Sunday, May 8, 2011

EXCLUSIVE! Madhya Pradesh gets regional carrier

Neelam Mathews
May 7, 2011
Time: 12:20pm IST

India’s regional carrier operations seem to be on the verge of taking off with some hiccups along the way. Delhi-based Ventura Air Connect will get the delivery of its first new C208B Caravan Cessna as part of its launch to start regional operations from Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Uttam Kumar Bose, MD tells Aerospace Diary.
The operations start from next month “subject to clearances”. "The 14-seater will fly with 9 seats due to weight restrictions” says Bose.
The airline plans to get delivery of six Cessnas by the end of this year and all 20 in three years, says Bose.
Cessna Grand Caravan, is the latest generation full glass cockpit commuter aircraft, according to a statement. “Our vision is to give connectivity with the state capital to the remote airfields of the state which are not connected. These connections will provide easy accessibility to the cities with tourist interest places and also the business potential cities,” it adds.
“Our aim is to provide connections to all cities within each state airports which are non operational,” says Bose.
The Caravan has the Pratt & Whitney turbine engine for short field operations and extra heavy suspension, which is suitable for many destinations in India.
Brazil's aircraft maker Embraer forecasts a long term growth in air transport demand despite crisis and sees right-sizing of narrow-body operations and regional aviation development in emerging markets.
India launched its regional airlines policy in 2007 that incentivizes carriers with reduced landing and parking charges allowing them to connect small cities in a region to the major metro in the region, it failed to take off as recession engulfed the world economy.
Besides, issues of funding, management and hire of crew remain.
“The government has paid lip service to regional aviation,” says Harsh Vardhan, former MD of government owned Vayudoot Airlines and now CEO of Starair Consulting. The scheduled carriers were expected to own three aircraft in the first year and five by the second year of launch. “It takes one and a half years to stabilize an operation,” Vardhan adds.
India’s budget airline, SpiceJet ordered 15 Bombardier Q400s last year, has plans to start flying them in July to smaller cities. Economics will always be the trump card. “SpiceJet will have to contend with the ATR-72s of Jet Airways (20) as they are cheaper to run,” says an airline official.

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