Times of India | 1 week ago | 05-08-2022 | 05:26 am
AHMEDABAD: Chandigarh-bound Go First Flight G8-911 suffered a 'suspected' bird-hit on Thursday morning minutes after taking off from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport in Ahmedabad. The flight returned after flying for about 25 minutes due to engine vibrations caused by the suspected bird hit. The aircraft, an Airbus A320, had left the airport at about 6.15am. The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) has ordered an inquiry into the incident. A senior DGCA official confirmed that the flight was diverted back to Ahmedabad after a bird hit. Well-placed sources said the aircraft has been grounded and is being inspected for damage suffered in the incident and is expected to be back in service soon. "A Chandigarh-bound flight returned at 6.43am after flying for 25 minutes due to engine vibrations because of a suspected bird hit. SVPI airport has implemented a series of wildlife control measures and monitoring mechanisms which have resulted in a significant reduction in bird strikes at the airport," an Adani Airports spokesperson said. Sources said no passengers suffered any injuries and the aircraft landed safely. "An alternative aircraft was arranged for passengers to travel to Chandigarh which took off at about 8.45am and reached Chandigarh at about 11am," the source said. The monsoon leads to a spurt in insect breeding on overgrown grass on the airport campus, in waterlogged areas and near waste dumps. According to DGCA guidelines, airport authorities must initiate necessary measures to destroy insect breeding sites to keep birds that prey on them away. "SVPI airport has deployed more staffers, a laser gun, zone guns and bio-acoustic devices among other measures to strengthen aircraft safety," the spokesperson further added. DGCA had recently restricted the fleet of SpiceJet to 50%, owing to safety concerns about their aircraft fleet.
PUNE: Tata-owned Air India on Saturday announced the launch of its first direct flight between Ahmedabad and Pune with effect from August 20. The addition of this new route will cater to the growing demand for air connectivity between the two smart cities and growing commercial and education hubs, airline officials said. Air India flight AI0481 will depart from Ahmedabad Airport at 10:45 hours and arrive at Pune airport at 12:10hours. Flight AI0482 will depart from Pune airport at 12:40 hours and arrive at Ahmedabad airport at 14:15 hours. The estimated travel time between the two cities will be 85-95 minutes. The introduction of the new route between Ahmedabad and Pune has been made possible by the restoration of Air India’s aircraft that had been grounded for prolonged periods due to the pandemic and other reasons. Commenting on the launch, Campbell Wilson, MD and CEO, Air India, said, “We are excited to launch flights between Ahmedabad and Pune, which are key growth centers in Gujarat and Maharashtra, respectively. This new addition is set to improve Air India’s domestic connectivity and empower our customers with more travel options. We look forward to further augmenting our domestic connectivity and introducing new routes over the coming months as more aircraft return to service." The airline’s narrow body fleet currently stands at 70 aircraft of which 54 are currently operating. The remaining aircraft will return to service by early next year, officials said.
Thanks to overbooking, the Go First flight to Goa on Friday evening offloaded several passengers at the Ahmedabad airport at the last minute. This led to friction and heated arguments between passengers and airline staff.Several low fare airlines, in a bid to earn more during festivals, indulge in overbooking their flights which then leads to passengers being left in the lurch. Besides hassles, they also have to bear financial loss.On Friday evening, flight G8-1913 Go-First was to leave for Goa at 6:35 pm. However, due to the flight being overbooked, many passengers were offloaded at the last minute.
The wait in getting your luggage from the domestic terminal at Ahmedabad airport is likely to get longer with the management deciding to close one of the three conveyor belts for repairs.Sources in a well-known airline said one conveyor belt will remain closed for repairs between August 15 and October 15. The closure of one conveyor belt is likely to affect the festival season travel.The daily footfall at the Ahmedabad domestic airport is likely to increase to 3,000 due to increase in frequency in the festival season. As many as 180 flights will operate from the domestic terminal.The source said that there will be a delay in passengers getting their luggage if only two conveyor belts are working, especially if three flights land at the same time.This development will also affect flight schedules.Passenger load is likely to increase with the DGCA lifting the fare cap on domestic airlines from September 1. Airlines have asked the airport management to increase the staff at the conveyor belt to speed up access for passengers.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on the intervening night of August 5-6 arrested an international passenger on a Fly Dubai flight attempting to smuggle in 1.075 kg gold worth Rs 60 lakh in his rectum and underwear, while the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Customs on August 7 busted another passenger attempting the same. This is just the tip of the iceberg.Mirror has now learnt that two gangs of organised gold smuggling racketeers had earlier this year managed to smuggle 210 kg of gold with the help of airport employees at the international terminal (T2) of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad.The racket busted on July 11 involved illegal gold changing hands inside the VIP lounge that is located before the immigration counter and then taken out of the terminal through a door connecting it with the departure area. A terminal manager and three sweepers of T2 among others were accused in this case for ferrying the undeclared gold out of the airport. DRI had seized 3.85 kg gold worth Rs 2.02 crore in this case.The second racket, busted on July 24, involved gold carriers passing on the illicit gold to an employee manning the counter of the duty-free shop, located between the immigration and Customs counters at the international terminal. The duty-free shop employee is accused of being the middleman enabling duty evasion by carrying the gold out of the terminal using his access card. DRI seized 8 kg gold worth Rs 4.21 crore in this case.Heavy smugglingthis yearSources revealed that a total of 210 kg gold was smuggled over several months this year, with 50 kg gold passing through the VIP lounge and 160 kg gold passing through the duty-free shop, right under the noses of a number of security and vigilance agencies at the international airport.During investigation, the accused in the VIP lounge smuggling case had revealed they had managed to conduct at least 13 landings of illicit gold before being busted by the DRI. Assuming that at least a similar amount of gold (3.85 kg) was smuggled each time, the total falls to 50 kg gold.However, the racket that was being run from the duty-free shop was much bigger, said sources. Accused have allegedly revealed that there has been about 15-20 landings of smuggled gold facilitated before the DRI busted their modus operandi. At 8 kg per flight, the quantum of smuggled gold being investigated in this case is assumed to exceed 110 kg.Investigation is currently underway into how many carriers were involved in gold smuggling for these two different operations, who ran these rackets possibly from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).The Customs duty on imported gold was raised on July 1 from 7.5% to 12.5%. However, since imported gold also attracts 2.5% Agriculture Infrastructure Development Cess, this took the total applicable import duty rate on gold into India to 15%.From where gold was smuggledVIP lounge gatewaySeized gold: 3.85 kgAmount: Rs2.02 croreTotal landings: 13 flightsTotal Gold: 50 kgDuty-free shopSeized gold: 8 kgAmount: Rs 4.21 croreTotal landings: ~20 flightsTotal gold: 160 kg
Even as airport employees have been accused of involvement in organised gold smuggling rackets at the Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport, it is the short-staffed Customs department and its Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) that has borne the brunt for lack of vigilance that allowed hundreds of kilograms of gold to be sneaked into India without payment of customs duty.However, in the aftermath of two organised gold smuggling rackets being busted by the DRI on July 11 and 24 this year, security has been tightened on arrival at the international terminal (T2).Mirror has learnt that while airport employees with access could go in and out of the terminal without restrictions, the new measures put in place mandate that only those on the duty roster at any given time, and with authorisation from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) would be given access to the terminal.Earlier, checking of regular airport staff was intermittent, while now all employees will be subjected to frisking and have to compulsorily gain access only through the Door Metal Frame Detector (DFMD) to make sure that no illicit material is smuggled out of the terminal.The Customs department has also begun profiling all personnel posted in sensitive and critical areas for vetting and checks will be conducted regularly.In the first racket busted on July 11, the gold was smuggled out through the VIP lounge which has a door connecting the departure and arrivals halls of T2. This door has now been designated restricted access for only Customs and Immigration officers.In cooperation with the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) that handles all security at the airport, the Customs department has sought and received live feed of CCTV cameras in the international terminal at their own control room.Persons allowed into the arrival hall to welcome dignitaries without diplomatic immunity will not be allowed to step beyond the conveyor belt area, said sources.The Customs staff at the airport has been short-staffed since the pandemic. With general transfers imminent by mid-August, there is likely to be an increase in personnel and rise in night duty staff.Customs officials, who currently have restricted access across sensitive areas of the airport, are likely to seek more wide-ranging access from the BCAS to make sure “at least airport employees are not involved in smuggling activities”.