Number of Chartered Flights Soars in India

Times of India: No. of private jets, chartered flights soars
by: Chinmayi Shalya

MUMBAI: The soaring number of chartered planes and private jets are now jostling with commercial flights for the attention of aviation experts and airport operators.

The aviation industry has been on its toes with the ever-rising number of commercial flights and the burgeoning passenger traffic. Now, the officials also have to deal with the rising general aviation (GA) flights, which refer to all flights other than military and scheduled operations.

A look at the GA flight movements at Mumbai and Delhi indicates why airport officials and experts are mulling over creating special or separate facilities for those who want to fly out on their private jets or chartered planes. Mumbai airport saw a rise of 61.18% in GA movement from 2005-06, while Delhi witnessed a growth of 31.33% in the past four years. The growth has been similar in Delhi and Mumbai as the financial capital of the country witnessed 33.55% more GA flights during the past four years.

Mumbai, which handled 8,245 non-scheduled flights in 2006, deals with 13,290 of them in 2010-11. Every day, an average 38 GA planes take off and land in Mumbai, though the number was 22 a few years ago. Last year, Mumbai airport handled 30,000 passengers who flew in and out through private or non-scheduled flights.

“Most business honchos and politicians visit the two places, making them a hub of general aviation activity. As more corporates are based in Mumbai, the increase in GA may be more there,” said a senior aviation analyst.

A report published by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) in February 2011 also predicts a major growth in the general aviation sector in India over the next 10 years. The sale of new aircraft, mostly business jets, helicopters, turboprops and piston engines, is likely to go up to $12 billion. Now, there are 680 aircraft in the GA fleet, but the number as been predicted to touch 2,000. Locally, Mumbai airport projects a 10% annual growth in GA movement in the next five years. In a bid to tackle these flights, the airports in the two metros are now trying to develop infrastructure to cater specifically to GA flights.

Recently Mumbai became the first airport to start dedicated international operations from its general aviation terminal, enabling jet-setters to skip long immigration and security queues at the main international terminal building. The airport had a GA terminal for domestic flights.

“With the non-scheduled passenger traffic increasing, major airports in India are looking at developing facilities for general aviation. Like Mumbai, Delhi airport also has a separate terminal for those passengers,” the analyst added.