DGCA Puts Pilot Rest Norms on Hold

Preet Palash

27 Mar 2024

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has put on hold new pilot duty norms for pilots that were set to be applicable from 1st June, indefinitely.

The surprise move came a day after the regulator gave a point-by-point rebuttal to airlines, who were opposing these new guidelines, on why it will not backtrack on the implementation.

DGCA did not give any explanation now but introduced changes to one of its rules this fortnight which now allows airlines to continue with old guidelines till their new plan is approved. That means indefinitely.

The new rules had provided for enhanced weekly rest for pilots which was to go up from 36 hours to 48 hours and reduced night-time flying that is known to contribute to fatigue and impact alertness levels. Pilots carried out six landings during night-time flying, which was to be reduced to two as also the night-time shift had been extended by an hour to 6 a.m, from the earlier midnight to 5 a.m.

The maximum flight duty period for flights encroaching night-time has also been reduced from 10 hours to eight hours.

Former IndiGo head of operations Shakti Lumba called the move “gutless” in a post on social media.

“DGCA does a 180 on their CAR and reverses their stand thereby giving precedence to operator commercial interest over flight safety and public safety,” he said.

Flight safety professional Amit Singh too called the move a “shame” in a similar social media post.

“At first @MoCA_GoI (aviation ministry) you acknowledge that #fatigue is a threat to safety, then you implement the rules with cosmetic changes. Then finally you succumb to pressure and now willfully remove the so-called safety barriers. This would amount to murder, coz it’s intentional,” he said.

The new rules for a June implementation appeared to have been triggered by at least three such deaths of pilots who were on duty, including the death of IndiGo pilot, Manoj Balasubramani, who fell unconscious at the boarding gate after reporting for duty to operate a flight from Nagpur to Pune last year. 

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SpiceJet, EDC Agree to Resolve Dispute

Preet Palash

27 Mar 2024

SpiceJet and Export Development Canada (EDC) have signed a settlement agreement, the terms of which will allow the airline to clear major liabilities, leading to a comprehensive revitalization of its balance sheet, the airline said in a statement.

“This settlement marks the biggest breakthrough in SpiceJet’s financial restructuring efforts to date,” it added.

Under the agreement's terms, SpiceJet will acquire full ownership of 13 EDC-financed Q400 aircraft, bolstering the airline's operational capabilities and fleet management. This pivotal agreement marks a significant milestone in SpiceJet's pursuit of financial stability, demonstrating its commitment to prudent financial management and long-term prosperity.

As part of the settlement, SpiceJet will pay a comprehensive settlement amount to resolve outstanding liabilities amounting to close to $91 million as per SpiceJet books of accounts. This settlement not only alleviates SpiceJet of a substantial financial burden but also lays the groundwork for a fortified balance sheet and substantial savings for the airline.

Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director of SpiceJet, said, "We are pleased to have reached this settlement agreement with EDC and we thank their leadership and management team for their cooperation, understanding and progressive approach through the process. This significant milestone will allow us to strengthen our balance sheet and position the airline for long-term success."

The liabilities stem from a loan acquired by the airline in 2011 for the procurement of 15 aircraft. With twelve of these Q400s currently grounded, their refurbishment and subsequent return to service will enable SpiceJet to promptly launch flights on numerous regional and UDAN routes.

This agreement heralds immense long-term savings for SpiceJet, liberating the airline from the obligation of regular monthly rentals for these aircraft, it added.

SpiceJet recently settled dispute worth Rs 413 crore with aircraft leasing firm Echelon Ireland Madison One and a settlement with aircraft leasing firm Cross Ocean Partners that was worth Rs 93 crore as also it has resolved Rs 250 crore dispute with Celestial Aviation.

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Seoul HC Upholds Asiana Airlines' Retention of Deposit

Abhishek Nayar

27 Mar 2024

In a recent ruling by the 16th Civil Division of the Seoul High Court, the long-standing legal battle between HDC Hyundai Development Company and Asiana Airlines reached its conclusion. The court dismissed HDC's appeal, affirming Asiana's right to retain a significant deposit following the termination of a 2019 acquisition bid. The decision, handed down on March 21, 2024, marks a pivotal moment in the saga that began with a failed buyout attempt and subsequent contractual disputes.

Background: A Failed Acquisition and Legal Disputes

The legal dispute stems from HDC Hyundai Development Company's attempt to acquire Asiana Airlines in 2019. However, unforeseen circumstances, including the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and Asiana's deteriorating financial condition, prompted HDC and its partner, Mirae Asset Securities, to request a second round of due diligence. Asiana and its key creditors, including the Korea Development Bank and Kumho Industrial, refused the request, leading to the cancellation of the acquisition contract in September 2020.

Legal Standoff and Deposit Retention

Following the cancellation, Asiana retained a KRW200 billion deposit, equivalent to 10% of the proposed acquisition price, citing contractual terms that allowed for such retention in the event of a breach. HDC contested this decision, arguing that their request for renegotiation was justified given the changed circumstances. However, the court ruled that HDC's refusal to perform amounted to a breach of contract, thereby legitimizing Asiana's retention of the deposit as a penalty.

Court's Decision and Implications

Presiding appeal judges Kim In-gyeom, Lee Yang-hee, and Kim Gyu-dong emphasized that HDC's refusal to perform constituted a valid reason for Asiana to cancel the acquisition contract, affirming the legality of Asiana's actions. With this ruling, the legal battle, which has spanned several years, comes to a close. HDC's joint venture partner, Mirae Asset Securities, had previously ended its legal pursuit of Asiana following a court room loss.


The Seoul High Court's decision to uphold Asiana Airlines' retention of the deposit in the HDC Hyundai Development case brings closure to a protracted legal dispute. The ruling reaffirms the importance of contractual obligations and underscores the consequences of failure to perform. As the aviation industry continues to navigate challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and shifting market dynamics, this case serves as a reminder of the legal complexities involved in corporate acquisitions and the significance of contractual terms in safeguarding parties' interests.

With Inputs from ch-aviation

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EU Raises Concerns Over Lufthansa's Bid for ITA Airways Stake

Abhishek Nayar

27 Mar 2024

In a move signaling potential turbulence in the European airline industry, European Union antitrust regulators have issued a warning regarding Lufthansa's proposed acquisition of a minority stake in ITA Airways. The deal, valued at 325 million euros ($351 million), has raised concerns about its potential impact on competition and consumer prices.

Antitrust Concerns & Consolidation Trends

The European Commission expressed apprehension that Lufthansa's acquisition of a 41% stake in ITA Airways could harm competition, particularly on short-haul routes between Italy and Central European countries, as well as long-haul routes to the United States, Canada, and Japan. Margrethe Vestager, European Union Commissioner, emphasized the risk of increased prices and reduced services for consumers, highlighting the core issue of protecting competition in the airline market.

Lufthansa's bid for ITA Airways mirrors a broader trend of consolidation within the airline sector, exemplified by British Airways-owner IAG's pursuit to acquire Air Europa in Spain. Such consolidation efforts often aim to streamline operations and enhance market presence but can also raise regulatory concerns regarding monopolistic practices and diminished competition.

Potential Remedies, Timeline and Outlook

To address these concerns, both Lufthansa and Italian authorities are expected to propose remedies in the coming weeks. Remedies may include divestments of slots, traffic rights, and aircraft to rival airlines, akin to measures taken in similar antitrust cases. The goal is to ensure that competition remains robust and that consumers continue to benefit from a diverse range of choices and competitive pricing.

The deadline for presenting remedies is set for April 26, with the European Commission scheduled to make a final decision on the deal by June 6. While Lufthansa remains optimistic about the acquisition, emphasizing its potential to strengthen competition in Europe and Italy, regulatory scrutiny underscores the importance of striking a balance between market consolidation and preserving a competitive landscape.

Implications for the Airline Industry

The outcome of the Lufthansa-ITA Airways deal will have significant implications for the broader airline industry, particularly amidst ongoing recovery efforts following the COVID-19 pandemic. As airlines navigate unprecedented challenges, including fluctuating demand and shifting consumer preferences, regulatory oversight plays a crucial role in shaping the future landscape of air travel.


As Lufthansa and ITA Airways work to address antitrust concerns raised by EU regulators, the airline industry faces a pivotal moment characterized by both opportunity and scrutiny. Balancing the imperative for market efficiency with the need to safeguard competition and consumer welfare will ultimately shape the trajectory of airline consolidation in Europe and beyond.

With Inputs from Reuters

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Is Spirit Airlines' $146,500 FAA Penalty Another Blow Amidst Failed Merger?

Abhishek Nayar

27 Mar 2024

In a recent development, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has accused Spirit Airlines of violating the US Department of Transportation’s Hazardous Materials Regulations. The alleged violation involves the improper handling of compressed oxygen cylinders. The FAA is proposing a hefty civil penalty of $146,500 against the ultra-low-cost carrier, giving them a 30-day window to respond.

Allegations and FAA Statement

The FAA claims that Spirit Airlines employees attempted to transport five separate shipments containing compressed oxygen cylinders via FedEx from Detroit to New York in August and September of 2022. However, one of the shipments was rejected by FedEx employees in Detroit due to several discrepancies. The package was damaged, failed to meet Flame Penetration Resistance Test requirements, and lacked proper markings and labels.

Moreover, the FAA alleges that the employees handling these shipments lacked the necessary hazardous materials training, particularly in the use of United States Department of Transportation Special Permit.

Repercussions Amidst Failed Merger

This news surfaces amidst another significant development in the airline industry. Just three weeks prior, both JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines announced the termination of their merger plans. Initially proposed in July 2022, the merger, valued at $3.8 billion, faced obstacles culminating in a federal judge's decision to block JetBlue's takeover bid on January 16, 2024.

Reasons Behind Merger Termination

JetBlue and Spirit cited "current regulatory obstacles" as the primary reason for abandoning their merger plans. These obstacles, according to the airlines, prevented them from completing the transaction within the agreed-upon timeline. The termination marked an end to a merger agreement that could have significantly impacted the landscape of the airline industry.

Potential Implications & Conclusion

The FAA's proposed penalty against Spirit Airlines adds another layer of challenge for the carrier, which is already grappling with the fallout of a failed merger. Beyond the financial repercussions, such allegations can tarnish the airline's reputation and erode passenger trust. Moreover, regulatory scrutiny in the aftermath of failed merger attempts could intensify, further impacting Spirit's operations and strategic decisions.

As Spirit Airlines navigates through the fallout of a terminated merger and confronts the FAA's allegations, the future trajectory of the carrier remains uncertain. The proposed civil penalty underscores the importance of regulatory compliance in the aviation industry and serves as a reminder of the challenges airlines face in maintaining safety standards while pursuing growth opportunities. Amidst these developments, stakeholders will keenly observe how Spirit Airlines responds to the FAA's allegations and charts its course forward in an increasingly competitive market.

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Flynas Elevates Capacity with A320neo Deliveries and Ramadan Expansion

Abhishek Nayar

27 Mar 2024

In a strategic move to enhance its fleet and accommodate the surge in travel demand during the holy month of Ramadan, Saudi Arabia-based low-cost carrier flynas has bolstered its operations with the delivery of two Airbus A320neo aircraft. The expansion aligns with the airline's vision to connect the world to the Kingdom, offering an exceptional travel experience while contributing to Saudi Arabia's ambitious aviation goals.

Aircraft Deliveries and Fleet Growth

During the month of March, flynas welcomed two Airbus A320neo aircraft, further fortifying its fleet. Registered as HZ-NS79 and HZ-NS82, these modern aircraft were manufactured at Airbus' Tianjin final assembly line in China, reflecting the airline's commitment to innovation and efficiency. With plans to receive a total of six A320neo aircraft in 2024, flynas now boasts a fleet of 49 A320neo, along with seven A320ceo and four A330-300 aircraft.

Ramadan Capacity Surge

Ahead of Ramadan, flynas has positioned itself to meet the heightened travel demand by adding over 1.2 million seats on both international and domestic routes, marking a 25% increase compared to the previous year. This strategic move not only offers passengers diverse travel options but also ensures an unparalleled travel experience during this significant period. The airline's expansion efforts resonate with its overarching goal of facilitating access to the Two Holy Mosques and contributing to Saudi Arabia's National Civil Aviation Strategy.

Strategic Objectives and Vision

The expansion initiatives undertaken by flynas are part of its overarching strategic plan titled "We Connect the World to the Kingdom." This vision, coupled with the Pilgrims Experience Program (PEP), aims to enhance connectivity to key religious sites and support the Kingdom's tourism ambitions. By 2030, Saudi Arabia aims to connect with 250 international destinations, accommodate 330 million passengers annually, and host 100 million tourists, further solidifying its position as a global aviation hub.

Operational Growth and Performance

Data from Cirium showcases flynas' remarkable growth trajectory, with the airline adding 278 weekly one-way flights in March 2024 compared to the same period last year. In April 2024, an additional 494 one-way weekly flights are scheduled, highlighting the airline's commitment to expanding its network and enhancing connectivity. Notably, significant capacity increases are planned for key Saudi Arabian airports, including Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam, reflecting flynas' dedication to serving domestic travelers.


Flynas' recent aircraft deliveries and capacity expansions underscore its commitment to providing exceptional travel experiences while contributing to Saudi Arabia's aviation objectives. As the airline continues to grow its fleet, expand its network, and prioritize customer satisfaction, it remains poised to play a pivotal role in connecting the world to the Kingdom, particularly during significant events such as Ramadan. With a clear vision and strategic approach, flynas is well-positioned to navigate the dynamic aviation landscape and emerge as a leading player in the region.