Today, India, for the size that it is, has only four airlines that fly international: Full service carriers (FSCs) Air India and its subsidiaries, and Jet Airways, and Low cost carriers (LCCs) SpiceJet and IndiGo. This is in contrast to the 10 airlines that operate domestic scheduled services in India, today. While Indian carriers flew 81 million domestic passengers in calendar year 2015 (CY2015), Indian carriers flew only 18 million passengers in the same period.
Only two airlines/airline groups operate short, medium and long haul international services: Air India and Jet Airways. Both airlines have diverse fleets: from short haul domestic ATR 72 turboprops to long haul international Boeing 777s. The LCCs in contrast have narrowbody jets that can cater only to short haul international services.
Due to the limitations of fleet and perhaps the lack of commercially attractive international destinations, LCCs IndiGo and SpiceJet deployed only 4.8% and 9.5% of their total flights on international, in CY2015. In contrast, Jet Airways (Including operations from the Jetlite AOP) deployed 22.1%, while Air India (Including Air India Express and Air India Regional (Alliance)) deployed 32.7% of its total flights on international. Air India and Jet Airways together contribute to 84.5% of all international departures by Indian carriers, while IndiGo and SpiceJet contribute to just 8.8% and 6.8% respectively.
This statistic shows IndiGo and SpiceJet are very small players in the international front, serving destinations at neighbouring countries. IndiGo operates only to five international destinations: Kathmandu (Nepal), Muscat (Oman), Singapore (Singapore), Bangkok (Thailand), and Dubai (U.A.E.), while SpiceJet operates only to six international destinations: Bangkok (Thailand), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Dubai (U.A.E), Kabul (Afghanistan), Male (Maldives), and Muscat (Oman).
Air India and Jet Airways started operations before the 5/20 rule was instated in the year 2005. IndiGo and SpiceJet started operations after the 5/20 rule was introduced. The 5/20 rule requires airlines to operate domestic services for a minimum period of five years, after which it can fly international only if the airline has a fleet size of 20 or greater.
Air India Express was the only airline to start immediate international operations (although on an AOP different from Air India) after the 5/20 rule was introduced. The first flight of the airline was an international flight.
Neither IndiGo nor SpiceJet fought the 5/20 rule at that time as the focus of both airlines then, as it is today, is to tap the potential of the domestic market. SpiceJet started international operations in October 2010, while IndiGo commenced international operations in September 2011. Despite both LCCs having started international operations nearly five years ago, when the scale of domestic operations were smaller, both airlines chose not to focus on international operations. (See IndiGo’s fleet induction, here) Both airlines always had the option of inducting larger aircraft to serve destinations beyond the surrounding Asian and Middle East countries. But such is not their business model.
As a result, the only Indian carriers to majorly serve international are Air India and Jet Airways, both of which were not ‘victims’ of the 5/20 rule, whereas IndiGo and SpiceJet, which chose to focus on domestic even though they started international operations five years ago, are ‘victims’ of the 5/20 rule, strongly opposing the removal of the a rule that means nothing, and does not impact either airline..
Go Air started operations in the year 2005, but chose not to increase its fleet beyond 19 aircraft. It deferred its 20th aircraft, which was readied by Airbus. As a result, the airline does not fly international, and seems to have no issues remaining a domestic player. Yet, the airline opposes the removal of the 5/20 rule, though it chose not to operate international.
In the quarter ending 31st December 2015, a total of 12.6 million international passengers were carried by both Indian and international airlines. Of that number, Indian carriers flew just 4.5 million passengers, or just 36% of the total traffic.
India is underutilising its bilaterals, due to restrictions placed by rules such as the 5/20. For the purpose of this case, and for want of time, we consider only three international destinations: Singapore, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur.
As of late February 2016, there are three airlines from Singapore that operate to 13 destinations in India. Singapore Airlines, Tiger Airways and Silk Air together operate 134 flights per week to India, from Singapore, and an equal number of return flights. Together, the airlines deploy 30,517 seats per week between Singapore and India, in each direction, using a variety of aircraft: Airbus A319s, A320s, Boeing 737-800s, Airbus A330s, Boeing 777-200s, 777-300s, and Airbus A380.
In contrast, three Indian airlines (four if you count Air India Express separately) connect Singapore to only four destinations in India. Air India, Air India Express, Jet Airways and IndiGo together operate 63 flights per week between the two countries. Together, the airlines deploy just 13,244 seats per week between Singapore and India, in each direction, using Airbus A320s, Boeing 737-800s, Airbus A330-300s, and Boeing 787-8s.
Thai Airways, Thai AirAsia, and Bangkok Airways operate from Bangkok to eight destinations in India, flying 73 flights and deploying 19,497 seats per week, Using Airbus A320s, Boeing 747s, 777-200s, 777-300s, Airbus A330-300s, and Boeing 787-8s.
In contrast, SpiceJet, IndiGo, Jet Airways and Air India together operate 62 flights, deploying 12,474 seats per week, from four Indian destinations to Bangkok, using Airbus A320s, Boeing 737-800s, 737-900s, and Boeing 787-8s.
From Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia Berhad, AirAsia X, Malindo, and Malaysian Airlines operate 180 flights to 12 Indian destinations, deploying 32,903 seats per week between Malaysia and India, using Airbus A320s, Boeing 737-800s, 737-900s, and Airbus A330-300s.
In contrast, only Air India Express operates to Kuala Lumpur, connecting only Chennai to the Malaysian capital with 4 weekly flights and deploying 744 seats per week.
While not all destinations are commercially viable, there is a huge mismatch between the capacity deployed by foreign carriers, and the capacity deployed by Indian carriers, on the same set of routes. Infact, the superior connectivity offered by foreign carriers is not matched by Indian carriers, leaving a large scope for more Indian carriers to boost the Indian economy while also providing international passengers seamless domestic connectivity.
The 5/20 rule must go if India should see it’s own airlines connect India with the rest of the world.
What the FIA won’t tell you
The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), have something against the airlines of the Father of Indian Aviation (FIA), Late JRD Tata. The Tata’s have already done enough to promote connectivity within India: TATA airlines was renamed Air India.
The FIA (Federation) is shaken by the prospects of airlines such as Vistara and AirAsia India. The goal of the FIA is to restrict the operations of such airlines to within India, so that players like the market leader can use its low cost base to lower fares on every route such airlines fly, and bleed the airlines dry. Starting with the smallest and the least capitalised airlines, airlines will knock off the Indian scene, one by one, leaving only a few to operate in India, with the market player enjoying a huge monopoly in setting fares. At that point in time, India will suffer, with neither good international connectivity, nor with strong domestic competition nor worthy alternatives.
While the FIA blames consultancy firm KPMG of auditing Singapore Airlines and consulting for the government, it remains silent on consultancy firm CAPA.
CAPA India, in its Aviation Outlook 2016, stated, “Despite repeated statements by the Minister that there is no logic to the 5/20 rule and that it should be abolished, the discriminatory regulation still remains in place”.
Guess which consultancy firm’s services was sought for IndiGo’s Red Herring Prospectus? CAPA India.
The Route Dispersal Guidelines (RDG) was introduced in 1994 to provide air connectivity to Jammu & Kashmir, North East, Island territories, and Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, by way of internal cross-subsidy by airlines, using their profits on 12 trunk routes.
Nearly 20 years after its introduction, the ministry is revisiting the rules to keep the rule relevant in today’s domestic scenario.
The ministry, as you will learn, is forcing regular scheduled airlines to deploy more capacity on category (CAT) II and IIA and III routes, and as part of the regional connectivity scheme, airlines will have to contribute to the Ministry’s Viability Gap Fund (VGF) 2% of the fare of almost all tickets sold.
Under India’s Companies Act of 2013, companies that have a net worth of $80 million, a turnover of at least $160 million, or net profits of at least $800,000 must develop a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy and spend a minimum of at-least 2% of net profit.
In this case, the Ministry is imposing a 2% on ticket revenues, not profits, irrespective of the size or health of the airline. And is forcing airplanes to fly more onto ‘unprofitable’ routes, without any subsidy, which effectively increases the amount of CSR done in the Indian aviation industry, despite the thin margins and heavy losses.
Everything – absolutely everything in the airline has a Singapore Airlines ‘stamp’.
On 25th September, TATA-Singapore Airlines, which will operate under the brand name Vistara, publicly announced the receipt of their first aircraft, an Airbus A320-232SL that arrived from Toulouse with a tech-stop (to refuel) in the middle east. The aircraft flew in all white – without the livery of the airline. The aircraft will eventually be either stickered or painted, and the aircraft’s delay in arrival will only push the start of operations to either end October or early November, after the airline can fly the aircraft on intended routes for a series of ‘proving’ flights to satisfy the DGCA’s Civil Aviation Policy CAP3100.
From Singapore Airlines
Vistara’s first aircraft – like the other 19 aircraft that are to be received over time, are leased from BOC Aviation. BOC Aviation is 100% owned by Bank of China, one of the largest banks in the world.
BOC aviation, headquartered in Singapore, was formerly SALE – Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise, when it started operations in November 1993. When formed, SALE was a 50:50 ownership between Singapore Airlines and Boullioun Aviation Services. In the December of 2006, SALE was acquired 100% by the Bank of China (BOC) for US$965 million. In the July of 2007, it was renamed to BOC aviation, to reflect the change in ownership. With the support of BOC, BOC aviation was able to expedite its growth, from 100 planes in 2009 – over the first 16 years – to 246 owned and managed aircraft operated by 56 airlines worldwide in 2014- just five years later. BOC Aviation has another 196 aircraft on firm order, as of date.
BOC Aviation is headquartered in Singapore, and has leased airplanes to SpiceJet, and Jet Airways. Interestingly, the first ever lease to a Singapore Airline subsidiary or affiliate, although the lessor had its roots in Singapore Airlines. The 20 aircraft lease to Vistara is reportedly the largest leasing agreement in BOC Aviation’s history.
Of Singapore Airlines
TATA-SIA Airlines is a 51:49 joint venture between TATA Sons and Singapore International Airlines (SIA). SIA has invested US$ 49 Million. The TATAs, although a majority stakeholder, have no recent experience in the airline business, and the airline is expected to be pretty much run and managed by Singapore Airlines, although substantial ownership and effective control will be vested in Indian nationals. Singapore Airlines is expected to dictate how the airline will be run (executed). Vistara, a full service carrier, is expected to reflect a strong Singapore Airlines influence – at all levels of operations and perhaps even decisions.
The airline’s first aircraft was ferried from Toulouse by pilots Gopal Subramaniam and Mandhesh Singh. Gopal is Chief Pilot Line Operations, Technical & Quality at Vistara, and has joined from Singapore Airlines, where he still considers to be employed. Mandesh was flying the Airbus A330s for Singapore Airlines, and previously the A320s for SilkAir, and was part of the crew that inaugurated the direct Singapore-Coimbatore flight in 2007.
Phee Teik Yeoh, CEO of Vistara, has been with Singapore Airlines for nearly 23 years, and started his career with the airline as a Network Planning Analyst. Considering the CEO being a Singapore Airlines’ guy, and that he has held a wide spectrum of portfolios at SIA, prepping him for the role as a CEO, all management decisions and recommendations will pretty much be the way Singapore Airlines wants it.
At AirAsia India, none of the technical or managerial positions are held by any former AirAsia employees.
For Singapore Airlines
Historically, airlines which Singapore Airlines either has a stake in, or is a parent company of, have filled gaps in services of SIA. For example, routes dropped by Singapore Airlines, and later SilkAir, have been taken up by Tiger Airways. Together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, Singapore Airlines has managed an extensive network, catering to both business travellers and budget travellers. An Indian network was missing, and with Vistara, Singapore Airlines can offer its customers a near seamless experience and service – connecting them from various parts of India to its hubs at Singapore or stations in India, from where passengers can be connected to the rest of the world. With Singapore gradually losing out as a preferred global hub to the strategically located and aggressive Middle-East Asian hubs, through which a significant number of Indian passengers transit, capturing the Indian market, both directly and indirectly, is key. The Vistara strategy gains prominence in the light of the Jet – Etihad deal, which is aiding in diverting international traffic from India to the West.
Singapore’s deep involvement in the airline will bode well for Vistara – in terms of network, service, safety, and operational service metrics of on-time performance, in-flight service, and in-flight experience. Together with brand new aircraft, Vistara as a full service carrier driven by Singapore Airlines is poised to conquer the full service market over Indian skies.
2013 was a very interesting year for civil aviation, both globally and locally (India). In this article, we capture some of the most prominent, and important events that took place, that will help shape the aviation of tomorrow.
An ATR72-600 in Lao Airlines paint scheme, similar to the one that crashed. Photo: ATR
A Lao Airlines ATR 72-600 crashed on the 16th of October, 2013, at around 4:10pm local (0910Z) near Pakse, Laos.
The aircraft, registered under RDPL-34233, was MSN (Manufacturer Serial Number) 1071, delivered from the production line in March 2013. The brand new airplane was operating as domestic flight QV301 between Vientiane(IATA: VTE, ICAO: VLVT) and Pakse (IATA: PKZ, ICAO: VLPS) with 44 passengers and 5 crew members on board. All 49 on board are feared no-more.
The great circle distance between between Vientiane and Pakse is 250NM. Part of the flight occurs over neighboring Thailand. The crash seems to have happened when approaching runway 15 of VLPS. The aircraft crashed about 5NM from touchdown. Weather is a suspect, considering cyclone Nari’s effect on the region.
The runway at Pakse is 5332 feet long. The airport has a VOR, and NDB, but no ILS. The airport is co-operated by military and civilian authorities.
Lao Airlines was founded in 1976. In 1995, the airline received its first ATR 72. According to the airline, the ATR 72s (4 ATR 72-500 + 2 ATR 72-600 including one that crashed) form the backbone of the carrier’s fleet for international and major domestic services. Its fleet also comprises 4 Airbus A320 and 4 Xian MA60. The Chinese aircraft fleet is due to the country’s closer links with its Eastern neighbor. Laos was a French colony between 1893 and 1949.
Key points of ATR’s official statement include:
“At this time, the circumstances of the accident are still to be determined. Official sources of Lao Airlines declared that “the aircraft ran into extreme bad weather conditions and was reportedly crashed into the Mekong river. There were no news of survivors at this time".
The Laos’ Authorities will lead the investigation and will remain the official source of information. In line with the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Annex 13 convention, ATR will provide full assistance the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et Analyses (BEA), safety investigation authority representing the country of the aircraft manufacturer.”
Although this airline, The JetBlue of India, has enviable financial figures, there seems to be trouble brewing at the top. There has been a management shuffle and few top management pilots have tendered their resignation. Following that is an email sent anonymously by one of their own pilots, to the airline’s flight crew and management.
Being anonymous, the contents cannot be verified or ascertained. But the specific mention of people, notices and other details adds certain credibility to the letter.
This letter has been published that people may be made aware of hidden levels of dissatisfaction that may run in an airline: any airline, for that matter. The intent of this post is neither to support nor blemish any airline, individual or group, but to better understand the emotions of flight crew. After all, the safety rests in the hands of the men and women at the front end of the airplane. Read the letter HERE.
VT-KFY (Airbus A321 MSN 3302). Photo by Vivek Kaul, used with permission.
My flight on the 20th of December 2009 was a memorable experience. My friend, who was a first officer with the then 5 star airline, Kingfisher, had informed the captain (an ex-IAF officer) and the lady first officer that I was their passenger on their Delhi – Bangalore flight. Comfortably seated on 37A, I found the orange juice stain I had left behind on the same seat when flying from Bangalore to Delhi a couple of days earlier.
Having been part of a huge “makeover" program at Honeywell, I was keen to gather flight data that I could possibly use for my training at the company. I sent out the “In flight form" to the crew members, scribbled on sheets from the hotel where the company had accommodated me. Most of the data is, as you will notice, from the FMS pages of the Airbus A320 family.
VT-KFY, the Airbus A321, was the first, and till date, the only A321 that I have flown on. Branded with MSN 3302, and fitted with IAE V2500 engines, I was all too interested in the then 2 year old airplane.
With the DGCA Cancelling the license of Kingfisher Airlines, this article is a tribute to an airline whose employees and flights taught me so much.
Capt M and F/O F were kind enough to fill in all requested details for IT-207 Operated by an A321, VT-KFY
Flight Plan & Navigation
VT-KFY, operating as IT-207 was planned to fly Delhi to Bangalore via airway W20S and W57S. W20S starts from the VOR at Delhi (DPN), and runs south-south east till Hyderabad International Airport’s VOR, HIA. W57S starts at HIA, and terminates at Bangalore International Airport’s VOR, BIA.
Our take off was from Runway 28, which is westerly in its orientation. After take off, the aircraft has to join the airway, for which the Air Traffic System at busy airports provide what are known as a SIDs: (standard instrument departure), which are laid down procedures that specify how an airplane taking off from a particular runway may intercept and join a particular airway. In our case, the then effective AKELA 3B SID was applicable, which details how the airplane, after takeoff from Runway 28, may turn left to intercept waypoint AKELA, which lies on W20S.
Airspace restrictions make W20S head south-south-west till waypoint KALNA, before changing direction to south-south-east towards Bhopal. This non-direct route between the two radio stations at Delhi and Bhopal makes an airplane fly 15NM extra. However, in practice, pilots request for a direct-to from AKELA to BPL, which, more often than not, is granted, saving around 10NM of ground distance. Upto waypoint IBANI, the aircraft flies in the Delhi Flight Information Region (FIR). Passing IBANI, the aircraft enters Mumbai FlR.
Mumbai is around 420NM from waypoint IBANI, and yet, the airplane must be in contact with Mumbai Control, which is physically located at Mumbai. Communication link between the airplane and the centre, through direct VHF will not be possible, as a VHF radio’s range is limited to line of sight: around 200NM. Overcoming this problem are VHF transmitters positioned in the Mumbai FIR such that when a voice transmission over VHF occurs at Mumbai, the same VHF signal is broadcasted from multiple ground transmitters. This ensures sufficient coverage throughout a FIR.
From BPL, pilots are often granted a direct-to all the way to waypoint VABDI, which saves hardly anything.
RVSM Cruising Levels
Since the route is easterly, even though slightly, ICAO specified RVSM cruising levels have to be adhered to. Airplanes flying easterly, must fly at “Odd" flight levels (FL). Example, FL 290, FL 310, FL 330, and so on. FL 290 stands for Flight Level 290, which is 29,000ft above sea level at an assumed barometric pressure of 1013.25hPa (hector Pascal) at sea level. Since it is an “assumption" that is followed by every airplane at the flight levels, all airplanes with their altimeters displaying 29,000ft with the assumption set in the altimeter, are flying at the same altitude, through the true altitude may differ by as much as 2000ft from the displayed altitude at this “Standard Barometric" pressure of 1013.25 hPa.
About 20NM from waypoint BUSBO, the aircraft is “released" from Mumbai control and “handed over" to Chennai Control, where pilots may contact the physical centre at Chennai (approximately 400NM away from BUSBO) on one of 11 VHF frequencies.
Observing the route, the direction changes toward the west (south south west) over waypoint VABDI. However, back then, when Chennai did not have sufficient radar coverage, airplanes on W57S needed to either climb 1000ft or descend 1000ft over Hyderabad. This was to change the cruise altitude from an ODD flight level to an EVEN flight level earlier than VABDI, for surveillance reasons. As far as our flight was concerned, we descended from our cruise level of FL 350 to FL 340 over Hyderabad.
We approached Bangalore from the north east, and the active runway at that time was 09, which is east facing. We were “vectored" (given compass headings to follow) by air traffic control, and “broke off" from W57S in a divergent heading. This was to take us further west, before directing us to intercept the ILS for runway 09.
The airway distance between Delhi and Bangalore is 950NM. However, with the standard instrument departure and the arrival into the airfield, the total ground distance increases to 980NM, which is an extra of 30NM. With the soon to be introduced RNP route between Delhi and Bangalore, this sector’s ground distance shall reduce significantly.
VT-KFY, for that day’s flight to Bangalore, weighed 79 tonnes, as against its all up weight of 89 tonnes. 14.5 Tonnes of fuel was uplifted, and the centre of gravity was determined at 24.7% of the Mean Aero Dynamic Chord (MAC). Permissible range is 15% to 35%, with a preference for a rear CG to improve fuel burn performance. Corresponding to this CG, the horizontal stabilizer was trimmed for nose UP to an Airbus defined position of 1 unit. This is to keep stick forces (on the pitch axis) almost neutral during takeoff.
A quick look at the Flight Crew Operating Manual for the A321 reveals that for a 980NM flight at FL350 (assumption: no winds, wind data on that day wasn’t collected), the A321 with a takeoff weight of 79 Tonnes burns approximately 6600kg of fuel for the entire flight from takeoff to landing. Approximately 200kg is burnt during startup and taxi, raising the estimated fuel burn to 6800kg. The estimated flight time between take off and landing is 2 hours 22 minutes.
The difference between the uplifted fuel (14,500kg) and the trip fuel (6800kg) was huge: 7,700kg. Bangalore’s ATF rates being higher than Delhi’s, 7.7T of fuel was “tankered" to Bangalore, which was to be used up for the next day’s flight to Delhi out of Bangalore.
A Cost Index of 18 was used for the flight. The Cost Index is a measure of the cost of time v/s the cost of fuel. The unspecified unit is kg/min, which in this case translates to 18kg of fuel being as costly as 1 minute of flight time. If the cost of fuel was low, the cost of time relatively goes up, which increases the numerical value of the cost index. If the cost of fuel goes up, the cost of time in comparison pales, lowering the numerical value of CI. Last year, most flights by Kingfisher were operated at around Cost Index 10. Lower the cost index, slower the airplane flies. For our flight that day, CI 18 corresponded to a cruise speed of Mach 0.775 under no wind conditions. There must not have been any significant winds, as the aircraft’s FMS targeted the same Mach number for cruise.
Takeoff was planned with “Flap configuration" 1+F, which is the first of four selectable “configurations" on all in-production Airbus commercial airplanes. 1+F corresponds to 18° of slats and 10° of flaps on the A321. Lower flap settings provide better fuel burn and climb performance.
Because the airplane was taking off 10 tonnes lighter than its maximum, full engine thrust for take off wasn’t required. Although the outside air temperature that night was 15°, the engine was told to produce a thrust corresponding to an outside air temperature of 44°C. Specifying a higher temperature reduces the generated thrust, saving engine life through reduced operation at the extremes. The thrust was “flex(ed) to" 44°.
With this thrust setting, the specifics of Runway 28 at Delhi, weather and the weight of the airplane, the aircraft’s take off speeds were determined as V1 : 152kts, VR : 152kts, and V2 : 156kts. V1 is the decision speed. If anything was to have happened that demanded the take off to be rejected, the decision to reject must have been made before the airplane reached the decision speed of 152kts. Attempting to stop the airplane beyond this speed is unwise, as the combination of aircraft energy and remaining runway length will prevent the airplane from stopping before the end of the runway. Vr is when the pilot pulls back on the stick to “rotate" the nose up into the air. V2 is the takeoff climb speed: the speed that is maintained on the initial climb out phase (when gaining altitude is important) before building up further speed.
Delhi’s airport is at an elevation of 777ft MSL. Takeoff thrust and take off speed (usually V2 + 10, 166kts in this case) was maintained till 1000ft above ground level, or 1720ft above MSL. At that point, the thrust was lowered to climb thrust, and the nose pitched down to maintain the same speed (V2 + 10), till 1500ft above airport elevation, or 2277ft in this case. Passing this altitude, the nose was further lowered, to build up airspeed. As the airspeed built, the flaps were retracted to “clean up" the aircraft, allowing for further acceleration. The best lift to drag speed is realised at the “O" speed, which was 217kts on that day for the given aircraft weight.
The Cruise Altitude of FL350 was determined by looking for the optimal cruise altitude at the aircraft’s weight and weather conditions. Least fuel burn is expected at the cruise altitude. Since the aircraft was flying east, the ODD flight level closest to the optimum altitude is chosen, which, in our case, was 350.
For the A321, the time to this cruise altitude, under ideal conditions at 79 tonnes, takes 25 minutes over 160 NM , burning 2000kg of fuel. Air Traffic Restrictions normally prevent most airplanes climbing out of Delhi from reaching their cruise altitude this early.
Reaching cruise, the aircraft became lighter by 2 tonnes, reducing its weight to 77 tonnes. At this weight, at FL350 under ideal conditions, the airplane guzzles around 2800kg of fuel per hour, at Mach 0.78 (450kts ground speed). Considering that the aircraft needs at minimum around 100NM to descend, and 160NM to climb, 720NM at best is traversed at cruise. This implies approximately 1hr 30 minutes in cruise, burning 3,200kg of fuel.
Starting descent, VT-KFY might have been around 73,800kg heavy. Interestingly, a light airplane descends faster. Descent from FL350 at continuous IDLE thrust takes about 17 minutes over 100NM by an A321, under ideal conditions, at the specified weight.
Our A321, for landing, was configured with full FLAPS, which corresponds to a slats of 27° and flaps of 25°. The approach speed, at the estimated landing weight of 73,000 tonnes, was 142kts. Kingfihser later adopted CONFIG 3 landings, which extends slats / flaps to 22°/21°, offering lower drag and saving fuel.
The autobrakes were set to Low (LO), one of three positions: LO, MED, HIGH. No Thrust reversers were used for landing, which was, and still is part of fuel saving procedures the world over.