Following the biennial elections held during the Annual General Meeting of the Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA), the Association has announced composition of its Governing Board and key appointments. Jayant Nadkarni, Co-Founder and COO of Invision Air, a Mumbai-based non-scheduled aircraft operator, takes over as President BAOA, after being elected for this role by the association’s member operators. He takes over reigns of the association from Rohit Kapur who stepped down after having completed two consecutive terms as President of the association. Coming from a military aviation background, Nadkarni has been an active member of BAOA’s Governing Board for the last four years. Col. Sanjay Julka of India Fly Safe has been appointed as the Vice President and Harsh Vardhan Sharma of Himalayan Heli Services will continue to preside over the duties of Treasurer, stated a release.
The new Board will lay special emphases to increase pragmatic interactions with the government, regulators and with key stakeholders within the industry, stated a release. It will lay special emphases on adaptability and perceptions of safety standards for business and general aviation in India. The Association is strengthening various committees internally which will work towards achievement of different objectives that the Board identifies.
The Union Cabinet’s approval of the proposal of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Government of India to replace the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) with a more autonomous Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of India has been welcomed by the aviation industry in the country. The government will now move the bill in this direction for the approval of the Parliament. While the proposed Authority will, like the DGCA, administer and regulate civil aviation safety and manage safety oversight of air transport operators, air service navigation operators and operators of other civil aviation facilities, it will have a more financial and administrative autonomy than its predecessor. This, the industry feels, would help in streamlining and strengthening the system more efficiently.As per the draft bill, the CAA would have a chairperson, a director general and seven to nine members, of which five would be full-time members. They would be appointed by the Cabinet Secretary on the recommendation of a selection committee.MoCA has been under tremendous pressure for some time now from international agencies regarding the safety oversight framework and the capability of the regulatory agency, DGCA, in dealing with emerging global safety requirements.
Mumbai-based chartered airlines Invision Air Services, India’s first operator with a large fleet of brand new Light Jets presents new and attractive options to business travelers who find it inconvenient to fly by scheduled airlines.Launched in 2011, InvisionAir is a private jet serviceprovider, which providesmuch-needed connectivity between metros and tier-II andtier-Ill towns in India for thegrowing numbers of high networth individuals, as well aspromoters and top executivesin medium and large Indian enterprises.The company istaking business aviation to anew height. It promises to freecorporates/businessmen from discomfort of flying by thescheduled airlines, thus offering an attractive, affordableand viable alternative.
Speaking about the targeted segment, Vinit Phatak, Managing Director, Invision Air Services, said, “India’s growth is creating a set of in dividuals whose time is at a premium and who need to travel within India to metros as well as smaller cities. This is our target market, which includes owners/ promoters of medium to large businesses, top management (level 1 & 2), professionals (lawyers, doctors, and specialists),bankers, high-end touristsand celebrities.” Phatakadded, “Time is one of themost precious thing for abusinessman; but some oftheir precious time getswasted in flying with scheduled airlines. Invision Aircomes here to help businessmen to make best of their precious time for their businesspriorities.”According to Phatak, a large part of India’s future growth will come from the rural areas and “at the moment connectivity to these destinations is extremely poor for our target market.” Current options for the target market are to either own your own private aircraft, charter an aircraft via poor serviceproviders or brokers, or fly in business class to limited destinations.
“Invision Air presents a much more reliable and economical alternative to the current charter Options in India – no other charter operator can offer the use of a twin jet aircraft at a price, reliability, and safety combination that Invision Air can,” asserts Phatak.
Availing the charted services of Invision Air, businessmen can fly direct to 200 destinations across the country at their convenience. No longer do they need to waste their precious time in airport queues for check-in, security check, baggage claim or boarding. No longer do they have to spend an extra night away from their family and office just because of non-availability of schedule flights. Invision through its charted services offers businessmen not only the safety, luxury and convenience, but also space and privacy. Without bothering about the behavior of their co-passengers and fearing the breach of privacy, businessmen fly to their desired destination in complete privacy
The Ministry of Civil Aviation is working on a plan to allow non-scheduled carriers like Invision Air and Freedom Airways to enter into code-share arrangements with scheduled airlines like Air India, IndiGo, Jet Airways and SpiceJet. The rationale behind this is that since smaller towns and cities have fewer flights by scheduled carriers, the non-scheduled ones could act as feeder services for the scheduled ones.
Non-scheduled airlines may carry passengers or freight between specified destinations but unlike scheduled carriers, they do not need to follow a regular schedule or publish their tariffs. In practical terms, they are seen more as chartered flights.
The code-sharing proposal, if implemented, could increase the number of flights headed for, say, Delhi or Mumbai from a small town, as per a Financial Express report by Parul Chhaparia. The non-scheduled airline will bring passengers to a mid-point from where they hop on to scheduled ones flying to bigger cities. This will increase the connectivity to bigger cities from smaller towns, where such connectivity is low.
Explaining the rationale for such a proposal, Ajit Singh, Minister for Civil Aviation, Government of India, said, “We want to enhance air connectivity to smaller cities and towns. The non-scheduled airlines can offer feeder services to scheduled airlines like in many other parts of the world. However, we are yet to take a call on how to go about it”. He, however, did not set a deadline to implement the plan.
Industry analysts said the proposal sounds good but may be difficult to implement. They also expressed doubts whether non-scheduled airlines would be interested in any such scheme because they would have to rework their economics.
Non-scheduled airlines operate with smaller aircraft and do not have the obligation of insuring passengers. Their fleet size too is very small. For instance, Invision Airways currently has only two aircraft. If they want to enter into code-sharing arrangements with scheduled airlines, they would have to make more investments by buying not only more aircraft but also of bigger size. Further, they would need to maintain regularity of services and publish their schedule and tariffs. “It remains to be seen if a company which is interested in the non-scheduled model would actually like to shift to the scheduled airline model,” said an aviation analyst.
Apart from co-opting non-scheduled airlines into the scheduled network, the aviation ministry is also planning to overhaul current route dispersal guidelines to offer more flights to smaller cities. Under the proposal, scheduled airlines will have to offer more flights from such places than what they have today.
Flight routes in India are divided into three categories – I, II and III – based mainly on the passenger load factor and revenue generation. While the category I consists of largely inter-metro routes between Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, the category II routes are mainly in difficult terrain and destinations in remote areas such as North-Eastern region, Jammu and Kashmir, Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep. Category III routes include cities like Kochi, Coimbatore and Pune.
The present guidelines make it mandatory for scheduled airlines to deploy at least ten per cent of their capacity on category I cities to category II routes and at least 50 per cent of the capacity deployed on category I routes to category III routes.
For instance, if an airline has ten flights to Mumbai or Delhi, it is obligatory under the norms for the carrier to have at least one flight to North-Eastern, Andaman and Nicobar or any other route under category II and have a minimum of five flights to cities like Pune, Kochi, Kanpur which are in category III. The ministry now plans to bring many of the category III routes in category I. This would automatically enhance flights to smaller places.