How Prepared is BLR Airport for a Hijack? Insights from a Real-Time Anti-Hijack Drill

Abhishek Nayar

27 Jun 2024

In a bid to bolster security and emergency response protocols, the National Security Guard (NSG) successfully conducted an exhaustive anti-hijack drill at Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru (BLR Airport) on Monday, June 24th. The exercise, which started at 8 PM and concluded at midnight, showcased the NSG's dedication to employing cutting-edge technologies and sophisticated anti-terrorism measures.

High-Stakes Scenarios: Testing Tactical Readiness

The drill was meticulously planned to include a variety of scenarios aimed at assessing and improving the airport's tactical readiness to handle critical situations. A simulated hijacked aircraft landing at BLR Airport triggered the immediate activation of the Aerodrome Emergency Management Committee (AEMC). The primary focus of the exercise was ensuring the safety and security of passengers and staff.

Collaboration Across Key Stakeholders

The exercise was organized under the aegis of several key stakeholders, including:

  • Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Govt of India
  • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)
  • Ground handling agencies
  • City hospitals
  • Indian Air Force (IAF)
  • Police and Traffic Police
  • Air Traffic Services Control (ATC)
  • Fire and Emergency Services
  • Local communities
  • Civil society organizations
  • Aviation institutions
  • District Administration authorities

The Drill in Action: Negotiations and Intervention

Trained negotiators engaged with the simulated hijackers upon the aircraft's arrival, aiming for a peaceful resolution. However, if negotiations failed, the NSG was prepared to intervene swiftly and effectively, minimizing collateral damage and ensuring passenger safety.

Leadership and Vision: Statements from BIAL

Hari Marar, Managing Director & CEO of Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), emphasized the importance of the drill:

"Conducting this real-time simulated anti-hijack drill is a pivotal step in fortifying security preparedness at BLR Airport. It enables us to rigorously test our response protocols, enhance inter-departmental coordination, and ensure preparedness for real-life scenarios. I extend heartfelt appreciation to all internal and external stakeholders whose collaboration made this exercise possible. Their collective efforts validate our capabilities, enhance operational resilience, and emphasize our commitment to continuous improvement and crisis readiness. Such proactive initiatives are fundamental to upholding the highest standards of safety and security for our passengers and staff."

Post-Drill Evaluation: Learning and Improvement

Following the exercise, BLR Airport will conduct a thorough debriefing and evaluation to capture key insights, recommendations, and areas for enhancement. These insights will inform ongoing efforts to refine emergency response protocols, communication frameworks, and stakeholder collaboration, reinforcing the airport's commitment to safety and preparedness.

Commitment to Safety: Aligning with International Standards

The exercise aligns with BLR Airport’s ongoing commitment to continually enhancing its security measures and emergency response capabilities, adhering to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and DGCA regulations. The aim is to provide a secure environment that prioritizes the safety and well-being of all airport users, regardless of the situation.

Conclusion: A Step Forward in Security Preparedness

The successful execution of this anti-hijack drill at BLR Airport is a testament to the dedication and coordination of all involved parties. It not only validates current security measures but also provides a pathway for continuous improvement, ensuring that BLR Airport remains a safe and secure hub for all passengers and staff.

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Condor Soars to New Heights with First A321Neo Delivery

Abhishek Nayar

26 Jun 2024

Condor marked a significant milestone on June 16, 2024, with the delivery of its first A321-200NX aircraft. The aircraft, bearing the registration D-ANMZ (msn 11825), was leased from Aviation Capital Group and flew directly from Hamburg Finkenwerder to Frankfurt International Airport. Here, it will undergo final maintenance and outfitting at the Condor Technik facilities, preparing it for its maiden commercial flight on July 5, 2024.

A Strategic Base in Düsseldorf

Condor plans to base its first A321-200NX in Düsseldorf, signaling a strategic move to enhance its operations and connectivity. In addition to its primary base, the aircraft will also operate single flights from Frankfurt and Nuremberg, expanding Condor’s reach and service flexibility.

Fleet Renewal: The Dawn of a New Era

The delivery of D-ANMZ is just the beginning of a comprehensive fleet renewal strategy. Condor is set to acquire a total of twenty-eight A321-200NX aircraft, with two directly ordered from Airbus and twenty-six from various lessors. Among these, three additional aircraft will also come from Aviation Capital Group.

Replacing the Old with the New

Condor’s fleet renewal is part of a broader strategy spearheaded by Attestor Capital, which acquired the airline in 2021. The A321-200NX will replace the older A321-200s and Boeing B757-300s, marking a significant upgrade in fuel efficiency and passenger comfort. The ch-aviation fleets module reveals that Condor is poised to retire thirteen A321-200s and nine B757-300s in favor of the new A321-200NX models.

A Fleet Transformation in Full Swing

In addition to the A321-200NX, Condor’s ambitious renewal plan includes the addition of twenty-three A330-900s, with seventeen already delivered, and thirteen A320-200Ns, one of which was delivered in April 2024. Despite the ongoing upgrades, Condor’s fleet still includes twelve A320-200s, showcasing a blend of modern and previous-generation aircraft as the transition progresses.

A New Horizon for Condor

The introduction of the A321-200NX is a pivotal moment for Condor, representing a commitment to modernization and enhanced passenger experience. As the airline continues to update its fleet, passengers can look forward to more efficient, comfortable, and eco-friendly flights.

Looking Ahead

With the first A321-200NX set to enter service in July, Condor is on track to revolutionize its operations. The airline’s strategic fleet renewal, combined with the expertise and investment from Attestor Capital, positions Condor for a promising future in the competitive aviation market.

With Inputs from ch-aviation

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Japan and EU Tighten the Screws on Russia’s Aviation Industry

Abhishek Nayar

26 Jun 2024

In a decisive move to further isolate Russia's aviation industry, both Japan and the European Union have introduced stringent new sanctions. These measures, announced on June 21, 2024, aim to curb the operational capabilities of key Russian aerospace entities and tighten travel restrictions on Russian nationals.

Japan's New Sanctions: Targeting Key Aircraft Manufacturers and Diamond Giant

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken significant steps to hamper Russia’s aviation prowess. Their latest sanctions specifically target the Ilyushin Design Bureau and Tupolev Design Bureau, both subsidiaries of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which is under the umbrella of the state-owned industrial giant Rostec. These bureaus are integral to Russia's military and civilian aircraft manufacturing, making them strategic targets in the ongoing sanctions regime.

Ilyushin and Tupolev: Cornerstones of Russian Aviation

Ilyushin and Tupolev are renowned names in the aerospace industry, known for their design and production of various aircraft models. By targeting these entities, Japan aims to disrupt the development and deployment of new aircraft that could bolster Russia's military and commercial aviation sectors.

Alrosa Aviation Under Fire

In addition to the aircraft manufacturers, Japan has also sanctioned AK Alrosa, a leading diamond mining company that owns Alrosa Aviakompania. This airline operates a small fleet of Boeing aircraft, including two B737-700s and three B737-800s. These planes predominantly serve remote mining towns like Mirnyj and Polyarnyj, as well as larger cities such as Novosibirsk. The sanctions on Alrosa aim to curtail its logistical capabilities, thereby impacting its mining operations indirectly.

European Union: Stricter Controls on Russian Flights

Parallel to Japan's actions, the European Union has unveiled its fourteenth package of sanctions against Russia. This new set of measures intensifies restrictions on Russian nationals' travel, specifically targeting business jet flights to, from, or over Europe.

Tightening the Noose on Business Jets

The EU's extended ban now includes any non-scheduled flight where a Russian entity has significant control over the flight's logistics. This ban effectively curtails the use of private jets for business or leisure by Russian nationals, adding another layer of complexity to their travel plans.

Enhanced Reporting Requirements

In an effort to increase transparency and enforceability, the EU now requires operators of non-scheduled flights to provide detailed information about aircraft ownership and passenger identities to the respective member state authorities. This measure aims to prevent circumvention of the airspace ban and ensure compliance with the sanctions.

A Broader Impact on Russia's Aviation Sector

These coordinated actions by Japan and the EU represent a significant escalation in the international community's efforts to penalize Russia. By targeting key players in the aviation industry and imposing stricter travel restrictions, these sanctions are designed to inflict economic pain and hinder operational efficiency.

Strategic Disruption

The targeting of aircraft manufacturers like Ilyushin and Tupolev strikes at the heart of Russia's aerospace capabilities, potentially delaying or disrupting the development of new aircraft. Meanwhile, sanctions on entities like Alrosa extend the economic impact beyond aviation, affecting related sectors such as mining.

Travel Complications

For Russian nationals, particularly those in business sectors, the enhanced EU travel restrictions mean increased difficulty in conducting international business, thereby isolating Russia further on the global stage.

Conclusion: An Escalating Economic Front

As Japan and the EU tighten their respective sanctions, the pressure on Russia's aviation industry and broader economy mounts. These measures reflect a unified stance by international players to counter Russian actions, signaling that economic and logistical isolation will continue to be key strategies in the geopolitical landscape.

In the wake of these sanctions, the Russian aviation industry faces significant challenges, and the ripple effects are likely to be felt across various sectors, further complicating Russia’s economic and operational landscape.

With Inputs from ch-aviation

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Why Are Record Numbers of Passengers Taking to the Skies This Summer?

Abhishek Nayar

26 Jun 2024

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has reached a milestone, screening a record 2.99 million airline passengers in a single day. This peak occurred on a Sunday, surpassing the previous record of 2.95 million passengers set in late May. The surge in air travel suggests a robust recovery in the aviation sector, with seven of the ten busiest travel days ever recorded occurring in the past month.

Independence Day Travel Boom

The TSA anticipates screening over 32 million travelers during the upcoming Independence Day travel period, spanning from Thursday to July 8. This projection marks a 5.4% increase from the same period in 2023. Notably, Friday is expected to set a new record with more than 3 million passengers screened in a single day, reflecting a significant uptick in travel enthusiasm.

Airlines Brace for Record Summer Travel

Major U.S. airlines, represented by the industry group Airlines for America, are forecasting a record-breaking summer travel season. Airlines are projected to transport 271 million passengers between June 1 and August 31, an increase of 6.3% from the previous year. To accommodate this surge, U.S. carriers plan to operate over 26,000 daily flights, nearly 1,400 more than in 2023.

Air Traffic Controller Shortages

Despite the surge in travel, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is grappling with a persistent shortage of air traffic controllers. This shortage is particularly acute in the New York City area, impacting operations at major airports such as JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark.

To mitigate congestion and delays, the FAA has extended cuts to minimum flight requirements at these airports through October 2025. Under these requirements, airlines risk losing their takeoff and landing slots if they do not use them at least 80% of the time. The FAA's waiver allows airlines to reduce flights while retaining their slots, aiming to alleviate pressure on the understaffed air traffic control system.

Airlines Respond to Congestion Concerns

In response to the controller shortage, some airlines voluntarily reduced flights to and from New York last summer. These airlines continue to express concerns about the impact of controller shortages on flight schedules and passenger convenience. The FAA's efforts to provide "increased flexibility" are seen as crucial in preventing significant congestion, delays, and cancellations during peak travel periods.

Looking Ahead

As the summer travel season heats up, the aviation industry faces a delicate balance of managing unprecedented passenger volumes while addressing operational challenges. Travelers are advised to plan ahead, arrive early at airports, and stay informed about potential delays. The record-setting trends underscore the importance of ongoing investments in aviation infrastructure and workforce development to support the growing demand for air travel.

Will the industry manage to keep pace with the soaring number of travelers? Only time will tell, but for now, the skies are busier than ever.

With Inputs from Reuters

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Vietnam Airlines' Bold Plans for 2024

Abhishek Nayar

26 Jun 2024

In the face of ongoing global economic and geopolitical uncertainties, Vietnam Airlines is gearing up to stabilize its operations and achieve a balanced revenue-expenditure sheet in 2024. This comes after a robust performance in 2023, wherein the airline made significant strides towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic's adverse impacts.

A Remarkable 2023: Revenue Soars Amidst Challenges

In 2023, Vietnam Airlines recorded consolidated revenue of VND 93,265 billion, marking a nearly 30% increase compared to the previous year. This impressive growth brought the airline close to its pre-pandemic revenue peaks. Despite high fuel prices, unfavorable interest and exchange rates, and a global economic downturn, Vietnam Airlines successfully transported over 24.1 million passengers and 230,000 tons of cargo, reflecting year-on-year increases of 16.4% and 5.8%, respectively.

Strategic Initiatives Fuel Success

Vietnam Airlines' ability to navigate 2023's turbulent market conditions can be attributed to several strategic initiatives:

  • Network Restoration: The airline restored its international route network to 90% of its 2019 levels, introducing new routes such as Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh City to Mumbai, Hanoi to Melbourne, and Ho Chi Minh City to Perth.
  • Cost Management: Effective cost-saving measures, including price negotiations and deferred payments, resulted in savings estimated at VND 3,200 billion.
  • Service Enhancement: Continuous improvement in service quality earned Vietnam Airlines prestigious international awards and high customer satisfaction scores.

2024: Aiming for Stability Amid Uncertainty

Vietnam Airlines’ Annual General Shareholders' Meeting on June 24, 2024, set the stage for ambitious plans aimed at balancing revenue and expenditure. Key agendas discussed included the 2024 business plan, audited 2023 financial statements, and the orientation plan for the coming year.

Challenges on the Horizon

The airline anticipates several challenges in 2024, including:

  • Geopolitical Conflicts: Continued geopolitical instability and high fuel prices (forecasted at US$104 per barrel) will impact operations.
  • Economic Factors: High USD interest rates and volatile exchange rates will further strain financials.
  • Operational Disruptions: Global engine recalls and airport infrastructure overloads are expected to cause operational bottlenecks.

Strategic Roadmap for 2024

To counter these challenges, Vietnam Airlines has outlined a comprehensive strategy:

  • Network Expansion: New routes to Europe and Southeast Asia will be launched, with adjustments in domestic flight frequencies to meet demand.
  • Fleet Investment: Focus on investing in narrow-body aircraft and reconfiguring existing fleets to enhance operational efficiency.
  • Service Excellence: Elevate 5-star service standards and incorporate digital transformation to improve customer experience and operational management.
  • Cost Management: Continue stringent cost-saving measures and optimize financial management to maintain cash flow balance.
  • Restructuring: Complete capital divestment from subsidiaries, extend repayment periods for loans, and restructure organizational frameworks to enhance productivity and resource quality.

Conclusion: Aiming for Sustainable Growth

Vietnam Airlines is poised to navigate the complexities of 2024 with a focus on sustainable growth and operational efficiency. By implementing strategic initiatives and maintaining a customer-centric approach, the airline aims to overcome challenges and achieve financial stability. The ongoing efforts to innovate and enhance service quality promise to position Vietnam Airlines as a resilient and competitive player in the global aviation industry.

With Inputs from Vietnam Airlines

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Why Are Indian Airlines Soaring High at the 2024 World Airline Awards?

Abhishek Nayar

26 Jun 2024

In an impressive showcase at the 2024 World Airline Awards by Skytrax, Indian carriers have made significant strides, winning numerous accolades and reaffirming their commitment to excellence in the aviation industry. The event, often referred to as the 'Oscars of the airline industry,' saw Indian carriers Vistara, IndiGo, and Air India collectively securing a total of 11 awards. This marks a milestone in India's aviation journey, reflecting the nation's growing influence and high standards in global air travel.

Vistara's Impressive Performance

Leading the Pack with Eight Awards

Tata Sons' premium full-service carrier, Vistara, emerged as a standout performer, clinching eight awards. Vistara retained its position in the top 20 airlines globally, ranking 16th for the second consecutive year. Additionally, it was named the 8th Best Airline in Asia in 2024. Vistara's commitment to service excellence was further highlighted as it won the title of 'Best Airline in India & South Asia' for the fourth year in a row.

Recognition in Business and Economy Classes

Vistara's premium services were lauded with the 'Best Business Class Airline in India & South Asia' award for the third consecutive year. Other notable accolades included 'Best Economy Class in India & South Asia,' 'Best Business Class Onboard Catering in India & South Asia,' 'Best Economy Class Onboard Catering in India & South Asia,' and 'Cleanest Airline in India & South Asia.' These awards underscore Vistara's dedication to providing exceptional in-flight experiences across all classes.

Air India's Remarkable Comeback

Most Improved Airline in Asia

Air India, another Tata Group-owned full-service carrier, made significant progress, winning the 'Most Improved Airline in Asia' award. The airline's ranking saw a significant leap from 103rd to 90th, marking its entry into the Top 100 Airline list. Since Tata Sons' takeover, Air India has been on an upward trajectory, expanding its global footprint by resuming flights on old routes and introducing new ones.

Fleet Expansion and Future Plans

Last year, Air India placed a historic order for 430 commercial aircraft with Boeing, the second-largest order of its kind. This ambitious expansion plan is set to bolster its fleet and enhance its service offerings, positioning the airline for future growth and increased market presence.

IndiGo's Consistent Performance

Maintaining Dominance in Low-Cost Travel

IndiGo, India's largest airline by market share and fleet size, continued to demonstrate its prowess in the low-cost segment. Although it slipped from the 43rd to the 52nd spot globally, IndiGo was recognized as the 'Best Low-Cost Airline in India / South Asia' and the 'Best Low-Cost Airline in India.' These awards highlight IndiGo's consistency in delivering affordable and reliable air travel services.

The Significance of the World Airline Awards

A Testament to Passenger Satisfaction

The World Airline Awards, established in 1999, are highly regarded in the aviation industry. The awards are based on a comprehensive passenger satisfaction survey, which garnered 21.42 million entries between September 2023 and May 2024. This extensive feedback underscores the credibility and prestige of the awards, making them a true reflection of passenger preferences and airline performance.

Conclusion

The achievements of Vistara, Air India, and IndiGo at the 2024 World Airline Awards are a testament to the growing excellence of Indian airlines on the global stage. Vistara's multiple accolades, Air India's impressive comeback, and IndiGo's dominance in the low-cost segment highlight the diverse strengths of India's aviation industry. As these airlines continue to innovate and enhance their services, they are poised to soar even higher, setting new benchmarks in the world of air travel.

With Inputs from CNBC TV18

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