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Lufthansa Flights Cancelled, Re-Routed After IT Outage

FRANKFURT, Feb 15: German airline giant Lufthansa said Wednesday it was forced to cancel or delay flights across its airlines after construction work in Frankfurt caused a major IT outage.

Frankfurt airport, Lufthansa's main hub, said it had stopped most planes from landing to avoid overcrowding as thousands of passengers were unable to board flights.

Lufthansa said the IT systems failure had been caused by construction work in the Frankfurt region that had damaged broadband fiber-optic cables.

"Flight operations are expected to stabilise in the early evening," it added.

Lufthansa is Europe's biggest airline group. It also owns Eurowings, Swiss, Brussels and Austrian Airlines.

The group did not immediately specify how many flights or passengers were impacted globally but Frankfurt and Munich airports appeared among those most affected.

Deutsche Telekom said four of its cables had been "damaged" during construction work ordered by state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn in Frankfurt a day earlier.

"We are in the process of repairing these fiber optic cables, two are already fixed," a spokesman said.

German newspaper Bild spoke of "chaos" at Frankfurt and Munich airport because of problems with Lufthansa's check-in and boarding systems.

Lufthansa said it regretted the inconvenience caused and asked travellers to check their flight status online before travelling to Frankfurt airport.

It also urged passengers on domestic flights to book train journeys instead.

The turmoil comes as Germany is bracing for a full-day strike at seven airports on Friday, including at Munich and Frankfurt.

The stoppage has been called by the Verdi trade union, which is currently leading negotiations for better pay for public sector workers, airport ground crew and aviation security staff.

The one-day walkout is expected to lead to flight disruptions for thousands of passengers.

250 Airbus Aircraft, 220 From Boeing: Air India's Multi-Billion Dollar Deal

NEW DELHI, Feb 14: Tata group's Air India has signed multi-billion dollar deals with France's Airbus and American plane-maker Boeing to buy 470 passenger aircraft in the largest shopping event in commercial aviation history.

The airline, which Tata group bought from the government in October 2021, will buy 250 aircraft from Airbus and 220 from Boeing.

"I am proud to announce today the purchase of over 200 American-made aircraft through a historic agreement between Air India and Boeing. This purchase will support over one million American jobs across 44 states, and many will not require a four-year college degree," US President Joe Biden said in a statement today.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Biden spoke over the landmark agreement between Air India and Boeing. Both welcomed the deal as a "shining example of mutually beneficial cooperation".

There is an option for Air India to buy 70 more aircraft from Boeing, taking the total deal value to $45.9 billion.

Tata group's 250-plane deal with Airbus is for 40 A350 wide-body long-range aircraft and 210 narrow-body ones, believed to be variants of the A320neo family of jetliners. This deal will cost over $100 billion.

"It is a historic moment for Airbus to help script Air India's revival," Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said in a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ratan Tata, French President Emmanuel Macron and other leaders.

"This contract is a milestone in the friendly relations between India and France," said Macron at the conference, where Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Jyotiraditya Scindia and Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran also participated.

The A350 family has two versions - the A350-900, and the longer fuselage A350-1000. Airbus' narrow-body aircraft include the A320 and A220 family of planes. Many airlines in India already fly the A320 family.

The shopping list given to the American company comprises 20 Boeing 787s and 10 Boeing 777-9s wide-body aircraft, and 190 Boeing 737 MAX single-aisle aircraft.

Air India is also likely to revamp its livery. Last month, it committed $400 million to refurbish the interiors of its entire wide-body fleet. Air India said these will incorporate the "latest generation seats and best-in-class inflight entertainment systems."

Nepal Plane Crash Death Count Rises To 70, 2 Still Missing

KATHMANDU, Jan 16: Rescuers have recovered the bodies of two more persons who were killed in the Yeti Airlines plane crash in the Pokhara region, said local police on Tuesday.

The body of another passenger who was missing was found late this evening. The number of passengers unaccounted for now stands at 2. A total of 70 bodies have been recovered from the site, Nepal Police said.

At least 70 people were killed when a Yeti Airlines passenger plane with 72 people on board, including five Indians, crashed into a river gorge while landing at the newly-opened airport in central Nepal's resort city of Pokhara on Sunday.

Rescue operations had resumed today to trace four people who were missing, DIG of the Nepal Armed Police Force, said Shambhu Subedi.

Kathmandu Post on Sunday quoted Sudarshan Bartaula, a spokesperson of Yeti Airlines as saying that the ATR 72 Yeti airlines aircraft crashed between the old airport and the Pokhara International Airport.

Earlier, the black box of the Yeti Airlines aircraft was handed over by the Nepal Army to Civil Aviation Authority officials.

The Nepal Army also handed over the flight data recorder, following the crash. The twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft from Kathmandu crashed in Pokhara minutes before touch-down on Sunday.

"Bodies of passengers, whose identities have been established, have been sent for post-mortem. A group of experts also has arrived at the spot. The bodies will be handed over to the families here but those of the crew members, foreigners and the ones yet to be identified will be sent to Kathmandu this evening," said Assistant Chief District Officer of Kaski, Nepal, Anil Kumar Shahi.

The twin-engine turboprop ATR 72 plane crashed en route from Kathmandu to Pokhara. After the crash, Nepal's Yeti Airlines said that regular flights on Monday would be cancelled to mourn the loss of lives in the air crash.

In an official statement shared on Twitter, the airlines said, "In mourning for the passengers who lost their lives in the accident of Yeti Airlines 9N ANC ATR 72 500, we would like to inform you that all regular flights for January 16, 2023, have been cancelled."

Pilot Couple Killed In Air Crashes In Nepal, 16 Years Apart

KATHMANDU, Jan 16: In 2010, Anju Khatiwada joined Nepal's Yeti Airlines, following in the footsteps of her husband, a pilot who had died in a crash four years earlier when a small passenger plane he was flying for the domestic carrier went down minutes before landing.

On Sunday, Khatiwada, 44, was the co-pilot on a Yeti Airlines flight from Kathmandu that crashed as it approached the city of Pokhara, killing at least 68 people in the Himalayan nation's deadliest plane accident in three decades.

No survivors have been found so far among the 72 people on board.

"Her husband, Dipak Pokhrel, died in 2006 in a crash of a Twin Otter plane of Yeti Airlines in Jumla," said airline spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula, referring to Khatiwada. "She got her pilot training with the money she got from the insurance after her husband's death."

A pilot with more than 6,400 hours of flying time, Khatiwada had previously flown the popular tourist route from the capital, Kathmandu, to the country's second-largest city, Pokhara, Bartaula said.

The body of Kamal K.C., the captain of the flight, who had more than 21,900 hours of flight time, has been recovered and identified.

Kathiwada's remains have not been identified but she is feared dead, Bartaula said.

"On Sunday, she was flying the plane with an instructor pilot, which is the standard procedure of the airline," said an Yeti Airlines official, who knew Khatiwada personally.

"She was always ready to take up any duty and had flown to Pokhara earlier," said the official, who asked not to be named because he isn't authorised to speak to media.

The ATR-72 aircraft that Khatiwada was co-piloting rolled from side to side before crashing in a gorge near Pokhara airport and catching fire, according to eyewitness accounts and a video of the crash posted on the social media.

The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the aircraft, which may help investigators determine what caused it to crash in clear weather, were recovered on Monday.

Nearly 350 people have died since 2000 in plane or helicopter crashes in Nepal - home to eight of the world's 14 highest mountains, including Everest - where sudden weather changes can make for hazardous conditions.

Air India Set To Order Nearly 500 Jets, Says Aircraft Lessor

DUBLIN, Jan 16: Air India is set to order around 500 planes as an airline industry recovery takes hold following the pandemic, one of the world's leading aircraft lessors said on Monday.

"As a result of this recovery, there is now more momentum for large orders from airlines who have sort of sat back and watched the movie, and now they're seeing there's going to be a positive trend," Steven Udvar-Hazy, executive chairman of AirLease Corp, told the Airline Economics conference.

"We have this 500-aircraft order coming out of India, which is going to be about 400 narrow-body aircraft, probably a mix of (Airbus) A320neos, A321neos and (Boeing) 737 MAXs, and 100 wide-bodies which will include (Boeing) 787s, 777X, potentially some 777 freighters and (Airbus) A350s."

The comments are the first public indication of the scale of the planned order.

Industry sources say finalising the proposed deal depends on ongoing negotiations with engine makers.

Air India did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Airbus and Boeing had no immediate comment.

United Airlines recently ordered 200 large and small aircraft. China last year placed a block order for Airbus jets.

"We do expect a number of airlines will place large orders and again most of these orders will be for replacement," Udvar-Hazy said.

He predicted airlines would increasingly turn back towards medium-sized wide-body jets after significant delays in the development of Boeing's largest new model, the 400-seat 777X - currently running at five years and potentially rising further.

"We expect that both OEMs will be under pressure in the next couple of years to increase production rates, not necessarily back to the levels they were in 2018, but certainly well above current production."

5 Indians Among 68 Dead In Nepal's Worst Plane Crash In 30 Years

KATHMANDU, Jan 15: At least 68 people were confirmed dead Sunday after a plane with 72 on board crashed minutes before landing in Nepal, in country's worst aviation disaster in three decades, a news agency said quoting the police.

The ATR 72 twin-engine turboprop aircraft plummeted into a steep gorge, smashed into pieces and burst into flames in the central city of Pokhara.

The plane operated by Yeti Airlines was en route from Nepal's capital Kathmandu.

Yeti spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula said that 15 foreigners were on board, including five Indians, four Russians and two South Koreans, with one passenger each from Argentina, Australia, France and Ireland. The rest were Nepalis.

The five Indian passengers on board were all from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh. One of them, Sonu Jaiswal, was apparently doing a Facebook Live shortly before the flight crashed. He is among the dead. The same video is found on his Facebook account, which is unverified.

"Thirty-one (bodies) have been taken to hospitals," police official AK Chhetri said, adding that 36 other bodies were found in the gorge where the aircraft crashed.

Rescue operations have been difficult because of a raging fire at the wreckage, Nepali journalist Dilip Thapa said. Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' called an emergency cabinet meeting soon after the crash, and the Nepal government has formed a five-member commission of inquiry to probe the incident.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the aircraft took off from Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport at 10:33 am.

The plane was close to landing at the Pokhara airport, when it crashed into a river gorge on the bank of the Seti River. The crash happened around 20 minutes after the take-off, suggesting the aircraft might have been on the descent. The flight time between the two cities is 25 minutes.

Nepal's airline business has been plagued with concerns around safety, and inadequate training of staff. The European Union has since 2013 put Nepal on the flight safety blacklist, ordering a blanket ban on all flights from the Himalayan country into its airspace, after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) flagged safety concerns.

Hundreds of people have earlier died in horrific plane crashes in Nepal, according to reports.

Over 5,400 US Flights Delayed In Massive Chaos After System Failure

NEW YORK, Jan 11: Flights across the United States were today affected by a technical glitch with a computer system in an unprecedented disruption. All flights in the US were grounded after a problem in the Notice to Air Missions system (NOTAM), which provides information to flight crews about hazards, changes to airport facilities and other essential information.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the country. "Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the US," the FAA said on Twitter. "The ground stop has been lifted. We continue to look into the cause of the initial problem."

It had earlier asked airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 am US Eastern Time and is working to restore a system that alerts pilots to hazards and changes to airport facilities and procedures that had stopped processing updated information.

Flight tracking website FlightAware reported about 5,400 flights within, into or out of the United States had been delayed as of 7 am US Eastern Time. An additional 900 flights were also cancelled.

In an advisory, the civil aviation regulator said its NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system had "failed". There was no immediate estimate for when it would be back, the website showed, though NOTAMs issued before the outage were still viewable.

Passengers on social media reported flight delays and outages across the United States, from Hawaii to Washington. Airports from Texas to Pennsylvania confirmed flights were impacted across the country, according to The Washington Post.

Aviation expert Parvez Damania called it a "shocking and unheard-of situation". "I don't recall the last time when the entire airspace of the country was closed. Maybe during 9/11. This is going to cause unbelievable disruption," he told NDTV over the phone.





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