More than 1,600 employees of Air India, the former state-run carrier now owned by the Tata group, have opted for voluntary retirement under a scheme announced on June 1.
These employees comprise 22% of permanent staff (around 7,000). The airline has a total employee strength of around 10,800, including those on contract.
At first, employees older than 55 and with 20 years of continuous employment could opt for a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS). The rules were relaxed in June and VRS opened for those older than 40 among cabin crew, clerical and unskilled categories. Pilots were not included in this scheme.
Over 1,600 Air India employees opt for voluntary retirement scheme
Those who have opted for VRS until June end will get an additional incentive of INR 1 lakh and the scheme will continue till July end. A senior executive of Air India said the Tata group would appoint professional agencies to reskill the staff who opt for VRS.
Cabin crew, peons, clerical assistants, housekeeping staff and security guards are among employees opting for VRS. Around 2,800 employees are eligible to take VRS and those opting for it account for around 57%.
Air India has over 10,000 employees, of which around 7,000 are permanent. Thousands are said to be retiring over the next five years.
Around 2,800 employees are eligible to take VRS and those opting for it account for around 57%.
ALSO READ - Air India offers to rehire pilots post-retirement for 5 years
According to the disinvestment conditions, the Tata Group cannot lay off employees for one year from taking ownership and can offer VRS in the second year. Some unions have also been examining whether the current move violates the term of the sale or not.
“Most of those who are opting for VRS have around two to three years of their service period left. Functions of multiple departments like security driver or loader where Air India under the government had hired permanent staff are going to be outsourced. So, it is a good proposition for them,” said an airline executive.
The Tata group acquired Air India in January. By investing in aircraft and technology, the group hopes to make the airline efficient and profitable.
Air India is hiring cabin crew between 18-32 years as it prepares for its expansion.
“If you have to get an edge over others you have to break away from the past,” said a former senior executive. The VRS scheme would make the airline leaner and cut establishment costs, he said.
Air India is hiring cabin crew between 18-32 years as it prepares for its expansion. It did not respond to an emailed query about the VRS scheme.
Not everyone is happy. “The VRS scheme is a tactic to break the resistance of employees who are opposing eviction from staff quarters. We were assured that there would be job protection for one year after disinvestment,” said George Abraham, a member of the Aviation Industry Employees Guild.
Air India has over 10,000 employees, of which around 7,000 are permanent.
There is a lot more discipline and accountability in the airline's internal functioning now but somewhere unhappiness too has crept in, employees said. This is especially among crewmembers who fear losing jobs to new recruits.
“There is a lot of stress. The rest period between flights is at a minimum. There is also apprehension that airline management will tighten body mass index norms. Some are worried about a possible transfer to Delhi,” said a senior crewmember.
(With Inputs from Business Standard)
Air India may deboard AIASL as a ground handler from some airports due to flight delays
Air India may reduce dependence on its former ground-handling subsidiary, AIASL, as it responds to flight delays and customer complaints. It is exploring other options at airports served by AIASL.
Air India has been experiencing poor ground handling services since disinvestment in terms of check-in, baggage handling and other necessary services for the passengers.
AIASL serves Air India at all airports except Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mangalore, and Thiruvananthapuram.
AIASL serves Air India at all airports except Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mangalore, and Thiruvananthapuram. At these five airports, ground handling is done by Air India's joint venture firm AISATS.
Rajesh Dogra, the airline's head of customer experience and ground handling, listed eight issues of concern in a June 29 letter to AI Asset Holding Limited. Dogra said the number of flight delays has increased from 3.7% to 11.9% of the total.
Air India may deboard AIASL as a ground handler from some airports due to flight delays
The number of flight delays due to ground handling in December 2021 and January 2022 was 284 and 89, respectively. The months of February, March, April, and May have seen a steady climb in ground-handling induced delays to 271, 386, 520, and 620, respectively.
The key issues identified in the letter sent to AIASL are - Increased ground handling delays at AIASL, the perennial shortage of staffing, lack of systemic training interventions for staff, Old, inadequate, and dysfunctional ground handling equipment due to ineffective maintenance, staff not in uniform or wearing jaded uniform.
Dogra said the number of flight delays has increased from 3.7% to 11.9% of the total.
These include staff shortage, discourteous behaviour with customers, mishandling of baggage and lack of effective governance by AIASL. AI Asset Holding controls AIASL.
"We are getting a large number of escalations across all channels highlighting delays, as well as lack of professional handling of customers at AIASL, handled airports," said Dogra adding that these were affecting the airline's brand image and goodwill.
“The service lapses including manpower shortages extend to the terminal as well as ramp operations impacting the check-in / boarding, baggage handling processes almost on a daily basis. We are getting large number of escalations across all channels highlighting delays as well as lack of professional handling of customers at AlASL handled airports. We are unable to accept this situation any longer as inefficiencies in the AlASL operationsis severely impacting our services, goodwill, and brand image. In view of the above, we are constrained to explore alternative arrangements for ground handling services at such AIASL airports…. we will be forced to discontinue/scale down AlASL ground handling services at such airports.Inspite of our sustained efforts towards constructive engagement and repeated highlighting of shortcomings/deficiencies in service delivery, (the same) deteriorate progressively…. for any airline to be able to deliver enhanced customer experience, ground handling operations such as check-in, boarding, baggage handling and ramp side activities are extremely critical."The letter written by Air India to AIASL
A senior AIASL official said the main issue was a staff shortage. "Staff is being hired across stations on a war footing to improve our service," he said.
The Tatas are desperately trying to improve Air India’s service standards, putting flights on time, making customer service more efficient and booking processes more seamless.
ALSO READ - Celebi Aviation interested in bidding for Air India’s ground handling unit
The Noida International airport in Jewar will look to etch its place on the country’s aviation map as a major MRO hub, acronym for maintenance, repair and overhaul, after it crosses its first landmark of launching commercial operations by December 2024.
With the UP Cabinet passing the MRO policy, the decks have been cleared for concessionaire Zurich AG to develop the first of the two MROs planned on 40 acres of land.
On Wednesday, June 29 Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) CEO Arun Vir Singh said Zurich AG is in talks with top companies to set up this MRO at the airport.
Noida Airport to become a significant MRO hub in India
The second and larger MRO will come up on 1,365 acres of land along with a runway and the facility could see a cluster of companies operate there. It has a 2025 completion timeline. Singh heads the UP government's special purpose vehicle for the airport, Noida International Airport Ltd (NIAL).
The two MROs, pegged at INR 80,000 crore, are eventually expected to give employment to over 60,000 people and bring in investments of INR 30,000 crore over the years, officials said.
“There is an immense opportunity in this field given the upcoming Noida International Airport. Since the first phase of the airport is coming up over 1,334 hectares, it was compulsory to build an MRO facility simultaneously,” the YEIDA CEO said.
The second and larger MRO will come up on 1,365 acres of land along with a runway and the facility could see a cluster of companies operate there.
The central government had in 2021 introduced an MRO policy that aims to turn India into a global hub for aircraft maintenance and overhaul, which now largely happens abroad.
ALSO READ - GST rate on domestic MRO services for the aviation industry reduced to 5%
Some of the proposed changes included leasing land through open tenders, allocating land for MRO for 30 years instead of the current 3 to 5 years, and removing the 13% turnover royalty charged by the Airports Authority of India.
The Indian MRO industry is worth USD 2 billion annually. Of this, only 16% of the business is handled locally. Within the MRO services, the engine and aircraft component maintenance, in particular, is quite lucrative, and the government wants to develop these facilities in the country.
There is an immense opportunity in this field given the upcoming Noida International Airport.
ALSO READ - 8 airports identified by AAI for promoting Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul activities
Indian carriers currently send their aircraft offshore for MRO, though some work has begun at the Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports, where the country’s only two smaller MROs are located, officials said.
Singh said India has over 650 commercial aircraft and this figure is expected to increase by 1,000 in the next four years.
“For now, aircraft are taken to Singapore, Dubai, Paris, Seattle and Colombo for major overhauls, and airlines spend around INR 15,000 crore on repairs every year. The Indian aviation industry is expanding fast and that’s why there was a need to develop MRO facilities to cater to these new planes.Before approval of the MRO policy, several rounds of talks took place in Noida and Lucknow with the international companies. The companies gave their presentations and apprised us about incentives in the policy that can boost investment opportunities. We studied the MRO policies of other states and adopted the best practices."Arun Vir Singh, CEO, Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA)
Under the MRO policy passed by the cabinet, companies will be entitled to subsidies for setting up operations at the Noida airport. These will be – 5% capital subsidy for those spending INR 500 crore, 8% for investments of INR 1,000 crore and 12% for over INR 1,000 crore.
The UP government has also asked the concessionaire developing the airport to develop it as a transit hub for Asia-Pacific, with a focus on connecting countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia among others.
Under the MRO policy passed by the cabinet, companies will be entitled to subsidies for setting up operations at the Noida airport.
The Noida airport lies southeast of central Delhi, Gurgaon, and Noida and is almost at the halfway point to Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal. The new development is around 90 kilometres from the current Delhi Airport and 85 kilometres from the city centre.
The project is being worked upon in phases. The first phase, set to open in September 2024, will see the construction of two runways and a terminal for 12 million travellers. By the fourth phase, the airport is hoping to gain 70 million yearly passengers and six active runways, the most in the country.
Construction of the runway begins at Noida International Airport
Construction of the runway at the proposed largest international airport has started in Jewar. Tata Projects, which was awarded the tender for the runway construction, has begun measuring and marking the runway. Temporary offices have also been established at the site, with civilian access to the area restricted.
ALSO READ - Noida International Airport to be built by Tata Projects
ALSO READ - Work on Noida International Airport’s runway, terminal building and ATC to begin soon
Aside from these, an aeroplane maintenance centre is proposed for the airport site. The centre will be India's first and only aircraft servicing facility, saving crores of Indian rupees that are currently paid to foreign nations for aircraft repair and maintenance.
Indian Coast Guard commissions Made in India ALH Dhruv Mark III Helicopters
The Indian Coast Guard had commissioned a squadron (its third) of made-in-India Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv Mark III at Porbandar in Gujarat. The helicopters were commissioned by ICG director-general VS Pathania.
Coast Guard officials told ANI the choppers could fulfil both reconnaissance and offensive roles as they have 12.7 mm heavy machine guns that can hit targets at a range of 1,800 metres.
The induction boosts the Coast Guard's maritime surveillance and recon capabilities and the country's 'aatmanirbhar defence' philosophy as the ALH Dhruv Mark III is fully made in India by Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
In May the Coast Guard commissioned its second ALH Dhruv Mark III squadron - in Kerala. Four of these helicopters have been stationed in Kochi in the southern state. The coasts of Karnataka and Kerala, and the Lakshadweep islands, would now be covered.
According to a note on HAL's website, the ALH Dhruv is an 'indigenously designed and developed... twin-engine, multi-role, multi-mission new generation helicopter'.
The Mark III designed for 'utility roles in defence services suited for high-altitude operations' comes with an electronic warfare suite and counter-measure system, among other features.
The 'armed variant for the attack, close-air support and high altitude operations' comes with weapon systems and mission sensors that include a turret gun, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, a helmet-pointing system, and an infra-red jammer, a data link and an obstacle avoidance system.
The helicopters also have powerful Shakti engines, a full-glass cockpit and high-intensity searchlights to aid in search-and-rescue ops at sea, as well as a removable medical intensive care unit (MICU) to facilitate critically ill patients for medical evacuation, or med-evac.
An improved version equipped with Shakti-1H engines, new electronic warfare (EW) suite and warning systems, automatic chaff and flare dispensers, and an improved vibration control system. The first batch was inducted into service in 2012.
The helicopters also have powerful Shakti engines, a full-glass cockpit and high-intensity searchlights to aid in search-and-rescue ops at sea. (Image Courtesy - Shrey Chopra)
Indian Coast Guard Mk3 is the same in performance as the Mk.3 however, has additional equipment such as a cabin mountain MG, High-Intensity Search Light and a loud hailer.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh this week underlined the success of the armed forces' 'aatmanirbhar' push last week when he tweeted: "68% of procurement will be from purchase of products made in India. In this also, we have arranged to buy 25% only from private companies..."
The HAL Dhruv is a utility helicopter designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The development of HAL Dhruv was announced in November 1984. The helicopter first flew in 1992; however, its development was prolonged due to multiple factors including the Indian Army's requirement for design changes, budget restrictions, and sanctions placed on India following the 1998 Pokhran-II nuclear tests.
Jet Airways to lease 6-8 aircraft by December; in talks with aircraft manufacturers and lessors
Jet Airways is in discussions with aircraft manufacturers and lessors to lease 6-8 planes, including some of those which were to be delivered to Russian carriers before the Ukraine war, as it gets ready for the relaunch. The airline is also negotiating with airport operators to secure slots with "good" timings.
Once a major player in the Indian aviation space, the carrier has not flown since April 17, 2019, and is being revived under the ownership of the Jalan-Kalrock consortium. Last month it got its air operator certificate revalidated by the aviation safety regulator DGCA.
Jet Airways to lease 6-8 aircraft by December; in talks with aircraft manufacturers and lessors
"Aircraft availability is always an issue but now due to the Russia-Ukraine war, aircraft which were to be delivered to Russia are also available in the market along with those leased planes which were flying in Russia," a source told PTI.
He said the airline is negotiating with Boeing, Airbus and the lessors, adding that "discussions are at a very high level and an announcement is expected to be made very soon."According to the source, Jet Airways is looking to lease 6-8 aircraft by December. Jet Airways confirmed that the airline is in "advanced discussion "with the lessors and original equipment manufacturer (OEMs) but did not share specific details.
The A320 and A220 jets seem to be winning the race to woo Jet at the moment
"We have no comment to give other than we will share our fleet plans when they are finalized and we are ready to share. We are in advanced discussions with multiple lessors and all three OEMs," Jet Airways CEO, Sanjiv Kapoor told PTI.
"However, it will be the only single type of fleet either Airbus or Boeing. Both are in contention at this stage," the source said, adding that the airline can relaunch operations as early as September, once the aircraft deal is signed.
Talks have also been in the works with Boeing and Embraer, manufacturers of the 737 MAX and E2 family jets, respectively, though Airbus has appeared as the front-runner for the deal valued at a USD 5.5 billion list price.
Jet Airways is also negotiating with airport operators to secure slots with "good" timings.
The A320 and A220 jets seem to be winning the race to woo Jet at the moment, but reports suggest that a final decision has not been taken. For the longest time, it was assumed that Jet would continue with the 737 family of aircraft as it did in its first stint.
ALSO READ - Jet Airways places Airbus in the lead for USD 5.5 billion aircraft order
He said for the acquisition of a large number of aircraft, first an initial pact will have to be signed with the aircraft maker as the "competition" between Boeing and Airbus is very clear. "A decision on this is yet to be taken. But when it is taken, it will be quickly implemented," he said.
Jet Airways is mulling flying to Mumbai, Goa, and Bengaluru, among others, from its new base in Delhi
According to the source, the airline has also decided not to retain the aircraft currently in its fleet and instead dispose of them.
Stating that it will initially be domestic services only, the source said Jet Airways is mulling flying to Mumbai, Goa, and Bengaluru, among others, from its new base in Delhi, he said the network planning is yet to be finalised as the airline is looking for airport slots.
"We have got some slots but some fine-tuning such as appropriate timing is being done and the airline may announce this also. So everything is in a positive direction," as per the source.
In aviation parlance, a slot is an authorisation to either take off or land at a particular airport on a particular day during a specified period.
LEO Flight unveils alpha prototype for its jet turbine propelled eVTOL - LEO Coupe
01 Jul 2022
01 Jul 2022
Technically known as vertical take-off and landing aircraft, Flying Cars are touted to take off vertically from the top of a building much like a helicopter, transition to cruise mode like a conventional plane and then land vertically.
Flying cars have always been a subject of interest and may seem like a futuristic or sci-fi movie invention, though the idea for the flying car has been around since the 18th century.
Founded in 2020 by Pete Bitar of Electric Jet Aircraft and Carlos Salaff of SALAFF Automotive, LEO Flight has unveiled the "LEO Coupe"- an all-electric jet turbine-propelled vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) with a three-seater car design.
How is it any different from other eVTOL models out there?
Bitar and Salaff have had a desire to create a unique design- something that wouldn't resemble a fixed-wing or a rotary-wing. Reportedly, the experimental prototype LX-1 is touted to be a personal automobile for the sky that science fiction has foreseen- a personal, creative project turned into a mission to manufacture it for public use.
The LEO Coupe
The prototype doesn't display the rather dashing looks shown in earlier variants of the final LEO Coupe. Basically designed to test the propulsion system at this stage, the flying aluminium airframe features large banks of small electric jets.
1. DARPA-funded propulsion system by Electric Jet Aircraft
LX-1 manned alpha prototype | leoflight
LEO Coupe's fully electric propulsion system is comprised of clusters of powerful electric jets, allowing safety through redundancy. Additionally, the wings also feature non-exposed rotors, eliminating the danger to those around the vehicle.
2. Highly compact with an automotive familiarity
When compared with current eVTOL designs, LEO Coupe's compact size of 10' x 20' becomes immediately apparent. This feature enables it to be privately owned, used as an air taxi and as a vehicle in any place where space is the limited and ground infrastructure is underdeveloped or non-existent.
With compatibility like no other, it is touted to fit in most 2-car garages.
3. Exhilarating interiors
Gull-wing doors open from the side to an airy, comfy cabin designed for three adults including the pilot. Additionally, it also features a "floating seat" for the pilot, thereby enhancing the exhilaration of the flight.
Reportedly, the easy-to-learn semi-autonomous controls also make the flight simple.
4. Seamless travel
The hypercar also features an integrated 5G connected system, wherein users can check into or book their hotel rooms, fill up forms and documents, or arrange any travel-related agendas while enjoying the landscapes and horizons through the generous, tall windows carpeting the vehicle.
Representative | leoflight
Reportedly, the LEO Coupe can fly with a 250-mph flight speed and over one hour of flight time per charge to rapidly commute between places. The aircraft will have an empty weight of 1,100 lb (499 kg) and be able to carry a 510 lb (231 kg) payload.
LEO's compact form also makes it ideal for fire rescue, medevac, Coast Guard, tourism, exploration and most any terrain without developed road infrastructure.
5. VERTISTOP-LEO Flight's charging network
The VertiStop unit is a compact charging and landing pad, enabled by LEO's compact size. It provides a power grid connection and fast charging for the LEO Coupe. Integral solar arrays supplement energy needs. The mesh top will help absorb air currents from LEO's jet system. The simplicity and integrated design of the VertiStop unit make it easy to install and use, quickly making once-neglected rooftop spaces into a fast-charging network.
Dubbed as a "personal automobile" for the skies, it comes with a price tag of $459,900.
COVER: eVTOL News