Stocks of airlines of India moved mixed after the release of July air traffic data

Radhika Bansal

20 Aug 2022

Stocks of aviation companies — InterGlobe Aviation, Jet Airways, SpiceJet — moved mixed on Friday, August 19 after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation released the data for July on Thursday, August 18.

Shares of IndiGo's parent company, InterGlobe Aviation, fell 2.37% and touched an intraday low of INR 1,974.65. Jet Airways stock jumped 4.5%, and SpiceJet fell 1.4%.

According to the data released, domestic airlines carried 97.05 lakh passengers in July, a 7.7% decline compared to June. Overall, 6.69 crore people travelled on domestic flights in the January-July period of 2022.

Stocks of airlines of India moved mixed after the release of July air traffic data

ALSO READ - Vistara becomes the No.2 carrier by market share in July

IndiGo’s market share continued to rise and held the largest share, followed by Vistara, Air India, and GoFIRST.

Vistara whizzed past rivals SpiceJet and Go First, both of whom have grounded planes and cut flights, to become India’s No.2 carrier by market share in July. The airline is Tata Sons’ joint venture with Singapore Airlines.

IndiGo – India’s largest carrier – carried 57.11 lakh passengers in July, a 58.8% share of the domestic market. Vistara flew 10.13 lakh passengers and Air India flew 8.14 lakh passengers in July this year, according to the data shared by the DGCA.

The occupancy rate of Vistara, IndiGo, Go First, AirAsia India and Air India was 84.3%, 77.7%, 76.5%, 75.2% and 71.1%, respectively

Go First, SpiceJet, AirAsia India and Alliance Air carried 7.95 lakh, 7.76 lakh, 4.42 lakh, and 1.12 lakh passengers, respectively, in July, the data showed.

However,  the passenger load factor (PLF) — which assesses how efficiently a transport provider fills seats and generates fare revenue — fell for IndiGo, AirAsia India, and GoFIRST in July month-on-month. Vistara and SpiceJet reported a rise in PLF.

The occupancy rate or load factor for SpiceJet was 84.7% in July, the DGCA noted. The occupancy rate of Vistara, IndiGo, Go First, AirAsia India and Air India was 84.3%, 77.7%, 76.5%, 75.2% and 71.1%, respectively, in July, it added.

(With Inputs from CNBC TV18)

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Spicejet pilot suspended over violation of rules by DGCA

Radhika Bansal

20 Aug 2022

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday, August 18 suspended the licences of a Spicejet pilot and a charter pilot for violation of rules in two separate incidents.

A senior DGCA official confirmed that the aviation regulator had suspended the licence of the pilot-in-command (PIC) of the SpiceJet flight for six months after he disregarded a co-pilot's warning to skirt the clouds and flew the plane into severe turbulence.

ALSO READ - Spicejet mid-air turbulence – here’s what is known so far

Spicejet pilot suspended over violation of rules by DGCA

On May 1, a few passengers were injured when the Boeing B737 aircraft, which was flying the SG-945 route from Mumbai to Durgapur, met strong turbulence during the descent. There were 195 persons on board the aircraft including two pilots and four cabin crew members.

After that, aviation regulator DGCA instituted a multidisciplinary team to probe the severe turbulence incident on SpiceJet's Mumbai-Durgapur flight that left 15 people injured.

A total of 15 people 12 passengers and three cabin crew members were injured in this flight due to severe turbulence, said officials of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

A total of 15 people 12 passengers and three cabin crew members were injured in this flight due to severe turbulence

The aircraft that took off from Mumbai at approximately 05:13 PM, encountered severe turbulence and the vertical load factor varied from +2.64G and - 1.36G, at the time of descent. During this period the autopilot got disengaged for two minutes and the crew manually flew the aircraft, the DGCA revealed in its statement.

ALSO READ - SpiceJet pilots have reliability issues with weather radar

In another instance, the DGCA suspended the licence of a pilot of a charter airplane in a false fuel emergency case for one month. The pilot of a charter flight from Bokaro to Ranchi on October 19, 2021, falsely announced a low fuel emergency to receive priority landing because he wanted to avoid the hovering period. Later, the investigation revealed that the plane had ample fuel.

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US-based Aviation Museum showcases the achievements of Air India's Captain

Jinen Gada

20 Aug 2022

Air India’s senior pilot Captain Zoya Agarwal of the Boeing-777 aircraft has made its way to the SFO Aviation Museum. Zoya is the first Indian woman pilot to fly an aircraft over the North Pole and has covered a record-breaking distance of nearly 16,000 kilometres.

Reports claim Zoya was the youngest woman pilot in India to fly a Boeing-777 back in 2013 and is one of the gender equality spokespersons at the United Nations.

Capt Zoya Aggarwal is the only human being to get a place as a pilot in the San Francisco Aviation Louis A Turpen Aviation Museum, commonly known as the SFO Aviation Museum.

The ace pilot was also part of India's Vande Bharat mission in 2020 as the government launched flights to evacuate Indians stuck in countries due to the coronavirus lockdown. Agarwal had captained the flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru which is one of the longest non-stop air routes in the world. The US museum offered Agarwal a place after her achievement.

"I was amazed to see that I am the only living thing out there, I am honestly humble. I can’t believe I am part of a prestigious aviation museum in the USA and first Indian woman to live in a museum in the United States, if you ask an eight-year-old girl who sits on her terrace, looks at the stars and dreams of becoming a pilot. It is an honor that the US recognizes an Indian woman for her museum."Captain Zoya Agarwal, Air India

Recently, the SFO museum showcased Indian pilot Zoya Agarwal’s extraordinary career in aviation and her advocacy for promoting women's empowerment across the world, inspiring millions of girls and youth to pursue their dreams.

Four women pilots steered Air India’s longest flight and the maiden route over the north pole.

India has 2,764 registered woman pilots. The Indian government had said last year that women constitute over 15 per cent of pilots in the aviation sector which is one of the highest in the world. 

The participation of female pilots in India has grown rapidly, with India having the largest proportion of female pilots in the world, according to the International Society of Women’s Airlines. That accounts for about 12.4% of all pilots, compared to 5.5% in the US.

ALSO READ - Jyotiraditya Scindia advocates for paternity leave in airlines; wants 50% women pilots

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Akasa Air to expand operations with 150 weekly flights

Jinen Gada

20 Aug 2022

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed Akasa Air, which started services on 7 August this year, has announced in a release that the company expects to operate more than 150 weekly flights by the end of September. 

India’s newest airline which is also backed by aviation veterans Vinay Dube and Aditya Ghosh began operations on August 7 and now flies on three routes — Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Bengaluru-Kochi and Bengaluru-Mumbai.

Currently, the carrier has three planes and the third one was received on August 16.

The airline inaugurated its first service on the Bengaluru-Mumbai route, enabling it to offer twice-daily flights in each direction.

"Further expanding operations on the Bengaluru-Mumbai route, we will commence one additional daily flight from August 30, 2022, and another from September 19, 2022."Official said in a release.

The release further informed that the airlines will start a new route connecting Bengaluru with Chennai from 10 September.

ALSO READ - Big plane order may be placed by Akasa Air in the next 18 months

Currently, the carrier has three planes and the third one was received on 16 August. It plans to add one new aircraft every two weeks and its fleet size will be 18 aircraft by the end of March 2023. Over the next four years, the airline will add 54 additional aircraft, taking its total fleet size to 72 planes.

Akasa Air started its commercial operations with two aircraft and received its third aircraft on August 16.

According to a statement on August 17, the airline's CEO Vinay Dube said the carrier is well-capitalised and its growth is secure with the financial means to place an order for more planes. The carrier is looking to induct 72 aircraft over the next five years.

In line with the airline’s vision of adopting a phased approach and strengthening its pan-India network connectivity, it has already announced flights for six routes across five cities, including Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Bengaluru, and Chennai.

Feature Image - Siddh Dhuri

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Both pilots of Ethiopian Airlines B737 fell asleep; miss landing

Radhika Bansal

19 Aug 2022

A major aviation disaster was averted when a disengaged autopilot woke both the pilots of an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Khartoum (Sudan) to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). The flight was operated by a roughly 12-year-old Boeing 737-800 with the registration code ET-AOB.

As per a report on The Aviation Herald, an Ethiopian Airlines flight ET-343 operating a Boeing 737-800 with registration ET-AOB was en route to Ethiopia at FL370 (Flight Level 370/ 37000 feet) when both the pilots of the flight fell asleep.

The aircraft then continued past the top of descent, maintaining the FL370 and continued along the route set up for an approach to runway 25L at the Addis Ababa international airport without descending.

The ATC at the airport tried to contact the crew numerous times without success. As per the report, after overflying runway 25L at FL370, the autopilot got disconnected and the disconnect wailer woke the crew.

The pilots then manoeuvred back the aircraft safely to land at the Addis Ababa airport runway 25L, 25 minutes after overflying the runway at FL370. The aircraft remained on the ground and took off 2.5 hours later for the next flight.

To recap, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max was involved in a fatal crash back in 2019, killing everyone on board, which resulted in the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX planes globally.

Pilot associations have slammed the aviation industry’s inability to understand pilot fatigue and likened it to ‘handing car keys to a drunk driver’. (This image is for representative purposes only)

ALSO READ - DGCA allows Boeing 737 Max to fly again

Although the autopilot was engaged and this incident will surely call for a serious investigation. As per reports, both the pilots have been off rostered till enquiry. 

Aviation analyst Alex Macheras described the incident as ‘deeply concerning', and later said that “pilot fatigue is nothing new, and continues to pose one of the most significant threats to air safety - internationally.”

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A similar incident was reported earlier in May when two pilots fell asleep while flying a plane from New York to Rome. Pilot associations have slammed the aviation industry’s inability to understand pilot fatigue and likened it to ‘handing car keys to a drunk driver’.

ALSO READ - CEO of Wizz Air faces backlash after he told pilots to work through their fatigue

The CEOs and the management of Wizz Air and Jet2, two budget flyers, were criticised after they asked pilots to go the extra mile when respective associations raised issues related to pilot fatigue.

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Boeing considering recycling stored 737 MAX engines for new aircraft

Jinen Gada

19 Aug 2022

Boeing is reportedly considering taking aircraft engines from the large inventory of completed 737 MAX planes in storage and installing them on newly made MAX aircraft, to ease supply chain concerns. 

With 290 737 MAX planes in storage, the manufacturer might remove CFM LEAP-1B engines to install them on new production aircraft as they roll off the final assembly line in Renton, in the United States. Boeing might also take MAX seats to reinstall them on new production jets.  

The move comes amidst supply chain shortages worldwide, with engine suppliers, in particular, struggling to keep up with demand. 

Each 737 MAX uses a pair of LEAP-1B jet engines developed by CFM International, a joint venture between GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines of France.

Boeing is building up to 30 sets of counterweights for the stored aircraft. These can be used to prevent an aircraft from tipping backwards onto its tail once its heavy jet engines are removed. Counterweights could also be used for new-production MAX aircraft in case engine manufacturer CFM is unable to deliver engines on time. 

At least 140 out of 290 currently stored Boeing 737 MAXs were built for Chinese airlines. However, the country, which was the first to ground the plane in March 2019 following fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, has not yet authorized the type to return for passenger operations.  

For instance, China Southern Airlines (ZNH) decided to remove 100 Boeing 737 MAX planes from its near-term delivery plan, meaning that instead of 181 jets that were supposed to join the airline through 2024, it now will take only a total of 78 MAX deliveries. 

ALSO READ - Boeing intends to double its 737 MAX production by end of 2023

The newer MAX series has a longer range and the ability to carry an extra 18 fare-paying customers in a two-class setup.

Meanwhile, Airbus has swooped, securing a big order for almost 300 aircraft from China’s top three airlines.  

That doesn’t help to reduce the Boeing MAX inventory. However, the larger Boeing's inventory is, the more flexibility the manufacturer has to deliver MAX planes more quickly when needed, despite supply chain disruptions.

ALSO READ - Boeing won’t launch a brand new jetliner in another 2 years