Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Firms lost €115,000 in plane charter deception. (Ireland)

A Limerick woman has admitted duping two airline charter companies out of €115,000 by hiring aircraft under false pretenses to bring Munster rugby fans to away games.

Pamela Hickey guilty to charges of deception


A court in Limerick has been told that a 38-year old-mother of two duped two airline charter companies out of €115,000 by hiring aircraft under false pretences to bring Munster rugby fans to two away games in December 2004 and January 2005.

Pamala Hickey of Ashford, Patrickswell in Limerick has pleaded quilty to charges of deception by obtaining the services of the Air Charter Services company in December 2004 to bring 180 Munster fans on a return flight from Shannon to Toulouse.

The court heard that the company lost €77,000 as a result of not being paid by Ms Hickey.

The following month she also chartered the services of Monarch Airlines, and its sister company First Aviation Limited, again under false pretences, to bring Munster fans on a return flight from Shannon to Gatwich. In this case the company was at a loss of over STG£34,000.

In both cases she supplied a false name, and false travel agent documents to acquire the service, and a false AIB Paylink funds transfer document, which purported to show the funds had been transferred to the company.

The court heard that Ms Hickey provided 13 trouble free charter packages to Munster fans to away games at less expensive prices than on the high street, as part of the Munster Supporters club.

Munster fans who paid over money for the Toulouse and Galwick flights were not out of pocket - it was the airline charter companies who suffered the losses.

But the service became dogged by Ms Hickey's financial mismanagement as this service and a creche service she was then running at the time were being operated out of the same account.

Ms Hickey's defence barrister said his client did not benefit financially from this service, and that she was the carer of two young children who had now lost everything. She had lost her family home, her business, her means of income and had destroyed her reputation. He also said she had spared the State the cost of a long lengthy trial by an early guilty plea.

He asked Judge Carrol Moran to treat this as an isolated mistake in an otherwise good life.

The judge adjourned sentencing until 21 October.

http://www.rte.ie

Runway extension to open at Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport (KTMB), Miami, Florida.

A 1,000-foot runway extension at Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport is due to open by mid- October after its final surfacing, due to be applied by Oct. 6. The $4.3 million South Runway project paralleling SW 136th Street falls 1,250 feet short of the original extension plan designed to permit cross-country flights by corporate jets that take off and land at Kendall-Tamiami.

“The new extension will allow existing corporate jets safer and better use of the existing runway, even though that extension is not of sufficient length to provide fuel capacity for cross-country flights,” said Norman A. Hegedus, interim manager of the airport and acting manager for Homestead Regional Airport.

“We expected to have it open during September but rainy weather kept forcing us to postpone the final surface treatment,” Hegedus explained.

The project got underway in January of this year.

VFR (Visual Flight Rules) will start once the runway project is completed, Hegedus said, noting that approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will require up to 56 days for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) certification.

“It’s still a major improvement to serve our FBO (fixed base operators) with existing aircraft, an important plus for Kendall- Tamiami overall,” he added.

Original planning to accommodate cross-country corporate jets would have extended both east and west ends of the runway by 2,250 feet at an estimated cost of $11 million but federal funding was unavailable to that extent.

The new 1,000-foot extension lengthening the runway only to the west was approved with 95 percent ($4.2 million) paid from federal funds and the balance ($200,000) from Miami-Dade Aviation Department budgeting.

Hegedus, noise abatement planner for the Aviation Department, is serving as interim manager prior to the impending Oct. 30 retirement of Mike Handrahan, now on vacation.

After that date, the county will advertise for a permanent airport manager, according to Greg Chin, Aviation Department spokesperson.

http://www.communitynewspapers.com

Nigeria: Government fires aviation agencies’ chief executives

Barely three weeks after BusinessDay exclusively reported that the Federal Government was head-hunting for a qualified person to replace Richard Aisuebeogun, the managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), government yesterday relieved him of his duty, ending his four- year tenure in the authority.

Two other chief executives of aviation agencies were also replaced in the sweep. They are Ibrahim Auyo, managing director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and Adebayo Araba, rector, Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria.

Replacing Auyo in acting capacity, is the director of engineering and electronics, of NAMA, Nnamdi Udoh. George Uriesi, a former director of operations, of FAAN, replaced Aisuebeogun while Chinyere Kalu ( a commercial pilot), former Head of Flying School, NCAT, replaced Araba.

Joe Obi, Chief Press Secretary to the Minister of Aviation, in a statement, directed the sacked chief executives to handover to their successors immediately. The statement was signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation, Anne Ine Ita,

The decision yesterday, ended speculations that Aisuebeogun, who was appointed in November 2007, might be re-appointed managing director of FAAN.

Aisuebeogun, who was otherwise qualified for a second term, it was learnt, was ruled out by the Presidency because of his perceived lack-lustre performance and sundry other reasons, some bordering on transparency.

Auyo, who was yet to complete his four- year tenure (which was to end in 2013), has been in and out of office since his appointment, for medical reasons.

Uriesi, the new FAAN managing director, was born on August 8, 1968. His career spans more than 18 years, mostly in airline and airport operations, as well as safety and economic regulation of the industry.

He served with the then Nigerian Airports Authority and worked for ADC Airlines, until he moved to South Africa in 1996, to join the multinational consumer products company, Procter and Gamble , South Africa , as logistics manager.

He returned to the aviation industry three years later, to play key roles in the institutional reform and transformation of South Africa’s air transport industry, joining the executive team of the South African Civil Aviation Authority, first as executive manager for Aviation Safety Promotion and later, general manager, Aviation Safety. Prior to his appointment at FAAN two years ago, Uriesi, was US certified Business coach and airport management consultant, based in Atlanta , Georgia . He joined FAAN in 2009 as Director of Airport Operations.

Nigerian airports, have over the years witnessed a considerable deterioration - with cows, goats and other domestic animals, often contesting right of way with aircraft on many runways, in several airports across the country.

The Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos , has become a shadow of itself, with several key facilities malfunctioning or not functioning at all. The airport’s power plants pack up at will, and passengers and airlines frequently grope in the dark, in the sweltering terminal building.

The toilets are an eye-sore, while the fuel hydrants are not functioning, forcing airlines and fuel suppliers to use boursers to supply fuel to aircraft on the tarmac.

http://www.businessdayonline.com

Government suspends Air Operator Certificate of Nusantara Buana Air planes

The Transportation Ministry has suspended the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) of Nusantara Buana Air’s (NBA) Casa 212-200 planes for safety reasons, following the crash of one of its planes in the forest of Langkat, North Sumatra, last week.

“We are suspending its AOC because its airplanes do not meet basic air practical standards. They are under-performing,” the ministry’s air transportation director general, Herry Bakti Gumay, said in Jakarta on Tuesday.

He said the ministry found several serious shortcomings in certain areas, such as aircraft performance, maintenance, and fuel and pilot policy.

However, he refused to comment on each area in detail.

“Nusantara Buana Air should be able to improve these areas to get its AOC back,” he said.

The ministry did not give a deadline for the airline to meet the requirements, but Herry said the ministry expected to see improvements within one month.

NBA has nine aircraft serving 38 pioneer flight routes in nine provinces across the archipelago, including Aceh, North Sumatra, East Nusa Tenggara and Maluku.

Herry said other airlines, like Merpati, Susi Air and Wings Air, would take over NBA’s routes because people would continue to travel to the areas.

“We also plan to evaluate all pioneer flights in Indonesia in the near future,” he said.

The Casa 212-200 plane, built in 1989, crashed in the Mount Leuser National Park in Langkat last Thursday. None of the plane’s 14 passengers and four crew members survived.

Herry said the ill-fated plane had been equipped with the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) — an instrument that alerts pilots if an aircraft is in immediate danger of crashing. However, it was an early generation device.

The ministry has yet to announce any plans to require newer aircraft to be equipped with the latest generation of GPWS.

In Medan, Search and Rescue (SAR) team members said all passengers of the ill-fated plane were found dead in their seats when the rescuers reached the location.

Sec. Sgt. Dian Iriansyah of the Air Force’s special forces and First Brig. Masrul of the North Sumatra Police said it took two days to reach the location, which was only 300 meters from where they were deployed from the helicopter.

“It was very tough terrain; hilly and never ventured into before,” Dian said, adding that they began trying to reach the site on Friday.

“The team started evacuating the victims on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” said Sec. Sgt. Welri John Pasaribu of the Air Force.

He added that most victims had broken bones from the crash.

National SAR head Air Marshal Daryatmo said the evacuation of the victims had ended.

“We have pulled our men out of the location,” he said.

http://www.thejakartapost.com

Airport begins Phase II repairs. Barstow-Daggett (KDAG), Daggett, California.

Repairs can now start on the Barstow-Dagget Airport, two months after all Federal Aviation Agency projects were in limbo because of an agency shutdown.

The County Board of Supervisors unanimously accepted the $1.9 million FAA improvement grant for Phase II of the Barstow-Daggett repairs, which includes an upgrade of the airport’s electrical system from the 1940s. The board also approved the bid for PB Americas Inc. to do the construction on the project.

The airport had applied for the grant in July, with the intention to open up the bidding process in mid-August, but that was temporarily put on hold in early August when the FAA’s funding ran out. However, Congress voted that month to continuing funding the FAA, and the airport was able to start the bidding process on schedule.

Mike Williams, director of airports for the county, said the improvements should be completed by the end of the year.

http://www.desertdispatch.com

Pakistan International Airlines ATR aircraft failures predicted before purchase

LAHORE: The recent failure of PIA’s Italian-French ATR turboprop aircraft was predicted by PIA’s technical evaluation team before the purchase deal but the top management had ignored the advice, The News has learnt.

Two PIA ATR airplanes had recently suffered engine failures after their engines shut down up in the air, though the passengers remained safe. At the time of purchase of these aircrafts, the PIA had constituted an engineering team led by the then Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Khalid Mahmood, Aircraft Engineer Avionics Mohammad Zahid, Aircraft Engineer Planning and Projects Kashif Hafeez and Aircraft Engineer Power-plant and Overhauling Ahmer Abbas.

According to Engineering Evaluation Report submitted by PIA aircraft engineers on May 24, 2004, serious reservations were communicated to the management and the defence ministry regarding ATR’s engine’s performance in the Pakistani conditions. The static display, test flight and demonstration flights of the ATR 42-500, were held from 11th to 14th May 2004 to assess the aircraft.

Aircraft Engineers of Oman Air, which had used the ATR aircraft and the ATR technical personnel, were a part of the process. Detailed discussion with them regarding their experience of flying the ATR aircraft in saline and dusty/desert environment led to various observations. PIA engineering also had an insight into repeated snags in the ATR aircraft logged in by Oman Air Engineering. These were also shared with the PIA top brass and the defence ministry.

The report under the head of ‘Disadvantages’ of buying ATR 42-500, cautioned that the High Pressure Turbine Blades of the aircraft engine, with cooling holes, if blocked due to dusty weather operation, can cause breakage of the blade and result in engine failure.

The same problem was reported by Oman Air, which had used the aircraft. The dusty atmosphere of Pakistan was, therefore, declared an uncongenial environment for functioning of ATR 42-500.

The ATR 42-500 team had guaranteed the aircraft engine’s performance for 15,000 cycles of operation. In the event of any problem faced by the engine, the PIA was to pay 60 per cent of repair expenditures and the remaining 40 per cent by the ATR manufacturers.

After recent failures of ATR engine within quick succession, the ATR 42-500 technical team members said they were ‘mistaken’ regarding 15,000 cycles, as now they believe that the aircraft guarantee under Pakistani conditions is 5000 cycles only.

In the last three years alone, the ATR aircrafts have reported 40 major engine problem incidents. The price of the seven aircrafts bought was $78.97 million. The price of spare parts was $6.66 million, spare engines $7.25 million, and other facilities or training cost $7.60 million. This implies that the PIA bought the aircraft only good for 5000 cycles while they paid the amount for 15000 cycles.

Another problem reported in the evaluation was that the baggage area is not spacious enough to carry a failed engine . When contacted, PIA spokesperson Sultan Hassan said the aircraft procurement deal was done by then PIA top brass and the defence ministry and the current administration is not the best source to explain the pros and cons of this purchase.

http://www.thenews.com

French pilots reach Karachi in microlight plane

Business Recorder Logo Two veteran French pilots and microlight planes enthusiasts Marc Perdu and Tiriault Christian aboard their Dynamic W29 microlight plane named Spirit of Noumea landed here on Tuesday afternoon. Commencing their voyage from Paris on September 18, 2011 Marc Perdu and Tiriault Christian aim to reach Nouméa (capital city of the French territory of New Caledonia) on November 14, 2011 after travelling some 21,481 kilometers, visiting 31 cities in 15 countries.

These countries are Italy, Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and New Caledonia. Just after their arrival at Karachi, both the French pilots Marc Perdu and Tiriault Christian visited Karachi Press Club and shared their views about their 22,000 kilometers journey from Paris to Naumea.

French Consul General in Karachi Christian Ramage and Daniel Baillon, Director of French Cultural Centre (Alliance Francaise de Karachi) were also present on the occasion. They said that their flight was a tribute to French aviators Paul Klein and Henri Martinet's groundbreaking 1939 plane journey from Nouméa to Paris. They plan to retrace their trail next year.

They pointed out that they were travelling through a small single engine plane. The fuel consumption of the plane is only 7 liters per 100 kilometers. Speaking on this occasion, the French Consul General in Karachi Christian Ramage said that after a long gap of over 10 years, the first French plane landed at Karachi Airport some 10 days ago, with relief goods for flood affected people of Pakistan. He said it was first landing of any French plane after 10 years. The Air France had stopped their flights to Pakistan some 10 years ago. It is another special occasion when these two French pilots landed in Karachi, he said.

The French pilot Christian Tiriault said New Caledonia Island, located near Australia is French territory. Nouméa, the capital city of New Caledonia is some 22,000 kilometers away from Paris. "We are travelling in our Ultra-Light-Plane and our flight is a tribute to French aviators Paul Klein and Henri Martinet's groundbreaking 1939 plane journey from Nouméa to Paris", he added. "We are please to be here in Karachi as this is an important city in this region," he said. "We want to give message to our people living 22,000 kilometers away from Paris that they are from us," he added.

http://www.brecorder.com

Still flying: Commissioners fear airline switch talk is hurting air traffic. Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (KBRD), Brainerd, Minnesota.

Brainerd Regional Lakes Airport Commission members push this message loud and clear: Commercial air traffic will continue to fly in and out of the Brainerd airport.

September’s enplanement figures at Brainerd were 150 passengers fewer than September of 2010, a significant drop, airport Manager Steve Sievek said Tuesday. Sievek said with that decline, coupled with repeated inquiries that staff members have received regarding the continuation of commercial air service, he’s convinced that the recent announcement of Delta Airline’s intent to pull its service from Brainerd has given potential passengers the wrong idea.

“We still have (air) service,” Sievek said explaining the misperception certain people have. “People hear what they want to hear.”

Sievek said the Oct. 12 deadline from carriers that might replace Delta likely will be extended and if it isn’t Delta is required to maintain services until a replacement can be secured. He said selection of a new air carrier is a long process and Brainerd possibly may maintain Delta service until March 1.

Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom, who also serves on the Crow Wing County Board, also emphasized that nothing is going to happen to Brainerd’s air service on Oct. 12.

Chair Beth Pfingsten suggested the commission issue a public service announcement clarifying the status of air service at the Brainerd airport.

In other action, the commission:

Selected a color scheme of silver and white with red trim for the jet that was recently taken down from its display pedestal at the airport to refurbished. Sievek said he expected the job to be completed sometime this fall and the weather will determine whether it can be placed up on its pedestal before winter.

“I expect it’s going to look pretty sharp,” Sievek said.

Agreed to paying a 20 percent share of costs for new emergency radios as emergency broadcasts transition away from the analog system. New radios are being considered for the crash rescue vehicle and two hand-held units. Pfingsten abstained from voting, noting that her nephew was the county’s emergency management director.

Approved the five-year Capital Improvement Plan. Among wish list items that Sievek wanted to get on the drawing board was the extension of city water and sewer to the airport, perhaps by 2014.

Heard Sievek report there have been a relatively low number of change orders for the airport terminal reporting project. Engineers with Short Elliott and Hendrickson said the project should be completed by the end of January .

Directed the airport manager to talk with interior decorators/designers and area artists about decor for the remodeled terminal.

Set the next airport commission meeting for 9:30 a.m. Nov. 1 at the Historic Crow Wing County Courthouse.

http://brainerddispatch.com

Sioux City sets its sights on Flight School

The Sioux City airport board is in talks with Western Iowa Tech and the University of North Dakota, in what would be a first for Sioux City.

UND's flight program is quite extensive. They'd bring four planes and pilots to start.

Western Iowa Tech would house the simulators and computer system. Students would start by taking courses at WIT, but could enroll in UND's aerospace program.

"It brings more activity to the Sioux City airport. More flights in and out, more activity, more things going on, more money in fuel sales, the fixed base operator will also do the service work on the aircraft. It just brings business to the airport," explained Airport Board Vice President Grady Marx.

Sioux City says the school would also be a boost to local charter companies.

The idea isn't a done deal, but leaders say they're close to signing on the dotted line.

http://www.ktiv.com

Qantas warned of overheating risks in Rolls-Royce engines

QANTAS faces having to do more work to ensure the safety of the Rolls-Royce engines on its Airbus A380 superjumbos after a warning from Europe's safety regulator of possible overheating.

The Australian flag carrier is likely to modify engine pylons on its 10 Airbus A380s over the next three months but indicated the problem was not related to the issue that caused an engine to disintegrate on Flight QF32 near Singapore last November.

But the regulation notice to all airlines from the European Aviation Safety Agency does concern the potential for fire in Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, which were at the centre of the Singapore incident.

That concerned a faulty oil pipe inside the engine, which led to Qantas grounding its Airbus A380 fleet for 23 days and payment of $95 million compensation by Rolls-Royce.

This possible risk concerns the pylons connecting the engines to the wing of the world's largest airliner, with the agency's airworthiness directive proposing holes or vents be drilled into panels on the pylons to prevent any chance of overheating, which could lead to fire.


The potential for a problem was first noticed in testing by the manufacturer Airbus about five months ago, which alerted the safety agency.

The safety regulations notice is expected to become mandatory at the end of October, with the deadline for the work to be carried out on Airbus A380s delivered so far to be 10 months later.

"Should the proposed directive become mandatory, Qantas will comply fully and take the required actions well in advance of the formal deadline,'' an airline spokesman said.

It is expected the work can be done as part of routine maintenance in Sydney, which should not disrupt Qantas Airbus schedules.

Singapore Airlines said yesterday it has plans to modify 12 of its 14 its A380 aircraft with components from Airbus.

"Singapore Airlines is already working closely with Airbus to ensure that we are in full compliance once the AD comes into effect,'' an airline spokeswomen said.

"In short, any modifications that needs to be made, will be made - all in the interest of safety, which is our number one priority.''

An Airbus spokesman said the work involved getting airflow into the pylons to reduce any risk of fire in the case of a petrol leak combined with other complications. It had nothing to do with the problem Qantas experienced last November.

He confirmed the regulation did not apply to A 380s powered by General Electric and Pratt and Whitney engines, which make up about half the 57 aircraft in the skies.

"Airworthiness directives are very common and there's really nothing to be afraid about,'' he said.

"A very rare combination of factors would have to be met and come together, there is not an overheating risk per se.''

http://www.heraldsun.com.au

American Airlines Faces Turbulent Ride

American Airlines' CEO is proud that his company, unlike its biggest rivals, avoided the bankruptcy process to remake itself. Investors aren't so sure.

As the economic outlook darkens, the airline industry is bracing for trouble. Among the biggest U.S. carriers, American has the most to fear. It faces the highest labor, aircraft and borrowing costs.

"They've become old and feeble," says Vaughn Cordle, chief analyst with AirlineForecasts.

American's problems are the kinds that can be fixed under the protection of a bankruptcy court. And some analysts point to the airline's beaten-down stock price — it's fallen 69 percent this year — as evidence that Chapter 11 is not out of the realm of possibility.

On Monday, as speculation about a bankruptcy filing swirled, the stock fell 33 percent. Shares bounced back Tuesday, rising nearly 21 percent.

Executives at parent company AMR Corp. insist a Chapter 11 filing is not in the cards. The Fort Worth, Texas-based company has $4.2 billion in cash and other short-term investments — enough of a cushion to sustain at least another year's worth of losses while it comes up with a plan for growth, analysts say.

While most U.S. airlines were profitable in the first half of the year, American had a net loss of $715 million on revenue of $11.6 billion. The company is forecast to show a loss of $132 million when it reports third-quarter results in two weeks.

American was once an innovative airline. It invented frequent-flier miles and it launched the first computerized ticketing system. Now, that edge is gone.

Ray Neidl, an airline specialist with the Maxim Group, said in a recent note the airline's management is experienced "but they appear to be riding on the storied airline's past."

American's biggest problem is the high cost of labor.

It spends $3,008 on salary and benefits for every hour each of its 616 planes is in the air, according to Cordle. United spends $2,801, Delta $2,587 and US Airways $1,991.

Put another way, if American had the same labor costs as US Airways — which restructured in bankruptcy court in 2002 and 2004 — it would save $2.2 billion a year, Cordle said.

American had hoped that gap would shrink as employees at the other airlines negotiated higher wages in new contracts. But that has yet to happen.

The airline has other disadvantages:

— More than $12.1 billion in outstanding debt, about the same amount as airlines twice its size.

— An unfunded pension liability of $7.9 billion. For the most part, other airlines don't have traditional pension plans.

— High borrowing costs. It agreed to pay 8.75 percent interest on $726 million it borrowed last week.

— The oldest and least fuel-efficient fleet in the country.

American was in such a tough financial situation in the past decade that it couldn't invest in new jets. The airline is aggressively replacing its gas-guzzling jets with newer, more-efficient planes. But it's a slow process.

To fly one passenger 1,000 miles, it took American an average of 19.8 gallons of fuel last year. The industry averaged 18.4 gallons. That might not sound like a giant difference, but based on the 125 billion miles American's passengers flew last year the airline burned through $400 million worth of fuel that its competitors didn't have to.

American refused to comment for this story but management does have some plans to right the airline.

It recently gained government approval for joint ventures with British Airways, Japan Airlines and Qantas, allowing the airlines to work together to set prices and schedules on routes. The move gives American some of the benefits it would have seen through a merger.

American is also in the process of trying to separate its unprofitable regional airline, American Eagle, into an independent airline.

In the years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways all restructured in bankruptcy court. In contrast, American was able to secure concessions from its unions and avoid that fate.

"I have a different definition of success than bankrupting your company," American CEO Gerard J. Arpey said in April.

Still, the competition emerged from bankruptcy stronger, while American struggled and looked everywhere it could to cut costs.

"We discussed how often the trash was picked up," Thomas R. Del Valle, senior vice president of airport services for American, said in a recent interview.

With the merger of Delta and Northwest in 2008, American had fallen from its perch as the world's biggest airline. Two years later, it fell further in the pecking order with the merger of United and Continental.

Even if American can bring its labor costs in line with the other major airlines, it — and the rest of the industry — still need to compete with younger airlines like JetBlue, Frontier and Virgin America.

If American paid the same wages and benefits that Virgin America does, it would save $4.6 billion a year.

http://abcnews.go.com

Eppley Airfield Cleaning Up After Flood Battle. Airport Expected To Spend $26 Million In Fight With Missouri River.

OMAHA, Neb. -- Officials at Omaha's Eppley Airfield have declared victory in their fight against the summer flooding along the Missouri River. Now they have to clean up the mess left by the high water.

Contractors have begun the initial stages of the demobilization process of the flood control infrastructure around the airport property.

"At the start of this, we had two main objectives: To maintain normal air operations and to protect airfield assets," said Dave Roth with Eppley Airfield. "We've come to the end and we've met those two [objectives.]"

The specially designed wells that kept the water away from the runways will continue to operate through October.

"We will pull the pumps out and the infrastructure and piping will stay in place through the winter," said Roth.

The victory over the flood has come at a price. The Omaha Airport Authority said it has spent $17 million in flood control, but will ultimately spend $26 million.

The flooding also has an environmental price. There is a 300-yard swath of wasteland filled with sand and silt between the river bank and the airport's levee system. The property, which is controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, was a mix of grassy plains and farmland that was leased out by the airfield. It's not clear if the Corps will restore the area to the way it was.

Eppley officials said they are just relieved the levee system held back the river, the pumps worked and flights stayed on schedule.

"The team came together," said Roth. "They all did an excellent job."

Watch Video: http://www.ketv.com

Qantas blasts unions over death threats

Qantas has accused unions of resorting to US-style intimidation, after the airline's chief executive Alan Joyce received "unhelpful and hurtful" death threats.

Qantas is involved in an ongoing industrial dispute, with unions fighting a planned restructure that could result in up to 1000 staff culled.

"That has led to a rather heated environment and we are seeing threats in the workplace," Qantas spokeswoman Olivia Wirth told Macquarie Radio today.

Ms Wirth, who has also received the threatening letters, later told the Seven Network unions were resorting to US-style intimidation.

"They're personally attacking management, it's one of those ways you can try and influence the outcomes of the industrial dispute - it's very unhelpful, it can be hurtful and we're hoping things can calm down a bit," she said.

"There's been a campaign going on for some time not only targeting myself but also Alan and other senior executives - it's part of what's called a US playbook that the unions are using."

But Transport Workers Union NSW secretary Wayne Forno said he didn't believe the union was responsible for the threats.

"It comes as a complete surprise to me, I might add," he told ABC Radio.

"There's no place for violence in any industrial campaign.

"There's no room for acts of intimidation and violence."

Mr Forno said he was surprised that Qantas went public with the information.

"I find it serious that Qantas has decided to make this public. I would have thought they would be taking this to police and letting police investigate."

Senior staff at Qantas have had their car windows smashed and homes damaged after refusing to strike, and Mr Joyce himself received an explicit death threat, the Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

A typed letter, sent to Mr Joyce's home, read in part: "It's coming soon Paddy. You can't even see it!"

"The Unions will fight you ... Qantas is our airline, started & staffed by Australians, not foreign filth like you.

"All your evil plans ... will come back to you very swiftly, & kick you (sic) Irish FOREIGN ARSE out of the country."

The threats are reportedly being investigated by both the Australian Federal Police and NSW police.

Mr Joyce emailed Qantas staff yesterday.

"Our CEO Alan Joyce yesterday put out a message to staff just to say bullying wouldn't be tolerated," Ms Wirth said.

Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association federal secretary Steve Purvinas told Macquarie Radio his union was not behind the death threats and had advised members in 2008 not to get involved in intimidation.

"We sent a message again about a month ago to our members, 'Just play it legally' because that's what worked last time.

"For those reasons, I don't think any of our members would be involved in this threat that Alan claims has been sent to his house."

Syracuse, New York: Sheriff still determined to keep Air 1 flying

The county legislature budget vote is only a week away and legislators say the Sheriff’s Department helicopter – Air 1 – will not fit the bill.

Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh, however, is still pushing for funding to keep the helicopter flying.

The possibility of Air 1 being used for routine checks of any site is slim without the funding in the county budget, but Walsh believes areas such as the National Grid substations could use the extra patrol.

“Air 1 will be doing additional checks on National Grid properties as frequently as possible,” Walsh said.

Walsh says copper thefts at National Grid’s high voltage sites pose a serious enough danger that air patrol will be needed to secure them.

“We’re going to step up our observations as part of our Homeland Security checks because National Grid facilities are an important part of Homeland Security concerns – keeping the infrastructure solid,” said Walsh.

The County legislature has consistently said there is no room for the helicopter funding in the budget, and the chairman says they are choosing to concentrate on reducing property taxes rather than pay for Air 1.

“I think the helicopter program is outdated. He's working off an old mission statement and he's behind the eight ball with it when it comes to keeping up with the aviation industry, so I don't think we need it anymore,” said Jim Rhinehart, the County Legislature Chair.

As of right now, the budget proposal has no taxpayer money going toward Air 1. The county will still support the helicopter if the Sheriff’s Office is able to raise enough money through donations and it gets FAA approval for medical transportation.

The next Air 1 fundraiser will be at a comedy club on Friday, Oct. 14.

http://www.9wsyr.com

Alamosa, Colorado: Critics want closer look at Air Force training flights

Air Force officials came here Monday for feedback on a draft analysis of low-altitude training flights and were told the 224-page document didn't go far enough.

Public comment from the crowd of nearly 35 people stressed the need to conduct a more thorough study of the proposal, including a closer look at the environmental and economic impacts of the flights from New Mexico's Cannon Air Force Base over parts of Southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.

In September, the base released a draft environmental assessment with a preferred option that would send 688 flights per year over an area that includes parts of three San Luis Valley counties and all of Chaffee County.

It also includes 12 Western Slope counties and much of northern New Mexico.

Col. Larry Munz emphasized the 60,700 square-mile training, which takes in all of the San Juan Mountains, was needed to keep crews challenged in planning their flights.

"They need to be challenged and they can't be complacent," he said.

Gaining that planning experience could not be accomplished if Cannon's crews had to stick to fixed routes, a process Munz called "sterile training."

The proposed flights of CV-22 and C-130 aircraft would fly 10 percent of their mission at an elevation of 300 feet to 500 feet above ground while 40 percent would be flown between 500 feet and 999 feet.

The draft study said the noise impacts, which could include sounds as loud as 98 decibels, would not be significant.

But it also noted that people with autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, or schizophrenia could be strongly affected by sudden noises.

Michael Trujillo Sr., a military veteran and Conejos County resident, said he worried the flights would impact other veterans living up Conejos Canyon, which sits in the training ground.

He and at least four other speakers called for the Air Force to conduct an environmental impact statement, a longer and more thorough analysis used to comply with federal environmental law.

Impacts to wildlife, including predators, the Gunnison sage grouse, and deer and elk were mentioned as animals that were given short shrift.

Moreover, those impacts could carry over to affect hunting, while damage to the area's solitude could scare off back-country recreation, said Alamosa resident Dave Montgomery.

"This is an economic blow," he said, adding that the analysis should address it.

Christine Canaly, director of the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council said the study failed in its examination of alternatives to the proposed training area, a practice that's required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

"I've seen better (environmental assessments) than this get thrown out in court," she said.

Others, while not addressing the study itself, felt the flights were necessary.

Dr. John McMillan of Alamosa compared them to a local mosquito district, which can be noisy and annoying but protects residents from disease.

"Islamic terrorists are also a disease that could kill us," he said

Although McMillan's assertion was disputed by three other speakers who questioned the linking of the threat to the proposed training ground, he was joined in supporting the flights by Dan McCann.

"For a few flights a day, I could care less," the veteran and Alamosa resident said. "These people put it on the line."

Air Force officials will host a 6 p.m. meeting Wednesday at Central High School in Pueblo and another in Colorado Springs Thursday.

While those communities, like Alamosa, sit outside the proposed training area, Lt. Stephanie Strine said the Air Force wanted to return to cities where meetings were held last year on the issue because residents there were still concerned.

http://www.chieftain.com

Timco Aerosystems plant in Wallburg is up and running

WALLBURG | Just more than a year since it was announced that Timco Aerosystems would move into the former Tyco Electronics plant on Gumtree Road in Wallburg, 150 employees are now making airplane seats on four production lines in the 120,000-square-foot building.

"We've hired approximately 150 people to date and hope to hire another 50 more by year's end," said Kip Blakely, vice president of industry and government relations for Greensboro-based Timco Aviation Services, one of the world's largest independent providers of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services and parent company of Timco Aerosystems, which makes airplane seating and other interiors such as galleys and lavatories.

He said Timco Aerosystems anticipates adding an additional 100 employees in Wallburg in 2012.

The airplane seat production began at Timco's operations center near Piedmont Triad International airport earlier this year as the former Tyco building was being renovated and production equipment was installed but has now been totally relocated to Wallburg, so Davidson County workers have a shorter work commute.

"We had a prototype line over there until we got this facility rehabilitated," Blakely said during a tour of the expansive facility, where some upfitting continues. "We did a lot of things environmentally to make it a greener facility."

The Wallburg facility was needed to meet demand for Timco's patented FeatherWeight line of seating, which is 20 to 25 percent lighter than industry standards, thus increasing fuel efficiency, Blakely said. Timco acquired Brice Seating in California in 2002 but that facility couldn't be expanded further so the company began looking at other locations to ramp up production.

"We should more than double our capacity with these new lines," Blakely said of the FeatherWeight seating systems. "That's what's driving our success. We have a couple of products that really hit the sweet spot."

The company makes seating for all aircraft types but currently the coach class seats for 737s and business class seats for 787s are the most in demand. Blakely noted international carriers typically have three classes of seating, such as business class, in addition to first class and coach.

"Over 80 percent of our product produced here will go outside the United States," Blakely said, noting some of the current production is for Royal Air Morac based in Casablanca, Morocco. "I get a kick out of the fact that we're making airline furniture and shipping it all over the world."

To be eligible for a variety of state and local incentives, Timco has agreed to create 500 jobs within seven years at the plant. In addition to assemblers, supervisors and inspectors, the plant has engineers, numbering about 15 to 20 now, supply-chain staffers and administrative personnel.

"When we look at the marketplace and how rapidly we're growing, that shouldn't be difficult at all," Blakely said of meeting job creation criteria.

Noting that the Timco plant is on 69 acres of land, Blakely said there's space to expand the plant or develop a business park, which might include some of Timco's suppliers.

While four production lines are in place in existing space, work is under way to add a prototype design center and a test lab within the building where new products lines can be tested to meet safety guidelines, said Chad Schrempp, plant manager in Wallburg.

"That's going to save us months in the development cycle," Schrempp said, noting that these functions have had to previously be sourced outside the company. "It's part of the evolution of our company."

"We've hired approximately 150 people to date and hope to hire another 50 more by year's end," said Kip Blakely, vice president of industry and government relations for Greensboro-based Timco Aviation Services, one of the world's largest independent providers of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services and parent company of Timco Aerosystems, which makes airplane seating and other interiors such as galleys and lavatories.

He said Timco Aerosystems anticipates adding an additional 100 employees in Wallburg in 2012.

The airplane seat production began at Timco's operations center near Piedmont Triad International airport earlier this year as the former Tyco building was being renovated and production equipment was installed but has now been totally relocated to Wallburg, so Davidson County workers have a shorter work commute.

"We had a prototype line over there until we got this facility rehabilitated," Blakely said during a tour of the expansive facility, where some upfitting continues. "We did a lot of things environmentally to make it a greener facility."

The Wallburg facility was needed to meet demand for Timco's patented FeatherWeight line of seating, which is 20 to 25 percent lighter than industry standards, thus increasing fuel efficiency, Blakely said. Timco acquired Brice Seating in California in 2002 but that facility couldn't be expanded further so the company began looking at other locations to ramp up production.

"We should more than double our capacity with these new lines," Blakely said of the FeatherWeight seating systems. "That's what's driving our success. We have a couple of products that really hit the sweet spot."

The company makes seating for all aircraft types but currently the coach class seats for 737s and business class seats for 787s are the most in demand. Blakely noted international carriers typically have three classes of seating, such as business class, in addition to first class and coach.

"Over 80 percent of our product produced here will go outside the United States," Blakely said, noting some of the current production is for Royal Air Morac based in Casablanca, Morocco. "I get a kick out of the fact that we're making airline furniture and shipping it all over the world."

To be eligible for a variety of state and local incentives, Timco has agreed to create 500 jobs within seven years at the plant. In addition to assemblers, supervisors and inspectors, the plant has engineers, numbering about 15 to 20 now, supply-chain staffers and administrative personnel.

"When we look at the marketplace and how rapidly we're growing, that shouldn't be difficult at all," Blakely said of meeting job creation criteria.

Noting that the Timco plant is on 69 acres of land, Blakely said there's space to expand the plant or develop a business park, which might include some of Timco's suppliers.

While four production lines are in place in existing space, work is under way to add a prototype design center and a test lab within the building where new products lines can be tested to meet safety guidelines, said Chad Schrempp, plant manager in Wallburg.

"That's going to save us months in the development cycle," Schrempp said, noting that these functions have had to previously be sourced outside the company. "It's part of the evolution of our company."

Schrempp said a plastics and soft goods sub-assembly operation that would make folding tray tables and arm rests as well as a cut-and-sew operation to make seat covers for the upholstered seating are also being discussed.

"It would make it a more vertically integrated operation, with a quicker turnaround time," he added.

Schrempp said he has been very impressed with the quality of employees Timco has been able to attract to the newly refurbished plant, many of whom are Davidson County residents. He said 60 to 70 percent of the newly hired had been laid off from nearby plants, including the Dell computer plant.

"It's everything we thought it would be," Schrempp said, noting that manufacturing skills, including those in furniture, have served the employees well. "We've got a lot of good people with talent. We're already producing as many seats as our California facility."

Schrempp noted that each production line has 12 stations with computerized instructions at each station to guide workers in assembling about 1,000 parts in a row of three coach seats. He said the company is working with Davidson County Community College on training programs.

One of the earlier hires for the Timco plant, Lisa Essick of Davidson County, said she's happy to cut her commute back from Greensboro to Wallburg and especially pleased to be back in a manufacturing job. She worked at Josten's printing company in Winston-Salem for 23 years, then two years at the Dell plant before it closed. She went back to school for medical records administration but she really wanted to return to a manufacturing setting.

"That was my goal," Essick said. "It's really what I like to do."

http://www.the-dispatch.com

Group of Ministers to discuss Air India’s financial restructuring proposal next week

A proposal for financial restructuring of Air India would come up for discussion at a meeting of a Group of Ministers (GoM) next week, with the national carrier also likely to seek government nod for fleet expansion plan till 2020.

The restructuring plan would also include a proposal for converting its high interest debt to low interest ones and the issuance of a letter of comfort for its lenders - banks and financial institutions, official sources said here.

The restructuring and turnaround plans, vetted by a Committee of Secretaries, would be placed before the GoM.

The letter of comfort is likely to be issued to ensure that banks and FIIs do not classify Air India’s loans as non-performing assets.

Air India Board, which met in August, has decided to go ahead with the acquisition of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft as part of a fleet acquisition programme till 2020 and would be seeking government nod for it, the sources said.

A proposal for equity infusion of Rs. 6,600 crore for the ailing carrier has already been mooted by the Civil Aviation Ministry to enable the airline clear its massive dues. The government has already infused equity worth Rs. 2,000 crore in the last two financial years.

The debt-ridden carrier has outstanding loans and dues of Rs. 67,520 crore, of which Rs. 21,200 is working capital loan, Rs. 22,000 crore is long-term loan on fleet acquisition, Rs. 4,600 is vendor dues and an accumulated loss of Rs. 20,320 crore, latest official figures show.

http://www.thehindu.com

Sparring begins with probe into Chennai airport scare

CHENNAI: A conflict is in the air after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suspended an air traffic control (ATC) officer following an incident that brought three aircraft too close at Chennai airport on September 24. The Air Traffic Controllers' Guild (India) has hit out at the DGCA for not following the procedure before suspending the official.

The ATC had aborted the take-off of a Jet Airways flight to avoid a probable collision with an Air India plane that rejected landing at the last minute. The Jet Airways flight was about to take-off when the pilot saw the tail of an Indigo plane which had not yet vacated the runway after landing a few minutes earlier.

A couple of days ago, the air safety director at DGCA wrote to the official who handled the channel of flights on the day of the incident, saying he had "failed to provide safe air traffic control." This left a few officials angry.

"DGCA can issue such a notice as part of an inquiry, but cannot be judgmental before going through the tape transcripts of the flight operations that led to the incident. This was not done," said D K Behera, general secretary of Air Traffic Controllers Guild (India). "The terminology used in the letter proves a premature approach by the aviation regulatory body."

Some veterans of the sector support this. V Krishnan, a member of the civil aviation safety advisory council, said instead of suspending the ATC officer, DGCA should have suspended the licence of Chennai airport for closing a vital taxi track during the peak hour. "Going through the details of the incident, we can see that the real reason was the lack of taxiways," he said.

A senior DGCA official, who refused to comment on the terminology used in the letter, said the notice was issued only to initiate an investigation into the incident, and but not to blame the official. "Removing the official concerned from tower operations is a routine practice across the world till the investigation is completed," he said.

Behera agreed the letter was a routine, but found the wording implicating the officer was prejudiced. "If DGCA can predict the reason before the investigation and studying the tape transcripts, what is the need for an inquiry," he asked.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Is Kingfisher defaulting on tax deducted at source payment?

NEW DELHI: Battling serious financial troubles, is Vijay Mallya-owned Kingfisher even defaulting on payment of tax deducted at source (TDS)? The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has found that the airline had deducted almost Rs 21 crore in payments made to it for the financial year 2010-11 but the same was not being reflected as tax deposited on its behalf. The authority has now asked Kingfisher to pay this sum to it, along with other dues of Rs 200 crore.

"The TDS certificates were not submitted despite this amount (Rs 20.76 crore) being deducted from the payment made to us. We have asked Kingfisher to pay that amount, along with old dues of Rs 205 crore and interest for three months, failing which we may be forced to take action that may affect their flight schedules," said a senior official. The airline spokesperson did not offer any comment on this issue.

The authority is closely watching if Kingfisher is able to deliver on its promise of clearing the dues from October onwards by paying Rs 10 crore over and above the monthly payment every month. Based on this promise, AAI had removed Kingfisher from cash-and-carry and allowed it to make payments once in every fortnight.

Apart from Kingfisher, the other airline in financial doldrums-Air India-is causing its own share of unique problems to airport operators. The Delhi and Mumbai airports share 46% and 38%, respectively, of their revenue with AAI. "These airports requested us that the share of revenue from AI operations should be collected not on accrual basis but as and when AI pays. The airport managements told us that they often borrow money at hefty rates to pay share from AI's bill-which is not paid on time-to us. But this request has been turned down and the revenue share to be paid to AAI will be on accrual and not receipt basis," the official said. The state-owned airport authority gets about Rs 380 crore and Rs 360 crore every year from the Delhi and Mumbai airports, respectively.

AI owes over Rs 700 crore to AAI but unlike private carriers, the authority is denied permission by the aviation ministry to take any action against the Maharaja - like putting it on cash-and-carry. The national carrier is seeking an upfront support of almost Rs 6,000 crore from the government to clear its dues to vendors like airports and oil companies. "The government must quickly decide on financial support to AI as the uncertainty over payment of huge amounts to suppliers and employees is hurting everyone now. Subtle warnings against taking any step against AI that may hasten its demise won't work for too long as our survival is also at stake," said an airport developer.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Kingfisher Airlines sees exodus of pilots, business may be hurt

Pilots are leaving cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines, which is battling a mountain of debt amid growing competition from nimble rivals, in droves, posing a human resource challenge in critical times. More than 75 of its estimated pilot count of 650 have quit in the last three months.

Such high levels of attrition, experts said, would not only impact the airline's future operations but reflected a lack of confidence among senior technical staff.

The Vijay Mallya-promoted airline, which is India's second largest carrier in terms of the number of passengers carried, has not made a profit since its inception in 2005 and posted a loss of Rs 1,027 crore in the year ended March 31. Its accumulated losses were more than Rs 4,300 crore at the end of the last financial year. Mallya announced last week that it would shut down its low-cost brand, Kingfisher Red, the former Air Deccan it acquired during a heady phase of growth.

Many of those who are quitting would be joining a rival low cost carrier, said company sources.

Aviation experts said the real impact of the resignations would play out two months from now when the notice period of the pilots who have quit starts getting over.

"Kingfisher's operations would be affected enormously when the new Flight Duty Time Limitation guidelines become effective in February 2012," said Captain Mohan Ranganathan, member of a government committee on aviation safety.

"Kingfisher is losing qualified and experienced crew ahead of the winter months when there are going to be delays due to fog and the crew would be stretched beyond normal limit," he said.

"Decisions made in the day-to-day running of the airline are not communicated, shared or discussed externally," Kingfisher said in a terse email reply to questions from HT.

"Pilots can happily ply their trade elsewhere with financially stable and faster growing airlines with better long-term career prospects," said Saj Ahmad, a London-based aviation analyst.

"Kingfisher has reduced fleet from 89 to 66 aircraft over the last 2-3 years and there is not much expansion but consolidation happening at the airline. This means some excess pilots exist with Kingfisher but 75 pilots leaving is a serious issue that could hurt future operations. More importantly, it reflects lack of confidence among the senior technical staff," said Kapil Kaul, South Asia CEO of Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, an aviation consultancy and research firm.

"Kingfisher's fleet must be shrinking and we could well be seeing order cancellations of the A380, A350 and A320s that the airline has yet to pay for and have delivered. With the Indian air transport market undergoing upheaval and changes, we shouldn't be surprised to see more engineers or flight crews leave Kingfisher," Ahmad said.

"Killing off the low-cost arm of its business is likely to fuel the exodus of experienced flight crews to other airlines," Ahmad added.

http://www.hindustantimes.com


2nd aviation company to expand in southeastern Kansas, fueling hope for limping economy

TOPEKA, Kan. — A second aviation components manufacturer in a matter of weeks has announced expansion plans that will bring jobs to southeastern Kansas, a welcome development for the region of the state with the highest unemployment rate.

Valent Aerostructures said Monday that it plans to build a 50,000-square-foot facility at its Fredonia plant by March 2012 and to expand its workforce from 55 employees to 100 over the next few years.

Spirit AeroSystems, which like Valent, makes components for the commercial and military aviation and aerospace industries, said last month that it plans to move into an existing facility in Chanute and to employ 35 people there by the end of 2012 and as many as 150 workers within a few years.

"This part of the state has been aching for good news for three years. It's been a good past couple of months," Sen. Jeff King, an Independence Republican, said Tuesday.

He and three other state senators are working with communities to increase employment, reduce poverty and improve the overall quality of life in the region. King said he's hopeful that airplane manufacturer Cessna will decide to build its new Mustang aircraft at its Independence plant.

"It's my hope that as a region we can come together to leverage this mini aviation cluster," King said.

He and Ann Charles, deputy director of the Great Plains Development Authority in Parsons, said the recent announcements are positive, but that the region will need more of the same if it hopes to improve conditions that declined over decades.

"It's going to be a long-haul thing," said Charles, one of four regional economic advisers working with the senators. "Southeast Kansas didn't become a socio-economic challenge to the rest of the state overnight and we're not going to get out of it overnight."

King and Charles said the region had to accept that new jobs for one community were jobs for the entire region and set aside old grudges. Charles said many of the workers at the Chanute plant would likely live in Labette County, which would have a ripple effect on Parsons and other cities.

"They will be buying homes, cars and spending those paychecks locally," she said. "The best thing we can do as a region is get past the Friday night football rivalries."

King said the region had the potential for growth, citing its competitive wage scale and supply of workers.

"We have a lot to offer. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy," King said. "We need to be less worried about where the jobs locate in southeast Kansas and just that they locate in southeast Kansas."

Commerce Secretary Pat George said the state was able to work with Spirit to find a location in Kansas to expand, instead of creating jobs in another state or country. He would like to see other companies do what Spirit did by finding an empty factory and growing their business.

"I think it's the tip of the iceberg," George said. "Southeast Kansas has struggled for a long time. This is a great win for everyone and I hope other companies will do the same."

King said the region has pulled together in the past as Parsons recovered from a tornado and Coffeyville from flooding. But those relationships were short-term and didn't produce the level of cooperation needed to rejuvenate the area. The region had the highest unemployment rate as a whole in in August in Kansas, with counties ranging from a low of 7.5 percent in Greenwood to 11.2 in Wilson where Valent is locating. The statewide rate was 6.9 percent.

Charles said he doesn't think the region needs government help to reverse its fortunes.

"I see this as being something outside widgets and tools. I see this as a focus on leadership," the former newspaper publisher said. "There may be things we are doing to try to address something ourselves that if we pull our heads together we may not have to reinvent the wheel."

http://www.therepublic.com

Avianova Will Make Final Flights Sunday

The troubled Avianova airline will make its last flights Sunday, before closing shop forever, acting general director Konstantin Teterin told journalists Tuesday.

"From Oct. 9, we will suspend the activities of the airline. All the necessary documents are being prepared for submission to the Federal Air Transportation Agency," he said at a news conference.

The carrier's six Airbus A320 aircraft will be returned to leasing companies, some of whom had launched court bids to repossess them in recent weeks, Teterin said.

He also said there were no plans to start bankruptcy proceedings, despite reports that the airline is effectively out of cash. There are allegations that Alfa Group subsidiary A1, which owns 51 percent of the venture, has rejected buyout offers.

All passengers with tickets booked after Oct. 9 will receive a full refund. Those who bought electronic tickets online should have the cost credited back to their bank accounts within a week, Teterin said.

A1 promised Tuesday to set aside a tranche of money to meet the air carrier's obligations to passengers and continue to pay staff wages for an unspecified period.

Teterin said the airline has sold 67,400 tickets to the end of October and owes passengers about $5 million in refunds.

Avianova's management announced that it was closing down late Sunday as a result of a funding freeze by minority American shareholder Indigo Partners, which holds 49 percent of the airline.

A1 has accused Indigo of refusing to meet obligations to pay the airline's debts and deliberately sabotaging the airline in the interests of its Central European budget airline Wizz Air.

But Dmitry Chernyak, a former managing director at A1 fired by the company in March, said Avianova was already in a financially precarious position this spring, but A1 rebuffed two offers to buy its 51 percent stake in the airline.

Chernyak said the Russian company missed opportunities to refinance the project when it rejected a $33 million offer he put together with the help of an institutional investor in May and a “cost plus 10 percent” buyout offer from Indigo Partners later in the summer.

A1 denied receiving any such offers, telling The Moscow Times that it had "not received any official offers from any authorized structures" for its 51 percent stake in the airline.

"They were unhappy with the project, and one of the things they said was 'if you like it so much, put your money where your mouth is.' So the first thing I did when I got fired was to find an investor," Chernyak said by telephone.

He said A1 called him in September to resurrect the $33 million deal, but by then news that creditors were seeking to repossess the Avianova's aircraft had already destroyed the airline's market value.

"I made a proposal to A1 last week to sell me their stock for $1. That's less than $33 million, but it's better than bankruptcy, disgrace and risk of additional losses from claims of creditors and Indigo," he added.

The $1 offer was not accepted, he said.

It is unclear how the shareholder dispute will end. A1 declined to comment when asked whether it was planning legal action against Indigo Partners.

Over the past several days, Avianova flights from Sheremetyevo Airport have been delayed, and a special headquarters for Avianova passengers has been established at the airport, Interfax reported. The Moscow Interregional Transport Prosecutor's Office has also begun an investigation into the fulfillment of Avianova's legislation on consumer protection.

When asked what would happen to Avianova employees, Teterin said: "They worry me least of all. They are highly professional employees, and the market simply devours people like that."

Indigo has not responded to questions from The Moscow Times.

http://www.themoscowtimes.com