As the fight for General Elections 2019 becomes intense over the ground, the warmth is being felt in the air as well. This makes companies delivering air charter services happier as never before.
Demand for chartered jets & helicopters
Demand for chartered jets & helicopters has doubled up since last month and consequently have hourly charges. Larger charter jets are currently going for more than Rs 4 lakh per hour, for once or twice a week their off-season charges.
“This time, the elections are more intense than the one in 2014. Political parties want more jets and helicopters, but the supply has already dried up,” voiced a top executive from a New Delhi-based charter organization. He wanted to be unidentified.
General Elections 2019 that will starts from 11th April, is being conducted in 7 phases. And the last phase has been scheduled for 19th May.
Moreover, this schedule has further increased the demand for chartered jets & helicopters. “As the elections are stretched this time, contracts run for up to 60 days,” stated Captian Uday Gelli, President, Western Chapter of Rotary Wing Society of India.
Market players predict that there are approx. 150 jets & 250 helicopters in the nation. Of which, around 50 helicopters, as well as about 25 jets, are being utilized in the recent elections.
The numbers might have come down from 2014 as a number of owners have vended part of their fleet. As soon as the rupee started depreciating against a dollar that made the sale of these jet more gainful.
Congress leader Anand Sharma’s Protest
Lower supply has further added to the intensifying demand, thus growing rates of the charter. Just two months ago, one of the senior Congress leader Anand Sharma protested that the party was finding it difficult charter jets & helicopters. Thus he accused the rival party BJP of shortfall of aircraft supply.
Market players coincide that the governing party has been considerably more aggressive. “Much of the demand is from the BJP, and this was the case in 2014 too. Even though it was in the Opposition at the time,” voiced one of the top executives mentioned above.
In both the parties, only the topmost leaders who are benefited with these jets. “Those who have to travel long distances use fixed wings,” Gelli states.
Along with the higher demand, the usage of these machines is also intense. “If an aircraft was earlier used for 25 hours a month, now it is used for over 40 hours,” Boocha states.
This means that there is further tear & wear as well. “Since most of the helipads are make-shift and given the heat and dust. These machines need a lot of maintenance once the season gets over,” announces an industry official.
“Some of the politicians use them as taxis,” he further added, pointing to the ‘messed interiors’ of the helicopters when they are given back after use.
On the other hand, these 2 months are vital for the corporations since the demand. As well as high charges, make up for any slack over the period of the rest of the year.