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Air India Express bags CAT-III-B certification

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Air India Express (AIE), the overseas budget arm of Air India, has secured the Category III-B certification from regulator DGCA, which allows it to operate in dense foggy conditions. Air India Express flights can now land and takeoff in low visibility conditions even up to an RVR (runway visual range) as low as up to 50 m, the airline said. The airline is now 100 per cent CAT III-B certified and all its pilots have also completed the low visibility training, required for carrying out operations in foggy conditions.

Domestic airlines are required to deploy only CAT-III compliant planes and crew trained to fly under low visibility conditions while operating in and out of a CAT-III. At present, only three airports – New Delhi, Jaipur and Lucknow – are CAT III-B compliant aerodromes.

The fog season in the North generally sets in from the first week of December every year. The airline is also qualified for LVTO (low visibility take-off) of up to 125 m, which will avoid delays during foggy days, Air India Express said. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the disinvestment-bound national carrier, Air India Express operates around 555 departures a week, connecting 16 cities to 13 destinations in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

The airline has a fleet of 23 Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft, six of which are brand new. As much as 60 per cent of this capacity is deployed from the three airports in Kerala alone.

In another development, senior IAS officer Pradeep Singh Kharola has been appointed as the new chairman and managing director of disinvestment-bound Air India. Kharola would take over as the CMD of the flagship carrier from Rajiv Bansal, who was given an extension only last week. A 1985-batch Karnataka cadre officer, Kharola would be steering the national airline at a time when the government has started the process for its strategic disinvestment.

Kharola has been appointed as the CMD of Air India in the rank and pay of Secretary to Government of India, an official release said. He has been the managing director of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation since February 2015.

Among others, Kharola has worked in various posts in Karnataka, including as the chairman of Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation. He has also served as principal secretary to the Karnataka chief minister.