of-the-art aircraft, are part of Lufthansa’s ambition to position itself as one of the world’s premium airlines. 

The Group’s CEO, Carsten Spohr, also highlighted in a statement that the new aircraft would play a key role in helping the airline to achieve its carbon emission reduction goals by 2030. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, half of Lufthansa’s long-haul fleet was comprised of four-engined jets. This figure is set to drop to under 15%. 

"The aircraft order means that Lufthansa has secured more than 50 latest-generation long-haul aircraft for its member airlines since the pandemic began. They "will also play a decisive role in helping us achieve our carbon emission reduction goals by 2030 as fuel-efficient aircraft which incorporate the latest manufacturing technology are by far the greatest lever for providing more climate protection within the aviation sector."

Carsten Spohr, CEO, Lufthansa

With the additional 22 aircraft, the German flag carrier’s order book now totals 108 widebody aircraft awaiting delivery. The number increases to 200 if we also include orders for Airbus A320neo narrowbody family aircraft. 

(With Inputs from AeroTime Hub)

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Thales to open an avionics MRO center, hire over 500 engineers in India

Radhika Bansal

03 Mar 2023

Air India’s historic 470 aircraft order will provide a fillip not just to original equipment manufacturers such as aircraft majors Airbus and Boeing but will also open opportunities for equipment and technology providers such as Thales, which provides avionics services to Air India.

Ashish Saraf, Vice President & Country Director, of Thales India, outlined that the company will very soon set up a maintenance, repair & overhaul (MRO) center for avionics and in-flight entertainment systems in India.

“On the aviation side, we are already working to establish an MRO in India. So we had announced that last year, but now we can see that now it's concrete to a level where we have already launched a site selection, and very soon we will be announcing where we will be in terms of our MRO,” said Saraf.

Thales India also plans to hire over 500 engineers in the current year as the French-origin company completes 70 years in India. Saraf highlighted that after the takeover of Air India by the Tata Group, the opportunity associated with the airline and its relationship with it has become more strategic because of the amount of investment that Tata Group is undertaking in the airline.

Thales will also be hiring all over the world and expects to take on 5,500 new employees in France, 550 in India, 1,050 in the United Kingdom, 600 in Australia, and 540 in the United States.

In an interview with the French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche, CEO Patrice Caine said over the past eight years Thales, which has a total staff of 80,000 of which 40,000 in France, had recruited 5,000 to 8,000 people per year and that last year already it had hired 11,500 new staff.

Air India’s acquisition of 470 fleet, comprising wide-body and narrow-body aircraft, is valued at a list price of USD 70 billion and the airline has invested between USD 400 million to USD 600 million on technology, platforms and refurbishment of interiors of aircraft.

“Thales is doing an equal amount of investment and one of the decisions to have our own MRO here is driven by the fact that we want to be next to our customers, Air India, Indigo, Vistara, and so on. It obviously opens up a tremendous amount of opportunities for us, to serve them for the future where we want to be next to them and this is how our partnership is going to evolve,” he said.

Similar to the upcoming civil aviation MRO, Thales is also establishing a ‘Defense Customer Service Center’ in India where all the spares, maintenance, repair and support activity will be done locally with an Indian support base. The company provides avionics, radars and systems, optronics, and electronic warfare systems, among others to the Indian defence forces.

Thales has tied up with state-owned Bharat Dynamics Ltd for manufacturing of STARStreak short-range surface-to-air missile, also known as a man-portable air-defence system or MANPADS. These missile systems are currently being used by Ukrainian forces against the Russian military in the ongoing conflict in Eastern Europe.

“…we clearly identified a few programs that we are bringing in as ‘Make in India’. The classic example is the STARStreak MANPAD system, which will be fully transferred in India, technologically, to be made in India, and not only for India, but also to have exports for global consumption,” said Saraf.

(With Inputs from ET Infra)

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Airbus notifies airlines about the potential delay in the deliveries of the A321XLR

Radhika Bansal

03 Mar 2023

Airbus is reportedly warning airlines that the first deliveries of the Airbus A321XLR, a modification of the A321neo that will offer additional range and more seating capacity, might be delayed by a few months. 

Issues relating to the supply chain and regulatory inspections of the A321XLR’s new center fuel tank could delay the introduction of the type by a few months, reported Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with the matter. When Airbus announced the A321XLR in June 2019, the company noted in a press release that “starting from 2023, the aircraft will deliver an unprecedented Xtra Long Range of up to 4,700nm – 15% more than the A321LR and with the same unbeatable fuel efficiency”. 

The manufacturer was forced to delay the program by a year or so, as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) was looking at the design changes of the lower fuselage, and the potential need to change the A321XLR’s underbelly fairings. As a result, the program was delayed to 2024. 

When the aircraft type took off for the first time in June 2022, Airbus noted that “entry into service is targeted for early 2024”. A few months later, following the United States (US) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s comments about the Rear Center Tank (RCT) and its placement at the back end of the fuselage, EASA sided with the US-based regulator, stating that Airbus should reinforce that area. The decision was made to “ensure adequate occupants protection against the risks of external fire and burnthrough, fuel vapour ignition and fuel tank explosion as well to ensure crashworthiness of this fuel tank so that no fuel is released in sufficient quantities so to start a serious fire in an otherwise survivable crash event,” read an EASA document, published in December 2022. 

Supply chain issues have affected aircraft manufacturers, including Airbus and Boeing, which have been grappling with parts and labor shortages throughout every supply chain link. When the European planemaker announced its financial results for 2022, the A321XLR’s entry into service was reaffirmed and scheduled for mid-2024. 

However, supply chain disruptions “caused shortage or delay of materials and parts, hampering the Company’s production ramp-up,” read the company’s notes for 2022. On the A320 program specifically, which covers the A319neo, A320neo, and A321neo, including the A321neo variants like the LR and XLR, as well as current engine options (ceo) aircraft, “the ramp-up trajectory has been adapted with suppliers”, the manufacturer noted.  

Airbus is now moving towards a monthly production rate of 65 aircraft by the end of 2024 and 75 in 2026. Previously, the European company’s guidance was a rate of 75 aircraft of the A320 family “by mid-decade”. 

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10 Airline Special Liveries that will appeal to any Aviator

Sakshi Jain

03 Mar 2023

Aircraft spotters, aviation photography enthusiasts, and AvGeeks spend hours in the area surrounding airports looking for an ideal shot. In order to acquire the greatest shot, they need the right lighting, focus, and proximity to the aircraft. The collector’s desire goes on to collect a perfect shot of those special airline liveries. 

The livery is the collection of decorations, symbols, colours, and distinguishing features that are painted on aircraft. A successful airline's livery can be one of its most powerful marketing tools.

Wider brand recognition can be sparked by a distinctive paint job, which in turn spurs a carrier's expansion. Yet, occasionally, airlines would stray from their established patterns to cover certain aircraft in special liveries. For the benefit of our readers, we have compiled 10 of the world's special liveries.

Air India- Celebrating India Livery

A Boeing 777 with a special livery was flown by Air India to honour significant Indian landmarks. On September 27, 2019, “World Tourism Day”, the aircraft made its first flight to Toronto to commemorate the beginning of Air India's service to the city.

As the national carrier of India, Air India was focusing on its history. Its special livery put a specific emphasis on significant cultural sites that made India a desirable travel destination.

Air India- Celebrating India Livery (Credits: Donal Morrissey)

Vistara- RetroJet Livery

On September 5, 2018, Vistara introduced a brand-new "Retro Livery" for a select number of domestic flights, primarily between Delhi and Mumbai. The #Retrojet Airbus A320neo from Tata SIA Airlines pays homage to the 1940s livery of Tata Air Lines, the country's first airline and one that JRD Tata founded.

The Tata group celebrated 150 years with RetroJet, which gave Vistara back the area originally occupied by the Indian aviation pioneers Tata Sons and JRD Tata.

Vistara- RetroJet Livery (Credits: French Painter, Flickr)

SpiceJet - Sonu Sood Livery

On March 20 2021, SpiceJet dedicated a special aircraft livery to honour actor Sonu Sood for his humanitarian efforts to help stranded migrant workers reached their homes during the coronavirus crisis last year.

SpiceJet - Sonu Sood Livery

Jet Airways - Disney Livery

On July 2012, at a Mumbai event, Jet Airways unveiled one of its aircraft, with Disney exteriors painted on its fuselage. A Boeing 737-800 of Jet Airways with a new Disney channel livery showed our childhood cartoon favourites Donald Duck, Pluto, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy.

The airline flew 30 children and their families to Hong Kong Disneyland as part of a marketing tie-up with the kids' channel Disney for the then forthcoming 'Jet set go' summer campaign.

Jet Airways - Disney Livery

Emirates - Dubai Expo (Blue) Livery

On 28 September 2021, Emirates revealed a head-turning A380 livery dedicated to further carrying the global event’s messages worldwide.

The aircraft's fuselage was mostly blue in colour. There were many colourful specks and forms across the blue. Along the length of the jet, the phrases "Dubai Expo" and "Be a part of the magic" appeared in large letters. 

On one side of the engines were the show's dates, which stated that it would begin in October 2021 and end in March 2022. On the opposite, it said Dubai Expo. The front of the livery had the most intriguing design. 

At the top of the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest structure in the world, Emirates unveiled an advertising campaign. In this advertisement, a stuntwoman costumed as an Emirates flight attendant held up several playing cards. Toward the front of the jet, a few of these were duplicated.

Emirates - Dubai Expo (Blue) Livery

Qatar - Retro Livery

On 15th February 2022, Qatar Airways welcomed a nostalgic flashback to its early days of operation with the delivery of a Boeing 777-300 aircraft painted in the award-winning airline’s retro livery design as part of its 25th-anniversary celebrations.

The aircraft debuted retro livery while flying as Flight QR 0041 from Hamad International Airport (HIA), Doha, to Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris. Over the following 12 months, it was a common sight on a number of other Qatar Airways routes as the award-winning airline celebrated 25 years of excellence.

Qatar - Retro Livery (Credits: Eurospot)

Etihad - F1 Livery

On November 22nd, 2018, the official airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways, announced a special livery to commemorate the 2018 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix's tenth anniversary. The design was painted on a Boeing 787-9 at the Charleston, South Carolina Boeing facility.

Etihad - F1 Livery

ANA - Star Wars Livery

On 19th August 2015, All Nippon Airways (ANA) unveiled two Star Wars-themed special liveries that included a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner painted with an R2-D2 livery.  The promotional tie-in came ahead of the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” which hit the cinemas on December 18, 2015. 

ANA - Star Wars Livery (Credits: Exyuaviation)

FinnAir - Christmas Livery

In 2015, two Finnair Airbus 321 Sharklet aircraft flew a special Christmas livery in honour of its special relationship with Santa Claus. As part of a collaboration with the Santa Claus Foundation, the airline acquired the title "Official Airline of Santa Claus". It began flying two aircraft with Santa Claus decals on them.

FinnAir - Christmas Livery (Credits: Jon Ekman)

Air Asia - Rajnikanth’s Kabali Livery

In 2016, AirAsia India unveiled its re-branded aircraft featuring a livery dedicated to a Rajnikanth movie – Kabali. The airline said that the special livery was devoted to the Tamil superstar and his fans.

The plane was expected to travel to all of the AirAsia India network's destinations, including Bangalore, New Delhi, Goa, Pune, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Guwahati, Imphal, Vizag, and Kochi.

Air Asia - Rajnikanth’s Kabali Livery

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DGCA rejects Air India pilot's appeal to revoke suspension in urination case

Radhika Bansal

02 Mar 2023

Aviation regulator DGCA has rejected the plea to revoke the suspension of the licence of an Air India pilot in connection with the urination incident onboard a New York-Delhi flight in November last year, according to a source.

The licenced pilot was suspended for three months by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on January 20.

A joint forum of six unions had also appealed to the regulator to revoke the suspension of the pilot's licence. On Wednesday, the source said the appeal of the pilot to revoke the licence suspension has been rejected.

“The pilot said that he did not report the matter as he did not consider it to be an unruly act. However, the DGCA feels that the incident should have been reported in any case,” a civil aviation ministry official said.

In connection with the urination incident that happened onboard the Air India flight on November 26, 2022, the regulator suspended the licence of the pilot for three months, imposed a penalty of INR 30 lakh on the airline and INR 3 lakh on the director of the carrier's in-flight services.

The enforcement action was taken by the DGCA citing various lapses in reporting the incident, which came to the regulator's notice only on January 4.

On January 24, the forum said that while there is a groundswell of "public pressure" for action, given the serious nature of the allegations of the complainant, there is a need to evaluate the same with the nature of the Pilot-In-Command's duties and responsibilities, among others and to evaluate the facts that came up before the pilots and crew on the said flight.

Citing various aspects, the forum had asked the regulator to "withdraw the harsh punishment and suspension of the PIC".

The six unions represented by the forum are the Indian Pilots Guild, Indian Commercial Pilots Association, Air Corporation Employees Union, Air India Employees Union, All India Cabin Crew Association and Airline Pilots Association of India.

"We believe that the regulator has acted without perhaps obtaining all the facts on record. The due process of investigation has not been followed and vital steps in the investigation and enforcement have been skipped. Additionally, gaps remain in the data collected, which need to be brought to light," the letter read.

A senior regulator official revealed that the pilot's appeal was not convincing. "The pilot had stated that he did not report the matter as he did not think it to be an unruly act. However, the DGCA feels that the incident should have been reported in any case," the official said.

The suspended AI pilot had decided not to report the incident to the police "as both the passengers on-board had a mutual understanding that they were handling the incident at their own comfort…" After DGCA found the response unsatisfactory from the AI, it suspended the pilot.