Business jet manufacturers and air charter service firms are expecting strong business during the current year, on the back of campaign travels by politicians in the run-up to the Parliamentary elections which kick off from April 7. This comes after flat or negative growth in the last two years.
Around 35-40 helicopters and 20 fixed-wing aircraft have been booked by politicians across the country, with the bulk of the demand coming from the two top national parties, the Congress and the BJP, said an air charter service firm owner.
Vinit Pathak, MD of air charter services firm Invision Air said: “In the election months, typically, business goes up by 35-40%. This year is going to be good for business, but it will be temporary unless the economy improves”. A helicopter can be hired at about R3 lakh a day, while small 8-9 seater jets can be had for around R5 lakh.
Rohit Kapur, president of the Business Aircraft Operators’ Association confirmed that charter flying has seen an uptick, especially for helicopters. “All available helicopters are booked. This happens every five years,” he said.
Meanwhile, even manufacturers of business jets and helicopters expect strong growth this year with the rupee strengthening and pending demand from the previous years expected to convert into firm orders.
Sid Sharma, executive director for InterGlobe Estd and a distributor for Cessna, LET and Sikorsky aircraft said this year the company expects 8-10 orders and it has already delivered two aircraft in the first three months of 2014. “Last year, we had zero deliveries, but we have got off to a good start now with the rupee strengthening. In all, the industry saw 7 planes delivered in 2013, and in 2014 I think it would be in the 20-30 range,” he said.
Lionel de Maupeou, director for sales, marketing & communication at Eurocopter India added that those who had been delaying orders in the previous years are expected to firm up their plans. Eurocopter sold 5 choppers in 2013.