Nepal's second international airport starts operations with domestic flights

Radhika Bansal

25 Apr 2022

Nepal's second international airport - Gautam Buddha International Airport - considered a national pride project built in Lumbini, formally came into operation on April 22 with domestic flights taking off from the new airport.

The country's first international airport, Tribhuvan International Airport, came into operation 74 years ago. Yeti Airlines conducted the first flight from the new airport's 3,000-metre runway.

BWA’s new runway replaces the old one that sits adjacent, but only spans 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) in length. The longer runway will allow BWA to accommodate widebody aircraft, thereby paving the way for long-haul flights to and from Nepal.

Yeti Airlines conducted the first flight from the new airport's 3,000-metre runway.

Common widebodies like the Boeing 777, Airbus A330, etc., require less than 3,000 meters of runway length to take off. Nepal Airlines is likely to take advantage of BWA’s upgraded facilities by serving international destinations using its Airbus A330 jets.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, both narrow-body and wide-body aircraft will conduct flights to and from GBIA.

Director General of the CAAN Pradip Adhikari tweeted, "It is my pleasure to share the historic moment that Gautam Budhha International Airport has come into operation. Thank you all for your contributions. This is a milestone for Nepali civil aviation."

Although domestic airlines have started conducting flights from the newly-built airport, international flights will commence on May 16 to coincide with Buddha Jayanti.

ALSO READ - Nepal’s second international airport will start operation in May 2022

According to CAAN Spokesperson Chandra Lal Karna, the old runway has been converted into a taxiway. He said an agreement had been reached between the CAAN and Jazeera Air of Kuwait to operate flights from the airport three days a week after international flights come into operation.

"If all goes well, Jazeera Air will conduct flights from the airport around midnight on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after Buddha Jayanti," Karna told The Himalayan Times. He said the newly-built airport would directly employ roughly around 300 people.

Stating that GBIA was constructed to accommodate parking for aircraft and as an alternative landing zone apart from TIA, CAAN Spokesperson Karna said the airport would also ease travel and make air commute cheaper.

Nepal's second international airport starts operations with domestic flights

He said an agreement had been reached with the Nepal Airline Corporation to conduct ground handling payments. Of the total payments collected by NAC, 15% will be given to CAAN.

"Of the total fuel sales collected from GBIA every month, CAAN will receive 0.05% of the earning," he added. In terms of air routes, aircraft will conduct flights from the same routes used earlier.

By doing so, flight times to and from the airport will be reduced, making airfares cheaper for passengers, Karna stated. The airport can be used as an alternative landing spot in case of emergencies or if for any reason TIA is unsuitable for landing

With tourist arrivals increasing in recent days, residents around the airport hope that the COVID-battered tourism industry would steadily recover.

Although domestic airlines have started conducting flights from the newly-built airport, international flights will commence on May 16 to coincide with Buddha Jayanti.

With the new airport complete and ready for use, the Nepalese authorities can focus on other ongoing airport upgradation projects around the country. The land-locked country finally seems to be taking its airport infrastructure seriously as it looks to add a few more names to its list of international airports soon.

Authorities are completing the construction of the third international airport, located in the Gandaki province. The Pokhara International Airport is set to open later this year and is aimed at regional international flights to neighbouring countries of India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, etc.

Next, Nepalese authorities are also planning to build the Nijgadh International Airport in Madhesh Federal province. The project was set to be completed by 2025 but has run into some trouble with environmental protection laws. The Supreme Court of Nepal halted construction in December 2020.

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Air India transfers 4 Airbus A321s to DRDO and IAF for Netra Mk2 AEWCS project

Radhika Bansal

25 Apr 2022

The Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Air Force are working to make an Airborne Early Warning and Control System on (AEWCS) legacy Air India Airbus A321 aircraft.

These systems will be called Netra-Mk2 where the aircraft will be legacy Air India aircraft and antenna array units will be supplied by DRDO's Lab Center For Airborne Systems (LCFAS).

The modified aircraft are now birthed at Hindon airport.

DRDO and IAF acquired six aircraft and the first aircraft was already delivered in 2021. Four more aircraft were delivered by DRDO in the last couple of months, which are currently parked at Hindon airport.

According to the plan, the six will be taken from the Air India fleet, which means they will be A-319s and A-321 variants.

The original plan, which had also got an AON clearance, was to procure two larger A-330 jets, which were then to be modified and fitted with the AEW&C systems.

Air India transfers 4 Airbus A321s to DRDO and IAF for the Netra Mk2 AEWCS project

However, now the six Airbus aircraft will be modified and the indigenous Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar will be mounted on them.

IAF received Two A321 last month and after the conclusion of talks with the Airbus, it will soon be ferried to the Lagardère facility in Toulouse, France where it will undergo structural modifications so that Primary long-range multi-mode radar can be installed in a 10 mt composite dorsal unit that is designed by LRDE.

A319/321 will also get an additional Auxiliary Power Unit to power the radar systems. DRDO’s Bengaluru-based Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) is developing upgraded Primary and secondary radar for the system that will have enhanced detection and tracking range than its predecessor (Netra Mk1).

A319/321 will also get an additional Auxiliary Power Unit to power the radar systems.

In the latest tender document issued by the DRDO more visible structural changes to the aircraft seems to be much more radical than what was originally planned.

Changes visible are that the beyond-line-of-sight datalinks, satellite communication systems Radome have been moved behind and now it is close to the tail section and it seems plans to have multimode airborne Maritime surveillance Radar to act as an effective force-multiplier solution for operational missions in the maritime theatre seems to have been dropped.

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Singapore to have world's largest sustainable aviation fuel output capacity


24 Apr 2022

Singapore is poised to host the world’s largest sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production capacity when Finnish producer Neste’s facility in Tuas gets completed in the first quarter of 2023.

Neste Oyj is a Finland-based company engaged in the refining and marketing of petroleum and petroleum products. The Renewable Products segment produces, markets and sells renewable diesel, renewable jet fuels and solutions, renewable solvents, as well as raw materials for bioplastics.

Neste is now the top SAF producer globally in terms of output and capacity.

Neste's oil refinery, with a total refining capacity of about 13.5 million tonnes per year, in Porvoo, southern Finland, November 17, 2015, | REUTERS-Jussi Rosendahl

After the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the company's expansion project, it now plans to produce its first batch of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in Singapore by the end of the first quarter of next year.

It's been delayed due to the pandemic as we were already hoping to be on stream in 2022.But the revised plan is now fully on track.Neste's Executive Vice President for Renewable Aviation, Thorsten Lange, told Reuters

Thorsten Lange | Neste

The aviation industry is touted to account for 3% of the world's carbon emissions and is considered one of the toughest to tackle owing to the dearth of alternatives available to jet-fueled engines. Other technologies that aim to decarbonize aviation are on the horizon, but SAFs might be uniquely positioned to quickly reduce emissions in a large portion of flights.

According to Lange, the company plans of commencing SAF production at the end of the first quarter of 2023 and then onwards ramp up output to an annual capacity of 1 million tonnes.

Representative | San Francisco International Airport

Reportedly, Lange has had some very promising discussions at the very recently concluded Singapore Airshow while Japan aiming for 10% sustainable jet fuel for airlines by 2030 is "very encouraging".

What is typical for Asia is they may be lagging behind for the time being ... but that could massively change within the next two to three years. Having a mandate in place provides demand certainty. Lange added

Apparently. Neste is competing in an increasingly crowded space as fossil fuel majors enter the green fuel market, pushing up costs for used cooking oil and discarded animal fat.

The available "feedstock pool is enough to cover the requirements at an initial stage" but is needed to be widened in future and the company IS looking at options such as algae and power-to-liquids (ptl)Lange

Singapore Airlines, the flagship carrier of Singapore, will use blended SAF from Exxon Mobil, which will be supplied by Neste.

Wikimedia Commons

The US Federal Aviation Administration has plans of reaching 3 billion gallons of SAF production by 2030.


COVER: Port of Seattle

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Say hello to "Sama" - industry's first-ever MetaHuman cabin crew


23 Apr 2022

In what can be termed a first of its kind, Qatar Airways has entered the metaverse by launching QVerse, a novel virtual reality (VR) experience for visitors to the airline’s website and in doing so, it also becomes the first global airline to introduce a MetaHuman cabin crew offering a digital interactive customer experience.

Travellers with smartphones and Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) are in for a treat as guests can now navigate the Premium Check-in area at Hamad International Airport (HIA), the cabin interior of the airline’s aircraft, including the award-winning Business Class - Qsuite, and the Economy Class cabin, all at the click of a button.

Airline Ratings

With physical boundaries beginning to be challenged by the metaverse on an increasingly larger scale, it is exciting to embrace a technology that enables all travel enthusiasts to enjoy a unique immersive experience of our award-winning products and services. Our status as the first airline to introduce a MetaHuman cabin crew is testament to our unwavering desire to innovate and delight our customers. We are constantly looking forward to adopting and introducing novel technologies that enhance our passengers’ complete journey.Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, H E Akbar Al Baker

Akbar Al Baker

"Sama" - your MetaHuman cabin crew, will walk you through a virtual journey of discovery while presenting the unique features in both the Business and Economy Class cabins through a narrated script. 

Airline Ratings

The innovative experience is a result of the collaboration between Epic Games’ Unreal Engine'- the world’s most advanced real-time 3D creation tool, and MetaHuman Creator, a cloud-based app for creating high-fidelity digital humans.

Airline Ratings

 ‘Sama’ – whose name is of Arabic origin, translates to "sky" and Qatar Airways would be the first global airline to introduce a MetaHuman cabin crew, featuring a digitally-created high-fidelity 3D human model.

Users can now log on to website and virtually tour and navigate all the services offered.



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DGCA alters the Digi-Yatra program; enables self-registration for touchless travel

Radhika Bansal

23 Apr 2022

In wake of the pandemic, the government has altered the process to register for Digi-Yatra (DY) program that will eventually allow paperless air travel for passengers. Under the new process, people can enrol by digitally validating a government-issued I card like Aadhaar or a driving licence.

“Passengers can create a DY credential with identity data, travel data and if needed even health data. All these data points are tagged to the single token face biometric of the passenger,” says a notification on “implementation of e-boarding process (DY)” issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on April 18, 2022.

Manual processes that exist today for check-in shall remain even after the much-delayed DY gets implemented, which has been delayed by the pandemic. DY will be available to both Indian and foreign travellers.

DGCA alters the Digi-Yatra program; enables self-registration for touchless travel

“The DY credentials would be created using self-service mode by the passenger with a government of India identity that is possible to be validated digitally. Right now, Aadhaar and a driving licence are options available. Others like passport e-passport will be subsequently added in the future,” it says.

In case there is an issue with this self-registration, the originally pre-pandemic time envisaged procedure of registering for the first time at airport registration kiosks will remain available.

In such cases “a one-time ID check and face biometric capture will be done at airport registration kiosk by the passenger at a DY-enabled departing airport. In the authentication process, passenger’s ID will be verified and validated by an authorised security officer (of CISF) and activate DY credentials.”

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has to video Aeronautical Information Circular 9 of 2022 modified the E-Boarding Process (Digi Yatra)

The DY credentials will be encrypted and stored in a secure Walter on the passenger’s smartphone. The data will not be centrally stored to minimise the risk of theft or loss.

“DY credentials are shared only when travel happens and shared with passengers’ consent (by him/her) with… airlines, airports and regulatory agencies if needed,” the DGCA order says.

Such data will be shared 24 hours before flight departure time and retained for 24 hours after the same, following which it will be purged from the system. Airports, airlines and their travel agents will be responsible for complying with these requirements.

It applies to all scheduled airlines and airports in India to enable inter alia, passengers to enrol into the Digi Yatra ecosystem

Airlines will be required to make a provision for creating and receiving DY credentials of passengers when they book tickets through any platform “for domestic travel and in future for international travel… this implementation will be done in a phased manner.”

Airlines will share passenger data with the DY biometric boarding system of airport operators at least six hours before flight departure time on a secure line for ticket and ID validation.

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Go First gets approval for night parking at Srinagar Airport from AAI

Radhika Bansal

23 Apr 2022

Private airliner Go First, formerly known as GoAir, has become the first airline to receive approval from the Airports Authority of India for night parking at Srinagar as well as Jammu airports, officials said on Friday, April 22.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha launched the night parking facility at the airports on Thursday, April 21. This provision will ensure late night and early morning take-offs from the two airports. This will allow one Airbus A320neo aircraft to be parked at Jammu airport.

Go First gets approval for night parking at Srinagar Airport from AAI

This is a significant development for the union territory as the night parking permission will facilitate better flight operations from the region, a Go First spokesman said.

"We would like to thank the authorities for their kind consideration and will continue our commitment to the development of Jammu and Kashmir.Go First operated the first night flight from Jammu following its successful operations of the first night flight from Srinagar.Go First is the only airline appointed for the cargo movement of horticultural perishable and agricultural produce of the Jammu and Kashmir Horticulture Products, a state-owned company."Kaushik Khona, Chief Executive Officer, Go First

Speaking at the launch event, Sinha said the initiative will ease air travelling with a multiplier effect on the hospitality industry.

The new beginning reflects our commitment to strengthening connectivity and fulfilling the mobility needs of the people. The initiative will make travelling effortless for those looking for single-day travel. The Lieutenant Governor said despite COVID-19, the Jammu and Srinagar airports had achieved new records.

ALSO READ - Srinagar airport registers a record number of passengers with 102 flights in 24 hours

This will allow one Airbus A320neo aircraft to be parked at Jammu airport

In March 2021, 1,030 flight operations were recorded at the Jammu airport and more than one lakh passengers travelled. This number soared to 1,346 flights and roughly 1.55 lakh passengers, he said.

Established in 2005 and wholly owned by the Wadia Group, Go First is an ultra-low-cost carrier based at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai with a secondary hub at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.

The carrier operates an extensive network of domestic services within India using Airbus A320 family aircraft. GoAir officially rebranded as Go First in May 2021.