Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Election 2022: Charter flight business adversely affected as EC bans rallies

Since the Election Commission has banned physical rallies in five poll-bound states due to a surge in the Covid-19 pandemic, the business of charter flight operators has been affected drastically. 10-15 percent of the 350-400 flight hours per month are election-related travel at this stage, the operators said.

"Election travel has not really picked up. It had started to pick up initially, around mid-December, but then the EC announced the ban on rallies so that completely stopped most of the (election-related) travel," Rajan Mehra, CEO, Club One Air said. Election travel is very limited, added Mehra, former India head of Qatar Airways.

Kanika Tekriwal, CEO and Founder, JetSetGo Aviation, said that as there is a ban on rallies due to Covid-19, the company has seen only 70 percent of inquiries for election-related travel this year as compared to last year. However, no inquiry has been actually converted into actual flights as of yet and their conversion is in process, she added.

"Since the ban on physical rallies has been extended, we don't see many flights happening for elections this time for rallies," Tekriwal noted. JetSetGo Aviation and Club One Air have a fleet of 18 and 10 aircraft, respectively, to operate charter flights.

Announcing the dates for elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab, and Manipur on January 8, the poll panel had announced a ban on physical rallies, roadshows bike rallies, and similar campaign events till January 15.

On January 15, the commission extended the ban until January 22. However, it was later extended to January 31. While election-related travel is not picking up for charter companies, the overall scenario for business aviation (charter flight operations) has been very good, Mehra stated.

Right after the first Covid-19 wave, safety has become an issue of paramount importance beyond luxury or anything else, he mentioned.

"There has been a regularity of travel in private jets. So, before Covid-19, if we would on an average see around 150-200 flying hours per month, that has gone up to 350-400 flight hours per month," he stated. "It might pick up once the EC announces (removing the ban on) rallies but right now it is 10-15 percent for most operators," he mentioned.

25/01/22 Zee News

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