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Jet Airways: One step closer to creating history

The proving flights of Jet Airways, in its new avatar, have taken to the skies. After a minimum of 5 such proving flights are flown without any adverse events, the airline can receive the Air Operating Permit (AOP).

May 05, 2022 / 07:43 PM IST
Jet Airways took to the skies again after a gap of more than three years (Image: jetairways/Twitter)

Jet Airways took to the skies again after a gap of more than three years (Image: jetairways/Twitter)

On April 27, 2022, Sanjiv Kapoor, the newly-appointed CEO of Jet Airways, confirmed on Twitter that VT-SXE is indeed the aircraft that will be deployed for proving flight to regain Air Operating Permit (AOP). This afternoon, VT-SXE took to the skies for a flight over Hyderabad. The aircraft had been grounded since December last year at the GMR MRO at Hyderabad. The aircraft is then headed to Delhi where it will do its proving flights.

As the flight took off today, the airline in its new avatar is a step closer to creating history. No airline in India has been able to restart operations after the suspension of operations. This also comes in the backdrop of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) law which was enacted in 2016 and subsequent proceedings at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

The aircraft in question, VT-SXE, started its life as VT-JGU, delivered to Jet Airways in February 2007. The 15-year-old aircraft moved to SpiceJet, one of the 30 aircraft which SpiceJet took over from Jet Airways. It was then registered as VT-SXE in July 2019. Since December 2021, the aeroplane has been in Hyderabad, shows data from the flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.

Proving flights up next?

DGCA expects five proving flights before the AOP can be granted. Proving flights are the last of multiple stages of a lengthy process involved in securing an Air Operator Permit (AOP). The DGCA’s Civil Aviation Policy CAP 3100 stipulates that the airline ‘will be required to conduct a minimum of five flight sectors on intended routes, with a total duration of not less than 10 flight hours’. However, CAP 3100 is a guideline and DGCA CAR Section 3, Series C - Part II allows DGCA to approve the licence without a proving flight.

Close

AirAsia started operations in June 2014. Its proving flights were conducted in the first week of May 2014. The routes flown were Chennai-Cochin, Cochin-Bangalore, and Bangalore-Chennai: all planned with a 25-minute turnaround time on the first day and Chennai-Kolkata-Chennai the next day.

Vistara on the other hand operated Delhi-Mumbai-Ahmedabad-Delhi on the first day with Delhi-Jaipur-Delhi being completed the next day to complete the five proving flights. These flights were conducted on December 4, 2014 and December 5, 2014.

Who gets to be on the proving flights?

Representatives of the regulator and airline staff are part of the proving flights. Airline staff occupy the seats as if they are normal passengers. The service standards are tested and situations could be simulated to check if the response is as per the manuals submitted by the airline to the regulator. If no deficiencies are found, the path gets clear for the AOP, otherwise it could be another round of proving flights for the airline.

In the past two cases, it took just a week between proving flights and approval of AOP.

Proving flights are not the destinations 

A proving flight could include a destination the airline wants to start operations to, but not necessarily at the time of starting the operations. Vistara, for example, operated its proving flight to Jaipur -- a city it does not serve even now.

Once the AOP is in hand, the airline can formally request for clearance of slots at airports and file a schedule with the DGCA, which when approved can be open for sale. While the time between opening the flight for sale and the actual flight is very less, airlines are keen to get going rather than wait for loads to build up.

Route selection leads the path to profitability or losses and the route space will be closely watched. It is after a long time that a new airline is starting which is backed by a large group or individual.

Tail note

The airline is left without its historic slots and bilateral rights, but as it resurrects, it should have the funds which will help it sail through for a couple of years. As for slots and bilaterals, Jet Airways will be in queue to get those when it completes the 20-aircraft mark in Indian skies, as per rules.

By then, the landscape in Indian aviation could very well be different than what it is right now, and that could open a window of opportunity for Jet Airways. Will we witness history? We will know soon.
Ameya Joshi runs the aviation analysis website Network Thoughts.
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