MLAs’ jaunts cost a lot

MLAs’ jaunts cost a lot

Metrolife finds out all about aircraft rentals in Bengaluru as rebel legislators travel up and down without a thought

As recalcitrant MLAs merrily make air trips between Bengaluru and Mumbai, many questions are being asked: who is paying for their travel, stay and the good life? And how much is it all adding up to?

The MLAs are taking chartered flights, which means no other passengers are allowed with them. It is all hush-hush, like their ‘negotiations’ with the government and the opposition.

So how much are the rebel MLAs, or their friends, paying to hire the planes? Metrolife asked around.

Chartered planes are used by politicians during elections, and also when they have to travel in secret to cut deals, the owner of an aviation company told Metrolife. 

Ten dissident MLAs from the Congress and the JD(S) have been in Mumbai and Pune for a week, making trips to Bengaluru as and when required. While they relax there, they have kept the ruling coalition on tenterhooks.

It turns out the plane they are using belongs to Jupiter Capital Pvt Ltd, founded by BJP politician Rajeev Chandrasekhar. 

T A Jet Pvt Ltd, based in Bengaluru, charges Rs 4 lakh an hour for an eight-seater plane. “For instance, if you need the aircraft for seven hours, then you pay hourly charges and also provide hotel accommodation for the crew,” a manager says. A six-seater comes for Rs 1.75 lakh an hour, and a four-seater for Rs 1.55 lakh.

Elaborating on how the pricing works, he says, “If you are going to Chennai today and returning tomorrow, it is considered four hours of flying time in total, two hours each day.”

The company charges for a minimum of two hours, even if the flying hours are fewer.

Additional expenses include what the airport charges for the hangar, and GST. “All private airlines charge hourly and the rates differ from aircraft to aircraft,” he says.

 Raymond Ltd (Aviation Division) hires out its CL-604 (Challenger 604) 10-seater aircraft for about Rs 17 lakh a trip. 

Even if you hire it one way, the charges are for a return trip, since the aircraft comes back to the base destination. He adds that a five-seater aircraft comes for Rs 11 lakh for a Bengaluru-Mumbai trip.

Helicopters are slower than planes, and are typically used for shorter distances. “It is not advisable to hire a helicopter from Bengaluru to Mumbai because it takes seven hours,” says an industry insider.

A helicopter that seats six charges Rs 90,000 an hour plus 18 per cent GST.

“We usually land at the regular airports at Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi. If the location is private, then we require a letter from the district collector. This is mandatory,” says a manager of an aviation firm that hires out helicopters. 

The owner of a private aviation company says elections are peak time in the private aircraft business.

“This year business has been dull because of a money squeeze in the market. Politicians hire jets for confidential business meetings,” he says. 

Hiring a helicopter between two cities in Karnataka usually costs Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh.

Long haul flights are not advised because, he says, the costs escalate. “A helicopter is best used only for short hops, with the flying time being between 45 minutes and two hours,” he says.

If the trips are official, the government pays, and if they are political, the party pays. “But politicians pay from their pockets when they go on private trips,” he says.

Aircraft work just like taxis. “If you book a taxi from here to Madurai, they charge you up and down. Helicopters work on the same concept,” he explains. 

So how much does it cost?

Raymond Ltd

Bengaluru-Mumbai: 
Rs 17 lakh (10 seater)

Bengaluru-Mumbai: Rs 11 lakh (5 seater)

T A Jet Pvt Ltd

Rs 4 lakh an hour (8 seater)

Rs 1.76 lakh an hour (6 seater)

Rs 1.55 lakh an hour (4 seater)

(Minimum booking two hrs)

Helicopter

Rs 90,000 an hour

(Airport and hangar charges, hotel stay for crew, and 18 per cent GST extra)