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Lok Sabha polls 2024: Demand for private jets, choppers jump up to 40%; operators set to rake in more profit

While the demand has surged compared to the normal times and previous election years, there is lesser number of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters available.
Last Updated : 14 April 2024, 08:59 IST
Last Updated : 14 April 2024, 08:59 IST

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New Delhi: With politicians and political party representatives crisscrossing the country for the Lok Sabha polls, the demand for chartered planes and helicopters has jumped up to 40 per cent, and the operators are expected to net 15-20 per cent more earnings, according to industry experts.

The hourly rates for chartered services have also spiked. The charge is about Rs 4.5 -5.25 lakh for an aircraft and around Rs 1.5- 1.7 lakh for a twin-engine helicopter, they said.

While the demand has surged compared to the normal times and previous election years, there is lesser number of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters available. Some of the operators are looking to take planes and helicopters on wet lease.

"There is an increase in demand for helicopters and it is up to 25 per cent more in the election period compared to the normal period. The supply is less compared to the demand," Rotary Wing Society of India (RWSI) President (Western Region) Captain Uday Gelli told PTI.

Generally, political parties use helicopters for their candidates and leaders to reach places in a shorter time, especially remote areas.

Gelli said the use of helicopters is being seen more in bigger states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA) Managing Director Captain R K Bali told PTI that the demand for chartered planes is 30-40 per cent higher compared to the previous general polls.

The bookings for chartered planes are done in advance and operators will be looking for maximum utilisation of aircraft.

"There is always a gap between supply and demand. Some entities are looking to wet lease planes and helicopters to meet the demand," Bali said.

Helicopter use is charged on an hourly basis and the operators generally insist on booking by political parties for a specific number of days and a minimum number of flying hours every day during that period.

"Normally, the hourly rate for single engine helicopters is around Rs 80,000 to 90,000 while it is about Rs 1.5 to 1.7 lakh for twin engine helicopters. During election time, the rate is higher at up to Rs 1.5 lakh for single engine helicopters and up to Rs 3.5 lakh for twin engine helicopters," Gelli said.

A single engine helicopter has a seating capacity for up to 7 people, including pilot while a twin engine helicopter can accommodate up to 12 people.

For the chartered aircraft, the prices can vary between Rs 4.5 lakh to Rs 5.25 lakh per hour.

During election times, Bali said the earnings of the chartered plane operators are likely to be 15-20 per cent higher compared to the normal times.

As per the official data, there were 112 Non-Scheduled Operators (NSOPs) at the end of December 2023. Generally, NSOPs are entities that do not have a particular fixed schedule and fly when there is a requirement.

These operators have aircraft and helicopters, with seating capacities varying from 3 to 37. The planes include Falcon 2000, Bombardier Global 5000, Twin Otter DHC-6-300, Hawker Beechcraft, Gulfstream G-200 and Cessna Citation 560XL, according to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The ruling BJP incurred expenses totalling more than Rs 250 crore on aircraft/ helicopters, as per the party's annual audited accounts for 2019-20 submitted to the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The amount shelled out by the Congress party towards election travelling expenses in 2019-20 stood at over Rs 126 crore. The party did not mention aircraft/helicopter expenses separately in its annual audited accounts for that financial year.

The seven-phase Lok Sabha polls will start on April 19 and it will spread over 44 days across 10.5 lakh polling booths. The elections will be held on April 19, April 26, May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1.

In 2019, Lok Sabha elections were held in April and May.

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Published 14 April 2024, 08:59 IST

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