Mumbai Airport to penalise private jets

PARKING OVERTIME

Private jet aircraft which have overstayed their welcome at the Mumbai International Airport will soon have to fork out a fine for the extended use of parking bays.

Penalty charges are to range between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 15,000 per hour and will be imposed from July 15.

According to a Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) spokesperson, the fine is to discourage unauthorised parking at the airport.

The trigger was a private jet occupying the hangar for over 20 days at the Mumbai airport. The aircraft is owned by a prominent business house with interests in media, packaging, entertainment and infrastructure development. The MIAL levied a parking charge of Rs. 6 lakh including penal charges. However, the company has refused to pay, said MIAL officials.

Mumbai airport has 28 parking bays in which more than 70-90 aircraft are parked. In 2007, just 30 private jets occupied the same spot. A certificate from the DGCA notifies the parking slots for private jets across all airports.

Top corporates like Tata, Reliance and Raymonds park their private jets at the CSIA (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport). Private taxi operators like Religare Aviation, Deccan Charters and Invision Air among others, also occupy the parking bays.

Given the over-crowding and safety issues cited by MIAL, some of these jets were not allowed to fly out till they paid the penalty. Though some private jets have flown out, most have raised objections to the penalty. Aircraft also fly into CSIA for scheduled maintenance.

The Business Aircraft Operator’s Association (BAOA), which comprises private jet owners, has protested vociferously against the penalty.

“An aircraft registered in India can be used anywhere in the country and its movement cannot be restricted to limited airports, as this defeats the very purpose of private aircraft,” said Captain Karan Singh, Managing Director, BAOA.

The BAOA members said that no airport imposes such penalties on parked jets. “This is the first time that such an illogical penalty is being imposed on us. If any airport has operational requirements or limited parking space, for instance in Goa, the information is provided in advance. In that case, you can fly to Goa, but park the jet elsewhere,” Capt Singh said.

The BAOA will meet MIAL officials early next week to sort out the issue. “We are evaluating all options right now and looking for an amicable solution,” he added.

High taxes stymie business aviation growth

HYDERABAD MARCH 9

“Do you know a CEO who logs about 600 hours of flying on his business jet every year adds one month of productive time to his annual output?” asks Capt. Karan Singh. “Or that companies using business aviation generate up to 144 per cent more profit than those not using them?” he continues, quoting from recent global studies. Capt. Singh, CEO of Indo-Pacific Aviation and MD of Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA), has a purpose behind asking these questions—to highlight the potential this sector has and the roadblocks that are stunting its growth. In the run-up to new Union Budget, the association is making a fresh bid to seek certain relaxations in the existing tax regime, which, it says, is keeping a tight lid on its expansion. High-flying corporate chieftains in India are today increasingly taking to business jets to save on time and shore up productivity. India, according to Forbes, has 4 per cent of the world’s billionaires, with 48 billionaires having a combined net worth of $194 billion. From 171 business aircraft in 2001, the fleet touched 552 in 2010, the highest growth of 26 per cent seen in 2006. “Today, the fleet will be around 600, including copters, and projected to touch 1,800 by 2020. But the growth would have been much but for some policy initiatives,” Capt Singh told Business Line. High Import duty on aircraft, customs duties on spares, VAT on sales of jets and high ground handling charges are some of the challenges this sector faces. “Today, it takes between six and 12 months to get the clearances for buying an aircraft,” says Mr Vinit Phatak, MD of Invision Air, which is procuring 12 Embraer aircraft.

amitmitra@thehindu.co.in

Business aviation flying high

While some commercial airlines such as Kingfisher are struggling to stem their financial haemorrhage, the country’s business aviation market, involving charter of private jets or helicopters by corporate houses, is flying high.

CHARTER BUSINESS

This sector, with some 130 operators, a fleet size of 142 jets and a market size of about $250 million, has lined up fresh investments to increase fleet, even as the operators are coming out with new business models and offerings.

Corporate honchos are opting to charter business jets owing to time flexibility and grounding of flights by some commercial airlines.

The private jets in the country accounts for 12 per cent of the global market and is bigger than the Chinese and Japan markets. Together with helicopters, turboprops and piston engines, the fleet of business aviation is estimated at 680.

FLEET EXPANSION

The Business Aviation Association of India has projected the fleet to bloat up to 2,000 by 2020, while PwC estimates that 300 business jets, 300 smaller aircraft and 250 helicopters will be added by 2017.

Bombardier forecasts 1,330 deliveries by 2020, while Brazilian aircraft maker, Embraer, pegs the market at $9 billion by that year, translating into 360 additional jets.

Other manufacturers such as Hawker Beechcraft, Dornier Seaplanes and Pacific Aerospace are also eying India.

Embraer has on order 18 phenom 4-seaters and five 8-seaters, including 12 to Mumbai-based Invision Air.

“We have two aircraft at present and plan to induct 12 more, including six 8-seaters, at the rate of one every three months. We plan six bases across the country,” Mr Vinit Phatak, Invision Managing Director, told Business Line.

NEW PACKAGES

Operators are also coming out with new packages to attract clients. For instance, Invision has introduced a pre-paid package. “Our spot charter prices are Rs. 1.50 lakh for the 4-seaters and Rs. 2.50 lakh for 8-seaters,” Mr Phatak said.

Operators are also offering corporates to buy a share in a fractional membership scheme.

amitmitra@thehindu.co.in