Business aircraft operators appeal to government to review policies in order to give business aviation a boost

Pointing out that India has the potential to emerge as a major Business Aviation (BA) hub, the Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA) has called for opening up of old airports of Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi’s Terminal 2, 1B and IC for use as business aviation terminals.

Stating that India had the potential to grow at 25 per cent in the aviation sector against the present meagre seven per cent, BAOA said there are a lot of challenges at hand which need to be addressed. The first amongst them is the need for proper infrastructure. According to the association, no business aviation infrastructure has been planned in phase one of modernisation of airports. Today, the sector feels handicapped due to lack of fixed base operators (FBO’s), heliports, parking space, maintenance, repair and overhauls (MROs).

BAOA president Rohit Kapur said that world over, business aviation typically functions from FBOs, which have VIP facilities and separate terminals. India, however, is yet to have an airport exclusively for BA.

“The operations, managements and development agreement (OMDA) states that there cannot be another airport within 150 km radius of an existing one. It, therefore, needs to be revisited because there are infrastructural requirements. We are taking up the matter with the Civil Aviation Ministry and are hopeful of a favourable response,” Mr. Kapur said.

The BAOA has also urged the government to reconsider the heavy import duties that allegedly is hampering the aviation sector’s growth. “The government still feels this industry is a luxury service, therefore it must be heavily taxed. It fails to realise that it is a tool for economic growth and connectivity. Corporates are using it to further their businesses. Simply put, more planes mean more GDP for the country. Import duties are put either on luxury goods or to protect the local industry,” Mr. Kapur said, adding that additional taxes on spare parts are killing the MRO industry. “Whenever an MRO tries to stock spare parts in the country, it costs 30 per cent extra than the actual cost. It is killing the industry and acting as a barrier for people who are willing to buy aircrafts,” he regretted.

Referring to the policy issues, BAOA said the industry is suffering due to a “vintage operational policy”. For instance, seven days’ advance permission for foreign aircrafts to operate or land in India takes away the much needed flexibility. Cumbersome process of aircraft acquisition, special permission for the use of defence airfields and employment of foreign pilots also prevent the growth of this sector.

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