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Vietnamese low cost 'bikini airline' to launch in India soon

Ho Chi Minh City, March 18: Vietnam based low cost airline, ViertJet Air would soon launch its operations in India. Run by a woman entrepreneur, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, the airline is popularly known as bikini airline.

As the name suggests, air hostesses of ViertJet Air dress up in bikinis and swim suits unlike other airlines.

The carrier would reportedly commence its operations between July to August this year.

Due to the unusual uniform, VietJet Air gained popularity in no time, making its CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, Vietnam's first woman billionaire.

The airline has announced direct flights from New Delhi to Ho Chi Minh City.

It would fly four times every week.

The airline is one of the most controversial airlines in the world as some countries are against the concept of bikini hostesses and experts believe that its operation in India would surely create uproar.

In 2017, VietJet Air transported over 17 million passengers with a total revenue of $986 million, a 41.8 per cent rise from 2016.

Vietjet is Vietnam's first private airline.

According to the latest dat available, VietJet presently operates about 60 routes both domestically and internationally, and hopes to have a fleet of 200 aircraft by 2023.

It has started its first commercial flights in December 2011 but due to its bikini clad air hostesses gained popularity in no time and became the country's second-largest airline.

The airline gives neck and neck competition to the flag carrier Vietnam Airlines.

Earlier this year, Vietjet was slammed on social media because of its "cheap" PR stunt. The airline came under fire for sending models in swimming costumes to join the footballers heading home from China.

Though the airline has grabbed headlines by staffing some of its inaugural flights with air hostesses in nothing more than bikinis, many online users said it was inappropriate to send the lingerie models to accompany the young men.

Turkish Airlines Closes 25 Airbus and 25 Boeing Orders

By Deepak Arora

ISTANBUL, March 10: Turkish Airlines has confirmed plans to buy 50 wide-body aircraft from Airbus and Boeing as the nation's flag carrier ramps up its ambitions ahead of a move to a new Istanbul airport.

In a statement, the Incorporation said that it had agreed to buy 25 Boeing B787-9 aircraft, known as the Dreamliner, and 25 Airbus A350-900 aircraft.

In addition, it has the option to buy five more of each aircraft from both suppliers, meaning the eventual purchase could total 60 planes.

Of these 60 wide body aircraft, six would be delivered in 2019, 14 in 2020, 10 in 2021, 12 in 2012, 11 in 2023 and 7 in the year 2024.

Related MoU with Airbus was signed last January at the Élysée Palace, Paris, during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s official visit to France with French President Emmanuel Macron in attendance.

Also last September, during President Erdogan’s visit to New York to join the United Nations General Assembly, Boeing and Turkish Airlines had announced a commitment to order 787-9 Dreamliners.

Commenting on the closed orders M. Ilker Ayci, Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, Turkish Airlines said: “Today, we’re pleased to conclude this process which will bring a landmark benefit not only to Turkish Airlines, but also to Turkey’s aviation, by firmly ordering these aircrafts to be added to our ever-expanding fleet. Goodwill agreements turned into firm orders; which we consider to be a very important initiative to meet our need for wide body aircraft at Istanbul’s New Airport, which will serve as our new hub once its construction process completed.

"This great step, which will further strengthen our ever-expanding fleet for 2023, our Republic's 100th year, and bring our passenger's satisfaction to a much higher level will bring a great acceleration to the steady rise of our country's flag carrier, Turkish Airlines, and will also be a considerable added value for Turkish Civil Aviation,” added Chairman Ilker Ayci.

Turkey Government plans to open the new airport by Istanbul's Black Sea coast on October 29, hoping to make it a global hub that can compete with Dubai for transfer traffic.

Turkish Airlines, which is 49-percent owned by the government through a wealth fund, has grown tremendously in recent years in a rise strongly supported by Erdogan to create a national champion.

Passenger numbers have swelled from just 14 million in 2005 to 69 million in 2017.

And the airline is targeting a total 74 million passengers in 2018 and wants to expand its fleet from 329 at present to 424 planes by 2023.

IndiGo, GoAir ground 65 flights, solution to engine issue not likely before June

NEW DELHI, March 13: Two Indian carriers, IndiGo and GoAir, cancelled at least 65 daily flights on Tuesday, a day after the national aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), grounded 11 Airbus A320 Neo (New Engine Option) aircraft over engine glitches.

The country’s largest carrier, IndiGo, cancelled 47 of its 1,000-odd daily flights. The airline, operated by InterGlobe Aviation, operates a fleet of 155 Airbus aircraft out of which 11 are grounded -- eight on Monday and three in February. Twenty-five of these cancelled flights were from Delhi and the rest from Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and other cities.

The Wadia group-run Go Air cancelled 18 flights originating from Bengaluru, Cochin, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Lucknow and Delhi. Three of the airlines’ aircraft were grounded on Monday.

Each Airbus A320 Neo carries around 180 passengers and it is estimated that around 13,000 passengers were affected by the cancellations. Both airlines said they were trying to accommodate passengers in other flights.

A DGCA official, who asked not to be named, said that the problem would persist at least till June as the engine manufacturer needed time to provide replacements.

US-Bangla Airlines plane crashes at Kathmandu airport, 49 killed

KATHMANDU, March 12: A Bangladeshi airliner with 71 people on board crashed and burst into flames while landing in Kathmandu on Monday, killing 49 people and injuring more than 20 others in the worst aviation disaster to hit Nepal in nearly three decades.

The US-Bangla Airlines flight from Dhaka swerved repeatedly as it descended towards Tribhuvan International Airport, witnesses said. The plane crashed during a second attempt to land after an unexpected turn in cloudy weather, they added.

The Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft came down east of the runway and careened into a football field. Rescue teams had to cut apart the mangled and burned wreckage of the upturned plane to pull people out.

“Forty people died at the spot and nine died at two hospitals in Kathmandu,” police spokesman Manoj Neupane said, adding another 22 were being treated in hospital, some in a critical condition. The dead included a newly married Bangladeshi couple on their honeymoon.

A statement from airport authorities said the plane was “out of control” as it came in to land. The authorities also told a news conference the pilot descended from a route opposite to the one assigned by air traffic controllers.

The twin-engine turboprop airliner was carrying 67 passengers and four crew members, said airport spokesman Prem Nath Thakur. The two pilots and two cabin crew were Bangladeshi nationals.

The passengers included 33 from Nepal, 32 from Bangladesh, and one each from China and the Maldives. Local media reported some of the Nepalese passengers were college students returning from a holiday. There was also a group of 16 Nepalese travel agents in the aircraft.

Huge plumes of smoke were seen over the airport after the plane crashed at 2.40 pm local time and caught fire.

“All of a sudden the plane shook violently and there was a loud bang,” Basanta Bohora, one of the survivors, told Kathmandu Post at Norvic Hospital. “I was seated near a window and was able to break out of the window.”

Officials said the air traffic controllers repeatedly asked the pilot why he had changed the alignment and route assigned to him for approaching the airport but there was no response. The conversation between the air traffic controllers and the pilot, which was made public, suggested the pilot ignored instructions from the ground.

Raj Kumar Chettri, general manager of the airport, told the news conference the aircraft was permitted to land from the southern side of the runway but it changed direction and attempted to land from northern side.

“This was main reason behind the accident,” he said. “In our preliminary findings, the aircraft might have sustained some technical glitches but we are yet to ascertain the reason behind the unusual landing.”

Amanda Summers, an American who works in Nepal, watched the crash from the terrace of her home office, not far from the airport.

“It was flying so low I thought it was going to run into the mountains,” she said. “All of a sudden there was a blast and then another blast,” she added.

Nitin Keyal , a medical student, was about to board a domestic flight when he saw the plane coming in. “It was flying very low,” he said. “Everyone just froze looking at it. You could tell it wasn’t a normal landing.”

He added, “For a few minutes no one could believe what was happening. It was just terrible.”

Flights to Tribhuvan International Airport were diverted after it was closed for more than two hours following the crash.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli telephoned his Bangladesh counterpart and expressed sorrow at the loss of lives in the crash. “Extremely shocked by unfortunate crash of US-Bangla aircraft carrying 67 passengers and 4 crew members. Express deep sorrow on loss of lives and (condolences) to bereaved families and also wish for early recovery of injured persons. Government will investigate the incident immediately,” he tweeted.

US-Bangla Airlines is owned by US-Bangla Group, a joint venture company with offices in Dhaka, New York, India and other Asian hubs. It has been operating since 2014 out of its home airport in Bangladesh and flies to several domestic and international destinations. The parent company is involved in a number of industries, including real estate, education and agriculture.

The Canadian-made Bombardier Dash 8 was 17 years old. Mahbubur Rahman of Bangladesh’s civil aviation ministry said: “There might be technical problems on the aircraft. But it has to be probed before making a final statement.”

Kathmandu has Nepal’s only international airport and experts say the surrounding Himalayan mountains makes it testing for pilots coming in to land. “The landing at Kathmandu because of the terrain is a little challenging,” said Gabriele Ascenzo, a Canadian pilot who runs aviation safety courses in Nepal.

Depending on the direction of approach, pilots have to fly over high terrain before making a steep descent towards the airport, Ascenzo said.

The accident was the deadliest since September 1992, when all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it crashed as it approached Kathmandu airport. Just two months earlier, a Thai Airways aircraft crashed near the same airport, killing 113 people.

5 passengers killed after helicopter crashes into New York's East River

NEW YORK, March 12: Five passengers were killed after a helicopter hired for a photo shoot crashed into New York's East River on Sunday evening, authorities said.

Two passengers were pronounced dead at the scene. Three passengers were removed from the helicopter in a critical condition and later died at hospital, according to reports. The helicopter's pilot freed himself and was later released in a good condition from hospital.

The helicopter, which went down around 7 p.m., was submerged in the river and upside down, the FDNY said.

A video on Twitter appeared to show a red helicopter splash down into the river and tip to the side, its blades spinning in the water.

The helicopter is owned by Liberty Helicopters, according to the New York Police Department. The company, which offers sightseeing tours and charters, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The helicopter was a Eurocopter AS350, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.

DGCA grounds 11 A320 neo planes after IndiGo plane suffers mid-air engine failure

NEW DELHI, March 12: Aviation regulator DGCA on Monday grounded 11 A320 neo aircraft powered by a certain series of Pratt & Whitney engines following instances of engine failures during flights.

Of these, 8 are operated by IndiGo and 3 by GoAir.

The decision comes hours after an A320 neo aircraft of IndiGo suffered engine failure mid-air and made an emergency landing at Ahmedabad airport.

Citing safety of aircraft operations, the DGCA said, A320 neos fitted with PW1100 engines beyond ESN 450 have been grounded with immediate effect.

“Both IndiGo and GoAir have been told not to refit these engines, which are spare with them in their inventory,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a release.

The regulator would be in touch with the stakeholders and review the situation in due course and when the issue is addressed by European regulator EASA and P&W, it added.

“We are working closely with our customers to minimize disruption. The corrective action has been approved and we have already begun to deliver production engines with the upgraded configuration. We are working to mitigate the AOG situation by the end of the second quarter,” Pratt & Whitney said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, civil aviation secretary RN Choubey had said that an appropriate decision would be taken on Monday.

On February 9, EASA had issued an emergency airworthiness directive for A320 neo planes fitted with PW1100 engines having a particular serial number.

The directive followed instances of the engines shut-down during flights and rejected take-offs involving the A320 neo family aircraft.

On February 13, DGCA had said that it was monitoring engine glitches to ensure that safety is not compromised at any time.

On February 21, P&W said it has come out with a revised configuration to address the latest problem in some of its engines powering A320 neo planes.

SpiceJet Signs $12.5 Billion Deal With Safran For Aircraft Engines

NEW DELHI, March 10: No-frills airline SpiceJet today inked $12.5 billion deal with French major Safran Group for CFM aircraft engines. At current exchange rate, the deal is worth more than Rs. 81,000 crore and is one of the biggest in the aviation sector. SpiceJet and Safran Group, have now finalised the purchase of LEAP-1B engines to power a total of 155 Boeing 737 MAX planes, along with spare engines to support the fleet, according to a release.

CFM engines are manufactured by CFM International, a joint venture between Safran and General Electric.

The deal was inked at the Indo- French Economic Partnership signing ceremony here on the occasion of French President Emmanuel Macron visit to India.

The airline has also signed a ten-year Rate per Flight Hour (RPFH) agreement with CFM Services that covers all LEAP-1B engines powering SpiceJet's 737 MAX planes.

RPFH agreements are part of CFM's portfolio of flexible aftermarket support offerings.

Under the terms of the agreement, CFM guarantees maintenance costs for all SpiceJet's LEAP-1B engines on a pay by hour basis, the release issued by the airline said.

"We are looking forward to introducing the new LEAP-1B into our fleet... From what we have seen so far, the LEAP-1B is living up to its promises for efficiency and reliability.

"We hope they provide us unmatched service reliability while keeping our costs in check to ensure profitable operations," SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh said.

Safran CEO Philippe Petitcolin said it has been exciting to watch this airline grow over the years and believe it has a very bright future.

"We are proud to be such a big part of the SpiceJet team over the long term," he added.

Currently, SpiceJet operates a fleet of more than 38 CFM 56-7B-powered Boeing 737 NG family aircraft.

Saudi gives Air India rights to fly over its territory for Israel routes: Netanyahu

WASHINGTON, March 6: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Saudi Arabia had granted Air India permission to fly over its territory on its new routes to and from Tel Aviv.

There was no immediate confirmation from either Saudi officials or Air India. Netanyahu made the announcement during a briefing in Washington to Israeli reporters after he had met US President Donald Trump.

Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel and lifting the 70-year-old airspace ban would reflect what appears to be thawing ties between Israel and the kingdom, both US allies with a shared concern over Iranian influence in the region.

Last month, Air India announced the planned thrice-weekly flights to Tel Aviv over Saudi soil, but the General Authority of Civil Aviation in Riyadh said at the time it had not granted such permission to the carrier.

El Al Israel Airlines , the country’s flag carrier, flies four weekly flights to Mumbai. These take seven hours as they fly south toward Ethiopia and then east to India, avoiding Saudi airspace. Israel media have said that Saudi overflight routes could reduce travel time by more than two hours.



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