Even though the year ended with doom and gloom, the Indian air transport sector couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to 2012 with its largest budget carrier, IndiGo, signing a memorandum of understanding for the biggest commercial aviation deal in history valued at approximately $15.6 billion. The deal, which was subsequently firmed up, called for 180 of Airbus’ A320 family narrowbodies. This topped an earlier order by the carrier for 100 aircraft and seemed a clear indication that the Indian market is back on track after suffering severe losses during 2008- 2009.
A controversy is raging over the safety practices of India’s airlines following the partial “leak” of a financial audit from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The report indicated that poor safety practices may be endemic in the Indian air transport sector.
Shares in cash-strapped Indian carrier Kingfisher Airline fell by almost 18 percent on November 18 as company chairman Vijay Mallya worked to secure new short- and long-term funding amid reports of further routes being cut and flights cancelled. On November 17, Mallya confirmed that he is negotiating with an undisclosed high-net-worth individual in India with a view to injecting approximately $250 million into Kingfisher.
Boeing will deliver Air India’s first 787 Dreamliner by the fourth quarter, Boeing India president Dinesh Keskar said yesterday at Aero India. The announcement follows Boeing’s January announcement of the first delivery of Dreamliner aircraft to All Nippon Airways in the third quarter.
India appears to have ruled out any early prospect of increased international competition among its airlines. The move will disappoint recent start-up operators looking for a relaxation of current policy that bars Indian carriers with less than five years’ experience from international routes.
The meteoric development of India’s airline industry continues unabated as Air India extends its nonstop network to all corners of the globe with Boeing’s longest-range airliner. On February 8, Air India placed its fourth 777-200LR on a new direct route between Delhi and New York JFK Airport, and expected the imminent arrival of airplane No. 5 as we approached the start of this year’s Singapore show.
Emirates Airline launched a new era in air travel last month when it flew its first Boeing 777-200LR from Dubai to São Paulo, Brazil. The trip marked the first time any carrier has linked all the world’s permanently inhabited continents with nonstop service from one hub.
The boom in air travel throughout the Middle East and beyond has certainly reaped economic rewards, but not without a significant amount of growing pain, particularly in countries where the existing infrastructure can barely support today’s level of traffic. Thankfully for Dubai and many other Gulf states, a wealth of investment resources helps conquer virtually any building challenge the rulers choose to confront.
The Boeing 777-200LR, the world’s longest range commercial airplane, completed its first intercontinental flight last Friday as it arrived here at Le Bourget. Last week in Montreal, the second 777-200LR prototype launched its “Going the Distance” tour of more than 20 cities in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Australia and North America.
Believe it or not, there’s a pilot shortage out there, not in the U.S. or Europe, but in Asia, where a flourishing airline business needs first officers, and lots of them.