Saturday, December 08, 2018

Udaipur airport to see busiest period over Ambani wedding, Rajasthan polls

The Maharana Pratap Airport in Udaipur will see its busiest period this week as more than 200 charter planes will fly into the city ferrying guests for the wedding of Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal.

Besides private charters, the Ambani family has booked almost 20 aircraft from commercial airlines for the guests. Tata-Singapore Airlines joint venture Vistara is flying at least ten one-way charters from Delhi and Mumbai to Udaipur, while SpiceJet, Jet Airways and Air Asia, together, will be operating 10 more flights to Udaipur.

Families of Asia's richest man Mukesh Ambani and Piramal Group head Anand Piramal are holding the pre-wedding bash of their son and daughter at Udaipur.

"It's not usual that airlines are operating charter flights during the peak winter season. An airline would only accept charter when they are very lucrative. Otherwise, they decline. The Ambanis are paying good money for each flight," said an executive of one of the carriers. All the airlines refused to comment on the bookings.

Besides the scheduled carriers, the Reliance group is using its own planes to ferry guests. "Reliance has its own aviation business, plus many of the guests flying to the wedding will be flying by their own personal charter," said an industry source. The Reliance group has around 11 fixed-wing aircraft and three helicopters in its fleet.

Due to the high movement of planes, the Udaipur airport authorities have increased its daylight watch hours to 4 pm from the regular 5:30 am to 1:45 pm. However, the tiny airport does not have enough infrastructure for parking. Hence, the planes have to fly back to Jaipur and Ahmedabad for night parking.
08/12/18 Arindam Majumder & Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard