Tepid economy slows down high flyers, Financial Chronicle, 8/3/15

By Nirbhay Kumar Mar 08 2015 , New Delhi

With the Indian economy hovering well short of the expected altitude, corporate high flyers and private jet owners seem to have cut down on their business sorties obviously with an eye on pruning travel costs. The first nine months of this financial year witnessed 7,950 fewer flight movements in the general aviation sector that includes business jets.

Latest air traffic data compiled by Airports Authority of India for April-December 2014 reflects negative growth in flight movements in general aviation.

The data showed 208,314 flights landing and taking off in this period, down 3.7 per cent compared with 216,264 flights in April-December 2013.

Business Aircraft Operators Associ­ation (BA­OA) has revealed that non-scheduled and charter aviation companies operate a total fleet of 552 aircraft. Out of these, 126 are business jets, which are used mostly by leading business houses.

Based on its total inventory value of aircraft, the general aviation industry is valued at about Rs 12,000 crore.

“The reason for decline in aircraft movement could be falling aircraft numbers in the general aviation sector,” Brigadier MK Idnani of SRC Aviation.

Posting high growth rate for several years in a row, general aviation saw a decline in 2007 following the imposition of custom duty on import of aircraft for private use and non-scheduled charter operations.

“Many aircraft have been de-registered in the last one year,” said Captain Ashim, a general aviation consultant.

An aviation industry expert who did not wish to be named said that following the change in government at the centre people are scared to use private planes. “People are scared of showing off their wealth,” he added.

In the meantime, the government has refused to offer any sop or tax relief to the sector. The aviation ministry had forwarded suggestions of the general aviation trade body BAOA to finance ministry but none of them found any mention in the Union budget presented on February 28.

“The prediction that India will become the world’s third largest aviation industry by 2020 will remain a dream if the prime minister does not address the woes of our sector, which cumulatively holds almost three times the fleet of all commercial airlines," said BAOA president Rohit Kapur.

Sunday, 8 March, 2015
Financial Chronicle