Monday 29 June 2020

Fake pilot licences’ do not pertain to PIA alone:

Following on from yesterday's story about Pakistan International Airline pilots having fake pilots licences, it seems they are not the only airline that have pilots with dubious licences, with Air Blue and Serene Air now under the spot light. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Friday said that the issue of commercial pilots possessing dubious licences was not exclusive to the national carrier. In a tweet, PIA said that the licences were issued by the competent authority and were “valid as per their records”. “It’s the process and discrepancies through which they were obtained […] triggered the inquiry by the government and action.” The issue of dubious licenses drew global attention after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan declared in the National Assembly that 150 pilots from PIA had fake licences. There are 860 active pilots in the country, he had said, adding that of these, 262 pilots did not even take their exams themselves. A day earlier, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed summoned the director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to explain allegations of fake licences by some pilots of different airlines of the country who fly passenger aircraft and thus put the lives of people at stake, a serious offence under the law. The CAA director general was directed to furnish a comprehensive report before the Supreme Court within two weeks in this regard and when the case will be taken up again after three weeks, chief executive officers of the PIA, Air Blue and Serene Air will also appear before the court with reports about the professional qualification of pilots in their respective airlines. The credibility of CAA and PIA also took a massive hit when the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed concern over the “serious lapse in licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator”. Amid the aviation crisis, the PIA management decided to ground 150 pilots and started relieving them from flight rosters for allegedly possessing ‘dubious licences’, while asking the CAA to urgently provide the list of all those who allegedly had fake/suspicious commercial pilot licences. Sources said the PIA management had not officially received the list of those pilots having ‘dubious licences’ from the CAA, but had decided not to allow such pilots to operate flights and initiated departmental action against them. PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said that it had already been announced that about 150 pilots would be grounded. Despite the number of such pilots and its adverse impact on PIA’s flight operations, all of them would be indefinitely grounded pending the outcome of inquiries against them, constituted by the government of Pakistan, he said. PIA Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Malik on Thursday wrote another letter to the director general of the CAA and a letter to the aviation division secretary asking them to urgently provide the list of all those PIA pilots having fake/suspicious licences. Air Marshal Malik said the provision of lists of commercial pilots having fake or suspicious licences would enable the management to issue instructions for immediate action.

Main story sourced from here with additions

Sunday 28 June 2020

Pakistan International Airlines grounds 150 pilots over ‘dubious’ licences

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is grounding more than one third of its pilots over suspicions that they hold “dubious” licences. It comes after a deadly crash in May that left 98 people dead. Around 150 of PIA’s 426 pilots will be grounded, after an initial inquiry into the horror crash in Karachi on the 22nd May was presented before Pakistan’s parliament by the country's aviation minister, who also revealed irregularities at the national carrier. The PIA Airbus A320 crashed in a residential area of the southern city of Karachi, killing 98 people and causing damage to dozens of homes. There were two survivors from the tragedy. The preliminary report into the crash highlighted a range of errors by the pilots who were said to be so engrossed in a conversation about coronavirus that they disregarded three warnings that they were flying too high and attempted to land without engaging the plane’s landing gear. The disaster came just three days after Pakistan had resumed flights, having halted all air travel in response to the pandemic.
A Pakistan International Airlines plane travelling from Lahore-Allama Iqbal International Airport (LHE/OPLA) Pakistan to Karachi-Jinnah International Airport (KHI/OPKC) Pakistan carrying around 99 passengers and 8 crew has crashed in Karachi.

Full story on this crash can be found here.

Saturday 27 June 2020

Spotting at Brisbane Airport

It's been so long since I went spotting at the airport just for the fun of it, so today I got up early and headed to the turning circle viewing deck at Brisbane airport. I wasn't there long when I heard a military KC30 (MRTT) call up for clearance. I didn't notice when I was taking the photo but it was later pointed out to me that this aircraft had the "Royal Australian Air Force" in bold writing instead of the light grey it normally is.  It was a nice way to start the morning see this aircraft.

RAAF A330-203 (MRTT) A39-004 (CN 1036)

QANTAS A330-303 VH-QPF (CN 595)

QANTAS B737-838 VH-VZK (CN 34204)





QANTAS A330-303 VH-QPJ (CN 0712)

AIR NIUGINI B767-341 P2-PXV (CN 30341)




E V A AIR B787-10 B-17803 (CN 63511)



JETSTAR A320-232 VH-VFN (CN 5566)



Bain Capital successful in bidding for Virgin Australia

Bain Capital, an American private equity firm, has been successful in bidding for Virgin Australia Airlines group. Yesterday the US-based private equity group Cyrus Capital Partners, who was also in the running, withdrew its offer for Virgin Australia, leaving Bain Capital as the sole bidder. Under the deal, the current management team, led by Paul Scurrah will stay in place. Bain Capital has also agreed to keep Virgin's head office here in Brisbane and retain thousands of jobs and honour all employee entitlements. It will carry forward all travel credits and Velocity frequent flyer booked flights. “Bain Capital has presented a strong and compelling bid for the business that will secure the future of Australia’s second airline, thousands of employees and their families and ensure Australia continues to enjoy the benefits of a competitive aviation sector. “The Virgin Australia Group entered voluntary administration on the 20th April this year with close to $7 billion owed to creditors. This was a direct result of an unprecedented global pandemic, which all but grounded its operations whilst in the midst of a major transformation of the business led by Paul Scurrah and the management team. The sale should be completed in August with minimal conditions attached. 


Bain Capital is an American private investment firm with its headquarters at 200 Clarendon Street in Boston, Massachusetts and has offices in North America, Europe, Asia, and Sydney Australia.
It specialises in private equity, venture capital, credit, public equity, impact investing, life sciences, and real estate. Bain Capital invests across a range of industry sectors and geographic regions. As of 2018, the firm managed more than $105 billion of investor capital. The firm was founded in 1984 by partners from the consulting firm Bain & Company. Since inception it has invested in or acquired hundreds of companies including AMC Theatres, Artisan Entertainment, Aspen Education Group, Apex Tool Group, Burger King, Domino's Pizza, Dunkin' Donuts, iHeart Media, Sealy, Staples, Toys "R" Us, Warner Music Group, The Weather Channel, and Apple Leisure Group, which includes AMResorts and Apple Vacations.

Friday 26 June 2020

Qantas to sack 6,000 staff

QANTAS BOEING 747-438 VH-OEF (CN 32910)    File Photo

Just when we thought things were on the improve here in Queensland Qantas announced yesterday it will cut at least 6,000 jobs across all parts of the business as part of its long-term response to the coronavirus pandemic and will not resume substantial international travel until July 2021.
Qantas says it does not expect to resume international flying in any meaningful volume for another 12 months, and will sack 20 per cent of its workforce as part of a three-year plan to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief executive Alan Joyce said the airline had no choice but to make 6000 of its 29,000 + workers redundant as the global aviation industry faced a years-long recovery from the coronavirus crisis "We have to position ourselves for several years where revenue will be much lower," Mr Joyce said. "Adapting to this new reality means some very painful decisions." A resumption of most international flights "will take a long time," he explained. "There'll be nothing this next financial year." Qantas expects international flying to recover to 50 per cent of its pre-pandemic volume in the 2022 financial year and to 75 per cent in 2023, Mr Joyce said. Meanwhile domestic flying - currently sitting at around 15 per cent of its usual network - could recover to 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels within a year. Around 15,000 Qantas employees will remain stood down from duties until flying returns, the company said on Thursday. The 6000 redundancies will include office roles (1450 jobs), ground operations including baggage handlers (1500 jobs), cabin crew (1050), engineering (630) and pilots (220) across both Qantas and its budget arm Jetstar. Mr Joyce said Qantas expected to bring the 15,000 temporarily stood-down employees back to work by the end of 2020 if state borders reopen, but it would take until the middle of 2022 for its full workforce to return. “Any variation, second waves, could delay those stand-ups but don’t diminish our needs for those jobs," he said. The airline has now permanently retired all but one of their six Boeing 747 aircraft six months ahead of schedule, and will defer deliveries of new Airbus A321neo and Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
Qantas' fleet of 12 massive Airbus A380 aircraft that used to fly on long haul routes will be grounded for three years. I believe the aircraft are being stored in the Mojave desert in the United States because the dry conditions minimise corrosion.

Story sourced from here but with additions.

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Singapore-based lessor Avation takes back aircraft from Virgin


As the bidding for Virgin Australia enters its final stage with both Bain Capital and Cyrus Capital Partners submitting their final and binding offers for the airline, Singapore-based lessor Avation plans to remove two jets and three turboprops from its biggest customer Virgin Australia after finding new homes for the aircraft. Avation has entered into agreements to lease two of the former Virgin Australia ATR 72-500s to an undisclosed commercial airline in Australia until the end of 2021. In addition, the lessor has signed a conditional letter of intent for one formerly Virgin Australia-operated ATR 72-500 aircraft with an undisclosed airline customer for an operating lease period of five years. The deals for all three turboprops are at “current market lease rates”, Avation says. Jeff Chatfield, executive chairman of Avation, tells Cirium the lessor had six ATR 72-500s at Virgin Australia. “Three are placed [and] three are still with VAH, presumably to be placed at some point,” he says, adding: 


“We are optimistic on our five -600s staying.” Avation has also entered into finance leases for the sale its last two remaining Fokker 100 aircraft over the period to September 2020 at a price 6% above book value. In a press release, Chatfield said: “We are optimistic that Virgin Australia will be sold by the administrator and that the eventual buyer should see the value in maintaining and indeed growing the regional network using Avation’s remaining ATR 72-600s as a part of the future business. We feel it prudent to mitigate our overall risk by selling down and transitioning certain of the aircraft given the uncertainty that surrounds the present Covid-19 environment.” He adds: “Given this unusual and disrupted environment, Avation is pleased and grateful that its marketing team was able to establish a lease with its new client.”

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Remembering Air India Flight 182

AIR INDIA B787-8 VT-AND (CN 36287)         File  Photo

On the 23rd June 1985, at 7:13 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time, Air India 182, a Boeing 747-200 (registration VT-EFO) disintegrated in mid-air at an altitude of 31,000 feet (9,448 m), while doing the Montreal, Mirabel (YMX / CYMX) - London, Heathrow (LHR / EGLL) leg as a result of the explosion from a bomb planted by Canadian Sikh terrorists. The aircraft took off from Montreal at 02:18 UTC. Its estimated time of arrival at London was 08:33 UTC. Around 07:13 UTC, at FL310 over the Atlantic Ocean an explosion occurred in the forward cargo compartment, causing a rapid decompression. The aft portion of the aircraft separated from the forward portion before striking the water. The wreckage sank to a depth of 6700 feet into the Atlantic Ocean approximately 120 miles (193km) west-southwest of the southwest tip of Ireland, killing all aboard. It carried 329 people, including 278 Canadian citizens, 27 British citizens and 24 Indian citizens. 82 of those killed were children under the age of 13. The bombing of Air India Flight 182 is the largest mass killing in Canadian history, and was the deadliest act of aviation terrorism until the September 11 attacks in 2001. The bombing of this flight occurred at the same time as the Narita Airport bombing; investigators believe that the two plots were linked, and that those responsible were aiming for a double bombing. However, the bomb at Narita exploded before it could be loaded onto the plane. Canadian law enforcement determined the main suspects in the bombing were members of the Sikh militant group Babbar Khalsa. The attack is thought to have been in retaliation for the Indian government's Operation Blue Star in which the Indian Army entered the Golden Temple in Amritsar to remove occupying Sikh militants. Although a handful of members were arrested and tried for the Air India bombing, the only person convicted was Inderjit Singh Reyat, a Canadian national and a member of the ISYF, who pleaded guilty in 2003 to manslaughter. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for assembling the bombs that exploded on board Air India Flight 182 and at Narita.
Air India 182 was only 45 minutes away from landing in London.

When the wreckage of AI 182 was retrieved no direct evidence was found of an explosive device. However, there is a considerable amount of circumstantial and other evidence that an explosive device had caused the occurrence. Mainly because of the explosive device that detonated in Tokyo the same day. Just before Air-India 182 crashed, a bag from CP Air Flight 003 exploded at Tokyo-Narita Airport 55 minutes before Air India 182 crashed. This was probably an interlined unaccompanied suitcase to be placed on Air-India Flight 301 to Bangkok. Investigation determined that the suitcase was also interlined unaccompanied from Vancouver via CP Air Flight 060 to Toronto. VT-EFO's first flight date was 19th June 1978 - the explosion was 22nd June 1985

Aircraft Information
Airline: Air India
Code: AI/AIC
Aircraft: Boeing 747-237B
Registration: VT-EFO
Serial Number:21473 / 330
Age 7 Yrs 3 Days

Story sourced from here

Monday 22 June 2020

Happy Anniversary SKYTEAM

On the 22nd June 2000, representatives of Delta Air Lines, Aeroméxico, Air France, and Korean Air held a meeting in New York to form a third airline Alliance. (SkyTeam was the last of the three major airline alliances to be formed, the first two being Star Alliance and Oneworld.) These became the four founding carriers of SkyTeam. Upon its formation, SkyTeam would offer its customers a total of 6,402 daily flights to 451 destinations in 98 countries.

CHINA SOUTHERN' S SKYTEAM  A330-323 B-5928 (CN 1430)  File Photo

In September 2000, the Alliance established a cargo Alliance, SkyTeam Cargo. The group's inaugural members were Aeromexpress, Air France Cargo, Delta Air Logistics and Korean Air Cargo. The following month, SkyTeam announced its intentions to incorporate CSA (Czech Airlines) as the 5th member early the following year. CSA Czech Airlines joined on the 25th of March 2001; Alitalia entered SkyTeam on the 27th of July the same year, with its membership scheduled to become effective 1st of November that year. On the 30th of September 2003, the Alliance received KLM's application for membership, following the airline's plans to create a leading airline group with Air France. In 2019 Skyteam's annual passenger count was 630 million, making it the second largest of the three major alliances. Its centralised management team, SkyTeam Central, is based at the World Trade Centre Schiphol Airport on the grounds of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands.

Skyteam Logo 001.svg

In 2004, the Alliance had its biggest expansion when Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines and KLM simultaneously joined as full members. In 2010, along with the joining or upgrading status of four airlines, followed by the announcements of Aerolíneas Argentina's, China Airlines, and Garuda Indonesia to become full members, the Alliance celebrated its 10th anniversary with the introduction of a new special livery. The livery consisted of an all-metallic silver fuselage and a dark blue empennage with SkyTeam's logo on it. The Alliance emblem is painted on both sides of the fuselage. The SkyTeam livery is currently worn by 52 aircraft worldwide. In January 2011, SkyTeam incorporated both Saudi Arabian Airlines and Middle East Airlines during 2012; these events effectively took place in May and June 2012, respectively, whereas Aerolíneas Argentina's and Xiamen Airlines memberships were activated in August and November the same year, respectively. Garuda Indonesia entered the Alliance in March 2014.

CHINA EASTERN'S SKYTEAM A330-243 B-5908 (CN 1372)   File Photo

Before the Corona Virus hit SkyTeam flew to 1,150 destinations in more than 175 countries and operated more than 14,500 daily flights moving 630 million passengers. The alliance and its members have 750 lounges worldwide.
As of January 2020, SkyTeam consists of 19 carriers from five continents and operates with the slogan "Caring more about you"

KOREAN AIR'S SKYTEAM B777-3B5 HL-7783 (CN 37644)      File Photo

Member Airlines

Full members and their member affiliates

Member airline Joined Member affiliates
Russia Aeroflot 14 April 2006 N/A
Argentina Aerolíneas Argentinas 29 August 2012N/A
Mexico Aeroméxico22 June 2000 N/A
Spain Air Europa 4 September 2007 N/A
France Air France22 June 2000 N/A
Italy Alitalia 13 January 2009 Italy Alitalia CityLiner
Taiwan China Airlines 28 September 2011 N/A
China China Eastern Airlines 21 June 2011China Shanghai Airlines 
Czech Republic Czech Airlines 25 March 2001N/A
United States Delta Air Lines22 June 2000 N/A
Indonesia Garuda Indonesia 5 March 2014N/A
Kenya Kenya Airways 4 September 2007 N/A
Netherlands KLM13 September 2004 N/A
South Korea Korean Air22 June 2000 South Korea Jin Air
Lebanon Middle East Airlines 28 June 2012N/A
Saudi Arabia Saudia 29 May 2012N/A
Romania TAROM 25 June 2010 N/A
Vietnam Vietnam Airlines 10 June 2010N/A
China XiamenAir 21 November 2012 N/A 
Continental and COPA joined SkyTeam in 2004 and left in 2009
China Southern joined Skyteam in November 2007 and left in December 2018

Story sourced from both Wikipedia and Skyteam website.