KOCHI: The adage ‘Time is money’ acquires a new meaning for the corporates and big businesses who strive to make every second count keep their productivity above the mark throughout the year. Relying on commercial flights or other modes of transport is more often not enough to service the busy itineraries of such corporate heads and requires the procurement of a more personalised mode of transport like a chartered flight.
While the phenomenon of acquiring private jets is a luxury that has caught up well among even the nouveau rich in the country, corporates in Kerala were well behind in that regard. However, recent data shows that there could well be a shift in the statistics in the coming years.
“Owing to a slowdown in the aviation sector in 2014, only seven private aircraft were acquired by the corporate sector. Out of that, three aircraft were acquired by businessmen based in Kerala,” said Capt Robin, director, K-Air, an aviation consultancy and aircraft sales company based in Kerala.
“The main hubs of aircraft operations are Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. The level of demand for such aircraft from Kerala used to be relatively low. However, we have been receiving increasing requests for feasibility studies regarding the purchase of aircraft and setting up helipads in the corporate consultancy sector,” he said.
“In a period of expansion, private aircraft could be used by corporates for increasing the productivity of the company. It allows top officials to have increased flexibility in their travel arrangements. For example, it takes at least five hours for a businessman based in Kochi to travel to a showroom in Kozhikode by road whereas he can reach his destination by air within an hour. The same goes for their factories or offices located in other states or even countries,” he said.
According to Joy Alukkas, MD of Joy Alukkas Group, purchasing an aircraft helped him set up more than 51 centres in the earlier years of operation. “There is a flip side though. Only corporates and big businesses can afford the costs that come with such a purchase. More than 1,000 litres of turbine fuel is used up in under one hour of flight and the initial cost of the aircraft itself comes to around Rs 100-200 crore,” he said. The company had acquired its second aircraft in 2014.
According to aviation industry officials, there needs to be a change in the conservative mentality of the businessmen in Kerala.
“Even those who can afford it forgo such luxuries which they deem unnecessary,” an official said. K-Air had recently signed an MoU for the sale of Falcon 2000, Gulfstream G200 and Augusta 109 Grand helicopter in India.