Monday, April 23, 2012

Police, Capital Development Authority lock horns over Bhoja air crash probe: Boeing 737-200, AP-BKC, Flight B4-213, Islamabad, Pakistan


ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad police have been accusing some senior officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) of ‘deliberately’ tampering with the evidences recovered from the site of the tragic Bhoja airlines plane crash that killed all 127 passengers on board.

The police suspect that some high officials of the CDA opened the seal of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recovered by the CDA from the site of the plane crash. A CVR holds the record of the last 30 minutes’ conversation between the pilot and control tower. A senior police official told Pakistan Today that the CDA chairman illegally kept the CVR at his home for more than 24 hours, which raises some serious questions. However, CDA Chairman Engineer Farkhand Iqbal, when contacted, categorically denied this allegation.

Meanwhile, a CDA official on Monday handed over the CVR to the police. Initially, the police refused to take the CVR as its seals were broken. However, later, after the intervention of the police high-ups, Koral police took the CVR into its custody but mentioned in its daily crime diary that the CVR had broken seals.

Reportedly, the police refused to accept the device from the CDA officials, stating that its seals were broken. The police further stated that it was a sensitive issue and the civic body should have been handed the CVR over to the police at once after finding it from the site as it was the second most important evidence after the black box, to find the reasons behind the crash.

The report said that the rescue operation of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Group Captain Mujahid were also among the police when they were in search of the crucial evidences but they could not find it as the CDA had already taken it from the site.

On the other hand, CDA Chairman Engineer Farkhand Iqbal told Pakistan Today that such accusations were made just to get the credit as the CDA, after finding the cockpit voice recorder, handed it over to the group captain of the CAA. He said that it was baseless to say that the CDA had tempered with the CVR, adding that they handed it over to the CAA in its original form after the plane crash incident. “I had not kept it for 24 hours at my home, it is totally a false allegation,” said the CDA chief.

He said that according to the standing operating procedure (SOP), it was the responsibility of the agency which found any clue from the site of the plane crash to hand it over to the officials concerned of the CAA. “That’s why I did the same and handed the CVR over to the CAA instead of giving it to the police and I have written proof of it,” Farkhand said, clarifying that the CDA had not broken the seals of CVR.

Program gives pilots' spouses chance to learn how to land planes in emergencies

The course started April 23, 2012 at Lyncrest Airport, near Winnipeg. 

Updated: Mon Apr. 23 2012 18:10:19

A course believed to be the first-of-its kind in Canada is offering the spouses of pilots the opportunity to learn how to land aircraft in emergency situations.

"It's sort of like wearing a helmet when you're riding a bicycle – just a little bit of insurance," said Jill Oakes, organizer of the Learning to Land program. The program is operating out of the Lyncrest Airport, near Winnipeg. 

The course was spurred by an incident earlier this month in which a Wisconsin woman's 81-year-old husband lost consciousness while flying a plane and died. 

With assistance from another pilot who gave information and talked her down, the woman was able to land the aircraft. 

Darlene Stewart was among a group of women who participated in the Manitoba course on Monday.

While she hopes she never has to land an aircraft on her own, she said she now feels more confident with what she's learned. 

"It's there if I ever need it," she said. 

The course began on Monday and organizers said they'll be holding classes every Monday and Tuesday for the next two weeks.

- with a report from CTV's Jon Hendricks

Diamond DA-42 Avion Multiproposito

April 17, 2012 by volandoxtv
 Entrevista realizada a Diego Ariztegui de ADILAT S.A. en la que nos cuenta sobre el aviĆ³n multiproposito DIAMOND DA-42

Air Line Pilots Association International - Reviews

Reviews are posted anonymously by employees
April 20, 2012


Air Line Pilots Association Int'l – “It was a highly political setting, but an extremely interesting place to work.”

Air Line Pilots Association Int'l Anonymous in Rosemont, IL:   (Past Employee - 2010)

Some of the best reasons to work for ALPA are the salary and benefits package. It was an interesting place to work, even with the highly political atmosphere. For the most part, management was remote and there was a large sense of freedom in how to get the job done. The job encouraged continuing education and skills building.

It was a highly political place to work requiring a keen sense of who to report to depending on the project or political climate. The work at ALPA was for most part reactionary as opposed to cyclical - meaning one worked in a climate of perpetual crisis management.

Advice to Senior Management
My advice would be the suggestion that they treat their long term employees better - they hold the history of the organization, which is essential for the work that is done.


de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300, Trigana Air, PK-YRF: Plane boycott of Papua town leads to lack of supplies

Posted at 23:10 on 23 April, 2012 UTC

Residents of Papua’s highland town of Mulia face decreasing stocks of basic commodities because airlines continue to refuse to fly there 12 days after gunmen opened fire on a plane landing at the town’s airport.

The gunmen shot at the Trigana Air Twin Otter, killing one person and injuring four.

According to the Jakarta Globe Trigana Air and Susi Air say they’ve canceled all flights over concerns about similar attacks despite reassurances and security guarantees from the Papuan administration and police.

Air transportation is the only way to reach the town so basic commodities such as kerosene, drinking water and rice are depleting.

Police have not been able to shed any light on the identities of attackers.

Hawker Beechcraft warns employees of 350 layoffs

April 23, 2012 7:14 PM ET


WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -
Aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft gave 60-day layoff notices to about 350 workers at its plant in Wichita on Monday, about a week after it reported a nearly $633 million net loss for 2011.

The company, which manufacturers business and military aircraft, cited market conditions for the move in a letter sent to employees. The company is struggling under a debt burden of more than $2.33 billion, according to its recent Securities and Exchange filing, and has been renegotiating its debt with its lenders.

"While we have experienced success with our transformation, market conditions are requiring us to adjust our overall production cadence to help ensure the company will compete effectively in the future," company executives said in the letter dated Monday.

"This remains a difficult, unprecedented time for our company, our employees and our industry," they added, asking employees to remain focused on their jobs "as we carry on our effort to become a smaller, more agile company."

The company insisted in an email Monday that the layoffs wouldn't affect its agreement to keep its aircraft operations in Kansas for 10 years as part of a $45 million deal with state and local officials. The company agreed in 2010 to maintain current aircraft lines and keep at least 4,000 jobs in Kansas until 2020.

Phone messages and emails seeking comment from Gov. Sam Brownback's office and from the president of the machinists' union representing Beechcraft workers weren't immediately returned late Monday afternoon.

The company's annual statement, filed with the SEC on April 13, showed losses from operations of $481.8 million in 2011. But those losses swelled to a $632.8 million net loss when adding in other expenses — such as the $135.6 million in interest payments last year by the heavily indebted company, according to the filing.

Hawker Beechcraft's financial woes come as it struggles under a debt burden it has carried since 2007, when Raytheon Aircraft sold off the company. Its SEC report listed a total debt of more than $2.33 billion as of the end of last year.

It's unclear how many employees the company now has in Kansas. As of November, the Wichita plant employed 4,700 workers. Company spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said Monday that she didn't have a current employment number.

According to its SEC filing, the company employs 7,400 people, including workers at its plant in Little Rock, Ark. Beechcraft also has plants in England and Mexico, and has more than 100 service centers worldwide.

Qatar Airways clinches two major awards

Two major accolades have been presented to Qatar Airways at the annual Skytrax 2012 World Airport Awards held in Vienna.

For the second year running, Qatar Airways’ Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport (DIA) has been named World’s Best Premium Service Airport, recognised for its superior Five Star service and excellent customer care.

Qatar Airways-owned Oryx Rotana, a five-star hotel at Doha International Airport, has won the Best Airport Hotel in the Middle East award and ranked 10th best airport hotel in the world – a remarkable feat for a property open only two years.

A favourite among premium passengers worldwide, Qatar Airways’ Premium Terminal opened in 2006 and is for exclusive use by Qatar Airways’ First and Business Class passengers.

It is renowned for its world-class facilities including fine dining, luxurious spa amenities, as well as business facilities for transiting and departing passengers.

Doha International Airport beat two other high-profile contenders for the title of Best Premium Service Airport – Frankfurt Airport’s Lufthansa First Class Lounge and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport’s Thai Airways First Class check-in and lounge facilities – both placed second and third respectively.

The 400-room Oryx Rotana is a leading business hotel with features including six signature dining options, high-tech business facilities, car limousine rental, multi-lingual staff, and wireless Internet connection in all guest rooms.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Baker was delighted on the news of two key airport accolades for the Qatar Airways Group.

“We’re extremely proud of our Premium Terminal, the first of its kind in the world to provide check-in, duty free, fine dining and transit services exclusively for our First and Business Class passengers,” he said.

“Our passengers always comment on how much they enjoy the experience of the Premium Terminal. It really is a one-of-its-kind. Our focus on providing the best service to all our customers is what keeps us ahead of the rest and ensures we remain committed to delivering the ultimate in Five-Star service both in the air and on the ground.

“After all, passengers’ entire journey experience starts at an airport and it is vitally important that airlines and airports deliver what passengers expect.”

Al-Baker added that the Oryx Rotana is a great asset for the company, its first venture into the hotel business in 2010.

Oryx Rotana general manager Kevork Deldelian said that it is a real coup to win the award, given the high level of competition that the hotel faced across the region.

“We are so proud of this award – it symbolises all that we set out to achieve since opening our doors two years ago,” he said.

“Doha is growing at an incredible rate and with so many new hotels and restaurants planning to open, the competition is very high.

“But our commitment to delivering a Five-Star service with the backing our airline parent company and our attention to detail is what makes our hotel a favourite not only among travellers, but locals as well.”

On winning both awards, Skytrax chairman Edward Plaisted said: “We congratulate Doha International Airport and Qatar Airways on this fantastic achievement, winning the Best Premium Service Airport award.

“The Qatar Airways Premium Terminal remains a unique passenger facility worldwide, unmatched in terms of exclusivity and passenger amenities.

“With the New Doha International Airport due to open at the end of 2012, we will watch with interest to check that the quality of product and service remains at this award winning level.”

Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 108 aircraft to 113 key business and leisure destinations worldwide.

Last year was a landmark for Qatar Airways, which inducted 15 new destinations to its network, and won the coveted Skytrax 2011 Airline of the Year Award.

As part of its 2012 expansion programme, Qatar Airways launches flights to a further 11 destinations – Zagreb (Croatia) from May 9; Perth (Australia) from July 3, and others cities during the year, including Mombasa (Kenya), Zanzibar (Tanzania), Helsinki (Finland), Gassim (Saudi Arabia), Belgrade (Serbia), Erbil (Iraq), Baghdad (Iraq), Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), and Yangon (Myanmar).

In February, the carrier launched services to the Azerbaijan capital Baku and Georgia’s capital city of Tbilisi, and last month began flights to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.

Ministry secures $76m BASA funds to fix 11 airports

By Kelvin Osa-Okunbor

The Ministry of Aviation has secured presidential approval to utilise the over $76 million Bilateral Air Services Agreement ( BASA) funds, domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to upgrade the nation’s airports, investigations have revealed.

A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the upgrading which was proposed some years ago could not be executed on account of paucity of funds, as the yearly budgetary sector’s allocation to aviation was too insignificant to execute the projects.

In 2010, the former Minister of Aviation, Mrs Fidelia Njeze, proposed over N91 billion for the re- modeling of about 12 airports but could not execute them owing to paucity of funds.

But the cost was later scaled down to N19 billion under the new dispensation.

The 2012 budgetary allocation for the sector is put at N49.23 billion, an improvement from the N7.14 proposed in the 2011 budget.

The wide gap between the 2011 and 2012 budgetary allocation, experts affirm, is an indication of government’s resolve to address the lingering aviation infrastructure challenges..

The huge increase in budgetary allocation is coming on the heels of the obvious decay in airport infrastructure and air navigation equipment at airports across the country evidently signposting many years of neglect and abandonment.

Experts said that the quantum leap in the budgetary allocation may be coming on the heels of the determination of government to fast track airport re-modeling projects, expected to give a face lift to at least 11 airports.

Speaking over the weekend, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), George Uriesi, said the airports re- modeling projects is being funded from the bilateral air services agreement funds. Though he did not disclose the amount, he affirmed that with the annual budgetary allocation, the airports will be completed in phases.

He said issues of paucity of funds will not stall the projects, as the ministry is set to launch a new agenda on revamping existing infrastructure as part of the agenda to reposition the sector.

Uriesi said FAAN has scaled down the proposed N91 billion to N19 billion.

Also, the Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, confirmed that Nigeria has about $76 million in the bilateral air services agreement account domiciled in the CBN. 

He spoke of plans by the government to utilise part of the funds for the upgrade and rehabilitation of ageing airport infrastructure as well as air navigation equipment.

Among the airports where re- modeling is taking place, is the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.

Second Airport For Samui?

Posted: 24 Apr 2012 | 6:00 am

An article in last week's Bangkok Post which said the Transport Ministry was looking at conducting a study for the feasibility of a new second airport in Koh Samui has created widespread industry speculation.

While the comments by the Ministry stop short specific actions it says that the Airports of Thailand (AoT) are to look for a second location and see whether it's viable to develop a new facility.

Clearly politics are at play as the piece says that the new airport would provide leverage with the AoT in talks with Bangkok Airways who currently operate the island's private airport.

So is this a case of political will or a fishing expedition?

It's hard to say but both the AoT and Transport Ministry are clearly ramping up the issue of high airport fees and limitations on airport traffic.

Looking inside the piece though, one has to wonder is the pressure coming also via legacy carrier Thai Airways who want a bigger share of the island's lucrative market?

One theme throughout the article is the continuous mention of the word monopoly.

Viewing our recent C9 Hotelworks Samui Hotel Market update for last year 2011, the shrinking Thai domestic market is clearly a key indicator that the lack of low-cost airlines is retraining demand for the island.

Bangkok Airways is reportedly launched an IPO this year and any concessions might jeopardize their underlying company value given the Koh Samui route is the airlines most profitable.

Let's see who blinks first in this increasingly political standoff.

FBI and police free to launch drones in sky over U.S. cities

City police forces were also drawing up plans to use the reconnaissance aircraft 

The American skies may soon be full of drones after it was disclosed that domestic law enforcement agencies, from the FBI to local police, have been granted permission to deploy the unmanned aircraft.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show that more than 50 non-military organizations have asked to fly drone aircraft, many of which can carry cameras and surveillance equipment for spying, within the US.

The figures from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group that aims to defend Americans from digital snooping by government, showed that agencies such as the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice had been cleared to launch drones.

More alarmingly, city police forces were also drawing up plans to use the reconnaissance aircraft, which are more usually associated with top secret missions against terrorist suspects in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Police chiefs in Miami, Seattle and even North Little Rock, a city in Arkansas of less than 70,000 people, were all cleared by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to launch drones within their jurisdictions.

A spokesman for the North Little Rock Police Department told the Wall Street Journal that it was only using its unmanned helicopter for training over unpopulated areas but hoped to eventually fly it above crime-ridden neighborhoods and use it to gather intelligence for major drug cases.

In one of the few examples of an application being rejected, the FAA refused to sign off on a request by campus police at the Georgia Institute of Technology, a force tasked with protecting and keeping order among the university’s 20,000 students. In response to the revelation both Democrats and Republicans in Congress last week wrote to the FAA demanding that it take into account privacy concerns before approving deployments.

“We must ensure that as drones take flight in domestic airspace, they don’t take off without privacy protections for those along their flight path,” said Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts who co-chairs the Congressional Privacy Caucus.

Aviation experts blame Civil Aviation Authority for all ills

Imran Adnan

LAHORE - Experts of the aviation industry have called the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Pakistan the mother of all ills plaguing the crucial sector of the country. They believe that the judicial commission was merely an eyewash, as it could not conduct a transparent and independent inquiry.

The experts said the CAA ignored all local and international aviation regulations in giving a go ahead to Bhoja Airline to conduct operations.

They pointed out that Bhoja Airline applied to the CAA for restarting its operations in November 2011 when it had only two aircraft, while the CAA laws indicated that no airline could start operations unless it had a fleet of four aircraft – three for routine operations and one at stand-by.

Sources said the airline got its third aircraft in January 2012 and the fourth aircraft, which was shown in documents as parked somewhere in Dubai, had not reached Pakistan yet. However, in connivance with CAA officials and with due political influence, the airline successfully got an approval for starting its operations, which proved fatal for several families.

They also highlighted that Bhoja Airline was a defaulter and had got a stay order from the Sindh High Court. The CAA should approach the Supreme Court of Pakistan instead of giving a go ahead to start operations, they maintained.

Aviation experts underlined that the primary role of the CAA was to protect the interest of passengers and cargo companies, but in the case of Bhoja Airline, the CAA also set aside the major responsibility and gave licence to the airline for restarting operations.

The experts added that under CAA rules, it was mandatory for all airlines operating in Pakistan to make insurance arrangements with renowned insurance operators in the country, but Bhoja Airline submitted an insurance cover of some unknown Russian underwriter, which offered merely half-a-million rupees of insurance cover per passenger, they maintained.

Commenting on the inquiry commission, they expressed doubts about its transparency, pointing out that Interior Minister Rehman Malik had already said that the management of the Bhoja Airline, including its Managing Director Arshad Jalil, would have representation in the commission along with two retired judges.
“Why do you expect the investigations to be transparent when the accused whose family had 80 percent stakes in the airline will be part of the commission?” they questioned.

In addition, sources pointed out that when same officials were sitting in offices of the Defence Ministry, Interior Ministry and CAA, there could not be a transparent investigation that had a potential to hurt their interests.

Explained: Why World's Fastest Plane Crashed

10:36pm UK, Monday April 23, 2012 

Scientists behind the "world's fastest plane" have revealed it was ripped apart by speeds of around 13,000mph before it plunged into the Pacific Ocean.

The Pentagon hopes the vehicle will eventually be developed to allow it to carry bombs to strike targets anywhere across the globe within an hour.

And in releasing the results of its analysis, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) indicated the test was not the failure it was initially thought to be.

Read more:

Lowcountry Dreamliner ready to roll

Posted: Apr 23, 2012 6:29 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 23, 2012 6:56 PM EDT

By Eric Egan

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) -- Nearly three years after breaking ground in the Lowcountry, Boeing will show off its very first, locally made Dreamliner this Friday.

There are four 787 Dreamliners inside the final assembly plant in North Charleston. One of them is finished and ready for the public to see, in what will be a day to remember for all of South Carolina.

It's a Carolina creation.

"It's a statement that the airplane is compete, all the work that was supposed to be done inside the factory is now complete," said Boeing South Carolina Vice President, Jack Jones. "It will roll out and you will see it in its completed state."

Other Dreamliners have been on display locally in the past. The plane, to be revealed later this week shares the same top of the line features.

According to Jones, the plane's composite material make-up allows for superior fuel efficiency.

The cabin experience, with bigger windows and spacious seating, was designed specifically so the traveler can enjoy the ride.

"The interior cabin has several passenger comfort features that you don't feel today in other aircrafts," he said.

Boeing did not arrive at this point without its share of bumpy air. It included a complaint by the National Labor Relations Board, which questioned the company's motive for coming to South Carolina. Though Jones says his biggest concern was getting the workforce trained.

"If we did get in trouble, if we did have a problem, we had the support of the program in Seattle quickly putting people in airplanes, boots on the ground down here to make sure we keep production going," said Jones.

That focus, says Jones, kept North Charleston on track.

"All the while we knew exactly how we were doing against those scheduled events and as long as we were making those events, making that schedule, the confidence of the company was there," Jones said.

Air India is in line to buy North Charleston's first Dreamliner.

Boeing's next goal is to finish more than three planes at the plant every month, lofty but worthy expectations. The company has already sold 850 Dreamliners.

United Continental Nears Deal With Boeing for Planes

April 23, 2012, 6:05 p.m. ET
The Wall Street Journal

United Continental Holdings Inc. UAL -0.26% will soon finalize a deal with Boeing Co. BA -0.94% for more than 100 of its 737 single-aisle jetliners, according to a person familiar with the matter.

If completed, the deal would mark a significant win for Boeing, which last year placed far behind its European rival Airbus in landing orders for small airliners.

Airbus won more than 1,000 orders for its A320 family of planes last year, while Boeing won roughly half that number. Airbus was very successful with a promised update of the A320, dubbed the Neo, for new engine option. The Neo's success prompted Boeing to abandon plans for an all-new successor to the 737 and instead update it. United will buy Boeing's updated 737 MAX model, according to the person familiar with the talks.

Officials at United and Airbus declined to comment.

The near completion of the talks was reported by Bloomberg News earlier Monday.

A deal with United would be notable in part because the airline currently flies both Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s, as a result of the merger in 2010 of United and Continental Airlines that created what is now the world's largest airline.

While the carrier could have gone with either manufacturer, industry officials had widely expected United to select Boeing planes, in part because the current management comes largely from Continental, which flew only Boeing planes. The Wall Street Journal reported in January that United was likely to select Boeing planes.

But a win was far from secure. Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., EAD.FR -4.36% shocked Boeing last summer by landing a giant order for A320s from AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, which for years had bought only Boeing planes. AMR is now going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, but executives have said the still plan to buy both Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s, as announced.

Former Dublin Airport workers face pension cuts

Pensioners who formerly worked at Aer Lingus, the Dublin Airport Authority and SR Technics are facing a cut in their pensions because of the pension levy.

The news is contained in a communication to all members from the trustees of the joint Irish Aviation Superannuation Scheme.

The scheme handles pensions for employees in all three companies, although SR Technics has now closed.

In it, trustee Brian Duncan says that because of the 0.6% per annum deduction from the pension scheme, the trustees will have to make what he called "modest benefit reductions".

Pensioners will be advised in due course of how the cuts will be implemented.

Mr Duncan notes that between March 2011 and the end of 2011, the deficit in the IASS scheme rose from €343m to around €700m due to disappointing investment returns and lower interest rates in European countries.

While the deficit may have reduced slightly in the meantime, the position remains very volatile.

Talks are underway at the Labour Relations Commission in a bid to agree a strategy to address the deficit.

The talks are crucial because the Government cannot sell its stake in Aer Lingus until the deficit issue is addressed.

Mr Duncan says that current employer and employee contributions are not sufficient to fund benefits.

He also informs members that employers have said that they will not pay additional contributions into the scheme.

Strategies to reduce the deficit include payment of additional contributions, cutting the benefits of those who are currently working and those who have left but deferred their pensions, and the purchase of sovereign annuities for pensioners.

Mr Duncan's document also raises the issue of co-ordination with the State pension.

At present, staff in the scheme who stay until the normal retirement age do not cost the scheme the full price of their pension, as it is offset by the State pension.

However, those who leave early are entitled to both the full pension from the scheme, and the State pension on top.

That has placed an additional burden or strain on the pension scheme.

The DAA pointed out that the operation of the pension scheme was a matter for the trustees of the scheme.

The Director of Human Resources at Aer Lingus, Michael Grealy, said the letter was welcome in that it clarified important issues regarding the pension scheme.

The Chief Executive of the Labour Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey, who is chairing the talks, said he would be recalling the parties at the earliest possible agreed date in a bid to accelerate progress in the negotiations.

He said he also wanted to avoid further speculation on the issue.

Aircraft maintenance not Civil Aviation Authority job, says Defence Minister Ch Ahmad Mukhtar

ISLAMABAD - Defence Minister Ch Ahmad Mukhtar has ‘acquitted’ the Civil Aviation Authority in the plane crash incident, saying responsibility for the aircraft maintenance solely rested with the airline concerned, Bhoja Air, and not the CAA.

“The CAA must not be dragged into this. It was primarily and solely the responsibility of Bhoja Air,” he said in a conversation with this journalist by phone on Saturday.

“I have ordered an inquiry which the CAA has already launched. Quite possibly, it was the bad weather that caused the crash but if there was some technical problem concerning the aircraft crash, Bhoja Air was to be held accountable and not the CAA.”

The minister said he was ‘personally’ monitoring the probe and he would make sure that an impartial inquiry was completed at the earliest. Mukhtar also reiterated that Bhoja Air would be made to pay compensation sum to the victim families. As per existing practice, each bereaved family will receive at least five million rupees from the airline concerned.

“No stone would be left unturned to arrange the provisions of compensation amount for the bereaved families and initiation of strict action against those held responsible in the probe.”

Asked if the probe, that was to be assisted by the UN, found fault with CAA, Mukhtar said, “Whether it’s CAA, Bhoja Air or anyone else, nobody would be spared.”

On the other hand, informed sources in the CAA contradicted the minister’s version, saying supervising the safety standards was the CAA responsibility. “Aircraft maintenance is airline’s job but supervision rests with CAA. Unsatisfactory inspection leaves loopholes that may lead to disaster,” officials commented. “The Friday plane crash incident might be the case of bad weather disaster but in case it’s the result of some technical issue, the CAA would share the blame.”

Earlier on Friday, Bhoja Air Spokesperson Jasir Abro had told The Nation that Boeing 737 that crashed near Islamabad was hit by a cloud burst, known as CB in technical terms.  “Initial findings suggest it was a cloud burst and it could have been beyond the control of any pilot to deal with this kind of situation.” Abro said an inquiry was launched to ascertain the crash cause.

Meanwhile, Director General Pakistan Meteorological Department Arif Mehmood said that PMD had issued two weather warnings to the CAA on Friday before the plane crash had taken place. “Weather was very bad and completely unsuitable for flights so we issued weather alerts containing warnings against aerial flights,” he told The Nation.

CAA DG Captain Nadeem Khan Yousufzai, however, contended that CAA had well devised weather monitoring system and officials concerned kept issuing weather advisories on regular basis. “We also get input from the PMD but our own system is also very reliable. We take precautionary measures when it rains or weather gets bad but nobody could have anticipated a CB. An inquiry is in progress and everything would come clear,” he said while talking to this reporter.

A senior CAA official, requesting anonymity, said cloudburst although posed extreme challenge for the airlines’ pilots yet it could be avoided. “CB is the most challenging climatic condition the pilots confront while leading flights. This can be avoided if pilot keeps his nerves and avoid the route where the CB is prevalent.”

The official said, the captain of the ill-fated flight tried to save fuel and went for emergency landing using shortcut while trying to clear the CB and got trapped in it. “It was best for him to keep flying while avoiding the cloud burst till the weather got clear or to fly to Lahore but he showed haste and paid a very heavy price.”

BA’S Willie Walsh attacks 'damaging' aviation policy

Monday April 23 2012

BRITISH growth is being "undermined by Government policy", the head of British Airways' parent company said today.

Airlines were facilitating growth but the Government had to understand that it was hampering growth, said Dublin-born Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airline Group (IAG).

Speaking at Heathrow airport today, the former Aer Lingus boss Walsh said Prime Minister David Cameron had been promoting UK trade in Asia of late.

Mr Walsh went on: "While the Prime Minister talks about the fantastic opportunities for Britain, it's a terrible shame that Government policy in the UK is damaging our ability to connect with these Asian markets."

Mr Walsh went on: "UK growth is being undermined by Government policy and that's a terrible thing to have to say."

Mr Walsh is keen to see the Air Passenger Duty (APD) airport departure tax scrapped as well as Heathrow being expanded so that Britain can connect with vital Asian markets.

However, the Government has ruled out a third runway at Heathrow.

He said today: "It's a nonsense to say that British business can be competitive if we can't fly to these (Asian) destinations."

Mr Walsh went on: "This is a Government of contradictions. They talk about the importance of competitiveness yet we have APD."

Asked about the ability of Heathrow to cope with the Olympic Games traffic this summer, Mr Walsh said the problem of immigration queues was not just about Heathrow but about "inadequate resources".

He said Heathrow was a "fantastic airport" but efforts to improve things there were being "undermined" by this lack of resources.

Mr Walsh was speaking as US planemaker Boeing showed off its quiet and "green" new airliner, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, at Heathrow today.

BA and Thomson Airways will be receiving the first of their Dreamliners next year, with Virgin Atlantic taking delivery of its first 787 in 2014.

Describing Dreamliner as an exciting new addition to the BA fleet, Mr Walsh said the Boeing 787 would facilitate growth in the UK.

He went on: "The UK Government needs to understand what UK airlines are doing to facilitate growth in the UK and in UK aviation.

"And the Government must understand what it is doing to hamper growth."

Thomson will be the first UK airline to fly the Dreamliner - in May 2013 - and will operate the plane from Gatwick, Manchester, East Midlands and Glasgow airports.

The Thomson 787s can carry 291 passengers. Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines power some of the Dreamliners.

Seattle-based Boeing is showing off its new plane as part of a world tour to promote the Dreamliner which, after numerous production problems, finally entered passenger service last October.

Quieter and around 20% more fuel efficient than corresponding aircraft, the Dreamliner should have started fare-paying flights as early as May 2008.

But it was not until autumn 2011 that Japanese airline ANA became the first to put the 787 into service.

Responding to Mr Walsh's remarks, a Department for Transport spokesman said: "In the summer we will consult on an overarching sustainable framework for UK aviation and alongside this we will publish a call for evidence on maintaining effective UK hub airport connectivity.

"The coalition's position regarding Heathrow has not changed."

'Injured' man to face fraud trial

Senior judges are set to decide whether an aircraft technician from Cheshire filmed carrying out "arduous building and DIY activities" after claiming that an accident at work left him badly disabled attempted to pervert the course of justice and was in contempt of court.

Adam Roberts, 32, of Neston, could be jailed if judges conclude that his damages claim - made after he said he "slipped on debris" while working at Airbus - was fraudulent.

Two judges have given Airbus and insurance firm QBE permission to bring contempt proceedings against Mr Roberts following a High Court hearing in London. They were told that when confronted with footage taken by inquiry agents, Mr Roberts' "reaction was, in effect, to abandon his claim".

Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Burnett concluded that there was a strong prima facie case that Mr Roberts' claim was "to a substantial degree fraudulent" and said it was in the public interest that a trial should take place.

Lawyers say judges are likely to consider at a High Court trial in London later this year whether Mr Roberts tried to pervert the course of justice and was in contempt. If found to be in contempt, he could be sent to prison for up to two years or fined.

Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Burnett heard that Mr Roberts, of Hawkins Road, Neston, told Airbus that he had "sustained an injury at work which involved slipping on debris" in October 2007.

Lawyers for Airbus and QBE Insurance said Mr Roberts claimed damages for loss of earnings, care and support, equipment, adaptations to property, and medication and treatment.

Solicitor David Evans told the court that Mr Roberts claimed he could "only walk short distances and used crutches"; stayed in his room most of the day; had pain across his lower back which radiated down a leg; his wife had to get him in and out of bed, dress his lower half and put on his trousers, socks and shoes and help him with the shower; and he "undertook no household activities whatsoever".

Mr Evans said Mr Roberts "presented himself with a walking stick, moving with discomfort". The two judges were told that insurers suspected Mr Roberts was malingering and had him watched by inquiry agents who recorded his activities. He was seen clearing out a house and carrying baths, the court heard.

Mr Evans, of Liverpool-based law firm Berrymans Lace Mawer, said in a written witness statement: "He was engaged in extensive, vigorous and highly physical work which was wholly incompatible with the assertions of pain and disability he made in his claim. In particular, the defendant was recorded as carrying out arduous building and/or DIY activities."

Making a flying career a reality at Jacksonville University after detours: Aviation program is drawing more people from working backgrounds

BOB SELF/The Times-Union
Jeff Gerbert, a flight instructor, took up flying after retiring. Heather Thetford-Meyer and David Kanbar are both enrolled in the JU aviation program. 

Posted: April 23, 2012 - 12:02am 
Updated: April 23, 2012 - 7:30am 

By Matt Soergel

Most of the would-be pilots in Jacksonville University's aviation program are straight out of high school, making their way through the program with help from parents and scholarships.

But a growing number are older, coming from working backgrounds, coming up with the money themselves — all to one day have the chance to work up in the clouds, far above the rush-hour traffic.

Most of them have been dreaming of flying since they were kids, tilting their heads skyward every time a plane went by.

That was Heather Thetford-Meyer, ever since she was 5, growing up outside Birmingham, Ala. But there wasn't a lot to money to allow her to learn to fly. So she took a detour: She joined the Navy, spending four years as an aircraft mechanic. She got married. She had two children. She got divorced.

That wasn't going to stop her, though: She's now 32, and with help from the GI Bill and good friends who watch her kids, she's less than two weeks shy of graduating from JU's aviation program. With a number of pilot certificates in hand, she's hoping to start off as a flight instructor. After that? Perhaps a commercial pilot, or flying for the Border Patrol or Air National Guard.

And she wants to qualify to do aerobatics and to fly gliders, helicopters and hot-air balloons.

"Flying is just something that has always been dreamed about," Thetford-Meyer said, "and once we have the ability to do it, well. ... It's hard to describe."

The JU program, founded in 1983, has 150 students. Some 120 of them are training to be pilots, flying three days a week when class is in session. The others specialize in airport management or air traffic control.

The training is a considerable investment; on top of tuition, students pay for aircraft rental, instructors and gas. Daryl Hickman, associate director of aeronautics at JU, said the total bill for the flying portion is about $56,000 over the four years of college.

Students are part of the business department and take a full range of classes. "We feel you need more than just some flying certificates," Hickman said.

Student David Kanbar says the training is worth it. Still, he's having a hard time coming up with the money for his senior year and might have to detour back to his first career so he can finish up pilot training.

That would be a drag.

"I've worked the 8-to-5 job. You go to work in the morning, you go home. You go to work in the morning, you go home," he said. "I get sick at looking at the same thing every day."

Kanbar is just 25, but he had worked in construction management since he was 17. He'd supervised the building of homes and the renovation of medical buildings while earning a couple of associate's degrees.

He'd always wanted to be a pilot, though, so after getting laid off from his construction job, he enrolled at JU.

The program is demanding. "You have to study. You can't just wing it," he said, inadvertently punning.

The older students are invariably really serious about it, said Jeff Gerbert, a flight instructor at Craig Municipal Airport. He works for Aeroism, a private company contracted to give flight training to JU's students.

He sees himself in those students: He was a Jacksonville firefighter for 35 years before retiring, and he was always looking skyward.

Gerbert is 57. He had gone to JU in 1973 and 1974, taking Navy ROTC. He joined the fire department, though, after finding out his eyes weren't good enough for him to be a Navy pilot.

As a teenager, crazy about the space program, he had taken flying lessons at Craig, using money from his grocery store job, hiding that fact from his father. Almost 20 years ago he got his pilot's license, and then spent about $100,000 — while still a firefighter — to qualify to become a flight instructor. He started that job in December.

Was the effort worth it?

"I go up, it's just gorgeous. You look down, you see all the traffic, and you're wrapped up inside that cloud, and everything you've learned is on you," Gerbert said.

He's talking while standing next to his minivan with the "I'd rather by flying" license plate frame.

Yeah, he said. It was worth it.


Aviation Outlook Improves But Fuel Costs Weigh -International Air Transport Association

April 23, 2012, 8:13 a.m. ET 

DOHA (Zawya Dow Jones)--Airline industry confidence has improved over the last three months with a pick up in passenger traffic and a rosier cargo outlook, although high-fuel costs continue to dog the sector, aviation's industry body said Monday.

Improving economic conditions in the U.S. and robust emerging markets have supported air travel over the last quarter, the International Air Transport Association, or IATA, said in its quarterly business confidence index.

However, input costs stayed high in the first quarter of 2012 and are likely to keep rising throughout the year, the report said.

"Given the recent spike in oil prices and continued uncertainty about the situation in Iran, the expectation is for a significant increase in input costs over the next 12 months," IATA said.

-By Alex Delmar-Morgan, Dow Jones Newswires

Opinion/Letter: New reasons to try Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (KAVP), Pennsylvania

Published: April 23, 2012 

Orlando, Fla., long has been the leading destination for leisure travelers using the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport. But the airport long has had trouble attracting, and then sustaining, direct service.

Last week, the airport announced that a long-sought discount carrier, Allegiant Air, will offer twice-weekly direct flights from AVP to Orlando, beginning June 21.

That service is the latest in a series of reasons for local travelers to take a fresh look at the region's airport when considering air travel, rather than looking first to airports in the Lehigh Valley, the New York area and Philadelphia.

Decisions to use other airports are driven, of course, primarily by cost. As a discount carrier, Allegiant's service to Orlando promises to be highly competitive. Ideally, its presence also will place downward pressure on fares charged by other carries that offer one-stop Orlando service through various hubs.

The new service also was announced at the dawn of the summer travel season. Several factors also should prompt local travelers to look at the AVP option in terms of total cost, rather than in terms of airfare alone.

At nearly $4 a gallon, the cost of gasoline alone could eliminate the airfare savings to be gained by driving past AVP to more distant airports. The cost of long-term parking at the big metropolitan airports also is substantially higher than at AVP.

In some cases, the service and prices available at AVP still do not match up with the competing airports, but that truly is on a route-by-route, fare-by-fare basis.

The success of AVP is a key element in the long-term economic success of Northeast Pennsylvania. Local travelers can contribute to that success by giving AVP a first look when they plan to travel.

Story and comments:

Opinion/Letter: Caribbean Airlines ground staff at Piarco behaved callously

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dear Editor,

Yesterday morning, Sunday April 22nd, I arrived on Caribbean Airlines Flight 662 at Piarco International, Trinidad and Tobago as an in transit passenger. As far as one can tell, most in transit passengers coming through this airport are either headed to Guyana or coming from Guyana. Perhaps this explains the behaviour of the ground staff.

In order to get to the in transit lounge, one has to take a small elevator that can hold no more than about 10 – 12 persons (frequently less, depending on how much hand luggage people have). This means a number of trips to clear one full flight coming from Guyana; an architectural design that I would respectfully submit makes absolutely no sense.

The small delay that this requires is, however, compounded by the attitude of the ground staff, since one cannot get to the lounge without them using their key to operate the elevator. This has not been the first time that I have noticed that they behave as if attending to those coming from and heading to Guyana is the last priority. After waiting more than ten minutes for the elevator (by now at the end of a long line of passengers, including the elderly and at least one woman with a young child in her arms), I approached the in transit desk where a young man and woman were casually talking and one presumes completing paperwork on the flight. The young woman – I hope Caribbean Airlines gets a copy of this letter and checks to see who was on duty this morning – looked irritated at being interrupted, and rather than apologizing to those of us in the line, informed me in a dismissive tone that we had to wait for the elevator. At this point I responded that Trinidad and Tobago must be the only airport where there is one small elevator to take all in transit passengers to the lounge, and likely the only place where it took more than ten minutes for an elevator to take passengers up one floor.

The point I want to make is that the ground staff operate the elevator. Professionalism and good service would suggest having someone promptly getting people upstairs, in order to clear the line as quickly as possible. In other words, the delay was simply due to the don’t give a damn attitude of those who had to deal with us. I should point out that after I spoke, and others in the line joined me in loudly expressing their displeasure at the treatment, the young woman sullenly walked over, stayed by the elevator door, and got everyone upstairs (three to four trips) in less than five minutes.

Perhaps if those in transit passengers looked different, or were coming as tourists from outside of our one Caribbean, an airline that sees itself as the flagship of the region would have been bending over backwards to accommodate them. Instead we are being asked to wait, and when we refuse to accept this treatment, we are seen as the ones with the problem.

I want to tell my fellow Guyanese that when this happens to you, do not remain quiet. You have paid for your ticket and your seat on that plane, and you are entirely within your rights to demand a level of professionalism and service as a customer. To the gentleman who furiously said at one point, “we should treat them like this,” as tempting as this seems, this is not the answer. We should model the change we want from others, and never repeat the mistake or original injury because we all lose out in the end.

To the Caribbean Airlines female ground staff who hails from Trinidad and Tobago, and who rudely commented to passengers “obviously the first time you have been on an elevator” when they did not press the button for the first floor (she had not  told them to, and they did not do anything because they assumed she was operating the elevator), Caribbean Airlines should tell us if this is how they train their personnel. Or if perhaps in training school they are told that this is how one should treat Guyanese. They should instruct the young woman – and it should not be difficult to identify her given that I have indicated the date and time of our arrival – that decency does not come from the fact that she was dressed up in a nice uniform, wearing heels, and speaking proper English.

Decency has to do with how you treat and respect persons, and in this case especially when you are the face of an airline that calls itself our regional carrier, her attitude was positively indecent.

Yours faithfully,
Alissa Trotz

Story and comments:

Opinion/Letter: Oshawa airport can accommodate growth without extending runway

To the editor: 

Re: Oshawa airport.

The airport has been a white elephant running at an annual deficit of about half a million annually. Mayor John Henry tried to stop the bleeding and asked his staff what needs to be done to turn this around.

City staff, the airport manager and some of the airport stakeholders recommended extending the main runway so that they could sell more fuel. Currently with the 4,000-foot runway they are limited by weight and subsequently the amount of fuel an aircraft may carry.

Unfortunately, the runway is proposed to be extended approximately 800 feet to the southeast, bringing this within 500 feet of homes on Jane and Glencairn. If this is not illegal it should be immoral. Previous studies stated that the current length of the runway served as a natural barrier for this integrated airport located inside residential neighbourhoods with very little buffer.

Once residents found out what was going on it opened up quite a can of worms for the mayor. Staff should have focused on internal airport efficiencies; things like airport user fees and land values. Are we getting market values? Now we are spending another $25,000 to conduct open houses for residential input. This plays right into the hands of the airport proponents, gives them the opportunity to further brainwash the few who attend, making the neighbours look like NIMBYs, against economic development. They also claim the longer runway is safer. Is it not safe now? Both Buttonville and Toronto Island airport have runways shorter than Oshawa. The current airport can accommodate increased business from the Buttonville closing without extending the runway. Neighbours love the airport the way it is.

In summary we have a special interest group wanting to increase their personal profits by selling more fuel at the expense of extending the runway well into the neighbouring houses with the taxpayer footing the bill.

John Vanderhorst


Story and comments:

Four Corners Regional (KFMN), Farmington, New Mexico: Airport considers two finalists for manager position

By Kurt Madar, 
Posted:   04/23/2012 01:29:20 AM MDT

FARMINGTON — Farmington officials have narrowed the search for an airport manager to two candidates, and experts say whoever is hired will be walking into a facility that is bucking national trends.

Todd Gressick and Bill Turner were in town Tuesday to meet city officials, airport users and attend a City Council meeting.

The two candidates were picked from a pool of 30, and according to Assistant City Manager Bob Campbell, who is also the interim airport manager, the city will make a final decision on Wednesday.

"They both brought a wealth of knowledge and they both brought a great deal of experience working at airports and either one would be a good addition to our community," Campbell said. "I'm sure that either one of the two would continue to move the airport forward. It's going to be a hard choice."

The two men come from opposite sides of the U.S. and have more than 20 years of experience between them.

Gressick manages three airports in Delaware for the Delaware River and Bay Authority.

"They are probably about the same size as Farmington," Gressick said. "I'm very interested in the Farmington area. It's a great area and there is a lot of opportunity and challenges for the airport."

If hired, one of Gressick's big pushes would be to use the airport to spur economic development in the area.

"It would be a matter of partnering with the Chamber of Commerce, the economic development people, the county and the Durango airport," Gressick said. "My goal would be to maintain the service the airport currently has, and if there is room for expansion, to capture that as well."

One of the areas Gressick would like to see expansion is in the general aviation side of things.

"I would try to bring in some more corporate and single-engine aircraft," Gressick said. "I've brought some rather large organizations into the airports I manage right now. I brought in Hawker Beechcraft, a repair center for that type of aircraft on the East Coast."

Gressick sees the biggest challenge to Four Corners Regional Airport being its image.

"Definitely the airport has been in the paper a lot for not meeting the needs of the population there and it has a bad rap with Great Lakes," Gressick said. "It would be my goal to improve that."

Turner manages the Imperial County Airport and Holtville Airstrip in Southern California.

"As far as landmass, it's actually bigger than Four Corners Regional Airport," Turner said. "The terminal area is slightly smaller. We see upwards of 7,000 enplanements a year."

Four Corners sees approximately 17,000 enplanements a year, and they have steadily increased since falling sharply in 2008.

"We were up 15 percent last year," Turner said. "Given the state the industry is in that's unusual, but we have started a marketing program to work on the issue."

Turner has approximately seven years of experience managing airports. Before that he was an air traffic controller, worked for the Army and ran his own aviation business.

If hired, his big push would be to increase the marketing for the airport.

"I would like to get the community more involved and to recognize the value of what they have," Turner said. "I would try to get Fed Ex or UPS to move to the airport and actually lease property."

Turner also feels that it would be important to partner with other airports in the area.

"I think the challenge to the airport is to somehow make it more receptive to commercial air travel," Turner said. "It would increase the number of operations out of the airport. The second challenge is involving people in the ownership of the airport."

Turner believes that there is a lot of contention between the airport users and the city that could be alleviated.

"I would like to reduce contention and make both sides work together," Turner said. "The tenants seemed to have a range of concerns and my goal would be to bring the two sides into a more symbiotic relationship."

Whichever candidate is chosen will be taking charge of a facility that is bucking national downward trends.

Mike Boyd, of Boyd Planning International, a consulting firm on the state of the aviation industry, gave a presentation on national aviation trends to the Farmington City Council on Tuesday. While the national picture is one of shrinking service, Farmington has seen just the opposite.

"Communities all across the country are losing air service," Boyd said. "I am talking about local airports. We have some regions that have real issues."

According to Boyd, losing air service is a big hit to potential economic growth.

"If a business person can't get here easily, they're not going to come, not going to put in a factory," Boyd said. "They have to be able to get here from London, from Shanghai."

Fortunately for Farmington, Boyd doesn't see the area losing its air service any time soon.

"The good news is that you're not going to lose any access," Boyd said. "The future here is very bright. Four Corners is going up significantly and what this says is that you're not going to get cut off."

Transaero to bring stranded Russian tourists back home

Transaero air company is ready to bring the Russian tourists, who are stranded in Israel, back to Moscow on favorable terms, a spokesman with the company said Monday.

On Sunday, 50 tourists, clients of the Ideal World tour operator failed to fly back to Russia from Tel Aviv. Their booking was annulled because the tour operator had not paid for the tickets.

The officials of the Russian consulate in Yaffa helped tourists with accommodation.

Part of the tourists was accommodated in an orthodox monastery in Yaffa.

It has been announce that the Ideal World tour operator stopped his activities due to financial problems.


Bhoja Air's office raided

KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday raided Bhoja Air's office and took all the records into custody, sources said.

According to FIA sources, a team of FIA corporate crime circle branch conducted raid at Bhoja Air's office at Sharea Faisal and taken all the record of the airline into custody. They said the FIA team also quizzed Farooq Bhoja about the airline's operations.

Replying to a question, sources dispelled the impression that Farooq was detained for interrogation. They said saying the FIA could not arrest anyone before registering the case. They said the FIA has presently not registered any case but just initiated inquiry in this connection. Moreover, sources said the name of Bhoja Air owner was put on Exit Control List (ECL). However, Farooq Bhoja has assured the FIA team of full cooperation, sources added.

Meanwhile, the remains of at least 36 passengers were sent to Karachi on Saturday. The first flight PK-309 landed at Karachi airport with six bodies around 1pm. The victims have been identified as Imran Waheed, Rao Muhammad Irfan, Tasneem Begum, Raza Ali Khan, 60, Abbas Ali Somroo and Chand Babu. The victim Imran and Rao were business partners and were the residents of North Nazimabad while Tasneem was Imran's aunty and was residing in Malir.

The deceased Raza, who was resident of Gulshan Iqbal Block 10, was laid to rest at Wadi-e-Hussain graveyard. The body of Abbas, who was a trader in Badin, was sent to his hometown while the funeral prayers of Chand were offered near his residence in Model Colony and later was buried in a local graveyard.

The second flight PK-369 landed at Karachi at 5:30pm with nine more bodies - Javeed Iqbal, a newlywed couple Sajjad and Samiya Rizvi, Syed Umar Ali, Qari Abdur Rehman, Musarat Shaheen, Irfan Ali, an infant Rehan Ali and Mustafa Sayal. Victims Sajjad and Samiya, residents of Jaffar Tayyar Society, Malir were on honeymoon.

The deceased Syed Umar, who was resident of Gulshan Iqbal Block 6, had recently landed in Karachi after completing engineering from Singapore. He was also going to get married within a month. Similarly, the family of Head Education of Jamia Banoria Qari Abdur Rehman was also included in the list of bereaved families.

The bodies of Muhammad Sohail and his cousin Farooq Ahmad were also sent to Karachi. The victim Farooq, who was the resident of Ranchor Line area, was said to be the activist of MQM.

The remains of another newlywed couple Tanveer and his wife Sadaf, airhostess Sanam, Muhammad Adil Khan, Azizur Rehman, Nihal Alvi, Farah Sajid, Rasheed, Habib ur Rehman, , Nasreen were landed at Karachi through PK-309 at 9pm.

The body of a scrap dealer Altamash was among seven others including Ghazala Malik, Rafique Bhatti, Amir Akram, Zubaida Fareed, Shaheen Bano, Nizamuddin and Muhammad Rafiq, who were dispatched through the Bhoja flight B-216 at 10pm. The deceased Altamash was the resident of Block 18, Samanabad and was also the worker of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Man losing cancer battle wants airline to change policy - Company says all fights are non-refundable

Jerry Meekins
Photographer: WFTS


CLEARWATER - A Clearwater man with only months to live is not just fighting a terminal illness, he's also in a battle with an airline company. 

 Jerry Meekins booked a flight with Spirit Airlines and says he only has one request that the company rejected.

When the 76-year-old Meekins purchased a ticket last month to fly out of Tampa International in May, it was before he learned his cancer turned terminal.

When he asked Spirit Air for a refund, the company told him no. Now he is fighting -- not about the money, he says, but the principle.

"It isn't about the $197. Believe me. I'd love them to donate it to wounded warriors," the Vietnam vet said.

Meekins currently serves as commander of his American Legion post in St. Petersburg.

But he just learned that role will be cut short.

Doctors just gave him a bad report about the cancer he's battled for 2 months.

"She {the doctor} said ‘there's nothing else we can do. You've got a couple months, go enjoy yourself’," he explained.

Two months earlier, Meekins booked a plane ticket to New Jersey to visit his daughter.

"My daughter is having surgery. She lives alone so she needed someone when she's released form the hospital to take her home and care of her for a few days,” he said.

His doctors told him his immune system isn't strong enough to handle the flight.

So he called Spirit.

"I explained my circumstance to him. He said ‘what we'll do is give you a credit for the future’. I said ‘don't you understand what I'm saying?’"

We contacted a Spirit Airlines spokesman Misty Pinson Sunday who told us all Spirit tickets are non-refundable. She says the company can't make exceptions or it could cause higher air fares for everyone. Pinson says Spirit does, though, offer insurance options at the time of booking to help avoid travel mishaps.

"I'm not going to be here,” Meekins added.

He says he had no idea he'd receive a terminal report before he booked his ticket and says at this point, a future flight won't do him any good.

"My response to that was ‘what are you going to do fly my casket up to Atlantic City?’"

Southwest, American, and Delta are among the airlines that will consider refund requests for non-refundable flights. Jet Blue says customers must pay a $100 fee to cancel non-refundable tickets