Cost grounds politicos' copter travel plans

Cost grounds politicos' copter travel plans

There is a dip in demand for hiring choppers this election season, cost being the prohibitive factor.

The rush by politicians to hire choppers to fly out of the city was huge during the previous elections in 2013. This time, the situation is different,'' said a chopper pilot at the Jakkur aerodrome in the city.

The pilot said private aircraft companies which actually make big bucks during elections were looking forward for plenty of bookings, but the response from the parties is poor this time.

At the moment, only BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa, JD(S) leaders H D Kumaraswamy and H D Deve Gowda are using chopper facilities from the Jakkur aerodrome, while a few Congress leaders are mostly using the HAL airport to fly out of the city, sources said.

The chopper pilot said he had come to know from secretaries of some ministers that budget was a constraint for these ministers in hiring the helicopters. Not opting for a chopper or chartered flights could also be due to demonetisation, the pilot said.

Sources in the Jakkur aerodrome said, during the previous elections, the Election Commission had deputed the Central Reserve Police Force to check baggage of politicians, candidates and party workers who used helicopters for the campaign. But this year, there is just one policeman deployed to check the baggage.

VIPs normally use Bell 407, a single-engine helicopter which can carry six persons, including the pilot, or the Airbus H-130 which has a capacity of eight persons, including the pilot. Normally, hiring a chopper costs a little more than Rs 1 lakh for a single ride. The cost depends on the number of hours of flying.

Deccan Aviation, a leading city-based aviation company which received a number of enquires in
the previous election, has not received any call this time.

"We really do not know the reason why there are not many enquiries to hire choppers or chartered flights," said an official of the company.

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