The Rise of Aircraft Leasing in IFSC GIFT City

Abhishek Nayar

09 Oct 2023

In a significant development for India's aviation industry, ModAir Aviation, an Indian leasing firm, recently acquired its fourth aircraft through IFSC GIFT City. This strategic move is set to transform the landscape of aircraft leasing in the country.

IFSC GIFT City: A Hub for Aircraft Leasing

IFSC GIFT City, located in Gujarat, has emerged as a premier destination for aircraft leasing activities in India. The International Financial Services Centre Authority (IFSCA) approved a comprehensive framework for aircraft leasing in February 2021, opening the doors to numerous leasing companies to establish themselves within the city's boundaries.

ModAir Aviation's Expansion

ModAir Aviation's recent acquisition of its fourth aircraft through IFSC GIFT City highlights the growing trend of aircraft leasing in India. The leasing firm is set to induct its fifth and sixth aircraft within the next ten days, indicating a robust demand for leased aircraft in the country.

The Cost Factor

According to IFSC sources, ModAir's latest acquisition comes at a price range of $2-3 million. These aircraft are intended to be utilized by flying training organizations, emphasizing the diverse applications of leased aircraft in India's aviation ecosystem.

Air India's Pioneering Role

Air India, the country's flagship carrier, took the lead in establishing a leasing operation within IFSC GIFT City. The airline's ambitious project involves the leasing of six A350s, which are scheduled to join the Tata-owned carrier's fleet. This initiative is managed through AI Fleet Services IFSC Limited, with a projected cost of Rs. 7,253 crores, signifying the substantial investments being made in aircraft leasing.

IndiGo's Entry into the Fray

India's leading low-cost carrier, IndiGo, has also recognized the potential of aircraft leasing in IFSC GIFT City. The airline has set up its firm in the financial center and plans to invest Rs. 30 crores in this venture. This move underscores the commitment of major players in the industry towards leveraging the opportunities offered by IFSC GIFT City.

The Expanding Ecosystem

IFSC GIFT City's aircraft leasing ecosystem is witnessing rapid growth. With 22 leasing companies already established in India, and over 100 assets being leased, the city is emerging as a key global hub for aircraft leasing. Vman Aviation holds the distinction of being the first company to enter this burgeoning sector.


The development of aircraft leasing in IFSC GIFT City is a game-changer for India's aviation industry. ModAir Aviation's latest acquisition, coupled with Air India and IndiGo's ventures, highlights the immense potential of this emerging sector. As more companies set up shop in IFSC GIFT City, the Indian aviation landscape is poised for significant transformation, promising a brighter future for the industry as a whole.

This growth in aircraft leasing is not only beneficial for airlines but also for the broader Indian economy, attracting investments and generating employment opportunities. With the right policies and continued support, IFSC GIFT City is on track to become a global leader in aircraft leasing.

With Inputs from Business Line

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Ryanair CEO Criticizes UK's Air Traffic Control System Amid Gatwick Airport Disruption

Abhishek Nayar

09 Oct 2023

The CEO of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, has launched a scathing critique of the United Kingdom's air traffic control system (NATS) following reports that Gatwick Airport has requested airlines to postpone flights due to a severe shortage of staff in the control tower. O'Leary's outspoken comments have highlighted concerns about NATS' management, staffing, and financial performance.

Gatwick Airport's Plea for Flight Cancellations

Gatwick Airport found itself in a challenging situation when a Covid-19 outbreak led to approximately 30% of its staff falling ill. Consequently, they approached airlines, including Ryanair, requesting flight cancellations due to a shortage of personnel capable of managing the volume of flights.

Ryanair, known for its assertive stance, refused to comply with the request, as O'Leary stated, "We politely told them to .... off. We won't be cancelling flights." This decision underscores the airline's frustration with the situation and its commitment to providing uninterrupted services to passengers.

O'Leary's Criticism of NATS Management

Michael O'Leary didn't mince words when he criticized NATS' management, particularly singling out NATS Chairman Martin Rolfe. He attributed the problems at Gatwick Airport and within NATS to what he deemed as "short staffing and mismanagement." Rolfe, in O'Leary's view, bears significant responsibility for these issues.

Examination of NATS' Executive Team

During his remarks, O'Leary turned his attention to NATS' executive team composition. He pointed out that several members of the leadership had backgrounds with EON, a privatized UK utility company, or were esteemed members of the British establishment who had previously overseen various government departments.

O'Leary highlighted the inadequacies in NATS' contingency planning, citing the incident on August 28-29 when the system collapsed. He noted that the backup system shared the same computer infrastructure, leading to both systems failing simultaneously. To exacerbate matters, the maintenance engineers tasked with restoring the system were working remotely, further impeding the recovery process.

Remuneration Controversy

One of the most striking revelations made by O'Leary was the significant increase in Martin Rolfe's remuneration despite NATS' performance issues. In just one year, Rolfe's remuneration climbed from £700,000 to £1.2 million, despite NATS reporting losses of approximately £27 million in 2022. This contrast between performance and remuneration has raised eyebrows and fueled criticism from industry observers.


The recent disruption at Gatwick Airport and Michael O'Leary's vocal criticism of NATS have brought the shortcomings of the UK's air traffic control system into sharp focus. Questions about management, staffing, contingency planning, and executive compensation are now front and center in the aviation industry. As passengers and airlines alike grapple with the consequences of these issues, there is a growing call for greater transparency and accountability within NATS to ensure the smooth operation of the nation's airspace.

With Inputs from Aviation Business News

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Air India Introduces a New Tool Called Airport Briefing to Help its Pilots

Radhika Bansal

07 Oct 2023

Campbell Wilson, CEO of Air India, in a letter addressed to employees on October 6 said that the company has introduced a new tool called Airport Briefing, which will help Air India pilots mitigate risks better by enhancing their situational awareness.

“… Following the standardisation of EFBs and introduction of DocuNet, we have now introduced Airport Briefing – another tech tool that will significantly enhance situational awareness of our pilots,” the letter read.

Airport Briefing allows pilots to use their iPad EFB device to develop an accurate picture of the operating conditions of airports in the network, preparing them to handle unexpected situations and thereby mitigate risks, Wilson said. The introductory sessions saw the attendance of more than 300 pilots, he added.

The Air India CEO also spoke about the five-day Managing Global Airlines course run by Boeing and Cranfield University, exclusively for Air India. He attended the final session of the course before flying out of Delhi.

The course covered a broad base of topics such as aviation law, airline economics, alliances, revenue management and cargo among others and was attended by 40 people from various teams, including fleet acquisition, network planning, cargo strategy, aircraft leasing, product and strategic procurement.

“These courses are part of a broader initiative to expose ourselves to outside best practices, upskill and continually improve our capabilities so that we can mix it with all-comers. In that regard, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the work done by our L&D Team that has enabled around 9,300 employees to undertake various in-person training programs since April,” Wilson said.

This includes 1800+ employees from IFS, CXGH, and security on leadership development programmes; Three thousand employees in the Air India Service Excellence (ACE) programme, business essential skills, performance management and 4,400 new joiners across taking the one-day induction into AI culture and ethos, he added.

Introducing New Rosters

Air India recognizes the importance of reliable printed rosters for efficient crew scheduling and minimizing disruptions. To achieve this, the airline's operations team has been diligently working on improving the accuracy and timeliness of printed rosters. By ensuring that pilots and crew members have access to up-to-date and reliable schedules, the airline aims to enhance operational efficiency and reduce last-minute changes that can cause disruptions.

Efficient utilization of standby blocks is crucial for any airline. Air India's operations team has implemented strategies to optimize standby blocks effectively. This involves strategically placing standby crew members to ensure rapid response to any unforeseen operational challenges. By doing so, Air India aims to minimize delays and improve overall reliability.

Air India is at the forefront of embracing digital tools to modernize its flight operations. Two notable additions to their technological arsenal are the Pilot Sector Report (PSR) app and DocuNet.

"The PSR app streamlines post-flight reporting, while DocuNet streamlines document distribution, ensuring up-to-date and synchronized information." Both tools are user-friendly and integrate seamlessly with our existing systems", remarked Air India CEO Campbell Wilson.

The PSR app is designed to empower pilots with real-time information on their flight sectors. It provides critical data and insights that enable pilots to make informed decisions, enhancing safety and efficiency. This digital tool not only streamlines communication between pilots and the operations team but also contributes to overall pilot satisfaction. 

(With Inputs from MoneyControl)

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Ministry of Civil Aviation Relax Regulations for Aspiring Drone Pilots

Radhika Bansal

07 Oct 2023

Relaxing regulations for aspiring drone pilots, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced the Drone (Amendment) Rules 2023, which aim to promote and facilitate drone operations across India. One of the key changes is the removal of the mandatory passport requirement for aspiring drone pilots. Previously, having a passport was a prerequisite for obtaining a Remote Pilot Certificate, causing difficulties for many individuals, particularly in the agricultural sector in rural areas.

To address this issue and further liberalize drone operations, the Ministry has now made it possible to submit a government-issued identity proof and address proof instead of a passport.

"The prerequisite of having a passport was becoming a hurdle for aspiring drone pilots, especially in the agricultural sector across rural India. This effort is to further liberalize, promote and facilitate drone operations across the country and make India a global drone hub by 2030," stated a release from the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Under the amended rules, individuals can use government-issued proofs of identity and address, such as Voter ID, Ration Card, or Driving License, when applying for a Remote Pilot Certificate. This change aims to make drone piloting more accessible to a wider range of individuals.

The new rules, effective from September 27, 2023, have been introduced under the authority granted by the Aircraft Act, 1934 (22 of 1934), specifically section 5, sub-section 2 of section 10, and sections 10A, 10B, and 12A. These changes reflect the Ministry's commitment to foster the growth of the drone industry in India and position the country as a global drone hub by 2030.

Notably, a remote pilot certificate is required when the drone is of small to medium size - up to 2kg - for non-commercial drone use. All individuals between 18 to 65 years of age will be eligible to obtain a remote pilot certificate. They should have passed class 10 or its equivalent from a recognised board and should have successfully completed training as specified by the DGCA from any authorised remote pilot training organisation.

Within seven days of successful completion of the training and passing of the tests under sub-rule (1), the authorized remote pilot training organization will have to make an application for a remote pilot certificate in Form D-4 on the digital sky platform along with the fee as specified in rule 46, providing details of the individual who has passed the test. The individual in respect of whom the authorized remote pilot training organization has made an application will be issued a remote pilot certificate through the digital sky platform.

The DGCA will issue the remote pilot certificate within fifteen days from the issue of the remote pilot certificate to such individuals through the digital sky platform. A remote pilot certificate will remain valid for ten years if it is enlisted on the digital sky platform and is not suspended or cancelled by DGCA.

By removing barriers to entry, the government aims to encourage more individuals, especially those in rural areas and the agricultural sector, to embrace drone technology and its potential benefits.

The government is increasing the number of drone pilot training institutes across the country. In August, the Sangam city’s Naini Aerospace Limited (NAeL) in Orayagraj was given the go-ahead to set up the Remote Pilot Training Organisation (RPTO) by the DGCA. Reportedly, the NAeL tied up with a Prayagraj start-up Empyrean Robotics Technologies to provide the training to people enrolling for the course at what would be East UP's only such training institute.

Meanwhile, last year, Tamil Nadu signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA), De Drone World Solutions aimed at producing 2,500 drone pilots a year.

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Air India Enhances Fleet Efficiency with Mega Warehouse Facility in Delhi

Abhishek Nayar

07 Oct 2023

Air India, one of India's leading airlines, has taken a significant step towards boosting its operational efficiency by commissioning a state-of-the-art mega warehouse facility in Delhi. This newly established facility spans an impressive 54,000 square feet and is strategically located near Terminal 3 of Delhi Airport’s Cargo complex.

The primary purpose of this warehouse is to store over 1,000,000 engineering spares crucial for the maintenance, checks, and repairs of Air India's aircraft and ground support equipment. This development not only enhances Air India's fleet performance but also plays a vital role in strengthening India's growing aviation ecosystem.

A Centralized Hub for Engineering Resources

The centralized warehouse is a crucial asset for Air India, serving as a hub and feeder network for the airline's operations across India. It consolidates and integrates 16 previously scattered locations in Delhi and Mumbai into a single facility. This streamlining of resources allows for more efficient management of engineering spares and reduces the time and effort required to access them when needed.

Improved Turnaround Time

One of the immediate benefits of this mega warehouse facility is the significant improvement in the quick turnaround of Air India's flights operating out of Delhi. With the necessary engineering spares now housed in a centralized location, maintenance and repair teams can access the required components promptly. This efficiency boost directly translates into improved punctuality of flights, which is a critical factor in enhancing the airline's reputation and customer satisfaction.

Campbell Wilson, CEO and MD of Air India, expressed his optimism about the facility's impact on the airline's operations. He stated, "This world-class facility will not only boost Air India’s fleet and operational efficiency but will also strengthen India’s aviation ecosystem. The warehouse will offer us more proximate access to and better control over our aircraft spares enabling us to meet any engineering requirement promptly - leading to improved punctuality of flights."

Supporting a Growing Aviation Ecosystem

Air India's decision to invest in this mega warehouse aligns with India's expanding aviation ecosystem. As the aviation industry in the country continues to grow, having robust infrastructure and streamlined logistics is essential for maintaining the highest standards of safety and efficiency. Air India's centralized warehouse serves as a testament to the airline's commitment to meeting the evolving needs of the Indian aviation sector.


The commissioning of the mega warehouse facility in Delhi marks a significant milestone for Air India and the Indian aviation industry as a whole. With the ability to store and manage a vast inventory of engineering spares efficiently, Air India is well-equipped to enhance its fleet's operational efficiency and maintain its reputation for punctuality and reliability. This development not only benefits the airline but also contributes to the strengthening of India's aviation ecosystem, positioning the country for continued growth in the dynamic world of aviation.

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India's Bankruptcy Law Amendment Boosts Aircraft Leasing in Aviation Sector

Abhishek Nayar

07 Oct 2023

In a significant move that is expected to have a transformative impact on India's aviation sector, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) recently made crucial amendments to the country's bankruptcy legislation. These changes have far-reaching implications, particularly for aircraft lessors, and are being hailed as a forward-thinking step towards fostering growth and competitiveness within the Indian aviation industry.

A Game-Changing Amendment

The recent amendment to India's Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) has introduced a revision to sub-section (1) of Section 14, providing a lifeline for aircraft lessors in the country. The primary change permits aircraft lessors to repossess their aircraft, a vital privilege that was previously unavailable under the existing legal framework.

Vinay Dube, the founder and CEO of Akasa Air, has expressed his enthusiasm and approval for this amendment. He believes that it will pave the way for greater collaboration between lessors and Indian airlines by enabling more competitive leasing rates. Dube commended the government and the Civil Aviation Minister for aligning India's laws with the Cape Town Convention, a move that brings international best practices into Indian legislation.

Unlocking Growth Potential

The timing of this legislative change couldn't be more critical for the Indian aviation sector. Currently, approximately 80% of aircraft in India are leased, indicating the industry's heavy reliance on leasing agreements. As the sector continues to expand, welcoming new players and witnessing increased operational activity, the need for robust support from lessors becomes paramount.

This amendment will bolster confidence among lessors, both domestic and international, encouraging them to engage more actively with Indian airlines. Lowering the hurdles for aircraft repossession will mitigate some of the risks associated with leasing in India, attracting more lessors to invest in the growing market.

The Cape Town Convention Connection

One crucial aspect of the recent amendment is its alignment with the Cape Town Convention, which India is a signatory to, though it has not yet been ratified by the Indian Parliament. The Convention and its Protocol establish international standards and practices for the leasing and financing of movable assets, including aircraft. By incorporating these principles into Indian law, the government has signaled its commitment to meeting global standards in the aviation industry.

It's important to note that while the amendment permits lessors to repossess their aircraft, it does not apply to ongoing insolvency cases, such as the Go First case. This exception reflects the government's intention to uphold the sanctity of existing legal proceedings while introducing reforms for the future.

A Reversal of Fortunes

Before this amendment, India's standing in the eyes of the global aviation leasing community had been less than favorable. The Aviation Working Group (AWG) had previously downgraded India's rating in its compliance index for the Cape Town Convention, citing concerns about the legal framework's adequacy. In September, AWG revised India's score to two out of five from 3.5 earlier in its compliance index. The recent amendment is expected to boost India's rating and enhance its reputation as a leasing-friendly destination.


The recent revision to India's bankruptcy legislation, allowing aircraft lessors to repossess their aircraft, is a milestone moment for the Indian aviation industry. It not only aligns the country's laws with international best practices but also signals the government's commitment to fostering growth and competitiveness within the sector. As the Indian aviation industry continues to soar, this amendment is set to be a catalyst for increased collaboration and investment, propelling India to new heights in the global aviation arena.

With Inputs from CNBC TV