By next year, fliers may be able to book a private jet and travel to the destination of their choice. A dedicated terminal is being built at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) to cater to private jets. A first of its kind in the country, it is a part of the Delhi airport master plan.
According to officials, interested fliers will be able to book a six-seater private jet at a cost of little over Rs 50,000 per head for a Delhi to Mumbai round trip. Charges will, however, be on per-hour basis, and will vary with the kind of aircraft one opts for and on other factors.
The terminal is being built by the Bird ExecuJet Airport Services Private Limited, a joint venture between Bird Group and ExecuJet Aviation Group.
“The terminal is expected to be ready by August 2018. This will revolutionise the concept of flying. Fliers can book an entire aircraft and travel to any location,” said a Bird ExecuJet Airport Services spokesperson.
He added, “The chargers of business jets will be on an hourly basis starting Rs 60,000 plus taxes per hour. This will cost a flier about Rs 55,000 plus taxes for a six-seater aircraft for a Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi round trip. There are various aircraft types in the market, and based on client requirements, seating, waiting chargers, choice of aircraft, availability, markets rate (per hour), airport charges, and other factors, the rates of these business jets will vary.” The company also mentioned that the recently announced initiatives such as the UDAAN scheme (Regional connectivity), ‘Make in India’ as well as ‘Invest India’ have augmented growth potential for aviation, especially MRO and FBO in India, which is expected to reach $5.2 billion by 2026. “With this projection, Bird ExecuJet Airport Services Private Limited aims to tap on this growth by expanding to servicing over 1,700 private aircraft in the coming years,” the spokeperson said.
However, with the UDAAN scheme not being a hit so far, the company accepts that encouraging chartered flight will be a challenge ahead. “To change the conventional way of flying, we need a change in mindset. We hope people will come forward to enjoy the facility which will be the first of its kind in the country,” the official added.
At Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), movement of non-scheduled flights is minimal. According to air traffic management officials, it is in the range of 6-10 flights daily. Even this lowly number of flights is possible only during the lean period — afternoon or very early in the morning when the traffic of scheduled flights are not at peak. So, this comes as hindrance to growth of charter flights and private jet operations, as a typical businessman will like to arrive around 8-10 am for the meetings and leave by 5-6 pm after finishing their work.
According to the Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA), a lobby group, insufficient infrastructure for business and general aviation has been a major deterrent in Mumbai, which is the country’s financial capital. Furthermore, indiscriminate and unregulated charges being levied in terms of airport usage, ground handling, hangar and parking have made operations expensive.
The senior officials at the Civil Aviation Ministry said that though plans to develop the Juhu airport for operations of smaller aircraft have been in the pipeline for over 6-7 years, it has not moved an inch beyond the blueprint. A runway extension into the nearby Arabian sea along with the development of more parking bays as well as night landing system has been on plans. Juhu airport at present handles 100-120 landings per day, majority of which happens for ONGC, which uses it as a base for its operations at high seas near Mumbai.
A few aviation charter companies have in the past tried offering pay-per-seat services, including that of joy rides, but they have never turned into a flying success. Even the amphibian planes, also called as seaplane, which were envisaged to connect many tourist spots in Maharashtra, has been a failure so far.
Also, the Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA), which has been in plans for decades in order to provide support to growing traffic at the Mumbai airport, has been slow to take off as it remained mired in land acquisition issues. GVK, which had the first right of refusal recently won the bid to develop NMIA too. It will take at least 4-5 year for the development to complete; much longer than what the government has been claiming, aviation sources reveal.
- Officials say that interested fliers will be able to book a six-seater private jet at a cost of little over Rs 50,000 per head for a Delhi to Mumbai round trip.