Maldivian Issues RFP to Dry Lease Airbus A330-200 to Expand International Operations

Radhika Bansal

04 Jan 2024

Maldivian has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the five-year dry-lease of a single A330-200, its first widebody aircraft to begin long-haul operations.

The A330 should be configured in a two-class layout, seating at least 235 passengers with at least 20 business class seats. The state-owned airline prefers aircraft equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity, certified for 180-minute ETOPS operations, and with a maximum take-off weight of no less than 230 tonnes. It will consider units with both Rolls-Royce Trent 700 and General Electric CF6 engines. The aircraft must be delivered fresh from a C Check, and there must be no planned major maintenance events for at least the next 24 months, 9,000 flight hours, or 5,000 flight cycles, whichever is limiting.

Maldivian did not outline the preferred age, hours, or cycles of the airframe but will award more points to newer aircraft. The lease term is tentatively set at five years but Maldivian is accepting other offers.

The lessor should provide training for pilots, cabin crew, maintenance, and ground handling specialists at its own cost. The carrier will prefer lessors who can provide a spare engine at no extra cost. The carrier expects bids by January 22, 2024, and plans to select the lessor by February 10, 2024. The A330 will be based out of Malé, the only international gateway to the Maldives.

Maldivian said that this move is to enhance the airline's existing direct flights outside of the Maldives and expand its international operations. Under a dry lease arrangement, the lessee takes on all operational costs, including repairs, fuel, and crew expenses.

Once acquired, the aircraft would be the company’s first widebody aircraft, enabling the airline to launch long-haul intercontinental flights for the first time. Although the foray into long-haul operations will be a first for Maldivian in its current guise, its predecessor, Air Maldives, operated a single leased Airbus A310-300 in the late 1990s. This was itself an attempt to break into long-haul operations, but with little success, contributing to the ultimate closure of the carrier. 

Maldivian's Market Expansion

The RFP follows the recent decision by President Mohamed Muizz to equip the state-owned carrier with two widebody aircraft for operations in Europe and China. Currently, almost half of inbound tourists arrive in the Maldives with connecting flights, largely through the Gulf hubs. By launching new routes to China, Europe, and South Africa - the main origin markets currently served through those transfer airports - the state-owned carrier will attempt to increase the share of tourists arriving directly. The ch-aviation capacities module shows that Maldivian is only the eleventh carrier at Malé by weekly scheduled international capacity with a 3% market share. The largest international carriers at the airport are EmiratesQatar Airways, and IndiGo Airlines.

The ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows that Maldivian currently operates a single narrowbody aircraft - an A320-200 - used on services to India and Bangladesh. It also operates turboprops used for domestic flights (one ATR42-600, two ATR72-600s, eleven DHC-6-300s, one DHC-8-200, one DHC-8-Q200, and seven DHC-8-Q300s). It has never operated an in-house widebody in its history, although it was in talks with the previous administration about launching a new long-haul airline.

Maldivian, the national airline of the country embodies the spirit of the Maldives by providing exceptional air travel services that showcase the natural beauty and warm hospitality of the island nation. The airline is the leading domestic carrier with a scheduled network comprising 16 domestic sectors. Maldivian operates the largest wheel-based fleet in the country which includes DeHavilland Dash 8 and ATR aircraft. Maldivian Seaplane, which consists of DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft, further enhances the airline’s domestic operation by providing specialized tourist air transportation service connecting customers directly to the doorstep of their chosen resort. Operating from its hub in Male’, the airline provides international scheduled flights to cities in India and Bangladesh.

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IndiGo Takes Off Fuel Surcharge, Potential Drop in Airfares Expected

Abhishek Nayar

05 Jan 2024

In a significant move that could bring relief to air travelers, IndiGo, India's largest airline, has announced the removal of the fuel surcharge imposed in October 2023. The decision, effective from January 04, 2024, comes as a response to the recent reduction in Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) prices.

Background & Impact on Airfares

IndiGo introduced the fuel surcharge last year due to a surge in ATF prices, with Brent crude oil hitting $95 a barrel in September. The airline's decision to withdraw the surcharge aligns with the subsequent drop in crude oil prices to $78, marking an 18% decrease.

With the elimination of the fuel surcharge on both domestic and international routes, travelers can anticipate a potential reduction in airfares. The move is expected to positively impact passengers who have faced increased travel costs amid the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Market Response & Dynamic Nature of ATF Prices

The announcement has spurred positive reactions in the stock market, with both IndiGo and SpiceJet experiencing rallies. This reflects the significance of fuel costs in the aviation industry, where fuel constitutes approximately 45% of total airline expenses in India.

IndiGo has emphasized that the decision is a response to the dynamic nature of ATF prices. The airline intends to adjust fares and their components in line with any changes in fuel prices or market conditions. This commitment aligns with IndiGo's overarching goal of providing affordable, on-time, courteous, and hassle-free travel for its customers.

Industry-wide Implications & Passenger Benefits

The reduction in fuel costs could have broader implications for the aviation sector in India. Other airlines may consider similar adjustments to remain competitive and attract more passengers. This move by IndiGo could set a precedent for industry practices in response to fluctuations in fuel prices.

Passengers can now look forward to more competitive airfares, making air travel a more viable and attractive option. The removal of the fuel surcharge contributes to IndiGo's commitment to providing cost-effective travel solutions while maintaining the quality of service.


IndiGo's decision to drop the fuel surcharge reflects a proactive approach to market conditions and a commitment to passenger satisfaction. As the aviation industry navigates economic challenges, such initiatives contribute to creating a more consumer-friendly and competitive air travel landscape in India.

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IndiGo Faces Regulatory Action Over Worm-Infested Sandwich Incident

Abhishek Nayar

05 Jan 2024

In a recent development, IndiGo, one of India's leading airlines, has come under scrutiny after a passenger reported finding a worm in her sandwich during a flight from Delhi to Mumbai on December 29, 2023. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), a regulatory body under the Union Health Ministry, issued a show-cause notice to IndiGo, highlighting the violation of food safety standards. This incident has raised concerns about the airline's food quality and safety protocols.

The Incident Unfolds & Regulatory Response

The incident came to light when Delhi-based dietician Khushboo Gupta, a passenger on flight 6E-6107, shared a video on her Instagram account, revealing the presence of a worm in the sandwich she purchased on the flight. Gupta not only expressed her dismay at the compromised food quality but also alleged that the airline crew continued serving the same contaminated sandwiches to other passengers despite her complaint.

In response to the incident, the FSSAI invoked the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006, which defines "unsafe food" as any article of food that, due to contamination by worms, weevils, or insects, poses a threat to human health. The show-cause notice issued to IndiGo emphasized that the food served on December 29, 2023, was unsafe for human consumption. The regulatory body has given the airline a week to respond to the notice.

Legal Implications & IndiGo's Response

The notice outlined the legal consequences, stating that the case falls under the provisions of the FSS Act, 2006. The FSSAI has the authority to suspend or cancel licenses in the interest of public health, with reasons to be recorded in writing. The act also specifies penalties for individuals or entities found guilty of providing unsafe food, including imprisonment for up to six months and fines reaching one lakh rupees.

IndiGo acknowledged the receipt of the show-cause notice and affirmed its commitment to addressing the matter in accordance with the established protocols. While the airline confirmed the presence of the worm in the sandwich, it denied Gupta's claim that the crew continued serving the contaminated food to other passengers.

Concerns Over Food Safety Protocols

The incident has sparked concerns among passengers and the public about the efficacy of IndiGo's food safety protocols. The video posted by Khushboo Gupta has led to discussions on social media platforms, with many expressing apprehensions about the airline's commitment to ensuring the quality and safety of in-flight meals.


The show-cause notice issued by the FSSAI highlights the gravity of the situation, emphasizing the need for strict adherence to food safety standards by airlines. IndiGo's response and subsequent actions will be closely monitored, as the incident has not only raised questions about the specific incident but also broader concerns regarding food safety practices within the aviation industry. Passengers, regulators, and the airline industry at large will be watching closely as the investigation unfolds and corrective measures are implemented to prevent similar incidents in the future.

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Air India Appoints P. Balaji as Group Head of Corporate Affairs

Abhishek Nayar

05 Jan 2024

In a strategic move aimed at bolstering its corporate governance and regulatory compliance, Air India has appointed P. Balaji to the newly created position of Group Head- Governance, Regulatory, Compliance (GRC), and Corporate Affairs. This appointment is set to take effect on January 11, 2024, and Balaji will directly report to Air India's CEO & MD, Campbell Wilson.

Professional Background

P. Balaji brings with him a wealth of experience accumulated over a career spanning more than 30 years in the Telecom & IT sector. His diverse professional journey has seen him contribute significantly to various functions, including regulatory policy, compliance, sales, product management, marketing, strategy, M&A, and operations. Balaji initiated his career with Tata Administrative Services, marking the beginning of a distinguished professional journey.

A Decade-Long Stint at Vodafone Idea Limited

Prior to joining Air India, Balaji served an illustrious tenure at Vodafone Idea Limited, where he led the regulatory and public policy functions. His role at Vodafone Idea involved navigating complex regulatory landscapes and shaping public policies, making him well-equipped for his new responsibilities at Air India.

Scope of Responsibilities

As the Group Head- Governance, Regulatory, Compliance, and Corporate Affairs, Balaji will have oversight of critical functions within Air India. This includes Government Affairs, Legal, Ethics, Sustainability, and Corporate Communications. This holistic approach indicates Air India's commitment to fortifying its corporate structure and ensuring alignment with regulatory frameworks.

Leadership's Perspective

Campbell Wilson, the CEO & MD of Air India, expressed his satisfaction with Balaji's appointment, highlighting the immense value his regulatory and policy expertise brings to the airline. Wilson emphasized Air India's commitment to building a robust leadership team and reiterated the airline's dedication to investing in the necessary resources for its ascent to the upper echelons of global aviation.


The appointment of P. Balaji as the Group Head of Governance, Regulatory, Compliance, and Corporate Affairs underscores Air India's strategic focus on enhancing its corporate governance and regulatory compliance. With Balaji's extensive background and expertise, the airline aims to navigate the complex regulatory landscape efficiently and further its transformation in the global aviation sector. As Air India prepares for a new chapter, the addition of Balaji to its leadership team signals a concerted effort towards achieving excellence in governance and corporate affairs.

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Vistara Extends Club Vistara Points' Validity as a Token of Appreciation

Abhishek Nayar

05 Jan 2024

In a move to express gratitude to its loyal Club Vistara members, Vistara announced on Wednesday that it will be extending the validity of expiring Club Vistara points for the year 2023. This special gesture aims to offer enhanced flexibility and acknowledgment of the unwavering support from frequent flyers.

Background & Key Benefits for Club Vistara MembersKey Benefits for Club Vistara Members

Vistara, a leading airline in India, has consistently prioritized customer satisfaction and loyalty. As a testament to its commitment, the airline has decided to extend the validity of key Club Vistara membership privileges, including Club Vistara (CV) Points and One-Class Upgrade Vouchers.

In this renewed offering, Club Vistara members will witness the extension of expired CV Points and One-Class Upgrade Vouchers that fall between January and December 2023. These will be credited as Compensatory CV Points and Vouchers, respectively, each with a 12-month validity from the date of credit.

Swift Implementation & Continuation of Support

Vistara's Chief Commercial Officer, Deepak Rajawat, assured members that the renewed privileges would be promptly reflected in their accounts within the next 15 working days. This swift implementation underscores Vistara's commitment to providing seamless and efficient services to its loyal customer base.

This isn't the first time Vistara has taken such proactive measures. Last year, during the challenging times brought about by the pandemic, Vistara extended the validity of CV Points affected by the global situation. This resulted in over 400,000 award flights being booked by Club Vistara members across the extensive Vistara network.

Strengthening Customer-Airline Relationship & Looking Ahead

The decision to extend the validity of Club Vistara points is not only a pragmatic response to the challenges faced by frequent flyers but also a strategic move to strengthen the relationship between the airline and its customers. By providing additional flexibility and acknowledging the loyalty of its members, Vistara is fostering a positive and enduring connection.

Vistara's customer-centric approach is evident in its continuous efforts to adapt to the evolving needs of its flyers. The extension of Club Vistara points' validity serves as a reflection of the airline's commitment to prioritizing its customers, even in the face of uncertainties such as the ongoing global situation.


In summary, Vistara's decision to extend the validity of Club Vistara points for 2023 showcases the airline's dedication to its customers. This gesture not only provides practical benefits to frequent flyers but also exemplifies Vistara's commitment to fostering a strong and enduring relationship with its loyal customer base. As the airline industry continues to navigate challenges, initiatives like these contribute to a win-win scenario, ensuring both customer satisfaction and the sustained success of Vistara.

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Envoy Air Extends $100,000 Pilot Bonus Amid Industry Shortage

Abhishek Nayar

04 Jan 2024

In response to the ongoing pilot shortage gripping the aviation industry, regional airline Envoy Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines, has extended the deadline for its enticing pilot bonus offer. The company is now providing a $100,000 incentive, available for qualifying pilots through the end of March 2023.

Bonus Extension and Premium Pay Rates

The Experienced Pilot Bonus extension is accompanied by reports that select pilots will also enjoy premium pay rates until the close of 2026. This extension provides pilot candidates with more time to capitalize on the offer, allowing new hires to receive pay even before their training commences.

Eligibility Criteria and Bonus Structure

The Experienced Pilot Bonus is available to qualifying pilots who have received a conditional job offer since November 15, 2022. Pilots with over 950 flight hours will receive a substantial $100,000, while those with flight hours between 500 and 950 are entitled to a $75,000 bonus. Envoy Air has assured that the "full amount" of the bonus, after taxes, will be paid on the new hires' first day, commonly referred to as Day Zero.

Additional Incentives for First Officers & Capturing Envoy's Perspective

New First Officers with over 500 flight hours will qualify for a Pilot Supply premium of 50%. Upon reaching 750 flight hours, these pilots will be entitled to Captain's pay throughout the program's duration.

Captain Ric Wilson, Envoy's Vice President of Flight Operations, emphasized the airline's commitment to recruiting and retaining top-tier pilots in the industry. Wilson stated, "There has never been a more lucrative time to be an airline pilot," highlighting the combined benefits of the bonus, outstanding benefits, state-of-the-art training facilities, and ample career advancement opportunities at Envoy.

Envoy's Unique Regional Advantage & Fleet Information

As a regional subsidiary, Envoy Air offers pilots a "guaranteed" track to American's mainline operations without the need for another interview. The airline emphasizes that this employment pathway spares pilots from competing with others who apply to American each year. Envoy has crew bases in strategic locations, including Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Miami, and Phoenix.

Envoy Air operates under the American Eagle brand and boasts a fleet of more than 100 Embraer aircraft. Among these, 28 are E170 regional jets, and 107 are the larger E175s. The E170s are configured to accommodate 65 passengers, featuring 12 first-class seats and 53 in the main cabin, with 20 "Main Cabin Extra" seats offering increased legroom. However, these jets lack WiFi and personal device streaming capabilities. The E175s, with 76-passenger capacity, include first-class seating for 12 and main cabin seating for 64, along with WiFi and personal device streaming capabilities.


Envoy Air's extension of the Experienced Pilot Bonus reflects the airline's proactive approach to addressing the industry-wide pilot shortage. The company's commitment to providing lucrative incentives, coupled with its strategic advantages and regional growth, positions it as an appealing choice for aspiring and experienced pilots alike. Eligible pilots are urged to accept their conditional job offers before March 31, 2023, and must be assigned a class within 90 days of acceptance to receive the bonus offer.