PHOTO: Part of the drug haul seized by the AFP – Australia’s ABC News
Malaysia’s Malindo Air have been caught up un an international drug smuggling case as some of their air crew are now accused of helping to smuggle heroin and methamphetamine worth millions of dollars from Asia to Australian cities.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) have now arrested two flight team members along with six other people. The arrests are the result of a six month investigation codenamed Operation Sunrise.
According to the AFP, flight attendants from Malaysia’s Malindo Air, a subsidiary of Indonesia’s Lion Air, have been smuggling in drugs on their persons on behalf of a Melbourne-based Vietnaese crime syndicate.
One of the investigation’s “key players” say they had made at least 20 such trips.
In a statement, the airline says… “Malindo Air stands ready to co-operate with all the relevant authorities be it in Australia or in Malaysia in this regard, The cabin crew member has also been suspended with immediate effect pending termination.”
The AFP investigation has targeted a highly organised Vietnamese crime syndicate based in Melbourne and operating out of Australia’s second biggest city for up to five years. They say the syndicate is responsible for the importation of high-grade heroin and methamphetamine from Malaysia.
“8 kilograms of heroin was seized in the operation and has a street value of AUD$14.5 million. This equates to 42,000 street deals, in real terms,” say the AFP.
“A further 6 kilograms of methamphetamine, with a street value of AUD$6.5 million was also seized during seven raids on properties in Melbourne and its suburbs, along with half a kilogram of cocaine, a Porsche sports car and a “significant quantity” of cash.”
Investigators say that the quantity of illegal drugs seized in the operation is significant but “not the total amount of drugs”.
Malindo Air started operations in 2013 and operates out of the Kuala Lumpur serving several Australian destinations. It currently operates 800 flights weekly to over 40 regional and international destinations.
SOURCE: CNN | Australian Federal Police
Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet
PHOTO: The Japan Times
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ new 88-passenger Mitsubishi Regional Jet is testing the skies just as rivals Embraer and Bombardier are moving to sell off their manufacturing operations for jets with up to 160 seats to Boeing and Airbus.
At stake, particularly in the market for jets with fewer seats, is US$135 billion in sales in the two decades through 2037, according to industry group Japan Aircraft Development.
More cities in Asia and Europe are seeking to link up with each other and the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s, began certification flights last month in Moses Lake, Washington.
With fewer seats and smaller fuselages, regional jets are a different class of aircraft from larger narrow-body planes such as Boeing’s 737 or Airbus’s A320. The MRJ has a range of about 3,220 kilometres. The seating is 2+2 instead of 3+3 in a small Airbus or Boeing single-aisle jet.
After spending at least US$2 billion over more than a decade, the manufacturer is looking to get its jet certified and start deliveries to launch partner ANA Holdings.
Mitsubishi initially planned test flights in 2012 but blew past that deadline because of production difficulties. Now, the company, which makes ships, nuclear power plants and aerospace components, expects to have the plane ready for customers next year, a timetable that will test the company, said Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hisakazu Mizutani.
Mitsubishi Heavy is not the only Asian manufacturer betting that it can build aircraft cheaper and more efficiently. Commercial Aircraft of China (Comac) has a new regional jet in service, while Korea Aerospace Industries is studying whether to develop a 100-passenger aircraft.
“The aviation market in Asia is expected to grow further in the coming years and there will be demand for these aircraft,” said analyst Lee Dong-heon at Daishin Securities in Seoul.
“The shift in the regional aviation segment we have seen over the last year or so has opened opportunities.”
“The MRJ is fully capable of competing in the market.”
Opening of a rail service between Thailand and Cambodia in Sa Kaew
The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is leading a delegation to officiate at the opening of a new rail service between Thailand and Cambodia at Klong Luek railway station in Sa Kaew province. The Thai government funded the maintenance and restoration of the two kilometre rail track between Klong Luek station and Poipet station in Cambodia.
Rail services between Thailand and Cambodia were suspended for decades due to strained relationships between the two countries since the Cold War era. Although the relationship is much better these days there was little interest in the restoration of the rail link as people in both countries tended to prefer travel by road.
Sea turtle returns to its nesting place – it’s now an airport!
“Despite the unfortunate circumstances that befell the turtle mother, she is reportedly in good health and was released back into the ocean by locals,” wrote local news website The Edition.
The incident has sparked fresh debates on the environmental and social costs of the Maldive’s tourism-propelled growth (sounds familiar?).
“The question remains on how much of Maldives’ biodiversity must be sacrificed in order to propel our country forward industrially and economically,” the website said.
The airport, which has a 2.2 kilometre, 40 metre-wide runway, was inaugurated in August last year. The UAE-funded project was built on Maafaru, one of the inhabited islands of Noonu Atoll, which is a traditional nesting place of the marine turtles.
Once a green turtle hatches and heads into the ocean, it rarely returns to land. When they reach sexual maturity, they travel long distances to go back to their natal place to mate and lay eggs.
The green turtle (Chelonia mydas) is on the list of endangered species of animals by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
SOURCE: The Nation
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