10 April 2012

The News - News

The News - News


HC lets flying club operate, tells it to pay Rs 2.5 lakh rent

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 04:28 AM PDT

The Bombay high court on Wednesday allowed the 80-year-old Bombay Flying Club (BFC) to continue its activities and conduct aviation examinations, while directing it to pay a rent of Rs 2.5 lakh a month from April onwards.

The existing yearly rent of the BFC, the oldest flying club in India, is Re 1. The Airports Authority of India (AAI), whose Juhu Aerodrome is used by the BFC, has been demanding a monthly rent of Rs 5 lakh since 2007. It recently issued a letter to prevent the entry of club members into the premises due to unpaid arrears.

The club’s lawyers, Aspi Chinoy, Venkatesh Dhond and Ameet Naik, said it is a “no profit, no loss” entity. But the HC observed that it runs a flying school on commercial basis.

Advocate C K Chari and M V Kini, the law firm representing AAI, argued that as the present commercial rate was Rs 50 lakh, one-tenth of that amount as rent was nominal. An HC bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar posted the matter for June 18 and allowed normal functioning of the club and its school till then.


‘Grounded’ trainee pilots to file PIL against AAI

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 04:16 AM PDT

Four hundred students of the Bombay Flying Club (BFC) will be filing a PIL against the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on Monday as the latter has ordered a closure of all operations at the club. BFC, the oldest training clubs in the country, stopped all operations on Friday after Airports Authority of Indian (AAI) over non-payment of fee to the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

BFC is one among 28 flying schools across India which were prohibited from operations by the AAI. According to AAI officials the clubs haven’t paid the land charges since 2007 and won’t be allowed to operate till the dues are cleared. AAI sent an order on Thursday asking for suspension of all operations. The BFS has decided to appeal to the court and its officials are trying to get a stay order against the AAI order.

According to sources, the club owes around Rs 2.5 crore to the AAI for six years. Officials familiar with the development said that the order demanded a complete closure of the club with immediate effect. The operations were stopped immediately after the order was passed. “If the BFC officials don’t get a stay from the court, they will have to vacate the premises at Juhu in a week’s time,” said a senior official.

Sources in the AAI said that BFC had been earlier allotted the land at Juhu airport for a nominal feel of Re 1. However, AAI revised the rule in 2007 and asked all flying schools to pay as per commercial rates. Those registered as educational institutions-including BFC-were asked to pay 10% of the commercial charges applicable. “The dues since then haven’t been paid despite a 90% rebate in the charges,” said an official.

BFC officials, on the other hand, said that the club was allotted the land for developing the airport way back in 1931. In 1946, as per an agreement between the government and the deputy director of civil aviation, BFC was to pay a fee of Re 1 annually to continue flying and training. AAI, which came in existence in 1998 did not renew the lease and after taking over Juhu airport in 2007, it started billing the club on commercial rates.

“This was done without any discussion, warning or even consultation. Now, they have ordered to stop the club completely. We are going to get a stay on this order and will appeal to the minister to let this oldest flying school function,” said captain Mihir D. Bhagvati, president, BFC. “We are a no-profit educational institution and cannot pay such a high fee. AAI started billing us on Rs 5 lakh per month,” he added. Bhagvati said that apart from procuring the stay order, the 400 students currently enrolled in the club will also file a PIL against the AAI. BFC officials, along with representatives of other flying schools which have been closed, will be meeting the minister of civil aviation next week. Juhu airport director, M Yadagiri, said that the order has come from the AAI headquarters from Delhi and it is being enforced.


Aviation academy to get two more aircraft, one hangar

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 04:05 AM PDT

The Rajiv Gandhi Academy for Aviation Technology (RGAAT) here, is on an expansion mode as it will soon receive two new aircraft, taking the total fleet size to eight.

The construction of the hangar for the academy is also on and is expected to be completed by September.

Academy executive vice-chairman V.Thulasidas said the Aero Club of India (ACI) has offered a light sport aircraft. "The club has already acquired the aircraft and it will be handed over to us soon."

The ACI, the apex body of all flying clubs in the country, is also supplying a simulator to the academy. It had earlier supplied a Cessna 172R aircraft.

The academy has also placed an order for another Cessna single engine aircraft. "The state government has allotted funds for a new aircraft," he said.

At present the academy has six aircraft, of which three are not in flying condition. Those are being used for practical sessions on aircraft maintenance and engineering.

The BSNL civil engineering wing commenced construction of the new hangar at the 2.71 acres of land adjacent to Air India's engineering base, last week. It is expected to be completed in six months.

The hangar will have space to accommodate up to eight single engine aircraft and one twin engine aircraft.


‘Grounded’ trainee pilots to file PIL against AAI

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 04:02 AM PDT

Four hundred students of the Bombay Flying Club (BFC) will be filing a PIL against the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on Monday as the latter has ordered a closure of all operations at the club. BFC, the oldest training clubs in the country, stopped all operations on Friday after Airports Authority of Indian (AAI) over non-payment of fee to the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

BFC is one among 28 flying schools across India which were prohibited from operations by the AAI. According to AAI officials the clubs haven’t paid the land charges since 2007 and won’t be allowed to operate till the dues are cleared. AAI sent an order on Thursday asking for suspension of all operations. The BFS has decided to appeal to the court and its officials are trying to get a stay order against the AAI order.

According to sources, the club owes around Rs 2.5 crore to the AAI for six years. Officials familiar with the development said that the order demanded a complete closure of the club with immediate effect. The operations were stopped immediately after the order was passed. “If the BFC officials don’t get a stay from the court, they will have to vacate the premises at Juhu in a week’s time,” said a senior official.

Sources in the AAI said that BFC had been earlier allotted the land at Juhu airport for a nominal feel of Re 1. However, AAI revised the rule in 2007 and asked all flying schools to pay as per commercial rates. Those registered as educational institutions-including BFC-were asked to pay 10% of the commercial charges applicable. “The dues since then haven’t been paid despite a 90% rebate in the charges,” said an official.

BFC officials, on the other hand, said that the club was allotted the land for developing the airport way back in 1931. In 1946, as per an agreement between the government and the deputy director of civil aviation, BFC was to pay a fee of Re 1 annually to continue flying and training. AAI, which came in existence in 1998 did not renew the lease and after taking over Juhu airport in 2007, it started billing the club on commercial rates.

“This was done without any discussion, warning or even consultation. Now, they have ordered to stop the club completely. We are going to get a stay on this order and will appeal to the minister to let this oldest flying school function,” said captain Mihir D. Bhagvati, president, BFC. “We are a no-profit educational institution and cannot pay such a high fee. AAI started billing us on Rs 5 lakh per month,” he added. Bhagvati said that apart from procuring the stay order, the 400 students currently enrolled in the club will also file a PIL against the AAI. BFC officials, along with representatives of other flying schools which have been closed, will be meeting the minister of civil aviation next week. Juhu airport director, M Yadagiri, said that the order has come from the AAI headquarters from Delhi and it is being enforced.


Hyderabad flying schools hit air pocket

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 03:59 AM PDT

The ongoing turbulence in the aviation industry has put the future of flying schools in the city in jeopardy. With enrollments showing a 50% decline in the last few sessions, these institutes are now struggling to keep themselves afloat. Worst hit are Hyderabad’s aircraft maintenance and engineering (AME) schools, many of which have shut shop. Even airhostess training institutes that were seen mushrooming in the city until a couple of years ago now have few takers.

As per the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) records, at least two AME schools in Hyderabad, Hyderabad College of Aviation Technology and Institute of Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, have dropped out of business recently with DGCA not renewing their licences. Sources say it is the lack of funds that forced these schools to pull their shutters down. And while three flying schools, AP Aviation Academy, Rajiv Gandhi Aviation Academy and Flytech Aviation Academy, which also deal with the technicalities of aircrafts continue to operate in the city, officials fear that they too might meet a similar fate if the sector does not bounce back to normalcy soon.

“Despite restructuring our sessions from six months to one year, the enrollments have not improved,” said B Varaprasad, administrations manager with Flytech. The school that had about 180 students opting for flying training (every six months) until two years ago now has just about 60 odd applicants. In its engineering stream also, numbers have dropped to a poor 10 or 15 as against 100.

At the root of this crisis is the near complete freeze on recruitment of freshers by airline operators, say experts. The fact that biggies like Kingfisher are on the verge of closure has only aggravated the situation, they add. “The market is filled with out-of-job aviation professionals. So, those looking at hiring are instead roping in such people who are ready to settle for a pay cut,” explained Capt S N Reddy, honorary secretary and chief executive officer of AP Aviation Academy, the oldest such school in Hyderabad.

Pointing out how flying instructors who, during the peak years, drew salaries not less than Rs 1.5 lakh per month are now offered Rs 80,000 at best, Capt Reddy said this drop has turned many away from the profession. Predictably, despite government aid, his institute has witnessed an over 50% drop in candidates in the last few sessions. A similar demand-supply imbalance has hit the Rajiv Gandhi Aviation Academy. “Since 1993, such highs and lows have consistently hit the aviation industry. Hopefully the situation will be resolved soon,” said Y P Reddy, chief managing director of the school. “Also, it is the cabin crew which is more affected than the engineers,” Reddy, who is also president of the flying operators management association, added.

That the many private airhostess training schools in the city have lost out on their numbers, hence, does not come as a surprise. Currently, there are a handful training schools operating in Hyderabad as against a dozen that had sprung a few years ago. “We are witnessing a slump but hope to pick up soon,” said an executive of Frankinn Institute of Airhostess Training.

With the existing schools fighting for survival, those planning to set shop in Hyderabad have now put their plans in cold storage. Among them was airline operator Lufthansa that, sources indicate, was in talks with a local institute to start pilot training in the city but has apparently put the project on hold.