Ailing infrastructure in rapidly growing economies in the Asia-Pacific region has not kept in step with demand, creating huge challenges for airlines running out of pilots as fleets expand. Led by China and India, the region’s economies will grow 4.5 percent per year over the next 20 years, while Chinese airlines triple the size of their fleets, according to the 2013 Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook on Asia-Pacific.
India will likely extend the submission deadline of a request for proposals (RFP) to replace the Indian Air Force’s aging Avro/Hawker Siddeley HS.748M turboprops by another month, a defense ministry official told AIN. The deadline is currently October 8; however, manufacturers face a challenge in identifying private partners in India that have adequate facilities for final assembly and component and sub-system manufacture of the replacement aircraft.
The pilots of an Air India Airbus A320 were suspended after an April 12 incident in which they landed their aircraft without an ATC clearance on a closed runway in Mumbai. Two local air traffic controllers were also suspended for not taking action when they realized the incident was happening. In a preliminary report, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation said the primary reason for the incident was that the pilots had selected the wrong tower frequency and proceeded inbound despite the lack of any radio contact.
Even as AirAsia India prepares to apply for a No Objection Certificate to start domestic operations, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has invested $379 million in India’s Jet Airways. The outlay gives Etihad a 24-percent share in India’s second largest carrier.
India has decided to reduce the advance-application requirements for foreign-registered aircraft to enter the country from seven to three business days for landing permits, and from three days to one business day for overflights. The move is a significant breakthrough for business aircraft operators, who have long complained that Indian bureaucracy has undermined the flexibility they seek to deliver.
India’s long-awaited new civil aviation policy needs to address key issues on infrastructure and high taxation, according to Tony Tyler, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Speaking at the annual India Aviation Day in New Delhi on March 26, he urged the country’s government to produce a coordinated policy framework for aviation that all relevant departments, including the ministries for finance, economy, development, rural infrastructure and tourism, can pursue.
The Indian government’s new budget, released on February 28, brought little relief for the country’s ailing air transport sector, although the industry awaits a possible announcement of some reduction in high aviation fuel taxes. In particular, the budget documents made no mention of hoped-for fiscal support for India’s emerging regional airline industry.
The withdrawal of Kingfisher Airlines’ domestic airport slots and international flying rights by India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation on February 25 could make a phased restart of the carrier even more challenging. Meanwhile, authorities have de-registered 13 of the 37 aircraft parked in India, but airports haven’t allowed lessors to claim their assets until Kingfisher pays pending dues totaling $72 million.
“[Kingfisher has] to give some guarantee [to pay], said Airports Authority of India chairman V.P. Agrawal. “Bank checks worth $21 million…bounced. A legal issue is going on.”
India’s fastest growing and most successful airline–budget carrier IndiGo–has become the first victim of an October ruling by the country’s aircraft acquisition committee governing the number and kind of aircraft imported by airlines to encourage regional connectivity to smaller towns. In November the committee, led by civil aviation minister Ajit Singh, cleared for import only five of the 16 Airbus A320-series aircraft Indigo wanted to acquire.
India lost 9 percent of its airline seat capacity as a result of Kingfisher suspending operations since October 1, 2012, when its 66-aircraft fleet was grounded, according to Dinesh Keskar, Boeing’s senior sales vice president for Asia Pacific and India.