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Poll campaigning helps boost business of air charter service firms like Invision Air and others by 40%

Business has surged 30%-40% ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, some operators say, as more politicians take to the skies to rustle up support.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2014, 10.54 AM IST|Original: Mar 17, 2014, 10.20 AM IST
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Business has surged 30%-40% ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, some operators say, as more politicians take to the skies to rustle up support.
Business has surged 30%-40% ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, some operators say, as more politicians take to the skies to rustle up support.
HYDERABAD: It is good weather again for domestic air charter services industry. Business has surged 30%-40% ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, some operators say, as more politicians take to the skies to rustle up support.

The pre-poll bookings are helping offset the downturn the sector is facing from India Inc. In 2013, business from corporates fell 5-10% from a year ago, according to Business Aircraft Operators Association.

“Typically during the election months, utilisation of our aircraft goes up by 30-40% compared with the average utilisation rates of our aircraft, and this, obviously, is very good for business,” said Vinit Pathak, managing director of Invision Air, an air charter services firm that has bookings for 35-40 helicopters and 20 fixedwing aircraft for the elections.

While the BJP last month used chartered flights for prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s 15-odd public events, rival Congress used the service to ferry party vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his 12 public rallies.

Charter flight operators typically charge Rs 2.5-3 lakh a day for helicopters and Rs 3-6 lakh for business jets. According to one operator, the BJP and Congress top the list of political parties using chartered flights for poll campaigns.

“There has certainly been an increase in business due to the elections,” said Rohit Kapur, president of Business Aircraft Operators Association. “I must add that this does happen every five years.”

Flight operators say politicians are not squeamish about the type of aircraft. “They just want something that will get them to the place where they need to get to because of their need to fly so frequently,” Pathak said. “However, they typically fly with four to six people, so that’s the kind of aircraft/helicopter they need.”

Whether the flyer is a corporate bigwig or a political stalwart, private jet operators can only hope that this wind beneath their wings stays.

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