Kingfisher came inch closer to buying SpiceJet

Kingfisher Airlines is close to acquiring a controlling stake in another low-cost carrier SpiceJet.

The deal will value SpiceJet around $300 million dollars. It is likely to be a cash-and- share swap deal.

Mallya is likely to acquire 26% stake in SpiceJet, and make an open offer for an additional 20% stake. He is also likely to retain Spice as the low-cost carrier of Kingfisher Airlines

If the deal goes through, Mallya, through Kingfisher Airlines, Deccan and Spice, will control 40% market share beating Jet (along with Sahara), which has a market share of 33%.

It will also give Mallya the position to dominate fares in the marketplace. Currently, because of the low cost airline fares, Kingfisher and Jet are forced to sell tickets below cost.

SpiceJet is a fairly well run, lean operation with the smallest loss in the industry. Experts say it will give Kingfisher the right product in the low cost space. And, of course, access to trained manpower.

What may not work too well for the two airlines is the fact that they operate different fleets. Spice flies Boeing while Kingfisher is an Airbus customer. So, there are no clear synergies in operations. Analysts say if the two airlines continue to function separately, it will not pose a big challenge for Mallya.

If the deal does fructify, it could change the aviation landscape in the country and make the airline industry more viable.

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American School of Aviation became biggest aviation scam of our times


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This whole issue of American School of Aviation has become such an important issue for all of us in travel industry that we cannot just let it go. I was most concerned by the reports being published in American media which are very disturbing. According to some dropouts and current students of ASA which are right now hanging out in USA, this whole school is turning out to be one of the biggest scam in aviation history of USA and one of the biggest damage ever done to the Indian students by their own countrymen Manpreet ‘Prince’ Singh. With all due respect to all of you guys and gals who successfully completed your training from Amercan School of Aviation, I’m not sure whether you’ll be allow to fly in coming days as there are complaints which are suggesting that pilots were not given anough time in air.

Amarnadh Kachepalli, a 26-year-old student from Andhra Pradesh, a state in India, left the school in March after three months because he only spent one hour in the sky training.

“There’s no education at all,” he said. “There’s no flying.”

Kachepalli said he believes he should have recorded about 80 hours in that time. School officials assured him that he could earn his pilot’s license in six to eight months, he said.

Each student needs to spend about 200 hours in the sky and the same amount on the ground to qualify for license, Kachepalli said. Most of the early coursework is done in the classroom.

A commercial license typically requires a year’s worth of training, he said.

Kachepalli has been contacting various local, state and federal agencies as well as the Indian Consulate to see if they can force the school to return about $52,000, which includes his tuition, living expenses and the cost to transfer to a different school.

He holds a master’s in business administration and said he left his job working for a hospital to come to America for a year.

ASA is also being sued for $56,000 in unpaid fuel bills.

Gemini Flight Support, which sells gasoline at the former Air Force base, filed a complaint Thursday in Merced County Superior Court against American School of Aviation.

It alleges that a $24,400 check from the school bounced May 19 due to insufficient funds. ASA also has about $32,000 in outstanding invoices, according to the complaint.

“A check of this size being returned is more than what we can bear,” Gemini Flight Support vice president Jim Price said. “Given the price of fuel, we just absolutely can’t afford to carry that kind of a debt load.”

The flight school will also be investigated to see whether it was an accounting error or if the company knew the check would bounce, said Tom MacKenzie, spokesman for the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.

The court case is among the recent issues with the flight school, which primarily trains foreign students, often from India, to become commercial pilots. It’s been at Castle Commerce Center since 2005.

County officials grounded its flights earlier this month because the school no longer had a valid insurance policy, and Merced city leaders found that ASA was using its airport as makeshift training ground without a necessary business license.

Also, a few students have been demanding that their tuition be returned because they’re unsatisfied with the amount of time they spent in the sky. A couple of others have won small claims against the school.

Last month, a judge awarded student Shailendra Kapoor $7,500 for breach of contract and emotional stress, according to Merced court records. Tuition for a pilot’s license can run about $40,000.

ASA president Manpreet Singh, who typically goes by Prince Singh, only responded by e-mail. He was served with a copy of the lawsuit late in the day and didn’t respond for comment about the civil case.

Earlier in the day, he wrote that about 5 percent of the students are unhappy or drop out because their learning style doesn’t match up with the American School of Aviation’s standards.

“And this is quite normal and expected,” he wrote.

The business is in the middle of a restructuring so it can train more students. It’s preparing to move to a larger building at the former U.S. Air Force base. By August, Singh hopes to train about 300 students at a time.

County spokesman Mark Hendrickson said Castle managers grounded the school’s flights May 15 when they learned the business’ insurance policy had lapsed.

The county could have been held liable had any of the flights crashed. The ban was lifted Thursday when the school showed Castle officials that it had a new insurance policy, Hendrickson said.

Prince  Singh denied that the county ever grounded the school’s flights. The school’s planes were spotted at Merced Municipal Airport last week in the midst of the county’s flying ban. The city airfield was being used as a makeshift school until Thursday, city spokesman Mike Conway said. Airport officials were unsuccessful in contacting the school’s managers.

ASA was operating without a business license, Conway said, which amounts to a misdemeanor. The city’s evaluating whether to call for an investigation. Stan Thurston, Gemini’s president, said he heard from a school manager that it was going to suspend its operation until next week. He won’t be selling the school any gasoline until the court case ends, either by a judge’s decision or when the school pays its outstanding bills.

Air India pilots fell asleep during Dubai – Jaipur – Bombay Flight.

One of the horrors of air-travelers came alive when an Air India Jaipur-Bombay flight flew well past its destination with both its pilots fatigued and fast asleep in the cockpit. When the pilots were finally woken up by anxious Bombay air traffic controllers, the plane was about half way to Goa. This dream come true sleep in the sky occurred on the domestic leg of a Dubai-Jaipur-Mumbai flight with about 100 passengers on board.

“The plane took off from Dubai at 1.35am local time and then from Jaipur at 7am. “After operating an overnight flight, fatigue levels peak, and so the pilots dozed off after taking off from Jaipur,” one of the horrified passenger told media men at the Bombay airport after safe landing.

The aircraft was supposed to take a designated route to Bombay — and since it was on autopilot, it headed in that direction.

“It was only after the aircraft reached Bombay airspace that air traffic controllers realized it was not responding to any instructions and was carrying on its own course,” said the passengers.

SecondCity was told by an air traffic controller, “The aircraft should have begun its descent about 100 miles from Bombay, but here it was still at cruising altitude. We checked for hijack and when there was no response we made a SELCAL (selective calling).”

Every aircraft has its own exclusive code. When the ATC uses this high frequency communication system — which it does very rarely and only when other communication draws a blank — a buzzer sounds in the cockpit.

Jolted by the sound of the SELCAL buzzer, the pilots woke up and brought the plane back to Bombay safely.

On the other hand General manager of Bombay aerodrome, M G Junghare, denied that the pilots were asleep behind the control column.

“The aircraft had a radio communications failure and so could not be contacted. It had gone only 10 or 15 miles off Bombay and after we ascertained that it was not hijacked we made the SELCAL,” he said.